It’s the beginning of a new arc for real this time with this episode. We have resolved the Won Shin-Yoon Kang conflict, and it’s time to start the real war in Joseon.
Emperor Gojong delivers his shocking verdict to everyone, but it’s not done without guilt and regrets. Gojong knows that he’s killing an innocent man, which shows how powerless he is. He’s not in a position to fight back against the conservatives without the proper evidence.
Won Shin is let out of his cell, and as he passes by Yoon Kang he gives one piece of advice: The next time he has a shot, he shouldn’t hesitate. Otherwise his target will have disappeared by then. That jerk. Once out, his first order of business is to visit Leader Kim and thank him for helping to get him out. Leader Kim isn’t too forgiving though because he won’t help the next time. If he ever gets caught, it’s better if Won Shin just offs himself. That’s all okay with Won Shin, who is already plotting with VP Kim to make sure they both wield more power than Leader Kim eventually.
Poor Soo In tries to stay strong for Yeon Ha but she ends up dissolving in tears, thus giving Yeon Ha the bad news that Yoon Kang could not save himself. They will go see Yoon Kang in the morning wearing their prettiest dresses to send him off with a good memory of themselves.
Soo In first goes to visit Yoon Kang that evening with her father escorting her. She wanted to see her love one more time and assure him that Yeon Ha is doing well at her home. He doesn’t want them to see him off tomorrow because he’d rather they not be in pain. Just when they were allowed to be happy together they’re torn apart again! Yoon Kang makes Soo In promise to not be sad when he leaves. He wants her to act just like she did before all this happened.
The following morning Yoon Kang is carted through the streets in his wooden cage to his death. Soo In and Yeon Ha arrive wearing their brightest dresses, trying to stay strong and give him a parting smile through the tears. His execution location seems quite far as he must be transported through the woods.
Suddenly the guards escorting him are attacked. A band of black-robed assassins appear and one of them looks very much like Moon Il Do. The assassins attack all of the guards and during the chaos, Yoon Kang takes the opportunity to kick his cage door open and get out. Some guards try to hold him but he takes them down handily even with his arms tied up. Then an assassin knocks him out.
Yoon Kang comes to a while later in a small hut. One of the assassins is in the room with him, and reveals himself to be none other than Moon Il Do. Now that Yoon Kang’s awake, there’s someone to see him.
And finally, we get a look at the man who orchestrated Yoon Kang’s escape: Emperor Gojong himself. It takes Yoon Kang a moment to recognize him without the kingly robes, and Gojong apologizes that he had to sentence him to death first to in order to save him. The emperor never forgot about Park Jin Han and is still trying to find a way to avenge his friend’s wrongful death and bring down the conservative party. However it’s difficult, and so he would like it if Yoon Kang would join his side.
It’s like all my dreams from the beginning of the series are coming true. Yoon Kang is finally fully revealed to Moon Il Do and the king, and they are finally given that opportunity to band together and bring down Leader Kim.
Surprisingly though, Yoon Kang rejects his offer. He’s a bit too self-righteous in my opinion, as he doesn’t want to achieve justice the king’s way. If he can’t kill Won Shin with his own two hands he’d rather just die. Moon Il Do is angered by Yoon Kang’s impertinence because Yoon Kang makes it seem like he’s the only one doing anything about Park Jin Han’s death. There’s so many ways to go about it, but Yoon Kang chooses – and believes in – taking action to solve it.
Gojong accepts Yoon Kang’s decision and lets him go, leaving the door open for Yoon Kang to return to him any time if he decides to join his cause.
Back at home Soo In’s mother frets about her daughter’s condition because she’s not crying. I guess that is a little strange considering that your love has essentially died twice. Ho Kyung tries to comfort Soo In but finds that she’s in no need of comforting. She’s keeping her promise to Yoon Kang of trying to be happy and go back to her old life.
Won Shin then visits Minister Min to thank him for everything the good man has done. The bribe from much earlier is still weighing on the minister’s mind, and he wants nothing to do with Won Shin anymore. But Won Shin wants to give him one more gift. Minister Min tries to refuse it but Won Shin also added something for the Queen, and he wants the minister to pass it along. The fact that Won Shin has gifted something for the Queen twice now makes me suspicious of that woman’s allegiances. (And I’m not even going by historical facts.) It will be very difficult for Gojong if his wife is actually on the side of the conservatives.
Won Shin returns home to find Hye Won all packed up and ready to leave. She needs some time away from her father and so will be staying in Mapo Port for the time being. She’ll work on their business and find a way to become more powerful and richer without having to curry favor from the lords like her father did. Just then Sung Gil delivers news that Yoon Kang is not dead and managed to escape. Well isn’t that just great for Won Shin?
Gojong pretends to be outraged at the news of assassins having freed Yoon Kang, putting on a show of so much outrage that it feels almost fake. VP Kim assures the emperor that they’ll do everything they can to capture the assassins and arrest Yoon Kang, but it seems like he knows that Gojong was behind all of it. VP Kim complains to Leader Kim about Gojong’s “abuse of power” but Leader Kim won’t do anything until they capture Yoon Kang first. They need Yoon Kang to say something along the likes of, “The Emperor saved me after sentencing me to death” to remove Gojong from his seat.
Meanwhile a new visitor is in town and his first stop is to go to Yoon Kang’s estate. Je Mi tries to shoo him away because Yoon Kang is dead, but the visitor doesn’t think Yoon Kang could die so easily. The visitor is none other than Kim Ok Gyun, scholar and Yoon Kang’s savior. He tells Je Mi to relay a message to Yoon Kang (which is odd if you still think Yoon Kang is dead) and then spots a mysterious figure rushing into one of the rooms.
Ok Gyun follows, and is almost immediately attacked by Yoon Kang. Thankfully Yoon Kang recognizes him before he chokes the poor guy. The two catch up, and Ok Gyun is actually disappointed to hear that Yoon Kang has taken up the gun to kill his father’s enemies. He reminds Yoon Kang that the only way to really get justice is to act on a bigger scale and change the system. Translation: work with the king and bring down the corrupt conservatives. If Yoon Kang just kills the people, others will take their place and there will just be more people to kill.
But Yoon Kang doesn’t want to listen to reason. He’d rather achieve justice with his gun.
Yoon Kang changes his clothes and grabs his gun in his secret room, and suddenly he hears visitors in his room. Won Shin and his men have barged in looking for Yoon Kang. Kanemaru, Sang Chu, and Je Mi stop Won Shin in his tracks. Now that Yoon Kang is dead, Kanemaru is now in charge. And if Won Shin respects that and the deal with Yamamoto then he should leave too. Kanemaru speaks in a mix of Japanese and his newly learned Korean, and adds a dash of intense squinting to make Won Shin leave without further ado.
Kanemaru sends everyone away to their work and takes in the surroundings. I guess it’s because he misses Yoon Kang? In any case, when he’s alone Yoon Kang emerges from his hidden room, which is actually right behind his armoire! Kanemaru is surprised to see him alive and coming from a secret room, and he now understands why Yoon Kang wanted such a complicated home like this one.
Yoon Kang shows him his secret lair and apologizes for not having told him the truth as he wanted to protect Kanemaru. And here I’m just cheering at the fact that Kanemaru is now fully on his side and can help his cause! Yoon Kang puts Kanemaru in charge of the store, but doesn’t want him to tell Yamamoto anything about his condition just yet.
Won Shin fully believes that Kanemaru knows of Yoon Kang’s identity and is helping him too. He puts Sung Gil on Soo In’s tail: He needs Yeon Ha now to draw Yoon Kang out and he believes Soo In would know where that girl is.
At that moment, Soo In is telling Yeon Ha the good news that Yoon Kang is most likely alive because he escaped. It’s such a relief for both of them, and Yeon Ha wants to go back to the temple because she think it’ll be safer there. If the police are still looking for Yoon Kang, they’ll eventually look for her and hurt Soo In’s family in the process. Soo In can’t convince her to stay, so she and Jan Yi take Yeon Ha to the temple. Thank goodness, because I thought she was going to let Yeon Ha just run off by herself.
Sung Gil follows them and once they’re in the woods he stops them in their tracks. Soo In tries to shoo him off with her tiny revolver, but he laughs and easily wrenches it away from her grasp. He pushes Soo In to the ground and then grabs Yeon Ha with him.
A gunshot rings out and suddenly Sung Gil’s shot in the shoulder. (Poor guy – first the leg, now the shoulder.) It’s Yoon Kang! He had followed all of them here! He pulls the mask down to reveal Sung Gil’s face, and then has him send the message to Won Shin that he’ll be going after him soon. Sung Gil has no choice but to limp back home.
All the girls are super happy to see Yoon Kang alive and well, but Won Shin is so pissed when he hears that message.
They arrive at the temple and while Yeon Ha sleeps, Soo In and Yoon Kang talk about how he escaped. She hopes that he ends up working with Emperor Gojong because if he doesn’t then his father’s name will never be cleared. He can’t just get his revenge and live his life because without his name cleared, he and Yeon Ha will have to live as fugitives for the rest of their lives. To Yoon Kang’s credit, he does give Soo In’s and Ok Gyun’s words a lot of thought.
The following day Yoon Kang meets with Jung Hoon in another house that looks very much like VP Kim’s exile house. Nice use of repurposing sets there. Jung Hoon gives him an update that it’s obvious Leader Kim and his conservative party are all trying to kill Yoon Kang, but that it’s difficult to attack Kim Jwa Young because of the beefed up security around his house.
Ok Gyun finally makes his way to the palace where he greets Emperor Gojong and the queen. They welcome him from his trip to Japan and Gojong wants him to start working in the government again. One of his first tasks is to help the formation of the new military force, and Ok Gyun wants Ho Kyung to lead the ‘Byulgi Force’. Ho Kyung has some military training from his time in Japan so it makes most sense that he work on that rather than on legislation with Interpreter Jung.
Another visitor arrives to see Gojong: Kim Jwa Young. He wanted to “check in” with the emperor because he knew there’s a lot of concern about the escaped prisoner. Gojong treats the matter calmly and promises to catch Yoon Kang so that he doesn’t instigate further chaos. But he is curious as to who the real instigator is.
As Yoon Kang cases Won Shin’s home, he’s spotted by the police and starts running. His path crosses with Hye Won’s, who’s taking charge of a big project herself. She wants to cut out the middlemen and go straight to the wholesalers for the goods. She believes this will lead to greater profit for both parties. Hye Won sees Yoon Kang running from the police and helps him get away by pulling him into a nearby room.
Hye Won lets him know when the coast is clear, and without so much words Yoon Kang expresses his thanks for this one time. She is really glad to see he’s alive even though her testimony practically sentenced him to death. Yoon Kang doesn’t want to hear any of it because he plans to kill her father one day. Hye Won is hurt that he wasn’t meaner to her if she were his enemy’s daughter but Yoon Kang did not intend to be nice to her. If she interpreted everything as him being interested in her, then she was sorely mistaken. He never liked her. Ouch.
Well at least it’s a clean break.
Ok Gyun then visits Interpreter Jung’s home, as it’s natural that these men of the enlightenment are friends. Ok Gyun is surprised to hear that Soo In learned about gunpowder and is so inquisitive about the world that he recommends her to be a lady in the palace. The queen needs a friend who knows a lot about the outside world, and Soo In would be perfect for that. Of course, Soo In, being gung-ho for any opportunity, wants to do it. That way she can learn about how the government works too. Gosh this woman is gonna be smarter than all the men in Joseon combined. Huzzah!
Meanwhile, one of the other lords informs Leader Kim that Minister Min and VP Kim seem to be working on consolidating the merchant groups, indicating that VP Kim and Won Shin are now “going rogue” and trying to assert power for themselves. He also remembers that Hye Won is currently in Mapo and starts devising a devious scheme…
That evening, as Hye Won is ruminating over Yoon Kang’s words she receives bad news that the middlemen have set fire to her warehouse. All of the goods are destroyed and the wholesalers are not happy. They want her out and refuse to do any business with her anymore.
When Won Shin hears of this her rushes to his daughter’s side, worried. And he’s got good reason too. Her reputation ruined, her love rejected, her father a criminal – Hye Won has nothing to live for. She goes to the river and attempts to drown herself, but thankfully her father finds her in time to save her.
Won Shin begs for her to wake up because if she dies he’ll have nothing to live for. Tear, go away! She eventually comes to and he tells his daughter to stay strong. They’re different from everyone else and have no time to be in love or maintain their pride. They were slaves who had to give everything they could to survive, even their bodies and their souls, so they must be ruthless if they want to have everything in this world. Father and daughter are reunited and ready to take on the world.
The queen is very happy to have Soo In as her new companion and together they go to check a demonstration by the Byulgi Force. It’s a small army of expert gunmen with Ho Kyung leading them through the demonstration to all the nobles and royalty. Lover boy is so happy that Soo In is there to see him at his best.
A huge meeting convenes at Kim Jwa Young’s house full of the most powerful nobles, and Yoon Kang instructs Sang Chu to keep tabs on their movements. Won Shin will also be going to see Kim Jwa Young because he’s figured out that the crazed leader was behind the fire at Mapo. Won Shin would be leaving with only one guard (not Sung Gil), so this is Yoon Kang’s chance to get rid of him once and for all.
All three ride through the woods and Yoon Kang quickly shoots down the guard. He shoots again and Won Shin loses control of his jittered horse. He falls off and runs off the beaten path, a chase scene not too unlike the first time Won Shin chased Yoon Kang and Soo In through the woods.
Won Shin ends up at a dead end by the cliff, and once again their situations are reversed. He tries to bargain for his life but this time Yoon Kang is taking Won Shin’s advice. He’s not going to hesitate. He shoots Won Shin in his leg for his father, and on the arm for his sister. And then, square in the chest for himself.
Won Shin falls back and plunges into the deep river, presumably dead. It’s over.
It’s over. Is it over? There’s a part of me that hopes that Won Shin is still alive but my mom thinks otherwise. Won Shin being dead allows Yoon Kang to move on and help the emperor’s cause. He can also now concentrate on getting revenge on Kim Jwa Young and VP Kim, who are bigger fish to fry. Won Shin’s death sadly moves the drama along, and while I’m glad the writer knew to sacrifice him to keep the story going, I’m really sad to see him gone. Yoo Oh Sung was fantastic.
We now have six episodes to go, and hopefully it’s enough to get everything else settled. Losing their best hunting dog will definitely set Leader Kim and VP Kim back a bit because they don’t have anyone who can do their dirty work. I hope we get to see more of the queen because I think she’s somewhat allied with Kim Jwa Young, and I hope we get to see more of Kim Ok Gyun. He will probably be the new guiding force of the enlightenment, one who will hopefully not be corrupted or tainted at all. I had my faith in Minister Min, but he’s a bit tainted now. Kudos to him and his guts for not letting the bribe totally get in the way of justice, but his small actions certainly didn’t help Yoon Kang’s case.
I’m sad there’s only three weeks left, but I’m hoping for a stunning finish to the end.