Now that we’re past the angst-fest of Episode 5 (thank God), it’s time for Yoon-hee to put on her big girl panties and show those stooges at Sungkyunkwan what she’s made of. In other news, hormones awaken and the love triangle FINALLY gets its ass into gear.
We pick up from the previous episode where Yoon-hee was asking Professor Jung to let her stay on at Sungkyunkwan. He relents and agrees not to reveal that she is a woman, not because he cares for her or anything like that, but because he doesn’t want to taint the school’s reputation or go against the King’s decision. He then goes off on a little spiel and berates her for daring to suggest that men and women are equal when she can’t even hold a bow properly. Yoon-hee, showing her mettle, asks to be allowed to stay on in the university if she succeeds in winning the archery competition.
And what if she fails? The professor tells her not only will he order her expulsion but he will also have her brother’s name removed from the scholar’s registry, meaning that he will never be able to apply for a government position. But that’s not all he intends to do. For her arrogance, Yoon-hee will also pay with her life.
Time to look for her miracle worker (i.e. Seon-joon). The next few scenes show her tackling the sport with a new resolve; she still sucks at it though and her arrows sail miserably to the ground before they can even hit their target. The three stooges tell her to give up. Seon-joon tells her to stop over-exerting herself, but she shakes him off, recalling the professor’s words, and tries again.
Still no luck. Dejected, she throws her bow to the ground and skulks off, walking headfirst into In-soo and his groupies. Cue more disparaging remarks about her girly physique. However, In-soo tells her that she mustn’t give up because he wants to defeat her (and Seon-joon) in the competition to prove to the King that all his talk of political harmony is hogwash.
This gets her all fired up and Yoon-hee tells him that she will make it to the last round and pay him back for the William Tell move he pulled earlier. If she wins the competition, she wants him to apologize for being such an ass to her and her family, and acknowledge her as an equal. “Is arrogance an infectious disease among your room-mates?” In-soo tells her ominously that he will be waiting for her in the final round of the competition.
Once In-soo and his gang are gone, Seon-joon catches up with Yoon-hee and chides her gently for her recklessness, before adding that such behaviour is also the mark of a champion. Yoon-hee asks if he thinks she will be able to pull it off. He says it will be difficult because she is as fit as a sack of potatoes. But if she’s willing to put her mind to it, won’t she find a way to overcome all these difficulties?
And then Seon-joon ups and shows us why he’s one of Joseon’s most eligible bachelors by proceeding to whip (figuratively speaking, of course) Yoon-hee into shape. Some girls want roses and diamonds but a guy who’s willing to be my personal trainer and motivation guru and endure all the abuse I rain upon him is a keeper through and through. I wouldn’t mind diamonds as an added bonus though.
Seon-joon, however, isn’t the only one looking out for her. Jae-shin, who finds out through a run-in with In-soo and his groupies that Yoon-hee is planning on winning the tournament, has been observing her from a distance. Though he’d rather drink battery acid than admit it, the girly boy is growing on him.
And while Seon-joon doesn’t recognize it yet, Yoon-hee has just about packed up all her things and moved into his heart.
As her archery skills continue to improve, In-soo’s groupies, notably Byung Choon, start to fret that she might actually hit the bullseye.
Tired of Seon-joon hogging Yoon-hee’s attention (or so I’d like to think), Jae-shin drops in on one of her practice sessions and starts ribbing her, telling her that at the rate she’s going, even a cow could do better with a bow and arrow. There’s only one solution for hopeless people like her, he smirks. And with that, he throws her over his shoulder and carries her off, caveman-style. Yes Jae-shin, I’d like to see you do this with the other guys who are having problems shooting an arrow. Solution, my ass.
He takes her to a spot far from prying eyes and whips out a clay urn. And because you can’t have a Korean drama without it, he grabs her by the wrist and plunges her hand into the urn, causing her to wince in pain. Turns out that it’s filled with alcohol. Jae-shin tells her that it’s for the wounds on her hand, which are the reason why she keeps missing the mark. In her current condition, there’s no way she can make it to the end of the competition.
He then asks her why she wants to win the competition so badly. She tells him that she wants to prove not only to the establishment but also to herself that she rocks. “In this world, there needs to be at least one person who believes in me.” It’s an answer that catches him by surprise and Jae-shin asks if Seon-joon’s way of thinking has rubbed off on her.
The mood lightened, Yoon-hee shows him her fist and tells him she still remembers what he taught her earlier, and that he’ll regret it if he doesn’t show up for the competition. This is probably the first time in Sungkyunkwan that anyone has spoken to him like this. In case you’ve forgotten, the de facto reaction so far has been to flee in terror whenever he shows up.
Playful banter over, she asks him, for real this time, to join them for the competition. Just as she’s about to leave, she remembers something and turning around, Yoon-hee thanks Jae-shin for the finger guard that he gave her in the previous episode. Isn’t she adorable, Jae-shin? Jae-shin?
Earth to Jae-shin, hello? Anyone home?
And then the hiccups start. Yes, it’s official. We have another one on the ground.
And who should be lurking around at this moment but Yong-ha? I don’t need to tell you what’s going on in his mind.
Meanwhile, because everyone else has had a turn, In-soo and his groupies decide it’s time to mock Seon-joon and tell him to prepare to eat dirt. In-soo’s death glare session is interrupted by his sister, Hyo-eun, who has arrived at the school with her father. 50 bucks says she has filled every scrap of paper in her house with the words “Mrs Lee Seon-joon”.
As she beams hearts and butterflies at her One True Love™, her brother pieces the two together and realizes that Seon-joon was lying when he said he didn’t solve the riddle during the student initiation ceremony. If he hadn’t been to his home, there’s no way his sister would be mooning after him now.
Speaking of mooning, who should catch sight of Seon-joon and Hyo-eun together but Yoon-hee? A play of emotions flickers across her face before she turns and walks away. Poor bunny.
Meanwhile, Jae-shin is dealing with his
own emotions hiccups and a persistent Yong-ha, who is trying to get him to corroborate his theory that Yoon-hee is a girl, because really, who else could have set it off? But his efforts are thwarted yet again when Jae-shin points to Hyo-eun and her maids, believing them to be the cause of his affliction. Ha ha.
Not one to give up that easily, Yong-ha spots Yoon-hee sitting alone looking at Hyo-eun and flops down to sit beside her. He tells Yoon-hee that she is the reason Seon-joon lied about not solving the riddle—he was protecting Hyo-eun’s reputation and didn’t want the other guys to think that she was easy.
Guessing that she is jealous of Hyo-eun, he continues to rib her by coming up with a nickname for him—Ga Rang i.e. best husband material. Because of his status, Seon-joon would make a fine husband for the Minister of War’s daughter. Since Yoon-hee can’t throttle Yong-ha senseless, she settles for eating her fruit instead.
Hyo-eun is meanwhile doing everything a girl can do to win Seon-joon over. She’s prepared a special lunch for him and is practically serving her heart to him on a silver platter. He, on the other hand, looks like he’d rather be doing hard labour in Vladivostok. Like her brother, Hyo-eun has never had anything but her way before and she proceeds to feed him, my guess is knowing that he is too much of a gentleman to decline her gesture. Seon-joon looks like he’s having constipation, I just want to crawl into a hole and wait for the awkwardness to pass, and Byung-choon throws a hissy fit because he is madly in love with Hyo-eun.
After the most uncomfortable lunch in the world, Hyo-eun and Seon-joon go for a walk. In an attempt to make small talk, she asks him if he has recovered from his illness. Not knowing about her brother’s less than cordial relationship with Seon-joon, she lies that the former told her about it and asked her to visit him.
Seon-joon takes this opportunity to tell her not to come to Sungkyunkwan anymore on the grounds that the law (ha! As if you’d expect anything else from him) forbids women from entering the university’s grounds. As a noblewoman, she should set a good example to the rest of the common folk. Hyo-eun agrees but just as Seon-joon’s about to walk away thinking he’s in the clear, she makes a request, her eyes two shiny puddles of tears: Can he come and visit her instead? Seon-joon, this is *so* going to bite you in the ass later.
Plot point: The King reveals that the Dae Sa Rae was the dream of his dearly departed friend, Kim Seung-hun (i.e. Yoon-hee’s father), who died for him. He wonders how he will ever be able to repay his debt to his son. I think we can all offer a couple of suggestions, your Highness.
Time for archery practice again. On her way to the field, Yoon-hee encounters Professor Jung, who tells her that he will spare her life as well as her family’s if she quits and leaves the university now. But Yoon-hee tells him that she will see the whole competition to the end. She shoots arrow after arrow until finally:
Come on, even if you’re the biggest curmudgeon in the world, you have to admit that this is cute:
Teasing her, Seon-joon says of course he knew she could do it. Was there anything that didn’t work out when he was involved? After all, he was the one who caught the greatest exam cheat in the country and turned him into a Sungkyunkwan scholar. Ha! Just as she turns to leave, he says, “Kim Yoon-shik, I’m proud of you. You did great.” And then they start grinning at each other like idiots.
News reaches In-soo and his groupies that Yoon-hee has managed to hit the bullseye. Everyone flies into a panic, all save In-soo, who says there’s no need for him to worry since he has Byung-choon. Right, no pressure there. Outside, Byung-choon alludes to Jae-shin’s unpredictable nature, saying that Yoon-hee has cause to worry too; if Jae-shin doesn’t turn up for the competition, it’s game over for them.
Cut to the Minister of War and the Left Prime Minister arriving at the gisaeng house in style. Everything is going along swimmingly until the masked avenger (i.e. Hong Byuk Seo) decides to liven things up with a strategically placed note. Chaos ensues. Long story short, the masked avenger is wounded but manages to escape into Sungkyunkwan, which is off-limits to outsiders. He pulls off his mask and dun, dun, dun: it is Jae-shin.
The party mood killed, the Left Prime Minister and his posse reconvene to pore over Hong Byuk Seo’s note. In a nutshell: the Noron faction is going to have their asses handed to them because the Geum Deung Ji Sa is going to reveal all their dirty little secrets to the King. Naturally, the Norons aren’t going to take this sitting down and Seon-joon’s father orders In-soo’s dad to catch the masked avenger, whom they believe to be a Sungkyunkwan scholar, at the archery competition. Jae-shin’s father looks like he wants to throw up. And you wonder why their sons don’t get along.
Meanwhile, Jae-shin’s luck continues to sink faster than Lindsay Lohan’s career. Since he’s not in any position to make it back for roll-call, he has to deal with having another five points deducted from his record. His absence doesn’t bode well for Seon-joon and Yoon-hee either. If he doesn’t turn up by tomorrow morning, they will both be disqualified from the competition.
Back in their room, Seon-joon tells Yoon-hee to stop worrying about Jae-shin and get some sleep. And then because he doesn’t know any better, he starts talking about how Jae-shin doesn’t fit in at Sungkyunkwan because he keeps breaking its rules. Yoon-hee, loyal friend that she is, rolls her eyes and turns away from him. Ha!
However, Seon-joon saves himself from a night in the doghouse by adding that even though he may be undisciplined, Jae-shin isn’t the kind of person to blow them off. Yoon-hee agrees, adding that this is what is making her even more worried.
The big day is approaching and everyone is getting into a tizzy making final arrangements for the competition. Cho Sun and her girls cause a little uproar as they sashay into the campus grounds decked out in their finery.
Since outsiders are not allowed into the university grounds, the enterprising bookstore owner has decided to air live broadcasts of the competition. Meanwhile the Minister of War instructs his officials to go undercover at Sungkyunkwan and find the masked avenger. If he gives them too much trouble, just get rid of him.
It is the morning of the competition and Jae-shin is still AWOL. Professor Jung reminds Yoon-hee and Seon-joon again that if he fails to turn up, they will both be disqualified.
Where oh where is Jae-shin? He is slumped in the infirmary, still too weak from his injuries to move. He wonders if their Dae Sa Rae ambitions are done for.
The King has arrived at Sungkyunkwan, which means that it’s time for a final roll-call. Nerves are starting to show as the spot beside Yoon-hee remains conspicuously empty.
It’s a race against time for all parties involved now as the camera cuts from the students to Jae-shin, who is dressing his wounds, to the Minister of War’s underlings who have infiltrated the grounds and are looking for him.
Professor Jung is now taking Yoon-hee and Seon-joon’s attendance. Jae-shin has managed to clean himself up and is making his way to the archery grounds. However, the King’s procession is also making its way there, forcing him to take a short-cut. His attempt to scale the walls is thwarted by his injuries and to make matters worse, the Minister of War’s underlings find him. Oh no!
Unable to explain Jae-shin’s absence, Yoon-hee and Seon-joon are disqualified from the competition. Yong-ha observes the proceedings with concern, wondering where Jae-shin is.
Because this is too good an opportunity to pass up, In-soo and his groupies proceed to taunt Seon-joon and Yoon-hee, telling them it’s too bad he won’t be able to show the King how flawed all his talk of equality and meritocracy is. But hold your horses In-soo, is that…? Could it be?
OMG, it’s Jae-shin!
He strides up to them and tells Yoon-hee: “I’m here to take up my position.”
And then everyone starts grinning like an idiot.
Was this a fantastic episode or what? I don’t know about you but I think that the main leads are getting better every week. When I watched the first two episodes, my initial reaction to Seon-joon was: Man, this guy is waaaay too uptight. He needs to get laid, stat. But I think Yoochun is getting more comfortable with his role and this comes across in his portrayal of the character as well. Yes, he’s the morally upright, noble sort but we’re seeing flashes of playfulness and a range of other emotions as well. Seriously, I wouldn’t mind it if a guy like Seon-joon had the hots for me.
And props to Park Min Young for her portrayal of Yoon-hee as well. I’m not familiar with her body of work; the only show I’ve ever seen her in is Unstoppable High Kick and as such, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I think she’s doing an admirable job and what I like about Yoon-hee is that she has a backbone. She doesn’t just sit around and wait for Seon-joon or one of the other guys to come save her, and neither does she allow herself to be patronized. How many other female drama characters do you know who’s smart enough to be able to hold their own in an essay-writing competition with the guys? That’s right, not many. And the one thing I adore about her is that she doesn’t burst into a crying jag every five minutes.
The love triangle: I am so happy that Jae-shin is finally stepping up to the plate and proving himself to be a serious contender for Yoon-hee’s affections. For the past few weeks, I’ve been waiting for him to make a move but up till Episode 5, all he was doing was observing things from a distance, which made me wonder if we were going to have another Shin Woo on our hands. Look, I don’t want my second lead to just wait in the background and play nanny to the girl he fancies. I want him to fight for the girl and make the main guy work for her affections as well. I think we’re going to get this with Jae-shin. After all, those muscles have got to be good for something, right?