The end of a major enemy in "Empress Qi" has arrived. The journey and the battle to achieve this end were both epic and full of excitement. It made this episode a fun watch, but in retrospect, there was a lot of waiting around for pieces to line up.
What I mean by that is that too many plot threads took such a long time to unravel and climax that it made this final battle with El Temur and his allies stale in hindsight . Yes, the fight scenes were beautifully choreographed, cleanly shot and added to plot development. Yes, the acting was intense, the tears were many and the death toll was extremely high. But in the end, this war took too long to happen. It is a placeholder for whatever is to come next, which is something to do with the talented young Lim Ju-eun coming on the scene.
Lim Ju-eun is rumored to be Seung-nyang's new opponent, which should be interesting with the change in Seung-nyang's goals. El Temur is done for, which was her primary goal in avenging her comrades. What is strange though, is that her new goal of attaining imperial power seems to grow out of nothing save for the blatant, selfish thirst for power. This mirrors Tanisiri's rise to her place as empress and El Temur's rise from conquering hero to corrupt regent. It is the path that El Temur predicted for Bayan as well: power will corrupt the truest of hearts, Bayan's, and Seung-nyang's. This path has not been foreshadowed well because Seung-nyang was so focused on revenge and not on attaining power. The stress of war can bring about sudden change in people and I will attribute the change in Seung-nyang to that.
However, the dowager empress has also noticed that Seung-nyang is a terrifying woman and this is something she hasn't really noticed before. Again, it's a last minute detail that the show should've better woven into the texture. To soften the jerkiness of the personality shift, the show allows El Temur to ramble on far too long before his death so that he can predict the terrible things Seung-nyang will do to Yuan. It's just all too much.
The episode did show how much Ta-hwan has grown. Rather than needing others to spur him on, Ta-hwan decides to stand and fight for himself, which is leagues away from the man who could barely find the strength to run for his own live in the earliest episodes.
Wang Yoo also had one of his strongest scenes this episode. We finally get to see that he is human, not Goryeo robot. He needs way more scenes like this. It was a single scene, but it left a huge impact. I want more of that.
Although it was a very exciting episode and lots of things happened, the events of "Empress Qi" episode 37 really were just plain ol' long overdue and that killed its impact. There were some wonderful elements to it: the slick fight scenes, Ta-hwan's growth, the epic music. But it was all a coverup for badly planned pacing. Hopefully this next stretch will develop more organically.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 37"
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