Buoyed by a dramatic ending, this neatly executed episode manages to continue the intrigue.
We are on the second week of this K-Drama series – we recap Netflix’s Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 4.
For the most part, episode four of Under the Queen’s Umbrella was a nice, agreeable instalment. The usually tense drama gave way to some fun moments of humour, the Queen (played by Kim Hye-soo) finally appeared to properly get one over on the Queen Dowager, and the Crown Prince (played by Bae In-hyuk) seemed to be recovering thanks to an outside prescription obtained by Grand Prince Seongnam (played by Moon Sang-min). However, a surprising ending swiftly changed the dynamics greatly, ensuring that viewers will come back next week to find out what direction the show goes in going forward.
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 4 recap
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 4 begins with Grand Prince Seongnam’s realisation that the Queen was involved in the burning of his brother’s secret chamber. Frustrated, he barges into his mother’s quarters, only to find the Crown Prince being treated on the floor, adding to his perplexity. Later on, Seongnam gets his chance to talk with Hwa-ryeong, and he is brought right up to speed with the situation involving the heir to the throne, as well as the actions of the Queen executed to “protect” her children (which includes Grand Prince Seongnam being taken away from her at birth for the sake of his life).
Next, Seongnam and Gyeseong share a drink together, with the latter sharing the news that he is withdrawing from the cohort selection process with the approval of their mother. This leaves the older Grand Prince as the last remaining hope for the Queen, though he does not appear phased by this, refusing to believe it’s a burden.
After Grand Prince Seongnam enlists the help of others to help him find a physician knowledgeable about hyeolheogwol, the Queen receives notice of Cho Guk-yeong’s return to the palace. But no consultation is set up just yet, due to Hwa-ryeong’s concern over the royal physician’s promotion to the rank of dangsanggwan, which appears striking given his old colleagues were either exiled or killed. With that being said, the Queen soon appears to have little choice, as the King wants the Crown Prince to return to the palace to be treated by Guk-yeong ahead of his wife’s birth.
Amidst discussions with Court Lady Shin on whether the Crown Prince should be making public appearances, Hwa-ryeong expresses her desire to have anyone who worked in the Royal Clinic at the same time as Yoo Sang-uk found. Concurrently, Cho Guk-yeong combs through the heir to the throne’s prescriptions and medical records, appearing concerned by what he is discovering.
As Grand Prince Seongnam reflects on Queen Dowager Cho’s words to him in youth which discouraged curiosity for the sake of protecting “what’s precious to you” (the same message about forgetting what is seen or heard is also repeated), he tells Gyeseong not to wonder about his life story. Then, the two warmly return to studying. Meanwhile, the King makes the second exam for the cohort selection a debate, and wishes to now have candidates marked based on aggregate scores. Of course, the officials are split on this, as some don’t believe it’s fair to factor in the first test’s results. Nevertheless, His Majesty stands firm on his initial decision. Outside, the likes of Won-hyeong gossip about the opinionated King, but remind themselves they have the definitive say in who becomes cohort.
Continuing, Won-hyeong visits Queen Dowager Cho to seek information on whether the cohort selection could hold a greater weight, wanting to know if what he has heard about the Crown Prince’s poor health is true. To firstly provide context to this pair’s relationship, we cut back to 20 years ago, watching Cho offer Won-hyeong the role of chief state councillor in exchange for him proceeding with taekhyeon should “something” happen to the Crown Prince. Yet in the present, things are different, and the high-ranking official is the one asking for a favour. Unsurprisingly, this request is for the Queen Dowager to support Prince Uiseong, though for now we do not know whether it’s accepted.
While Prince Bogeom shuns a geobyeok (described as “an expert who writes or provides answers in an exam”) hired to help him prepare for the next test because he wants to act ethically, the Crown Prince apologises to the Queen for his delayed recovery. He wishes for his mother to put aside her studying to get some rest tonight, but the weary royal heir is unable to persuade Her Majesty to do so.
After watching some of the eliminated princes head outside the palace to explore a market, we focus in on the cohort selection second evaluation (boksi). Here, we find out Uiseong was prepared in advance by Won-hyeong, who gave him material on all the debate topics submitted to the King, something which almost proves fruitless when His Majesty favours an abruptly organised discussion on the plague occurring in the hut village in Seochon. However, the chief state councillor was wise enough to fill his favoured candidate in on backup topics, meaning the smug son of Consort Hwang still has some advantage.
With the debate in full swing, things get heated, with all candidates providing different opinions on the severity of quarantine, the amount of medical relief to be provided, and how many lives should be prioritised in Seochon. Grand Prince Seongnam is criticised for his emotional response to things, even if he makes a compelling case on the ignorance pertaining to the virus being a key factor in fear spreading to the point people become ruthless, while Uiseong is praised for using examples to support his points. Once the exam ends, the King looks pleased by what unfolded.
In the midst of some of the eliminated cohort candidates’ joyous time outside the palace, Grand Prince Muan finds himself rebuffed by Cho-wol. Elsewhere, Grand Prince Seongnam finds out that a physician with a knowledge of hyeolheogwol has been found, but is unable to be met with. This is because he is quarantined in Seochon, though that doesn’t stop the Queen’s son from hatching a plan to head inside the isolated hut village to ensure he can meet with Master Toji, who may have important answers.
Despite his prickliness, Master Toji helps Grand Prince Seongnam. The physician essentially instructs that the Crown Prince shouldn’t be treated with acupuncture, stating “something like phlebotomy” would cause death if received. As such, no needles should be put on the heir to the throne going forward, his acupuncture points should be allowed to become stable, and then some prescribed herbs should begin to cause an improvement.
Thanks to the help of a scheming daughter of the minister of war, Grand Prince Seongnam manages to successfully pay for the prescribed medicines at Seochon’s dispensary (a knife had to be used as collateral). Cynically, it does appear those handing over the goods have ulterior motives though, with the smiling pair of workers exclaiming that the Queen’s son is most likely unaware he paid for the medicine of the entire hut before they pass along herbs to Master Toji that night.
When the trio of market-visiting princes arrive back at the palace, they are greeted by an extremely unhappy Queen. She subsequently chastises everyone involved, berating them for ignoring the danger of the plague to have fun. “Be grateful that you came back fine,” Her Majesty says, prior to softening up when a happy Prince Simso explains that this adventure was the first time he made a decision for himself, and that it was the “most entertaining day of my life.” Therefore, the Queen vows to keep the trio’s escapades a secret from Consort Ko, then settles on just sending her children to bed early for their punishment. Later that night, Grand Prince Seongnam is told the prescription he got for the Crown Prince cannot be used due to its unverified nature, yet at the request of the ailing heir to the throne, a compromise is agreed to which will see the ill royal cease his acupuncture treatment.
The next day, Prince Bogeom is announced as the cohort to the Crown Prince at Sigangwon, to the bitter disappointment of Won-hyeong. Ergo, the chief state councillor heads straight to Queen Dowager Cho, where he discovers the elder simply used her influence to ensure a fair evaluation of the prospective cohort candidates. Bluntly, Cho adds that through this process, the King worked out that the sons of concubines are smarter than the Grand Princes, and that Won-hyeong found out he does not even have the power to turn someone into a cohort. Still, the Queen Dowager does suggest her ally remains calm, understanding there are wider ambitions for Prince Uiseong’s place in the palace while dismissing the high-ranked official’s desire to create the right opportunity for an ascent immediately.
Next, the Queen arrives for an audience with Queen Dowager Cho, who tells her the Grand Princes are no longer guaranteed their place if anything happens to the Crown Prince. Then, the elder enquires about the ill royal’s condition, detailing that “many things will change” should he not be recovering. Noting that people will not turn a blind eye upon discovering the Crown Prince’s sickness, Cho has a simple statement to make: “The Crown Prince must be fully restored to health until the day of the Crown Princess’ delivery. If he is not, then I will have no choice but to take action to maintain the stability of the throne. For if I do not, they will take action first.”
Now worried about a potential deposition of the Crown Prince (if none of the Grand Princes were to succeed him, it would also become a threat to everyone’s safety), the Queen says they must show her eldest son is in good health. So, the unverified prescription is called upon, with the herbs to be used from now on for treatment.
Fortunately, these remedies seem to be working. Interrupting concubine gossip on his alleged grave condition, and the Queen Dowager’s attempt at trying to expose the Queen for hiding her son’s health, the Crown Prince arrives at the birth of his second child, looking incredibly healthy. The King is overjoyed here, greeting his successor with great enthusiasm while others look disappointed in this noticeable recovery.
Trying to remain coy, the Queen doesn’t wish to feel relieved just yet, even if her eldest son has not lost consciousness for four days. Still, Hwa-ryeong can’t help but be happy, so she orders all of her children to gather for a feast that night. It’s a happy, celebratory occasion, one filled with brotherly talks and humour which marks a joyous contrast to the scenes of the past few weeks. Later on, Grand Prince Seongnam is thanked for his part to play in his eldest sibling’s healing, before he is quizzed on why he never asked about his parents back when he met the Crown Prince for the first time as a child. However, no proper answer is given, just a revelation that it was in fact the Queen who helped bring the brothers together all that time ago. After the King’s heir then vocalises his aspirations to live more, he heads back to visit his new-born daughter.
The next day, Prince Bogeom begins his learning alongside the Crown Prince, which looks to be going well. That is until the heir to the throne suddenly begins to cough up blood in front of the King and some officials, however, and the episode ends with a teary-eyed, worried Queen embracing her collapsed son.
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