Episode 9 of Under the Queen’s Umbrella begins with the Queen Dowager doubling down on her intent on making sure none of Hwa-Ryeong’s son ascend to the throne. After her stand off with Hwa-Ryeong last episode, things don’t look good.
The latter speaks to the King and informs him of the attack on Seongnam and she wants justice. The King is subdued but Hwa-Ryeong points out that she’ll strike hard and get retribution herself if this happens again.
When the King heads off to see his mother, the Queen Dowager cunningly pretends that she’s been poisoned. Remember the cuckoo pint serving as a warning last episode? Well, with her Court Lady there to corroborate the story, Dowager plays the victim and pretends that she’s sick.
As a result, the pendulum swings back to whack Hwa-Ryeong in the face as the King believes Hwa-Ryeong intentionally deceived him in a bid to kill the Dowager. When the King does eventually leave, the Dowager is back to her usual cunning self.
Hwa-Ryeong suspects something is afoul and wonders whether Dowager has shifted allegiance from Uiseong to Bogeom. Or, even worse, has decided to back both horses. In order to try and find out what she’s up to, Hwa-Ryeong uses Consort Tae as a pawn. Unfortunately Dowager sees this coming a mile off and decides to use the “simple” Consort to her own devious devices.
Hwa-Ryeong next heads off to see the State Councillor, questioning him about the bandits he sent to the island to intercept Sangseong. Given they’ve captured the co-captain, he’s now more than willing to talk after his torture last episode and immediately points to the State Councillor as the one who gave the order.
As we know, the State Councillor is working for the Queen Dowager and Hwa-Ryeong knows this too. She tells the State Councilor as much, reinforcing that he’s clearly being used as a scapegoat here and questioning where his allegiance lies, especially as Dowager is likely backing Bogeom now.
Meanwhile, the Princes continue on their mission, with some more eager than others. Hodong is completely nonchalant to the whole affair, while the contenders re whittled down to six men.
As we know, Simso, Bogeom and Sangseong are among those, while they continue to be tested to see who’s worthy of taking their prize back. Simso though ends up stumbling back to the palace, with cuts all over his hands and completely broken and battered. Unfortunately, his mother is desperate for him to press forward and tells the guards not to admit him, likening him to a beggar in the street.
Ko’s lust for power and greed has turned her against her son. In fact, in her desire she actually finds out about Gyeseong’s secret, finding documents and immediately bringing the composite sketch to Consort Hwang. It’s a huge scandal and it’s something that can be used to weaken Hwa-Ryeong into submission.
Consort Ko is determined to make the Queen bleed tears of blood, deciding that she’s responsible for Simso dropping out of the competition after showing him a kindness and letting him back in the palace. However, after her words about disowning her son, Simso is found hanging from the rafters and attempts to commit suicide. Thankfully he’s cut down and taken to the physician before things worsen – and he’s still alive.
Hwa-Ryeong has a gentle touch with the Consort, going on to tell her that she’s already suffered the heaviest punishment for her earlier words and remains hopeful that Simso will return to her once he’s healed up
When Simso regains consciousness, Hwa-Ryeong is there to speak to him. She speaks plainly about his condition, with Simso admitting he never actually wanted to be the Crown Prince. In fact, even the thought of becoming one gave him a headache! As a result, Hwa-Ryeong suggests he didn’t fail outright, he was never really into it.
Ko’s pushy demeanour could well be explained by the fact Simso learnt how to read very early on and as a result, his mother always had high expectations for him.
Meanwhile a subplot involving a monk called Haehim ends up disaster when the latter is framed for the murder of a man called Choi Gil-Myeong. Although Haehim is completely innocent, Prince Uiseong is actually the real murderer and even worse, has done so in a bid to secure the man heading back to the palace so he can win the Crown Prince role. That’s the only way this man will be able to secure his freedom, so it’s quite the conundrum.
Consort Hwang and the State Councilor show up to see the Queen Dowager, addressing the rumours regarding her supporting Bogeom. She laughs off the claims and tells the Councillor to do as she says and stop thinking for himself. She brings up the past, but the State Concillor bites back, questioning what her plan is.
Hwa-Ryeong next heads off to see Minister Yoon, encouraging him to stay neutral between the State Councillor and the Queen Dowager. If she can achieve that, then she promises a place for him depending on who becomes the next Crown Prince. But then that’s made all the more complicated by the ties with Sangseong who requests to the Minister of War to stay with Yoon Cheong-Ha.
As the episode closes out, Hwa-Ryeong learns that Physician Kwon was in charge of treating Consort Hwang. He treated her stomach ulcer a few years back. As a result, Hwa-Ryeong realizes that the pair actually knew each other. Not only that, but Consort Hwang was the one who recommended he take charge of the Crown Prince. Could they have conspired together?
The Episode Review
Under the Queen’s Umbrella comes to a close today with a sinister and politically charged chapter that continues to spin this web of deceit and back-stabbings. It’s now clear that Consort Hwang has been working with Kwon and they could well have been in on this together.
Not only that but the Queen Dowager is continuing to grow in strength, especially given the composite sketch of Gyeseong is in their hands to use some time further down the line.
The show has done well so far to keep the character drama interesting and this Taekhyeon for who will be the next Crown Prince is a nice way of giving all the men something to do while the Queen Dowager and Hwa-Ryeong butt heads. Everything is set up nicely for the next episode.