Ok, I’m not surprised. It’s not called the Great Prime Minister Bidam, it’s called the Great Queen Seondeok, and knowing it is historically based, I know how this was probably going to end. But I still have ISSUES!!!
First, I come from the wuxia world, where people don’t have problems messing with actual history. If I was Deokman, I would have taken a page out of The Water Margin, way back when she was Princess Deokman after Cheongmyeong gets shot. I would have gathered Bidam, Yushin and Archeon together, any rogue Hwarang hanging out, and anybody else who was tired of the status quo, and taken it to some impregnable mountain fortress, and told the king: “We out! If the cause is just and righteous, we’ll come and help you out. Good luck with Mishil!” Then I would have told, TOLD Yushin: “Look, I need a general, and you are it. No more doe eyes!” I would have made Bidam my bodyguard, ’cause he’s cute and handy with a sword and good with sneaky stuff, but I don’t really have any romantic interest him, leaving Archeon to be my BOO!!!!!!
But I digress. Back to the show. I’ve been reading around the ‘net how they describe Bidam. He’s on a mad quest for power. He wants to be king. He leads a coup (ok, he does that last bit). First, let’s see what all the fuss is about:
I like Bidam. I’m going to defend Bidam (very capably played by Kim Nam Gil). Remember where we first meet him? Dude was sleeping in a cave and throwing chicken at Yushin. That’s your great villain. Bidam is very conflicted, abandoned as a child then abandoned by Munno. And Deokman doesn’t help once they get in the palace to help assuage his insecurity. Nobody every gives him a chance: from the get go everybody is like, oooh, he’s dangerous and can’t be trusted. On side you got rat fink Chunchu (more on him later), on the other side you got Misaeng, Yumjong and the rest of the crazy Mishil crew. Whatever Bidam turns out to be, he didn’t get there by himself. If he and Deokman were just left alone, we could have avoided a lot of this. But we do have a coup, and I have to say, at least there was no whining, no pleading, no running away. Deokman knew she had to whack Bidam; Bidam knew he was going to get whacked, and he took it like a man, going down swinging!
Let’s talk about others who are responsible for where we end up. I’m talking to you, Great Queen Seondeok! What would have happened if she just whacked Mishil’s crew from the get go? Sure, other ambitious people would have come on the scene and caused trouble, but would they have trained under the most cunning mind of the day? I think not. And they rush past it, but the Queen seems pretty satisfied to use Bidam to her dirty work. I like her, but she ain’t blameless. She also just stands there and lets countless soldiers get whacked trying to kill Bidam, when all she had to do was say stop, let him say his peace, and execute him with those other punks. But no……
Let’s talk about that pimple Chunchu. How is he any different from Bidam, motivated by unresolved issues in his past? Except that dude makes no bones about wanting the throne the way that he wants it. He never gets over Mishil killing his mom, like he’s the only one who lost a parent. And remember he punked Mishil! He’s not an innocent; he’s got a serious agenda: Gee Bidam, I know you are in love with my aunt, but since I want the throne, you gotta go, by any means necessary! And can we not forget that he was in on the whacking of Munno? Hello? Rat fink! I hate his smug attitude (although, big props to the teenager who plays him!).
Let’s talk about Misaeng, Hajong and that wacky crew. I know they eventually get the traitor treatment, but they make it to the end, causing trouble, being nobles. That hardly seems fair.
Which brings me to one thing I learned: you can’t have your love or any kind of a normal life and rule a country. Politics and righteousness and romance don’t mix. Ask any wuxia swordsman. You don’t see them getting entangled in crazy national issues, and when they do, it NEVER works out:
The Legendary Warrior: guys spends most of the series denied his due by royalty, royal woman mostly, and who takes her out? Some royal guard? NO! Swordswoman!
Romance of the Red Dust: in addition to the crazy going on in the basements of some official’s homes, when our hero recognizes that the guy he helps get the throne is going to engage in the same type of shenanigans they fought against, he takes his cookies and goes home to live a life of solitude
The Young Warriors: we’ve already discussed how the Yangs get dissed by the incompetent emperor, and who has to suffer? our righteous Yang family
Shall I go on?
The Handsome Siblings: these guys just happen to be born to the wrong parents, and try as they may, they get caught up in some Single Chinese Empress syndrome because she’s obsessed with one of them. This costs both of the siblings EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!
Sword Stained with Royal Blood: I know, the title seems self-explanatory, but this is another story where you help new dude get rid of old dude on the throne only to have new dude act even worse and dash your hopes of a better tomorrow.
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain: agent of the government mucking up jiang hu, all for the promise of recognition by the ruler.
If you want to survive and be an upright, fight-for-justice kind of person, and have your love survive, stay away from the palace! It is not the place for righteous folk who have a cause. As bad as she was, Mishil manages to keep her people alive and safe, even Daenambo, who kills a PRINCESS and lives to tell about it. She worked the palace like Deokman never manages to do. She loses her people to crazy schemes, and it takes its toll. Mishil don’t look lonely, and Deokman remains so. It’s not so much that people are bad, it’s the quest for power and more power that drives them to do bad, BAD things. Even Mishil wasn’t going to destroy Shilla to get what she wanted.
Ok, on the up side, my boo Archeon lives! Once again, let’s see what we’re working with:
THAT, is my MAN!!! I love Archeon. I love his character and I love Lee Seung Hyo who plays him. So, of course, way back in the early episodes, he was just as arrogant as the other Hwarang, but unlike the other Hwarang, he becomes boyz with Yushin after they narrowly escape the battlefield. Anytime things don’t look right, Archeon is like, “This looks shady, I’m not going to be a part of this.” Whenever somebody needs him to something for the cause, he’s there. He doesn’t get much screen time, but he is a righteous man, down to the end, and the only one that Deokman could depend on as Queen because he wasn’t in love with her. And even after Deokman is gone, he’s still on his job!
So that’s it: 62 episodes later. Is Deokman The Great Queen? Yes she is great! Can’t say the same for some of the flunkies around her. And she’s also great because another woman made her great. MIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!