With the help of her best friend, a wacky autopsy master, and an oh-so-perfect scholar/crown prince, our heroine goes on an intriguing journey to investigate the serial murder case and catch the real culprit. Though that case helps bring our leads together, it renders another relationship turning sour.
We open the episode with Jae-yi stopping by Myung-jin’s place to ask him for help investigate the case. Myung-jin might not get to work together with the lady he is in love with. But can he investigate that serial murder case with a disguised-as-an-eunuch Jae-yi? Unbeknownst to Myung-jin, those two are the same person. I can’t wait to see the look on Myung-jin’s face when he realizes that.
Jae-yi, Myung-jin, and by extension, Ga-ram have a simple task ahead, digging up a grave to check the character engraved on the second body. While Myung-jin is thrilled to bits, Ga-ram seems like, “How have I ended up like this?”. Since it is an arduous mission, Hwan can’t let Jae-yi go alone. He will send someone to help her, precisely scholar Park, a tall and handsome young man with the best military and literary talents ever. In short, he is a perfect man who people can’t help but look at.
And wouldn’t you know it? Scholar Park is the spitting image of Hwan himself. It is funny seeing Jae-yi too shocked to utter a word while Myung-jin and Ga-ram are enchanted by Hwan. Myung-jin doesn’t have to dig the grave himself, as he has an apprentice to do all the work. Since Jae-yi serves the crown prince closely, she can’t be the one assisting Ga-ram. Which leaves only one person qualified for this mission, scholar Park, who also happens to be that exact crown prince.
In typical Hwan style, at first, Jae-yi teases him and then takes over digging the grave. A check to the body gives our quartet two valuable clues. #1 The man was stabbed after death and not before, as the police believed. #2 Since the case was investigated as mugging, no one bothered to check the victim’s palm where the character was engraved.
Putting the three characters together isn’t enough to figure out the culprit’s intention or who their next target is. What could the culprit possibly mean by destroying the Song family? Annihilating the whole family or killing one of the family members.
Like typical Sageuk fusion, that exciting conversation is interrupted by the sounds of stomachs growling, so our quartet head to a tavern for some food. It may be past curfew time like a law sticker Hwan says, but how can anyone enjoy life without taking risks? I am not getting double date vibes yet, but I liked how Hwan seems more at ease now.
Having filled their stomachs, Hwan and Jae-yi head back to the palace. They can’t risk getting caught, though. Not when Hwan is supposedly in the library studying with Jae-yi assisting him by his side. Hwan can think of it as playing hide and seek. The one getting caught by the patrolling soldiers will get a flick on the head.
But hiding also means being in close proximity with each other, something that Hwan’s fluttering heart can’t take. I like how Hwan is the one trembling while Jae-yi has no problem asking if his heart is racing since her heart does; half scared and half excited. Jae-yi might not mean it romantically, but the spark is here.
Luckily for them, a stray cat distracts the soldiers’ attention, so Hwan and Jae-yi safely escape. On their way back, they share a heart-to-heart where Hwan asks if Jae-yi is ok going up against Sung-on like that. Though Jae-yi isn’t happy to face Sung-on like that, it isn’t a matter of competing against Sung-on. She is just doing her best to catch the culprit.
Now it is Hwan’s turn to open up. It doesn’t seem he is only testing Jae-yi’s skills but also Sung-on’s loyalty. Is it because of the ghost letter? Does Hwan believe that Sung-on will backstab him? But it isn’t just a matter of fear of Sung-on’s betrayal. Hwan is worried he might send people to their deaths, like what happened to the messenger.
But as Jae-yi says, it isn’t Hwan’s fault. He isn’t to blame for either the messenger or her family’s death. Jae-yi never thought of it like that, so he shouldn’t try to distance himself from her in the future.
When Hwan and Jae-yi reach the palace gates, they spot the lights turned on in Sung-on’s office. He is still working till late at night. His mind must be occupied by thoughts about the serial murder case or his ex-fiancée. Hwan suggests Jae-yi try to comfort him. But what Sung-on really needs is Hwan’s support. Just like that, Jae-yi literally pushes Hwan into comforting Sung-on.
Having mustered up the courage, Sung-on tells Hwan about the turtle compass. But it is too late since Hwan quickly figures out why Sung-on lied before about not finding anything, asking the first question that popped into our heads. What if Sung-on’s father was really guilty? Would Sung-on really reveal the truth as it is, risking his whole family getting annihilated?
Sung-on might argue that he views Hwan as a friend before a crown prince and will always be on Hwan’s side, but it is too late for this ship. The seeds of doubt are already growing inside both old friends. This heated conversation, however, is interrupted by jae-yi getting caught snooping around. To get Hwan to feel better, Jae-yi suggests he flick her on the head since she was caught, but sadly it doesn’t work. Hwan is too hurt for a flick to lift his mood.
Jae-yi spends the night looking into what the fourth character might be and correctly figures out that the next target is an expectant mother. Since Hwan’s court lady stops her from seeing Hwan as it is late in the night, Jae-yi heads to see Sung-on instead. It isn’t a matter of who wins but of saving the mother and the baby. Despite feeling bitter about it, Sung-on listens to Jae-yi and orders the guards to check the houses of expectant mothers.
Despite Sung-on’s warning it is dangerous to be outside the palace, Jae-yi insists on tagging along. Luckily, they arrive before it is too late and fight off the culprit, who turns out to be a former shaman who is out for revenge. Before the shaman is caught, she breaks a crock over Jae-yi’s head. Hence, Jae-yi passes out just as Hwan arrives. Worried sick, Hwan holds Jae-yi in her arms, and when she comes to for a second, it is to tell Hwan it isn’t his fault.
Sung-on offers to carry Jae-yi, but Hwan insists he is the only one who can touch her. Partially, it is because she is a woman. But mostly, it is because of his growing feelings. Either way, Hwan’s reaction seems to widen that vast gap even more between the two old friends, who might soon face each other on opposing sides.