Friday, August 13, 2010

Queen Seon Deok - Final Review Part 1

I know that this is going to be a really long post, not so much because I need to review the countless events that have transpired since Chun Chu's deception and Mishil's subsequent insurrection, but more so because I feel quite conflicted about the last few episodes.  I'm not sure whether to be glad because the producers decided to extend the 50-episode run of Queen Seon Deok (thus, quenching my thirst for more Yushin-Deokman moments, or so I thought) or to shove a red-hot exhaust pipe up their butts for shamelessly milking a series for everything and beyond it's worth.  I can't believe I'm saying this because I love Queen Seon Deok.  I love it so much that I refuse to skip even the most boring parts (and believe me, there are lots of them) -- constantly assuring myself that those snooze-fest episodes and the endless flashbacks are essential for the story's progress and character development.  I even made it through that atrocious and lazy episode where everyone is having flashbacks and each flashback has it's own flashback.  But holy smokes, the show has officially jumped the shark after episode 51!!!  They should have stopped the series following Mishil's death (I want to include episode 51 to wrap things up and provide some bit of closure) because, that, essentially, is the whole point of the drama -- Mishil's defeat would mean Deokman's inevitable ascension to the throne and fulfillment of that blasted prophecy.  But noooo, MBC cannot just sit back and say, "You know what?  This is as good as it's gonna get.  Let's stop now."  MBC has to take advantage of their luck and wring out every single little drop out of the franchise, "Drag it out people!! There's money to be had!!! (Insert evil laugh here)"

Some of the episodes have become so tedious, morose, and unbearable; and much of the original characterization and personality have gone ridiculously off-track (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Deokman!!)  I'm betting the producers were frantically scrambling for ideas on how they would be able to continue a storyline  which has essentially run it's course, without becoming stale and repetitive, "I know, I know! Let's expand Bidam's character and make him an emphatic villain, like Anakin Skywalker!!  Deokman's gonna fall for him and they set plans to marry.  Never mind if it's totally gratuitous, reckless, stupid, and out of character!! We'll add in some filler episodes with lots of drama cliches and the rest would be constant replayed clips!!! We're making awesome money here!!! (Evil laugh)"  Sadly, except for some brief, exciting periods (i.e. Yushin's incarceration, the battle scenes, and the finale), post-Mishil QSD mostly becomes a desperate and pointless journey of gawd-awful, Bidam-centric episodes which I could not care less!  Most of the time, I'm like, "WTF is happening??? Bidam again?"  The only reason why I watched the rest of the extended chapters was because I was sincerely hoping that they would show the elusive re-unification of the Three Kingdoms.  And yeah, the tiny flicker of hope in my heart that yearns for Yushin and Deokman to be together also told me to stick around and to quit complaining.  So there.  But as far as I'm concerned, Queen Seon Deok "officially" ends at episode 51 and the rest constitute a spin-off, much like Joey of Friends.

Okay, my final review of Queen Seon Deok starts now.  

So, Mishil and the Legion of Doom begin executing their elaborate master plan of kicking Deokman out of the palace; and with King Jinpyeong having frequent bouts of angina, atrial fibrillation, and pneumonia/tuberculosis (Geez, how unlucky can one guy get?); it's only a matter of time before Mishil becomes the next heir to the throne.  Oh Mishil, you should have done that years ago, but better late than never, I suppose.  A full-scale civil war ensues (Hwarang vs. Hwarang!! Woot!) and since Mishil commands most of the nobles' and the army's loyalty, she easily usurps the throne.  Of course, Mishil has to ensure that neither Deokman nor cute-as-a-puppy Chun Chu would  go raining on her parade, so she orders to have both of them killed.  The two manage to escape with the help of Yushin, Alcheon, and Smirky.  Absolutely love, love, love the brilliant jaw-dropping, heart-pounding fight scenes!!!  Remember the time when Yushin used to wield his sword heavily and Munno even reproaches him for it?  (By the way, does no one miss Munno?)  Well, my boy has definitely grown!  Vastly outnumbered, he holds back the royal army with mesmerizing precision sword moves and swift athletics!! !  It's brutal and bloody, but the man firmly holds his ground.  The princess is totally awestruck!  Hee! :-)

Nevertheless, Yushin gallantly chooses to stay behind and to fight in order to give Deokman more time to escape.  He figures that since the odds are already against them, one of them has to at least survive, and that one should be the princess.  And with these parting words, he closes and bolts the gates between them.  Ah, Yushin Rang why must you always sacrifice yourself???  Can't you just hurl Bidam to the rampaging army instead? The princess totally cries her heart out while screaming his name.  For the 150th time, I am heartbroken! :-(

"Survive and one day, come to my rescue."
Finally, Deokman and company retreat to the safe haven of the Gaya, and with Wolya Rang's aid (Gosh, this guy is starting to look hot!); they hatch a clever plan for Yushin's escape.  They also manage to convince the nobles and the Hwarangs to switch loyalties until finally, in the ultimate act of defiance and audacity; they reveal Mishil as the two-faced, conniving fraud that she is.  Mishil and the Legion of Doom  gather what's left of their dignity and escape, with the Princess' army hot on their trail.  In the end, in order to prevent another pointless war and render the Kingdom vulnerable and weak, Mishil decides to accept defeat by taking her own life.  And in one rare, intimate, and beautiful moment before she dies; she and Lord Seolwon reminisce  then recite a sad poem to each other.  (OMG, I can't believe I'm shipping these two!)  Melancholic music!!!!! AAAAHHHH!!!! LAMENT, MOURN, CRY, WAIL, SOB!!!

I never, never, expected Mishil and Lord Seolwon to totally grow on me.  I used to hate Mishil; hate, loathe, detest!  But she's actually the glue that holds the show together.  She may be a beeyatch, but she's THE beeyatch everyone needs.  True, she's bad to the bone, but you have to be impressed by her indomitable spirit, unwavering fortitude, scary-as-hell sagacity, and heck, even her pragmatic heartlessness!!  This woman is not someone whom you can mess up with.  She has survived numerous wars, insurrections, assassinations, political turmoil, misrule, violence, palace upheaval, -- the full monty.  And if that doesn't show you how much spunk she has, then I don't know what else will.  Thus, it tugs the heartstrings on those rare moments when Mishil does actually show a glimpse of her humanity, for example; when she embraces Bojong after his humiliating defeat at the pongwolju competition.  A million standing ovation for Ko Hyn Jung for excellently portraying such a complex and menacing character!  As for Lord Seolwon, yep, I like him because of his steadfast loyalty, devotion, and voice. :-)

Ah, Mishil, I shall miss your eyebrows and constant referral to yourself in the third character, "There is only Mishil's will!", "Mishil reads the heavens, but Mishil defies the heavens!", "These are Mishil's people!", "It is now... Mishil's time to rule!", "Mishil hungry!", "Mishil want cookie!"  Seolwon, I shall miss you saying "seju" (still don't know what that is) now that your beloved highness is about to die.  Sniff... 

Seolwon eventually surrenders and Smirky instantly deduces that his mommy is going to kill herself.  He sprints towards the palace and goes all emo-muffin mode to Mishil.  Um hello, can't you see she's dying?  Poor Bidam, instead of getting the apology he expects, he gets rebuked by Mishil for being such a drama queen.  She basically tells him to suck it up and to tap on the dark side of the force.  Holy ginseng, Batman!! Mishil has got to be the most beautiful corpse ever!!!  Deokman confronts Smirky and the latter finally admits that Mishil is his long-lost mommy.  And oh yeah, lots of casualties along the way, including the princess' foster mom, Sohwa; Bojong's wingman (serves you right!); and Chilsuk.  Upon Deokman's return to the palace, King Jinpyeong finally succumbs to his illness after years of suffering.  Ah, this is so sad.

Nonetheless, the prophecy is finally fulfilled, and the princess is crowned the new ruler of Silla.  A joyous and extrvagant festivity takes place as the Kingdom celebrates the coronation.  Everyone then bows to the new queen and her two boys; Yushin and Smirky, pledge their allegiance to her.  Indeed, this is only the beginning for Queen Seon Deok.  There's always gonna be another mountain, she'll always gonna wanna make it move; always gonna be an uphill battle (okay, I'll stop now)... but she will be able to accomplish all these with her two faithful aides at her side.  But DUN... DUN... DUN-DUN.... Their words of honor are in complete contrast to one another!  Yushin swears, "Your majesty, I shall give you my all without reserve." while Bidam, with a sly grin on his face, vows, "Your majesty, I shall take everything from you without reserve." Uh oh...

And that's how they should have ended Queen Seon Deok -- at episode 51 with a great, satisfying, and promising bang (New queen!); but with an open-ended finale (Yushin vs. Bidam, Light vs. Dark, Good vs. Evil, Good vs. Jerk, Good vs. Douche Baggery); and they should have left it to the audience to figure out for themselves what happens to the Kingdom of Silla afterwards.  For Pete's sake, read your history books, people!!!

I have decided to cut my final review of QSD into two parts.  The first part is the one you're currently reading, Queen Seon Deok -- Final Review; and the second one will be posted soon.  I'll probably call the second post Queen Seon Deok -- Final Review Part II [episodes 52-62] or Why MBC Can Totally Shove It unless I could come up with a wittier title over the next few days.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a fanvid made by a Seolwon-Mishil shipper.  Mishil R.I.P.

Thanks to dramabeans, dramatomy, and youtube! You guys are the best! :-)


  1. loved it! i, too, believes MBC should have just stopped at eppy 51... but, well... blame that to the relentless fan-girling of "Smirky" addicts! haha

    happy to have found a kindred spirit in you. YUDEOK (Yushin-Deokman) forever!

  2. A big AMEN to that Issa!!! Great minds truly think alike! LOL!

  3. True true the show went totally south after 51.
    You totally had me at "sheesh I don't like Bidam"
    Solwon, drool worthy yes :)
    Yusin awsome, yes
    Mishil best villian ever, YES
    down down down with Bidam!!