Dong-yi Episode 2, recap
Dong-yi: Episode 2
Hey, now that Photobucket has stopped kicking itself in the head, figuratively speaking, we can has screencaps.
Watching this scene, I was thinking about how awesome Dong-yi would be as Iljimae. Think about it, she’s just as smart as he is, has a very strong sense of justice, and no one would ever, ever suspect it.
So last episode they left off with a cliffhanger, as Dong-ju and Chun-soo split up to search for Dong-yi, who seemed to have vanished in thin air. Her father, who turns out to be the leader of the Sword Society, calls for a general meeting. (Yeah, who thinks this is going to get him in trouble with his trusting and trusted student, Inspector Seo?)
As it turns out, Dong-yi is perfectly safe, to the bafflement of her pursuers. They’d been poised to snatch her from her house, but servants from a yangban household were already there, and took her to the residence. Turns out they’re in search of a ‘maiden greeter’, who’s basically a girl servant picked especially to greet clan families on the first day of Lunar January. The girl they’d previously selected had fallen ill at the last minute, so they need a last-minute replacement.
Dong-yi’s thrilled, because this means she gets to keep the pretty formal clothing a greeter wears. When the lady of the house hears that Dong-yi is of common birth, however, she scolds her servant and tries to send Dong-yi away. The latter isn’t about to give up, and demonstrates her intelligence by reading the greetings out loud – but it turns out the servant had written them badly and Dong-yi ends up correcting him on his use of hanja (as opposed to hangul, the phonetic alphabet).
Greatly impressed, the lady of the house agrees to let Dong-yi pass on the greetings. She tells her that it’s very important to do them correctly, as her own daughter will be marrying up into the yangban family Dong-yi will visit.
Dong-yi reassures her that she’ll show up on the Lunar New Year, though we all know she’s just in it for the pretty clothes. (That is not to say she won’t do a good job. She’s just got different priorities.)
Dong-yi makes her way home, completely unaware of the dangers she barely dodged. Dong-ju, who has been searching all this while, grabs her and takes her to Ge-dwo-ra’s house. She isn’t told why it’s necessary, but is told to stay put, inside the safety of Ge-dwo-ra’s house.
Papa Choi is relieved that his daughter is safe, but he knows there’s more going on under the surface than just a cover-up, so he delegates different people in the Sword Society to figure out just what is going on.
He wants intel on the nobles who were killed, whether they had any enemies, and why the Sword Society was chosen as scapegoats. The first step, of course, is to get at the official records, which are placed in the palace. Dong-ju manages to sneak in, with the help of well-placed repairmen, and copy the relevant info.
Chun-soo is given special protecting Dong-yi duty. Papa Choi basically tells him that he trusts her with him, because he’s as good as family, and because they need someone to look after her if both Dong-ju and himself are killed. It’s a telling moment, that Choi Hyo-won is making this sort of request – indication of his awareness of how much danger they’re courting.
During the night, the murdered officer had been autopsied and the cause of death determined to be stabbing. Seo’s subordinates came back from checking up on Choi Hyo-won and report with the worrying news that they are nowhere to be seen, Seo worries that they too have fallen to the mysterious assassins.
Unfortunately, the Choi family’s absence is taken as a motive for something else. Oh Yoon orders his men to post wanted portraits for both Choi Hyo-won and Dong-yi, citing their participation and strange disappearance as ‘evidence’ for their involvement in the officer’s murder.
Meanwhile, Dong-yi is going crazy because she might miss the Lunar Year deadline, and therefore not get the pretty clothes at all. And this is where bad communication kills, because had she been told (come on, she’s smart enough for the truth) the gravity of her confinement, Dong-yi would have happily stayed home.
In order to get out of the house, she persuades Ge-dwo-ra into pretending he has some sort of acute stomachache – he thinks she’s going to buy roasted meat kabobs for him. That way Dong-yi can go out while pretending to run out for the doctor.
Instead, Ge-dwo-ra’s dad comes in with a folk remedy: cow manure! Granted, it’s diluted, but supposedly it’s proof against all sorts of intestinal ailments. (By making the person vomit endlessly??)
Faced with the prospect of drinking dung, he caves and tells his dad that it was all Dong-yi’s idea, in order for her to sneak out.
Naturally this gets Dong-yi into big trouble with her dad, who wants to know why she can’t just behave like she used to. (Not to rain on your parade or anything, Papa Choi, your daughter may be many things, but obedient isn’t one of them.)
Anyway, Dong-yi has had enough of being cooped up, and shouts at her father. She wants to have pretty clothes, to feel the silk against her skin and know that people look at her with respect… which her father can’t give her right now.
Aww. I bet papa Choi is feeling pretty awful right now. (But seriously, just tell her why she needs to stay inside. Like, I don’t know, the wanted poster?)
At night, Seo thinks over his confrontation with Oh Yoon and comes to the conclusion that it’s too deep for him, and that he needs his father’s help. It’s a rather dangerous step, involving more powerful courtiers, but at this point it’s the only thing to be done.
While walking in the street, he bumps against a Sword Society member, who passes him a note, in the best of Bond traditions. It’s for a midnight meeting under an old pine tree. (More suited to lover’s meetings than secret political discussion, but uh, okay.)
While Seo’s glad that his mentor’s alive and well, he’s somewhat disturbed by the tone of his conversation, which comes down to ‘I’ll figure out what’s going on and kick them in the head’.
As agreed, Seo seeks out his father, who used to be a prominent court official, but who has since retired to enjoy the small things in life. After his son’s explanation, he agrees to step in and report to the king.
… to which I say, uh-oh.
Because when people try to get the king involved in a sageuk, it’s never a good thing.
Yeah, what I said.
Choi Hyo-won’s messenger gets caught, and it all goes downhill from there.
Dong-yi’s words struck home, and papa Choi watches yangban families walk by. He’s holding a set of brightly coloured silk clothing for his daughter, and I guess he intended to give them to Dong-yi as an apology for making her stay inside for so long.
Unfortunately for Chun-soo and papa Choi, Dong-yi has taken the opportunity to run off.
At the same time, an urgent message informs them that Seo Yong-gi’s father is in danger, and, stuck between a rock and a hard place, papa Choi chooses to go rescue Lord Seo first.
(Repeat after me: sageuks never begin without a 50% mortality rate.)
Dong-yi goes off to greet the yangban family, dressed from head-to-foot with rainbow-coloured finery. Walking hand-in-hand with the maid, she shows off her clothes to her heart’s content.
Oh, baby Dong-yi. Enjoy this, because it’s the last bit of fun you’re likely to get for a long time.
o.O It’s evil teddybear grandpa! (Conventionally known as Lord Oh.)
I should have know, this is the kdrama world, after all.
He’s actually very impressed with how smart and adorable she is, and asks that when his daughter-in-law becomes formally part of his family, that she follow as a servant.
As she explains that her name is Dong-yi and she actually isn’t part of the family’s retinue of servants, you can literally see Lord Oh rub his hands together and cackle (deep, deep inside).
It’s like Christmas come early, since his people are currently combing the city to find her – and here Dong-yi is, squarely in the palm of his (figurative) hand. Ah, evil grandpa, I shake my head at you.
It’s custom to treat the messenger to delicacies (or at least Dong-yi’s reaction makes one feel like it’s a veritable feast), and so she settles down to eat happily. While Dong-yi is in the room, Lord Oh calls for the police to be sent here, and prepares to be wildly surprised that a fugitive has been found on his grounds.
As expected, the Sword Society’s rescue attempt goes badly awry. They arrive much to late to do anything about Lord Seo, who has been killed. But thanks to Oh Yoon’s efforts, they do get blamed for the death.
A rain of arrows kills most of the people Choi Hyo-won brought, but the rest are captured and brought to the prefectural police.
Back at the Oh residence, a full-scale search is underway for Dong-yi. Luckily, she’s in the kitchens asking for the food to be wrapped up for her family, so she manages to hide near the back of the residence when she overhears the soldiers looking for her.
Dong-yi quickly makes her way to the outer wall and flips herself over, quietly moving through the snow to get as far away as possible.
A lone officer, led by one of the family servants, catches up to Dong-yi near the Oh residence, but luckily for her Chun-soo gets there in time, pretending to be her servant. The officer, confused by the cognitive dissonance of a commoner girl and Dong-yi with her finery, lets them go.
He makes sure to stash her away in some very deep reeds, and tells her to wait for him until he can find her father and brother. Dong-yi’s not sure what’s going on, but she knows it’s serious, so for once she stays put and doesn’t argue.
Unfortunately for her, both Choi Hyo-won and Dong-ju have already been captured. As the commander shows them the ill-fated messenger, the men of the Sword Society realize that they’ve been played.
Well, just to up the angst meter, Seo Yong-gi arrives after a hard gallop, and takes one heartbroken look at his mentor – the proof seems solid that Choi and his fellows killed Lord Seo.
Ah, what would kdrama be without a journey of angst for each and every one of its leads?
Chun-soo is discovering the remnants of his betrayed friends. The meeting place is burnt into a husk, most of its members killed, and even papa Choi himself is being sent off to prison.
(Yeah. Bae Soo-bin is a kickass actor.)
Chun-soo wants to take out his knife and start laying waste to the royal guards, to free his leader and best friend, but they both tell him not to. I suppose they’ve discussed all this beforehand – but papa Choi needs at least one of them to stay alive, and free, so he has no choice but to watch from the crowds.
NO BABY GIRL DON’T LOOK!
NO DON’T SHOUT ‘DAD!’ & ‘BIG BROTHER!’ OUT LOUD, STOP! IT’S LIKE YOU WANT TO GET CAUGHT, DONG-YI. DON’T!!
- From these two episodes, we already know that Dong-yi is a loving and lovable little girl who doesn’t let anyone get away with taking advantage of her. She’s also resourceful in a tight pinch and smarter than average. So yeah, Jang Hee-bin, you’re going to have an uphill battle on this one.
- All the Chinese people out there who went ‘rofl’ when they first watched historical kdramas and heard everyone calling the royals ‘mother’, please raise your hands. *raises hands*
- I spent almost 2 hours on wikipedia getting all the Yi dynasty factoids straight, no joke. But that is also because wikipedia is a vacuum that pretends to be harmless and full of information and then it gets a hand on your wrist and never lets go.
- I’ve posted this elsewhere, but I think it’s worth saying twice: Dong-yi contains inaccuracies, due mainly to the fact that she was so insignificant: not much remains known besides her clan name and the fact that she was a slave-servant in the palace (seriously, mention slave in front of her son the king and you’re screwed), so almost everything in the drama that’s about Dong-yi herself is made up – Jang Heebin is the more interesting character, by far, but they wanted a villain, so…
Given the fact that she did not follow Queen Inhyeon after her exile, it’s surmised that her position was lowly enough to not matter (all the important maids followed, whether they wanted or not), and she was only promoted to Sookbin after the birth of a royal son, so her survival in the palace may well be due to a combination of discretion and low enough status not to disturb any great movers or shakers in the noble factions. All this indication of Dong-yi being a vivacious darling, bla bla, is just to make the character interesting, and also, um, Sukjong was apparently very into skirt chasing.
Dong-yi’s son, Yeongjo, was raised mostly by Sukjong’s third queen, not his own mother, and he saw Queen Inwon as his own mother – went out of his way to be the perfect Confucian son (to be fair, she also favoured him over the crown prince, who was Jang Heebin’s son).
I’m not knocking the drama – I actually like this tough and smart female protagonist trend, but it’s a valid note, I think, to remember that historical dramas, while rooted in history, are still fictional.