Beneath the Queen’s Umbrella: Episodes three-four
Terrified for the Crown Prince’s life, our heroine steels herself to steer the younger princes via a series of punishing exams. Even so, the palace teems with secrets, and any one particular of them could be her children’s undoing…
EPISODES three-four WEECAP
The venomous Consort Go returns to parade Gyeseong’s secret ahead of the Dowager Queen. She’s met with a flat stare. If it is correct, she is told, Gyeseong faces execution — but, if her accusation lacks proof, it’ll be her facing the chop. For that reason, says the Dowager Queen, unless she is totally specific, she’d far better not run her mouth. For these asking yourself if the Dowager Queen’s warnings stem from some unexpected grandmotherly instinct, worry not: later, she invades Gyeseong’s sanctuary to take stock of the proof — sneering all the even though.
Hwa-ryeong finds Gyeseong, ordering them to consider only of their research, not their wanderings. Taken aback, Gyeseong promises to do Hwa-ryeong’s bidding: to study, toil, join the cohort — but, please let them continue with their walks. It is the only time in which they can breathe. (Sidenote: as Gyeseong is heavily trans-coded, I’ve selected to use they/them pronouns for now — he/him appears inappropriate.)
Elsewhere, there’s a pronounced uptick in religious sentiment amongst the concubines: with the cohort choice exam approaching, all they can do is pray. The princes method their academic doom with the weary trudge of males condemned to execution — or, of adolescents marching to their SATs. The initial two queries are regular Confucian fare: arithmetic, followed by a pious essay. The third is the king’s invention — a lateral pondering puzzle, developed to encourage outdoors-the-box options. (Me? I’m clearly a box-only sort of gal my utter inability to make two crescent moons out of an oblong would have quickly disqualified me for kingship.)
Uiseong soars to accomplishment on what is arguably an great instance of inventive difficulty-solving… from Consort Hwang. That is to say, he cheats, working with a code-word in his anonymous essay to harvest praise from corrupt examiners. Even so, even this fails to net him initial location: the winner is po-faced PRINCE BOGUM (Kim Min-ki). The other two to progress? Grand Princes Seongnam and Gyeseong. Geniuses they may well not be, but they’ve got originality in spades.
If only they understood what was at stake. That mentioned, with the Crown Prince sinking in and out of consciousness, it may well not be extended ahead of the complete court knows. In his uncommon moments of clarity, he’s heartbreakingly anxious to return to his duties. Not, Hwa-ryeong decides, on her watch. Canceling her son’s schedule, she urges the king to send him to the hot springs for his skin situation. The Crown Prince is squirreled away to convalesce in private, below the guise of a harmless holiday.
Now, to come to terms with an additional secret. Hwa-ryeong tiptoes into Gyeseong’s hideaway, solemnly peering into the identical mirror in which they applied their makeup. She touches a silk skirt. Examines an intricate hairpin. What ever fragile understanding she gains, she opts for the blunt mallet method. She’ll retain Gyeseong away from this area by forcing them to study with Seongnam.
Meanwhile, the scheming Dowager Queen, in the wake of Bogum’s accomplishment, presents Variation on a Scheme: Scheming in F Minor. That is to say, she reminds Bogum’s mother, CONSORT TAE (Kim Ga-eun), of that tiny, insignificant tiny pledge she created the other day… the one particular exactly where she provided her life in exchange for the Dowager Queen’s help. You know, the sort of deal you in no way reside to regret.
Additional disturbingly, she also meets with Court Lady Shin. Worse nonetheless, the latter confesses to Hwa-ryeong’s newest ploy: that the Crown Prince is not really relaxing at the hot springs, but lying delirious in the queen’s chambers. Nonetheless, when questioned about a “dreadful rumor” relating to Prince Gyeseong, Court Lady Shin feigns ignorance. It is a hard balance to strike, but her loyalties lie with Hwa-ryeong.
It is not extended ahead of the Dowager Queen tends to make her attack. Wheedling the King into a stroll, she suggests they discover some of the tiny-recognized places of the palace… that mysterious abandoned chamber on the outskirts of the grounds, for instance. What enjoyable! Hwa-ryeong, stricken, is forced to tag along. Fortunately, Court Lady Shin comes operating with a faintly plausible excuse: there’s been — erm — a banquet-associated emergency! Hwa-ryeong speed-walks away — a fraction extra speedily than usual, that is — to handle this disaster. Minutes later, the King and Dowager Queen method Gyeseong’s hideout… just in time to see the creating burning.
Of course, the peril — as the Dowager Queen hastens to remind Hwa-ryeong — is by no suggests more than. Nor is the Crown Prince secure. Dragging down the son of a queen is, just after all, practically nothing if not her specialty. Meanwhile, poor Gyeseong watches the inferno in despair. It is one particular issue to be queer and closeted in the Joseon era. It is rather an additional type of bleak when your closet itself goes up in flames. For a extended time, they curl up amongst the wreckage, silent and sad.
Later, realization strikes. A go to to the palace’s fire responders confirms it: they have been tipped off in advance — by Queen Hwa-ryeong’s court lady. Silent and determined, Gyeseong confronts their mother in tears. If she knows the truth, how could she be so cruel? Expression like steel, Hwa-ryeong urges them to decrease their voice. To be silent in extra methods than one particular. But, also — to stick to her.
As rain pours, mother and kid leave the confines of the palace. Court Lady Shin hands Gyeseong a silk dress, topped by the hairpins their mother saved from the fire. Clad in finery and delicate makeup, Gyeseong is invited to sit for a portrait.
Outdoors, Hwa-ryeong and Court Lady Shin share a quiet moment in the rain. Court Lady Shin, for her aspect, had helped commence the fire, sharing a shortcut so Hwa-ryeong could arrive in time. Now, she knows all the things about her queen. When Hwa-ryeong holds out an imperious hand for her usual herbal medicine, she hands one particular to her companion. If Court Lady Shin requires it, she warns her wryly, there’s no going back. Without having hesitation, Court Lady Shin eats.
At the finish of it all, Gyeseong receives a stunning, secret portrait of the self they’ve been forced to hide — and a heartfelt hug from their mother. Hesitant, they ask if she’s upset. Hwa-ryeong gently shakes her head. At a loss, she says — at initial — but, not upset. No matter how they appear, Gyeseong will often be her kid. She requires out a hairpin that belonged to her mother: she’d been saving for if she had a daughter. It is Gyeseong’s now.
Shoulder to shoulder below the queen’s umbrella, mother and kid return to the palace — exactly where neither are probably to breathe freely anytime quickly. Silently, Hwa-ryeong vows that there will come a day when these who are diverse will not have to hide.
Later, an additional angry kid barges in demanding an explanation: Seongnam. He tears back the screen — only to see the Crown Prince, lying prone on his sickbed. Hwa-ryeong cuts off his outrage with one particular word: hyeolheogwol. Her son’s fatigue situation. Its final victim, Prince Taein, died from other, extra mysterious causes all records of that incident been destroyed. When Hwa-ryeong assures him she’s attempting to defend her youngsters, Seongnam asks, rather reasonably, if destroying Gyeseong’s sanctuary was the ideal way of reaching this. If so — was forcing Seongnam himself to develop up alone, outdoors the palace, an additional choice created for his sake? All Hwa-ryeong can answer is that she believed it was the only way to retain him alive.
So lots of drastic selections, created for factors the youngsters should accept devoid of query. Gyeseong finishes locking away their portrait, just as their brother arrives, bearing drinks and sympathy. Gyeseong is dropping out of the cohort race — at Hwa-ryeong’s suggestion. Now, it is up to Seongnam to represent the household. As Seongnam accepts this with a smile, it is clear the siblings know a tiny of one particular another’s secrets. Nonetheless, there’s one particular Seongnam’s not sharing. It is a distant fragment of memory: the Dowager Queen telling him to neglect about an individual named Eunuch Kim. According to her, it was Seongnam’s fault that he witnessed one thing he shouldn’t.
Meanwhile, the Dowager Queen sets out to scheme the not possible scheme of replacing the Crown Prince. Even so, other individuals are determined to scheme a tiny larger, and on a extra demanding timescale — the Chief State Councilor, HWANG WON-HYEONG (Kim Eui-sung), chief amongst them. He’s placing his cards on the table. Rumors of the Crown Prince’s sickness have trickled across the court. This cohort choice is an chance to place Prince Uiseong on the throne, and he’s insistent the Dowager Queen seize it. Soon after all, she owes him. He helped her orchestrate her personal coup, back when she was just a concubine with major ambitions. Soon after all, it is not treason if you are the ones creating history.
The 3 challengers for cohort choice collect at Sigangwon for the final test: a debate. The situation on the table? An outbreak of plague in the hut village in Seochon. How ideal to manage the quarantine? Bogum navigates the debate the identical way he navigates most of life: reservedly, calmly, and with a pronounced disinclination to let his mother sneak in a secret tutor. Uiseong, of course, cheats: his strategy revolves about murdering all plague victims on the basis that they’re poor, and possibly immigrants anyway. Seongnam’s open horror is a quite affordable response to this, but he’s docked points for receiving emotional. Nonetheless, he’s the only candidate who knows what’s taking place on the ground: misinformation spreads worry, and violence against Seochon’s villagers is rampant. The only option is to figure out the plague’s trigger.
Seongnam is about to get up close and private with the topic of his political speaking points. Determined to save his older brother, he’s tracked down a medical doctor skilled in treating hyeolheogwol. His present whereabouts? You guessed it: the Seochon hut village. Fortunately, it appears our wayward prince is no stranger to daring capers. Soon after sneaking previous the quarantine gates in a provide truck, he weaves his way via the sick and dying — while displaying mask etiquette lackadaisical sufficient to traumatize anybody who didn’t sleep via 2020. The famed healer, MASTER TOJI (Kwon Hae-hyo), is understandably preoccupied by the welter of non-royal individuals requiring his care. Nonetheless, he spares sufficient time to empty Seongnam’s pockets of money, scribble a prescription, and impart some dry guidance. In a manner wildly uncharacteristic of a Joseon drama, he suggests refraining from acupuncture.
Court Lady Shin’s not the only one particular who knows her secret passageways: Seongnam escapes the quarantine by way of an underground crawlspace he’s clearly encountered ahead of. Even so, his resourcefulness runs dry when it is time to choose up the prescription: Master Toji has cheated him. In spite of obtaining assured Seongnam that the herbs have been incorporated in his charge, payment is precisely what the apothecary demands. Salvation comes in the kind of a stunning lady (Oh Ye-ju). Sweetly, she provides to place up her personal silver knife as collateral — a treasured keepsake from her mother.
This saccharine meet-cute is a tiny as well suspect to bear up below scrutiny. Turns out, the stunning stranger is the incorrigible daughter of the Minister of War, bane of all matchmakers. In a move that will win my heart forever, she admits to her companion that her pretty-a lot-living mother in no way gave her any type of knife. Nonetheless, how else is she meant to attract a husband, if not for elaborate cons involving doctor’s bills? A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Small does Seongnam know, he’s been fooled not after, but thrice: after by his flirtatious savior, and twice by Master Toji. The cash the apothecary demanded is for smuggling help into the hut village.
Quickly, the debate final results are announced: the winner is Prince Bogum, whose fence-sitting moderation clearly wowed the judges. This outrages Won-hyeong, who detects the Dowager Queen’s finger in this certain pie. Amused, she explains her reasoning: all the debate proved was that the queen’s sons fall quick. If Uiseong desires the crown… properly, that is not rather the identical as getting the Crown Prince’s cohort, is it?
Seongnam returns to the palace, bag brimming with herbal medicine. At initial, Hwa-ryeong can’t countenance its use. An untested remedy, from outdoors the palace? It could be disastrous. Even so, situations quickly force her hand. The Crown Prince’s pregnant wife has gone into labor, and his look is now critical. Hwa-ryeong is forced to embrace desperate measures she’ll take private duty for the consequences… which, if it is not sufficient to get the Crown Prince upright and lucid, will be dire.
It virtually is not. Even so, just as the court commence to murmur unpleasant suspicions to one particular an additional — the Crown Prince approaches, sturdy on his feet. Hwa-ryeong’s personal posture straightens in self-assurance. Somehow, they’ve pulled it off.
Afterwards, our heroine presides more than a triumphant, laughing household dinner. It is the initial moment of peace she’s had in 4 entire episodes of chaos and intrigue. The Crown Prince is plied with numerous well being foods, as her other youngsters tease her about favoritism — most of them, blissfully ignorant of the close to disaster they faced. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince and Seognam take a moment to be grateful with each other. Seongnam recalls how his older brother came to fetch him from his childhood dwelling — in Seochon. Back then, the mother he didn’t recognize would go to him, crying. Even then, she loved him. Now, that he’s come back from the edge of death, the Crown Prince is determined to appreciate his personal infant daughter just as fiercely.
It is as well excellent to be correct. When Bogum enters Sigangwon, disaster looms. Midway via reciting the nine virtues of a nobleman, the Crown Prince splutters. Chokes. And coughs up dark pools of blood.
This show’s palace intrigue is as quickly-paced as our heroine’s footsteps I’m on the edge of my seat! I appreciate how it highlights the claustrophobia of the royal court. Hwa-ryeong’s youngsters are bearing the brunt of its tendency to reduce you into smaller sized and smaller sized pieces — no matter if it is the Crown Prince’s confinement to little sickbeds, Seongnam maneuvering via narrow passageways, or Gyeseong’s sanctuary shrinking to the size of a portrait in a drawer.
Outdoors the palace, there’s a bit of area to breathe. Gyeseong can be sincere with their mother — but only below cover of darkness. Seongnam can uncover secrets in Seochon — but only in the stifling fug of plague. Beneath The Queen’s Umbrella is an apt title: Hwa-ryeong cannot cease the rain, but she can defend her youngsters a tiny if they duck below her shelter.
As for how Gyeseong’s arc has been handled? It is far defter than final week. This time, the narrative was explicitly critiquing transphobia, rather than passively depicting it. Hwa-ryeong’s move from panic to acceptance was extremely touching Kim Hye-soo’s maternal tenderness in these final scenes broke my heart. My one particular quibble is that the concentrate was virtually totally on Hwa-ryeong’s mixed feelings, while Gyeseong wasn’t afforded a lot of a voice. In truth, the complete arc is marked by important silences. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of time for the writers to discover.
Plus, this is a drama that wields a imply subverted trope. I was cackling with delight at the introduction of our new female character, the Minister of War’s daughter. She won me more than with her pretty initial cheeky grin I appreciate a noble lady with a versatile method to morality! Meanwhile, what’s the betting on the Crown Prince’s fate? I’m hoping he lives to raise his child daughter, but that coughed-up blood was awfully… copious. One particular thing’s for confident: subsequent week is going to be twisty, sharp-witted, and completely entertaining.
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