No Pimp That Scene entry this week because I am not impressed.
No, I don’t mean it unkindly, nor do I mean to pull the plug and call Jang Ok-jung, Live In Love crap or a lost cause. Not at all, given that the first half of the show really has been solid. But this week’s episodes? I’m… conflicted. It’s been bugging me; I felt uncomfortable watching episodes 11 and 12… let me attempt to coherently explain why.
A quick caveat: I haven’t read others’ impressions about this week’s episodes, aside from glimpses of (unhappy) comments here and there on other sites, so in truth I can’t say for sure if most others are throwing the towel on this one or not. I hope not, because there’s still enough episodes for the story to take the rein again and end satisfactorily, happy or not. Another caveat: I haven’t read anything about the novel, so… I’m basically staunchly spoiler-free, both in terms of the drama and the existing novel it’s taken from.
So here’s the root of my dilemma: ethics. By that I mean, I get it that they love each other, the King and Jang Ok-jung. Nothing wrong with that, feelings are one’s own after all. I get it too, this whole concept of concubines, especially during those time – I’m familiar with this one-king-many-women then-social norm. But you see, knowing does not necessarily mean accepting.
Here’s where I have a problem with, with where we are plot- and character motivations-wise with this show: the fact that yes they love one another, yes she’s his official concubine and yes, his marriage to Queen In Hyun was nothing more than convenience and for political gains – I get all that, trust me. I get this whole one-true-love concept, that they’re of totally different social stature and thus, she’s doing all she can, driven and motivated by love, to be on par with the man she loves; she’s saying be damned with heaven and earth and destiny, I’ll work for what I want until I get it in my hands. It’s not in her intentions therefore, to be mean because she wants to… rather that it’s either she risks losing the one person – perhaps even, the one thing in her life that she’s ever actually wanted and dared to hope for – or she puts up a well-worth fight to the finish line. Clearly we know which path she decided to take and I do like that spunk in her decision because obviously she’s not taking crap from anyone unless she condones it.
But… their smug in-your-face affections for each other, clearly to Prove A Point to Queen In Hyun and their open rendezvous around the palace walls without giving thought to keeping the Queen’s grace… I am not cool with this. In fact, honestly, I’m really genuinely conflicted. Let’s put it in this way, because this is what I think, despite yes, familiarity with this whole concubine-shiz – is an affair justified, ergo acceptable if it’s between two souls who genuinely love each other deeply? Is an affair justified if the marriage completed by one-half of the lovers, this marriage that stands in their way is one that’s not a product of love, but political reasons? Is an affair justified if sentiments, whether love, hate or indifference are openly known, expressed and the like? Is The Other Woman justified in her actions and desires if it’s an open secret that the King is in fact, in love with her and not his wife, the Queen? Does it then mean it’s alright to continue pursuing and holding onto him like the lovers they’ve always been to each other? If the wife, the Queen has consented, albeit indirectly given that she’s being incredibly tolerant and accepting of their relationship, does it then make the two lovers guiltless and their love indeed the one true love? If the intention is purely love and not at all malicious, does it then justifies the cause?
If you’re following my train of thought and thus, source of conflict – hurrah. Do you see my dilemma? I get it they love each other, and though I doubt it, maybe I will feel less empathy and confusion had Queen In Hyun been a mean character, but at the same time frankly I’m questioning… so what? Yes they love each other and okay fine, in their era and time he’s able to resolve the conflict by having her as his concubine because apparently a King is more prosperous if he has concubines or whatever; fine, I’ll take that. But this open rendezvous, this in-your-face smugness about their love – yes it’s real, but must they smother it all across the wife who’s doing everything she can to hold it in, keep her cool and continue playing her card of being ridiculously understanding? Yes it’s love, yes it’s real and yes the odds aren’t in their favor given the crazy Queen Mother, their social class difference and all the crazy politicking going on around them – but just because it’s love and just because it’s society’s norm… Just because it’s love, does it make it right, perfectly acceptable to continue loving each other they way they do?
Basically, I love it they love each other, it makes my heart flutter too …but I can’t say I’m happy that they’re happy, because this happiness is so obviously at the expense of a particular woman’s heartbreak and whom in my opinion, has been nothing short but kind. Okay fine, it’s not like In Hyun didn’t know what she got herself into, I agree and true as well, that it’s not like In Hyun’s such a Samaritan herself. I agree, but this is the here and now, this is the aftermath of decisions that have been made – the river’s been crossed, we’re now standing on new and different grounds. Thus… there’s this level of malice and cattiness in Ok-jung and at times, the King, which I sense that leaves me feeling cold, instead of aflutter.
I’m not saying I hate this show, not at all… but moral dilemma. Perhaps this is what it is.
Still trying to sort out my thoughts, thus I can’t even say if I’m excited at the coming episodes. All these snarky-eyes scheming by everyone of relevance is making my head spin, my moral compass haywire and my mind very, very tired. This week’s not very fun.