The past two episodes have included some major, everything or nothing, Hail Mary’s. The kind of decisive action that changes everything… [Leaping into spoilers; through episode 16] …like the king descending into the laundry pond to proclaim his love for Ok-jung. But I think… I’m pretty sure… the Queen Mother won this round. Which has me terrified for Jang Ok-jung’s sake. She may have lost more badly than she’s realized.
Ok-jung’s strength had been her being far enough above the politicking and secrecy of the inner-palace that she could sincerely react with righteous horror when she was attacked. It allowed her to remain honest with Lee Soon and meant he trusted her, loved her, and did his best to protect her. But she’s been pulled into the fray and she’s lost (or is loosing) the king’s trust.
I can see why Ok-jung acted. Even with the king’s support, the miscarriage happened, and even the king’s rage couldn’t prevent the Queen Mother from further threatening Ok-jung’s children. I can see why she got that desperate and why she made the all-in move she made. But it involved fooling the king. And it ended with the Queen Mother maneuvering herself into becoming the ultimate victim.
Lee Soon’s trust is a very fragile thing. And, despite the many ways the Queen Mother has weakened and handicapped him, Lee Soon does love his mom. (She wouldn’t have been such a burden to him if he didn’t love her.) Ok-jung made a wild throw at the basket — and it was definitely a gutsy move — but I do believe she missed.
Which has me scared for the story now, too. I came in to the drama expecting tragedy. Even the most casual look at the history flashes a big neon warning sign: tragedy ahead. But I wasn’t sure what flavor of tragedy we were going to get. I’m starting to worry we’re going to have a story that’s less Romeo and Juliet (yes, death — but not death of love) and more Othello. Which… isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I mean, Othello isn’t exactly a failure of a play) but I do fear the bitterness to come.
If Lee Soon does turn away from Ok-jung (and the last episode definitely shows him wavering — so much so I’m not sure how she could ever win him back) I think the ending will have him ordering her execution with righteous anger. I hope it’ll be followed with the sort of remorse Othello felt (and I hope Ok-jung will be worthy of that sort of remorse), but I’m worried that the righteousness will be the end game. Which will be a very bitter ending indeed.