A much more exciting episode, with a face-off and big step forward for our couple. The good guys even get a step ahead with a scheme that proves they’re not just sitting ducks, and that Aunt and Young are really the brains of this operation. Mostly there’s a lot of funny and even a little romance, which keeps me happy.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Ki Chul gets word that Choi Young is on his way here. So much for surprise sneak attack. Eum-ja is on high alert, but it’s the two Suribang boys who show up at the compound, and give him the runaround before disappearing. Hm, a diversion?
Ki Chul mulls it over and decides triumphantly that he knows why Young is coming – to steal the diary. Hwasuin asks Eum-ja if the one boy with the pretty eyes was here, and that gets a scowl out of him.
She figures they should go give Ki Chul the audience he needs (That pretty much sums up his entire character, doesn’t it?) and they join him as he fawns over how important the diary must be.
But the thing he trips up on is how simple and low-rent it is for Young to sneak in and steal the diary while Ki Chul is supposed to be away on a trip. He thinks it not a fun enough game and clearly Young is a better opponent than that.
His conclusion? Young must be sending him a message, to bring the diary himself and hand it over, or else he gets robbed.
Young sets up another of his Suribang friends to wait outside, and deliver “something” to “someone,” in case “something happens to me.” This is the entirety of your contingency plan?
Meanwhile Eun-soo rides as fast as she can. Apparently she rides so hard that the hat gets knocked off her head and her hair falls around her like a shampoo commercial, because that’s not ridiculous at all. Pffft, directing fail.
Young enters the compound, which is eerily empty. He sits and waits. Ki Chul comes out flanked by his guards, who come charging at Young.
I love that he takes the first one out by flinging his sword straight into a man like it’s a tiny dagger, and then running up to yank it out. He slices through them quickly. But then, behind him, they disappear into puffs of vapor. What? Do these guys get made in a jar too?
Young’s sword drips with blood. Ki Chul now stands alone, hands behind his back. Young leaps into the air, sword above his head, and Ki Chul pulls out his sword. He slices Young twice, in the arm and the chest.
Oof, Ki Chul gets the upper hand way too fast for my liking. Young dodges a few strikes, but before he knows it, Ki Chul’s sword is at his throat. He points it down at Young’s shoulder, forcing him to his knees.
But then Young stands back up anyway, and tries to stab. Ki Chul whirls him around with the sword still at his throat, like they’re backhugging, but in a murderous way. And that’s when Young STABS HIMSELF, going clean through to stab Ki Chul too. Aaaaack!
And then… he opens his eyes? The frak? Was he imagining all this? UGH.
Goddamnit, he’s still sitting in the same spot, having imagined the whole thing. I didn’t think I’d be so annoyed that you’re not stabbed right now, but I am.
Eun-soo finds Dae-man and demands to know where his leader is. Dae-man stutters that they’re not supposed to follow, so Eun-soo runs off to find him alone.
Ki Chul shows up to meet Young all alone. He asks where the trap is, and Young says setting a trap means you’re not really prepared to die… and Ki Chul is too powerful an opponent to face with anything less than his life on the line.
He asks if Ki Chul brought the diary. He did. Young asks if he really intends to kill anyone who shows support for the king, and Ki Chul confirms it. Young: “Then what I suspected about you is true. That with you gone, the world would be a slightly better place.”
With that, he charges, and they fight.
Ki Chul slices Young in the arm. And then through the midsection. Aaagh, this is happening exactly like it did in his imagination! Okay, I take it back. I won’t be annoyed. Just don’t do the double skewering thing!
Ki Chul slices the bandana off the hilt of Young’s sword, and it falls to the ground. He struggles but gathers up his strength and attacks. He ends up in the same position as his imaginary one… and doesn’t stab himself to get to Ki Chul. Oh phew.
The thought of what this scene could look like if directed better makes me want to cry.
He whirls around and they fire up their ki powers. Ki Chul just chuckles. They separate for a moment and get ready to charge again, when Eun-soo suddenly runs in between them and yells at everybody to stop.
She stands there with a dagger to her throat, threatening to die if they don’t quit it. Did everyone have Suicide Kool-Aid with their breakfast this morning?
Ki Chul asks her to answer a question then: When does he die? She hesitates, and he roars at her that he needs to have a reason to let her live. She says four years, maybe five. He asks by whose hand.
“Does the king remain after I die?” She says yes. “Then the one who kills me is the king. Did you ask what I’m doing? I’m trying to test heaven’s history, to see if I can change it.” OH. He says that if he can, he and the doc will have some words, so she should stay alive till then. And with that, he turns to go.
That leaves Young to yell at her for risking her life, and Eun-soo to yell back at him that he’s the one who started it. Eun-soo: “You’re the one who’s trying to die! You said you’d lose! If you fight and die, is that the end? How can you only think of yourself?!”
Omo, is that a confession? She says he’s doing this for her, so that means if he dies, it’s because of her. “You know what it feels like to be the one left behind!” He shoots her a look of surprise.
She wraps his bloody hand and tells him not to move the one that’s frozen blue from Ki Chul’s energy. She reaches for it but he pulls it away, and she pulls it close anyway. She covers his hand in hers and starts to blow on it to warm it.
The closeness startles him, and he just watches her intently for a moment. She’s hunched over his hand, and suddenly he reaches out to sweep the hair out of her face. So you can look at her?
She inches back at first, but he tucks the hair behind her ear. And just as he does, a tear falls and she begins to cry.
He says that it was the only plan he could think of – to just try it, and fail if he fails, because that’s just always how he’s lived his life. He glances over at her again, “I won’t risk my life that easily anymore. Ever again. So… don’t cry.” Awwwww.
Ki Chul’s underlings are up in arms that he’s used his ki, which he clearly shouldn’t be doing. Oh, interesting. Is this what’s killing him? He suddenly looks very different – haggard, thin, powerless.
They argue that he should’ve taken that Woodalchi out without his powers, but then wonder if Young was so strong that it wasn’t possible. But all Ki Chul can do even now is obsess over Eun-soo’s words that the nation of Yuan would collapse and that he’d die.
He growls that there’s no such thing as a history that can’t be changed, and if the king is the one to kill him, he’ll just replace the king, and if Yuan won’t last, he’ll replace the country with another. “If the heavens have decided it, then I will replace the heavens.” Chills.
Young and Eun-soo walk through the palace, followed by a giddy Dae-man and Dol-bae. I love that they’re just walking and talking, but the peepers make it seem like they’re doing something so illicit. Young hilariously stops every five seconds to shoo them away.
Eun-soo decides that she won’t run away anymore, which makes Young smile. She figures that just leaves fighting Ki Chul. He wonders why she can’t just do neither and sit still, but she says that’s not in her nature, “I can’t do that – just breathe and do nothing.” Which is why you’re great.
She asks if he doesn’t want to be her partner. She says her goal is to get her diary back, and his goal is the protect the king from Ki Chul. Ki Chul won’t just hand that thing over, but if the king becomes strong enough, he could demand it from him.
She decides they’ll have to be partners, and tries to get him to say the word in English. “Partner. Aren’t you going to learn heaven-speak at all? It’s not even that hard to pronounce.” He refuses to say the word, but does smile when she tells him that it means they fight on the same side.
I love that she’s taken to ordering him around with the catchall: “I saved your life, but you can’t do this one thing for me?” She tells him that if they’re going to be partners, there are some rules.
They have to tell each other everything, and they protect each other. That last part does not compute for him. “Each other?” She says they protect each other, which means one person can’t go running off to fight without telling the other person.
He agrees with the caveat that she do the same – no running off anywhere without telling him. Hee. So they’re basically both like, don’t do anything without me knowing.
She sticks out her hand for a shake, and he looks at it skeptically. Didn’t she say that was for hellos and goodbyes? She says it’s also for times like this, and when he fidgets, she just grabs his hand and forces the shake.
He looks over and sees the boys giggling from behind the bushes. She’s still madly shaking his hand, and he leans in to ask, “Didn’t you say we would protect each other? Then can you maybe start with protecting my dignity?” Ha. They let go just as Aunt walks up. Ha, did everyone see them holding hands?
They go to see the king and queen, and when Eun-soo starts to tell them about her night, Young grabs her hand to stop her from giving them any details beyond her leaving and Young stopping her.
Young says that the veiled assassins are in town and asks if Eun-soo can remain with the queen, under her protection detail. But! That’s where the mole is! The king asks if that would be okay (I like that he asks her) and the queen says yes.
Gongmin asks Eun-soo about the future, and that Joseon that she spoke of. What is it? She hedges and says that it’s a country… waaaaay off to the east, where a lot of Yis live. Ha.
She confesses that she doesn’t really know that much about the future. Young mutters, “If you don’t know, don’t say.” She just continues, saying that she’s not sure if the history she knows happens because she came here or if it’s a history that exists only before having come here.
Young: “Do you not hear me?” Eun-soo: “I’m not saying I know when I don’t!” Young: “Still!” Suddenly she’s standing up and they’re bickering in each other’s faces, totally oblivious to the fact that they’re doing this in front of the king and queen. So cute. Gongmin smirks, and Noguk and Aunt just gape. Hee.
Eun-soo finally gets to rant the comeback she wants to… at a vase. HA. I love her.
Meanwhile, the Woodalchi gather to discuss very important business: how far their leader has gone with the doc. Deok-man demonstrates the hand-holding he saw when Young came to stop Eun-soo from running away, and the other guys all balk that he must’ve seen it wrong.
They’re like, Our leader? With a woman? No. Deok-man insists, “I saw it with my own eyes!” He grabs Dae-man to ask if he saw it too, but he says no. The guys give Deok-man another beating.
Suddenly Dae-man turns back to say he did see that though… when the doc was saving Leader… she used her lips on his lips and many many times at that. They practically all faint at the thought.
Young sits in his room staring at his sword. Or more accurately, at the hilt. He must’ve tied the bandana back on after the fight, but he stares at it now with a sigh. He makes a decision and unties it, and puts it away in a chest.
Aunt comes by and marvels in her usual gruff way that the doc was able to get through his thick skull. He just complains that he has so much to do now, which earns him a slap upside the head. He really deserves a few more.
But it’s down to business, as they have to take care of this veiled assassin squad. She offers some of her warriors and then remembers that they have a mole somewhere in the palace.
Young says the mole conveyed the exact message that he would go to Ki Chul with his life on the line. He asks where the leak could be, and Aunt realizes with shock, “I’m the leak.” She recalls saying those words to Noguk.
He asks who might’ve been around, and she says she’ll handle the matter. But Young tells her not to—they can feed her misinformation. Yay for smart good guys.
The ideal plan would be to find a way to draw out the veiled assassins one at a time. All together, and Young can’t guarantee he can win.
Aunt says she’ll try, and then asks what Eun-soo said to make him stop his crazy shit. Did she use the law of heaven or something?
Young: “Life. She put up her life.” And then HE has the gall to be annoyed at her fearlessness, complaining that someone who supposedly hates the smell of blood just stuck a knife at her throat. Why, is she stealing your death wish thunder?
Eun-soo gets new clothes and complains at all the layers. Aunt comes in to help her, and says quietly that she has a request to make. Young didn’t seem to like the idea, saying that someone from heaven wouldn’t want to lie.
Eun-soo suddenly sits Aunt down and starts to pull her face this way and that, thinking of ways she could fix her face to make her look twenty again. Aunt asks, “Is such a thing possible?” Eun-soo laughs, “Fooled you, didn’t I? I’m a good liar!” Haha.
Gongmin frets that only four days remain until the lecture, and trembles at the thought that Ki Chul really plans to kill anyone who supports him, just for choosing his side. Noguk sees what he’s really upset about and assures him, “You’re not like him.”
He feels guilty that people are losing their lives in support of him, but she says that people dying because of that choice doesn’t make him the same as Ki Chul. She asks him to believe in himself, otherwise those who struggle on his behalf become pathetic.
Young and Aunt put their plan into motion. Four Woodalchi change into plain clothes (Whoa, hello there.) and get sent off to act quietly in secret with Young’s usual, “Just yunno, do well.” One by one, they start quietly nabbing the scholars so they can be protected in secret.
At the same time, Eun-soo begins to tell the king names of people who will end up being supporters or enemies, and they do this all out in the open, so that the mole can hear. Aunt keeps an eye out and notices suspicious movement. Yes! She spotted the mole!
Ki Chul gets the list of names, and it’s suddenly different from what they expected. Now they have no idea which list was true, and who ends up friend or foe. The mole also conveys word that the good guys are protecting the king’s supporters in one location, and the only one who knows where is “a close friend of the king.”
That can only mean Young. Eum-ja offers to go, eager to face off against Young, but Ki Chul sends him elsewhere, to fetch “someone important.”
Meanwhile Young collects head scholar Lee Je-hyun to join the others. He muses, “When I heard there would be a new king, I thought that if we were safe with no incident, that meant there was no hope. If there is to be change, the winds of blood will blow. In times like these, warriors like you are the most pitiful – until you are cut down, you must continue to cut others.”
He returns to the palace to find Eun-soo out on a stroll, and asks where she left her bodyguards. She points them out, saying she asked to walk alone. She asks if her heavenly wisdom helped his plan, and he asks if she’s really going to keep up her involvement.
She teases him for always being so serious and sincere and worried, and slaps him in the chest playfully, “You’ll get sick that way!” And then she does this cute little twirl to show him the new dress that the queen gave her, and asks what he thinks.
He clears his throat nervously and tells her to go inside. Ha.
She sits down and says that in her world, after a day’s work, partners get together over a drink. But there’s no bar inside the palace, so what about his place? They can get together every night here. He asks so innocently, “Meet and do what?”
She says they can check to make sure they’re both okay, talk about what they did that day, and cheer each other on. He gets avoidy and says he’ll be busy, and her voice grows serious as she says she knows – after all, she’s the one who leaked the information that the king’s closest friend is the only one who knows the hideout location.
She asks if he’s going to take them on all by himself, and he says rather than chasing them down, it’s better to lie in wait. He tells her that if he fights well he can win.
Suddenly out of nowhere, he says, “Lift up your skirt.” Rawr?
He stoops down to lift up her hem, as she squeals in surprise. This from the guy who couldn’t manage to look her in the eye when she asked how she looked? But then he takes a dagger out and ties it to her ankle.
She pulls it out gingerly and squirms that she can’t stab people! She’s a doctor! Young: “Stab first, then you can treat them after. That’s what you did to me.” HAHAHA.
She reminds him that he’s the one who warned not to go around stabbing if she didn’t know how. So he offers to teach her, when they meet here. Aw, you’re promising to meet. He says it might not be every night, but says he’ll teach her when they do, and turns to go.
She waves and gives him a cheerful goodbye, putting a smile on his face, and then only betrays her worry once he’s gone.
He goes to see Man-bo, who complains about this plan of his. Ajumma asks if all they have to do is distract the veiled assassins so that Young can take them on one at a time, and Ajusshi acts all put out.
Young just laughs, “Honestly, you guys are happy to have someone to help, aren’t you? You were bored, weren’t you?” Hee.
Ajusshi accuses him of drinking in the middle of the day and saying crazy things, and Young just keeps teasing, “Eh, I can tell you’re excited!” The way he smiles around them just makes my day.
Jang Bin tries to teach Eun-soo about feeling a pulse—not just the beats, but the quality of it, and the roundness and movement. It’s a foreign concept to her, but she tries to feel her way around.
They’re interrupted when Ki Chul just strolls right in like he owns the joint. He asks Eun-soo what it is that made her open up to the king about the future when she was so reluctant to do so with him.
The queen arrives and raises hell for the lax security around here, and then Woodalchi arrives to announce that the king would like to see him. Gongmin demands to know why he came and Ki Chul just says he wanted to check in with the doctor.
Gongmin says confidently that none of his people will bend to Ki Chul’s threats. But Ki Chul asks if he’s really so confident, wondering how many times Choi Young will run around to clean up after the king’s mess before growing tired of it. It shakes Gongmin up.
Ki Chul adds that the doctor is quite shrewd as well, and won’t she discover in due time who truly has the power to protect her? He laughs and adds casually that his sister, empress of Yuan, asked whether he was fine with the current king, or if Goryeo needed a better one.
Damn. That’s a blow. They talk about trading him out like an old shoe.
Meanwhile, Noguk cleans up the king’s desk and wonders what she can do to make him feel better if he’s had a bad day. Aunt isn’t much help in the matter, but asks the king’s eunuch, who’s married, what his wife does in that situation.
He says she gives him liquor. That seems easy enough, but the women wonder what’s so special about that. The eunuch stammers that it’s not so much the liquor as what they do after… and then sputters that he can’t say any more. Heh.
They don’t get it, so they prod him to answer. With no choice, he spits out, “We… we share a bed!” Noguk freezes, wide-eyed.
And then Gongmin walks in, making the whole thing so hilariously awkward. Noguk practically runs out past him without a word, and he’s left totally puzzled. He asks the eunuch to tell him what happened, and the poor man just wails, “Kill me, your majesty!” Hahaha.
Hwasuin and Eum-ja track down someone named Deok-heung, and convey the message that Ki Chul wants to see him. Can he ride a horse or shall they prepare a carriage? But he just quotes a passage that even in the mountains when it seems there is no path, there you will find another village… and laughs as he walks away.
Young readies for battle and hears someone approaching. He swings… at nothing? Wait, are these people literally invisible? ‘Cause that changes things.
No, they just seem super fast, so they whiz past him back and forth.
At the same time, a member of Suribang is dressed exactly like Young, and leads a few of them into the woods.
Young closes his eyes, and three assassins strike at once. He cuts them down swiftly. Gee, Show, it would’ve been nice if you showed me the awesome action instead of whip-panning around it. He counts, “Three.”
He heads to an inn that looks empty, but he talks to the assassins, knowing they’re listening. He wonders what good it is to kill for money, when it all ends if you die. He says with a smile, “Someone I know says that the most important thing in life is living. But you and I don’t know that. To people like us, living is not dying. But that person is different. That person is really living. And with strength at that.”
An assassin comes running out at him from the shadows. Young tosses his sword up and catches it before stabbing him, without even getting up.
He just continues, “So when I look at her, it makes me think: What am I doing right now?” He looks down at the dead man and shuts his eyes, “Four.”
Eun-soo sits in her spot and waits, trying to feel her pulse.
Young washes his bloodied hands in the rain, and waits. Another assassin. He cuts him down, “Five.” He breathes heavily, sighing and drinking the air each time. It’s starting to worry me.
Deok-heung approaches Eun-soo and introduces himself as Gongmin’s uncle. He asks if she’s really from heaven, and then hands over Hwata’s diary. “I was told if I gave you this present, you’d receive it gladly.” Whaaa? How’d he get that?
Young cuts down another, the sixth, but then slumps to the ground and drops his sword. His right hand is covered in blood. He clenches it in pain.
Interesting… is Gongmin’s uncle a good guy or a bad guy? Is he offering up the diary per Ki Chul’s orders to lure her over the dark side, or does he have a twist in his agenda? Is Ki Chul giving up the diary hoping that Eun-soo will jump ship and start whispering future things in his ear? There’s a giant string attached to that notebook, and I can’t imagine that it’s a very pleasant cost.
As with most things in this drama, I really wish the epic face-off with Ki Chul was, well… more epic. But it was great to have them battle each other to find out a few things – namely, that Ki Chul shouldn’t be expending his ki, and that if Young could outlast him, he might be able to win. I’m glad he made the choice not to be suicidal even before Eun-soo showed up, because despite being willing to die, he ended up choosing not to filet himself just to get to Ki Chul. It seems like each week we have to take baby steps with him to get him to choose life, but in this episode he confesses (to no one but himself, really) that what he was doing before wasn’t really living; it was just not dying.
It’s nice to know that it’s Eun-soo who makes him question what he’s doing with his life. Earlier in the episode she makes a point of saying that she can’t just sit still and breathe—that’s not a life for her. She always chooses to engage her world and be proactive about things, even if they don’t all quite make sense to her. I love that she changes his ideas, makes him question everything, and gets him to smile. They’re developing such a nice rapport, bickering and all, that’s reached a level of comfort and trust that’s great to see. Good developments on all fronts, and a nice place to be at the halfway point in the series.