The Fight For The Administration Record
Picking up where it left off from before, Rookie Historian returns with episode 11, and a surprisingly comedic slice of drama, one that sees Goo reduced to the background in favour of more world building and a self-contained plot around the historical administration records. After a brief recap, getting us up to scratch on the events transpiring in the King’s chambers, Goo is caught outside eavesdropping and eventually asked what she wrote down. She tells His Majesty that she’s unable to tell him, which consequently sees her tossed into a cell, as one of the Officers rushes back to tell Min what’s happened to her.
As word spreads to Prince Lee and the rest of the palace, Sam-Bo begs him not to get involved while Officer Yang makes his decision, deciding as historians to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the administration. With no historian able to be present for the morning meetings and Officer Yang mysteriously coming down with stomach problems, the office is thrown into disarray as the rest follow suit and leave the officer unmanned.
With His Majesty seeing this as a direct act of betrayal, the Royal Secretariat arrive and the two sides stare each other down. They tell the Officers that they’ve been sent to inspect the Office of Royal Decree and, in particular, their records. Officer Yang reminds him that no King has read the records and that cannot be changed as it would be disobeying the laws of the country. Officer Son steps forward – the self proclaimed Black Bear of Bukchon – leading to the two sides brawling infront of the building. It’s a magnificent, hilarious scene, one that sees Officer and Secretariat alike grappling, wrestling and trading blows, before the female historians join in too.
Meanwhile, Prince Lee defies his orders and goes to meet Goo in her cell. He brings her food and they discuss running away together. Unfortunately Goo’s inability to really help if that situation did airse, leads our female historian to look at matters in a much more logical manner. As they’re about to kiss, Sam-Bo arrives and breaks up their meeting, leading him to bash his head on the wooden cell. As he walks away, we cut back to our battered and bruised Officers.
Determined to hold the front line, they weep over their war wounds and declare their intent on protecting the administration record. Meanwhile, the Secretariats outside stand guard and wait for their opportune time to strike. Unfortunately this has serious ramifications for the Royals as the King learns the hard way how crucial Historians are to the Palace.
As a last resort, Officer Min dons his white gown and confronts the King over the administration records, telling him if he goes against the law it will forever be a flaw against his character, begging him again to withdraw his order. As things look set to escalate, courtesy of Min telling His Majesty he has no right, the Wailing Order is conducted by a group of Scholars and they rally around Min. After some deliberation, the Order is withdrawn and the officers breathe a sigh of relief.
After spending a night in the cell, Goo is released and returns home where, after a sleepless night thinking of Prince Lee, she heads outside and has an awkward conversation with her brother. He tells her she should quit as the palace is becoming dangerous. In the dead of the night, Goo is awoken by the palace guards banging on the front door.
I commented a few weeks back about the lack of comedy in Rookie Historian and instead of outright historical drama, today’s episode sees a masterful blend of quirky humour and drama throughout the hour-long episode. There’s some genuinely funny moments here too and the show manages to swing between sombre, poignant moments and more incredulous, crazy segments with such fluidity that it makes for a really enjoyable watch. It also ties the show back into its original episodes too and here we see a great use of the historians and the Palace coming to blows.
I really enjoyed this week’s episode, and with Goo Hae-Ryung reduced to a background character, it allows other players to step forward and grasp the limelight. In particular, Officer Yang’s exaggerated mannerisms and distinct vocal tones make him such a memorable player and his performance, more so than the others, really plays into that comedic and dramatic role as a senior Officer at the Royal Decree. With another cliffhanger ending and plenty to digest here, Rookie Historian leaves the door wide open for the second half of the series.