Even episodes in "Empress Qi" tend to be much stronger than their odd counterparts, as though the odds are just set up while the evens get to have all of the glory. That glory is found mostly in action and suspense rather than organic storytelling.
This episode found Seung-nyang making calculated moves against Tanisiri who has been impulsive because of her jealousy of Seung-nyang and the other consorts. Jealousy as a writing tool is wearisome in the odd episodes, like yesterday's, and much more engaging in today's even episode. Why? Tanisiri acts on her jealousy using her intelligence. I wonder why she doesn't do it all the time? It makes watching her very wearisome.
Seung-nyang is now following a similar path as Wang Yoo in that she doesn't really have any flaws. She's interesting to watch because she gets caught up in tricky situations that she must find her way out of, but she makes no real errors like Ta-hwan does. Neither she nor Wang Yoo have any real flaws and they don't seem human or relatable. Tal Tal and Bayan seem much more relatable because they have flaws. Yes, they represent two character archetypes (intelligence and brute strength), but they have flaws and those make a character feel human.
Seung-nyang's war against Tanisiri is interesting like a sports game is interesting. I'm watching to see what will happen, but I'm not necessarily invested in it. Ta-hwan's growth as a person, however, I'm completely invested in. His love for Seung-nyang and her pushing has made him become inwardly motivated to learn, better himself, and regain his throne from El Temur's vicelike grip. He is now separated from Seung-nyang based upon her principle and must work and learn with his own will. He is awesome for no longer cowering and for taking baby steps forward.
Wang Yoo's storyline is boring to the point of tears. The recycled Turkish leader, Batolu, has developed a hefty crush on him and has placed herself in a precarious position as his enemy because of it. She has allied herself with El Temur's largest source of income, a trader of lives and fake vouchers. The whole situation could be made interesting if it didn't revolve around so few ideas: Batolu liking Wang Yoo and the trader's subservient relationship to El Temur. It needs more substance than that.
Also, whatever happened to his wife? He married El Temur's niece and we've barely seen her and Don't Know Her at all. That could add some much needed conflict and a new character to spruce up this long, long drama.
"Empress Qi" is relying solely on its plot to keep us interested and it needs more than that. It had a nice balance of plot development, character development, camera storytelling and beauty at the start. I would like for that strength to come back.
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Follow on Twitter @raine0211
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 28"
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