The Big Secret
Episode 2 of Under The Queen’s Umbrella begins with Dowager seeming quite intent on pushing Uiseong towards the crown. She visits Hwang, his mother, and the two talk about Hwa’s credentials and fitness to rule.
The mystery for Hwa to solve at that moment is the cause of Taein’s death. Yoon seems to believe that he didn’t die because of it, as was confirmed by the physician. Other princes are being prepared for the race to be chosen as the next Crown Prince and Hwa is vary of that notion. She still feels her sons have work to do but sees them as probable rulers one day.
King Lee was elected to the throne in a similar manner, a turn back to the past shows. Yoon was deposed as Hwa might be too in the coming future.
She warns Hwa to watch out for her sons, as their lives would be in danger owing to these new developments. Dowager is out to sabotage Hwa, while at the same time, propelling the confidence of the concubines to bid for the royal throne. They feel the crown within arm’s reach. They use the book and tips given by Dowager to prepare. Hwang is confident that Uiseong can do it with her help. She rallies behind him and only asks him to participate, with the rest being her headache. Hwa is using everything in her power to make her Crown Prince better. She asks her confidants to send a request for information about Taein’s treatment.
Hwa is upset with her children too as they fail to see the threat being posed to them. Gyeseong is one of them. He showcases their naivety when she asks all of them to partake in the running. But he is also the one to oblige to the request to apply even when the three others fail to be persuaded into reconsidering their stances. They are yet to know about the crown prince’s health. The rivalry between Uiseong and the Grand Princes becomes even more intense. It all boils down to more than just physical blows to murder threats when Uiseong talks negatively about Hwa again and says he will kill all the princes when he becomes king. Seongnam responds with an equally befitting reply.
The race for cohort position is heating up and Hwa is facing one setback after the other. First, it was her sons who lacked determination. But now, others too have started seeing them as worthless and incompetent. So much so that Seongnam and Gyeseong are in danger of being expelled from Jonghak. Gyesoeng is particularly secretive of what he does in his spare time at nights and Hwa is anxious about his activities.
When the Queen is found crying in secret by Court Lady Shin, she is comforted, but the royal wants to know what to do now, to try and prevent Grand Prince Gyeseong from meeting his end. With Hwa-ryeong panicking, there appears to be no immediate solution in sight. Concurrently, applications are submitted for the cohort selection evaluation, which Grand Prince Muan surprisingly decides to get involved with.
Determined not to give up on Gyeseong, Hwa-ryeong refuses to dwell, wanting instead to get her reliable son to apply for the cohort selection, due to her worries about her other children who wish to leave the palace and get married. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince emotionally asks Grand Prince Seongnam to be “like a father” to Won Son, evidently making plans for his potential death. That, and the heir to the throne asks his younger brother to keep him company as cohort, warmly reminiscing about their time in Seochon together in youth, where their bond grew. As such, Grand Prince Seongnam applies for the cohort evaluation at the last minute, clearly affected by what his sibling said.
To her surprise, the Queen discovers all of her children ended up applying for the cohort selection, bringing both relief and happiness to the royal. Elsewhere, the King himself expresses his shock at seeing the large level of interest in the vacant role, admitting to his men that he wants to find someone who can encourage the Crown Prince to “twist, turn, and break outside the box from time to time.” Put more simply, His Majesty desires to find someone who differs from the heir to the throne.
That night, we watch Prince Uiseong coached for his upcoming examinations, with a new arithmetic tutor supplementing handy guides on what he needs to have memorised. Consort Hwang knows her son needs to make a big impression on the first two tests, hoping it can sway him into being selected for the role of cohort. Elsewhere, the Queen begins reading through a myriad of books used at Jonghak and Sigangwon so she can help the Grand Princes study.
After viewing the preparations of other Princes, we return to the Queen. She is relentlessly trying to condense materials to teach her sons with, understanding she needs to combat the scribes and private tutors hired by the concubines. Here, Hwa-ryeong is in a revelatory mood too, clarifying to Court Lady Shin that she was not selected to become royalty to keep maternal relatives of the late King “in check,” but rather because of her exceptional abilities. Confident, the Queen says she cannot sleep if she loses. Cynically, we discover at the end of this scene that Consort Go has been keeping tabs on Grand Prince Gyeseong, though this is actually down to her belief of a scribe being hired to tutor him.
The next day, Hwa-ryeong is told by the royal physician that no medical records exist anymore for Crown Prince Taein, except for one line about his death being caused by hyeolheogwol. Shocked, the Queen is suspicious, especially when it’s disclosed the vital information sought after was lost in a fire, and the physicians who survived the blaze left the palace, aside from Cho Guk-yeong, who is currently absent anyway. Sternly, Hwa-ryeong now desires to be made aware of the person that treated Taein, which is said to be Yoo Sang-uk, directly ordering his whereabouts to be found in spite of his missing status.
As the Queen shocks the Grand Princes with her sudden emotional investment in their education when they begin studying for their upcoming cohort selection exams, Hwa-ryeong reminds herself of the deposed royal’s words to her. She tells her sons one of them must become the cohort to the Crown Prince, ignoring their previous academic failures in favour of wanting them to turn their fortunes around. Grand Prince Seongnam notices his mother has changed, so quizzes her on this attitude shift, yet is only told the royal doesn’t wish to lose to the concubines who have been readying their children for success.
Using marriage as a persuasion tool, Hwa-ryeong says her children should “feel free” to make her proud prior to their exiting of the palace, as they never know what will happen. “Therefore, I would like to be able to lay my hopes on you,” the Queen adds, expressing her longing for the Grand Princes to be on their best behaviour.
Hwa-ryeong goes to check on what’s happening with Gyeseong. Consort Go has also followed the Grand Prince
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 2 ends with the revelation that Gyeseong is someone who privately dresses up as a woman, hiding this side of himself from the palace.
The Episode Review
The second episode of Under The Queen’s Umbrella continues to deliver decent historical drama here, mixing in an intoxicating blend of romance, drama and intricate character ties. As we said before, it’ll take some time to get used to all the characters but this follow-up does a good job of at least easing us into that.
Next week’s double bill should be quite the intriguing set of episodes, especially with the big reveal at the end!