Good old episode 2. For me, episode 2 usually makes or breaks a drama. Either it gets better and I keep watching, or it gets worse and I check out. I’ve already committed to watching My Princess, so it was to my utter relief and delight that episode 2 of MP validated my decision and gave me a solid hour of entertainment.
The story itself remains the biggest weak link. The entire lost princess back story is confusing, and the reason for reinstating the monarchy is nonsensical. I prefer much less story and much more interaction between all the main characters going forward. There are so many different relationship strands, and personal and professional issues to mine. Not to mention the gold mine here – rich-as-Croesus Hae Young falling in love with brash and bossy Seol as she navigates the treacherous waters of becoming a princess.
I’m fully onboard the main couple, absolutely and completely. The missing chemistry from episode one has finally found its way and arrived to my everlasting contentment. It would have been painful recapping a rom-com where I didn’t feel the love between the main characters. There isn’t any love yet, but there is an abundance of sparkling interaction between Hae Young and Seol, from their quiet moments to their slapstick antics.
I was even more cognizant of the very efficient directing in this episode, a sure sign that this drama doesn’t drag on the scenes and the moments. I was afraid for awhile that Ryu Soo Young would steal Song Seung Heon’s screen presence, but my oppa stepped up and loosened himself a bit, falling smoothly into character and making Hae Young feel three-dimensional and alive for the first time. All in all, episode 2 of MP improved on episode 1 and set the stage for a likely fun ride.
Episode 2 Recap:
Hae Young realizes that the person he was looking for, Lee Seol, is the same girl he has been running into for the last few days. He decides to stay at the guest house until he can figure out what his next move should be. He asks if there is a room, he wants to stay for a night. When Seol repeats his question, Hae Young wonders whether she was serious about making money when her mom was away. Seol happily welcomes a paying guest.
They walk into the rustic guest house, and Seol asks Hae Young what type of room he wants. She ushers him into the Royal Grand Executive Presidential Suite (LOL), and Hae Young gives her a dry look. Song Seung Heon is getting really good at shooting these looks – part disdain, part amusement.
Seol gives him a discount for staying two nights, and asks for immediate payment. When Hae Young flashes a credit card, Seol regretfully informs him that the machine broke and she only accepts cash. When Hae Young grabs a money check and asks her for change, Seol gives him an account number and asks that he transfer the funds. Mwahaha, love her cheek! Even Hae Young can help but be amazed, muttering that she’s just like his grandfather.
Hae Young looks around the living room, spying pictures of Seol with her mother and sister. He looks at the picture of the mother, and says that she couldn’t possibly be his grandfather’s daughter. He calls the secretary to confirm he found Seol, and confirms that she’s cute enough. Seol comes bouncing back into the guest house with a bowl of kimchee, oblivious to Hae Young’s true purpose here. Secretary reminds Hae Young that grandpa really wants to meet her.
Seol is cooking food, and takes the pan underneath the stairs to try and aroma-tempt Hae Young to come down for dinner. He does, but asks where the nearest restaurant is. They are in the middle of the countryside with no other dining alternatives, so Hae Young reluctantly agrees to eat what Seol cooked.
She wasn’t trying to feed him as much as she wants to charge him for dinner. He hilariously only wants half (and pay less), but she firmly says he needs to eat a full meal.
Yoon Joo is being interviewed about her coup de grace in unveiling Emperor Sunjoon’s handwritten letter. She’s gracious about the accomplishment, and when asked about how she first learned about Sunjoon’s hidden son, she confesses that it was from her first love. We get a truly sweet flashback of Jung Woo and Yoon Joo in college, where he is researching about Sunjoon’s hidden son, and vows to find proof. Yoon Joo voiceovers that they searched long and hard for evidence together.
Yoon Joo brushes aside the romance as in the past, and discusses how gratifying it is for her to find the evidence now that she is a museum director. The reporter asks about a rumor that the museum did not get the letter per a donation, but used vast sums of money to buy it.
Jung Woo walks up to Yoon Joo at this time, and gives her a long hard look. Yoon Joo answers the reporter that the worth of the letter is priceless, and she can’t divulge any monetary amounts at such time. Jung Woo and Yoon Joo sit down to talk. He asks why she did it, and she claims that the Chairman wanted it and she couldn’t say no.
The opposition leader is upset that the Chairman is sick and he didn’t know about it. He’s worried about the Chairman dying. He is informed that the Chairman is secretly meeting with the President at this time. He wants to know what they are discussing, and asks his staff to eavesdrop. He’s such a moron.
The Chairman and the President discuss the reinstatement measure. The Chairman says that he won’t die before he can fulfill his promise. The next scene was rather abrupt, as we cut to a screaming Hae Young, who then runs downstairs wrapped only in a towel, yelling at Seol about the lack of hot water in this dump.
Seol puts two vegetables over her eyes (woman, you are insane, I would have put on my glasses for a closer look) tells him that hot water is going to cost another 5000 Won. Hae Young refuses to pay it, telling her to just turn on the damn hot water heater. She says she’s off to buy some bread, and Hae Young wonders how she can do that if there is no convenience store nearby as she claimed earlier.
Seol says that there is a small market, and he didn’t ask her about that. Plus, she didn’t think a high and mighty guy like him would go to a small market. She invites him along, since it’s just 5 minutes away.
After he’s dressed, Hae Young sits in his room and broods. He hears sound coming from outside, and heads out to discover a movie being projected onto the outside wall of the guest house. It’s Roman Holiday, and I’m totally loving the meta-ness of the movie selection.
Seol is sitting on the outside swing, drinking a hot drink, a blanket on her legs, her dogs next to her, watching the movie. She tells him that he’s blocking the projection, and invites him to sit down. He asks what she’s doing outside in such cold weather, and she says this is the world’s best outdoor theater courtesy of the adorable imagination of Lee Seol.
Hae Young snerks that this is an awfully shabby operation, and when Seol is about to yell at him to leave then, he shoves some snacks into her mouth to shut her up. The cute is both mature and charming between these two. The watch the movie in silence for awhile, comfortable and mellow.
Hae Young breaks the silence by asking Seol if this is her hometown. She’s been living here since she was six, so she supposes it is. Where did she live before then? She says in many places, in an orphanage for 10 months, since she was adopted. He wonders if she remembers her birth parents? She says what does it matter if she remembers, will he help her find them?
For Seol, she only has a few memories of them. Hae Young says that he can help her, since he is a diplomat. Seol says that her parents promised to be right back, that is all she remembers. Her dad saying that he will be right back, but it’s been many years since then. Hae Young wonders if Seol complained a lot, and she throws it right back at him. All kids complain about their parents.
Hae Young asks her what she’ll do if her real parents found her. She laughs and says that they will live together, of course, depending on how much money they have. Hae Young then wonders what’ll happen if they have a lot of money. Seol says that it’ll depend on how many siblings there are then. Hae Young is flummoxed by her materialistic perspective, rather than the dreamy reunification thoughts usually espoused.
Seol gets a call from the assistant professor asking if Jung Woo can stay at her guest house tomorrow. Seol is ecstatic, and gets up to prepare the guest house for his arrival tomorrow. She asks Hae Young to move out of his room, so that her beloved professor can have a room that is right next to hers, and they can run into each other accidentally for love to blossom. I love how she doesn’t even notice Hae Young is this good-looking successful man right in front of her.
Hae Young asks who the hell is coming for her to behave like this? She says that he can’t talk about her Professor Nam this way, and for doing so she’s not giving him any breakfast. Before they can continue to bicker, Seol hears a car pull up. She runs off to change, and asks Hae Young to welcome the guests, reminding him to be especially courteous and friendly.
Hae Young is momentarily upset, and then his brilliant mind processes the situation, and he tells Seol to take her time changing, and he heads out to “welcome” the guests. My Heon-oppa, you are finally easing into the role. Love his smirk and jacket shrug as he heads out.
Jung Woo walks into the courtyard, pass the welcome signs Seol put up. Hae Young walks out and assesses the other guy. Hae Young is totally dismissive of Jung Woo, muttering about what a professor is doing out here instead of doing research. Seol comes running out right at this moment, dressed adorably and gushing about how surprised she is to see her Professor here.
Jung Woo asks who Hae Young is, and Seol says that he’s a courteous and amiable guy. But she doesn’t finish her introduction because Hae Young drapes his arm over Seol, and announces that they are living together temporarily. He seals the scene with a kiss on her cheek. Eeeep, love it!
Jung Woo sincerely congratulates her on her relationship, while Seol pushes Hae Young aside and tries to explain. Hae Young grabs her again, and introduces Jung Woo to his room, the Royal Grand Presidential Suite, which is across the hall from his and Seol’s room. Seol sweetie, I think you just got checkmated there by Hae Young.
Hae Young tells Jung Woo to just knock on their door if he needs anything. He drags Seol closer to Jung Woo to announce the room rates, and then fairly drags her back into the guest house. The second they are inside, Hae Young shoves Seol aside, fixes his suit jacket, and strolls away. Seol smacks him, wondering what’s gotten into him to fabricate this nonexistent relationship.
Hae Young mimics Seol’s OWP from the Haeyoung Museum for the benefit of Yoon Joo. Seol confesses that she did that routine mostly because of her own dislike of Yoon Joo. Hae Young says that all women dislike ladies more popular than themselves. But Seol calls Yoon Joo a fake person, who can easily lure men with her fake ways.
Hae Young defends Yoon Joo, which leads Seol to ask if he really likes Yoon Joo that much, even knowing she’s about to marry another man (the heir of the Daehan Group). When Hae Young doesn’t answer, Seol adorably wrinkles her nose, touched by how much Hae Young likes Yoon Joo. She asks to not fight with him anymore. But she orders Hae Young to bring the food over, or else she won’t cook for him anymore. He retorts that she constantly uses meals to threaten him.
Grandpa calls Hae Young, and asks him to bring her to him. Hae Young doesn’t know what to tell her, so how to ask that she come with him to meet his grandpa. Once grandpa hangs up, grandpa says to himself that Seol needs to bring the sachet with her.
Outside, Seol brings coffee to Jung Woo, and asks what he is looking at. Jung Woo teases her for staring at him during class and not paying attention to the lectures. It’s a picture of Emperor Sunjoon’s sachet, and Seol says that she thought it looked familiar, something she’s seen around the house.
The other professor segues to Yoon Joo unveiling the royal letter, and tells Jung Woo that he should have married her before she got so famous. It was a mistake having such a long relationship. Hae Young hears this news, and realizes that Jung Woo is Yoon Joo’s first love, and his rival. Hae Young gives Jung Woo a stare down, until Seol drags him back inside.
Hae Young confronts Seol about knowing the backstory, and she comes clean with him. She says they are on the same side, and should form an alliance. She reveals that there were rumors that her professor and the museum director were first loves, and based on the conversation outside just now, it’s likely the truth. She asks Hae Young whether he’s confident that he can win over a first love. Hae Young is incredulous she even needs to ask – he never loses.
Seol tells him that he’s already lost to the grandson of the Daehan Group, but then apologizes for bursting his bubble. She hid the truth from Hae Young because she’s hoping that Yoon Joo will dump her professor. If her professor knew about the other guy(s), he would dig his heels in to be with Yoon Joo. Seol tells Hae Young that he must help her, to make Professor Nam her man. I love her confidence!
She says that jealously arouses a woman, whereas the urge to protect makes a man’s blood boil. She tells Hae Young to grab her arm, and he smirks about her intention to scream for help and get her professor to come racing to her rescue. Hae Young does actually grab Seol’s arm and drags her upstairs, while she hilariously calls out for her professor.
Hae Young tells Seol to pack her things and head back to Seoul with him. He informs her that she may be his aunt. OH MY GOD! We all know this is not a fauxcest drama, but this misconception of Hae Young’s is freaking killing me with the implications. Too bad it’s going to get disabused rather quickly. Seol doesn’t buy it, shouldn’t grandpa come by himself, shouldn’t Hae Young bring items to prove her relationship.
Hae Young is annoyed by her attitude. He drags her outside, and curtly informs Jung Woo that they need to leave because of something life changing in Seol’s life. She apologizes for leaving, and they take off. She asks Hae Young what his grandfather does.
He tells her to pull out his business card and read it again. She does, and sees that his name if Park Hae Young. He reminds her that the name of the museum is Haeyoung Museum. Seol finally puts two and two together.
It’s nighttime when they pull into the Park estate. The entire household staff is outside waiting for their arrival, including grandpa in a wheel chair. Grandpa gets up from his wheel chair, and kneels before Seol. He calls her “your highness, the princess”, and says that he can die without any regrets now. Hae Young is raging at the secretary, asking to be let in to hear what grandpa is talking about with Seol. How did his supposed illegitimate aunt become some princess!
Grandpa explains to Seol – he was just a wee lad when Emperor Sunjoon entrusted grandpa’s own father to deliver proof about the birthright of the Emperor’s young son outside of the country. The Emperor is regretful that his son is almost three and no one knows of his existence. He hands over the letter that bestows the name Lee Yong to his son. Grandpa escaped Korea with his father, handing the documents over to the temporary government in Shanghai. But he was not able to reveal the documentation to the world, hence Prince Lee Yong suffered greatly.
Grandpa confirms that Seol is the descendent of Emperor Sunjoon. He shows Seol a picture of a man, but she doesn’t remember him, since she has no memory of her life before she was give years old. She says that she can’t remember much from her youth, except something to do with strawberries. Grandpa hands her a strawberry token, and confirms she does remember things from twenty years ago.
Grandpa tells Seol her father is dead. Sell gets up and storms out of the room, leaving the mansion. She runs into Hae Young outside, and tells him that grandpa is really messing with her, by telling her she’s a princess and that her dad is already dead.
Hae Young drives after her, offering to take her home. Sell cries that her father promised to come back to her, it can’t be that he’s really dead. She starts sobbing, and Hae Young gently holds her in his embrace to comfort her.
Seol goes home, and her sister has changed the house code again and locked her out. Hae Young asks about her sister, and is told that said sister was also adopted, and is the same age.
Seul tells Hae Young to leave, she can go to many places for the night. Hae Young takes her to his own apartment, and introduces her to his Royal Grand Executive Presidential Suite, telling her the price for the night. She goes to wash up first, her usual sass all but gone. She notices her raccoon eyes from crying.
Mom has taken Seol’s sister out shopping, to congratulate her on becoming a future prosecutor. It’s clear both mom and sister don’t think much of Seol’s career future. Hae Young has prepared dinner for Seol, steak and wine. Squee, I’m so shipping these two its ridiculous. Especially newly mellow Hae Young. He pours her a glass of wine and holds it up to toast with her. Hae Young doesn’t even notice how much he pays attention to Seol, and does stuff for her.
Seol ignores him and forks the entire steak and takes a giant bite, telling him it tastes great, totally like she’s getting poverty assistance. Hae Young smiles and tells her to eat. The phone rings and its Yoon Joo, and Hae Young tells Seol to not make any noise. She snerks that she told him not to pick up her phone calls.
Turns out that Yoon Joo is right outside Hae Young’s apartment. He drags her to the guest room, her holding the plate of food, and him holding her glass of wine. I adore their antics. Seol is hiding in the guest room, gnawing on her steak. Hae Young welcomes Yoon Joo to his place for the first time, and tries to dissuade her from checking out the place.
Seol eats, but her stomach starts to grumble. Hae Young says that its totally not Yoon Joo’s style to drop by unannounced. Yoon Joo wants to dig for information regarding the Chairman and anything he might have said recently. Poor Seol is writhing in pain inside the bedroom, and she calls Hae Young to inform him about her predicament.
She is *really* in a state of emergency. Hae Young pretends to be all calm and serious on the phone, and you see Seol warning him to get out of the apartment if he doesn’t want her presence to be revealed. Hae Young tells Seol that he can’t help her, he’s in an emergency as well. He tells her to handle things like an adult, and hangs up.
Yoon Joo wonders who Hae Young was talking to, and his phone rings again. Seol is dying inside the room, and tells him he has a minute to get out. She warns him that inside the room are tons of expensive bags. She should just pick one (to take a dump inside). Man, toilet humor is so stupid, but always good for a laugh.
Which gets Hae Young to take her seriously, and usher Yoon Joo out. As they are walking out, Yoon Joo notices Seol’s boots on the floor, and her face changes. Hae Young realizes the ruse the up, though he pretends that he doesn’t know what the boots are. Suddenly there is a shriek from inside the bedroom, as a stomach-trouble plagued Seol comes running outside to use the bathroom. Both Hae Young and Yoon Joo stare at her in shock, as Seol clutches her bottom and staggers off.
Thoughts of Mine:
The good is that episode 2 of MP got better. The bad is that I am still not in love with it. Perhaps that is a good thing. The last drama I fell in love with in such a short period of time was Mary Stayed Out All Night, and look how that ended up (*psst, drama bad, OTP amazing*). I think MP has a very deft charm, never stretching to be more than it simply acknowledges itself to be. It really does remind me of a Korean drama version of The Princess Diaries, with a different set-up and a likely different resolution. But the overall vibe is the same – breezy and not over-eager.
Some dramas try too hard to be witty, only to strike me as pretentious and full of hot air. Some dramas don’t try at all, wasting opportunities that ought to have been full of promise. MP is so far a drama that successfully balances its own nature with its aspirations, taking its time to create its universe of characters and relationships.
I though in episode one that the dialogue felt really pedestrian, but I’ve come to realize that it suits this drama. I’m not distracted trying to read too much into every sentence and mine the characters for their inner hidden motivations. The characters feel multi-faceted, but terribly ordinary. Take Seol for instance – she’s bold but girlish in her pursuit of Jung Woo, she’s brash but honest in her interactions with Hae Young. She feels like a normal person, and not a dramatic construct.
Which works since the entire story is such a dramatic construct. I really am enjoying Kim Tae Hee’s performance as well. She’s gorgeous and game, and utterly winning as Seol. Her one crying scene in this episode didn’t even annoy me at all, even though her limitations as an actress did come out during the dramatic moment. But I’ve totally bought into her performance as whole that I’m happy to accept her Seol, good and not-so-good acting nothwithstanding. The closest comparison I can make is to Kim Hyun Joong’s portrayal of Baek Seung Jo in Playful Kiss.
Song Seung Heon put my earlier worries at ease by fleshing out Hae Young’s character. Plus, the twinkle is back in his eye, and he really is so easy on the eyes. I’m also finding Hae Young more and more interesting, and that’s partially due to the massive screen time he gets. Both second leads are really getting very limited screen time (not that I am complaining), and both Kim Tae Hee and Song Seung Heon are taking advantage of their well-written characters and scenes.
I think the M3 runaway roller coaster has left me really exhausted, and wanting solid footing with my rom-coms. I want a story that remains consistent in its logic, and an OTP that travels a road that may have bumps, but doesn’t require them to avert near wreckage. I hope MP delivers both, which will go a long ways in curing my drama malaise. And don’t let my M3 grousing fool you, I’m missing the OTP there so much I still dream of their cuteness together (*throws paper planes against a window*).
I have a hopeful inkling that the Seol-Hae Young ship will sail into utterly shipworthy territory, if their interactions in episode 2 are any indication. I love how Seol bosses Hae Young around, and he kinda lets her even though he grumbles about it. But when it’s time for him to dish out the goods, he totally lays into her and gives her a taste of her own medicine. The scene where Hae Young spills half-truths and pretends to be Seol’s boyfriend in front of Jung Woo was insanely cute, especially as pay back for her museum stunt in front of Yoon Joo.
What I like about MP is that regardless of the initial set-up, the writer at least is solidly laying the foundation for the conflicts and the character development. I don’t see any scenes done for the sake of showcasing a meaningless moment. MP maybe full of coincidences and convenient moments, but it moves the plot forward and I see a purpose. Whether the purpose is vapid or not, MP is off to a solid start that bodes well for my drama-loving psyche.
And I shall conclude with a thank you to the drama gods. Dear drama gods, thank you for allowing my Heon oppa to finally make a rom-com where he can be funny, charming, and droll (see above for proof that my oppa can bite his lip like no other – swoonz). I am happy now. Faithfully yours, Koala.