The Gambler & The Pretender
We ended last week’s episode with Ha Sun being dealt the news that he’s now the official King with a dagger to the chest. With Lee Hun incapacitated for the time being, the duties turn to Ha Sun. This week it’s all about romance as So Woon and Ha Sun grow closer together. Along with this blossoming romance is a closer look at the King’s closest advisor, Lee Kyu. After the dramatic events last week, The Crowned Clown takes a somewhat sombre-toned episode, a proverbial deep breath while examining some of our supporting characters in more detail.
We begin the episode with Ha Sun back at the palace healing from the wound inflicted by Lee Kyu. After all, in order to take the place of the King he has to look and act the part. After he explains to Ha Sun that the real King has a scar across his chest, hence the complimentary stab, Ha Sun spends most of the episode recovering from the wound. This comes much to the displease of the Left State Minister and Queen Dowager who have business to attend to.
A particularly tense meeting between Lee Kyu and the Left State Minister ends with the King’s advisor strongly suggesting Chi-Soo step down from his duties for the good of the country and the King. This is, of course, met with sneers and laughter as the Minister waves away the man’s suggestion and continues on with his job and scheming. Speaking of schemes, Ha Sun decides to reinstate the Dae Dong Policy which (correct me if I’ve interpreted this wrongly) is a scheme that sees land owners offer up a percentage of rice to the poorest in the community. In order to navigate the tricky logistics involved with this, Lee Kyu calls on the favours of his old friend and mathematician, Joo Ho-Geol.
This lighthearted character adds a touch of humour to the series missing last week as we see him using his gift to tip the scales of gambling in his favour. Of course, this comes to a head during a thrilling climax that sees him going up against our King in a high stakes game. Agreeing to meet Lee Kyu in the dead of night to finalize the deal, things go awry leaving blood on the streets and an ominous air of danger hanging over the series once more.
We end the episode with Ha Sun and So Woon together, with the weary King slumped against a wall, seemingly fast asleep. So Woon confesses her love for the King and kisses him tenderly, just in time for Ha Sun to wake up, wide-eyed and alarmed. It’s a beautiful end, one that typifies both characters and their desires.
Although the fifth episode doesn’t feature as much action or dramatic tension as we’ve seen before, this dialed back tone actually works well given what we’ve seen before. It also helps up learn more about Lee Kyu too, especially the scenes involving his past where an event involving his old tribe hints at a dark past hidden from the world.
The wonderful characterisation and subtle political intrigue is still at play here though and although it takes a back seat this episode, you can still feel its presence hanging over large swathes of the episode. The Crowned Clown is such a well written show it’s difficult not to be absorbed watching this one unfold. The way each character is fleshed out and given depth is something that really helps this show flourish and hopefully this can continue going forward. Given the way this one ends, the sixth episode looks set to be another dramatic one as the plot thickens.