As I watched episodes 19 and 20, I found myself for the first time agreeing with Left Councilor Lee Yi Cheom; Dae Yeop would've made a much better King, and if ever there were a time were a second lead outshone all leads combined, it's him. He is by far the best character I've seen in a historical drama to date.
Anyone else in his place would have lost their mind with jealousy but not him. Not only does he stand up against his uncle's power to protect the woman he loves and the man she loves, but he does it because it's the right thing to do time and time again. The Consort Queen telling off the King was the best part of this episode. Indeed, he was neither man, father nor was he Kingly. I feel the King as the father of Joseon, as he liked to call himself in his bid to protect his throne lost what truly mattered, the people of Joseon and what was best for them.
I enjoyed this drama, but as much as I did, some parts that didn't work for me were the exaggerated villainous portrayal of Lee Yi Cheom. I can understand having power, but that one man was so powerful that not the king, the ministers, or the other factions could develop a plan to oust him now that I couldn't get behind. I mean, he wasn't even much of a villain—the number of times Deop tricked him, one would think he would've learned his lesson, but I guess the same could go to all of them.
I think Court Lady Kim was more of a villain than the left councilor ever was, but then maybe that was the point; Yi Cheom was never as shrewd or villainous as he believed himself to be. He was just a simplistic man blinded by his need for power to define him. One's evil deeds will always catch up to them in the end. I knew things would end the way they did for Dae Yeop, and as much as I hated it as much as it made sense that it would. There were only so many times he could keep tricking Yi Cheom and get away with it. At its ending, the one message I take from this drama is that power is neither good nor evil. Its users make it so. Contrary to Yi Cheom and the King's belief in money, wealth, kingship, none is absolute; only knowledge is absolute power.
As much as I love Jung II Woo, Shin Hyun Soo was phenomenal in every aspect; he's made a life-long fan out of me. I was pretty disappointed by how the writer made the Princess into this helpless victim for most of the drama, and despite trying to make her strong, it was too little too late. But with that said, I like Kwon Yu Ri the calm way she portrayed the Princess. Unexpectedly Dae Chul (Yoon Joo Man), Ba Woo's son Cha Dol (Ko Dong Ha), his best friend, Chun Bae (Lee Joon Hyuk), Court Lady Jo (Shin Dong Mi), and the King's Royal Guard Commander Jung Yeong (Seo Beom Shik) left more of an impression with me than some of the characters with more screen time did. That said, though, kudos to Jung II Woo, the cast, and the production team for exceeding their viewership ratings time and time again. I hope to see him in a new project soonest. Watch Bossam: Steal the Fate here.