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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Royal Gambler" Episode 17

Yi In-jwa and his nine lives are quite tiresome. The character sticks around beyond all reason. Rather than focus on his ridiculous mechanizations, why can't the show take some real historical happenings and buff them out for this rendition of King Sukjong's and Yeoning's lives? In any case, In-jwa is still here and fluctuating between the maniacal and the serene. Scenes of his omnipotence are punctuated by a few good moments of brotherly love, a death, and some massive political plans that don't feel very massive.

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Yeoning is in a pivotal position right now, learning the inner workings of palace politics, the molasses-like speed of the political machine, and the extent of his own power. That would be a great direction for this show to take, especially if they're making a play with Dae-gil as a contender for the throne. Maybe he'll take over Yeoning's identity so Yeoning can run off with Dam-seo. I'm imagining anything more plausible than one man with overwhelming power and foresight. The most incredible event of the episode was the fact that Man-geum was discovered to be alive and a pawn of In-jwa's. It's humorous how these coincidences keep building up.

On a more somber note, Sukbin succumbed to her illness and true to history, Yeoning is devastated and unable to honor her as he wishes to because of her "lowly" social status. Seo Jin-goo does a commendable job of balancing his grief with his rage at In-jwa. When the king collapses at the end of the episode, I believe it's probably just a fainting spell because the king and Sukbin historically pass two years apart. If he's really dead, well, then we'll get the sickly crown prince on the throne and more of In-jwa - he and In-jwa are buddies.

In-jwa's characterization is what bothers me most. He is partially mad with his dreams of the future and his delusions of grandeur. He is partially grounded enough to show concern for Dam-seo. I would like to see more steadiness in him.

I wish there was more for Jang Keun-suk to do with his role. It's so reactive and full of useless tears. Jang cries so well, but his character has received little to no development since he became a martial arts and gambling master. The same holds true Yeo Jin-goo. The side characters literally appear for a brief shot in a few scenes and forgotten. It's all so haphazard. Come on, episode 18. Please be better.

Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"The Royal Gambler" is directed by Nam Geon, written by Kwon Soon-gyoo, and features Jang Keun-suk, Yeo Jin-goo, Jeon Kwan-ryeol, Choi Min-soo, Lim Ji-yeon, and Yoon Jin-seo.

 

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