Following yesterday’s somewhat progressive episode, we return to Rookie Historian today for a much more dramatic and driven episode, one that sees Prince Lee and Goo’s relationship come to a dramatic conclusion, whilst offering up an interesting commentary on forbidden love. With some nicely implemented dialogue and a much more direct tone this time around, Rookie Historian delivers another really good episode, one that leaves things hanging on a heartbreaking note.
We begin with Prince Lee crashing down to reality as the Queen reminds him that as a Prince, his royal obligations come first and his true feelings second. As he leaves the palace, he pleads with Goo to stand by his side and fight for their love but she nonchalantly shrugs her shoulders and tells him that there’s nothing she can do. The King’s orders must be obeyed.
Still reeling over Prince Lee’s arrival earlier, Officer Min tells Goo that she’s to report to the Queen, much to the disapproval of the other historians. However, she agrees to go and in her stead at Prince Lee’s Apprentice Heo A-Ran appears as his new female historian. While Prince Lee tries to hide his disappointment, Goo watches as all the prospective women, including So Yeong-Hwa, come to the palace for the first round of evaluations to be Lee’s wife.
After a fruitful day for the Queen, and a difficult day for Goo, they learn that Song’s name has been put forward on the prospective list of candidates for Prince Lee to marry. As she confronts the Second State Minister about this, she learns there’s nothing she can do as he’s already made his mind up. Of course, her heart is already set on the Crown Prince, bringing even more drama into the fold.
As the Crown Prince and Song discuss the ramifications of his actions, tears sting both their eyes as they discuss the future and just what it means for them. He tells her to sit and talk just as she’s about to leave, prompting them to have a conversation one on one where she spills the truth about how she feels.
As night turns to day, Apprentice Song returns to the Office where they all learn she spent the night with the Crown Prince. As they look set to pry further into the matter, a court lady waiting outside for them takes her before the Princess, as Goo hurries behind to record the incident as a female historian. She immediately demands to know whether Song slept with the Crown Prince and it’s here she tells the truth; she only wanted him to acknowledge her feelings.
As we soon learn, Goo’s guardian is responsible for her real Father dying but right now this plot thread is left dangling. Left reeling over this interesting twist, Sam-Bo shows Prince Lee around various different houses for when he gets married, including Yeonrijae which he imagines spending his life with Hae-Ryung in. The thought is too much for him to bear, as the Prince leaves the palace purposefully and approaches Hae-Ryung at her house.
It’s an emotional moment, one that sees both of them opening up and admitting how they truly feel. Tears stinging her eyes, Goo tells Lee to go back to the palace and meet someone with a big heart who can walk beside him and share his wishes and love him wholeheartedly. As she closes the door and slumps to the ground weeping, Prince Lee stands on the other side of the door crying, unable to deal with the truth of the matter.
With a heartbreaking finale and a lovely montage to back it up, Rookie Historian leaves things wide open for where this may go next. It’s particularly devastating when you take into account how forbidden their love actually is and seeing the Prince come crashing back down to Earth rather than with his head in the clouds is tough to watch. You can’t help but take pity on the man but as I’ve said before, Eun-Woo doesn’t quite have the range to pull off the depth needed for this character to really sell these emotional moments.
Still, the various different pockets of drama are nicely implemented and although we don’t explicitly see it, the Crown Prince and Song’s meeting is every bit as heartbreaking as the big finale. Having said all that, the drama is left wide open from here though and quite what will happen next remains to be seen.