Episode 19 of The King’s Affection begins with Hwi and Ji-Un sitting together, with the truth about Hwi’s real identity revealed. She didn’t want Ji-Un to get hurt, hence why she stayed quiet. It would have been agony for Ji-Un of course, knowing his old flame was actually the Crown Prince. Then again fate has thrown them back together again too.
When Hwi leaves, Ji-Un runs into So-Eun. She knows his heart belongs to someone else and decides to break off the engagement. She’s going to let her father know too, but for now it means Ji-Un is somewhat free from the shackles that were bound to him. Hwi however, is still a prisoner.
Ji-Un confronts his father about Dam-I and Seok-Jo’s intention to kill her. He’s stubborn, bound to his principles but now Ji-Un too has his own destiny. He warns Seok-jo that if he tries to kill Hwi then he’ll have to go through him first.
The next day, Hwi takes the Physician captive and demands to know why he killed the Eunuch. There, he admits that Lord Sangheon was the one who ordered this. In order to prove that, Hwi enacts a plan to break into Ki-Jae’s place and find the poison used by her grandfather. With evidence, it could be enough to usurp his rule.
For now, Hwi decides to head back to the palace and buy them all some time. With the Queen Dowager and Ki-Jae both in attendance, Hwi cleverly turns the two elders against one another. She promises that the secret regarding her “twin sister” will be kept buried, but Hwi is playing a very clever political game here. She’s flying close to the sun – but will she get burned?
One person who does get burned (figuratively speaking) is Seok-Jo. Guards rush into his residence, killing the hired help and holding his wife up at sword-point. With Ji-Un mounting a counter from behind, the pair work together to try and thwart the guards while bringing Ji-Un’s mother to safety. This attack was Ki-Jae’s doing of course, and as Ji-Un finds out he asks Seok-Jo for help in exposing the old man’s crimes.
Unfortunately things take a turn for the worst. Court Lady Kim and Eunuch Hong are held prisoner by Prince Wonsan out on the road, who overcomes Hyun when he’s trying to protect them. Despite being born brothers, Wonsan slashes at Hyun and looks set to kill him… but his sword mercifully pierces the ground next to him.
Unfortunately this also means Seok-Jo is in deep trouble with Ki-Jae. He pleads for the mercy of his family being kept alive, but we know that Ki-Jae has a heart of ice; he’s unlikely to allow that. However, Ji-Un finds the poison at Ki-Jae’s place and manages to slip away.
He’s corned by Ki-Jae’s men on the way back though and as an archer pierces Seok-Jo’s arm, partway through holding Ki-Jae hostage, the tables turn and things look bleak. They’re tied up and kept in the courtyard alongside Eunuch Hong and Court Lady Kim. Ki-Jae’s vial of poison is also taken from Ji-Un as well.
Hwi finds out what her grandfather is up to and heads straight there with a whole group of guards. She calls him out for treason but Ki-Jae is incredulous. He’s immediately arrested and taken away though, as Hwi watches on.
With the charges set, the next day Hwi tries to get Ki-Jae executed for treason. Midway through the meeting, Ga-On shows with Prince Jehyeon. Hwi is going to abdicate the throne and return to being a court maid. It’s too dangerous for her – and others in the court of course. She reveals all of this to the Queen Dowager in confidence, deciding to accept whatever punishment is coming her way.
Before she passes the throne (which Prince Jehyeon asks her to reconsider doing) Seok-Jo shows and confesses his crimes. Namely that of what happened to the real King. She deliberates on what to do but for now, decides to send him over to YeoYeon to supervise a whole group of soldiers. When he’s done, she’ll decide on a suitable punishment for him.
That evening, Hwi heads up and meets Ha-Kyung as promised. Hwi breaks the news and confirms that she’s a woman. She’s done hiding and reassures the young woman as Ha0Kyung remains shocked.
The big day arrives and with all her affairs in order, Hwi passes the throne over. Ji-Un is there with her, and Hwi apologizes for not resolving the matter with Seok-Jo just yet. Only, there’s a problem.
Hong comes rushing over and reveals that Ki-Jae has broken out of his cell just prior to his state tribunal. With guards lying dead on the floor, it appears that someone has busted him out and helped the old man escape. That’s bad news for all involved, but especially those loyal to Hwi.
It’s soon revealed that Ki-Jae and Prince Wonsan have both staged a massive coup and with the Left State Minister’s secret army formed, a big battle looks set to commence for the throne.
The Episode Review
The King’s Affection returns with an exciting penultimate episode, one that brings the main conflict into focus while simultaneously ramping up the drama and stakes for all our characters.
Hwi finally wraps things up with Ha-Kyung though, while Seok-Jo gets a redemptive arc at the end. It’s a nice touch to see him admit to his crimes and repent in front of Hwi. Even better still though is watching how Hwi handles this with dignity.
It’s a sign of power and the quiet glances -rather than outright venomous shouting – helps to give her character a cool and powerful façade – exactly as a position of power like this demands.
However, the main threat of Ki-Jae was always going to come back during the finale; he was thwarted way too quickly this episode. With an episode to go it was perhaps obvious that this conflict wasn’t fully done and dusted. As it stands, it looks set to serve up one final gasp before the season is done.
This has been a really enjoyable historical drama and The King’s Affection’s popularity has only been growing over the weeks. How will this one end? Well, we’ll find out tomorrow!