Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 27
by | September 5, 2012 | 161 Comments

So much good stuff today. The plot sets up for the final conflict to be played out in our finale, but today’s episode really shines in the character department — there’s some build-up, some pay-off, some resolution… and a whole lot of emotional intensity.

We’re one episode from the end and I still don’t know how things are going to shake out. All I know is, this time tomorrow I’m probably gonna be a wreck.

SONG OF THE DAY

Gaksital OST – “그대 내 품에” (You in my arms) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 27 RECAP

Face-off!

Gaksital charges in to face Kimura Taro, who is prepared for the encounter. His bodyguards attack first, but Kang-to swiftly takes them all down, one by one. Not only does he do it hardly breaking a sweat, but I love that he accomplishes it all with one puny hand-dagger. Like it’s not even worth busting out the big guns for.

Time for the main course. It’s sword versus sword, vendetta versus vendetta. Kang-to has his Inigo Montoya moment, growling, “I have come to avenge my father, who died at your hand.”

Kimura asks how long he thinks he can wear that mask. Kang-to declares, “I will wear it until the robbers leave this land!”

Kimura charges. In one deft move, Kang-to slices him across the torso, whirls, and stabs him in the heart with his punishment dagger. Whoa. That’s cold hard vengeance; no eleventh-hour forgiveness for him.

It’s over so fast that it’s almost anti-climactic — except it isn’t because of the magnitude of what this means. Dayum. Kimura gasps, “Kimura Taro may die, but the great Japanese empire will last forever.”

Kang-to says wrathfully that evildoers will reap the results of their wrongdoings: “The Japanese empire will see its ruin!” He yanks the dagger free, and Taro dies.

Just as Shunji runs in. Oh fuck. God. Damn. Shunji’s perpetrated a lot of crap in his walk on the dark side, but seeing the trauma of his brother’s violent death, repeating now in his father’s? You can’t hate him for reacting to that. He fumbles for a weapon, but Kang-to knocks him down and bolts out the door.

Shunji chases him outside and shoots. Kang-to knocks the gun aside, and they fly into furious hand-to-hand combat. Shunji shoves Kang-to against a tree with his arm pressing into his throat, face contorted freakishly. Kang-to shoves him back and knocks him down.

Impasse. The former friends stand facing each other, and Kang-to removes his sling, tossing his weapon aside. The mask comes off next. And even though Shunji has known his enemy’s identity for a while, there’s something powerful about seeing Kang-to face to face as Gaksital, and it prompts a fresh wave of hatred.

They launch themselves at each other, trading mighty punches. It is intense stuff: nothing but fists and feet, the rawness of the method reflecting the rawness of the emotions.

They fight to exhaustion, and when they’re too tired to stand they fall to their knees and keep punching each other.

Finally Kang-to knocks Shunji to the ground, then grabs his throat and screams in rage, ready to deal him the deathblow. But he shakes and hovers there, torn equally between wanting to stop himself and to finish the deed.

Shunji gasps for breath and grabs at Kang-to, but right now this fight is with himself.

Of all the memories to draw on, his mind flashes back to his adolescent friendship — of Shunji extending a hand of generosity when Kang-to was at his poorest. Ack. Even now, the flashback brings tears to my eyes for what used to be.

Shunji stops struggling, like he’s giving up. Kang-to lowers his fist, gasping and crying. He grabs his weapon and leaves without another word.

Left behind, Shunji bursts into sobs. It’s Nanny who finds him here and rushes to him in worry. Shunji walks off silently and returns to his father’s side. He cries, “I’m sorry, Father.”

Mok Dan waits fretfully, and heaves a huge sigh when Kang-to returns. She prepares a meal for him and promises to do the same for him every day, but when he moves to eat, his mood turns heavy. He asks, “How will Shunji be feeling right now?”

She asks why, and he tells her he killed Taro and fought with Shunji. Surely he won’t give up on capturing Kang-to now. He dearly wishes he’ll never have to confront Shunji again, but fears that it’s inevitable.

At his father’s funeral altar, Shunji vows to catch Kang-to, no matter what, and deliver his head to Father.

Chairman Ueno expresses his condolences for the loss, and gives Shunji the order to punish “that woman who knew Gaksital’s identity and kept it hidden.” Oh no, Rie. I knew this day was coming, but I’ll still miss you.

Shunji asks if he can really kill her, and a fed up chairman tells him he can kill or spare her, he doesn’t care. He advises Shunji to kill the girl as an exercise in controlling his anger, adding the warning, “It must become your weapon — if you become a slave to anger, you’ll never catch him.” Oh no. Why do I feel like Ueno just made a deadly rage machine even deadlier?

Ueno tells Shunji he’s carrying the future of Kishokai, and that he considered Taro like a son, which makes Shunji his kinsman. It’s a nice vote of confidence, but since you just told your new grandson to go kill your ex-daughter, I’m not sure it’s the grand gesture you mean it to be.

Rie is summoned and informed of Kimura’s death. He tells her to go in his stead to pay a condolence call. Ack! Delivering her right to the hunter, is he?

Rie leaves Katsuyama waiting outside, which seems like a Very Bad Idea. Shunji eyes her with eerily calculating eyes, biding his time. As she bows her head and begins to convey the chairman’s respects, he suddenly grabs her by the arm and shoves her into an adjacent room, beelining for his father’s sword rack.

He points his sword at her neck and challenges, “You say I can’t govern my anger? Not at all, I can. I can control it as much as I like, without even killing you!”

Ooh. Then is he not going to kill her? Did the chairman actually insult his ego by suggesting he was weak to his anger?

Rie apologizes for hiding Kang-to’s identity, saying she had no idea it would lead to this. Shunji puts away the sword and tells her to run away, saying he’ll keep his mouth shut. Wait… do you mean it? Or is this part of a trap?

Rie understands that her father must have given him the green light, admitting to being on tenterhooks while waiting for the other shoe to drop. She even smiles at Shunji and tells him she’d rather die by her father’s hand than his — because she doesn’t want to add to Shunji’s burden.

She thanks him for giving her the time to prepare herself for her death. He asks why she’d walk into her death knowingly, which she doesn’t answer.

Governor Wada sputters at the news, fearful that Gaksital will come for him next. In his typical bloodthirsty fashion, Murayama wants to go ahead with their massacre of anybody blacklisted for independence duties, instead of just threatening to. But he is overruled — those Joseon men must be spared… so they can die on the front line instead. Killing them now defeats the purpose of beefing up their front line with bullet-shields.

They do agree on the need to speed up their draft process, though, now that the rebels are on to the plan and will surely be preparing countermeasures.

Rie returns from her condolence call, and the fact that she’s still alive has the chairman looking at her in surprise.

At the independence camp, our brains strategize on their next move. They anticipate that the draft will be hurried, and Kang-to reports hearing the rumors of university students already under surveillance to ensure they don’t bolt.

Yang Baek decides that they must rescue conscripted student soldiers first, because not only is this a way to save their lives, it’s also a way of recruiting them into their own ranks. They need the manpower for their own battle.

Shunji discusses this with Murayama. The problem is that while they have sussed out the independence army’s modus operandi — armed resistance — they are still lacking in crucial details, like when/where they plan to strike. Shunji vows to ferret out Dong-jin’s headquarters to get right at the root of the problem.

Shunji and his men pull up to the Angel Club — just as Reporter Song is leaving it. They recognize him and pursue, resulting in a chase through alleyways. They lose him, but this drops a valuable clue in Shunji’s lap: “Angel Club was a problem all along.”

They barge into the club. Shunji asks Tasha who the man was, and she plays dumb. He isn’t having it, and demands to know about Reporter Song — which gets a nervous look from the weak-hearted waiter comrade. Argh! I always knew his skittish reactions would get them into trouble.

Shunji says they both saw how shocked Kang-to was over Tamao’s death, which suggests they weren’t in the theft together, not directly. So who could have acted as liaison?

Tasha remains tight-lipped despite veiled threats to meeting the same end as the tailor, so they drag her and the waiter into the torture room. Oh god. I don’t know how much more torture I can watch.

Into the chains goes the waiter, which is probably the evilly smart thing to do — he won’t get Tasha to talk by hurting her, but he might by making her watch her comrade suffer. The waiter quakes in fear but stutters that he can endure it, that she mustn’t talk for his sake.

Shunji gives her one last chance to divulge Reporter Song’s business at Angel Club. Even though it sounds lame to all, she repeats that he’s just a regular. Shunji whips the waiter, who screams in agony. Two strikes is all it takes for him to beg, “Comrade Tasha, please tell him, just talk!”

She bites her tongue and Shunji whips him again. The waiter spills the beans (nooooo!) and gasps that he came regarding the rebellion date. Aw, crap. The very piece of info the police are itching to know.

Wrung of all use, Tasha and the waiter are released. They make the miserable trek back to the club, and the waiter cries his apology — he’d meant to stay quiet through the bitter end, “But I was so scared.”

Tasha can’t be angry: “If you hadn’t talked first, I would have.” She’s bitter about herself, saying she was useless after all. Now it’s time to shut the club, she decides. The girls wail, “What about us?” Tasha says, “We have to live, however we can. In pain if we must, in longing if we must.”

Shunji takes his intel to Murayama: The rebels are planning something at the sending-off of the drafted students. Shunji promises he’s on top of it, then pulls Koiso aside to whisper his plan into his ear. Noooo, I hate when you have secrets from us, Shunji! It’s not good for my health. Also: How will I be able to telepathically shoot warnings Kang-to-ward if I don’t know what you’re up to?

All Koiso asks is whether two men will be enough. Shunji wants bright young guys… uh-oh. My heart just dropped into my stomach. Are you planting moles?

Reporter Song arrives back at camp to report that tomorrow is the big day of the soldier send-off, to take place immediately after the customary worship rite (bowing in the direction of Tokyo, in homage to the emperor).

Kang-to volunteers himself and elite comrades Ahn and Jin, and asks for ten of Dong-jin’s best death squad members. Dong-jin asks whether that’ll be enough, and Kang-to replies that thirteen agents ready to fight to the death in an ambush will be plenty. Yes, but what happens when one of those things is no longer true?

In some downtime, Sun-hwa shows Kang-to how to make daisy chains, and this display of chumminess has Deuk-soo in a fit of nervousnouss. Omg, are you jealous of your hero stealing your girl? That’s hilarious. And adorable.

He even sends her little bro over to spy, though it does him little good. So Deuk-soo blusters at Sun-hwa, wanting to know what she was doing with Kang-to, and his demandy tone is not received well. Ha, or you could just tell her you like her.

Kang-to takes his little flower chain to Mok Dan, sliding the makeshift ring onto her finger and promising to make them for her every morning. Why does this drama make my heart lurch every time these two promise each other anything? Especially when it entails doing something together forever, as though tempting fate?

He takes her hands in his, and asks, “Boon-yi-ah. Will you marry me?”

He says he wants to have the ceremony before Yang Baek returns to Shanghai, as he has happily agreed to preside.

Kang-to asks if she’ll be okay living humbly like this, in tents. Mok Dan accepts his proposal without hesitation, assuring him that the time they’d lived in tents in Manchuria was the happiest of her life.

At the gisaeng house, Katsuyama stands at attention, particularly intent on staying by her side tonight. Rie dismisses him, but they’re both aware of what’s in the air and he protests: “I must protect you.”

She tells him her father won’t kill her like this, secretly and silently. He asks why she can’t just leave. Rie: “I have nowhere to go.”

She follows that by saying she won’t command this much power anywhere else, but it’s the bare meaning that kills me. She literally has nowhere to go. She renounced her motherland, and her Japanese identity is being threatened. Is there a place in the world for her?

Katsuyama argues that her life is in danger — who cares about power? She turns to him, disdaining: “Do you want me to run away with you? What is there that you can do? Anything other than wielding a sword?”

Aww. He just stares at her with those soulful eyes, and asks, “Do you not see my heart?” Omo. Finally. “You can see Lee Kang-to’s heart, and Kimura Shunji’s. Why can you not see mine?”

Her reply: “Katsuyama. Since the age of nine, I’ve been trampled on by men. I have to be even stronger and more powerful than a man.”

He counters that still, she loved Kang-to — and that lost her everything. Rie starts to break down, saying that it’s because she doesn’t want to leave her father. And I wonder if that’s true, given that he’s her sole anchor in this world. Sure, Daddy also wants to kill her, but what’s a thing like that in the face of existential crisis?

Rebellion/rescue day. Dong-jin’s elite thirteen gear up for the big ambush, sent off by their leaders and comrades.

Shunji is delivered his two men, who’ve been debriefed and are ready for their mission. And sure enough, they’re bright-eyed and baby-faced, looking just like students themselves.

These two are among the drafted students marching in the send-off parade, which also includes Kye-soon’s little brother. The whole event is conducted amidst a bombast of propaganda, and the Korean citizens lament the loss of such young souls.

Into this scene comes Gaksital, confronting the procession head-on. That’s a ballsy move, walking right in like the Terminator, not even flinching in the face of the front line of armed soldiers.

The soldiers raise their rifles, but Kang-to’s quicker on the draw and flings daggers into them, knocking soldiers aside and leaping up on the hood of the jeep to level his punishment stick (er, punishment flute?) at the MC, the Korean educator who was so chummy with the Count.

Shunji watches from the sidelines, biding his time, while his two double agents prepare for whatever nefarious scheme he’s cooked up. Not gonna lie, I’m taking a moment to appreciate how nice he looks in pinstripes and a fedora. That is one boss suit, yo.

Back to the point: The crowd cheers as Gaksital clobbers the man in the head with his flute, and then the rest of the death squad moves in. They do an efficient job, and in no time they’ve taken out every soldier. The crowd goes wild.

Reporter Song addresses the crowd, telling him that they are the Dong-jin Death Squad. “From this moment, you are all free.” He gives them the go-ahead to return home to their families: “But! Those who wish to fight for the independence of the Great Han [Korea], follow us!”

Their truck drives up, and they lead the new recruits along with them. Kye-soon’s adorable brother is one of the fervent followers, who he takes a moment to hug noona goodbye. Urg, boy needs a name! Until I hear one, I’m calling him Little Jo In-sung. Kye-soon promises to take care of the family, and he’s off.

But so are the moles. Curses! The death squad truck drives off, and Shunji follows.

Governor Wada blows a gasket at the news. Murayama assures him that Shunji’s trailing Dong-jin, to which Wada bursts out, “How many times has he chased and lost them?!” Touché.

He perks up in a big way, though, when Murayama tells him that there are undercover officers among the students. Immediately he turns around and praises Shunji, which makes me laugh. You were worried that Gaksital is out for you? Ha, you have to be significant enough to merit his attention.

At the camp, Little Jo In-sung is starry-eyed in admiration at seeing Teacher Yang Baek in person. Next to him, Mole #1 forces a smile.

Yang Baek addresses the new recruits, telling an adage about becoming like the insect with a hundred legs — the fight for independence needs strong legs to keep it from falling down, rather than being a battle to kill or become the head. They are the legs protecting their nation that will carry their country. Despite the imagery, he’s almost as good at speeches as Damsari.

The ladies chat about Mok Dan’s wedding tomorrow, and whip up lunch for the men. Kang-to stuffs his face at the table with Boss Jo and Little Jo In-sung — okay, fine, his name is Min-kyu — while the moles listen in from the next table. Urg. I’m actually insulted that they’re eating that precious food. You rats.

Mole-rat #1 slips away to meet Shunji and confirms that Yang Baek, Dong-jin, and Gaksital are all present at the camp, and that they’ve amassed 300 fighters in all.

Shunji reports to Chairman Ueno. He plans to attack swiftly, while they’re still drunk from success — as in, tomorrow morning. Nooo, but what about the wedding? I know there’s a war going on, but you know, in the midst of such epic struggles, it’s really the little things that tide you over.

He asks for soldiers from the national army, and asks for utmost consideration in being allowed to take Gaksital’s life personally.

Chairman Ueno is pleased with his progress, but does ask why he didn’t kill Rie. Shunji answers that he’s tooootally capable of managing his rage without taking it out on her. He makes clear the point that Ueno has basically given Rie’s life into his hands — as in, don’t kill her ’cause it’s not your decision to make anymore.

It’s pretty brash of him to go around “reminding” his murderous boss what not to do, but Ueno likes brash. He smiles in amusement.

Shunji exits as Rie approaches. She asks to have a drink together, and maybe it’s the whole acceptance of death thing, but she’s quite calm and gentle now, no longer the tense ball of nerves she used to be. It’s an interesting change.

She pours him a drink, and he actually pulls the pot away to pour her a drink in return. Wow. Reciprocity, from the raging misogynist? Rie thanks him, saying she’d always been unsure when she’d die. It’s like she’s finally at peace with herself.

But Shunji replies, “Chairman Ueno can’t kill you.” He says he negotiated an agreement, so she can rest at ease. She’s understandably confused, and asks why he’d protect her.

He doesn’t understand it himself, but admits that he’d worried that she’d die ever since learning she wasn’t the chairman’s blood daughter. Are you… admitting you care?

He says he’s found Kang-to and Mok Dan’s hiding place. She asks if he means to kill them both, and he scoffs, “Why would I kill them both?” Rie understands that means he only intends to go after Kang-to.

He says it must be painful to Rie to lose him. She replies that Mok Dan will be in more pain: “No, she’ll die.”

Shunji shakes his head in denial, insisting, “No, she can live happily with me. I’ll show you.” O…..kay. So still crazy about Mok Dan, emphasis on the crazy.

Rie’s incredulous: “Are you a fool?” He gets that manic gleam in his eye again and vows, “If only I have Mok Dan with me — no, if only I have Esther, I can return to who I was before.”

Oh no. He almost sounds like he believes it, too. You want to harbor that hope in him, at the same time that you want to make him drop the delusion and see the light. Although that light just might kill him with its blinding white heat.

Boss Jo gives Kang-to and Mok Dan a parcel — wedding clothes specially prepared for them. He says that Damsari had bought them intending to see the kids married, and asks if he can act in her father’s place today.

Boss Jo thanks Kang-to and adds Damsari’s gratitude as well, and Kang-to promises to take care of Boss Jo as a father from now on. Which, aw.

Shunji addresses his men before moving out, ordering them to capture Yang Baek, Dong-jin, and Mok Dan alive. The others can be killed — as long as they leave Kang-to for him.

As they make their way up the mountainside, Yang Baek presides over the wedding. The happy couple take their places at the altar, cheered on by their friends and surrogate family, while Shunji charges up the hill on his murderous mission.

 
COMMENTS

Oh man, the Kang-to and Shunji confrontation — the knock-down drag-out fight that somehow manages to be a perfect mirroring of their emotional turmoil. That is some skilled writing and directing. I’ve really enjoyed all of this director’s action scenes, which have been shot with a real effort to differentiate one from another, with cool angles and impressive fighting sequences, but also without losing grasp of the emotional thread running through it. What good’s a fight scene if it doesn’t actually mean anything? You may as well play a video game.

In a drama full of interesting fight scenes, this one stands out for being particularly well-done. I love the duality of it — they’re fighting on two, maybe even three levels, all at once. Clever AND efficient! There’s your basic level where the fight is two enemies engaging in a physical clash. Then there’s the added layer where they’re taking out all their betrayal and anger and yes, I think also self-hate, at each other; the fight becomes physical manifestation of their emotional state, culminating in Kang-to’s awesome moment of indecision and, ultimately, mercy.

Although, I wouldn’t paint it as mercy in a benevolent sense. It’s perhaps as much backing down for his own sake as it is for Shunji’s, because I don’t know if Kang-to would survive killing him. Rie says that Mok Dan would die if Kang-to died, but I think the two friends’ relationship is even more fraught and more powerful in that regard. It’s not simple love binding them together (not that love is simple, but you know what I mean), but a terrible and terribly complicated exchange of loving, hating, wronging, and being wronged by each other.

That’s also what makes Shunji so awesome as a villain, because even when he’s being freakish and frightening, I don’t see him as a monster. I see him as a human with a motherfuckin’ huge dark streak and a propensity to choose the mean, vengeful path, but he’s not the kind of mustache-twirler you get in more simplistic dramas. Shunji may have made every wrong decision when confronted with a choice, and he’s culpable for all of those decisions, but every step of the way I understood how he came to be where he was.

That trajectory is credible and eerily realistic (inasmuch as you might know anyone in real life that dark and terrible), and I’m so freaking impressed with Park Ki-woong, and also strangely proud, as if I have any claim to be proud of some famous dude I have no ties to. It’s just that I’ve seen him being the careless charmer who, by his own admission, never put a lot of effort into his acting, who had an epiphany and started working really hard and became this committed, fearless actor.

(Which isn’t to ignore Joo-won, who I love for being without vanity in a way that really enhances his characters. I love when actors get so committed to their roles that it’s like they forget about the cameras [though of course, they still manage to hit their marks perfectly and catch the light at just the right angles!]. It’s enough to make your brain combust looking at pics like this, because, well, DOES NOT COMPUTE.)

I was actually a little taken aback at Shunji’s comment to Rie about being desperate to live happily with Mok Dan, because I’d written off his character still being capable of that kind of self-awareness. He showed signs of it in the past, worrying to Kang-to that he was turning into a monster, and then he went and lost his mind and became consumed by his desire to “win” — whatever that entails. But confessing that he wants Mok Dan because he wants to reclaim his past self? I LOVE THIS.

It hit me in the heart, and made me incredibly sad for him as well, partly because it’s completely wrong thinking and you don’t know whether to pity him or encourage him. I won’t say that anyone’s irredeemable — at least, not characters painted with such nice depth — but It evokes so much pathos for this character because we can all see that it’s a rather futile hope. Yet it’s the thing he needs to believe, in order to exist. If he didn’t, he might crumple for good — like he does in those brief moments of raw emotion before he dredges up his iron will and forces his vulnerabilities aside.

In fact, I’d chalked him up as someone who no longer wanted that redemption for himself. It makes him a much more tragic character — a villain who wants to be one of the good guys again. Who doesn’t know how, so he clutches at straws. Clinging to Mok Dan as a lifeline to his past was a powerful confession, and I almost wish they’d drawn it out earlier. I don’t expect the drama to transform Shunji into a good guy in our final episode — poof! evil be gone — but neither has this show let Kang-to forget his own transgressions. So I look forward to tomorrow’s epic finale, with excitement and maybe just a little fear.

Pins and needles, y’all. PINS AND NEEDLES.

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161 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Maya

    Thanks JB!

    • 1.1 Maya

      Yeay for a working internet connection in my apartment! I can finally watch Gaksital properly, and by properly meant that I was a blubbering mess after this episode. I cried during that scene where Kang To almost kill Shunji, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. That flashback to their happier time just killed me. Esp since those happy times are the ones that always kept me from hating Shunji and hoping that he will snap back to his old self. I cried again when Kang To was crying in front of his soup while thinking of Shunji (seriously, this drama totally makes me believe that boiled potatoes and now soup can really make you cry). I cried also when Mok Dan said that she will cook for Kang To everyday, and when Kang To put the flower ring on her finger, can’t help but think of how many days/mornings left for her and him to do that. I really do think that this show has really opened some kind of emotional floodgate in me.
      I loved Kang To-Mok Dan (and also Sung Hwa-Village hothead, the jealous moment was adorable) moments here. I never ship them so much until recent episodes, especially this one. I just want a happy ending for them both. Badly. When they looked and smiled at each other during the ceremony. I felt happy as well as sad because I kept thinking that the writers are trying to bring up the cuteness/romance level up in this episode to balance the dark/possibly tragic ending tomorrow, which I really don’t want to start assuming because I think I’m gonna start crying again…[i] This is like reading final chapters of Harry Potter all over again…[/i] :(

      • 1.1.1 tapioca pearl

        I agree. This is like Harry Potter 7 all over again (where a whole bunch of people died!). I have very few true loves in my life. Harry Potter is one of them, and next to that will be Gaksital.

        • 1.1.1.1 Maru

          Stop. Please stop with the Harry Potter comparisons. I don’t want to think about what’s gonna happen tomorrow. I’m scared, and amazed at the same time.

          Java and Girlfriday should put a hotline for us tomorrow so we can give strength to each other!

          • 1.1.1.1.1 Maya

            I’m scared too, but I guess it’s better to prepare for the worst. So that when it actually ends on a rather happy note, we’ll feel much better about it. And please share me the numbers of the hotline service if it has been set up!

        • 1.1.1.2 Maya

          I’m so with you. Gaksital will also be one of my true loves along with Harry Potter…

    • 1.2 Ivoire

      Hello Maya,

      I am glad the internet is working in your apt as well. Like you, I loved the romantic and touching moments in this episode. Village Hothead being jealous was indeed adorable. The way LKT looked at MDR (in the garden when he asked her to marry him, and on the wedding day), awwww… Joo Won is really good at conveying those feelings with his eyes and the lighting looked so good on him. It reminded me of his OB days :-)…

      I was thinking about you when I was watching PKW walk (I watched 3 epis. today, 25, 26 and 27), especially when I could see him walk for a while. I always like to see how actors and actresses carry their body in a movie or drama, because it informs the viewer about how the character feels at the moment, but also at times of how the actor/actress actually walks. You know me, I tend pay attention to details like that :-)

      I have noticed that PKW waddles some, and so does LMH, (I have noticed LMH’s since his BOF days) and LMH’s waddling is more pronounced, although you don’t see it as much in Faith (it was very obvious in his 3 previous dramas). In any case, PKW does this tilting to the left and the right when he walks, I find that interesting. Maybe he doesn’t waddle per se, but his tilting is quite noticeable. It made me think about you because I had brought that to your attention, just random thoughts…

      I don’t want to sound negative, but part of me wonders if the wedding is actually going to go through in the last episode. Shunji is so intent of having MDR for himself that I wouldn’t be surprised if he disrupted the wedding, to make sure that LKT and MDR don’t get married. I guess we will find out tomorrow.

      • 1.2.1 Maya

        Hello Iv,

        Yes, I remember when you brought up his way of walking. He’s got some swag when he walks.. :D
        I don’t want to imagine what’s gonna happen as well tonight. I think it’s better to approach it with being prepared for a totally tragic ending, but thinking about it just make my head hurts. I’m just so emotionally invested in this drama. I feel like Shunji will be the wedding crasher by shooting at them before the wedding ends and… *headache*

        Btw that scene where Shunji was running in slo-mo, by himself, towards the ceremony, really made me feel like I was watching an MV for a ballad song :D

      • 1.2.2 Ivoire

        Hi Maya,

        Not only does PKW has some swag when he walks, but he tends to pull his shoulders up when he walks (and maybe when he is in character. I don’t know if he normally walks like that). You can clearly see it when you see him walking from the back. I am smiling right now, because it is interesting the things I pay attention to, or better yet, the things I happen to notice. I always wonder how much of it is the actor/actress being in character and how much of it is just the actor/actress being him/herself.

        Yeah, I don’t have too much hope for the ending. The writers might have a line of hope at the very end, because well, South Korea is free today (although foreign countries had to get involved) but considering the times in which the drama takes place, and staying in line with those years, I don’t know… (It doesn’t bode too well, from where I am standing).

        This: “Btw that scene where Shunji was running in slo-mo, by himself, towards the ceremony, really made me feel like I was watching a MV for a ballad song” made me smile :-). It will all be over today. (It has already been over in SK :-))

        Did you participate in the crazy whirlwind that took place during TK2Hs on DB? This reminds me a little of those times, although I am a little surprised that BM is not getting as many comments as TK2Hs, as a whole. That’s interesting. I wonder if it has something to do with the subject matter…

        • 1.2.2.1 Maya

          Hi Iv,
          I just finished watching the finale. And I just can’t keep my tears from coming down. I didn’t join the craze when TK2Hs was airing, I did watch it though. But I wasn’t as invested in TK2HS as I was with Gaksital. So I rarely checked DB when it was airing (that and also because it was aired during the month where I still have classes). Gaksital’s recap is probably the only recap I’ve followed faithfully (to the point of stalking) every week and the one where I almost always left comments on. I guess that’s why I’m so emotionally invested in it. I ponder on the characters, the storyline, how each character and scene kind of intertwined and mirroring one another. And I like that the essence of the story was not solely on the love story between the leads, but it extends to the love for the country. And never being a nationalist myself, I’m surprised that the drama managed to tugged my heart on that part. Definitely gonna be hard to let this one go.

          On PKW: I do think that he has different pose from when he’s in character and when he’s not. As you pointed out, I feel like he adjusted his pose to accentuate his villainous character. I’ve seen some BTS clips and he acted just as cute as JW when he’s off camera. Just like JB said, it just doesn’t compute. I totally admired their acting skills in this drama. Both PKW and JW. I really can feel that they’re working hard to portray their characters..

        • 1.2.2.2 Maya

          Btw, I forgot to add, I guess it’s because Gaksital is darker and more twisted than TK2HS. It opened up with a bloody torture scene, our hero was evil, and then he killed his own brother. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, I guess that’s why it’s not getting as many comments. It also downplayed the romance between the leads. TK2HS was funnier and lighter, and it has Lee Seunggi (who’s more popular than JW, I guess)… :) I’m not sure about the subject matter though, I’m sure it’ll be hard to watch for people who went through those time firsthand, but for me personally the subject matter was one of the things that got me watching at the beginning (kinda struck a chord)

        • 1.2.2.3 Ivoire

          Hi Maya,

          I just now noticed your responses, thank you for those. Based on how you describe your experience with this drama (how vested you were in it while it aired and how much you participated on DB), I can see how hard it will be for you to let it go.

          I watched TK2Hs from the beginning, out of curiosity, mostly. I wanted to see LSG act, I had never seen him in anything. I had seen him as a host of 1N2D (he was good) and I had seen sing once (was not impressed) and I had read a lot of good things about him as a person. The drama didn’t hook me right away. Jae Ha was your typical chaebol type who had it made and was not in touch with reality, even though in this case, he was a prince.

          When LSG had to do the speech in episode 5 (I think) where he pretends to love Hang Ha, not realizing that he had started to fall for her was when I started to pay attention to LSG, and started to feel drawn in. I kept watching because I wanted to see if LSG would drop the ball, acting wise. Imho, he never did. Whether he was acting around people his age or close or the sunbaes and veteran actors/actresses, he brought it and rose to their levels and that impressed me a lot. TK2Hs also had a lot of really good and talented actors, both young and older.

          I loved the OST and I have it. I was a foreign Languages major (and Communications) in College, so I loved the issues that drama touched on and addressed. The fact that North Korea was a topic was a welcomed bonus. TK2Hs wasn’t perfect, but in a way, like BM, it wasn’t your typical Kdrama. I was surprised at the # of comments, some 1,200; 1600; 1800 and the last episode has 2,430+comments to date, which is just WOW!!!! (the other shows I have seen with a lot of comments have been City Hunter [up to 700+ comments] and the last episode of Big [800+ comments]).

          I kind of liked that in the process of filming TK2HS, LSG had a huge crush on HJW (he admitted that in interviews, kind of) and it was obvious. I think it helped him portray those feelings that felt so real when looking at his face (when he would look at her). I developed a new level of appreciation for LSG after watching that drama. This was the 1st drama I had to grieve and let go, after it was over. I had never experienced that and I couldn’t watch another drama right after that. I tried watching QIHM’s and I couldn’t get into it. I was watching RP at the same time, and RP was my light drama and TK2Hs my intense one. BM brought intense to a whole other level.

          Re: LSG being more popular than JW (and hence TK2Hs getting more comments), I think LSG is more popular b/c he has worn more hats than Joo Won so far. Joo Won started in theatre, so not many people outside of SK would know him. LSG is one of the models for Samsung products, he is an MC, a singer, actor and has had more appearances and concerts outside of SK than Joo Won. Joo Won (and I am not putting him down) doesn’t have the international exposure and experience that LSG has, so far. LSG has sung at Carnegie Hall in NY, he carried the torch for the Olympics (representing Samsung), etc… Those things are huge.

          I can see why when GF and JB did the podcast on BM, they called the actors no (big) names actors. I didn’t understand why at the time and I was a little offended at that (I knew of Joo Won b/c of OB and BKKTG and of 1N2D, so I thought everyone knew about him as well, or at least a lot of people). Someone explained to me what they meant, and it made sense then. That doesn’t take away from JW and PKW’s talent and hard work and dedication to their craft. I was just stating a fact and trying to explain it.

          The reason I mentioned PKW and his walk and things I notice about actors/actresses is b/c Denzel Washington (and other actors) (Denzel is African American) have mentioned this thing where when you play a character, sometimes the character will instruct the actor as to how to play him/her.

          Denzel did a movie called “Glory” when he was a soldier (during the American war, I think) and there was a scene where he had to be beaten (by a white person) and he had to cry. He said that he called on his (black) ancestors to help him understand what that kind of humiliation would feel like and he said he felt their presence then. Powerful stuff. And that scene is beautiful, btw.

          You read and hear of actors/actresses taking their character home and needing a few weeks to have the character get out of them. When I see SK actors, especially the young ones, I wonder how their process is. LMH talked about the same thing when he did CH. The 1st time he had to smile felt weird to him (after CH), b/c he had to be gloomy for so long. He totally felt strange. Those are the kinds of things I am interested in :-), hence the fact that I mentioned PKW’s walk in the drama (hope that makes sense).

          I tried to touch on every point you mentioned. I hope my post made sense.

          • 1.2.2.3.1 Maya

            Hi Iv,

            I guess by this point, you already know how bad the withdrawal effect is for me. I’m pretty much going all Shunji-in-the-forest-when-he-realized-MD-is-dead. No one gives a better denial lesson than Shunji himself, and you know I always got a little bit of Shunji’s vibes in me doncha… ;) Anyway, I always got a little bit sentimental when I got to a finale of a drama or book, especially when I stick with them for such a length of time. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t love the show as much if I didn’t watch it as it airs. I don’t think that I’ll even be able to watch it in one seating. It’s pretty intense. And despite the amazing cliffhangers the show managed to pull week after week, I think I would need to take a break at some point.

            I actually didn’t plan to watch it in the beginning, because I planned my Wednesday night for Ghost (mainly because of So Ji Sub, I’ve liked him ever since Glass Shoes, back when I watched him in high schools). But because it was fully subbed before Ghost, I decided to watch it first, and boy was I hooked from the beginning. I just loved how tightly-packed the drama is. And how there were never one single boring moment. I can even sit through the silliness of the Count because I know something else will come to surprise me.

            I liked TKH2S from the beginning. I love comedy and the show managed to bring a good laugh from the first episode. Ha Ji Won’s a badass heroine, and I dig that. I also love watching character’s transformation (hence, the love for Gaksital), and I was curious to see how LSG’s I-just-want-to-have-fun-and-I-couldn’t-care-less-about-the-country attitude would change gradually. I can also buy the world that they set up in the drama, South Korea as a monarchy and trying to tie the knot with North Korea. I loved the side characters. One thing that threw me a bit off from the drama was the villain though. I found him too quirky for me, and I sometimes skipped the scene with him in it. And if I didn’t dramathon the first 14 episodes or so, I think I would have liked it more. So I totally can see why so many people loved it and why it has a humongous number of comments. It’s intense, the romance was never put on the backseat, it’s funny, it has its shares of emotional scenes but not as much as Gaksital (I read OT comments and I think that this is the main reason why people avoid it). And at some point, you just know that the show will end on happy note (although not for all of the main casts. I’m still bummed when was killed off).

            And I think I’m starting to get your point about subject matter, and that’s too nationalistic. I really think that main essence of the show is to fight for what you own identity and freedom. And I think that was the main point of resistance movement. And Gaksital portrayed the struggle that people at that day have to face. They live in an era where they are forced to bury their own identities, where they have to forget their own language and take up other names/identities just so they survive at that time. And where they live in constant fears of how one small resistance move can get them into trouble. So seeing that last scene really gave me goose bumps in the sense that these people are willing to shake off their fears and fight their dictators for their own identities and freedom and their own country. And that’s powerful stuffs.

            I knew LSG from Strong Heart (it’s a talk show that he MC’d with Kang Ho Dong), and I loved him there. He’s really witty and he carried himself well too and I think I can see why he received the nation’s son-in-law title. That show made me realized how popular he really is, that there’s this running joke that the reason he was the co-MC was because of the Lee Seung Gi effects. And it’s shown also by the numbers of commercials he has under his belt and other recognitions he got both in Korea and overseas. And it’s understandable since he has started working in the field since 6 to 7 years ago. Meanwhile Joo Won is fairly new to the entertainment world, but I think he does great in just a span of 2 years. It also helped that he starred in high ratings dramas. Tbh, I started noticing him only after watching 1N2D and Gaksital. I watched BKKTG because my mom loved that show, but I didn’t watch it regularly because it used to air (back in my country) at 4 or 5 PM, and I’m normally still at work at that time and when I have the time to watch it, I was distracted at how pretty YSY is that I didn’t really pay that much attention on him there. But then again I only watched 10 episodes in total, and I filled the gaps in the story from my mom. But I love him now after Gaksital (not gonna claim him though because I’m sure that there’s a long line out there), and I really can’t wait to see his new project. I’m thinking of maybe starting OB too, I heard that he has an amazing chemistry with Uee on that show, and I really want to see that. :) Is it any good btw, Iv?

            I love love love Denzel Washington! And I think I know which scene you’re talking about, is that the one where he got whipped in public under the order of the colonel? I watched the movie a long time ago so my memory is really blurry, but I do remember that scene. It was powerful and I think he won the Oscar for that movie, right?

            I would say that it’s understandable if the actors couldn’t shake off their characters immediately after shooting ended. Like how LMH found it hard to smile after CH or LSG having a crush on HJW. In a way, they have to stay in their characters so that they would deliver the same level of acting whenever the filming starts. That’s why I’m kinda amused by how fast JW and PKW could switch between the characters, and still deliver that level of intensity in their acting. I loved watching the BTS clips, I watched that scene where Shunji finds out about Kang To as Gaksital, and the moment the director yelled cut. JW suddenly grabbed his hands and said something (maybe something cute/funny) and PKW’s eyes suddenly changed from this intense look he always had and laugh afterwards. It was as I said, amusing. Talking about that intense look in PKW’s eyes, I’m really impressed at how he can really give off different impression when he’s pretending to be nice and when he’s sincerely nice. That last scene when he smiled at Kang To and told him to wait for him outside, I totally knew that he’s not going to shoot Kang To when he turned his back on him. It’s really different than when he’s being manipulative and faking a smile. The smile looked the same, but the feelings were different. I think it’s all in his eyes really. And I think I need to rewatch the first few episodes to see whether he walked differently too. Uh, and I can’t wait to see PKW’s new project too! :D

            Ok I hope I’m not rambling too much here. I tried to address your points, Iv, but I think I got too carried away… Hope you don’t mind if it’s getting too long.. :D

          • 1.2.2.3.2 Ivoire

            Hi Maya,

            Thank you so much for your long response. I would like to answer you in the email, if that is OK with you. Look for my answer later in our email exchanges. I hope you having a great weekend :-)

  2. Autumn

    My heart hurts. And I know I’m going to be suffering Gaksital withdrawals. You can tell a drama is going to end when the characters start dying off and the main couple gets married. :,(

    Don’t leave me, dramaaaa

    • 2.1 Autumn

      I sort of take back my initial hate for Shunji. In previous episodes I didn’t see the cracks in his facade. Or maybe I did, but the fact that he’s so manipulative with his expressions didn’t make me think it was genuine emotion or regret. He’s just a pitiful being, that guy.

      Lol you’re not alone. I’m proud of Park Ki Woong too. He’s been on my radar ever since Story of a Man and he can only get better. I look forward to this guy’s future projects.

  3. Ivoire

    Thanks!

    • 3.1 Ivoire

      I am done watching epi.27 and I am done reading the recap. Thank you so much JB for another great recap and for another great and interesting analysis. I also (always) appreciate the touch of funny comments in the recaps on this blog.

      As with many episodes of Gaksital, I will start by saying again:”Wow, just WOW!!!!” I am really impressed with many of the actors and actresses here, and I have been singing PKW’s praises (his acting in this drama) for a loooong time now, on some of the BM recaps and on OTs. Yes, he impresses me, and so does Joo Won. I do like seeing the actress who plays Rie as well and her bodyguard and their exchange today, when he didn’t want to leave her was so moving. We knew he loved her, but still, for him to put his heart out like that and be rejected and insulted at the same time, was hard to watch.

      I thought the killing of Kimura Taro was quick, within the first 3mns of the episode. I was surprised. I thought it would have been dragged out a little longer, letting us see Taro fight for his life… It kind of felt like Kimura T. was dead as soon as the fight started (if what I just said made sense).

      I have so much more I would like to say, and I also have some questions:
      1–I think I must not be the only one who moves on her seat, and jumps and shouts during the action/fight scenes and during the beatings and tortures the characters endure in this show. Out of curiosity, I was wondering, how real are the beatings, especially when a character is laying on the floor like we have seen a few times with LKT? I am assuming they rehearse those scenes, but they look so real, and sometimes, the camera actually shows the foot going into the person on the floor, several times.
      Even for the fight scenes, I wonder how often the characters actually get hit, to make it look real. One reads of actors/actresses injuring themselves on the set, and I wonder if some of those injuries happen during fight scenes and beatings such as the ones we have seen during dramas such as this one.

      2–I have noticed that when characters (such as Shunji for instance) get tense or really angry or full of hate, some veins pop out of their faces. How do you guys think they make that happen? I was wondering if the actors get injected with something to make sure that the vein is protruding for a particular scene. I have seen people get really angry in my life, but I haven’t seen veins bulging out on their faces. That happens a few times with Shunji (at least I have noticed that with him) and I am just curious about the process of getting there.

      Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on my questions. Very often, when I watch a drama or a movie, I become interested in the process of making such drama or movie and I wish I could be an insect on the wall, watching the BTSs and the technical stuff happen. I find that fascinating as well.

  4. Mawiie

    That wedding dress is making me nervous… Maybe I’ve been reading tvtropes.org way too much, but it usually end up splattered in blood T.T

    • 4.1 Airyn

      Omo, I was thinking exactly that! Just this once, I hope they trump the trope.

      • 4.1.1 muhloy

        should we all agree to have some faith in this show?

        afterall, it DOES keep surprising us!

    • 4.2 tapioca pearl

      No matter what, I couldn’t get this vision of a bloody dress out of my head even as she was walking down the aisle. I fear it may happen. Shudders.

    • 4.3 Farpavilions

      Ha! That was my first thought too when I saw the dress. Then my practical snarky side took over and I wondered a.) how Damsari knew her exact measurements and b.) how he managed to pay for it in the midst of an occupation and with no apparent income source. Don’t think La Resistance would appreciate money going into silk and sequins instead of bullets, yo?

      • 4.3.1 Ivoire

        Hello Farpavilions,

        You had me LOL with your practical snarky side and your questions :-). Need I remind you that this is a Kdrama, and as we KNOW in Kdramas, logic very often has to go out the window, otherwise we would be pulling our hair out (a lot more) and not be as vested in the drama. I did like your thoughts though, because I often think along the same lines when watching a drama.
        I think that in this case however, La Resistance would have been forgiving of some money being spent on a beautiful dress for MDR’s wedding to LKT. The poor woman has been through so much in her young life, wouldn’t you agree?

        Please, keep those snarky and funny comments coming :-)…

        • 4.3.1.1 HOOP

          Lol, like the way KT changes in one second in and out of his uniform and BM clothes…

  5. Maru

    Yay! Another episode.

    Buuuuu… is almost over!! =’( I’ll read the recap, and then come back!

    • 5.1 Maru

      There are a couple of favorite scenes in today episode!

      The first one was when Shunji and Kang To were fighting and crying at the same time… offf… amazing! I swear I felt bad for Shunji again in this scene. I’m so sorry for what I’m about to say… but I did not felt ANY sadness nor empathy when he was mourning his father. Shunji, there is no way in hell you can make me feel bad for your fathers’ death.

      Other scene was Katsuyama with Rie… sigh. Katsuyama, I’ll escape with you any day of the week! Ask me!

      The conversation between Shunji and Rie… ooof. Actually, in that moment I realized that I want Shunji to have the same epiphany as Kang To… the moment when he realized nothing he did was worth it and there’s no point of return. Because he is putting his faith in Mok Dan, in someone who doesn’t have faith and someone he will destroy in the path of achieving what he wants. It’s crazy, he wants what he will end up destroying and losing in the end because of what he did to get her. Fucked up. Shunji, your future is not bright.

      What I just said makes me realized that, maybe? Maybe I want Mok Dan to die? I think is the only way we can actually see Shunji lose it! I really don’t want her to die, I’m kidding, Show! I want a happy ending, you hear me!

      Last but not least, I knew what Shunji was gonna do to get to our heroes hidding place… you keep doing what you do best, my psyco friend, keep using your brain!!! I have to say, the only think that really bothers me about this show is the little common sense our freedom fighters have sometimes! I mean, I don’t care if you give information under torture, but try and communicate with the Squad and tell what happen!

      Whatever happens tomorrow, I am grateful of this experience! Is the first time I debate about a Show and it has been amazing! We can cry of laugh tomorrow together!

      • 5.1.1 Rashell

        Awww my heart broke for Katsuyama too. He finally said flat out what everyone knows and she still wouldn’t go with him. But he won’t leave her either.

        Really all of these relationships have so much depth to them. It makes this drama so rich to watch.

        I know someone is going to die in the end and I’m just not sure I can pick which one it should be. Even Shunji is someone I’m not ready to let go of.

        Only one more hour of this drama left. I don’t want it to end, and yet I can’t wait to watch.

        • 5.1.1.1 Maru

          I’m not ready to let go of any character either! This show hurts in such a good way. Thak you, show, you made me a masochist!

          I kept guessing in today’s episode who could die and who could live. The truth is, I know some people are gonna die and maybe one or two of our leads are in that list! and I’m actually looking forward to that. It was like Kang To torture scene, I did not wanted to see that but at the same time craved for it because I knew it was gonna be amazing!

          Arg… this show made me crazy… and then I go around badmouthing Shunji! =P

        • 5.1.1.2 Maru

          But, after today’s episode and seeing how Shunji still thinks Mok Dan is his salvation… I want to explore what could happen to him if he ends up killing her or destroying her completely! And the rewind and see a happy ending!

          Can they do various version of the finale? :P

          • 5.1.1.2.1 Rashell

            For some reason Mok Dan is who I worry about dying the most. Her death impacts the two leads the most. So it seems the most likely in a way. And even though she’s the character I’ve cared about least, I still don’t want to see her die. It will destroy Kang To and take away the last hope of salvation for Shunji (even if his hope is unrealistic). I don’t know, but all of the talk just made me feel like she was the one to go. And wearing a white dress in the second to last episode is just begging for a bloody death in k-drama land.

          • 5.1.1.2.2 Ivoire

            Hi Maru,

            Welcome to the commenting about your kdrama viewing with others. It does make your kdrama viewing experience that much richer and that much more fun, doesn’t it?

            I liked this: “Can they do various versions of the finale?” You don’t ask for much, do you :-)? Interesting thought though…

            I do agree with you and Rashell that I could see MDR being sacrificed for dramatic reasons. It will indeed affect LKT and Shunji deeply, in different ways, but deeply nonetheless. And also yes, that white dress does look like it’s calling for being splattered with blood.

          • 5.1.1.2.3 Maru

            I can’t concentrate today… is impossible. I need to know the ending!

            Attending class today is going to be a pain in the…

          • 5.1.1.2.4 Ivoire

            Hang in there ladies,

            The episode is already out and all you have to do is watch it. @ Maru, I hope you made it through your classes today and Maya, I hope that you are still in one piece when you read this and after you have watched the final episode.

            This: “Is it too late to ask for another extension?” I am not sure how much good this would do to the drama…

        • 5.1.1.3 Maya

          Me too. I don’t want to let this drama and its many characters go yet…
          Is it too late to ask for another extension? :D

  6. stars4u

    The fight scene between Kang-to and Shunji is really heartbreaking, thinking back on those memories they shared. Whichever road this drama takes, it’s either one of them or both of them would die. But I do hope both of them gets to live though I’m not sure how Shunji would cope up after everything.
    I’m loving Rei even more.

    I can’t believe it’s going to end tomorrow. I will be missing this drama but one thing is for sure, I won’t be re-watching this anytime soon. My heart needs rest.

    • 6.1 muhloy

      the fight WAS so wonderful and horrible at the same time! when kang to was choking shunji i couldn’t believe how torn i was.

      on the one hand i wanted shunji dead and out of the way but the actual act of kang to killing him with his bare hands was just too much for me to take and i found myself yelling at the screen for kang to to stop!

      ooooof it’s just so fucking GOOD!

      • 6.1.1 Aparna

        Oh my god. Thats exactly how I felt. Dont get me wrong. I hate Shunji. He is too far gone to the dark side. I realised this when he started randomly killing and torturing people and when he tried to manipulate Kangto after confirming with his own hands that he is Gaksital.

        But I didnt want Kangto to kill Shunji because I want Kangto to have a clean conscience at the end of it all. He had his revenge and he killed all the guys who were responsible for betraying and killing his dad. In this one aspect this show was so different from City Hunter which teased us with the possibilities but wimped out when it came to the actual act of killing someone. But I didnt want Kangto to kill Shunji because he could have never forgiven himself and their wonderful memories would have made him to live a very empty life.

        There was another point about this show that I found amazing. About the way it shows some of the characters as idealists. I know clean white characters do not make exciting viewing and little shades of grey in people can thrill. But this show rocked with a whole bunch of idealists – Mok Dan, Dam sari etc etc. They were very inspiring to me. And as they say, the cynics can only doubt, it is the idealists who can actually bring a change. I am sure every country had its fair share of idealists who gave up so much of their life’s comforts to stand by their ideals and principles which is probably why we enjoy so much independence today. I remember how some fans on Vikii loved Rie over MokDan for being badass. Rie just lost out in the end. It is Mokdan who gets the ring and the proposal at the end of the day. I loved MokDan’s bravery and single-minded determination right from the first episode.

        Thank you Gaksital. You are one of the best shows I have ever watched and I will always remember you.

      • 6.1.2 missjb

        Before talking about dirty your own hand to kill your ex friend, I think Kang To need to start apoligize to Shunji FIRST! SOme people maybe doesn,t want to admit it, but actually, Kang To’s action was one of the reason Shunji went to the dark sides… This holes irked me so much to no end, makes me loathe Kang To’s character

        • 6.1.2.1 Aparna

          Thats actually not true. He saw Gaksital killing his brother, followed him out chased him to the end of a cliff and saw him jump off and that should have been the end of his rage. It was his stupid fault for getting sucked into the dirty politics played by his dad and becoming extremely vengeful. His wrong choices at every turn of the story made him turn out this way. And I am sorry if that came off rudely. But I merely wanted to point it out.

          • 6.1.2.1.1 missjb

            My point is Kang To maybe not the main reason Shunji the way he is now, But I Believe he is one of the reason.
            I believe too, both Kang To and Shunji has wrong each other, but it irked me so much this drama doesn’t want to pointed out it yet. It’s always Shunji.

        • 6.1.2.2 missjb

          @Aparna:
          Well, we have different opinion, or Am I Missing something?
          In My Point of view,
          KT first Killed Kenji, without thinking first about Shunji’s feeling, a person who, according to his, is his friend. It make Shunji lost his sanity for a while. But this action is not one of the main reason he went to the dark side, since they are all claimed Gaksital had died. After that, he still stand about his choice, he doesn’t want to involved and still want to be a teacher. But suddenly, Everyone around him directly and inderectly push him to join Imperial Officer. Kang To is one of those people. He naively told Taro about his past relationship with Mok Dan, and it makes Taro Angry and pushed Shunji, if not he will not acknowledge by HIS FATHER, in a foreign country, for god sake. And KT innocently visited Shunji to accompolish Taro’s order, Without REGRET or HESTITARE. Think about his position, he has no choice.
          And Kang To was the one who knews the most, that Imperial Officer environment is a horrible place. KT makes him lost his care free life with him killed his hyung Kenji, force him to join imperial officer, Lied to him numorous of time, utilize his friend position in Imperial Officer to maintain his position as long as he could, without feeling conflicted or remorse… Some one said Kang To has worst friend Shunji. I beg to differ. What kind of friend who didn’t consider his best friend feeling before he take action, especially when if that will change his friend whole life?

          • 6.1.2.2.1 piaaa

            What if you bestfriend’s brother killed your mother and side to your mother’s killer without knowing that you actually killed your brother who is just trying to revenge for your mother’s death. How would you feel? Of course you’ll not see light anymore and the people around and just go directly to kill him.

            On episode 12, I think. We saw Kang-to’s turmoil that he’s feeling sorry for Shunji and we feel the same way too. So that does that.

          • 6.1.2.2.2 missjb

            @piaaa:
            In episode 12, actually I felt Kang To is more feeling Symphaty towards Shunji rather than felt remorse for what he did in epi 8. He felt sorry for Shunji has to get through the same thing, and more concern if killing each other can’t be avoid. I expected KT continously felt remorse for his wrong action after that, but it didn’t happenned.

        • 6.1.2.3 Jellybeaniebaby

          Nope. Shunji’s dad started it. He killed KT’s father, which lead to KangSan to become BM. Then Kenji Killed KT’s mother and in protecting Kenji from BM’s revenge for that, he took Kenji’s side and shot his brother.

          ALL of KT’s family had been killed as a result of the Kimura family actions BEFORE KT killed Kenji.

          Shunji was the one needing to do the apologizing.

          • 6.1.2.3.1 missjb

            WHy Shunji is the one who should apolagize just because His family wrong doing? before this tragedy started, He was innocent! Why Shunji is the one who have to take all the cause?

            Just like I said, I’m not saying KT is the main reason, but he is one of the reason.

            It reminds me of The Devil (Mawang), The villain started innocent, but taking revenge after all whole his family died. He started being avenger.

            Yes, It’s someone choice or decision that makes they are bad or good. But their choice sometimes depends on circumstances, condition, and their psychology at that time. In Shunji’s case, his psychology was unstable after his Brother’s death. It shaken him.
            Kang To should aware of this if he really was his friend. The fact after both of their brother’s died, Shunji was the one who came after him and comforting him, shown their friendship is always one side love.

          • 6.1.2.3.2 aramint

            I’m not that good with either words or English, still, I wanna butt in. Hee… ^^

            I find this whole debate on choices interesting. We have different opinions, no one is right or wrong, it’s what makes this world merrier.

            Kang-to chose to side with the Japanese even when they are trying to acquire his own country. Shunji chose to love Joseon’s people even though his own country dislike them.

            Kang-to had mental breakdown when his mother and brother were killed, and instead of mourning and letting go, chose to avenge their death. Same goes to Shunji who had mental breakdown when his brother was killed and instead of mourning and letting go, he chose to avenge his death.

            Circumstances made Kang-to choosing to be Gaksital, and circumstances made Shunji choosing to be Gaksital capturer. Kang-to chose to fight for his belief, and Shunji chose to fight for his belief.

            So, who’s to blame? As for me, I choose to put the blame on the war. Whatever sentiment, patriotism or differences that we have, a war is never an answer. A war is bad, no matter how hard we try to justify it.

            If not because of the war, we might still have our kind hearted and adorable Kang-to and Shunji, living happily together as best friends.

            Finally, I’d like to quote one of the most favorite answers given by beauty pageants’ contestants around the world whenever asked what is their dream, “World Peace!” ^.^

          • 6.1.2.3.3 Maya

            @aramint: that’s a well said statement! :)

          • 6.1.2.3.4 missjb

            I agree with you,
            Actually, I’m not take all the blame into Kang To’s action at all. It’s understable.
            My point is, Actually I just want the drama to acknowledge that what KANGTO did to Shunji also Unfair. To SHow it, at least, from the get go let the viewers knows with showing Kang To feeling remorse when he Lied to Shunji, when watching his friend killing people, etc.. It makes Kang To more human. But No, I felt like Kang To has consider Shunji as his enemy without getting through feeling remorse fase first. benefit his relationship with him to maintain his position without feeling remorse.
            Just like Shunji when he actually knows Kang San died with Kang To’s hand, he actually felt remorse. I expected Kang To get through the same thing.
            But NO, as if a drama want to tell us, it’s okay what Kang To did but It’s not okay for Shunji.

          • 6.1.2.3.5 mai

            I don’t think the writers handled this aspect of the story properly. For 26 episodes, Kang-To’s inner turmoil regarding his friendship with Shunji was ignored. This led me to believe that he did not feel any remorse for using their friendship to his advantage.

            What happened to Kang-To’s family was becuz of Kenji, not Shunji. So, when Kang-To was seeking revenge for his family’s death, the writers should have shown him being conflicted about it. He had a deep friendship with Shunji, not a superficial one; the breakdown of that friendship deserved more attention from Kang-To than it received. Then his concern for Shunji in episode 27 would have felt real. As it stands, it felt forced to me becuz it was ignored all this time.

            In this aspect, the writers did a better job with Shunji’s portrayal than with Kang-To’s. Throughout the entire series, despite his bad deeds, Shunji stayed conflicted. So, it’s easy for me to believe that he felt for Kang-To more than Kang-To felt for him. Although I like Kang-To, I find myself more sympathetic toward Shunji. This is a hole in the plot and not the character’s fault.

          • 6.1.2.3.6 piaaa

            @missjb did Shunji ever felt remorse that his brother killed his mother? and that his dad killed his father? No.

            Have you seen this episode yet? It was shown that Kang-to doesn’t want to confront Shunji anymore. If he has a choice he would not but he has to, because of the ’cause’. He can’t even kill Shunji after that flashback. Because he knows in his heart that Shunji has been a good friend to him. It’s his chance to end Shunji’s life but he can’t bring himself to do it.

  7. Maggie

    Super episode! I’m literally counting the minutes until the drama airs and when you update with another recap…. the wait cannot wait!

  8. starsa

    NO SHUNJI. LET THEM GET MARRIED.
    Get married, Mok Dan and Kangto, before Shunji kills you.
    Aww, but poor Shunji… his dad died…
    but he’s craycray for Mok Dan. It’s scary.

  9. TheJu

    I am so scared….

    • 9.1 piaaa

      How can a show can be so scary, when it’s not even a horror show?

      • 9.1.1 Ivoire

        That was funny, I must say… LOLed…

      • 9.1.2 mojobobo

        Word!

  10. 10 muhloy

    i am terrified too.

    as soon as i heard them talk about getting married my heart sunk.

    someone is gonna die.

    AND IT’S GONNA BE ME!!

    • 10.1 Maru

      We will all be in a bad mental state tomorrow. Thank God for Dramabeans!

      • 10.1.1 mojobobo

        Assuming Dramabeans is in a good enough mental state to still do the recap =S

  11. 11 Brenda

    Wow, another powerful episode. Has Gaksital missed a mark yet since it began airing?

    I am so frightened yet excited about what’s to come tomorrow. I have a feeling that things are not going to end well for Shunji, like he’s going to die and then beg for redemption from Mok Dan and Kang To or something.

    I’ve adored Park Ki Woong since I saw him in War of the Arrows and am so glad to see him expand his acting to such heights in this drama!

    • 11.1 Brenda

      On a side note:
      I’m starting to feel like Shunji and Rie should just abandon everything and maybe start over somewhere together since they both basically lack the same things now: identity and family.

      • 11.1.1 muhloy

        but what about katsuyama?!? he luuuurrves her!

        • 11.1.1.1 redfox

          he is mine. I claim him. wow, this is the first time here I have claimed someone.

          • 11.1.1.1.1 Jellybeaniebaby

            He has a very nice smile. And he is one of the few who wears a moustache well.

  12. 12 hanie

    Thanks for the recap. I didn’t managed to finished this episode last nite. Too many tears!!!
    Just reading this makes me wanna cry again. I was practically wailing last nite at Kangto-Shunji sparring. So many emotions. TT_TT And I’m sad for Rie too. Can’t wait for tonite episode but at the same time I didn’t want to watch it. Predicting a lots of tears tonite too, in Gaksital and us, fans.

  13. 13 Andy

    ….

    I dunno….

    Weddings are supposed to happen at the end of the series, right? Guns to a wedding are never a good thing.

    What would you all consider an appropriate ending for Rie’s arc?

    • 13.1 DarknessEyes

      hm… in my fantasy world where no one dies, she goes off and lives a happy life somewhere else with Shunji. Yeah… that’s what I really want for both of them.

      • 13.1.1 Andy

        Her livelihood has been in the hands of powerful men all her life. I wish there were a way she could be empowered without depending on men…to act instead of being acted upon. Even now, she lives because she is allowed to. The one time she does something for herself, it blows up in her face…it’s tragic.

        Rie, who are you? What do you want? How will you get it…please get it!

  14. 14 redfox

    hugs to the main actors, recharge!!!!! RREeee-chaaaarge! You must all be emotionally and physically drained, milked like goats. I just want to re-energizze you. I would give it my all.

    arrgggh what´s gonna happen? I am at work all day 12 hours, like always, so my nerves really will be wrecked. Please dont kill Kang-To! waaah. Maybe the hothead will save his life and die…
    AND DONT KILL KATSUYAMA. I am going to be mad and turn into a mononoke-demon if you do. he still has to wear shiny tights and glitter and dance for me at the table of Angel club after Marlene Dietrich songs.

    • 14.1 redfox

      and….and…. waaaaah. why does it have to end? so sad! on the other hand, if it did not end, I would be in a madhouse soon.

    • 14.2 redfox

      and one more thing: the fight between Kang to and Kimura was like a japanese movie. I think they added that music and setup deliberately.

      • 14.2.1 Jellybeaniebaby

        That scene from an earlier episode with KT and Kenpei fighting was like a video game – maybe Mortal Kombat.

    • 14.3 tapioca pearl

      Hugs to everyone who’s worked tirelessly on this drama! For real, though, they all deserve five vacations after this. They started all the way back in February or something, right? Worked right through summer without a break and always delivered.

  15. 15 Gaksital

    Oh my god, oh my…
    oh my god.
    oh my god.
    OH MY GOD.
    OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!
    that’s all i can say! OH MY GOD!!

    • 15.1 muhloy

      hahah, why is this drama so draining?!

    • 15.2 Mawiie

      What are you doing here! Go get married and make babies!

      • 15.2.1 piaaa

        lol. Yeahh!

  16. 16 Arhazivorye

    I teared up watching them throw punches and I’m tearing up again thinking of it. How could that scene be so….so raw. The fact that he fought without the mask made it even more meaningful. Well done Show. Well done.

    Dammit, this is the third time I’m seeing a marriage in wartime in Korea go to hell. From I heard the proposal I knew it’d go to he’ll. T_T

  17. 17 gem

    i’ve camped last night for the live streaming like i’ve never camped before. i watched, without understanding a single word, clutching my pillow during the intense scenes and shaking my head at the light moments, anticipating that something will go wrong at any point. this show is intense. and i thank recappers like you for the great work! it may not be good for my nerves but i’m definitely enjoying the ride.^_^

  18. 18 tapioca pearl

    Thanks for the recap!

    Okay, let me get this out of my chest–AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So close to the end, and I seriously feel like I won’t know what to do once it’s over. This is the only drama I’ve ever stuck to like crazy while it was airing, one that I’ve consumed like water in a desert. These characters, gosh, they make me crazy with emotions.

    I hate Shunji, but man did I feel bad when Kang-to killed his father. One, I hated seeing Kang-to kill another person (which I get, but a killer is a killer nonetheless–I really am one of those world-peace people), and two, no matter how hateful or despicable you are, losing any family member is just the worst thing. I like that you, javabeans, pointed out that the drama doesn’t let us forget Kang-to’s transgressions even though he’s the hero in this story. Just like the drama doesn’t let us forget that Shunji is still human. I think he wanted a person to confide in and was happy for Rie’s existence for once. Boy has kept his feelings and thoughts bottled up too long. I am thankful that the drama is keeping the characters complex right until the end.

    Rie. I wish she would just run away with Katsuyama. Where are those papers that she gave to Mok Dan to run away? She should take them herself! But it’s nice to see this stripped version of her. Katsuyama, please protect her! I don’t want to see her die!

    I don’t know why, but I never figured for Kang-to and Mok Dan to marry, although it seemed inevitable for their characters. Glad to see they’re trying to find some light in their lives because they deserve it. Go away, Shunji! Let them marry in peace, pretty please.

    (Yeah, I’m also superly [what, this isn't a word?] impressed with both Joo Won’s and Park Ki-woong’s acting and commitment to their roles [I have no beef with anyone's acting, they're all awesome, but JW and PKW are the standouts]. They can get downright ugly [characteristically, not physically, if that makes any sense] in their facial expressions or have Mok Dan’s spit hanging off their faces or have fifty million bruises and cuts on their faces and not care how they appear. They’re acting for themselves, for their fellow actors and the crew, not for the camera, and that’s what I love most about the drama. Dedication to the craft! ‘Cause when I feel the love they have for what they’re doing, what else can I reciprocate?)

  19. 19 bluemoo

    Call me crazy, but I still love Shunji or maybe just PKW because he’s doing an awesome job at his character.

    Anyway….
    Why do I have a feeling that either MD, Kangto, or Shunji is going to die tomorrow? I think it’s inevitable that one of them is going to die. It’s sad to think that one of them is going to die by tomorrow. If you really think about it, all three characters doesn’t have any family members left but just themselves. MD’s s parents are gone, Shunji’s family are gone, and Kangto’s family are also gone. It’s so sad to think that one of them is going to die. Writers, please don’t make any of them died. It’s just too tragic no matter how I think about it. Just make each of them go out of each other’s life, and live happily with other people.

    • 19.1 DarknessEyes

      you can call me crazy too. I love Shunji/Park Ki Woong. Part of it is just from PKW, but also part of it is Shunji. I know he’s dark, and there is no redemption for him. But in some ways, in some ways definitely not, he deserves redemption. Like Javabeans said, he’s not a stock vilian. I know how and why he got how he is, and it just breaks my heart in a thousand pieces.

      Now, this is based off my belief that although Shunji is f*ed up in a 1000 different ways, when push comes to shove, I dont think, thiiiinnnkkk that he will be able to kill Kang-to. Tha’s probably just the naive me hoping for something that will never happen, but really I do think that he won’t be able to. Especially after Kang-to oculs have killed him but didnt. But… then again, I can’t risk having to much faith in Shunji. Things really probably aren’t going to go my way. But.. i still have this small unreasonable hope for Shunji.

      But one thing that I’m sure(at least pretty sure) about, is that the rebel side is going to lose tomorrow. Chronologically, it makes no sense that they would win, since the Korean independence still has many more years. Unless they decide to ignore history, which I would find very un-Gaksitalish. In some ways, I actually think it would be a better ending for the rebel army to lose. Why? because first, it would be following history, and second, i think it’s just a stronger finish, from a drama standpoint. A depressing one, but a stronger one all the same.

      Well… who knows what the show will throw at us. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
      Joowon, PKW, and Han Chae-ah, you’ve blown me away. Not just out of the water, but more like somewhere into the sky. And PKW, you especially. Joowon used to be my favorite actor, but i’ve toootallly jumped ship. Your next drama better be you in a leading role.

      And Jin Se Yeon…. sorry, but i think you still need some work.

      • 19.1.1 SH

        Can I jump ship too? I love Park ki Woong portraying Shunji. Gaaaaaah! My favorite k-drama actor playing villain of all time :D

        I felt that Shunji’s road to redemption started with that torturous interrogation of Kang-to a few episodes ago. Anyways, I’m not ready for Shunji to say farewell tomorrow :cry:

      • 19.1.2 piaaa

        History be damned. They need their victory. My heart cannot take anymore sorrow that all of the characters have gone through. And to think that all of their sacrifice will be useless. After all this is a fiction.

      • 19.1.3 mojobobo

        HAHAH you said what I wanted to say!

        JSY is still young so I’ll cut her some slack. I also don’t think the writing of Mok Dan was as intricate as the rest so oh well.

        But yeah…Shunji. One moment you want to punch him, the next you just want to cry with him. SO AMAZING PKW! I hope you get a new drama where you actually get the girl this time TT_TT

  20. 20 paper

    I FRACKING LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SHOW!!!
    Thank you so much JB <3 This drama is and will probably forever remain my #1 fav kdrama if the last episode is anything like yesterdays ( ;_;)
    The only actor I haven't been wowed by in this series is Jin Sae-yeon~ its probably because she is still young…
    The rest of the cast especially our hero & villain have done a spectacular job <3 I wish/hope to see both Joo Won & Park Ki-woong in another drama together :3 For me they are the OTP of this show xD

    Can't wait to see Han Chae-ah in Oohlala Spouses~<3

    p.s. Park Ki Woong should totally join Joo Won on 1N2D for an episode!!! So much adorableness will ensue!!!

    • 20.1 DarknessEyes

      OMIGOSH PKW on 1N2D!!!!! Why, WHY hasn’t that happened already?????

    • 20.2 needlight

      best idea ever! PKW on 1N2D will be so so great!

    • 20.3 piaaa

      So much cuteness and adorableness that I don’t think I can handle. We need to send a petition to Bird PD-nim.

      • 20.3.1 mojobobo

        I’ll sign! Many many many many many many times over!

        Can we also petition for the cast to go on Strong Heart?

        • 20.3.1.1 paper

          SOMEONE quick go make a petition!!! :> I suck at korean :| I bet if we make a charity one it would totally happen!!! Like the chances would increase from a regular signed petition :3

          • 20.3.1.1.1 mojobobo

            Any takers? I can’t write Korean :(

  21. 21 redfox

    Mok Dan will probably get shot and on the verge of death then Rie shows up holds Shunji hostage and orders his men to surrender. and in the end no one will care for shunji and his superiors just replace him. Katsuyama has an incredulous choice: side with the rebels to stay on Ries side or just leave. the rebel leaders will want to execute shunji but Kang to asks to keep him alive. so he is spared…and then he will go mad. Mok Dan will be paralyzed or something and they have to leave….
    I dunno. I imagine all sorts of things

    • 21.1 tapioca pearl

      The thing is, the drama is so unpredictable at this point, which I love, that you can’t help imagining every damn scenario. Anything can happen!

  22. 22 Vincy

    Today’s episode…there was so much emotion in it!! I knew Kang To and Shunji would run into each other again.
    But getting married…that’s dangerous.
    I’m really looking forward to tonight’s episode but at the same time, I don’t want either of them to die :(

    • 22.1 Jellybeaniebaby

      Either Shunji will go crazy or
      he will have the wind knocked out of him.

      I am wondering if Shunji will end up sacrificing himself for MD.

      Other thoughts:
      What if Rie kills her daddy (someone has to do it) His samuri goes to kill her, Katsoyummy fights him. Rie gets hurt and he takes her away. Or she is fatally wounded and he kills himself to be with her.

      I thought blood on the wedding dress as well. Ominous.

      Who else needs killing?
      The death toll can’t be TOO horrible on the Korean side because they prevail in history.

      I still think that Kangto could be seriously injured, but then become the new Teacher. And then someone else puts on the mask. Maybe the guy who was with DS just before he died. He was an awesome fighter.

  23. 23 Jay W

    Couldn’t stop myself from reading your recap before watching the episode. I appreciate your thoughts and insights and I find they help me look at things more thoroughly when I do watch it.

    Can’t wait for the finale… this really is one of the best dramas I’ve seen in a while… and a long one at that! That pic of them made me LOL! Really… I think I am going insane with their on and off screen antics.

  24. 24 Aquila

    I have scars on my hands cos I was squeezing them THAT hard last night…. This episode was all sorts of awesome and not to mention extraordinary acting from Park Ki Woong and Joo Won.

    I don’t know if I can ever fully recover from all the heart tugs and scrunches that Gaksital manage to do so well.

    But… I’m ready for tonight’s finale… Just one more episode… Don’t let me down show!! Don’t let me down!!!!

  25. 25 hoochie

    Thank you for the recap!

    Hmm…I thought there would be a showdown between Gaksital and Ueno. I mean he is the big baddy behind Kishokai. Maybe in the final episode. Plus, the doctor is still MIA lols he’s probably too busy tending to the wounded.

    Ah as soon as I saw Kang-to letting Shunji live, I was thinking “I hope you won’t regret that later on.” The Deuk-soo jealousy scene was too cute. But I have to say that it was not the best time to have a wedding.

    • 25.1 edge

      sorry, but was does MIA stand for?

      • 25.1.1 jeonha

        Missing in action :)

  26. 26 Star

    sometimes i can tell who would die and who wouldn’t. this time i think all their fates are up in the air. though i would say shunji is going to die… it would be so so tragic :(

  27. 27 Bakachild

    I’m going to be a train wreck when i watch the last episode. An utter train wreck. I can only see a tragic ending. They won’t try and appease to us and give us a happy ending that doesn’t make sense. I believe that. But I’ll be crying buckets most likely.

  28. 28 crazedlu

    alright.

    i’m ready for this.

    this show and its actors and crew better be getting some awards.

    see you guys tomorrow to patch ourselves up.

  29. 29 needlight

    The fight between the ex-besties is an amazing scene in this drama that already has many epic fights. Like JB said, it represents so many layers and it is raw. Also, it mirrors the playful fight scene that Kangto and Shunji had rolling in the lawn earlier on in the series when they were still friends.
    JW and PKW-ah…you two are just so mind-blowingly amazing in your acting. Thank you thank you for all the hard work you guys put in.

  30. 30 CrazilyAddicted

    ohmygosh. KATSUYAMA CONFESSED. I love that guy. seriously, hot broody bodyguard for the win.

    • 30.1 h311ybean

      Amen! :D Can’t he and Rie flee to America or something?

    • 30.2 Rashell

      He’s my FAVORITE! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him! He wouldn’t have even been able to get the words out before I’d have been in his arms.

  31. 31 Farpavilions

    Brilliant. And so intense!

    I love how the fight scene mirrored and intensified the kendo fight scene from Ep 1 perfectly, down to the color reversal (Kangto was wearing a dark Kendo uniform and Shunji white, now he’s in Gaksital whites and Shunji’s in mourning black) and final impasse.

    The tight camera shots at the end of the fight with the actors’ reddened eyes and quivering, contorted facial muscles filling up so much of the screen would not have been possible with any less committed acting. It was a genius directorial move to keep the camera trained on Shunji’s face for that long — it made me squirm uncomfortably at the rawness of his performance. Then to have him literally pick himself up, fix his tie, only to break down all over again? Heartwrenching.

    The close-up of his hand grabbing Kang-to was also very, very clever. It’s symbolic on all 3 levels that Javabeans pointed out — initially the hand is there frantically trying to push his enemy away and stop the strangulation, but then it began to look as if he was simultaneously trying to cling on to Kang-to, just as Kang-to’s flashback plays out on screen. And then the hand drops lifelessly as Shunji loses the physical fight, the fight against his now capital F frenemy, and (albeit temporarily) the willpower to fight that laden history.

    So much emotional depth to the cinematography and so many layers and internal allusions …. the signs are pointing towards a Greek-Tragedy-Level Cathartic Denouement and that means I will be one sad panda tonight.

  32. 32 diw

    It’s inevitable. Koiso will die in the end.

    • 32.1 Rashell

      Ha, you finally found the one death that I can really get behind. If Koiso dies I won’t shed a tear.

    • 32.2 X5

      this never crossed my mind but the thought of him surviving this drama made me laugh. i guess i find it ridiculous. i hope KT pushes him over the cliffs. or better yet KT’s Robin — Deuksoo!

      • 32.2.1 Jellybeaniebaby

        …or cut off that blasted ponytail. BOOYAH!!!

  33. 33 katiamon

    Can’t wait for the final episode… I’m so impatient. What’s gonna happen inhe end????? ;_;

  34. 34 Akina

    They were just born with the wrong fathers in the wrong time period )’:

  35. 35 X5

    last night after seeing those last scenes i was frozen, i was terribly blank for a moment. was even so weak i just lie there on my bed. today i’m just barely breathing. that scene of KT screaming from indecision, then Shunji’s pained crrying after, and then Rie and Katsuyama’s conversation.

    RIE! oh my, never thought i’d hold you dear in my heart but i suddenly do. you’re such a special character. i fervently hope you get a peaceful ending.

    i was hoping Taro would do seppuku and spare KT’s hand from another Kimura blood. i really felt bad for Shunji here. he may have gone the darker path but between the two of them, KT’s the one who’s claimed more or all lives from Shunji’s family. well it’s worse since Shunji never did KT’s, it was Kenji who did. but just the same i also feel just as bad for KT for these tormenting thoughts.

    sigh. i’ve never wanted a drama to end because of so much pain.

  36. 36 crazital

    They are all gonna die!! I am not sure I will be able to get through the last episode without tissues or someone’s hand to hold on to.

  37. 37 h311ybean

    Thank you for the recap! I’ve been waiting for this all day! As you said, there is soooo much good stuff in this ep that it’s hard to know where to start – and I haven’t even actually seen the episode yet!

    Two things that stood out, though, were Katsuyama’s confession (ABOUT DANG TIME – and it’s especially sad considering we have no idea whether he and Rie both survive) and PKW in the hat and suit. Rawr.

    Too bad Nanny didn’t bust in during the sword fight as I had hoped last week, but at least Kang-to did have his Iñigo Montoya moment! It’s interesting to think, though, that this isn’t the final showdown – Chairman Ueno, head of Kishokai (collectively responsible for the death of Kang-to’s father), is still alive! I wonder if Rie will have a role in his demise….

    • 37.1 Jellybeaniebaby

      I wondered the same thing about Rie killing her father. I think at this point, she is the one who can… and should. But won’t survive it.

  38. 38 dany

    Who’s going to die in the last episode? Not Kang-to I think.

  39. 39 jude

    Augh. I never like Mok Dan’s character but I fear for her safety at this moment. Just let her live, Drama. For the sake of Kang To. And their pretty babies.

    And my sanity.

  40. 40 moniq

    i have a bad feeling about the ending.. in drama.. when a man falling in love with a woman..and promises he will do something for her every day or every morning..like what kang to promises to mok dan….usually…..this is..usually…he will die in the last episode…………. o my god!! hope not!! he is GAKSITAL!! PLEASEEEE!!!! BE A HAPPY ENDING….PLEASEEEE……

  41. 41 HK

    I am so not ready for tonight’s episode. I am pretty sure I will be in tears and a lot of my favourite characters are going to die. Will there be any hope of a happy ending for the main couple??? Thanks for the recap

  42. 42 Flo

    OMGGGGGGG!!!!!

    I bet I said that a hundred and one times during this episode….my roommates kept looking at me like I lost my mind….I always watch the drama first….well…..sometimes the other times I’m reading the recap cause I’m too impatient, but this time I watched the drama first and was not disappointed.

    There is a little bit of proof that Shunji still has a heart…small(and I mean tinnie tiny) part of me holds out hope that he will convert back to the teacher we all know and love, but I’m not holding my breath (I’ll die if I do that)

    I am hoping for a fake out tomorrow at the beginning of the drama, but probably not cause the episode is only an hour long and they probably have to move it along but I want Kang-To and Mok-Dan married just in case they do something crazy like i don’t know kill everybody like in Harry Potter….

    OK WRITERS….you’ve hyped this drama up to the point of us viewers losing our minds and fingernail *sniffles* my poor nails… from watching this plot unfold. So please do a good job and end it right and not to the point where we want to punch, throw, kick, etc etc our TV’s or in my case my beloved computer…pretty please with sugar on top….Please don’t let this be another BIG fiasco(Side note: I know one has absolutely nothing to do with the other but still) Please do a good job…if not I will find a way to reach across the ocean and throttle you…

    PS Thank you for the recaps you guys are AWESOME!!!!!

  43. 43 CoH

    when this drama ends i will need to go into rehab…what an emotional toll gaksital takes, and how i love it! plus my adoration of joo won- he is just so intense. thanks to JB and GF for making gaksital such a great experience. T__T i will miss gaksital!!

  44. 44 Jules

    Nope, sorry, javabeans; to me, Shunji is irredeemable.

    I don’t believe for a moment that had he remained a schoolteacher and not become involved with Gaksital etc. that he would’ve remained a good guy; to my mind, he’s always been a twisted sociopath and the so-called ‘nice guy’ was his mask.

    YMMV. *shrugs*

  45. 45 bb

    I dont know why but i feel that mokdan shld die!!! The only thing that i hate abt this drama is her!!!! Her character has no depth, it is difficult for me to like her character. And i feel that she might really die…

    • 45.1 Rani Heriyani (@aiya_anie)

      die to protect Kang To is gonna be a great scene…
      but i don’t think i can’t endure the hurt of Kang To if that happen…T___T

      • 45.1.1 Jellybeaniebaby

        How about she looks dead when she tries to save KT and then in shock Shunji turns the gun on himself. Then miraculously she is still alive and they save her.

        • 45.1.1.1 Rani Heriyani (@aiya_anie)

          i can’t imagine of that kind of scene….
          no matter what… i want a happy ending….

  46. 46 Cara

    I so loooooove the scene between Kang To and Shunji at the first few minutes.

    It’s a great acting from Joo Won and Park Ki Woong. Goosebump!!!

    JB, I love the picture of goofy Joo Won and Park Ki Woong… haha. I can imagine how they filming that intense scene. Both are good actors.

    • 46.1 Cara

      “I can’t imagine how they filming that intense scene. Both are good actors…”

  47. 47 Rani Heriyani (@aiya_anie)

    Kang To and Shunji scene always stretching my heart…
    that was a fight between best friend…not between enemy… so hurting my heart… damn

    Deukso so cute of jealous…

    and why Joo Won looked getting more more more more moreee handsome??? <3 <3 <3

    can't wait the final ep….

    dilemma between happy and sad coz this great drama has come to the end

    it must a happy ending, pleaseeee….
    or Gaksital will never forgive uuuuuuu

  48. 48 missjb

    Huhuhu I’m so conflicted!
    I have prepare myself for Shunji’s death. But when I see him acted vulnerable like this, My simpathy for him has increase, I become so scare that I realized actually I haven’t prepared yet.. >.<
    Hope the ending will makes sense, but it will be good if it will be memorable final!

  49. 49 TA

    Somebody is going to die. My money is on Rie. Shunji is going to shoot Kangto in a very close range. Rie out of nowhere, apparated between em and took the bullet. Staggered she walked towards Shunji and fell into his arms, and said:
    “I..I..I didn’t take this bullet for Lee Kangto *bleeding to death but eloquent than ever* I took it for you. *Shunji’s eyes widened more than the usual* I..have no home to return to, but you..*coughing* you still have those children…you won’t be able to sing with em…if you kill him*coughing again, blood spurted out* Shunji-shii, live well” *aaand her head falls beautifully*

    Or it could be Mokdan. The mask and a wife will never go hand in hand.

    • 49.1 muhloy

      hahahahhaaha i loooooooove your version.

  50. 50 MeeisLee

    Screw sleep! Who needs it anyway? My first day of school starts in 3hrs and I’ve barely gotten any sleep since two days ago since I procrastinated and waited to finish my summer hw hours before. This is the life of a (drama) addict.
    I would not be able to concentrate if I didn’t get to see Gaksital before school.

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