A Brand New On-Dal
Episode 7 of River Where The Moon Rises begins with Pyong Gang taking up her position as Princess. She returns to her chambers after this prolonged absence and starts to settle into her new role.
The subject soon turns to that of the Crown Prince and what will happen when he takes the throne. Jin Bi is obviously not happy, especially with this power balance shifting.
Pyong Gang tells her Father she regrets her actions and admits she almost did something she never would have forgiven herself for – that being killing him of course.
Meanwhile, the new and improved On-Dal returns to the village. He’s still haunted by what happened and eventually sits with Lady Sa, deliberating over what to do next. She brushes away his concerns though, telling him to move on. Instead, On Dal heads out and saves Yeom Deuk from his fate, squaring off against Tae-Mo.
Back at the palace, Won-Pyo finds out that the assassin was Pyong Gang herself. While this conflict simmers, Mo-Yong decides to use herself as a spy. When Go Gun runs into her, he sees through her facade and warns against getting involved with anything regarding the princess. After all, it’s far too dangerous.
Well, she does no such thing and instead, works with Won-Pyo to supply a poison for the Crown Prince. She disguises this as medicine to give to the young Prince, using a pestle and mortar in the morning. Pyong Gang heads in to check herself, and stupidly puts her finger in her mouth. She immediately feels the effects of the poison and stumbles away. Unfortunately she passes out on the floor.
When she awakens, Pyong Gang races to the palace to stop the Prince from drinking the poison. Unbeknownst to her though, Gong Son is already there and encourages the young prince to drink up. Thankfully she stops him just in time, feeding back to the council that someone was trying to poison the young Prince.
Of course, Mo-Yong immediately goes under the spotlight given she’s the herb master. Pyong Gang admits that she knows she was responsible for concocting it, referencing her tasting it the previous night. She demands to know who put her up to this, as Mo-Yo drops to her knees. As she shuffles forward, she tastes the soup and winds up absolutely fine.
It turns out the Crown Prince was not actually their target. The real target seems to have been Pyong Gang all along, with Go-Won planted the idea in Go-Gun’s head to tell Pyong-Gang about the poison. They knew she would interject and get involved.
Unfortunately this outburst puts the Princess in a bad light, something that Won-Pyo immediately stirs up and jumps on. Pyong Gang is forced to apologize in the wake of this, but she refuses to do so.
The King is irate and instead orders her not to leave Magnolia Hall for the time being. On the back of this, Pyong Gang speaks to Go Gun about what happened and comments how the King is both the strongest and weakest man in the palace. She promises to protect him for the time being.
Won eventually finds Pyong Gang and thanks her for helping. He hands over some sweets as the pair sit together and talk. He asks Pyong Gang to take care of “the lady from the herb shop”, feeding back that he knows she was poisoning the King and keeping him sedated.
Pyong Gang knows exactly who this is referencing and realizes that Mo-Yong is bad news for the palace. Well, as we see from a flashback, Mo-Yong actually managed to weasel her way into the palace through a combination of luck and sheer tenacity.
Next, Go Gun is tasked by his Father to take care of the Goryu twins. He realizes that he’s being kept at arm’s length and defies his Father’s instruction. Only, he bites back, telling Gun that if he doesn’t do this then he’ll disown him as a son.
That evening, Pyong Gang sneaks out but runs into Go Gun who happens to have followed him all this way. He admits that he’s leaving in a few days but promises to serve by her side, honouring his promise.
Together, they begin sneaking around Mo-Yong’s herb garden, looking for clues. Gun admits that she smuggles illegal herbs in as the pair go looking for this. Unfortunately it looks like she’s already moved them all.
Instead of herbs though, Pyong Gang and Gun find a hidden trapdoor leading down to where numerous women are being kept. Pyong Gang decides to go undercover and switches places with a woman there, deciding to find out exactly what these men are doing with the all.
Well, she soon finds out that they’re a tribute for Silla and that spells big trouble for Pyong Gang. On the road, far away from the palace, she tells the others that she’s confident the King’s soldiers will come before they reach the town. She tells them she’s from the government and promises help will arrive.
Back at the palace, word spreads that Pyong Gang has gone. General Gun seeks counsel with the King and mentions what’s happened regarding her safety. Specifically, how she’s held captive. As the episode closes out, Pyong Gang accidentally drops a knife as one of the guards threatens her.
The Episode Review
River Where The Moon Rises has had a lot of press coverage this week – and not for good reasons either. For those unaware, Korea has been hit with a wave of incriminating bullying claims against different actors and entertainers.
Among those is Ji Soo, who was the lead star of When I was The Most Beautiful and, of course, the charismatic On Dal in this show. With serious allegations and none of his co-stars past and present jumping to his aid, Ji-Soo was axed from the show.
Toward the end of last week it was announced that Na In-Woo would be jumping in to fill the spot of On Dal, and understandably there aren’t a lot of scenes featuring him this time around. Given what a big role In-Woo played in both Mystic Pop-Up Bar and Mr Queen recently, he’s definitely a talented actor and it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the table.
With a new actor in the role, it’s going to take some time to adjust – much like the feeling of a brand new Doctor stepping into the role of Doctor Who. In-Woo is a talented actor though and no doubt will make this character his own. Give it a few weeks and we’ll all be loving his portrayal of On Dal!
For the time being though, this episode feels like a transitional piece of sorts, and although there is drama here, there’s no counterbalanced humour or fun moments to liven things up. The result then is an almost melodramatic period drama that leans a little too hard into its drama.
For now, we’ll reserve our judgment but this show could potentially live or die in the next couple of weeks. No pressure!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|