“MR. QUEEN” EPSIODE 13 & 14 RECAP
Episode 14 is much more generous with humor and lightness and yet it still carries a serious undertone.
There’s a subtle growth in the story development of Mr. Queen that has managed to make the show less a throwaway, feel-good TV fad, to one that’s startingly and it’s quite impressive. Everything about the show is arresting, from the convincing acting performances of Kim Jung-Hyun as King Cheoljong and Shin Hye-Sun in her role as Queen Kim So-Yong/ chef Jang Bong-Hwan to screenwriter Park Kye Ok storytelling. Episodes 13 and 14 perfectly illustrate this.
In these episodes, Cheoljong is finally unleashed and he is fantastic. He schemed and risked his life (and those of his royal guard) with a planned explosion in episode 12 and we see the aftermath. As he’d hoped, it set the ground work for doubt, the weapon he chooses to recraft his imagine and to defend against his enemies. In this case, it helps his council members to suddenly question their association with Kim Jwa-Geun (Kim Tae-Woo) and by extension, the grand queen dowager (Bae Jong-Ok).
Still, with the news of Cheoljong’s precarious condition, So Yong/ Bong-Hwan, reveals her feelings for him. Everyone takes notice of this shift in character, especially the queen dowager. Still, Cheoljong’s momentary disappearance, spurs a series of actions that help to build narrative tension.
Early on in episode 13 of Mr. Queen, everyone is trying to figure out who attempted to kill the king and the anxious responses of the wider public is exactly the environment Cheoljong wants to foster because it leads his foes to make mistakes. So, as designed, there is chaos.
The king is unconscious, there’s fear about who else might be a target, and the officials need to find the people behind the assassination attempt. As the head of the department of justice, Kim Byung In (Na In-Woo) investigates the seven suspicious undocumented characters that were in the Cheoljong’s royal guard. Yet, when tortured and questioned continuously, they only offer Kim Jwa-Geun as the power behind them.
Within the disorder, So Yong’s father, Kim Moon-Geun (Jeon Bae-Su), discovers that Kim Jwa-Geun doesn’t have the Kim’s incriminating ledger, Bong-Hwan talks back to her father, and through another dangerous diving attempt, learns about the reason behind So Yong’s agony. Then, the Queen dowager (Jo Yeon-Hee) leaves the ledger among So Yong’s belongings and later, she’s further incriminated by a jealous Jo Hwa-Jin (Seol In-Ah).
All the while, Cheoljong feigns illness only to show up at their council meeting. Cheoljong’s presence and gait as he walks in, marks a shift in power and tone. You can see the change in his countenance with every domineering step he takes. With this interruption, he causes great dissonance as he ousts Kim Jwa-Geun as the mastermind behind his assassination attempt and then brazenly requests the end of the grand queen dowager’s regency.
“You must have lost your judgment because of old age,” he tells her. “I can no longer discuss politics with you in such a state.”
To a naïve person, he would seem untouchable but to his antagonists, his primary vulnerability becomes So Yong. In actuality though, his weakness is more likely to be his hubris since he offers Kim Jwa-Geun the opportunity to be impeached by Saheonbu, a league of Kim allies. Is it a rookie mistake or another underhanded scheme to provide an opening to issue a permanent attack on Kim Jwa-Geun? It’s too early to tell.
In any case, Kim Jwa-Geun and the grand queen dowager shift their attention to killing the queen since they realize how much of an aide she is to Cheoljong, materially, but also because she imbues him with confidence.
“You should replace the broken item with the new one,” Jwa-Geun tells the grand queen dowager adding, “but you can make the broken one serve the purpose until the end and use it as kindling. Should we use real arsenic this time?”
Those are bold words, but not nearly as bold as Physician Park (Ha-Min), the secret blind aide of Cheoljong. It’s unbelievable how well prepared Cheoljong is.
Episode 14 is much more generous with humor and lightness and yet it still carries a serious undertone. Of course, there’s the whole thing with Cheoljong finally sleeping with So-Yong/ Jang Bong- Hwan, but also, there’s the failed assassination attempt against So-Yong which is foiled by little Dam-Hyang (Kang Chae-Won), a five-year-old court lady.
These episodes of Mr. Queen offer an education on the power of self-image and confidence. The lesson is, to truly gain dominance and power in any capacity or context, it starts first with self-assurance and faith in your own ability coupled with resilience.
They also teach us that not all love/ affections are created equal. Jo Hwa Jin thinks she loves and cherishes the king but her love is suffocating and oppressive, since she only wants him to sustain the image she has of him and she’s apparently willing to harm him for the greater good of her love. So Yong’s father had hoped that making her queen would be great for his pockets and her but neglected to realize that putting her in the palace would force her into never ending danger. Kim Byung In thinks going behind his father to scheme with the grand queen dowager will help his father but fails to see that his father values loyalty and transparency more than good intended secrecy and on and on ad infinitum. Everyone is muddled by self-interest and a warped idea of righteousness.
In any case, the ending builds a chasm between the greed of the Kim clan and the renegade ideas of Cheoljong. Everyone, including the servants are acutely perceptive to the cruelty and deviousness of the council and Kim Jwa-Geun since they killed a five-year-old. But nothing can be done about it. Still, the council’s security in conventionality and tradition is momentarily shaken as the queen and king argue with an audience. For just a moment, they might have realized that a change was brewing.