Although a difficult episode to watch, this is a good episode, as it breaks apart at Janggeum’s perfection. She tried her best while chasing her dream. Now that she’s reached the top, she’s let herself lose sight of what she set out to do.
No loose ends are being left behind. Haeya is free to go, while the king does not have to go against his court’s wishes. No bad precedence has to be set.
I’ve read that King Jungjong is often portrayed in historic media as a kind-hearted man. Good willed, and all that. He knows Janggeum has saved his life twice, so perhaps he doesn’t have the heart to tell her about just how bad salty apples taste, especially as a dessert. He should have had her sample one.
I do have to wonder: does Janggeum not sample the food she’s preparing? Changi’s good at that, but doesn’t Janggeum even take a taste? She could have discovered the bad flavor of the apples with one bite.
Court Lady Han must be going for the tough love treatment to help Janggeum. Her harshness, a disgust for Janggeum’s behaviour, makes it seem as if she doesn’t want to help Janggeum get back on track.
While Court Lady Choe continues to want Janggeum out of the picture, Geum-young had a chance to become good friends with Janggeum. However, between Janggeum’s recent behaviour, and how she is around Jeong-ho, it’s understandable Geum-young would want to try her best. Soon enough, Janggeum may very well have lost her way, while Geum-young’s determination puts her far ahead. It doesn’t help when Yeonsaeng and Changi are completely on Janggeum’s side, building up her ego. If they tasted just one bad dish, if they spoke just a few words of criticism, that could be enough to get Janggeum to lash out back at them, then go through a fit of depression while trying to find out why everyone’s against her. Once she hits rock bottom, there’d be nowhere to go but up, and the recovery process could begin.
The Korean letters for Gungjungmiseo are 궁중미서, and it means …something I don’t know. The Japanese dub retitles the episode 秘伝の書, or “Secret book”.
Forgetting her dream is the least of Janggeum’s problems. Slacking off on learning the basics, learning advanced techniques without knowing how to use them properly, these are also minor problems. Tresspassing, attempted bribery and luring, stealing, lying, now there are some problems. This isn’t like when the girls went in to get the ingredients list to find a way to prove Han’s innocence. This was all about personal gain, and shame on Changi for giving Janggeum the idea. And to drag Yeonsaeng into all this, that’s a top crime right there. Then, there’s smuggling in foreign (from outside the palace) foods. With Choe revealing Janggeums’ possession of the Gungjungmiseo book, things look to only get worse, but what happens if Yeong-ro mentions Geum-young’s copy? Did Choe in her desire to see Janggeum cast aside not even consider the backfire?
Jeong-ho gets embarrassed when he left the ring behind, but Janggeum’s face blushes as she giggles over it. Perhaps feeling she’s achieved her dreams, her mind is free to wonder to other things. It’s about time for Geum-young to knock her down a peg or five, but what happens when things backfire over the book? I foresee bad times for both of the Mum level court lady apprentices. Even if Janggeum remembers her roots, her dreams, and the importance of rice as the foundation of any meal, will she be able to recover in the eyes of the royal palace?