Kwanghyun is allowed to treat the Empress. But she is not happy about being operated on by him! Meanwhile in Joseon Jinyung’s plans for a pharmacy for the poor are progressing fast. But Myunghwan discovers what she is up to and is determined to stop her. Finally Kwanghyun finds a way to get back to Joseon.
Kwanghyun falls to his knees when he realises that he is standing in front of the Emperor. The Emperor demands to know if he is the man who can cure the disease that even the Head of Medicine from Joseon couldn’t cure. He is not impressed with Kwanghyun’s appearance (although I quite like his scruffy look). “Are you confident that you can treat the Empress?” he asks Kwanghyun. Of course he is.
Kwanghyun is surprised that he is now in charge of the Empress’ health
The Head of Medicine is impressed and amazed that Kwanghyun knows so much about the patient’s symptoms before he even meets her. But her older brother who is a very high ranking official is not impressed. He doesn’t trust Kwanghyun especially when Kwanghyun refuses to tell him what is wrong with the Empress. He is being very secretive about what her illness really is. But if Kwanghyun fails to cure her ….. yes, yes, we know – Kwanghyun will pay with his life. Kwanghyun begins a pre-operation treatment of medicine and acupuncture. But the Empress responds badly. She’s in agony and throws the bowl of medicine out of his hand and it smashes on the floor.
Kwanghyun tries to encourage the Empress to bear the pain
But Kwanghyun continues to be very calm and confident preparing medicine. On the other hand, Kayong is fussing and stressing out beside him because he’s being so secretive. (I don’t know why they keep her as an assistant. It must be so stressful working with her!) Kwanghyun calmly tells her to prepare for the operation next morning.
But when he gives the Empress her final batch of medicine before the operation, she throws the bowl right at him in a rage. He calmly sends all the servants out of the room. She shouts at him – she doesn’t want to be cut open. She has travelled around the world and can speak many language (including Joseon language) and she knows what surgery will do to her body. And she would rather die. Kwanghyun soothes her explaining that he realises she doesn’t want to lose the Emperor’s love – with ugly scars. And that’s also why she started taking rhino horn as an aphrodisiac. He knows this because the black pus from the wound on her back was the clue that she had a kidney infection caused by the rhino horn. This has spread to her bones. So that’s why he kept her illness a secret. His understanding of her situation calms her down and she agrees to the operation.
The Empress would rather die than have surgery
But as he is about to start the operation, he thinks back to what she said – she doesn’t want to have huge scars. So he uses his drill instrument (originally for treating horses!) to perform a kind of keyhole surgery to avoid the huge scars. (Very clever!)
But her brother is still hovering menacingly in the background waiting for Kwanghyun to fail. And when they hear that the Empress has “disappeared” they all rush to her bedside and sure enough she is not there. The Emperor rushes over when he hears this too, and Kwanghyun is about to be thrown in the jail, but then she appears all dressed up in her finery completely cured. She wanted to look nice for her man. Ah. Big brother is suddenly very nice to Kwanghyun too!
The Empress’ brother does not trust the scruffy Joseon doctor
A feast is held in celebration and Dr Saam falls around drunk taking credit for Kwanghyun’s success. He was his teacher after all. The Head of Medicine wants Kwanghyun to stay and work with them and offers him a very good position. But Kwanghyun politely refuses because he wants to go home. The Empress meets with him later and promises to help him return to Joseon to be with his love. (We must have jumped ahead quite a few months because the Empress looks at her tiny scars which are all healing nicely.)
Back in Joseon ….
the medical party arrive “triumphantly” back in Joseon. They obviously have no idea what’s going on in Qing and that Myunghwan’s treatment did not cure the Empress after all.
The princess can’t wait to talk to Jinyung and rushes to find her asking excitedly if Eunso’s brother found what he was looking for… She doesn’t mention Kwanghyun directly and Jinyung has no idea what she’s talking about! Dusik tells Eunso that he couldn’t find Kwanghun in Qing.
Jinyung meets up with Kibae and Jabong at the restaurant to discuss developments in their pharmacy for the poor. There’s still ‘love rival’ tension between Kibae and the Chef!
But the king is worried about what is happening to the price of herbs and he employs an official to secretly look into the matter. (so does this mean Jinyung or Myunghwan will get in trouble?)
Myunghwan is shocked to hear Jinyung is behind the pharmacy for the poor
Myunghwun hears that Jinyung has been setting up an illegal private parmacy (사설약방 私設藥房) He challenges her about this and she is unrepentant sure that her father (or the man she thinks is her father) would be proud of her for what she’s doing. Inju and Dr Shin have already handed in their notice at the royal hospital to work with Jinyung. Other doctors and nurses wonder what to do. Should they leave too? But they worry about this positions and status and livelihoods.
Jinung looks over her plans for her new pharmacy for the poor
Dressed as a boy (her alter ego Yongdal) Jinyung leads the team at night on their next expedition to their suppliers. But there are spies around. And Myunghwan is determined to close the pharmacy down.
Kwanghyun arrives back in Joseon alone quietly by boat. He finds a blue ribbon in the snow – the ribbon that came from Jinyung’s hair. And he holds it as he looks out at the view of his homeland after years away.
Time to say good bye to his mentor
The feast of celebration for Kwanghyun feels to me like a kind of graduation ceremony for him. He has spent years studying with Dr Saam in Qing. At first he was deflated and had lost confidence after Dr Ko’s death. And he begged Dr Saam to take him on as his student. But he has studied with his teacher and thanks to him he has finally overcome his biggest fear and faced his demons in the operating room. And he has become a better surgeon than his teacher – even Dr Saam has no problem admitting this. So this means that it’s time to move on. I think Dr Saam knows this too as he happily celebrates Kwanghun’s success by drinking heavily. But there must be some sadness there too knowing intuitively that it is time for them to go their separate ways. At least for now.
After speaking to the Empress at the feast Kwanghyun knows he can go back to Joseon. He watches Dr Saam celebrate whilst thinking back to his life in Joseon and Jinyung. He also knows it’s time to say good bye. But we don’t get to see a sad farewell which suggests that they will probably meet up again in Joseon some day. But things will be different then and so I feel quite sad watching this scene.