I love and can watch Jung Il Woo recite the phone book and still be intrigued by his ability to transform into any role. I particularly enjoyed him in Haechi, one of my favorite historical dramas, but, boy, Kwon Yu Ri is marvelous in this drama with the purposeful way she plays Princess Hwa In from her gentle speech to noble expressions and elegant gestures of a princess who turns into a completely different person when a political marriage upends her life, widowhood, and kidnapping.
Amazingly enough, this is my first drama for her, and she has made a huge fan out of me. I think what I love most about this drama is its slow and methodical delivery. It never rushes into the story but unveils the necessary pieces in time. And as unlike as it was, the Ba Woo and the Princess would never have crossed paths if it weren't for the act of bossam as quickly as they have started to change if not affect each other's life. She is the refinement to his roughness, keeping him grounded but more so makes him want to be a better person.
Even as the Princess, Ba Woo, and Cha Dol move away from the capital, they still find themselves chased by her father-in-law's men. It's at this time that Dae Yeop and thinks of himself rescuing her for Ba Woo. He finds he may have already lost her to him despite not having had her to begin with. It's his obsession and inability to respect her wishes to be left alone that makes me less inclined to empathize with Dae Yeop and his plight moving forward as I only see him getting worse, not better, from here onward. What I like most about the Princess and Ba Woo together is how similar they are, notwithstanding how different they may appear. Because even as the Princess opposed Ba Woo's lifestyle, she acknowledged there were times when one must do bad for the sake of good and decided to work with him to con the rich to help the poor even if that's not how it started to begin with, but that they ended up helping feed, clothe and provide medicine to those in need even as they continued to bicker and argue, only showed how much they genuinely started to care for one another.
And yes, Princess Hwa In's father-in-law is a wicked man, but her father, the King, is a monster, using his own daughter to keep his kingship safe rather than being a man and fighting his enemy head-on. But more so, how convoluted was the Joseon era that rather than celebrate his child's life, the King would rather use her as collateral to oust his enemy. And unfortunately, Lee Dae Yeop, Ba Woo, and the Princess are nothing but pawns in their hands. I feel even worse for Dae Yeop; he doesn't even know the half of it with his so-called father, whom I suspect isn't even his birth father. His decision to marry the princess to his second son rather than Dae Yeop, whom he knew full well, was in love with her, and her him proves me right. But time will tell.
And just as Ba Woo and the Princess started to find common ground in their relationship, Ba Woo finds out that the Princess's father-in-law is the very person who accused his family of treason and had them executed. And to me, the instant he found out felt like the lynchpin moment of the drama, and the episode, as it changes everything. Cleverly acted by Jung II-woo. And as sad as I am for Lee Dae Yeop for the "father" he ended up with, as tiring as it's going to get seeing him obsess over someone he's never really going to have ever and particularly since the very person he claims to love so very much begs him to free her of their past. He's quickly turning selfish, and it's only going to get worse from here on for all of them. Watch Episode 5 & 6 here.