“MR. QUEEN” EPISODE SEVEN RECAP
Generally, this episode was lack lustre.
In the popular reimagining of the classic story about two people switching bodies, Mr. Queen delivers an easy-going experience, and with an abundance of clichés. The South Korean drama dives into gender norms and stereotypes, asking audiences to be open minded and perceptive of the ridiculous traditions that confine people to some behaviours above others. This examination is instigated when Jang Bong-Hwan (Choi Jin-Hyuk), a womanizing chef switches bodies with a depressed Queen Kim So-Yong (Shin Hye-Sun) after her presumed suicide attempt to drown in a palace lake. Jang is frantic and playful, characteristics which are completely antithesis to a resolute Kim So-Yong, and yet, his eccentric (modern) personality is enough to brighten the circumstances that So-Yong hoped to escape.
The fact is, Mr. Queen is likeable mainly because of how predictable and silly the narrative is. Jang Bong-Hwan is transported into the Joseon period and behaves erratically and yet, his capricious actions are perfectly suited to combat the scheming enemies of Queen Kim So-Yong who are seemingly always ready with the next skillful art to overthrow or kill her. His penchant for flirting and dramatized courting efforts almost always turn out to be saving graces— as if Jang can’t do any wrong.
Episode seven of the series, picks up just after So-Yong/ Jang Bong-Hwan collapses, leading Jang Bong-Hwan back into his body in a hospital bed. Of course though, he’s in a vegetative state with no capacity to speak or even move but his mind is fresh and he is aware of his surrounding, enough to listen to the musings of the detectives who are slyly gossiping about his circumstance. However on the other side of the coin, So-Yong, as she has become known since the infiltration of Bong-Hwan’s spirit, is still unconscious and the court servants, along with King Cheoljong (Kim Jung-Hyun) fret over how to help her recover. Makes you wonder if this is all a dream or if this is Bong-Hwan’s actual reality.
In any case, throughout the entire episode, So-Yong/Bong-Hwan is oblivious to the politics around him. But while So-Yong was unconscious, the king stayed by her side, telling her annoying sentimentalities about how he forgave her (essentially for his mistreatment) and then basically revealed his true personality to the court by accidentally standing up for himself. It’s interesting that the instigator of all this drama really seems to be So-Yong’s adopted cousin Kim Byeong-In (Na In-Woo), who is apparently so recklessly (or some might say dangerously) in love with her. There is no official explanation about how long they have assumed the roles of family to one another but whatever the case, their flirting seems scandalous and extremely taboo since they are meant to be family.
Generally though, this episode was lack lustre. Consort Jo Hwa-Jin (Seol In-A) just missed death by neglecting to show up to a planned ritual event to exorcise the queen with the Queen Dowager. But in the meantime, we learned that someone is using So-Yong’s predicament to their advantage (namely the Grand Queen Dowager, played by Bae Jong-Ok). The Grand Queen’s Dowager’s actions is a reminder that the court people are so vicious!
Instead of fretting about the queen’s health, the Grand Queen Dowager decided to reveal how cruel she is with historical evidence. Not only is she setting up replacements for So-Yong in case she becomes a liability, she is also very comfortable with the fact that she killed the late king.
Still, nearly all the characters in the show are unlikeable. Cheoljong is unreasonable with So-Yong probably even before Bong Hwan took over her body because he never gave her the opportunity to help him and yet felt a lot of resentment towards her (madness). Then there’s the ruthlessness of Kim Jwa-Geun (Kim Tae-Woo), the Grand Queen Dowager’s helper, and worse the big reveal that the queen’s father is also very corrupted—although not entirely surprising since the king revealed that the Kim family is dishonorable.
I will say though that the ending scene with Cheoljong showing his muscles, was a very nice touch and pleasing to watch. Still, it feels as though everyone except for Kim Jwa-Geun, is acting recklessly and although it’s probably necessary to move the story along, it feels tiring and like a subtle signal of poor writing since the soul of So-Yong is missing in action. How can you have a story about souls switching and forget about the other soul?
Moving forward it would be very nice to learn more about how she feels, what she’s thinking and just get a simple glimpse of her. If we are using her likeness in this story, at the very least, she should be present momentarily to share how she is feeling. So far, Bong-Hwan’s experience feels as though it plateauing in inspiring excitement.