Episode 4 of The Forbidden Marriage has the Military Minister getting brazen as his men stop the physician who treats So-Rang. In the tent, Shin-Won interrupts the King and So-Rang’s kiss. He is ruffled and asks his captain to take over and nurse So-Rang. In the meantime, wherever he goes, the King hears So-Rang’s voice.
When she returns she thanks Shin-Won for taking care of her and the King doesn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed that she may not remember kissing him. They go back to their usual routine as So-Rang tries new tricks to get him to sleep like drinking alcohol. She suggests a drinking game of truth or drink which backfires as he asks her about her relationship with Shin-Won. The heavy atmosphere is broken as So-Rang vows to help the King get back his ability to love and desire women.
Outside, Minister Sul-Rok notices the Captain of the Royal Guards working for the Military Minister and giving orders to his men. In the meantime, the two fools who unleashed the boar go to visit Painter Jeong who is known for his erotic paintings. They ask him to use his erotic books to protest the ban and in return, they will find him a woman.
Back at the palace, Minister Sul-Rok tells the King about the Captain’s betrayal and tells him to only trust Shin-Won. The King agrees but does not look too convinced making the viewers wonder if So-Rang has driven a wedge between the two friends.
At Aedaldang, Painter Jeong is not impressed with the two fools’ pick but is admonished by Hae-Yeong for being rude to a woman. He falls for her and Gwaeng Yi catches on to it and advises him how to get her attention. Painter Jeong bumps into her to start a conversation but his bag falls. She sees his erotic book and is appalled. So-Rang sees the book and gets Shin-Won to chase him who is similarly shocked when he sees that she was after Jeong’s erotic books. So-Rang on the other hand believes that it will help the King lift the ban.
But the King has a nightmare about his wife and is furious at So-Rang for trying to sway him with erotica. She ends up giving some of them to Shin-Won who is upset as he thinks she gave them to him since she doesn’t consider him a man. But he gives into his curiosity and reads them.
Eunuch Se-Jang brings red ginseng tea from the King’s grandmother to soothe him. However, it instead makes the King feel hot and flustered and curious about some of the erotica books left by So-Rang. While ashamed of their lack of self-control, both Shin-Won and the King get invested as they read the books in their individual rooms.
Trying to discipline himself, Shin-Won goes to train and is met by So-Rang who asks him to teach her. He jokes that he can take care of her but is disappointed when she says he will not be always at her side. He finally accepts his feelings for her. While he trains her, she teases him for reading the erotica and he draws her close to stop her. The King walks in and thinks that they are about to kiss. Angry, he tells his staff to send So-Rang to his quarters.
Elsewhere, Lady Seo is actually having an affair with the Military Minister and shows disdain toward her husband. While begrudgingly taking lunch to her comatose husband who she slowly poisons, a maidservant shares that she saw Hyun-Seon in the morning while she was chasing the painter. The Military Minister also targets So-Rang and so reveals to the audience that he is responsible for killing the previous prospective brides.
So-Rang is confronted by the King about Shin-Won but she innocently brushes it aside. However, she finds out that the King too has read the erotica and starts teasing him. He tries to stop her by holding her hand but So-Rang asks if he doesn’t feel any desire for having a woman close to him. As she tries to leave he pulls her close and warns her not to tempt him. Eunuch Se-Jang notices that the two have a connection and decides to get them together so that the King can marry her and lift the ban.
Lady Seo goes to Aedaldang to confirm Hyun-Seon’s existence and is distracted by Gwaeng Yi who tells her that she will be the King’s mother-in-law. He deftly manipulates her into believing that she shouldn’t be outside her home otherwise the energy of single women may steal her daughter’s fortune of becoming queen. But his plan goes wrong as Hyun-Hee points out that even Hyun-Seon is Lady Seo’s daughter and so to secure her place they need to get rid of her step-sister for good.
In the palace, Court Lady Won and Eunuch Se-Jang rope in Shin-Won who is to be So-Rang’s wingman and help the King realise his feelings for her. Shin-Won is conflicted but does his best to help. The King already thinks about So-Rang but shuts his feelings for her as he dreams of her dying. Shin-Won hangs out with the King and they both indirectly confess their feelings for So-Rang.
The royal staff push the couple together as they get So-Rang to walk with the King and wipe his face. The conjugal night for them is set which Se-Jang tells Shin-Won. He is upset but continues his bodyguard duties. However, while taking So-Rang home, they are intercepted by Lady Seo’s assassins. He fights them off and they escape. While Lady Seo is angry that she wasn’t killed, the Military Ministry appears and reveals that he ordered them to just scare So-Rang.
Undeterred, Court Lady Won dresses up So-Rang and prepares for the conjugal night. The King is surprised by the decoration in his room but he is speechless when he sees So-Rang. However, before she can enter, Shin-Won runs away with her.
The Episode Review
While the beginning few episodes may have struggled as they tittered between melodrama and comedy, the fourth episode of The Forbidden Marriage finally finds the right balance. Otherwise a serious subject about a king losing his love and ability to love due to traitors, the dialogue, as well as the actors, do their best in keeping the episode light and humorous.
From slapstick comedy to some of the plot points actually parodying the usual K-Drama story arcs like kissing someone when asleep to Eunuch Se-Jang narrating what usually happens in an enemies-to-lovers trope makes it hilariously relatable for even those who may not like historical dramas.
The episode handles vulgarity in a funny way so that it isn’t too cheap. The Forbidden Marriage also smartly reveals unanswered questions while not being too direct or spoon-feeding the audience. We find out that the Military Ministry is the one who is killing the brides and we connect the dots and realise that in having an affair, Lady Seo secures her daughter’s position as the next queen.
With most of the mysteries being solved, we get more as Gwaeng Yi happens to know everything that has happened from Shin-Won’s mystery woman to Lady Seo’s motives for looking for So-Rang.