Review – Empress Ki (Sageuks, Not Sanity!)
I feel like the most important thing everyone should know before committing 51 hours of your life to a historical drama is this… you will never get so torn up over whether or not two people will be in the same room together as you will in these slow burn historical romances. Just intensely looking at each other in silence turns into the most erotic of experiences. Holding hands? Gasp! Someone bring the fire extinguisher because you’re gonna be BURNING UP!
I know it sounds ridiculous. It really defies reason, in this day and age, that we can revert back to grade school romance so quickly, no matter how old we are… but such is the power of the historical drama. Such is the power of Empress Ki. There is literally a scene where two grown men are fighting over who is going to covertly hold a woman’s hand in a dark room and the stakes have never been higher! Who will win? Which hand will she hold?! I imagine a bookie is literally taking bets from an excited audience at this point (“$15 on the Emperor!” – “Put me down for $100 on Wang Yu!”) – cause it’s like… what… episode 17 and it’s hard to explain but by then you’re just INTO IT and you’re ready to scream “Chuna!” and “Kill Me!” and the spell has been cast. You are committed to these characters and their stories and this love triangle is EVERYTHING – it’s not just about two men and a woman, it’s about two countries fighting for power and you know this woman is going to be key… but it’s also about love and you kinda want her to lean left, no right, no left, no right! Curses! They’re both so awesome! And deep down you know you’ll probably sit through 51 hours of this show and never even get any tongue, cause if Queen Seondeok taught us anything, it’s that you’re going to have to take those chapters to the fan fiction forums. Does that stop you from chewing your nails off as the intensity between these people increases? Hell no! Cause… we’ve got mega intense hand holding happening here! And who knows what might be next… there could be a dramatic rescue scene or some heartbreaking sacrifice or… a hug… oh my god, they might hug! THERE COULD BE HUGGING!!! And that might as well be uncensored porn, because that’s how rewired your brain has become watching these shows. I say this without irony. This really happens.
And while watching something this long… you may be tempted to start skimming. DO NOT DO THIS. You can skim all you want the second time you watch it, but the first time it is vital that you watch it – every scene – just as it is. The pacing is important. The details are important. The people are important. And yeah… it’s freakin’ crazy long. So take a break if you need to – watch another drama and come back to it. You do not have to binge Empress Ki. I watched about 32 episodes of this before I had to stop – and then I didn’t return for a while. When I did return, the last chunk of eps flew by with babies, deaths, madness and intrigue. I’m glad I took a break, though – cause even with the break, that’s still a heck of a lot of time to spend with one show. After a while, you kinda start to get wonky. But hey… I don’t need sanity, I need Sageuks!
Empress Ki is bound to live on for some time as one of the great historical dramas… and it is well deserved. The character development alone is worth the price of admission. The amazing acting, the incredible sets, the drool inducing costumes… it was a work of art.
Empress Ki is divided into two sections – PRE CONCUBINE Eps 1-24 and POST CONCUBINE eps 25-51. Both sections are cool. There are also “two houses” in this play… and two men, both the heads of each, vying for the same women.
I felt like my grandmother was in the room lecturing on me on the importance of finding a man who “needs me” over a man who “wants me.” According to grandmother, a woman who is needed is never taken for granted and will always live a happier life. I’m not sure if that’s true – but this show was definitely the perfect example of a man who Needs You and a man who Wants You. The Emperor needed her. And the King wanted her. Let’s face it, though… it feels nice to have either type of love… and to have both, well… that’s kinda the plot.
Overall Rating – 9/10. To Be Needed Is To Be Loved.
More musings… and SPOILERS