Shaved Ice and Dumplings
I commented on what looked like lower quality backgrounds, but reviewing the first few episodes of this series shows there are some very nice backgrounds used. They don’t seem to be as abundant, but I haven’t formally compared first and second series episodes.
This is the first episode from the official site to include the opening theme segment, with its nice “Korean Food” song. The first scene with Janggeum, Yeonsaeng, and Chang-I against the tree, the camera spinning around, gives a good opening feel, matching the feel of the first notes and words of the song. Not that I understand the words, mind you, but they still have a sound about them. The subtitles would help a little if knew how to read more than a handful of letters, but I still wouldn’t know the meaning behind the words.
The scene of King Jungjong in the opening puts a very serious look on his face. While he could be seen as easygoing in the first series, that seems to have fallen away. Maybe it first started back when he realized even his loyal friends could be actively working to end his life. Perhaps he’s worried about the direction his life is taking, and what he wants out of it. My guess is they shot this scene the day before the Agricultural Festival, and he was dreading having to follow behind an unbathed bull.
Even though she’s friends with Janggeum now, Geum-yeong’s scene in the opening theme has her standing outside alone at night. She has more good scenes with Janggeum this episode, but she falls into an uncomfortable zone when with her relatives. If she’s not careful, she might just end up alone again.
The first of the new characters shown is the spindler lady, whom I’ve referred to as Sin-ssi due to seeing that name for her on a Japanese Janggeum’s Dream web site (which listed Korean names for characters).
Beside Sin-ssi is an archer lady; a short, old man; a lady in a pink outfit; Kim Yu from the first series; Yun Hwan; an a couple of kids, one looking pale enough to be Chang-I’s kid brother.
An interesting scene follows in the opening, as Lady Han, Suro, Dong-I and Jeong-ho walk following after Chang-I, Janggeum, Yeonsaeng, and Yeong-ro. Where’s Geum-yeong? This scene and the one with Geum-yeong cannot be scenes from future episodes, as the two level up this episode. After the first series’ opening was exclusively comprised of scenes from early episodes, it’s nice to see an opening with unique scenes. Too bad there’s still a number of scenes during the theme taken from early series two episodes.
My favorite scene of the opening has to be when Yeonsaeng and Yeong-ro are bouncing with joy, only to realize who they’re with, and turn back-to-back. This kind of scene has already happened in series one, and I wonder if this suggests they might actually almost kind of just a little bit in a small way become friends (while still keeping up their rivalry) .
Unfortunately, the scene where Janggeum falls to her knees, looking forward with a sad expression, it doesn’t get any impact from me. Not with things feeling forced so far this series. Likewise the teary-eyed scene with her with Lady Han.
Hopefully the sword battle between the two soldiers is suggestive of some manner of confrontation (even if just training) between the two. Jeong-ho claimed Suro to be the better with a sword, but Suro’s been demoted to extreme, almost slapstick, comedy status this series. He needs to get some serious scenes and have the comedy toned down to regain his prior character status.
The final scene has Janggeum looking at her purse, which may suggest it’ll have mention this series. I took notice of that purse back in episode one of the first series, but nothing ever came of it. It was simply her purse, and that was that. It noticeably returned in episode one of series two, and has a spot in the opening, which may be good signs.
I don’t know if the assassin after Janggeum will turn out to be Yun Hwan or not. I was right about Haeya being Blue Butterfly, but backed away from that idea early on. On the other hand, I’m sticking with Hwan being the enemy, which could be the series leading me in the wrong direction. It wouldn’t be the first time the series took an unexpected turn on me.
The final part of that scene is Jeong-ho protecting Janggeum from the assassin. Whenever Janggeum is in danger, he’ll be there to save her, right? Unless she willingly leaps off a cliff, of course.
And that’s just the opening sequence.
As for the actual episode, the young queen gives off a lot of bad vibes. Since I have no idea what she’s saying, whether speaking or thinking, I’m going completely based on the whole “I’m talking in a kindly voice, and now here’s a close-up of me, with darkness around, while I’m thinking in a more angry, disgusted sounding voice” thing she has going for her. You have to pay attention to these tiny contextual hints when you can’t understand what someone is saying.
Something I did not consider last episode, but wondered right away this episode, is why a couple of orchids are serving the queen and the young queen (or perhaps she’s a princess, a queen in training?) I think the Queen Dowager picked up on this as well. She can’t have just noticed the two are no longer mums, and commented on that instead, could she have? Either way, she won’t stand for having no mum in her courtroom serving her meals. Let the competition between the two recommence!
I’m quite certain “Jang Gyeong” is said multiple times by the Queen Dowager, so I’ll use this as a shortened name to refer to the younger queen.
Back around the beginning of series one, Eun teaches the girls about levels, and says something about apricot level being three to a room, orchid level being two to a room, and mum level being one to a room. This could mean Yeonsaeng and Chang-I now share a room for two while Janggeum and Geum-yeong also share a room for two. This could explained their heightened friendship, as Geum-yeong would have much more opportunity to get to know Janggeum. Once the two promote to mum class, however, this would put them in separate, single rooms.
The competition this time around is a friendly one. Geum-yeong no longer cares about strong rivalry. She and Janggeum plan their dishes together, make their dishes together, and sample one anothers dishes. When it comes time for the competition, they even suggest combining their dishes, making it impossible to choose one over the other as the winner.
Poor Yeonsaeng is going to be stuck in “he saved my life” hero worship mode for some time. The guy shows no interest at all in even talking with the girls, and I’ll remain quite confident he’ll turn out to be an enemy to Janggeum. He’s probably the one who caused the ice to start melting, and who locked the girls in the freezer house. If he comes to their rescue, that not only would make him all the more suspect, but would also make me wonder if the bees were set in a place where they might be aggravated by the bull during the Agricultural Festival. I have my eye on you, Yun Hwan.
At least whatever Hwan said to Chang-I and Yeonsaeng seemed to be satisfactory for Chang-I. The conversation between him and Janggeum last episode didn’t quite get the same reaction from Janggeum.
Something I’ve found is that watching these non-subtitled episodes of Janggeum’s Dream twice is a must. Because I don’t know more than a small number of words, I miss out on a vast majority of what’s said. I fill in what’s happening as it happens. Rewatching the scene with Geum-yeong and Janggeum talking, for example, I know they’re decided what foods to prepare.
“Look at those two working together rather than against one another” — this could be what Lady Choe was saying before stepping toward the girls, only to be stopped by Lady Han. I can’t imagine what else she might say. It’s obvious she’s going to go intervene when Lady Han stops her. “Let them be,” I can imagine Lady Han telling her. It’s a good thing Han stopped Choe, too: the friendship between Janggeum and Geum-yeong looks only to be getting stronger and stronger. It would be a shame to see things go wrong and break them apart.
I think this episode has been the best so far in the series, and it’s almost moved from “I really do want to like this series” to “hey, maybe it’s not going to be so bad”. Unfortunately, Suro really brings it tumbling down. I continue to not like how they’ve taken the subtle comic relief and make it an exaggerated attempt at forced humor. Let’s see if they go all-out slapstick with him by episode 36 (series two, episode ten).
I take it Suro’s boots are not designed for walking in puddles of water, as he takes them off before entering the “water hazard”. If nothing else, it’s good to see Suro in a new outfit, and a very nice one at that.
Without having Korean subtitles, it’s difficult to know the names of the dishes Janggeum and Geum-yeong prepare. I’m guessing Geum-yeong is preparing melon balls. The sample Geum-yeong took of the shaved ice was a but much, though, wasn’t it? It takes time to shave that much ice (although if it’s Yeonsaeng preparing it, she might be able to fill a bowl twice the size in a quarter of the time).
The girls deliver the shaved ice and melon balls (for lack of knowing what they really are) to the queens, and the shaved ice already has syrup (perhaps just freshly squeezed fruit juice?) poured over it. Unless the syrup is chilled, wouldn’t it begin to melt the ice prematurely? I would have saved adding the syrup until immediately after setting the trays before the queens. Make it a part of the presentation, adding the syrup at the very last moment, to keep the ice as cold and stiff as possible for as long as possible.
Looking at the dishes, Lady Choe instantly recognizes the melon balls as Geum-yeong’s work. She could have recognized the work put into it, or the dish itself, or may have realized that more artistic effort goes into making the melon ball than goes into shaving a block of ice and pouring squished berries over it.
I wish I knew what Jang Gyeong hoped to achieve by having a commoner sample the dessert. No matter, that simply means she misses out. All that was missing was a scene with Jang Gyeong wanting to try out the dish, and the Queen Dowager hording her own off to the side, with a “this is mine” look about her face.
As the two girls suggest the lady trying the dish to mix the two together, I like the way Geum-yeong’s bangs fall as she leans forward. It gives a more vibrant, more fluid motion to someone who in the first series was always stoic, sulking. She’s like a whole new character, but in a believable way. She had her grand competition against Janggeum, something she gave up her career, her future for, and she came in second. She felt she had nothing left for her in the palace, but Janggeum remained a good friend to the very end. The two started over as apricots and reached orchid together, rather than against one other.
The lady scarfed down the shaved ice with melon balls quickly, but didn’t stop for a brain freeze? That’s some impressive shaved ice. It does leave me wishing Jang Gyeong tried it, liked it, and ate it quickly, only to have to stop and put a hand to her aching forehead. Maybe she’s actually a kindhearted person, but those animations showing darkness over her as she thinks things in an ominous tone suggest otherwise. Come on, let’s see her eat too much shaved ice too quickly!
Jang Gyeong had to have asked the lady which dessert was better, only for her to say they made a wonderful combination, two inseparable halves of a whole.
What follows is something so horrible, even Janggeum is surprised, as Lady Han reveals her plot to overthrow the Queen Dowager and Jang Gyeong, taking over both thrones. Then again, I could be wrong. I still have no idea what the characters are saying, and she gets a decent-length monologue.
Once again, seeing the two girls standing side by side, it’s visible that Geum-yeong is a good amount taller, certainly going in line with what I’ve read about her being a year older than Janggeum. It’s not that I doubt their ages, because I don’t doubt them. It’s more an observation of the amount of time they’re seen together now. Janggeum might even be around Geum-yeong more than she’s around Yeonsaeng and Chang-I. If this is the case, then things can be made all the worse if Hwan fakes an interest in Janggeum. It would be bad enough if Janggeum and Yeonsaeng had to share a room after something like that, but being in separate rooms as I believe they are, with Geum-yeong and Janggeum sharing one room and Yeonsaeng and Chang-I sharing another, there would be less time and opportunities for talking things out. Of course, this is all still speculation of a potential fallout between Janggeum and Yeonsaeng over Hwan.
Speaking of potential disruptions, what ever has happened with Geum-yeong’s crush on Jeong-ho? Did she give that up when she lost the cooking contest to Janggeum?
Wearing a mum outfit once again, Janggeum is seen with Yeonsaeng and Chang-I, but it’s still unknown if the three are sharing a room, or just the two with Janggeum visiting.
Pansul also has a different-looking see-through black hat. Not fair. Geum-yeong continues to look uncomfortable around her relatives. I do believe she loves them very much, and holds a lot of respect for her aunt, but Lady Choe continues to put Geum-yeong in situations she doesn’t like. Back in the first series, Geum-yeong was even brought to tears at times because of what she was being forced to do. If she thought it was hard to betray Janggeum back then, just wait until she has to do something which will really put Janggeum in a bad spot. What would be worse for Geum-yeong? Janggeum forgiving her, or Janggeum not forgiving her this time? This is the kind of character interactions and drama I like to see, true struggles in realistic situations which have been built up strong over time.
The guards for the ice house need to either be fired or severely punished for their actions. The person who gave the two the drink wasn’t shown, so this means he wasn’t in disguise. A disguise would have alerted the two to something. Or, maybe he wore just enough of a disguise to hide his true identity (Hwan!) without looking suspect.
Once again, not understanding anything leaves me curious. What did Lady Choe ask of Nain that got Nain so riled? Chang-I’s big mouth finally gets the better of her, as Nain makes her stay and help out. I love Chang-I’s “umi umi umi!” sound as she’s being dragged away. It’s very defining of her character.
Rule number one for aspiring young apprentice court ladies: if the ice house is supposed to be guarded, and there are no guards, go get Jeong-ho to escort you into the ice house. Yeonsaeng sounded worried, but Janggeum simple had to investigate, then had to save the ice. The rock must have been keeping any heat from escaping, causing the room to heat up and the ice to melt. The items placed over the ice might help insulate, keeping the heat out and the cold in the cubes of ice.
Yeonsaeng finding the door locked is the best ending so far this series. What looked like an argument in the preview from the end of the last episode was simply Janggeum instructing Yeonsaeng of what they need to do. The next episode preview shows (surprise!) Hwan saving the girls from their ice tomb, which is quite predictable as he’s going to be the bad guy. No little things such as the old guy telling Haeya “you’re good for doing this for your father”. No, it’s being made quite obvious. My only hope is Hwan is innocent, just to prove me wrong.