The Female Vipers Strike
After the botched assassination attempt on Ha Sun’s life during the previous episode, we begin with our Clown King returning to the palace, more determined than ever to prevent this occurring again. While there isn’t a whole lot of action this episode, what we do get is a heck of a lot of characterisation, scheming and political intrigue that has echoes of Game Of Thrones woven throughout. While this may sound like a tall comparison, the early seasons of this wildly popular fantasy managed to juggle numerous political subplots with a larger narrative and in that respect, The Crowned Clown manages this effortlessly. This politically charged drama is really coming into its own and one final shocker leaves the door wide open for next week’s set of episodes.
As mentioned before, the episode begins with Ha Sun determined to bridge the divide between him and the real King by learning how to read. With help from Eunuch Jo, the opening segment of the episode sees this come into fruition. We don’t spend long with Ha Sun though, as the early parts of the episode switches perspectives to So Woon, learning more about the Queen’s Court. A seemingly peaceful meeting between the Queen concubines ends in chaos as Seon Hwa Dang is poisoned thanks to a spiked cup of tea. As Ha Sun catches wind of the news and tries to get to the bottom of what happened, he’s warned by those close to him not to get involved. Begrudgingly, he leaves the women to their own devices, hopeful that So Woon can come out unscathed from the viper’s nest. In private, he helps her resolve by telling her he believes So Woon to be innocent.
This hopefulness is soon shattered into fragments as new evidence around the poison puts So Woon right in the firing line. After a moment’s moral confliction, Ha Sun decides to embark on his own politically charged crusade, confronting Queen Dawager and offering an ultimatum. As he begins to understand more about this shadowy, deceitful world, the Clown King is pulled away by one of his closest advisors, as they trek to the top of a breathtaking mountain. An earlier meeting between Lee Hyu and Lee Hun results in a shocking discovery that throws our Clown King even more controversy to deal with as the result of that meeting is shared with him atop the mountain. We leave this week with a literal cliffhanger and a week to stew over what we’ve seen.
I said it earlier but The Crowned Clown’s politically charged narrative this week is so well developed, with multiple layers and players in the mix that it really gives Game Of Thrones a run for its money. Of course, it’ll be interesting to see if this Korean drama can keep up the same level of intensity but the 75 minute episode is chock full of many motivations to chew over. The Left State Minister has his own agenda, as does Queen Dowager and that’s not even mentioning how Prince Jin slots into the fold. Having not seen the original film this show was based on, I can’t say how this compares but so far, the pacing has been excellent, rising the tension throughout with perfectly placed scatters of humour to avoid the show falling into melodramatic waters.
The romance between So Woon and Ha Sun looks set to blossom next week but for now, the moments between the two are gripping and developed enough to make this feel like a realistically depicted relationship brewing between the two. It’ll be interesting to see how The Crowned Clown juggles the romance with the dangerous politics at play but given what we’ve seen so far, the prospect is certainly tantalizing enough to keep you watching to see how this one plays out.