After So-yong (Shin Hye-sun) rejects Cheoljong’s (Kim Jung-hyun) confession, a series of events lead them to become allies. So far, So-yong has tried to fit into the palace in her capacity as the Queen. Now, when the palace has openly attacked one of her people, she transforms into the truly crazy woman that she is. Dig in!
Cheoljong saves an innocent life
Cheoljong has the little palace maid Dam-hyang drink poison and become lifeless for his ministers to see. But for a heartbroken So-yong, he leaves a sign that this is all a bluff, cluing her in on his plan. Cheoljong’s decision not to abandon his subjects moves So-yong, but to avenge attacks on her life and Dam-hyang’s, she decides to take on whoever tried to harm her. A lot of conspiracies are underfoot—Byeong-in (Na In-woo) plans to unite the warring Kim and Jo clans against the King, Kim Jwa-geun (Kim Tae-woo) resigns in rage, while So-yong realizes that Hwa-jin (Seol In-ah), Queen Dowager Jo (Jo Yeon-hee), and Grand Queen Dowager Sunwon (Bae Jong-ok) all tried to harm her.
So-yong is dressed for revenge
Dressed in her best sageuk (historical drama) vamp garb, with the motto that “the best defense is to attack,” So-yong sets out to openly threaten all those who seek to undermine her. She begins with Grand Queen Dowager Sunwon, who warns her against turning her back on her clan, but So-yong pays her no mind, before moving on to ruining the shrine of Queen Dowager Jo’s dead son. Finally, So-yong corners Hwa-jin. However, instead of threatening her, she just shows Hwa-jin that she’s becoming a monster in her quest for power and Cheoljong’s heart. They have a tussle over the same lake So-yong fell into, and she leaves having proved that she’s a better person.
Cheoljong begins reforms, but Byeong-in blocks his path
After Kim Jwa-geun leaves the court, Cheoljong begins the painstaking process of reforming his country. He proposes a system for correction of taxes that will prevent government officials from exploiting farmers. Despite protests among his corrupt ministers, Cheoljong firmly goes ahead, announcing that he will no longer try to please the court. However, he hits a roadblock when the ministers band together to urgently appoint a Minister of Military—and it turns out to be none other than Kim Byeong-in.
So-yong and Cheoljong form an alliance
In a surprising turn of events, So-yong decides to formally give up trying to get on the good side of her clan, who are actively trying to harm her. She extends an offer of alliance to Cheoljong because their enemy is now the same, which they seal by doing shots of tea. Hilarious! This time, they honestly share their visions with each other, like partners—Cheoljong wants to strengthen royal authority in order to fix the country, while So-yong just wants to become so powerful that no one can stomp on her again. She says something about dying while smiling that reminds Cheoljong of the girl he met while he was stuck in the well as a child.
Byeong-in’s and Hwa-jin’s dilemmas
After clashing with his father over the attempt on So-yong’s life, Byeong-in meets So-yong. Through desperation, he explains that he is neither his father’s person nor the Kim clan’s, but only hers. Her rejection prompts him to conspire with Grand Queen Dowager Sunwon against the King. Meanwhile, Cheoljong reveals to Hwa-jin that the corpse in the well wasn’t her maid Oh Wol and asks her not to be manipulated by Queen Dowager Jo anymore. Yeongpyeong (Yoo Min-kyu), who likes Hwa-jin, confronts her, but she’s too far gone now to admit that she was wrong and So-yong, right.
A sudden reveal
After walking in on a half-naked Cheoljong, So-yong is affected and tries seducing him by making ramen. She tries to get over her inner conflict of sleeping with him, but just as they are about to kiss, she inadvertently ends up revealing a huge secret that has been simmering between them.