Alright y’all, this show is bonkers crazy. We watched the first two episodes over Thanksgiving break and were immediately pulled into its weird vortex. I will give a little taste of the first 4 episodes below. But so much happened so it is really just a small taste of the main storyline. Impressively, they do not move away from the main storyline that much if at all.
Just to let you know, this show is set in a world were Korea still has its Royal family, though they do not control politics. They operate more like The English Royal family in that they live to serve and are beloved by all Koreans. But this family has issues, y’all, which is probably what this entire drama is about.
THE LAST EMPRESS RECAPS
EPISODES 1-4 SUMMARY
Okay, a lot of things happened in the previous two hours of episode. We open the entire story on a big police raid at the palace where a body is dug up of a woman who was pregnant with twins. Then we rewind a year earlier (I think it was a year) to another event at the palace. It is an “Eat lunch with the Emperor” event where people write in and asks for the privilege to dine with the Emperor.
Ssu-Ni is one of the lucky guests there (but I will spell her name as Suni for the recap) along with a lot of other normal Korean citizens. Suni happily tells the emperor that he should come to her play where she will be the lead. However, one of the Korean citizens is a person who is pretending to have a disability but actually has a vendetta against the Emperor and tries to hold him hostage with a bunch of other people. Guns blast, lost of people are shot, a fire is set, long story short, Suni saves he Emperor but it is a thankless task.
I will skip a lot, the real story starts rolling when we find out that the Emperors first wife died previously. Now he is having an affair with Yoo-ra (I will probably spell her name as Yura for the recap) who works for the royals in the palace. The mother hates that and has cameras all around her sons room to spy on him. She fires Yura.
Well, Yura tells Hyuk that his mama fired her so Hyuk just reinstates her and they have a lovers evening on an island near Seoul. But while there, they accidentally kill a woman. It is an event, basically this woman is Yura’s foster mother. Yura tried to kill her first but then Hyuk ran her over in his car on accident (I know, it is that kind of show). So now they have to get rid of the body.
While trying to get rid of the body, they accidentally get caught by overweight Wang-sik who was Yura’s hometown boo that she has been trying to lose ever since she turned the head of the Emperor. The woman they killed is his birth mama, y’all (everything is connected in this show). They manage to get away and cover it all up.
They cover it all up by putting the body on another street, burning the car (Yura was in it, I know, it’s complicated), and sending the Emperor to Suni’s play so that he would have an alibi. They also get some thugs to put a bullet in the sons head as he takes a dive off a cliff.
The public starts to think that Suni and the Emperor might be dating, but the emperor insists that he is just her fan. However, the mother wants to do something with this. Cut to a public family birthday party for the grandmother, at the palace. The Emperor is about to tell the world that Yura is his woman, but just as he is about to do it – Suni comes in as a surprise guest of the Mother. Everyone is stunned. That is where the fourth episode ended.
We open right were the last episode ended with Suni showing up at this public birthday party for the grandmother. The wife goes up to her and welcomes her amidst the cameras flashing. She tells everyone that Suni saved the Emperors life when he was in danger, that is how they became close. The grandmother is stunned to hear it and thanks Suni, she is abashed that she is seeing this precious person so late.
The reporters ask if it is true that they are dating? Can they take her as the future princess? Is it true that you are dating? But Suni slows this show right on down and says that she is there to give a performance.
Cut to the very out of place performance that looks so much more like an elaborate karaoke party than a chic palace performance. Signals all around to cut this performance short. But the grandmother loves it and goes up to dance with Suni. So the mother and son and sister all start to stiffly clap instead of kick her out.
Elsewhere, Suni’s father, Geum-mo is working and talking with his daughter. She asks about Suni. We see a flashback to him meeting with someone. He mets with a woman and is given a lot of money for his daughters service. It is money for him to raise his daughter well, but they have one request. They will invite his daughter for the congratulation party. his daughter asks him what he is thinking and if he made even more trouble? If you did then I will go anywhere else! She storms out.
Back at the palace, the grandmother gives Suni a bit of her pocket money. But Suni says that she will not accept money today because her team has already been paid. She looks over to the mother smiling hesitantly. The grandmother says that she really loved the party. Outside, the mother tells an assistant to send fruit and “this” to Sunmi’s house. She hands her an envelope.
The secretary asks if this is too much? You already sent $30,000 to the father. It makes me think that they will expect more money later. The mother thinks that is good, they only want money so it is easy to control them. Oh Suni came to the palace for money, those poor people can sell their pride for money so ust follow my order.
The son overhears all of this. But then Suni comes out and asks him if he liked her performance? She tried hard to have it but did not have enough time. He puts on a fake smile and tells her that his grandmother was happy so that is all they need. Suni thanks him for the custom tailored clothing he sent her. He smiles an says that he hopes everything they give her fits well. But by the way, I did not call you here.
Yura comes out all of a sudden and says that the body guard will take her out. She should be tired, this is the Emperors gratitude to you. She turns to the emperor, he tells her to take care and then goes inside. Suni happily says goodbye and heads out. But they both watch Suni walking out.
Yuri tells him that he did a good job today. But he says that she is so annoying, they should take care of Suni before his mother does anything else. Yura says that she did not think his mother would act first, but they should be able to find a way.
Elsewhere, Suni gets home and has a congratulatory dinner with her father and sister about going to the palace. They toast even though Suni says that it was just a performance, they are not in that kind of relationship. but the father thinks they are since she said “us”. But the sister yells at appa and says that he is writing a drama. She said it is nothing so it is nothing. he has no reason to marry her, they are two different people since the day there were born.
Appa say that they can dream right? But the sister tells them both to get real and look at themselves and their house. Suni peeps her appearance and yells, okay okay! i know! But appa asks her to visit the sea and ask him his true heart. Suni thinks about this.
In the castle, Yura walks through a gorgeous indoor botanical garden (Hwayugi’s botanical garden?). The mother told her to come to her garden so she can give her something for the King. But several secret service people pull Yuri away when she gets there.
Cut to the sea. An ajusshi walks along it with his dog and sees our guy, Wang-sik washed up on the shore. But then he also sees secret service gangster style people walking up. They ask him if he has seen this man and shows them a photo. the man shakes his head. PJ, tells them to look around over there. But the dog starts barking at them viciously. The man says that she just had a baby so she is sensitive, just leave her alone. PJ tells his thugs that they need to find him dead or alive. Go to the hospital first.
They head out. The man rolls over Wang-sik and wonders what he did for those thugs to look for him. The man takes Wang-sik to a random doctor. Wang-sik is blue from hypothermia and wants to take him to the hospital. But the man tells the doctor, no, that it is fate if he dies like this. He instead takes him to a location in the woods to nurse him back to health himself. At Wang-sik isn’t blue anymore. The man looks in Wang-sik’s wallet and sees his family photo.
In the palace, Yuri is in a cement container and is about to have cement poured all over her (yes, Lawd). She tells them that the emperor already loves her so do you think it will change ? The secretary tells her that she does not deserve any mercy, start. They start to pour the cement over her and it is seriously dousing her in cement. But they stop when she is all covered in cement and tells her that they can just bury her in a cement block and no one will care.
The mother tells her this and tells her to just leave you greedy low class person that is messing up the Emperor. A little rat will die today in the sewer. They start to pour the cement again. But a door opens. It is halmoni! She tells them to stop this right now! And take her to the hospital!
Two guards pull Yuri out of the cement. Yuri gives the mother a “Haha, B***h” look as she is carried out. Flashback to Yuri telling the grandmother everything that is going on and to have the mother followed, then she will know.
Cut to the present scene with the grandmother giving the mother licks across the calves as the secretary cries on the floor about how it is not the mothers fault, it is my fault! But the grandmother tells her that it is the superiors fault! I will hit her 100 times! The mother tells the secretary to leave.
The grandmother keeps hitting the mother in the calve and asks her how she can treat someone who works for them like that? the mother says that she was just warning her because she did not respect them. But the grandmother yells that this is about human dignity! Then she yells for Yura to be let in.
Yura walks in looking normal. The mother hides her red bloody calves. The grandmother tells Kang to apologize to Yura right now. Kang does not want to but the grandmother says that Yura is not someone working there, she works for them. Kang says that she will not, she would rather be hit more. The mother is all like, if you want me to. But I will tell everyone in the country what you have done. Do you think I will not? If you are okay that our Royal family will disappear in the country then do whatever you want.
This quiets the mother so she apologizes to Yura. Yura smiles, but she pretends like she is so thankful that she is not hated anymore. The grandmother says that she will take care of Kang. Then she tells Kang to stop messing with the emperors marriage anymore. Kang says that she is his mother, why can’t she do it? The grandmother says that he already has a past pain. So this time he will marry who he likes, not who you like. The mother does not like hearing that.
Afterward, outside the mother tells Yura that she is like a 9 tailed fox. Yura confidently steps to the mother and tells her not to step on her, or she will get hurt. The secretary tries to slap her but her hand is caught by Yura. The mother stops the secretary. Yura tells he mother that she will keep is quiet from the Emperor and she will also keep this secret from others. They continue to have their face off. The mother tells her that she will have pain from losing. Yura tells the mother that she does not know who will lose. then Yura walks off. The mother tells her people to find out all they can about Yura.
Cut to inside the palace. Suni is meeting with the Emperor, she just showed up and brought him a lunch that she prepared herself. He told her that he does not eat just any food. She says that she knows he only eats good things, but I made it all by myself. However she senses something and asks him if she shouldn’t be there? he smiles and says yes. But she then she asks why he was so good to her? Why did he shake her heart?
He tells her that he is just her fan, no more than that. he is sorry if he made her confused but he is not sure if he can see her as a fan anymore because they are a bit uncomfortable now. She tries to understand and wipes her tears away. She tells him that he can keep the lunch box and is sorry to bother him. then she walks out of the palace crying.
She walks right past Yura who smiles as she sees her. Then Yura goes inside the Emperors room just as he tells his servants to throw the dinner away. He is happy to see Yura thought and says that she is the only one that he wants. He tells her that PJ took care of everything on the island. He took care of the son of the witness too. Yura is stunned to hear it but he tells her not to talk about that anymore.
Then he props her up on the table and starts kissing her. But her mind is on Wang-sik.
Wong-sik wakes up suddenly on the island. He had a flashback to falling into the water and then has a ringing in his head. The dog starts barking as several thugs show up outside. The man is out there to great them, but the thugs just walk right in and start searching everywhere.
They go to the room Wang-sik was in, but he is not there. There are pain killers there though. The man says that belongs to him. But PJ tells his men to keep searching. They go to a room full of hay. Wong-sik is hiding inside the hay. PJ starts stabbing the hay and actually stabs Wong-sik! Blood starts dripping out, but PJ does not notice it. The man notices it though and releases his dog as a last resort.
The dog jumps on the men which causes the men to stop searching. The man tells them not to hurt his dog, it is his only family. Luckily, they don’t and just leave. Wong-sik hops out and holds a pitch fork to the man, but the man is able to convince him that he is there to help.
Cut to a Rambo style moment where the man starts to clean and dress Wang-sik’s arm wound as Wang-sik bites onto something. the man is Byun and tells Wang-sik that he needs to have surgery so he should go to the hospital. This is all I can do. But Wang-sik pleads for the man to help him. He knows he is being followed.
Byun tells him that he does not want to be involved in this conflict. Just go away. Wang-sik tells him that his mother died unfairly, he needs to get his revenge. Byun tells him that all men have that kind of story, just leave. he kicks him out. Wang sik grabs some fire and starts burning the hay. Byun comes out and tells him that he is repaying him by burning his house down?
But Wang-sik just lights some more things on fire and tells him that he wants him to save his life! Just save my life!
In the city, Suni sits in her room and basically tells her father that the Emperor does not like her. But she will be super successful anyway.
At the palace, a man bows to Kang and gives her paperwork that was in the car. he might be a security officer.
Letter – Sorry I could not be next to you until the end. The prime suspect car, I will get rid of it and also disappear. Thank you for letting me be your woman.
END PART ONE
Yura goes to the island and starts to clear all her belonging out of her old house. But then she hears a boy cry and goes to see what is happening. In the cafe, PJ is harassing the little boy, DS, about where his brother is. Yura comes in and asks him what he is doing!
they go outside and talk about all that is going on. She basically tells him that she never lived there and asked how Ajumma’s funeral was. PJ says that he has not had time. She wonders if she hasn’t been cremated yet? He asks her if anyone has taken the body? Yura tells him that if any evidence comes from her body then they are all dead.
They both leave to go to the funeral home to retrieve the body. But the guardian already took the body, Na Wang-sik. Yura is stunned to see that Wang-sik signed for the body. She heads out flustered and shocked then calls someone and tells them that “that person” took the body? It does not make any sense! If Wang-sik is still alive and took the body then you are responsible for everything!
She hangs up and beats her steering wheel. But then she sees the body in her car! It looks like the ghost of the mother looking at her? Or maybe it is the real body? Yura falls out of her car and is then tied up by several of the palace guards. this must be what the mother asked them to do.
Cut to Yura tied up in the middle of the Palace for punishment. Hyuk is out there in his night robes to see what this is all about. He yells at his mother to un tie her. But the mother says that she will not, she was involved in a murder! The son confesses that he is the one. But the mother says that it is not you. Then she plays a recording that Yura told the police about confessing for the crime. Also the dead body is in her car.
Emperor Hyuk tries to say that he is the one responsible for everything but the mother says it is Yura. Yura tries to yell and defend Hyuk but mama Kang just tells her to shut up, criminal. Then she tells her son that even as Emperor he should be responsible what what he did. Hyuk asks if she is abandoning him? She tells him that he is only hr son and emperor if he is under her protection, otherwise he is not. If you want to get out from under my protection then i will not stop you.
She tells him that the police are outside, tell them what you did. Yura starts to yell that she did it. But Hyuk tells her to shut up. the mother starts to yell at them both and says that one of them has to be the criminal. Hyuk looks around, everyone avoids eye contact with him.
Hyuk falls to his knees to the surprise of everyone. He apologizes.
H- I am sorry, I will make sure that this does not happen anymore. Don’t be angry, please don’t do anything to Yura.
He bows his head and starts crying. His mother walks to his and lifts him back up lovingly. She tells him that he should have been with her from the beginning, this would not have happened at all. Why do you like a bad woman like that?
he asks what she wants, he will follow her will.
Kang – Get married to Oh Suni.
Hyuk is stunned and Yura grovels at the mothers feet. No! You cant!
Cut to Hyuk and Yura in his room. She tells him that he can’t. He tells her that this is the best way that they can save them both. But she falls to the ground and says that she can’t see him become someone else’s man. She would rather die in jail. But he tells her that he can’t see her go to jail. She sobs, are you really going to marry Oh Suni?
he walks to her side and tells her that, if he can protect her, marriage is nothing. Oh Suni is the only method where he can protect them both. They hug, and the camera scrolls out on Hyuk’s face looking pissed.
On the island, Wang-sik and Byun are on better terms as they look at the news and eat. Hyuk is on the news for something great. But Wang-sik breaks his glass in his fist with rage. Byun asks if he has a grudge against the Emperor? Everyone likes him. Wang-sik tells him that they are all fake! But he sees a scroll along the bottom of the screen that says the palace is looking for officers.
Byun and Wang-sik start to clean up their meal. But Wang-sik falls to the ground. Byun tells him that he needs to get his head checked out since he was shot in the head. But Wang-sik is more concerned about his little brother, he needs to get to him.
In the city, Appa calls Suni and tells her that she need to come to a family meeting and to dress well. Suni shows up to an expensive restaurant were her sister and father sitting looking very dressy. But Suni did not dress up. She wonders why they are eating there. Then she knows because the Emperor shows up. Suni is a bit taken aback, and looks annoyed, to see him.
Appa tells her that the Emperor prepared all of this. there are jewelry gifts for them all as well. But Suni tells them to leave. The sister drags the father off, though the father does manage to grab a bit of the jewelry before he goes.
Cut to the Emperor and Suni eating together, alone. Suni is less than thrilled to be there. He asks her if she feels uncomfortable. She says yes, she feels uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. Last time he drew the line and said he was just a fan, but now he is taking care of her family? Why are you confusing me?
Hyuk explains that he was confused about his emotions. In retrospect, he was not just a fan. Suni tells him that they live in different worlds so he can be curious about those things, but that is just it. He senses that she is angry so he wants to apologize and says that he missed her a lot. But she yells at him to not talk about those things. One thing she is sure of is that they are not a good match. So lets just live within our class.
The king thinks this is not as easy as he thought i would be.
Suni gets to the theater. There is a huge buffet for them all to eat. A catered buffet for them all to work hard today. She asks them what is going on? They wonder the same thing and motion to the sign of the person that bought it all, the King. In the back, the King talks to the producer about changing the main actress due to personal connections. Did you change the main actress because the family gave you money? is that how you are a director? Return everything back the way it goes. I do not like unfair things!
The director/producer knees quickly and apologizes. The King tells him that he wants a fair play so actors like Oh Suni can be recognized. Then he walks off after doing what he came there to do. Suni watched all of this secretly and tries to figure out what this Emperor wants. Why are you testing me….arhhhh.
A mysterious man goes to the shop and gets the little boy. He has to defeat ac couple of the thugs to do it. This mysterious man is Byun. He takes the little boy back to his place where there is a lovely reunion between Wong-sik and his little brother.
The head thug guy is pissed and beats up all his men.
In the woods, Wong-sik prepares food for them all but he does not eat it – he runs!
In the city, the director sucks up to Suni again and has reinstated her as the main. She accepts his apology and asks if anyone is coming to watch? is it all empty? Cut to the theater play, it is hella packed. We are privy to a little bit of the play and it is actually a really cute production.
She starts to sing a song about love as she stands on the stage. But then the King starts to sing and comes out on the stage. Everyone is shocked in the audience. Suni is shocked as well. (He is a really good singer, wow). They finish up the song with Suni looking shocked as she sings along. Hyuk looks at the balcony where there is a tiny orchestra there. They start to play.
Hyuk tells Suni that this was his best performance and wants to give her a bouquet. But she just rails at him about doing nice things for her. Stop that! if you keep doing those things, then I will keep falling for you! He touches her cheek and apologizes, then he kneels and asks her if she will accept his heart as he presents the flowers to her.
She happily hugs him; they both stand and he presents her with a ring as well. Then he kisses her to applause from the crowd.
Cut to Wong-sik screaming and holding his head. He takes a pain killer and then the old man dumps him in the sea? It looks like the old man dips him deep into the water in the dark.
He tells him that revenge is important, but you don’t have too much time left. The man puts his jacket on Wong-sik. Wong-sik asks him what kind of person he is. The man says, dont’ you know, I am an old man that gets seas shells and plants. WS tells him that he knows he is not a normal person. I beg you, please, teach me!
Byun tells him that he does not know what he is talking about! Cut to a very cool looking Byun. Wong-sik tells him that he wants to be a Royal bodyguard, I have someone I want to kill!
CUE ROCKY MUSIC (I do not believe this)
Montage of Wong-sik training and learning how to be a super secret spy. He is scaling mountain clifs y’all.
Then we see Wong-sik cutting his hair and the camera scrolls around his head to reveal his new handsome stoic statuesque look. His new name is Chun Woo-bin.
We cut directly to the palace where everyone is standing in a circle outside like Enter the Dragon and for some reason the Emperor is firing his gun around at all of them. then he holds his gun out to Woo-bin (Won-sik). But Woo-bin does not cower and instead disarms the Emperor and points the gun back at him!
Everyone is stunned.
Oh my goodness, this show is so crazy. They really just played Rocky music and did a throwback Kung Fu getting ready montage were the chubby guy morphed into a sexy assassin. That seriously just happened, y’all! AND I LOVE IT. We are all set to get this drama on our recapping schedule. We will probably start recapping this on around 11am CST after Encounter/Boyfriend! Has anyone watched The Last Empress yet? If so, how did you like it?
Kang – take off her uniform
YR – I am sorry! I am sorry!
SN – This is my gift to you. It will make our love sprout.
Kang – Please fire Min Yura right away. That is my last warning to you.
Kang – They are all my mom!
kang – I am going to take everything from her one by one.
YR – Use that woman.
SN – Bodyguard? What is your name?
Byun – It starts now. That place is not an easy place.
So glad that you will be aftercapping this. I watched the first hour last night after reading so many bad reviews and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun this was. It is campy in one of those crack-addiction like ways. You know you shouldn’t watch but you cannot help it. And now in today’s episode they have Shin Sung-Rok sing!?! (IIRC, he started off acting in musicals.) Can’t wait to see how this show develops!
His singing was amazing! It is hard to believe that this show has bad reviews and yet not hard to believe at all 😂. I like it so far!
V! So so happy that you’ll be recapping this show. It was crazy but in a good way and all I needed to see was Choi Jin Hyuk and I’m all in!! Thank you for catching up and tomorrow’s ep is going to be all Choi Jin Hyuk!!! 😍
Hi, it’s already in the category it’s so bad that it’s so good. I love watching it for my weekly makjang does along with feel good to die. Though it will high on the list to drop show!
Thanks for recapping!!!
Loving this show. It is like no other out there. The four main actors and an outrageous plot. I am ready for this ride!
Did Wang Shik transform via just diet and exercise? If that is so I think I will take my diet and exercise more seriously!
He did! 😂🤣
I just finished watching ep 1-2 and decided to read the recap before watching the rest of it (still have a lot of backlog kdramas to watch 😂)…..oh my god! I thought i was in a twilight zone!! 😂😂😂😂…i did not expect it to be a comedy kind of kdrama (and we thought Terius was already crazy? 😂😂😂😂)
Thanks V for the recap of this….my head is still spinning from this alternate world 😂😂😂😂
It is hard to believe that this show is even wackier than Terius. In fact, this show makes Terius look pretty tame in comparison.
Ikr? Thinking of the head of the horse in Clean with Passion then the craziness of this drama….i just cant help but laugh my a$$ out! 😂😂😂😂😂 (still cant move on with that horse head 😂😂😂)