"Empress Qi" is settling into it's newest groove. Seung-nyang is doing a lot of growing while other characters react to those changes. Bayan Hudu (Lim Ju-eun) was crowned empress, and she is not narcissistic like Tanisiri was.
In fact, she's calmer than a lamb. She's also crazier than one - where Tanisiri was self-centered, Hudu is a sociopath who uses her placid exterior to win people. Lim Ju-eun is brilliant as this double-edged woman. Her addition to the cast makes it only stronger. I'm not excited, however, for the kind of character she is playing. It seems like the writer is trying to one-up Tanisiri who at least had human sympathies. Hudu lacks empathy entirely. I was hoping for a politically ambitious woman rather than this cop out with a psychopathic character. However, it's all in the writing and how Hudu's character is developed and managed.
Hudu will definitely be a challenge for Seung-nyang in that her uncle, Seung-nyang's former ally, Bayan supports her. The dowager empress also supports her. Because Seung-nyang is in the midst of reshaping her goals, the shift in alliance has shaken her. The way she's growing now is what I'd wished for her before. She carefully balances her love for her son, her Goryeo loyalties, and her relationship with Ta-hwan. It's a very dangerous balance that could make an enemy out of Ta-hwan, which the viewer in me hates - I want their relationship to thrive - and the writer in me loves - I rejoice in juicy conflict.
Wang Yoo had warned her that knowledge about power and working with power were two different things. Seung-nyang is learning about that now and turns to Wang Yoo when she rediscovers her desire to protect her home nation, Goryeo. They form a secret alliance, which should bring about tensions of all sorts: loyalty, romantic, political. This turn of events has me wishing that the undercurrent of antagonism towards Goryeo people had been stronger while Seung-nyang was rising to her current position. It was hinted at, but not nearly enough to make Bayan's or the dowager empress' change of allegiance as powerful as it could've been. That kind of racism can't really be hidden, and if Seung-nyang had felt it all along, I would've like to have known about it. It'll certainly come in handy if Maha, the son she lost who was adopted by Tanisiri, ever becomes known as Seung-nyang and Wang-yoo's child.
Tal Tal's role has been larger as of late. He is a key character now because he is the connection between Seung-nyang and her former ally, Bayan, as well as the only person who knows Hudu's true nature. The grudging partnership he'd formed with Seung-nyang to overthrow El Temur blossomed into respect. He still serves Bayan, but he cannot deny his friendship and respect for Seung-nyang. It puts him in a very dangerous position, especially with Hudu.
The growing pains of the regime change has left Tanquishi alone and thirsting for revenge against Seung-nyang. He's a loose cannon now. His character has run it's course and seems to be in its final death throes. However, those final kicks could (and probably will) cause problems for Seung-nyang. I hope she knows what she signed up for when she decided she wanted to be the first Goryeo woman to become a Yuan empress.
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 39"
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