Political Power Plays
Four episodes in to Rookie Historian and with Goo Hae-Ryung now on her way to becoming a historian, the stage is set for a presumed romance to blossom between her and Prince Lee. Right now though the overarching narrative still seems a little vague but the humour is good and the lighthearted segments work well to offset some of the more political elements that begin to filter into the show.
We begin with Prince lee spotting Hae-Ryung in the bushes where they discuss her letter which she, of course, didn’t receive. As Lee looks at her longingly, Sam-Bo shows up to crash the party. Goo hurries back to the Office Of Royal Decree while Sam-Bo worries that Goo will find out Lee is actually a Prince and tell everyone he’s the author of the book.
Goo makes it back to the Office, much to the annoyance of all involved in trying to stop her. However, Court Lady Choe arrives and escorts the female historians away. After a surprisingly pleasant drink with her, they’re taken to the main courtyard where they’re scolded by the other girls, who tell then to behave and do exactly what they tell them. However, Goo refuses but before things can get more hostile, Officer Min saves the women and takes them away. After a trying ordeal, Apprentice Heo lets rip and tells them exactly how she feels about the whole situation and her treatment.
Later, Prince Lee tricks Goo into helping him out with cleaning while he writes. The familiar K-Pop song kicks back in again as Lee chuckles to himself while Goo does his work for him. After working her into the ground, he falls asleep until she drops a broom on his face. She refuses to do anymore work and criticizes his writing, skipping away after getting the upper-hand in their debate.
The next day, the ladies receive a lesson on the hierarchy of the officers in a humorous and intentionally convoluted segment. Officer Min then allows them to listen in to the royal meeting as apprentices, much to the outrage of everyone in court. However, the Crowned Prince arrives and the meeting begins.
As things get heated inside the meeting, the girls scribe the words of various ministers whilst struggling to stay impartial and keep quiet. After the meeting, the ladies discuss what transpired before Officer Min reminds them not to record their opinions. As they make it back to the Office, the other historians laugh at their pitiful attempt at recording everything that was said. Min offers the girls some encouragement though and a handy book referencing who everyone is at the Royal Council.
Coinciding nicely with the court affairs depicted throughout the episode, the historians then visit an autopsy where they learn someone survived a brutal attack thanks to stitches – a Western procedure alien to those in Joseon. Prince Lee goes to take a closer look later that night but unfortunately the assassin finishes the job and slips away into the market. Lee follows him but ends up getting too close and, consequently, on the wrong side of a knife blade. As he backs away, Hae-Ryung shows up and keeps quiet as she learns the true identity of Lee from the shadows – that he’s the Prince Of Joseon.
With more politics seeping into the show and a little more development with the female historians, Rookie Historian looks set to lay the foundations for a romance to blossom in the future. Still, the lighthearted elements are really what make Rookie Historian so much fun. The bizarre use of sound effects and musical score do well to keep things feeling light and breezy before shifting tone to more serious political matters. Early signs of this actually going against Rookie Historian are felt a little here but for the most part the episode does well to keep things tonally coherent.
Much has been said about Cha Eunwoo’s acting and if I’m honest, some of the more subtle facial expressions are lost with his character. For the over the top, caricature moments, he does pretty well but given the way this drama appears to be shifting into more serious vibes going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if this becomes a deciding factor for the show going forward. Still, Rookie Historian delivers another decent episode, one that continues to offer enjoyable drama in the process.