If I had to rate the recent episodes, I’d say the previous several haven’t been very good — and that’s by Chil Woo standards, so we’re talking pretty low stuff. Not awful, just boring. But today’s picked up considerably, and even managed a shocker — which I guess is to be expected since we end tomorrow.
SONG OF THE DAY
Strongest Chil Woo OST – “언젠가” (Someday) by Hye Na [ Download ]
EPISODE 19 RECAP
The rebels proceed with their coup: Chil Woo, Min, and Jaja lie in wait at the shrine and strike, slaying the king. The other group of rebels, led by nobleman Choi, storm the prime minister’s home to assassinate him.
Only, uh, both plans run into a hitch. First, the assassinated guy turns out not to be the king. (Poor guy. Who volunteered to be THAT decoy?) The rebels who attack Prime Minster Kim’s bed are foiled by mere pillows padded to look like sleeping figures.
Thus the coup has been entirely anticipated, and fails. Heuk San arrives with armed men in tow and tells the rebels, “It’s over. Throw down your swords.” (Kim congratulates Heuk San, asking next to recover the historical document. In exchange for that, he will restore Heuk San’s father to him.)
Chil Woo’s group is assailed by a barrage of arrows, but escape the shrine through the back door and head into the forest, where they are surrounded. Their priority now is to get to So Yoon and Chul Seok; they prepare to stand their ground and fight, making a pact that whoever survives must go save So Yoon and Chul Seok.
Min hands the document to Chil Woo — expecting that Chil Woo has better survival odds, perhaps? — and they fight. Unfortunately, not in time, as So Yoon and Chul Seok are found and brought to court.
Also imprisoned are the rebels. Choi is tortured for info on the prince and the document, and like his comrade Jo before him, he refuses to speak.
The king, who has been hiding in seclusion and out of danger, hears of the failed plot and can now return to the palace. When he is informed that Prime Minister Kim is currently questioning their newest two captives (So Yoon and Chul Seok), he is again displeased at Kim’s independent actions, as the king has once more been left out of the loop. Never mind that he’s not clever enough to make use of the loop were he included in it. But it’s the thought that counts, yeah?
Heuk San hears news of So Yoon’s capture with shock, clearly wanting to help her but not being able to in his position. He mulls this news over in his head, thinking up some sort of solution.
His plan comes in the form of striking a deal with the three assassins. They fight off their enemies successfully and rush to the hideaway where So Yoon and Chul Seok were staying, but as they are too late, the house is empty.
When Heuk San comes strolling up in his Orroz gear wanting to talk with Chil Woo alone, the assassins are naturally suspicious and untrusting. Chil Woo demands, “Why should we trust you?!” Heuk San draws his sword, then drops it as a sign of faith: “Because I’m going to trust you.”
The mood is tense; Chil Woo interprets Heuk San’s failure to meet him when he offered the previous conciliatory gesture as a sign of rejection. Heuk San, for his part, maintains his cool, commanding aura. Although he can tell Chil Woo would rather invite him to kiss his ass, Heuk San points out that Chil Woo needs his help in finding So Yoon and Chul Seok. In exchange, he wants the document, which is useless to Chil Woo now: “Like you, I now have something to protect.”
The king takes tea with his grandson, affecting a kindly, avuncular attitude as he asks roundabout questions with a veneer of politeness. Chul Seok remains on his guard and nervously drinks his tea, ignoring So Yoon’s frantic attempts to shake her head no.
Screwing up his courage, Chul Seok refuses to play nice (the king is the type of guy who doesn’t like being reminded of what a nice guy he isn’t), and tells the king directly that he’d heard what the king did. He sent assassins to kill him and kill Chul Seok’s father — are these charges true? The king drops his nice act and grows angry at his grandson’s insolence, telling him malevolently that this was all Prince So Hyun’s fault. He’s angry enough to be on the verge of lashing out, but is interrupted by sounds of a commotion outside.
Cries of alarm are shouted at the appearance of Jaja and Min, who burst inside the palace walls and create an uproar. Officers usher the king to safety — among them one disguised Chil Woo.
The king is too rattled being guided outside under heavy escort that the doesn’t pay attention to those lingering behind. Chil Woo leads So Yoon and Chul Seok outside, where they meet with Ninja Orroz, heavily disguised to avoid being identified by his father or his own men.
Heuk San stays behind while Chil Woo guides their rescuees out safely. Surrounded by men who are no match for his superior skills, he easily takes them down, then slips out to meet Chil Woo outside the palace.
Heuk San reveals his face, shocking So Yoon, and asks for the document. Chil Woo starts to hand it over — reluctantly, but they did make a deal — as Min and Jaja rush up to interfere, insisting that they cannot relinquish such an important item. Clearly Min hasn’t had his reality check yet (has he ever?), because even in the face of massive failure and near-death, he’s focused more on coup-inciting actions than that pesky thing called survivial.
Chil Woo, on the other hand, understands that they’ve failed and tells Min, “No, we didn’t save the crown prince, we merely saved Chul Seok. Don’t you get it yet? It’s all over. We haven’t lost So Yoon or Chul Seok, and the three of us are alive. That’s enough.”
Min insists that the document is the only proof of Prince So Hyun’s murder — for history’s sake, they need to reveal the truth. But the budding argument is halted when Chul Seok speaks up, telling him to hand the document to Heuk San: “Too many people have died for me and that document.” He breaks down into tears, willing to give up his hope for justice, saying, “My father’s wrongful death… I’ll bury it in my heart.”
They hand Heuk San the document.
Not knowing that the tables have swung in his favor, the king continues torturing Choi. It’s a futile exercise, however, since Choi will not back down, infuriating the king who wields a sword to his neck, demanding the document. Choi answers, “You’re a fool. Everything is recorded and will be known for generations, a thousand years from now.” Unable to control his anger, the king strikes, killing the man. (Fat load of good that does him, eh?)
The action shocks everyone, including Prime Minister Kim and the king himself.
Heuk San informs Kim that he found the document, but rather than respond to his adopted father’s relief and elation, Heuk San hardens, leveraging this for his own stipulation. He will only hand it over once his father is freed. They make a deal to meet the next night (after which Heuk San plans to leave Korea as soon as possible with his father). Kim asks if he must take it this far. (He must.)
Kim, however, can’t resist attempting to play the situation to his favor and asks for the document first. If Heuk San continues to help him until this business is finished, Kim promises to send Heuk San and his father off comfortably. But Heuk San is (rightfully) wary, and answers, “People may be trusted, but people’s words should not be.”
Kim finds he must do as Heuk San orders, because if he betrays him now, Heuk San will kill him. But one of his men suggests, what if they betray him after returning his father?
The A-Team learns of their casualties with a heavy heart. Chil Woo proposes they all flee to China, including Min, who cannot return to court now that he’s been identified.
Chul Seok starts feeling ill — effects of the tea, no doubt — and shudders in pain. Jaja rushes to find a doctor, while the others try desperately to keep Chul Seok conscious and lucid. Feeling himself slip away, Chul Seok apologizes: “I’m sorry. I think I’m dying.”
Everyone watches in horror and disbelief. Chil Woo entreats him not to talk like that, but Chul Seok knows he’s not long for the world.
Chul Seok asks Chil Woo to take care of So Yoon, says sorry again, and dies. (Nooo!)
In the palace, the king hears from his physician that the poison should be kicking in about now. Although at first he is relieved, the king becomes so paranoid that he starts believing his own tea was poisoned. Like Lady Macbeth, his sense of guilt causes him to overreact and feel psychosomatic symptoms, causing him to feel ill even though he was not poisoned.
Caught up in righteous rage, So Yoon digs up her gun, intending to go straight to the palace to kill the king. Obviously that is a foolish (and shortsighted) plan, so Chil Woo tries to reason with her, that this is not the right way.
So Yoon asks, “What do you want me to do? He [the prince] asked me to save [Chul Seok], and to watch him dying so miserably… what am I supposed to do?!”
Chil Woo answers that she doesn’t have to DO anything other than stay alive, that’s all. Unfortunately, Chul Seok’s death has broken So Yoon’s spirit, and she tells Chil Woo as she breaks down in sobs, “No. I can’t. I won’t. Not anymore.”
So Yoon remains isolated in her grief, while Chil Woo looks up into the skies and wonders: “Woo Young, do you see us? Father, do you see me? What should I do now?”
Heuk San meets to claim his father. True to his word, Prime Minister has brought him to their meeting place, although he doesn’t intend on keeping that word for much longer.
The blind man pieces together the story from the conversation, realizes the sacrifice Heuk San is making, and tries to convince his son not to make the exchange. The transaction proceeds, but Heuk San watches Kim closely and spots the man giving a surreptitious signal, just as Kim’s right-hand-man yells the alarm, “Now!”
Heuk San sees the danger and rushes toward Kim, drawing his sword on the prime minister just as his father and second-in-command are surrounded by Kim’s armed men.
What looks like it may turn into a long standoff, however, is surprisingly short. Heuk San believes he can barter his father’s life with the threat against Kim’s, but Kim is aware that this is a bluff, and that Heuk San will most likely not be able to go through with it. This proves true, at least for now, because Heuk San hesitates while holding the sword to Kim’s throat, as Kim’s men shoot his own guard. That leaves his father, alone and vulnerable, awaiting imminent death.
Prime Minister Kim reminds Heuk San, “I told you before. I can die by your hand, but in return your father must also die.” Either Heuk San kill both fathers, or he throw down his sword and follow the prime minister to let his father go free. (Wily bastard! I admit, it’s pretty smart, though.)
Heuk San struggles with himself and the impossible decision it seems he must make. We’ve known for a while that Kim is evil, but this makes him positively creepy, doesn’t it? If he can’t have his son, he’ll at least make sure the blind man can’t have him either, in a sort of “If I can’t have you, no one can” gesture.
Kim doesn’t give him much time to make his decision, and starts to count…
Now calm and resolute, So Yoon comes to the three assassins with a grim request: “Kill everyone who did that to Chul Seok, and to us.”
They ask who she means by this, and she answers: the court doctor, the police chief, the prime minister, the king. Bloodthirsty girl.
I can’t believe they actually killed Chul Seok off. Seriously. All the while, I thought they were surely going to come up with some impossibly clever antidote solution, and it wasn’t until he was convulsing in his last moments that I realized he was actually gonna croak. Aw, poor kid. There goes our one of very few remaining decent actors.
I suppose story-wise I don’t have much of a problem with his death — it’s just that I liked the kid and hated to see him die, which is actually a first for me with this series. Despite its relatively high body count, most of those were expendable characters, so this is the first time I was sorry to see someone go.
Also: Interesting how Heuk San’s weakness turns out to be the same as his father’s. The blind man had been swayed to betray his people in exchange for his wife and mother’s safety. Here, Heuk San makes the same deal (well, a similar deal) with the prime minister to hand over the document in exchange for his father’s safety, even though I suspect that Heuk San’s principles are more in line with the rebel faction than with the prime minister’s. (Not wholly on their side, but tilted more in their direction. Heuk San is surprisingly principled for an assassin, and I don’t think he’d be willing to abandon enough of those principles to join the rebel cause — though that would be nice — but I also think that he’s lived his life being so emotionally cut off from everything that he really doesn’t care what happens as long as he can take care of the things — and people — he cares about. In this scenario, it’s his father, and to a lesser extent, So Yoon.)
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 18
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 17
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 16
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 15
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 15
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 14
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 13
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 12
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 11
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 10
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 9
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 8
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 7
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 6
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 5
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 4
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 3
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episodes 1 & 2