War is upon King Seonjo, his family, and his country. Just the nature of war kicks up the excitement of "The King's Face" a notch. It's a well-known story, but the spin that the production team takes is what makes it either unique or just another story.
King Seonjo notoriously leaves his people and flees north to protect himself. He leaves Prince Gwanghae in charge of defending the capital. "The King's Face" depicts the king as a coward we know him to be, but it also shows the struggle he faces in making that decision. While this drama, for the most part, has failed to make the king an interesting character, the agony that Seonjo faces in deciding to flee makes him much more colorful. He is less a writer's tool and more a veritable character. Until now, he's been selfish and jealous, but not much else. The change in his character wasn't shown. He was supported by the cast of characters we find in his bickering, narcissistic ministers, but could not stand on his own.
Gwanghae, on the other hand, can and mostly does stand on his own as a character. Unfortunately this episode turned him into the caricature of a hero who made noble speeches, but lacked the depth to pull it off. Seo In-guk made a noble attempt to make him powerful, but the whole thing was rather Shakespearean in delivery - it didn't fit.
The few scenes with interesting filming techniques also didn't fit the general tone of the drama. They were beautiful and visually alluring, but stuck out of the visual landscape the director had previously created. That is the general issue I have with "The King's Face" - a lack of consistency in tone whether it be in dialogue or camera work. The history that backs the script is what holds it together.
Two characters who became more interesting were Do-chi and Ga-hee. Both are fighting for the same idealistic cause and, in the end, fight for something intensely personal. Ga-hee struggles against her destiny. It makes her unpredictable and way more interesting than she has been as of late. Do-chi gives up his revenge to help Ga-hee, becoming more like the king he so despises - he cuts down his allies to get what he wants, even if it is a noble intention.
As for the plot, it lacks a coherency that prevents me forming a true attachment to the story or the characters. Each piece of the drama feels like an independent entity rather than woven inextricably together. There is not enough push and pull. Gwanghae is noble. His brothers are not. It paints a black and white story. Luckily, there are a few moments sprinkled here and there that are powerful in performance and inspired in writing that saves face for "The King's Face".
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
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] "The King's Face" Episode 12"
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