The Royal Banquet
Episode 11 of Mr Queen begins with Hwa-Jin handing over the confidential documents to Queen Sunwon, asking her to drag the Queen down into the same hell she’s suffering from. As the wheels are set into motion, we return to Bong-Hwan dreaming of Cheoljong kissing her.
When she awakens, Bong-Hwan is angry that her dream was interrupted and demands to see the doctor. She talks through her problems and he explains that she needs to sort out the matters of her heart to find peace.
Well before that, Bong-Hwan begins cycling through the different concubine reports and comments on the sheer number of Han family reports there are. Taking a short break, Bong-Hwan conducts some “door to door sales”, visiting the Grand Queen Dowager and pampering the woman with a variety of makeshift beauty products.
On the back of this, Bong-Hwan meets each of the potential concubines and picks out three from a big crowd that she has a connection with. She even brings them out for a walk around the Palace.
Cheoljong learns about the incident at the well and meets with Hwa-Jin to comfort her. Afterwards, the Royal Chef arrives to meet the King. He’s prepared a whole stack of texts for him but unfortunately slips over on the way and sends the scrolls rolling across the floor. These happen to have a layout for the royal banquet.
Sitting alongside chef Man-Bok, the King decides to invite in some commoners from outside the palace – those who are starving. As Man-Bok begins weeping, the King extends his hand and agrees to work with him for the banquet.
This event is certainly a big deal, especially given Cheoljong intends to try his best to get the ledger back. Before that though, he’s impressed by Bong-Hwan’s harmonious choice of women.
These come from three different clans – Gyeong Ok of the Papyeong Yoon clan, Sim Hyang of the Namyang Hong Clan and Ja Yeon of the Yeoheung Min clan. Or as Bong-Hwan refers to them: sexy, cute and innocent. While it’s all smiles and celebrations inside the palace, when court is adjourned the various scholars and ministers question the King and his perceived innocence.
Queen Sunwon arrives and questions why Bong-Hwan hasn’t been to see her since awakning. Bong-Hwan holds his nerve though and tells her that he’s been busy selecting concubines. Queen Sunwon smiles and walks away; a cunning, mischievous grin that hints that the Queen’s days are numbered.
That evening, Bong-Hwan struggles to sleep so he instead decides to send a message to the concubines. Only, it’s intercepted by the King’s guards who bring the three letters to the King instead. Curious over why there are three, he eventually replies to one and sets up a back and forth series of messages between the King and Bong-Hwan.
In the morning, Cheoljong briefs Man-Bok on the royal banquet and specifically the menu being used. Bong-Hwan begins to look at him affectionately when she shows up. Snapping out of her trance, Bong-Hwan hurries back home and decides to continue writing letters. Of course, she’s not aware that it’s the King who’s writing back.
The big day of the banquet arrives and the three concubines prepare themselves for the festivities. Meanwhile, our villainous head eunuch also prepares, intercepting a cart bound for the palace by slaughtering the workers.
Unfortunately, without these ingredients it poses a particular problem for the catering staff. Man-Bok is too busy to help Bong-Hwan with her problems and hurries out to see the extent of the damage. When the King arrives, together they see that everything in the store cupboard is completely rotten too.
Forces are scheming to make the King look bad and right now, its a race against time to get everything ready – especially with the banquet coming up.
Bong-Hwan’s problems come in the form of Queen Sunwon who demands to taste his food. As he begins busying himself with making popcorn, Secretary Han arrives and drops something inside the pot used to cook.
Unfortunately, the bag of popcorn Bong-Hwan has is spilled all over the floor thanks to Han’s meddling, leaving her with nothing. Things are made even worse later on when tensions between Grand Queen Dowager and the Queen Dowager see Bong-Hwan stuck in the middle of this conflict.
The ceremony at the palace goes ahead, with Byeong-In showing his skills in combat. This opening sequence eventually paves way for the inevitable hunting, which sees the marksmanship of the male warriors marvelled at as they hit their intended wooden targets.
Meanwhile, the women prepare to head out hunting too. Bong-Hwan is innocently optimistic while Hwa-Jin hides her metal arrow tip, deciding to go after Bong-Hwan.
While the young women start hunting, the Grand Queen Dowager returns to see the King and admits that she was bored by the banquet. Instead, she encourages the King to “spar” against Byeong-In in combat. Now it becomes clear to Cheoljong that Byeong-In has the Grand Queen Dowager by his side.
Anyway, the two square off while Hwa-Jin finds Bong-Hwan out in the woods collecting nuts. As she holds an arrow up to Bong-Hwan and looks set to strike, Byeong-In finally realizes that Cheoljong himself was the assassin from the town square.
The Episode Review
What a great episode! Mr Queen returns for a lively 67 minute episode this time around, a shorter slice of historical drama but one that still packs one heck of a punch. In fact, this episode perfectly showcases all the best elements of Mr Queen while developing the plot at a good pace.
Now that Byeong-In knows the truth about Cheoljong, this will almost certainly cause problems going forward as he looks set to go after him with venomous rage. The cliffhanger with the two about to strike each other is an agonizing way to end things but it was certainly exciting.
Meanwhile, Hwa-Jin seems to have hit Bong-Hwan with a metal tip arrow but judging by the preview to tomorrow’s episode, it’s clear that she’s still okay and not hurt. In fact, hopefully now Bong-Hwan sees Hwa-Jin’s true face and keeps his wits about him in Hwa-Jin’s presence.
The various other subplots continue to bubble up too, with the Grand Queen Dowager and the Queen Dowager coming to blows and continuing to bicker. With Bong-Hwan stuck in the middle of this conflict, it’s yet another fight that looks set to messily explode at any moment.
For now though, Mr Queen bows out with another decent hour of drama that makes episode 12 an unmissable chapter!