Round Table with Couch Kimchi: On Board with “The Three Musketeers”
Welcome to Couch Kimchi‘s weekly Round Table! There are only two of us this time, so, is this more of a chat? Anyway, Clockwatcher and Tessieroo will be talking about “The Three Musketeers,” a drama we’re both crazy about.
Clockwatcher: I think it’s great that we get to talk about it right after Episode 7 aired. It was an excellent episode that had all the elements that make this drama such a joy to watch.
Tessieroo: I’m still a bit confused about why Crown Prince Sohyeon would have told this young girl, Mi Ryung, to kill herself way back whenever. She’s supposedly his first love, so, wouldn’t he have been happy to marry her? Or did he know it would come out that she’s a servant? *Frowns* I’m not getting it.
Clockwatcher: I don’t get it either. He’s a jerk, but this is a bit much even for him. Perhaps he was deeply hurt? But before we get into that, let’s take a step back and introduce the drama.
Based on the Alexandre Dumas novel, “The Three Musketeers” is about an innocent country bumpkin, Park Dal Hyang, and how he becomes involved with the Crown Prince and his two guards. The characters are pretty much aligned with Dumas’ original creations. I know this because I checked on Wikipedia. Is it sad that I’m not well acquainted with the original novel?
Tessieroo: LMAO! Well, this drama has swords, secret letters, kings, and ladies with poison just like the original. I will admit I laughed like a crazy person when I read tvN was doing a sageuk of “The Three Musketeers,” but I’m truly impressed with this drama and loving it more each week! I’ve realized you don’t need French men wearing tights to appreciate this story.
Clockwatcher: And that’s the beauty! You don’t need to know much about the source material to enjoy it, or perhaps not knowing much about the original might a plus because you don’t compare or expect certain twists and turns. I’ll say anything to justify my ignorance, huh?
Tessieroo: I promise I won’t breathe a word.
Clockwatcher: This story starts off with Dal Hyang leaving his home to take the military examination in Hanyang, and I think this is when I fell in love with the show. As you know, we’re dissimilar in the sense that I don’t watch sageuks and have only seen two fusion dramas, namely “Queen In Hyun’s Man” and “Rooftop Prince.” What normally attracts you to sageuks?
Tessieroo: The wild mane of glory. That’s it. That’s the only thing.
Clockwatcher: LOL. Of course, you’d say something like that. Yong Gol Dae‘s haircut does make him really hot. And how does this compare to other sageuks?
Tessieroo: Not good because the only character sporting long hair is Dal Hyang. I need to see all the boys with their hair down. LOL. Kidding aside, I do like that there is less palace shenanigans going on. I normally hate it when they show endless scenes of evil old men in court, with both sides fighting.
Clockwatcher: I hear you. That’s one reason I stay away from makjang dramas, and sageuks definitely have more than their fair share of evil people engaging in power play. The fusion dramas I’ve seen focus heavily on romance, which is different from “The Three Musketeers.” I didn’t know what I was expecting, but the humor drew me in and very early on, too. Dal Hyang’s father’s delusions, his name-dropping of a minister who barely knew him, and his son’s dramatic but hilarious long journey to the capital hooked me. I didn’t expect to burst into laughter.
Tessieroo: I was also drawn in by Dal Hyang’s innocence. He really had no idea what was waiting for him in the capital.
Clockwatcher: His innocence is a cute representation of the audience’s point of view. The other characters are also great. We’ve got Min Seo, the gorgeous former monk, who’s very loyal and could use more screen time. There’s Seung Po, the general’s cheeky, fun-loving son. Most important, we have the smug Crown Prince Sohyeon, who makes me want to slap him. I know you love Crown Princess Yoon Seo.
Tessieroo: She’s a riot! Every time the poor girl is stuck listening to the Crown Prince and his pompous pontificating, she unintentionally makes funny expressions! I’m right there with her, making the same faces. I think she’s adorable and can completely understand why Dal Hyang fell in love with her.
Clockwatcher: I think all the characters are well-written and well-acted, so, this is one of those rare cases where we like—or dislike—them based on the content of their character, so to speak. I laugh every time Seung Po’s servant, Pan Swe, is on the screen. He’s loyal but exasperated by everything and doesn’t hesitate to make it clear that he prefers the good life. I loved how he ran away when he learned he was to work for Dal Hyang and later on, how he told Seung Po that he wished he’d run off with Dal Hyang when he was recruited for Kim Ja Jum‘s takedown mission.
Tessieroo: I agree. It’s fairly uncommon that the entire ensemble cast has such great chemistry, so, I give major props to all the actors. These characters are rich with both humor and seriousness. I don’t feel overwhelmingly bogged down with politics because the comedy keeps me invested and wanting more.
Clockwatcher: You know, I have mixed feelings about the Crown Prince, but I loved that he had to resort to cheating to beat Dal Hyang. He’s such a shameless guy, and can we talk about his jealousy?
Tessieroo: I initially believed he wasn’t interested in the Crown Princess, but after seeing his reaction to Dal Hyang, I could be wrong. So, either he’s fallen in love with her over the years but isn’t aware of it (until Dal Hyang appeared) OR he knows he’s in love with her but refuses to admit it for some stupid reason. Sigh. Men in real life are hard to figure out, but men in K-dramas are enough to push me towards alcohol.
Clockwatcher: I expect to be proven wrong, but I’m not convinced that he’s in love with her yet. I think his jealousy is less about romantic feelings and more about territory. He just doesn’t want anyone else touching his “property.” His feelings are changing. I think it’s a recent development as he’s only begun to see the real her and is attracted to her spunk.
Tessieroo: Oh, good call! Towards Dal Hyang, he does seem all, “She’s MY property. How dare you!” Also, he asked where the girl from Dal Hyang’s letter had gone, so, I wonder if she’s been a terrified, quiet mouse the whole time she’s been married to him? It could also be that he ignored her until another man showed up, which makes him a jerk.
Clockwatcher: A jerk, but it is human nature. I also find myself drawn to the villains, but not to Kim Ja Jum though. Kim Ja Jum is a general who’s aligning himself with the enemy. He’s had secret talks with their rep, Yong Gol Dae, and he and the prince saw each other when he was running away.
Tessieroo: Yeah, I don’t like Kim Ja Jum. He’s identical to those old guys in court in every sageuk I’ve seen; they’re power hungry. As for Yong Gol Dae, he is fascinating. He’s not hotheaded and can remain open enough to listen. I thought for sure he was one of those brute, warrior-like types who wouldn’t care if he died for his country but nope, wrong again.
Clockwatcher: He could just be a coward though. He killed that innocent woman just to get her horse and fled.
Tessieroo: I was surprised he didn’t want war since it’s obvious his side would wipe Joseon out, but he seemed to gain enormous respect for the Crown Prince during their discussion. Something as simple as the Crown Prince learning Gol Dae’s language makes the latter want to work with him going forward.
Clockwatcher: To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of his conversation with the Crown Prince. He was trapped, so, it’s not like he could get high and mighty with his hands tied. He was in the weird position where his enemy was acting like an ally, so, they were both probably just feeling each other out. I’m going to wait to see what he does in future episodes before making a judgement about him. However, like you said, he’s not as clear-cut as Kim Ja Jum, who is a traitor, blackmailer, and opportunist—the kind of villain I hate. I admittedly enjoy Yong Gol Dae because he’s hot, but I’m slowly falling for Mi Ryung despite her murderous ways. Episode 7 really endeared her to me.
I’m guessing you want the Crown Prince and his wife to have a happy ending together.
Tessieroo: *Sputters* Now why would you say that? Andwae, my friend. This time, I’m on Mi Ryung’s side, which, by extension, means Dal Hyang’s side, too. There’s also the proviso that Crown Princess Yoon Seo would be willing to let go of the Crown Prince. Since (I think) she’s in love with him, I don’t think it’s going to work.
Clockwatcher: What? I thought you were on her side because you love her so much!
Tessieroo: I do love her, but I feel like she belongs with Dal Hyang. They’re more suited for each other.
Clockwatcher: That’s what I get for making assumptions. As for loving the prince, I don’t know if she’s in love with him or she’s just fully accepted her role as his wife.
I am sure Mi Ryung and the prince will not end up together, but I’m more intrigued by their story because there are so many layers. These days, many women pour bleach on their man’s clothes or key his car when they are betrayed, but here, we have a woman who literally stabs him in the heart because he’d figuratively done the same to her when he ordered her death. Speaking of which, doesn’t this guy get stabbed in like every episode? Then someone wraps the wound in a bandage, and he’s fine, like all he did was pop a pimple. His tolerance must be very high because after getting stabbed, he looks into her pain-filled eyes and wipes her tears. Can our darling Crown Princess really compete with the intensity of this love?
Tessieroo: Yeah, if you stab someone in the heart these days, you’re going to jail. I get what you’re saying though. The love story between Mi Ryung and the Crown Prince seems so much more tragic and full of passion that I find myself rooting for them no matter how much my brain tells me it’s not going to happen.
Clockwatcher: We’re in trouble, aren’t we? I don’t even think we can call this Second Lead Syndrome.
In episode 7, we learned that Mi Ryung’s real name is Hyang Sun, who was forced to pretend to be the minister’s daughter when the deceased girl was chosen as the prince’s bride. So now, we’ve got the forbidden romance between a prince and a servant. A servant saved her from death only because he wanted her as his sex slave. She eventually killed him but learned that the only way she could survive was with her body. She acquired wealth by killing her husband and gained power with her language skills.
Tessieroo: She became a black widow, destroying every man in her path, and it’s all Crown Prince Sohyeon’s fault. *Crosses arms.*
Clockwatcher: Thus, he must take responsibility (and marry her)!
Tessieroo: We’re definitely in trouble.
Clockwatcher: For now, all we have to go on is that the Crown Prince ordered her death because he learned she wasn’t the real Mi Ryung, but I hope that there is a much bigger misunderstanding. I find their chemistry electrifying and want to know what role she’ll be playing here. Ja Jum definitely thinks she works for the prince, and I bet he will help spread that rumor. I guess for me, they just seem like a better fit. Their relationship obviously had a profound, negative effect on their lives. It made Sohyeon swear off love while it destroyed Mi Ryung and turned her into a killing machine. This kind of tortured love is the stuff of legends.
Tessieroo: Wait. She’s his first love, but when he learned she tricked him, he ordered her death? That makes it sound like he refused her because she was a slave, which makes me hate him. You’re right. There has to be more to this story than we’ve been given so far. Do we know what happened to the real Mi Ryung and was the Minister involved in this plot?
Clockwatcher: No. They haven’t told us, but I just assumed she died of some illness and for whatever reason, they couldn’t reveal it. I hope it isn’t anything else, like she committed suicide because she didn’t want to marry the prince.
So, there’s the Crown Prince as the servant girl’s tragic love while Crown Princess and Dal Hyang have that sweet, innocent first love. They are lambs with a surprising bite, but I think they’d be very happy with a cute, boring love. Even with the current setup, I wish Dal Hyang would be the Sir Lancelot to Crown Princess’ Queen Guinevere, but they are both too wholesome and proper to entertain such a relationship. Sigh. Why can’t I ever get what I want?
Tessieroo: Are you whining right now? *Gasps in shock.* You never whine!
Clockwatcher: That’s because we have about 29 episodes left of me not getting what I want.
Tessieroo: You don’t know how badly I want Dal Hyang to storm into Crown Princess Yoon Seo’s quarters, embrace her, and smother her in kisses. LOL. He would immediately be beheaded, but a girl can dream.
Clockwatcher: That would be so awesome, but that guy is too much of a goodie goodie, and it would be completely out of character. Speaking of characters, the most ridiculous one is the king. There’s nothing more dangerous than an unstable person with power. Kim Ja Jum probably helped him get the position, thinking that he would become his puppet, but he’s definitely right about the king needing to be dethroned. The sequence of how his plans for Yong Gol Dae completely changed in the span of one ride exemplifies this. He’s someone who can be easily manipulated, but his insecurity and fear influence his decisions with potentially catastrophic results. He makes me laugh though.
Tessieroo: The king reminds me of Emperor Ta Hwan from “Empress Ki.” The dude was a hallucinating psycho, but it turned out, he was being drugged. It crossed my mind when King Injo started hallucinating and hearing voices that maybe he’s being drugged, too?
Clockwatcher: I hope he’s drugged, but I think he’s just a nervous Nellie.
Tessieroo: I agree. He needs to be removed from power, but I wonder why no one believes the Crown Prince is ready to take over.
Clockwatcher: The king will need to die for the Crown Prince to take his place, right? One reason I don’t like sageuks is that they feature a lot of political power struggles.
Tessieroo: This one hasn’t been as bad as some. I hated that part of “The Princess’ Man” and fast-forwarded through a lot of it.
Clockwatcher: I do find my eyes glazing over sometimes, but this drama also makes it intriguing. For example, in Episode 7, we watched how Minister Choi came up with a plan and turned the tables around on Kim Ja Jum who thought he had the upper hand.
Tessieroo: That’s usually the best part of political shenanigans in saegeuks, watching both sides try to outdo each other. As long as it doesn’t drag but instead shows a reasonable amount of back-and-forth, I’m usually okay with it. However, if one side keeps winning repeatedly, my eyes glaze over, too. The humor thrown into this one is making all the difference.
Clockwatcher: I agree, and I love how clever it can be. Just like in the past episode where Kim Ja Jum had formulated a plan to frame Sohyeon as the traitor if he refused to work with him, but when our dear Mi Ryung stabbed him, I wondered how he’d get well enough to deal with him.
Tessieroo: I have wondered what’s going to happen to Mi Ryung. I’m sure it’s not over with her, right?
Clockwatcher: I expect her to be with us for three seasons. If there were only one, then I’d probably be antsy for them to hurry up with the plot, but since there’s more, I like how the story is slowly unfolding in a fun way. We get delightful, comical scenes that let us dig our characters. I’m still waiting for them to make me like the Crown Prince.
Tessieroo: I’m waiting to find out if he really loves Crown Princess Yoon Seo, and if so, why hasn’t he told HER that? I hate game-playing in relationships; it’s exhausting. I don’t much like him either, or maybe I’m just angry he sent Mi Ryung away and told her never to come back.
Clockwatcher: He’s got all the elements of a lovable character. He’s charming, playful, intelligent, and somewhat openminded, but I still want him to suffer. LOL. I really detest his smug attitude and how he’s a bit of a know-it-all. I also hate how his wife desperately wants him to open up and let her in, but he never does and often dismisses her with a joke. Like you, I find him tiresome and feel sorry for her. It’s easy to root for the OTP because the story begins well into their marriage, but I think they’d have far fewer supporters if we’d watched him force her into a loveless marriage for five years.
Tessieroo: True. I got the impression he never spends any time with her or even acknowledges her presence, that alone was enough for me to hope Dal Hyang steals her away. *Kekeke*
Clockwatcher: If Dal Hyang had Seung Po’s personality, he’d have done it already.
What are the top 3 things you’re looking forward to?
Tessieroo: I need more information about the younger Crown Prince and Mi Ryung—when and how they fell in love. I’m also looking forward to more bromance, and who doesn’t want more shirtless scenes of Min Seo? I hope he takes his hair down for his next bath. Hee!
Clockwatcher: LOL. For me, it is: (1) how the Crown Prince plans to use Yong Gol Dae, (2) the forbidden couple, and (3) more fun scenes.
Episode 7 is freshest in my memory, but I liked watching the crazy king’s meltdown as he let Kim Ja Jum’s words lead him to the conclusion that his son was a traitor and how he tortured the poor Crown Princess. I screamed when Kim Ja Jum picked up the bloody knife Mi Ryung had stabbed the prince with and fell into their trap. Even he had to respect the game they’d run on him. This is what makes me love this show so much.
Tessieroo: I’m a fan of the the unexpected humor. For instance, when the Crown Princess is seriously upset about something but then pulls one of her WTF faces in response to a comment from the Crown Prince, or seeing Seung-Po with his wife; I wasn’t expecting that at all and lost it!
Clockwatcher: Seung Po keeps dissing his wife’s looks, but he’s no Min Seo.
Is there anything you would change? I feel like I don’t have the right to ask for less politics because it’s already below average. I like the pace, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick it up a bit.
Tessieroo: I don’t think there’s anything I would change right now! I might say more romance, but if it’s not heading in the direction that I want, then no. LOL.
Clockwatcher: I’ll probably grudgingly enjoy the royal couple’s romance when Crown Prince Sohyeon finally starts playing his part. His flirtations are adorable, but we need more. As for things we would change, something that made me roll my eyes was how dumb the court lady was by confessing that she’d been seen, and of course, after getting her neck slashed, she lived just long enough to recount the entire tale to Dal Hyang. Seriously?
Tessieroo: Well, there’s always that one character who knows a major secret and lives long enough to tell someone, even if it takes 10 minutes to get it all out, and then, they die immediately. I’d hate to be the actor who keeps getting stuck with that role.
Clockwatcher: Yes, I didn’t think she’d leave us so soon. Speaking of which, there are so many more things we can say about this show, but I think this is a good place to wrap up our chat.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation, and let us know what you like or dislike about “The Three Musketeers.”
Watch the show on Kdrama.com, and be sure to join Couch Kimchi on Soompi next week when we’ll be discussing ‘Villains We Love To Hate.’
Tessieroo: Until next time!