Every week, this show succeeds in introducing a new thrilling development that has me on the edge of my couch. This week, it is Queen So-yong’s (Shin Hye-sun) pregnancy, and the hilarity that will inevitably ensue as she comes to terms with it, as well as the weight of carrying the royal heir.
It’s official: The Queen is expecting the royal heir
As everyone around her whoops in joy and Cheoljong (Kim Jung-hyun) tears up, So-yong has a meltdown about her pregnancy. Her anger confuses Cheoljong. Still, an official announcement is made to the whole world. It inspires a range of reactions—Byeong-in (Na In-woo) seethes in rage, Hwa-jin (Seol In-ah) is shocked, while the two dowagers—Queen Jo (Jo Yeon-hee) and Queen Sunwon (Bae Jong-ok)—visit So-yong with gifts that are actually disguised threats.
Cheoljong whisks away a frustrated So-yong
Our darling Queen had just managed to catch a break from lessons when they come back roaring. Court Lady Choi (Cha Chung-hwa) and Hong Yeon (Chae Seo-eun) nag her day and night to follow pre-natal care, ranging from how she sleeps to what she eats. So-yong feels reduced to a baby-making machine without agency. The devoted Cheoljong picks up on her frustration and takes her away from the palace on horseback. The two about-to-be parents share a sweet moment. So-yong returns from her brief retreat excited about her child and begins penning a “pregnancy diary.”
The palace is engulfed in rumors
As So-yong learns to welcome her pregnancy and the King expands his followers while introducing reforms, trouble brews again. The rumor that the King and Queen faked their wedding night sweeps the palace. So-yong and Cheoljong choose to deal with it by indulging in excessively hilarious PDA and So-yong recounting sordid tales of the “passionate” night she spent with Cheoljong to anyone who would listen. Needless to say, they manage to convince everyone.
Hwa-jin exits the palace
When Hwa-jin confronted Queen Dowager Jo, I wasn’t sure what she was planning, but I couldn’t have guessed this. Perhaps So-yong’s words about becoming a monster affected Hwa-jin terribly, because she asks Cheoljong to let her leave the palace. It’s a wonderful character development that Hwa-jin had the self-awareness to realize that the path she was on was wrong and chose to leave a situation where she was unloved and shackled. In So-yong’s words, she becomes “a cool woman.”
Cheoljong walks into Byeong-in’s trap
By now, the ever-cunning Grand Queen Dowager Sunwon (Bae Jong-ok) has noticed Byeong-in’s feelings for the Queen. She forces him into a corner by asking him to kill So-yong based on the terrible rumors that she is pregnant with his child. In order to save her, Byeong-in makes a plan to renew Queen Sunwon’s regency. He blackmails Cheoljong with So-yong’s life, and Cheoljong decides to leave the palace, fully aware that he’s walking into a trap and might not return alive. Sure enough, Byeong-in ambushes him on the way, and the episode ends in an intense sword fight.