Rookie Historian has been a strange show of two halves. On the one hand, the humour has been well placed and the romantic drama certainly pleasing but the acting of Prince Lee and the political subplot has held the series back from being a better title.
After her petition causes uproar with the clerks, we begin with Goo forced to do an ungodly amount of work to make up for her errors, after promising to help with the workload. Although she’s made to do it alone, she falls asleep in the middle of the night, only to awaken to find the work done and a Chinese character on her cheek spelling “Sparrow”. Was this Prince Lee’s doing?
Of course it was. Sam-Bo and Lee discuss the night’s events as day breaks and he asks to go for a walk after asking about Goo. This immediately arouses suspicions with Sam-Bo whose eyes widen as he realizes what Prince Lee has planned. As they spy on Goo, the Prince is caught in the act and tries to think fast infront of the suspicious ministers. He tells them he works for the Royal Secretariat but unfortunately he’s escorted in to the Office after saying he’s been sent from Scribe Jabel.
When Goo returns from collecting scribes, she notices Lee sitting and grinding ink, prompting her to immediately ask what he’s doing there, wide-eyed and incredulous. He’s going under the guise of Clerk Yi and asks her to keep his identity a secret. She reluctantly agrees and Lee gets to work in the clerk office. He quickly comes under fire when he mistakes an administrative report for a simple document so Goo takes him away into the town.
Once there, Lee doesn’t fare much better, prompting her to gag him in order to prevent him running his mouth. In town, they miss their curfew and wind up close together. As they look like they’re about to kiss, two guards walk past and comment on their love. Unfortunately, they’re forced to spend the night in the same room, however both Goo and Lee leave just before daybreak, heading back to the palace safe and sound. However, Sam-Bo believes something is going on between them both, having spending the whole night up waiting for the Prince.
As the clerks sit down to dinner, they demand that Goo apologize to them for her petition. Instead, Officer Min shows them a book of irregularities – a whole bunch of scandals they’ve all committed. With the ban on books now lifted, Goo heads off to speak to Prince Lee and they have a heart to heart where she asks him to write something for her. He writes out a love poem and reinforces the words aren’t meant for her. As she tries to wrestle the paper from him, the King arrives while Goo has her hands wrapped round the Prince.
With a cliffhanger ending and a good dose of humour this week, Rookie Historian doubles down on its comedic prowess, much to the benefit of the show. The political drama, while interesting, does play second fiddle here compared to the more interesting story surrounding Goo and her quest to becoming an accepted female historian.
It works well too and the episode has a good ebb and flow to most of this hour-long slice of drama. Interestingly, Netflix have decided to group these episodes up as I believe in Korea the original episodes are playing for 30 minutes a piece, such is the irregularity surrounding the episode titles with this one. Despite this, the cuts between the two episodes are well handled and barely noticeable.
What is noticeable, however, is Eun-Woo’s acting which does hold the series back. At first I believed his strained expressions and wide-eyed stares were deliberate but the more I watch this drama, the more I’m realizing it’s not. If you can look past this though, there is an enjoyable Korean drama here, with enough humour to make it an enjoyable watch, complete with a cliffhanger ending ready for next week’s double (or quadruple if you’re Korean!) bill of episodes.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!