Queen Seon-Deok – up to episode 41

Things that I am happy about in recent episodes of Queen Seon-Deok:

Mi-shil and Deok-man realise how much they mean to one another.

‘I have a brilliant opponent,’ Deok-man says to Bi-dam, when she’s telling him why she thinks she can win. Now that Deok-man’s had one victory, she can stop being so scared of Mi-shil, and start thinking of Mi-shil as someone to learn from. They aren’t enemies, they are rivals. And rivals push each other and make each other better.

Secondary to this point, how much do I love the scene where Mi-shil expresses to Seol-won her reasons for being envious of Deok-man? I love it so much. It made me tear up. Deok-man is going to get everything Mi-shil’s ever wanted; she’s going to be the change that Mi-shil has never even got to dream of being. Mi-shil is so frustrated.

It’s also really great to have a scene where an older woman expresses envy of a younger woman without it being about the younger woman having youth, where youth stands for beauty, stands for power over men. Mi-shil does explicitly say that she’s envious of Deok-man’s youth – but she’s envious because she can see the change Deok-man is going to make in the world, and Mi-shil’s too old to be a part of it.

Deok-man and her mother are reunited – at long last! Who could not have their heart warmed by this? I had been kind of annoyed when we first found out about So-hwa’s unlikely survival – because, seriously, how could anyone survive that? But the resulting plot shenanigans have more than made up for it. Also, you can’t really begrudge someone’s mother not dying.

(I remember reading an anecdote, I think from Jane Yolen, about how once she had planned to kill off one of her supporting characters, only to find that she couldn’t bring herself to. Instead, she just seriously injured him, and had to work through the repurcussions of that – which ended up making the book as a whole stronger. Sometimes it’s good to let characters live.)

Deok-man decides to build an observatory. This doesn’t really need explanation. Promoting scientific literacy for the people – Deok-man is a woman after my own heart.

How excited Bi-dam gets about Deok-man getting her king on. Seriously. His reaction when he finds out Deok-man has lied to and used him is delightful. ‘She’s a genius!’ And it’s especially great in contrast to Yu-shin’s reaction – Yu-shin has told Deok-man she needs to treat him like a pawn, but you can tell he’s hurt when she goes ahead and does it.

Bi-dam is just continuously delighted by Deok-man’s wileyness and ambitious. The scene where he tells Mun-no he’s planning to follow Deok-man is great. When he explains to Mun-no that Deok-man is planning to be king, and Mun-no goes, ‘You mean, she’s planning to be queen and make her husband the king.’ And Bi-dam’s just like, ‘No, she’s going to be king, isn’t it awesome? :D’ Yes, Bi-dam, it’s awesome.

(Some of these quotes are truer to the subtitles than others.)

I’m not sure how the second half of Deok-man’s first conversation with Mun-no is going to go, but the first half was really sweet! It’s nice to see her meeting the people she thinks of as her relatives, after learning of and meeting her blood relatives has been so traumatic.

Also, I think Mun-no asks a good question, when he asks her what she thinks being king means. Even if he’s not going to be supportive of her. (I seriously hope he’s given up on the idea of making Bi-dam king, because, really Mun-no, you don’t even trust that boy to act like a human being.) I don’t know how Deok-man responds yet, but I’m sure she will think about it very seriously, even if she doesn’t respond right away.

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