Young Prince Gwanghae is learning that knowledge and a passion to help his people isn't enough to actually help them. He gets trapped in the sticky web of politics and his immobility and his immobility causes his people to suffer. He begins to truly feel the weight of his position and the heart of the cause that Ga-hee and Do-chi fight for.
While "The King's Face" isn't the most effective show, this episode certainly made its points clearly and smartly. Gwanghae is passionate about his causes and has the makings of a fine ruler, he has the face, if you will. But he doesn't have the savvy to navigate the murky waters of politics riddled with tough and wisened men and women with years of manipulating to achieve their ends to their advantage. This episode shows him how his rash behavior has effects on his people - they suffer because he doesn't think his decisions through. Do-chi tells him this in no uncertain terms and the honesty is refreshing, especially since so much of this show is shrouded in secrets.
Do-chi is an interesting character. He wants to change society, but unlike many other second leads, his decision-making does not (yet) hinge on his romantic interest. He stays focused on his end goal and pushes Gwanghae towards it and keeps Ga-hee on track. His romantic interest is not convincing, much like Gwanghae's. It may have been how the romance was worked into the fabric of the drama. This much is certain: I'm not buying it.
There is a particular camera tool that is overused. During a particularly emotional moment, the action on screen freezes and the camera swirls around the character before sliding in different angles of the same shot to hammer home the emotional intent. It's so overwrought that it induces laughter rather than whatever the intended emotion is. It's spoonfeeding reactions rather than creating a scene solid enough to let the viewers respond themselves.
I'm very moved by Jo Yoon-hee's performance as Ga-hee. She's racked with guilt over her misunderstanding of Gwanghae and burdened by her past and difficult life. The acting is so convincing that I almost forget that the surrounding circumstances aren't quite as convincing. What was Gwanghae's reasoning for not informing Ga-hee of his innocence? Why would she blindly hate him without confirming if she had loved him? Many statements made by the characters are not supported by their actions.
Then there is King Seonjo. The ministers work to fuel his jealousy against Prince Gwanghae. It would be good to have seen more strife between them and feel that jealousy simmer before it is fanned into flames by the conniving officials. Although a key figure, Seonjo's character feels more like a pawn, moved around to make things happen when the production team wants.
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] "The King's Face" Episode 9"
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