The Tyrant Returns
Dripping in Asian culture and whipping up a mix of political intrigue, drama and impressive acting, The Crowned Clown is fast becoming my favourite show of 2019. This week’s episode is quite the dramatic one too, as Lee Hun returns to court and all hell breaks loose.
The episode opens where we left off before, with Lee Hun free from his restraints, courtesy of a flashback involving Dal Rae. Half delirious and thirsting for revenge, Lee Hun returns to court and confronts Ha Sun after his tender exchange with So Woon in town. She gives him a compass as a present, promising the Clown King that he can find her anytime by using this. Unfortunately Ha Sun doesn’t have long to dwell on this as the real King is waiting for him in the court room, ready to assert his tyrannical dominance once more.
After commanding the Royal Secretary to join them in court, Lee Hun confronts the two men over their installation of the Dae Dong policy. After saving Officer Jang from certain execution, Ha Sun is sentenced by death by the real King, which he demands the Royal Secretary carry out. After a moment’s hesitation, Lee Hun changes his mind and instead gives the order to Officer Jang to kill the lowly clown King out in the mountains. Not able to carry out the deed entirely, Officer Jang throws the man into a deep hole and leaves him for dead.
Back at the palace, Lee Hun’s tyranny knows no bounds. He reinstates the Left State minister to his role, ignores the rice tax allegations and allows the minister to change the personnel in charge. All of this without the court’s consent and almost certainly resulting in a revolt from the people. All the hard work Ha Sun put into place as the King over the last 4 or 5 episodes undone in a single sweep of the hand.
After seeing this madness first hand, the Royal Secretary asks to leave his position, unable to sit idly by while the King maniacally instills policies that harm both country and the court. The King refuses of course, instead going one step further to show his cruelty by locking up those closest to him for defying an order.
Whilst all this is going on, poor So Woon is none the wiser and she prepares for an evening with the King who commands they move the evening together to that very night. What ensues from here is an awkward and uncomfortable exchange between the two, lacking that warm tenderness that resonated between her and Ha Sun. It’s quite the achievement too, given the same actor plays both roles, and it’s something that really sets Yeo Jin-Goo apart here. His ability to play two roles so effortlessly while nailing those intricate emotional moments is something that’s going to be hard for any actor to beat going forward in 2019.
The episode ends with Officer Jang being commanded to bring the head of Ha Sun to the real King; a way to show his allegiance and stay true to his word that the Clown is really dead. Once he gets there though, Ha Sun has broken free from his restraints and grabs hold of the Officer as they stare each other down. The episode ends with a moment to catch our breath and ponder what we’ve just seen over the past 75 minutes.
The Crowned Clown has really hit its stride now and although the pace has been somewhat subdued for the past few episodes, the halfway point of the series shows a dramatic change as the drama begins to unfold. Much like the first episode, when both Ha Sun and Lee Hun share the screen together magical things happen and it’s really down to the great writing that this show is as good as it is. The wonderfully authentic visuals and politically charged narrative makes this one series that really should be more well-known than it is. It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here but thankfully we won’t have to wait long to find out. Roll on episode 8!