The Hazing Ritual
With Prince Lee having decided on an exam question, we return to Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung this week with Goo establishing herself inside the palace and injecting the series with some decent narrative work in the process.
Goo begins her exam but before we look at this in any sort of detail, we cut back in time to the night before the wedding where Hae-Ryung asks her partner to call off the big day. This fills us in on some crucial detail surrounding this incident before we head back to the palace in real time. Disheartened by everyone around her seemingly able to grasp the topic except her, a moment of brilliance strikes 15 minutes before the exam finishes.
With the answers all handed in, the Crowned Prince looks over the sheets himself and notices that some people have cheated. He stops as he comes across Hae-Ryung’s wise answer about the eclipse and the scientific rationale behind this. Declaring it a brazen answer, the results are posted and Lady Hae-Ryung is called to the Crowned Prince’s residence.
Once there, she’s challenged over her answer, with the Prince warning that others have died for less. She tells him he’s wrong and explains the reasoning for her answer with just, scientific explanations. However, she’s put in her place as the Prince explains the people only worry about where their next meal is coming – not the content of old books. She’s pleasantly surprised though when she learns she’s accepted to the role of trainee female historian along with 3 other women.
Meanwhile Prince Lee decides to head out and see the historians himself but Sam-Bo has other plans and threatens to tie him up if he leaves. Instead, he stays in the palace and after experiencing a strange dream, heads outside to find the tombstone he saw in his mind’s eye. Sam-Bo writes this off as him experiencing vivid dreams but Lee is not so sure.
Dressed in blue robes and excited for her new role, Hae-Ryung heads to Daerucheong to begin work as an apprentice. Unfortunately, the men have other ideas and intentionally send the four women in the complete wrong direction. Realizing they’ve been duped, they head into the Office Of Royal Decree and announce their arrival, much to the disdain and ridicule from their male colleagues.
Dead on their feet, the girls are essentially turned into slaves for the men, at their every beck and call. After cleaning the floor and organizing books, they look set to fall asleep. They’re forced to run laps round the palace before they do though, eventually heading home where Goo has a well earned rest and meal.
The next day, the women continue to be worked into the ground until they decide to ask to be part of the hazing ritual as a way of avoiding their petty slavery routines. The men accept and as day turns to night, they’re forced to engage in a brutal drinking game. With vases and barrels full of liquid, Goo Hae-Ryung steps up to the challenge and drinks everyone under the table, winning the night for the lady historians.
The next day, Hae-Ryung rushes to the palace having woken up late but is refused entry. Instead, one of the other guards shows her an alternate way in. As she crawls into the forbidden area, she winds up face to face with Prince Lee.
Once again Rookie Historian does a great job packing its hour long episode with a good amount of content. The comedy is well timed and some of the sound effects are as incredulous as they are hilarious. It helps too that the series effortlessly jumps between these two styles in the series, managing to hit the right dramatic notes whilst easing up when needed to deliver some laughs.
There’s some interesting ideas this time around surrounding female empowerment and inequality but Rookie Historian handles this perfectly, with just the right amount of thought provoking ideas without it ever feeling preachy or contrived. It’s certainly a welcome inclusion too and seeing Goo drink the men under the table at the end is incredibly satisfying. For now though, Rookie Historian delivers another decent episode, one that may just see our plucky hero make it as a respectable historian yet.