Beneath the Queen’s Umbrella: Episodes 1-two
Beneath the Queen’s Umbrella is billed as a comedy, but even though it is funny, this does not pretty capture its true strength: at heart, it is an intense political thriller about a lady striving to preserve her family members alive. This show is a wry appear at the difficulty of surviving as a lady at court, but it is also plotty and inventive, with extra cutthroat political scheming than you can shake a stick at.
EPISODES 1-two WEECAP
QUEEN IM HWA-RYEONG (Kim Hye-soo) is a force of nature. She storms by way of the palace at breakneck pace, gulping herbal medicine tablets like they’re the Joseon equivalent of Red Bull. When she catches her son fooling about with a courtesan, she drags the former straight out of bed, and brandishes a hairpin to the latter’s throat. She’s assertive to the point of recklessness with the formidable DOWAGER QUEEN (Kim Hae-sook), confident in her position as official wife amongst her king’s bristling flanks of consorts. (Right after all, what’s improved than 5 sons and 1 wife? Ten sons, and ten wives! At this point, the king could get started a marching band.)
Nonetheless, if there’s 1 factor she’s certain of — and think me, our heroine is certain of lots of points — it is that her 4 youngest sons needn’t apply themselves as well assiduously to their research. Why would they, when she’s currently raised the great crown prince (Bae In-hyuk), primed to ascend to the throne unchallenged? For that reason, when the King’s cadre of consorts squabble and clamor for their sons to shine in the Jonghak — i.e. royal college — it is not as well significant a deal that the grand princes seem somewhat duller. Of course, this will not cease our queen from sprinting across the palace to shepherd her embarrassment of sons into some semblance of decorum… or, at the incredibly least, persuade them to show up.
As for our band of miscreants? There’s PRINCE SEONGNAM (Moon Sang-min), a wild kid who’d rather ditch all the things to go riding. Then, PRINCE MUAN (Yoon Sang-hyeon), consummate ladies man, he of the unauthorized “friendship” with the courtesan, whose interest in his research extends only as far as the odd seminar on sex education. There’s PRINCE GYESEONG (Yoo Seon-ho), a bookish young man who’d show guarantee, had been it not for his carefree indifference to extra or significantly less all the things. Lastly, there’s PRINCE ILYOUNG (Park Ha-joon), who… effectively, frankly, I’m not certain what’s up with Ilyoung. Largely, he just likes to sleep in. Relatable!
No matter. Our crown prince is the incredibly model of a Joseon intellectual. He’s a dutiful son and loving father, who in no way saw a grade in his life that wasn’t tong — outstanding. About none of this matters when he collapses to the floor, mid-conversation with his doting mother. Turns out, even great heirs have completely-kept secrets — and the Prince’s is deadly. He’s been steadily increasing sicker more than the previous year, thanks to the exact same fatigue situation that afflicted his uncle, PRINCE TAEIN. Here’s the kicker: Prince Taein died of it. Informing the king is a road fraught with peril Hwa-ryeong’s position, and consequently the security of her sons, depends on the crown prince’s wellness. Ideal to keep discreet — for now.
Meanwhile, the 4 grand princes face difficulty of their personal — even though, for after, they’re not the ones who began it. Granted, it appears poor: PRINCE UISEONG (Chani), son of the honored CONSORT HWANG (Ok Ja-yeon), is sprawled out with a bloodied lip ahead of them. Of course, Uiseong is also a sullen tiny brat who keeps spitting venom about the queen. It is for her sake that the grand princes refuse to give a explanation for the fisticuffs — resulting in a deeply disdainful Dowager Queen. She sentences the troublemaker princes to repent on their knees in the pouring rain.
Consort Hwang, for her component, is appalled… that Uiseong got caught. He has no appropriate to insult the queen! Not however, in any case. For now, she gives some loving motherly assistance, in among lashes of a whip: preserve your mouth shut and your priorities straight. If Uiseong surpasses the crown prince, he can crow to his heart’s content material. Hwa-ryeong’s personal maternal instincts are a tiny significantly less violent, even though no significantly less fierce. She openly defies the Dowager Queen to rescue her sons from the rain — realizing that they might face worse peril in time.
She’s appropriate to be concerned: the Dowager Queen is chock complete of tricks. With a member of the prince’s cohort at Sigangwon — i.e. royal royal college — quickly to be sent on a diplomatic mission, there’s an opening. She coyly suggests that KING LEE HO (Choi Won-young) supplement his retinue with 1 of the princes.
At the ever-expanding meeting of queen and consorts — wife quantity ten dropped just this morning — Hwa-ryeong tends to make the announcement. It is a blatant chance for advancement. The consorts stumble more than themselves to petition the Dowager Queen for assistance. Right after all, she achieved what they could only dream of: even though after a concubine, her son now reigns.
It is precisely this truth that is been nagging at Hwa-ryeong. The precedent does not bode effectively. When Prince Taein died, he had various living brothers. However, it is Lee Ho, son of a concubine, who accomplished the throne. Is the Dowager Queen hoping to repeat history? It undoubtedly appears that way: word is, she’s offered out a secret book to at least 1 consort, detailing her specific formula for the rearing of a king. (In actuality, she’s offered 1 to each consort with a son.)
Nonetheless reeling from these machinations, Hwa-ryeong returns to the crown prince’s secret sickbed — only to come face to face with the Dowager Queen herself. This canny political operator tends to make herself clear: above all else, she seeks stability in the royal court. If that indicates advertising a lesser prince above 1 of Hwa-ryeong’s unruly sons — so be it. In quick? Hwa-ryeong really should watch her step. Her security now hangs by a slender thread.
How to guard her sons from this new peril? Properly — expertise is energy. Hwa-ryeong determines to discover all she can about the final time the kingdom was in crisis… chiefly, the fate of QUEEN YOON, mother of the late Prince Taein.
It is late at evening when the queen ventures out, umbrella barely shielding her from the drumming rain. Even at danger of treason, she seeks out a deserted residence exactly where the deposed Queen Yoon (Seo Yi-sook) lives in exile. Keenly conscious of the danger, Queen Yoon demands that she leave at after — but falters as Hwa-ryeong drops to her knees in the mud. She does not know exactly where else to turn.
Queen Yoon’s story is a chilling 1. Far from succumbing to illness, Prince Taein was supposedly cured ahead of he died. Afterwards, all the things occurred with suspicious haste: Lee Ho was crowned king, Queen Yoon’s father accused of treason, and her sons… effectively, they didn’t final lengthy. Queen Yoon produced the exact same error as Hwa-ryeong: determined not to breed resentment amongst her kids, she only educated the eldest to rule the rest, she ready for marriage outdoors the palace. As such, they showed no capacity for governance. Alternatively, the son of a concubine was selected — following which, all but 1 grand prince died in mysterious situations. To save her sons from an identical fate, Hwa-ryeong pledges to be ruthless.
Elsewhere, the Dowager Queen continues to scheme: this time, alongside promising junior schemer, Consort Hwang. As soon as upon a time, Consort Hwang was the favored candidate for queenship — but the king, determined to preserve his maternal relatives in verify, married the humble Hwa-ryeong rather. The Dowager Queen regrets the truth that Uiseong has been sidelined as a outcome. Nonetheless, to judge by her pointed tree metaphors, she’s keen to make amends: the two establish, by way of cautious code, that they’re not above — erm — uprooting the crown prince.
Across the palace, the consorts topic their sons to the Dowager Queen’s finest exam hacks, most of which really feel decidedly clickbait-y: Six Approaches to Supercharge The Royal Brain… Quantity 3 Will Shock You!. (Quantity 3, by the way, is dunking him in saltwater each morning.) Meanwhile, the queen begins perform on her personal sons. The crown prince is now walking, speaking, and undertaking his ideal to feign excellent wellness. Nonetheless, the other 4 — blithely unaware of any threats — can not realize why Mom’s getting weird about this cohort organization. Now, she’s asking about their schooling? Their interests? Yeesh.
Hwa-ryeong manages to impress upon them that they certainly ought to, beneath discomfort of disobedience, apply for the cohort choice of their personal totally free will. She commands them to pick out to do so! Please! The difficulty is, she can not inform them the secret of the crown prince’s situation they’d be concerned as well substantially, and give it away. A quiet word with their tutor reveals that she has explanation to worry: the 4 princes lack drive — particularly Seongnam and Gyeseong, whose truancy is legend.
Hwa-ryeong despairs. Seongnam, she’d anticipated, but Gyeseong? He’s supposed to be the vibrant 1! Apparently, he’s been sneaking out on the sly — so, definitely, the only logical factor to do is to comply with covertly. Hwa-ryeong, accompanied by the loyal (and lengthy-suffering) COURT LADY SHIN (Park Joon-myun), shadows her son as he wanders by way of the lesser-trodden regions of the palace. He enters a tumbledown constructing, overgrown and abandoned. Right here, Hwa-ryeong and Court Lady Shin take it in turns to peer at him by way of a gap in the door — and gasp.
Hwa-ryeong stumbles by way of the palace in anguish. Crying in panic, she flings herself into the 1 hiding spot that has in no way failed her — the 1 spot Court Lady Shin has normally identified to locate her — a broom closet exactly where she can cry undisturbed. What ever she saw, it terrifies her to the extent that she fears for Gyeseong’s life. Court Lady Shin cries as well she wishes the queen would cease telling her her secrets. But then, who else could Hwa-ryeong inform?
Meanwhile, the day comes for the princes to place their names forward for cohort choice. Of the 4 grand princes, Muan is the very first. He’s hoping to recover a tiny of his honor… even though, he’s also hoping they will not make the exam benefits public. Seongnam, truant extraordinaire, is suffering a crisis of indecision — and with half an hour to go, he does not have lengthy. He decides to seek guidance from the crown prince.
It is a go to that opens up extra concerns than it answers. The crown prince is nostalgic, longing for the days when he and his brother played — and picked fights they couldn’t win — as kids. Seongnam, it appears, possesses hidden depths: above all, he has normally attempted to guard his younger siblings. Now, the crown prince desires him to guarantee to do the exact same for his son. When Seongnam asks why his brother is so somber, the crown prince does not answer. All he asks is that Seongnam joins him as component of his cohort — exactly where possibly it can be just like the old days.
It is the push Seongnam desires. For after, he arrives not late, but just on time, placing his name down for cohort choice. In truth, as Hwa-ryeong learns… each single 1 of the grand princes have applied. Delinquents they might be, but her sons have come by way of!
Subsequent comes the exam. Privately, the king acknowledges that he’s not necessarily searching for academic excellence — rather, the potential to assume outdoors the box. But, the truth remains that there’s a broad curriculum to conquer: books upon books, with extra books to spare, which each single consort is determined to master. Tutors are summoned. Nosebleeds are suffered. Meanwhile, Hwa-ryeong resolves to do the heavy intellectual lifting on her children’s behalf: in the lengthy evening that follows, she requires copious notes. Right after all, as she tells Court Lady Shin (while mainlining herbal medicine) — it was hardly dumb luck and humble birth that led to her becoming queen. It was for the reason that she beat all the other candidates. Now? She’s determined not to shed.
When she presents her sons with a vast stack of crib sheets, they waver. Seongnam in specific appears mutinous: is it definitely fair for his mother to give his brothers false hope, contemplating their skills? She catches his sleeve. Quietly, she confesses that she can not inform him why — but he ought to know she is undertaking this to guard them.
And boy do they need to have safeguarding. CONSORT GO (Woo Jung-won), convinced that Gyeseong has identified a spot to study in secret, follows him for the duration of his wanderings. Like Hwa-ryeong, she peers by way of the doorway. Like Hwa-ryeong, she gasps. Inside is Gyeseong, wearing makeup.
An intriguing couple of episodes! So, very first of all, the excellent: I’m definitely satisfied to see a drama revolving about the dreaming and scheming of females in the royal palace. The queen or concubine who’s determined to market her son is a classic sageuk trope, and it delights me how this show has selected to humanize it. I like dramas exactly where I can realize exactly where absolutely everyone is coming from — hero and villain alike — and this 1 picks out everyone’s motives in stunning detail.
At heart, it is all about survival in a cutthroat court: for our heroine, certain, but also for the vicious Consort Hwang. At the finish of the day, they’re each attempting to preserve their position for the sake of their family members. I really like the proof we see of our heroine weighing her alternatives and deciding on to be ruthless, with out getting vilified by the narrative.
Nonetheless, let’s address the elephant in the space: queerphobia. Currently, the Gyeo-seong cross-dressing plotline has hit some unpleasant beats: most memorably, his mother falling apart and practically vomiting at the sight of him in makeup. I’m certain the writers would argue this is a period-common reaction, not a statement the show is producing, but that ignores the truth that it is a typical transphobic trope. The dramatic create-up, the ominous music… it all feels quite insulting. In addition, if it turns out that the character is a trans lady, then I’m unimpressed by the truth that they cast a male actor. It is not a excellent get started, but I’m definitely hoping they do improved subsequent week. I’d like to see them be definitely committed to queer visibility, rather than using it for shock worth.
So, all in all? A mixed bag. An intriguing mixed bag nonetheless. This drama is definitely compelling, and I’m currently attached to the characters. It is a massive cast, but they’ve applied bold strokes to depict each and every of them. Hwa-ryeong, with all her stubbornness and drive, is a fantastic protagonist, and I can not wait to see how she develops — particularly when pushed into a corner. For all that her circumstance is desperate, it appears that stress is exactly where she thrives.
- Premiere Watch: Yonder, Beneath the Queen’s Umbrella
- Make way for Queen Kim Hye-soo in Beneath the Queen’s Umbrella
- Kim Hye-soo requires her sons to activity in The Queen’s Umbrella
- Kim Hye-soo keeps a watchful eye in tvN’s The Queen’s Umbrella
- Kim Hye-soo keeps a watchful eye in tvN’s The Queen’s Umbrella