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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 23-24

2017/06/15 | Permalink

When Queen Mother Joongjeon's true role in the overall plot was revealed last episode, I was hoping that we would see some guiding principles toward a long term goal. Instead, Queen Mother Joongjeon's schemes become increasingly bizarre. Even Dae-mok is standing off at the sidelines, a little bewildered but ultimately fairly indifferent as to her actions. There's no obvious way anything Queen Mother Joongjeon is doing could hurt Dae-mok, after all.

For that matter it's not really clear how Queen Mother Joongjeon's actions are much of an inhibition on Prince Seon's long term goals either. Queen Mother Joongjeon is just setting up complicated situations by which Prince Seon and the other Seon can tragically pine over Ga-eun. This is accomplished by putting one, two, or all three of them in mortal danger at random, cue the sad scene music.

Meanwhile Hwa-goon, the only main character smart enough to stay out of easy poisoning range, just ends up staring blankly as Prince Seon and Cheong-eun come up with a really stupid plan to rescue the other Seon. And of course, Hwa-goon ends up rescuing them instead. I have to wonder at this point if Prince Seon's stock as a romantic partner has gone down in Hwa-goon's eyes. How is our main character so consistently helpless?

I'm at the point where I'm not totally sure why the production team behind "Ruler: Master of the Mask" even wanted to do an action royalist series in the first place. The only scenes they put any serious effort into are the romantic ones. Although even that's kind of last minute. I don't remember the slightest hint of a crush on the other Seon's part before the timeskip, which gives the impression that the production team just made that characterization up because the love triangle was the main story element they wanted to push.

The result is that the stakes in this drama are so poorly defined I'm not sure what anyone's goal ever is at any given minute. When the other Seon comes up with the ridiculous idea to just have Prince Seon put the mask on and become the King again I just think, why not? It's no less preposterous than anything else that's happened. I went into this drama kind of expecting that Prince Seon would use the other Seon as a body double to be in two places at once. That, at least, would give him a useful ability.

Review by William Schwartz

"Ruler: Master of the Mask" is directed by Noh Do-cheol & Park Won-gook, written by Jeong Hae-ri & Park Hye-jin-II, and features Yoo Seung-ho, Kim So-hyun, L, Yoon So-hee, Heo Joon-ho and Park Chul-min.

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