This episode of "Secret Door" was slower in pace than previous episodes, mostly because it focused on the sneaky ministers and greedy guards trying to manipulate the prince and the king. It is Seon's passionate drive to uncover the truth and the king's insane need to retain his crown that provides so much of the tension in the show. Those were not as prominent in this episode.
When the king did make an appearance, however, it was completely charged by his obsession with the document that could dethrone him, and his terror at its potential discovery. Although he is brilliant, that brilliance is overshadowed by fear. And although he is a father, fatherhood is overshadowed by the crown. He mourns the fact that his son had no friends to turn to growing up, and still the king thwarts Seon's investigation in order to preserve his place at the top of the monarchy. This juicy dichotomy of desire and action is what makes "Secret Door"'s King Yeongjo a wonderful character in fictionalization.
The document that keeps the king on edge is also the document that has political factions silently warring, telling lies, covering up the lies, and dragging more and more people into the conspiracy that is powerful enough to have taken lives. It has the power to take more lives as "Secret Door" soldiers on. The document is what dredges up all of what is wrong in the Joseon government and brings more wrongs to light. It's a clever tool that fits into this reimagined Joseon. It allows for real issues, like the army tax that allows officials who can pay it to be exempt from service, to be known and learned about. It shows the dangerous dance between the Noron and Soron political factions with the king and prince as unwilling participants.
Most of the episode was spent following the mechanizations of Minister Kim, the head of the Noron faction, and the subterfuge of Pil Jae, a minor official who has managed to get his hands on the document that the king fears. Pil Jae is using this document to manipulate the two political factions. Around them are those like Princess Hyegyeong who cleverly inserts her minister father into the proceedings in order to gain the upper hand; or, Minister Park who is a breath away from finding the document that could destroy his king. The chase after the document, and the fact that some know about it and others don't creates clever plot tensions.
The princess is also a wonderful character, much in the same way the king is. She has a political agenda, but her emotional agenda involves loving her husband and trying to forge a deeper relationship insofar as her sense of propriety and decorum will let her. Seon is not unkind to her, but his distinct lack of interest in her could almost be worse to a woman in love.
Seon is able to stay ahead of the clever people in charge, but just barely. In fact, the more he learns, the deeper he finds himself mired in the filth that has grown in order to keep the greedy in power. Let's hope he finds his way into a few happy moments before history rears its ugly head and takes him from us.
The cliffhanger of this episode was the best so far and I'm looking forward to episode 8. I'm also appreciative that "Secret Door" includes some humor to lighten the heavy subject matter. Watching a deadly swordsman cry over a romance novel is highly amusing.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 7"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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