"Empress Qi" is pulling out all the stops as it nears the end of its run. It flails it's arms as it grabs for some logical purchase, but finds none. Characters grapple with stability, who they want to be and what they've become.
The biggest issue lies with Ta-hwan. He seems to be the show's most manipulated character. When there is lack of excitement, he drinks too much and makes a scene. When the plot needs a kick, he makes decisions based on impulse and pride. They use his weakness as an excuse to make him behave whatever way is deemed to draw the most viewers and ratings.
The same can be said for Seung-nyang who is just as vague a character as she was forty episodes ago. Her feelings for Wang Yoo and Ta-hwan have always been vague. The only clarity in her character is her love for her child, and her ambition to put him on the throne. There is also, on occasion, her preoccupation with being a Goryeo born woman living the life of a Yuan consort. It's such a great issue that has received much less attention than it's deserved.
Another issue I take with her is that she is supposed to be a strong woman, and yet she allows Ta-hwan to use her body during his fits. She pines for him in a way that isn't clearly explained in the show. Does she care for him? Or just his political power? It should be clear by now. It isn't.
It says a lot that Byung-soo, a man who should've died ages ago, is still around and even grieves the loss of the woman he loves. He's an atrocious human being and not a person to care about. Why did he get so much screen time? He has long overstayed his welcome. His presence only serves to prove that "Empress Qi" is fishing for material. It has so much that was left unexplored with Wang Yoo and his goals for Goryeo. They could've spent much more time on his relationship with Seung-nyang in the beginning, or focusing on the pain they're suffering because of their choices that have permanently separated them.
There is Empress Hudu who merely bides her time, waiting for Seung-nyang and the dowager empress to destroy each other. She was close to Bayan and Tal Tal. What ever happened to that? She could've provided some wonderful plot material, especially with a wonderful actress like Lim Ju-eun portraying her.
The big issue we're left with is Maha and his real identity as Seung-nyang's son, not Tanisiri's. I'm not sure if that will provide enough fuel to get us to the finish line or not. It really depends on how the script is written.
This show feels like it's teetering on the edge, just waiting for it's run to end. It's throwing in scenes and activities that only serve as spectacles. Nothing more. Nothing substantial.
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 45"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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