[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “Ruler: Master of the Mask” Episodes 5-6

[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “Ruler: Master of the Mask” Episodes 5-6

Cheong-eun (played by Shin Hyun-soo) is, to date, the only ally Prince Seon has with any appreciable combat skills. This is put to use immediately, as Cheong-eun has to help Prince Seon fight his way out of last episode’s cliffhanger. The ensuing chase, while not making the best logistical sense is very tense and action-packed. The real shocker, though, is how a confrontation between the King’s men and an organized crime gang ends with King Yoon telling them to back off.

Yep, these two episodes are pretty big downers. Reunited with his father, a badly freaked out Prince Seon tries to explain the overall situation only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that Dae-mok is apparently the real power in Joseon and will murder them all if anyone tries to cross him. A complete absence of any possible succor only makes the situation worse. We’re at the point where Prince Seon’s secret identity is causing more problems than solutions, since too many of the bad guys know what he looks like.

Although that does beg the question- is Hwa-goon a good girl or a bad girl? It’s tempting to read her debating with Dae-mok so forwardly to not kill Prince Seon as a point in Hwa-goon’s favor. But for all Hwa-goon’s complex rationalizations we, who have actually seen the way Hwa-goon looks at Prince Seon, know full well that she’s just a smart teenager utilizing every method at her disposal to get a shot at the local high school dreamboat.

That’s one of the odder aspects of “Ruler: Master of the Mask” so far, is how even though Ga-eun and the other Seon have higher billing, so far Hwa-goon is the character to watch. I like Hwa-goon quite a bit so I don’t mind this so much, but it does kind of reduce the actual female lead to just reacting helplessly to injustice. When even Prince Seon is completely at the mercy of Dae-mok’s grand conspiracy, at that point we’re kind of excessively hopeless.

But then maybe that’s just the high quality pulp writing that’s making me think that. I know that logically, the heroes always win in situations like this, and the tension comes from wondering just how exactly they’re going to do it. And of course, the sixth episode cliffhanger follows through on this pattern perfectly. Even if he saves this measly life, how can Prince Seon win the war from a position this bad?

Review by William Schwartz

“Ruler: Master of the Mask” is directed by Noh Do-cheol Park Won-gook, written by Jeong Hae-ri Park Hye-jin-II, and features Yoo Seung-ho, Kim So-hyun, L, Yoon So-hee, Heo Joon-ho and Park Chul-min.

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Ruler: Master of the Mask