Secrets Are Revealed
After yesterday’s bombshell ending, Rookie Historian returns today to fill in the blanks and deliver an exposition-heavy episode with more answers. Laying the foundation for the finale next week, all roads lead to finding out just who Goo and Lee really are, and whether they may be related in some way.
We begin the episode with Lee and Goo discussing the painting of Ho Dam. It turns out Goo has been on the run for the last 20 years and her Father was a dean of Seoraewon. This happens to coincide with the female physician’s story, who also studied medical practices there too. Determined to find out just why Ho Dam was dethroned, she tells Lee she’s going to investigate. Determined to find out the truth too, Lee decides to head back with his own agenda of finding out the truth.
Back at the palace, Sam-Bo takes Lee back to his room but instead of being content with his surroundings, he confronts Sam-Bo and asks what he’s hiding. On a mission to find out the truth, he gets on his horse and rides out the palace and toward the records room, determined to find out the truth.
As rumours circulate that the Second State Minister was responsible for the attack on the road, Goo returns home and begins looking through Jae-Gyeong’s records. As night turns to day, she stumbles upon details of a historian called Kim Il-Mok, whom she immediately asks Min about. It’s here Yang speaks up and mentions the history surrounding this historian.
At the same time, Lee asks his brother about whether he has a connection to the Dethroned King but the Crown Prince waves it away, telling him it’s a coincidence despite there not appearing to be any record of his birth. Lee goes on to ask whether he ever saw the Queen pregnant and he tells him she was, going on to reveal a story about her, before pleading with his brother never to doubt he’s part of the family again.
Unable to let his unwavering doubts go, Lee heads to the King’ chambers and waits outside for him. As day turns to night his Father arrives and tells him he doesn’t want to converse with him. As he looks up in the King’s eyes, he asks whether he’s ever loved him or even looked at him as a son. Unable to answer, the King tells him to head back to his chambers before we flash back and see how disdainful the King has been toward him in the past. Devastated, Goo comforts Lee as he silently weeps.
The next morning Min arrives at the King’s chambers where he finds a handful of banned books, all being read by the scholars. Before anyone has a chance to take the books away, the King arrives and finds a copy of “The Story Of Ho Dam” at the foot of his throne, immediately demanding to know who put the book there. It turns out it’s everywhere and as we soon learn, Goo is the one distributing them out.
Despite the King’s best intentions in snatching up all the copies of the book, the story spreads across town. It’s here we learn about Ho Dam and the past, including how Seoraewon was created. Unfortunately, despite the place being deemed a sanctuary for like-minded scholars, the people eventually turned on them and destroyed what hope they had for a new beginning.
Goo weeps after reading the story before speaking to the real author – Jae-Kyung. As she sits with him and asks how much of the story was actually fiction, he remains tight-lipped, telling Jae-Hyung that he made a promise to her Father and he’s going to honour that by not getting her involved. With tears welling up in both their eyes, Goo leaves and heads to Prince Lee’s instead.
Here she speaks to him about the book and he asks her whether she believes what’s written. She nods, revealing that it does coincide with what she remembered about Seoraewon. Together, they head out and ask an old survivor information regarding Goo’s heritage. Given he’s one of the only men left who survived, his mood changes dramatically as he learns who she is and tells her that Goo’s father was in charge of Sungkyunkwan.
As they continue talking, she learns that First Historian Kim was stubborn until the end, refusing to give up his historical records. Knowing they’ll be manipulated and changed to fit with the hierarchy, he dies a proud and noble historian, but revealed to the Officer that he’s hidden the records and Lee knows where that is – Nokseodang.
Tonight’s episode of Rookie Historian offers plenty of answers to questions we’ve had up until this point and although the episode is pretty heavy on the exposition, there’s still some nicely implemented dramatic scenes too. Hearing the King say he doesn’t care for his son is a heartbreaking moment and one that’s not really sold as well as it should be by Eun-Woo. I know I’ve mentioned a lot about his acting over the weeks but this moment is the perfect opportunity to showcase his acting prowess and although there are some glimmers of hope, it pales in comparison to the depth needed to sell this heartbreak.
Despite that though, the episode does well to flesh out the past and right now, all roads lead to Goo being of royal blood. It would be a nice plot twist but one many people may have seen coming a long way off. Still, there’s enough here to whet the appetite and leave the door wide open for next week’s conclusive set of episodes but whether it’ll deliver a satisfying conclusion to this saga remains to be seen!