Episode 44 of "Empress Qi" was very inconsistent. It focused on Ta-hwan and his fears of inadequacy. Those fears make him easily manipulated by everyone. While this is a solid focus, the execution was messy.
Empress Hudu only appears once in the entire episode despite the fact that she's supposed to be a power hungry woman who will do anything to attain it. I already found it strange that she sat back and watched the dowager empress and Seung-nyang do battle for five years without playing a hand. But now she literally does nothing but smirk and that is frustrating. What is the point of her character and having a wonderful actress like Lim Ju-eun play her?
I've said it before so I will not linger on it, but Byung-soo needs to go and Tangquishi either needs to do the same, or be a bit more clever. They are worn out characters who add little to the show - what they do can be easily filled by another role, like Hudu's.
The issues addressed in this episode, however, were poignant. Ta-hwan feels inadequate and therefore relies heavily on the stronger Seung-nyang to guide and protect him. When he realizes that she doesn't trust him, that breaks him. The best moment of the episode was when he publicly sends her away, removing his favor. It's been too long in coming. Seung-nyang should've confided in him, and she didn't. But even more, it finally has Ta-hwan making his own independent decisions, however erroneous or emotionally fueled they may be. He needs to be internally self-sufficient to be a good ruler. Perhaps this will be the next step. Watching him break down has been annoying because it's the same path other characters have followed. Give me something new.
The dowager empress has become the biggest schemer of the bunch and she and Bayan attempt to manipulate Wang Yoo into implicating Seung-nyang as a traitor in exchange for his life. This tests the bond between Wang Yoo and Seung-nyang and also gives Yuan a positive political tie to Goryeo. That bond is something I've been wondering about - how strong is it? Has it faded? Seung-nyang obviously cares for Ta-hwan, but now I know she still cares for Wang Yoo. The show hasn't been to clear on that. It has been clear that the dowager genuinely fights for what she believes is correct even though she has a very sinister way of doing so. Her intentions have always been clear, and that makes her one of the stronger characters. With such a huge cast, too many convoluted motivations make for messy development.
Seung-nyang, now cast aside, struggles with her identity, another wonderful issue. She is the mother of a Yuan prince, but the daughter of Goryeo. She belongs nowhere. With the warring nations, such a position is difficult to be in. Wang Yoo broke her trust, she broke Ta-hwan's. She is tied to no one and no place. She needs somewhere to lay her roots, and she will be looking for it.
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 44"
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