An emotionally charged chapter with a heart-wrenching climax.
We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 5, which contains spoilers.
Triggering such a major plot shift so early in the season seems to be a smart risk for Under the Queen’s Umbrella. With the Crown Prince (played by Bae In-hyuk) now dead, the limbo we’ve been stuck in has subsided, meaning we can properly explore the breadth of the characters around the palace as an impending power struggle looks set to take shape. This emotional instalment was the perfect gateway to the conflict that will quickly unravel, with the challenge now for momentum to be upheld.
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 5 recap
We begin with the truth being revealed to the King, who is told of the Crown Prince’s hyeolheogwol diagnosis. Shocked, His Majesty is initially in disbelief over the “extremely critical” condition of his son, but such emotions soon seem to manifest as upset. Elsewhere, others around the palace begin to hear of the news of the throne’s heir collapsing, causing plenty of hubbub.
Returning to the King, he claims he will punish those who “harmed the health of the Crown Prince,” and acted without his order. As such, Physician Kwon is imprisoned, while the Queen is instructed to stay in her quarters during a suspension from all her duties. Additionally, an emergency Royal Clinic is to be established, and nobody is able to see the Crown Prince without permission from His Majesty, including family.
When Queen Dowager Cho (played by Kim Hye-soo) attempts to guarantee the Grand Princes do not “defy” orders and head in to see the Crown Prince, Seongnam stands firm. He states he just wants to know how his brother is doing, causing the elder to remind her grandson he should swallows his feelings down, wanting him to “adjust” to palace life that way. With that in mind, Grand Prince Seongnam is unable to muster up a response.
As the Queen is stuck transcribing various texts as a punishment, the concubines begin to theorise the potential future of the kingdom. Most notably, Consorts discuss the role of the taekhyeon (described as the process to “select the wisest person as the Crown Prince regardless of status”) in the current King’s initial ascent, with this method something they believe could be repeated in the present day.
After the Queen withstands a sleepless night to complete her transcription punishment, she quizzes the chief eunuch on her son’s health. “I need to know his condition to decide if I should cry, be relieved, pray, or lose my mind,” Hwa-ryeong says, unable to accept that she is forbidden from being told anything related to the Crown Prince. Fortunately, this plea allows for some vital information to be parted with (that her eldest child is alive, yet still unconscious), which in turn leads to the giving of instructions for the chief eunuch to ensure the Crown Prince isn’t left alone with Cho Guk-yeong, or indeed any royal physician.
While three of the Grand Princes worry about being disallowed the chance to see their mother, or ill brother, Grand Prince Seongnam walks off, presumably to try and find a way of meeting his family. On the way, Prince Uiseong smugly taunts the Queen’s second-oldest child, boldly alleging that the heir to the throne’s condition is “hopeless.” Going one step further, Consort Hwang’s son tells Grand Prince Seongnam not to show any intention to take over as Crown Prince, leading to the smarmy youngster being firmly told he should not be “snickering” during this period.
Next, Consort Hwang expresses her desire in making the deposition request public, with the concubine informing Won-hyeong that there may not be another chance to “turn the tide” should the Crown Prince recover. The high-ranking official agrees they should hurry, wanting the current heir to the throne booted out quickly so that his young son (the apparent strongest succession candidate) can no longer be considered to take his place. “We shall have the patriotic scholars submit petitions,” Won-hyeong continues, believing this is the way to unite people for the cause. Similarly, Consort Hwang acknowledges help will be needed from Queen Dowager Cho. Concurrently, the elder is busy telling Yoon Soo-gwang to stand his ground and gain the upper-hand when the Chief State Councillor decides to get in touch with him.
Using a fire as a distraction for entry into her quarters, Grand Prince Seongnam finds a way to directly ask his mother if the Crown Prince has coughed up blood clots before. The Queen worriedly says this hasn’t ever happened, though is quick to assure her son that the outside medicine he brought into the palace did not cause this sudden serious symptom. Ergo, Hwa-ryeong tells Grand Prince Seongnam not to act rashly, wanting him to keep the risky prescription a secret. “Even if something goes wrong, I will take care of it,” Her Majesty adds.
Later, Grand Prince Seongnam makes his way into prison to ask Physician Kwon for more details on the outside prescription. Here, we find out nothing was “particularly” wrong with the alternative medicine, but it cannot be ruled out as a potential cause for the Crown Prince’s present woes. “Even the same medicine can have varying qualities,” is the explanation for why this may be the case. Following that, Kwon drops to his knees, claiming he will keep quiet about the medicine that was used, as the fact he was administering it could get him killed.
Soon after, Kwon is blindfolded and interrogated on whose orders he is following. When stabbed, the originally stubborn physician becomes leaky, willing to throw the Queen under the bus for how the heir to the throne was treated, as the Queen Dowager stands over proceedings. Elsewhere, Hwa-ryeong is left distraught when the chief eunuch is unable to share any information on the Crown Prince’s illness with her.
In due time, Grand Prince Seongnam confronts a flustered Master Toji, who softly proclaims “what goes around comes around” when discovering his medicine was being used to treat the Crown Prince. The physician suggests something went wrong during treatment, defending himself against allegations of tampering by clearly pleading his case as someone who simply “prescribed things to break up blood clots,” and suggested no more acupuncture for the ill heir. Meanwhile, the Queen, in a resilient mood, tells her staff it is time to “mobilise my people whom I planted throughout the palace.” As we see, this means constant tabs are kept on the Crown Prince, as well as those around him.
Next, Won-hyeong tells Soo-gwang that the deposition of the Crown Prince will begin to be discussed publicly, hoping his colleague can begin these talks. Doubtful, Soo-gwang wants to know who is planned to be the next heir, believing Queen Dowager Cho is more interested in that side of things. However, such concerns fade fast when Won-hyeong offers his ally the chance to have his daughter become the next Crown Princess, should his end of the aforementioned request be fulfilled. Yet this might not be an easy process, as the lively Cheong-ha seems more interested in looks than status, which may ultimately harm Soo-gwang’s intentions.
The next day, the King hears the opinions of his officials who want the Crown Prince deposed. Nevertheless, their requests are declined, thanks to His Majesty’s dedication in wanting to keep his son as his heir despite illness. Cynically, Won-hyeong plays to the King in this meeting, defending the Crown Prince’s status, something swiftly revealed to be part of his wider plan to “make the opposition of His Majesty clearer.” Put simply, he wants to overthrow the King, using the same tactic that put him on the throne in the first place.
As the Queen Dowager seeks to remind the King of her group’s cause, His Majesty expresses his need to rest. Thus, he heads to drink with Consort Tae, quizzing Prince Bogeom on his opinion on the potential deposition of the Crown Prince while he is there (which confirms the power struggle). “Even if you grant their request, do not fall for their scheme,” the cohort wisely says here. Elsewhere, the Queen leaves her quarters to check on her continuing suspicions.
With unrest growing amongst the royal court, the Queen has an audience with the deposed Queen Yoon. Desperate for knowledge, Hwa-ryeong asks if there is any evidence to underpin the former royal’s belief that Crown Prince Taein did not die of hyeolheogwol, only to be met with complete reluctance. “To be honest with you, I hope your son will die,” Yoon bluntly, but emotionally, states, before elaborating that such a thing would be “retribution” given the current royal court was established once the deposed Queen’s children were killed. Sternly, Hwa-ryeong claims she will accept her son’s fate with humility if this really is retribution, but will get to the bottom of things “using all my resources as the Queen” if this is down to human intervention.
“Once I find out the truth I shall kill those who harmed my son with my own hands,” the Queen informs a shaken Yoon, causing an agreement to be struck between the two that will see the former fulfil a currently unknown favour requested by the latter in exchange for information. Then, it’s said that the symptoms between the current Crown Prince and the late Taein are different, meaning the deceased royal was killed. Yoon adds that the killer told her of this in person, with the culprit being Queen Dowager Cho. Suddenly noticing the parallels between past and present, Hwa-ryeong is noticeably upset.
Alone, the King is faced by Queen Dowager Cho, who warns him that he will be overthrown should he not keep his men happy, due to his status as the son of a concubine. It’s made clear by the elder that deposing the Crown Prince is the correct option, even if the current heir to the throne happens to be her grandson. Naturally, Won-hyeong is on hand to quickly join in and play his part too, with the high-ranking official acting as if he attempted to change the minds of those in the royal court to no avail.
Fortunately, the Queen arrives with a bold declaration that nobody will be deposed, questioning the unfair request being made by the royal court, wishing to know if they want the Crown Prince to die. Hwa-ryeong passionately suggests the blame is put on herself and all of the officials instead, “for failing to protect the Crown Prince,” as he has done nothing wrong. Comparing the royal court to bandits pressuring His Majesty, the Queen vocalises her anger in the fact a commotion is being caused when focus should be on protecting the heir to the throne. At that point, the King appears for himself, wanting his men to consider Hwa-ryeong’s words as his own, while rejecting the request for deposition firmly by threatening to accuse anyone who discusses the matter further with treason.
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 5 ending
Shockingly though, bad news is on the horizon, and the Queen is called upon to meet with the awoken Crown Prince in his final moments. He wants to hear that his mother will remain strong, as that will allow him to “die in peace.” However, Hwa-ryeong is too late, and her son is already dead by the time she arrives at his bedside. Crying painfully, the Queen crawls to the Crown Prince, and vows to keep her promise, telling him to rest in peace. With emotions high around the palace, the episode ends with a quick look back at the deceased royal’s relationship with Grand Prince Seongnam.
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