On the heels of change is opportunity and when there is opportunity there is greed. In the wake of El Temur's death, only his memory, wealth and power are left for the living to fight over. This is when differences in goals come to light and allies divide to become foes.
Seung-nyang has been clever, powerful, and at the head of the pack because she was the leader of a revolution everyone supported. Now that the revolution is over, it's time to decide new roles and she, as a foreign Goryeo woman, does not fit into the Yuan mold. She was valued as a wartime strategist, not as a genuine candidate for the delicate politics of the Yuan court. From a writer's perspective, this change is welcome. Seung-nyang needs to be over her head to learn and to grow and it makes for interesting screen time to watch her flounder. Of course, she is still possessed of a keen intelligence, which will see her through, but she has to break through her pride and single-minded thoughts of revenge.
Her challenger for empress was briefly introduced near the end of the episode. She is Bayan's niece, played by the fantastic Lim Ju-eun. Bayan has brought her forward because he wants the Yuan line untainted by Goryeo blood, a position fervently supported by the dowager empress. Both were former supporters of Seung-nyang and their desertion leaves her reeling. Greed for power also taints this new alliance. Caught in the middle is Tal Tal who still seems to be a friend of Seung-nyang, but he serves Bayan. That relationship could be exploited well for "Empress Qi", and I hope it is.
In the balance lies Seung-nyang's first child, the one she thinks is dead, but was in fact adopted by Tanisiri. He is a wild card who could throw everything into disarray. He could help to further bring Wang Yoo and Seung-nyang back together. They need to unite in order to give Goryeo the freedom it deserves.
Tanisiri met her end as well, but it took the entire episode to get her there. It was much too long. The points made could've been made in a quarter of the time: Tanisiri wants her son spared; she feels injusticed; she misses her family. Less time on her path to death and more time on the political intricacies would've served this episode better.
This episode suffered from serious growing pains as characters changed in order to accommodate the new storyline. With the introduction of Lim Ju-eun, Yuan palace politics will shift again as she will most certainly have her own agenda. While I expect her to be thoroughly opposed to Seung-nyang, I do hope that she isn't evil for evil's sake. I want an adversary I can understand.
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 38"
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