"Empress Qi" is throwing everything it has at us, but it fails to be truly compelling. There are tears, and death, and convoluted political plots, but none of those things carry any weight. The buildup towards the events in this episode was sorely lacking and made the biggest reveal seem anticlimactic.
This drama has struggled with uneven development since the beginning. Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo's romance was choppily pieced together. The same can be said for Yon Feisu's strange relationship with Wang Yoo. While her romantic feelings were made obvious, his connection to her seemed to end with business. That is, until the show kills Yon Feisu off (in a scene that was absurdly forced and overly dramatic) and has Wang Yoo weep platonic tears for a woman he never seemed to care about before.
Then there is the sorely underused Empress Hudu who bided her time for five years only to impulsively ruin everything in a badly planned murder attempt on Maha. Her behavior was out of character and jarring. Like Yon Feisu's death, Hudu's dethronement was much too dramatic, very sudden, and out of place.
Ta-hwan has a few stellar moments in the episode, especially when interacting with young Maha. He has been cruel for all of Maha's life, and only now shows his regret for why this has had to be: political gain. It's made him a terrible father and a worse ruler. He has never been strong and his mental stability has gradually deteriorated. I just wish the story used this well. Instead, they make Ta-hwan crazy to further the story rather than make it an organic part of Ta-hwan's inability to shoulder the stress of his crown. His issues are valid and his dependence on Seung-nyang is understandable, but like most other parts of the drama, he falls apart in fits and starts that suit nothing but "shock value".
Maha's role is one I would've liked to see more of. He had minimal screen time with Seung-nyang, and when they were together, the moments weren't strong enough. The child actor who plays him is wonderful and compelling, but the writing of the character's situation was lackluster. The mother and son pair needed on screen fireworks to make their scenes work and instead we received too many tears, overbearing music and not enough of earnest Maha.
All that's left for this drama is to place Seung-nyang on the throne as empress. I'm sure there will be many underhanded dealings, battles and tears along the way. Eagle House's owner has yet to be revealed and Wang Yoo has not met his son, but with the way things have been going, I'm not expecting much development. More of a sudden, jarring, and unfulfilling unfolding of events.
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 46"
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