7 Game-Changing Moments From “The Last Empress” Episodes 9-12

The Last Empress” is full of more twists and turns than we ever thought possible, and Episodes 9-12 were no exception. This week we saw shifting alliances, shocking revelations, and the development of new relationships. Characters are starting to show different sides of themselves, and in a drama that has so much incredibly intense plot, we’re pleasantly surprised to find that “The Last Empress” is really delivering on the character growth as well! The battle is on for power, life, and love in the palace, so here are seven ways characters changed the game in this week’s episodes.

Warning: spoilers for Episodes 9-12 below! Proceed with caution.

1. When Yoo Ra was caught red-handed

It’s hard to get privacy in the palace, but Emperor Hyuk (Shin Sung Rok) and Min Yoo Ra (Lee Elijah) are hardly discreet about their illicit relationship. Now that the Grand Empress Dowager (Park Won Sook) has found out about their affair, Yoo Ra has one less friend in the palace. This doesn’t really matter as long as she has Hyuk on her side, but making enemies of the rest of the royal family will likely come back to bite her in the future!

2. When Sunny took a stand

This is what we’ve been waiting for, and Oh Sunny (Jang Nara) nailed it. She may be good-natured, but Sunny is neither totally oblivious nor passive enough to take her husband’s hostility and disrespect lying down. The girl is tougher than she looks, and this moment in which she decided to stand up for herself and step into her role as the empress was so satisfying.

The best part about this scene is that it showed us that “The Last Emperor” can do character growth in a meaningful way, which will add a level of substance to a drama that at first glance looked to be heavy on plot and short on depth. It’s more than just a wildly dramatic story that we can’t stop watching; now we’re invested in these characters too. Go, Sunny!

3. When Lee Yoon won our hearts

While he’s still a newcomer to the drama, Prince Lee Yoon (Oh Seung Yoon) is shaping up to be one of the most likable characters on “The Last Empress” — or at least the most relatable:

He’s cute, down-to-earth, and puts a smile on our faces with every scene. We can’t help but wonder how this prince turned out so differently from the rest of his messed up family, but once he inevitably gets back to the palace, he’s sure to bring an impishness that will make things even more fun!

4. When Yoo Ra expanded her power

After winning Hyuk’s heart, Yoo Ra’s next move is to connive her way to a position as CEO of the royal family’s shopping mall company… which makes us suspicious about what her end goal is. She’s already the emperor’s mistress, what does she need even more power and money for?

5. When So Jin revealed a dark secret

Yoo Ra’s ascent is also a slap in the face to Princess So Jin (Lee Hee Jin), who had been managing the mall previously by means of a deal that, it turns out, is one of the most shocking twists yet: the young princess Ah Ri (Oh Ah Rin) is not actually So Jin’s daughter, but the nanny’s… and her father is Emperor Hyuk.

This new plot twist begs countless more questions: What is the nature of the relationship between Hyuk and the nanny? Does Hyuk know he’s Ah Ri’s father? What does this mean for his relationship with Yoo Ra, or Sunny?

6. When Hyuk got friendly with Wang Sik

Meanwhile, Hyuk has taken a liking to Wang Sik (Choi Jin Hyuk), which is awkward considering Wang Sik is trying to kill him. In a twisted way, I almost want Hyuk to have a male friend (or any friend), because it’s fun to see him interacting in a chummy way with someone for once; the man really is very alone in life. But Wang Sik is definitely not the guy for the job.

This also has the potential to add a whole new layer of complexity to their relationship as they spend more time together and Wang Sik sees the emperor at his most vulnerable: Will Wang Sik develop some sympathy for Hyuk? Or will he find it increasingly difficult to contain his hatred?

7. When Wang Sik felt for Sunny

Finally, everything is now out in the open for Wang Sik, who has found out that his “girlfriend” Yoo Ra is actually the emperor’s mistress. As Wang Sik deals with the blow of this betrayal, Sunny learns the same truth about her husband and Yoo Ra in this incredibly powerful closing scene. Sunny is unaware of her bodyguard’s relationship with Yoo Ra, but Wang Sik understands Sunny’s pain because he feels the same hurt; and his first instinct is to protect her.

Now that Sunny and Wang Sik both know what’s going on in the palace, the stage is set for them to begin taking people down — and falling in love. The game is on!

Watch this week’s episodes here:

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Hey Soompiers, what did you think about this week’s episodes? Let us know in the comments!

hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.

Currently watching: “The Last Empress,” “Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter,“ and “Clean with Passion for Now.”
All-time favorite dramas: “Scarlet Heart: Goryeo,” “Goblin,” and “Hwayugi.”
Looking forward to: My Strange Hero.”

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