The Dae Sa Rae gets underway and our heroes learn what a tangled web jealousy and other messy emotions can weave. Also, who wants to bet that In-soo is going to bust an artery and keel over with a stroke in the next few episodes?
The mystery of how Jae-shin managed to free himself from the clutches of the Minister of War’s underlings is solved. Just as he is about to be led away by the minister’s men, Yong-ha shows up. He remarks oh-so-casually that this is no way to be treating a Sungkyunkwan scholar and that if word got out that they were causing trouble in the school, the Minister would have to step down from his position since he’s their boss.
Before they can even think of silencing him, along come the chancellor and his men, who have been tipped off by Yong-ha and are now hunting high-and-low for Jae-shin since it would be disastrous if Seon-joon were disqualified from the tournament when his father is present.
Out-played, the minister’s men are forced to release Jae-shin and as they do so, Yong-ha throws the latter a little wink. Okay, we need to have a chat about your career plans, Yong-ha, because your talents are *so* going to be wasted as a government official. Espionage and covert ops are where the fun’s at! And who needs concubines when you can have an endless supply of hot chicks to interrogate at your leisure as Joseon’s very own James Bond?
Archery grounds. In-soo remarks that he is surprised to see Jae-shin on the same team as Seon-joon, given how much he hates the Norons, to which Jae-shin replies that he is not doing this on account of any highfalutin ideas of egalitarianism and that the Norons are still at the top of his shit list for mucking up his bloodline and back story. He tells Seon-joon not to get any ideas and that he’s only doing this for Yoon-hee just because. And with that, it’s time for Team Political Harmony to roll into action. Yes, I know. The name—it is made of urrgh. This is what you get when you give the straight guy naming rights.
As our heroes stride off to take their places, they send Cho-sun’s girls into a swoon. They nickname them the Jalgeum Quartet, which is a massive improvement over boring Team Political Harmony.
While the students are getting ready for the competition, the Minister of War is intensifying his search for the masked avenger. He tells his underling that he will be easy to spot since unlike the other competitors, Hong Byuk Seo is a skilled archer with a distinctive style.
Soon, the tournament gets underway. Scoring system: hitting the bullseye gets you 10 points; the farther your arrow from the target, the fewer points you get. The winning team gets to have drinks with the King and extra points added to their records, which I’m sure will come in handy for those with a penchant for playing hooky and roaming the streets late at night *coughJaeshincough*.
I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow account of everything that takes place in the preliminaries because you and I both know that it’s going to come down to a finale between Team In-soo and the Jalgeum Trio. Suffice it to say that both teams manage to blow the rest of the competition out of the water.
Meanwhile, the bookseller’s shop has been transformed into a temporary broadcast and betting centre for the archery tournament. In bursts Hyo-eun with her ladies-in-waiting in tow to cheer on Seon-joon’s team.
What follows is a cute, cartoony introduction of the Jalgeum Trio and hilariously, the ahjummas at the bookshop are far from impressed. Maybe they were expecting Bae Yong-jun?
Yoon-hee does far better than expected in the preliminary round by scoring 26 points, making Byung-choon sweat. As she passes Seon-joon on her way down from the podium, they have a replay of their earlier conversation when she hit her first bullseye. Playfully, she asks him if he was watching her and Seon-joon says that he was, and proceeds to deflate her sails by telling her to keep her mind focused and not to let this win get to her head. Crestfallen, she replies that she’ll keep his words in mind and Seon-joon asks her if she’s feeling well—why isn’t she arguing with him and why does her face look flushed? He lifts a hand to touch her face, only to have her swat it away. As she walks away, he stares after her and…OMG, Seon-joon. How can someone so smart be so dumb?
Naturally, not everybody is happy that the Jalgeum Trio are doing so well. Poor In-soo, I fear for his mental well-being. If he continues to watch Cho-sun make eyes at Yoon-hee, he’s going to start foaming at the mouth. This doesn’t escape Yong-ha’s notice, and he observes the three of them with concern.
During a break in the competition, he crosses over to where she’s sitting to offer her some friendly advice: don’t be too obvious about her affections if she doesn’t want Yoon-hee to get hurt.
Meanwhile, over in another part of the campus, In-soo is giving Byung-choon orders to make sure that they win the championship. Cue ominous music.
Cut to Jae-shin, who is sitting by himself so he can check on his injuries without anyone noticing. This moment of solitude is soon interrupted by Yoon-hee, who has come to offer him a drink and bring several rays of sunshine into his life.
Yoon-hee may treat Jae-shin like an older brother or a buddy but I enjoy seeing them together because she brings out a light-hearted side of him that we rarely get to see.
As they get into a playful scuffle, who should come upon them but Seon-joon? He recalls how Yoon-hee pushed his hand away earlier and looking a little hurt, chugs his drink silently. You silly, silly boy.
Jae-shin has Yoon-hee in a headlock and she elbows him right smack where his injuries are (ouch) in an attempt to get away. She doesn’t notice that she’s dropped her bow and as she runs off with Jae-shin in pursuit, she doesn’t see Byung-choon standing over it.
And guess who she bumps into? Just as In-soo gets ready to dish out another serving of nasty innuendoes, along comes Cho-sun, followed by an entourage of trailing fan boys. As she stops in front of him, his expression shifts from death-glare mode to something more benign and for once, he doesn’t look as if his blood pressure is spiking.
I’m willing to bet that he would gladly throw away the competition in exchange for Cho-sun’s affections but what can we say? Unrequited love’s a bitch and Cho-sun has hubris aplenty. She tells In-soo that she has come to give him her response and as he waits to hear the words that he’s been fantasizing about since forever, she callously brushes past him.
Stopping in front of Yoon-hee, she apologises, while shooting a little glare at In-soo, for causing her any undue problems. Because she doesn’t want her affections to be a burden to her, she’ll just come right out and declare her the man who’s won her heart. I’m not sure if Yoon-hee fully understands the magnitude of Cho-sun’s actions because she looks more puzzled and surprised than discomfited or dismayed, which is what I would be feeling if I were the subject of In-soo’s Laser Beam of Hate.
Jae-shin, whose feelings are still dormant, looks on in amusement while Seon-joon continues to stew in stoic jealousy (Okay, the expression on Yoochun’s face is open to interpretation but I think calling it jealousy amps up the dynamics.)
Because she isn’t done kneeing In-soo’s ego in the balls, Cho-sun tells him that she hopes he will exercise his benevolence as Sungkyunkwan’s Student President and forgive her for humiliating him in front of everyone.
No good can come out of this, I tell you.
It’s down to the final between Team In-Soo and the Jalgeum Trio. They draw lots and the first round sees Seon-joon going up against Byung-choon.
The latter is good but Seon-joon is better and the final score sees the Jalgeum Trio leading Team In-soo 29-27.
Next, it’s Jae-shin vs Kang Moo. The Minister of War and his right-hand man are watching the former intently to see if he is the masked avenger. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), his injuries are still fresh and the elbow he got in the gut from Yoon-hee earlier on isn’t helping things. As a result, he ends up shooting all his arrows wide, losing the round 5-24 to Kang Moo and leaving the competition wide open. The Minister of War berates his official, saying there’s no way Jae-shin can be Hong Byuk Seo since his archery skills suck big time.
So it’s down to Yoon-hee and In-soo. Jae-shin leaves the podium feeling like crap and he passes Yoon-hee in silence, too embarrassed by his performance to wish her luck.
She doesn’t hold it against him though and very sweetly hauls his ass out of his funk by telling him not to worry because she’s going to unleash her secret weapon and win the competition. And if that’s not enough, she thanks him for joining them for the tournament. She’s the one with a death sentence hanging over her head and she’s thanking and telling him not to worry? How awesome is this chick?
Everyone is watching the match between In-soo and Yoon-hee with baited breath. The Minister of War, recognising the latter from their disastrous meeting at the gisaeng house, suspects that she is the masked avenger and tells his lieutenant to keep a close eye on her.
In-soo is clearly the more skilled archer and he hits the bullseye twice. With Yoon-hee trailing behind by four points, the tournament is his to win and as he draws his bow for his last shot, his attention drifts to Cho-sun, who is looking anxiously at Yoon-hee. His arrow misses the mark, earning him only five points, which means that the Jalgeum Trio are still in the game. As everyone looks on in shock, no one sees the silent tear In-soo sheds.
To win the round and the competition, Yoon-hee’s arrow has to be on target. All eyes are on her but as she draws her bow, the string snaps. She goes off-stage to get another one and before returning to the podium, asks Seon-joon if he thinks she can win the tournament. In a replay of the scene from the previous episode, he tells her that she still lacks the strength and stamina. Just as her confidence hits rock bottom, he takes her hand in his and says that she has done far better than anyone else in the competition. No matter the outcome, she will always be a champion in his eyes.
As she returns to the podium, she flashbacks to her training sessions with Seon-joon and her conversation with Professor Jung. She draws the bow with a newfound determination, but stops midway. There’s a blade of glass embedded in the drawstring and it’s cutting into her hand, causing it to bleed. Professor Jung, betraying his real feelings toward her, goes over and asks her what’s wrong, but Yoon-hee waves his concern aside and tells him she will carry on.
The blade continues to cut into her hand and she draws the bow with great difficulty before releasing it.
What do you think happens?
Yoon-hee can scarcely believe her eyes and as the crowd erupts into cheers, she scans the crowd anxiously for Seon-joon, bursting into a smile bright enough to light up Sungkyunkwan for the next few years when she sees him. She prepares to make her way down the stage but is saved the trouble by her mob of supporters, who carries her to where he is standing.
OMG, the way they look at each other—be still my heart.
Seon-joon, what are you waiting for? Hug her, you fool! But he is too proper a gentleman to do anything like that and settles for patting her on her shoulder instead. (Damn you and your principles!) Yoon-hee is obviously way too easily contented because she looks as if she is about to die of happiness.
Meanwhile, her blood-soaked handkerchief hasn’t gone unnoticed and Jae-shin is up on the podium examining her bow. He guesses what must have happened and storms off with the intention of tearing the person responsible a new hole. However he is stopped by Yong-ha, who tells him that there’s no need for him to get involved since the matter is already being dealt with. Sure enough, In-soo is advancing upon Byung-choon and Go Bong with murder in his eyes.
Prize-giving ceremony: drinks are poured, the King talks, everyone smiles politely. The end.
Professor Jung’s office. While treating her wounds, he tells Yoon-hee that even though she has won the archery competition, there is no way she can be a Sungkyunkwan scholar on account of her being a girl and all. That’s just the way things are. Because she is awesome, Yoon-hee replies that he’s not going to dissuade her that easily just by telling her that she’ll fail. Ever since she was a young girl, no one has ever told her that she could be successful.
Party Central. Yong-ha, who is obviously very secure in his masculinity because he is wearing the pinkest outfit in all of Joseon, is officiating the evening’s proceedings, which essentially involves drinking an insane amount of alcohol. In an attempt not to give an encore performance of Episode Four (much to the disappointment of all of Yoochun’s fans), Seon-joon empties his wine into a jar that he’s hidden under the table.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, In-soo sits all alone in his room, silently going insane over the day’s events in his mind.
Seon-joon’s attempt to stay sober is foiled by Yong-ha who whisks his jar from under the table into the open and urges him to drink the whole lot. Seon-joon is too dignified to say it but trust me when I say he has the words “Oh, shit” written all over his face.
Fortunately, he is saved by Hyo-eun and his trusty manservant, who have come to congratulate him. As the old saying goes, it’s like jumping out of a pot straight into a frying pan because Hyo-eun mistakenly believes that he has kept his promise to visit her. And look! She’s even embroidered him a gift. Yong-ha is clearly enjoying watching Seon-joon squirm but just to show that he’s not taking sides, he marvels at Hyo-eun’s embroidery skills, remarking that it looks exactly like a piece from a famous designer’s limited edition spring collection. Ha ha.
And where exactly is Yoon-hee? She is standing outside the tavern, an adorable bundle of nerves, rehearsing what she intends to say to Seon-joon. However, her excitement dies the moment she enters the tavern to chants of “Ga rang! Ga rang!” and sees this:
Party buzz killed, she finishes her drink and leaves. She pauses in front of a cart of mirrors, silently lamenting the irony of it all, only to be interrupted by Seon-joon, who has followed her outside. He asks her why she left the party and taking her hand in his, asks if she’s okay. But Yoon-hee is not about to be appeased by some measly hand action, not after seeing what looked like a heated embrace inside, and she tells him to return to the party, leaving him to stare after her as she walks away.
On her way back to the dorms, she comes across a very drunk Byung-choon, who proceeds to taunt her, revealing in the process that it was he who placed the glass shard in the bow’s drawstring. He shoves Yoon-hee to the ground. It’s not the smartest thing to do because she’s in a pissy mood. Getting up, she punches him in the face (yes!), causing his nose to bleed. This pisses Byung-choon off and they proceed to roll around in the mud, with Yoon-hee sneaking in a few more punches.
(Okay, a suspension of disbelief is in order here because she fights like a five-year old. Perhaps a couple of hand-to-hand combat classes with Jae-shin are in order?) Anyway, their fight is interrupted by Go Bong, who separates the two. Before leaving, Yoon-hee tells Byung-choon to man up and quit his bitching. You go, girlfriend.
The party’s over and as Yong-ha prepares to return to his room, he sees Yoon-hee washing the dirt off her robes. Naturally, he offers to help by taking off her clothes, which sends her into a panic. You can practically hear the wheels turning in Yong-ha’s head as he listens to her half-baked excuse about a scar.
Very well, since it embarrasses her so much, he’ll tell her about a secret place where she can clean herself without any fear of intrusion. No one goes there because it is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a girl who was dumped by a Sungkyunkwan scholar.
Yoon-hee, being the naive, trusting fool that she is, swallows this hook, line and sinker. OMG, can you not see the holes in that sorry excuse for a wall? You’re in a school filled with horny guys who are best friends with their right hand. Now’s not the time to be having a bubble bath!
But the siren call of the hot tub wins out against common sense and soon she’s in there splish-splashing away.
Meanwhile, Yong-ha is pacing about in his room trying to convince his conscience that he’s not going to spy on Yoon-hee because he wants to see a naked woman. Rather, it’s because it’s his duty as a scholar to uncover the truth!
Not that his conscience needs much convincing. It’s been rolling over and playing dead for as long as Yong-ha has been stealing and breaking hearts.
We cut to Seon-joon who is surprise, surprise, also looking for Yoon-hee. And then: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?/ It is the East, and Yoon-hee is the sun.
What fun would it be if Jae-shin didn’t come to join in the party too? Though this scene is making Sungkyunkwan seem like it has only one building, I think this is the place where he was tending to his wounds earlier and he’s just here to score some free meds. Seeing the light in the room, he peeps through a hole in the door to find out who it is and recoils in shock.
And right on cue the hiccups begin.
Okay, I have a few questions for you, gentle reader: did they allow polygamy back in xxth century Joseon? Am I the only one torn between Jae-shin and Seon-joon? Can Yoon-hee marry them both? OMG, just think of all the fun, sexy times to be had! o.O
Okay, dragging mind out of the gutter now.
Of the two, I think Jae-shin probably has an easier time owning up to his feelings. Seon-joon, on the other hand, has so much sociological baggage to deal with that I don’t think he even knows he’s stewing in jealousy when he sees Yoon-hee goofing around with Jae-shin. He’s been living a cloistered, textbook-like existence all his life, as illustrated by his constant talk about laws and etiquette, and while he may have dreams of changing the world they live in, they’re basically idealized visions molded by the mores of the privileged world he has grown up in. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when he finds out that Yoon-hee’s a girl because this discovery is going to shake the foundations of everything he believes in. Either he’ll go down the stupid route and sulk for one episode, in which case I hope Jae-shin’s there to give him a good drubbing and shake some sense into him, or he’ll be relieved to know he’s not batting for the same team.
#2 on my wish list: Yong-ha’s back story, please! So far he’s been acting the role of a trump card, popping up at crucial moments to fish Jae-shin and Yoon-hee out of trouble, but who is he really? He’s incredibly worldly and so, so sharp. Nothing ever escapes him. I’m willing to wager that he knows everyone’s dirty/embarrassing secrets in Sungkyunkwan. That said, I’m also curious to know who his father is because Yong-ha gets away with practically everything. He wears whatever he wants to wear, he’s privy to the goings-on in In-soo’s inner circle, and he comes and goes as he pleases. I don’t think his father is just an ordinary well-to-do businessman. I’m guessing that he has to be as influential as Seon-joon and In-soo’s fathers for Yong-ha to be able to get away with so much!