Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 17
Ooh, major roadblocks spring up for our hero, and they’re the most dangerous kind—the kind that threaten to splinter the good guys apart from the inside out. It’s a way of raising the stakes effectively, just when I thought we couldn’t raise them anymore—given that you can’t really outdo high treason or murder. But inasmuch as truth’s a bitch, what’s worse is when the lie looks just like the truth, and nobody knows what’s what…
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Woo-chi prevents the court ladies from forcing poison down the queen’s throat, and is so enraged that he declares that they (literally) need a taste of their own medicine. The head court lady begs for her life, which only angers him more—she sees value in her own life, but thinks nothing of taking the queen’s?
The queen pleads for him to stop, but it takes the arrival of the king to finally get him to back off. Not easily, though, because Woo-chi argues that wicked people such as this don’t deserve to live, and that they’d just continue to do more evil if they let them go. The king is furious about the murder attempt too, but he states that killing will gain them nothing. Moreover, they are also his citizens. He orders Woo-chi to stand down.
The king confirms that the court ladies were acting on Minister Oh’s instructions. He orders them to go on and complete their task—kill the queen in front of him right now. Of course they can’t do that, and they cower and beg for mercy.
Woo-chi leaves the house struggling to contain his rage, and is joined by the queen a short time later. She asks if he’s calmed down, but he says no, that the rage won’t be suppressed. Bitterly, he asks what good showing mercy would do.
The queen answers that change is slow, but she has faith that it will happen. She realizes that these are the people who killed her father, but that’s why she believes they must act differently. Woo-chi says that these people will never change, and that they’ll stab you in the back the instant you turn away. I can’t say I really argue with him on this score; it’s one thing to be generous, but it’s another to be stupidly naive.
So I’m with Woo-chi when he calls the king overly gentle. The king says that he trusts that the court lady has had a change of heart, having recognized the moment of change in her. He states that although not all his people will agree with his ways, the king must embrace them all as his subjects.
The head court lady reports to Minister Oh that the queen has been killed and quietly buried, just as he wanted. She’s white-faced and shaking with nerves, and the perceptive Minister Oh doesn’t miss her uneasiness. But she says she’s merely feeling ill and he dismisses her without prodding further.
It’s time for the selection of the new queen to proceed. It’s all but assured that Minister Oh’s daughter will be chosen, although they’ll still have to go through the pretense of considering a wider pool of ladies, which includes the daughters of some lesser ministers.
On the morning of the final selection, Minister Oh’s daughter is transported to the palace via sedan chair while her father and brother wonder whether Jeon Woo-chi will appear to foil their plans. They send a team of bodyguards along with the girl, but Kang-rim is not one of them—he is instructed to carry out a different task.
As the girl primps on the way, Woo-chi whooooshes into the sedan chair and shocks her into screaming. He assures her that her guards won’t hear, “Since I blocked their ears.” He waves his finger around… and decorates her face in an array of zits. Hee.
The receiving line at the palace waits around, but Minister Oh’s daughter is nowhere in sight. The other ladies have arrived on time, and Minister Jang tries to move along the proceedings without their no-show. After all, his daughter’s next in line.
Minister Oh hears word of his daughter’s predicament—she hasn’t been hurt or kidnapped, but presumably refuses to be seen with her blotchy face. So he tells the other ministers that they’ll have to postpone the selection, falling back on the excuse that this is a big occasion that should not be rushed, particularly since the king himself is reluctant. Minister Jang puts up a paltry protest, but Minister Oh wins out.
The king hears of Woo-chi’s hand in the delay but not the details of what he’d done. He’s grateful for the reprieve, but worries about Woo-chi’s propensity to show up out of nowhere and act of his own accord.
Back at headquarters, Woo-chi cackles about the day’s events with the gang, although Bong-gu’s the only one who finds this funny. The ladies look concerned at Woo-chi’s stunt and Hye-ryung argues that the minister’s daughter has done nothing wrong. He shouldn’t be messing with a woman’s face like that. She asks, “What’s with you these days?” Hm, so she’s also starting to worry about him going astray.
He asks testily if he was just supposed to let her become the new queen and leaves in a huff. Mu-yeon follows him out to ask him to reverse the spell, and he sighs that it’ll wear off in a few days anyway. She smiles in relief, glad to know he hadn’t completely crossed that line.
They do have a bigger concern on their hands, though, both curious to know why Kang-rim didn’t show up. What is he up to?
Right now, he’s plying Minister Jang with liquor and listening sympathetically as the man rants about being overruled by Minister Oh once again. Kang-rim pours him drink after drink and encourages him to stick it out till the day things change for the better—as in, the day he overtakes Minister Oh. However, to make that happen he’ll need to be careful and not jump the gun; he warns Minister Jang to be cautious.
Minister Oh calls in the head court lady again, seeming even more suspicious today. He points out that she’s been avoiding him ever since he sent her to off the queen, and her nerves are visibly rattled. She sticks to her story, though, and doesn’t betray the earlier lie.
As soon as she leaves, however, Kang-rim poofs into the room and says she’s lying about something. Minister Oh decides that she knows too much and orders him to “take care” of it.
So-chil receives a request to meet with the head court lady that night, and although he finds it a bit odd, he shows up to rendezvous with her at the palace. Only, somebody gets there first and So-chil hears a scream, just as a figure flies away. Jeon Woo-chi? What’s he doing here?
So-chil hurries around the corner, and sees the court lady slumped over dead. If that’s not bad enough, a note has been left behind: “I am punishing this evil woman. -Jeon Woo-chi.” Ack!
The note and the description of the magic-wielding killer is enough to infuriate the king, who seems awfully convinced that Woo-chi’s guilty. So-chil urges him not to assume that it was Woo-chi, but the king isn’t much appeased by that.
Woo-chi’s teammates hear about the murder before he does, since he’d spent the day cooling his head by the sea. Of course he’d be alibi-less the one day he really could stand to have one! They’re thankfully quicker to believe that Woo-chi didn’t do it (though they were worried enough to consider the possibility, knowing how angry he was with the court lady)—and that means he was framed.
Wearing his Lee Chi guise, he and Bong-gu try to slip inside the crime scene at the palace, but he’s stopped by Chan-hwi. Woo-chi wants to see the letter himself and asks if they’re absolutely positive it was Woo-chi’s doing, but today Chan-hwi’s not going to let him past the gates for a peek, reporting job or no.
The king doesn’t appear to entertain any doubts it was Woo-chi’s doing, but decides he has to meet him in person to ask why he did it. Thus Chan-hwi leads him out of the palace that night to the meeting place, and asks the king to wait while he makes contact.
The king, So-chil, and Eun-woo therefore find themselves taking a seat at the tavern to wait, and overhear drunken men talking about how they’d like to capture Woo-chi and claim the prize reward. But it’s mention of the king that puts everyone on edge—particularly when one man slurs that the king is even worse than Jeon Woo-chi, that fool.
I wouldn’t have thought the king would let a statement like that turn him petty, but perhaps it’s the combination of that and Woo-chi’s perceived disobedience that has him snapping at Woo-chi when they do meet, accusing him of the murder right off the bat. Woo-chi protests that he’s innocent and So-chil urges him to listen to the explanation, but the king is smarting and refuses to listen. He declares that he won’t be taking Woo-chi’s help anymore, and orders him never to show himself again.
The king stalks off first, and Woo-chi asks So-chil how he can just believe that letter. He had wanted to kill that court lady, he admits, but resisted because the king had ordered him to.
So-chil informs him that there were multiple eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime, and So-chil can vouch that the killer looked an awful lot like him. However, So-chil still has faith in Woo-chi and promises to work on softening the king, while Woo-chi should turn his attention to solving the case.
By now he’s deduced that Kang-rim is the real culprit, but the trouble is that the witnesses saw the murderer using magic. Even though they didn’t clearly make out Woo-chi’s face, the fact that he was using spells is enough to fuel the assumption that it was him.
Minister Oh hadn’t even thought to disguise the murder of the court lady as Woo-chi’s doing, but he’s tickled pink that Kang-rim had the foresight to kill those two birds with one stone. Well, glad somebody’s laughing about it.
The plot thickens further when another report comes in to the news office: A government warehouse containing tax monies was raided and a person killed. The thief left a letter declaring his identity as Jeon Woo-chi.
Woo-chi argues with Oh Kyu, who wants him to print the story with all its gory delicious details, and says that there’s no way Woo-chi could be in two places at once. But the snowball’s rolling down that mountain, picking up momentum, and there are a lot more people who believe the stories than not.
Interestingly, Minister Oh fidgets uneasily at the report of the raid and orders Kang-rim to capture Woo-chi asap. Hm, so he’s got something at stake here, and this move must threaten him. Kang-rim notices his reaction and seems to enjoy it, since he’s a sadistic bastard.
The reason becomes clear as Kang-rim’s henchmen inform him of the successful raid—which revealed not only real government funds but also Minister Oh’s slush fund hidden amongst them, comprised of all the bribes he’d been taking.
The king, naturally, is angered yet again and calls for Chan-hwi to transfer the queen’s protection to other hands. He doesn’t trust Woo-chi anymore, and thus Chan-hwi tracks down go-between Hye-ryung to demand the queen’s whereabouts. He drags her off—which Woo-chi witnesses—and insists that they’ll take over guardianship of the queen.
Hye-ryung assures him that they’re taking good care of her, stubbornly not giving away the information. When Woo-chi materializes, she cutely takes cover behind him and shoots Chan-hwi a So there look. Heh. She’s like a smug kitten.
Woo-chi argues that it’s safer to leave them in charge, because the enemy uses magic too. Chan-hwi draws his sword, willing to resort to violence to force him to speak, which gets Hye-ryung in between the two sides arguing that they’re on the same team. She insists that Woo-chi isn’t that kind of person, but Chan-hwi can’t trust him and so: impasse.
Before matters escalate, Woo-chi works his magic and vanishes himself and Hye-ryung, leaving the palace guards looking around blankly.
Woo-chi appears unannounced in the king’s bedchamber that night to a frosty reception. The king refuses to believe the words of a thief and murderer (really, how quickly are we to turn our backs when we no longer need help, aren’t we?) and turns away from him huffily. Like, he literally turns his head and harrumphs. When did the old soul turn into a petulant teenager?
Woo-chi swears he wasn’t the culprit and vows to clear his name, asking the king to wait till he does.
Mu-yeon helps the queen and the beggars put together their settlement, so they can stop wandering. She encourages the queen to send a letter to the king to assuage his concerns, but the queen must have decided that there’s no turning back and that she’s just a liability. It’s better that she cut contact with him cleanly, she says.
More troublesome reports pop up of Woo-chi’s continued exploits, and this turns the majority of the populist against him. Things keep getting worse, and the mood at Scooby Central is decidedly grim.
Their only way out of the mess is to catch the copycat Jeon Woo-chi… only, how do you go about catching somebody as strong as Kang-rim? Mu-yeon proposes going to the targeted sites of the fake Woo-chi for clues, and they decide to send Bong-gu, who immediately complains at the tribulations of taking such an arduous journey.
Woo-chi points out that there’s a way, though, since he’s been teaching Bong-gu more wizardry. Ha! He sticks on talismans to his legs (and remembers to give him return talismans), then teaches him the spell… which has Bong-gu’s legs churning in superspeed. Off he goes!
Bong-gu loves racing along the countryside, which goes by in a blur. Until he recalls, “But… he didn’t teach me how to stop.” Ha!
Bong-gu returns late that night, only able to stop by slamming his head into a stone. He complains that Woo-chi didn’t teach him how to stop (Woo-chi: “You just stop! You don’t need a spell for that!”) and how he almost fell into the sea and died. Aw, there there drama queen. You’re home now. He even pouts into Mu-yeon’s shoulder and shoots Woo-chi these affronted glares. It’s cute.
Bong-gu does bear important findings, making this trip worth it. He tells them of Minister Oh’s secret slush fund being hidden there, and that means Kang-rim ripped off his benefactor. Woo-chi and Mu-yeon light up—this gives them a way to tear apart their unholy alliance.
Minister Oh gets a letter shot into the side of his house from Jeon Woo-chi, which tips him off: “You’re raising a wolf within your household. The one who raided tax supply was not me, but Kang-rim.”
So Minister Oh confronts Kang-rim, slapping down the letter as proof. Kang-rim reads… and laughs. He takes the “I’m innocent, how could you suspect me?” approach, calling this ridiculous. Will Minister Oh really trust Jeon Woo-chi over Kang-rim?
Playing the indignant card, Kang-rim tells him to cut him free if he’s so mistrusting, then, and stalks out in a huff. I’ll give it to him, that was well played. The only way to get Minister Oh confused and backing down.
Walking in the marketplace, Bong-gu gets finagled by the gisaeng Love Hands into carrying her purchases home for her, and that’s when he spots Kang-rim’s head henchman, Doong-gae, leading a troop of armed men. Love Hands confirms unhappily that those men sure come by a lot lately.
Well, that’s suspicious. Bong-gu returns with Woo-chi and shares what he learned about the presence of the soldiers and the heavily guarded room.
That night, those troops show up at another government storehouse—led by Doong-gae, HA, who’s dressed up like Woo-chi. It looks so much like him, and yet, so so wrong.
Kang-rim’s men cut down the guards easily and open the stores to raid, leaving another letter that declares, “Jeon Woo-chi was here.”
This time, though, they’re stopped by Woo-chi, who flies in and shoots an incredulous look at his copycat: “If you’re Jeon Woo-chi, then why am I Jeon Woo-chi?”
They attack, but Woo-chi’s too fast for them and easily subdues them all. He ties them up and has a bit of fun with the captives, rolling them on the ground like a conductor leading a chorus. Ha, well if you used your study time learning more powerful skills instead of tickling and rolling, maybe Kang-rim wouldn’t outmatch you now….
Woo-chi calls in the local authorities, making sure to gain their promises to send along the report with all the details of how the fake Jeon Woo-chi has been caught.
So the next day he eagerly anticipates the reports coming in from that area, looking forward to having his name cleared. Only, he flips through the newssheets in confusion—why is there no mention of the fake Woo-chi’s capture?
Chul-gyun comes bearing more news—the baddies are using the palace’s own warehouse as their hiding spot for the stuff they’re stealing. After all, nobody will suspect the presence of guards in a place they should already be guarding.
Woo-chi goes on recon that night, and sure enough Kang-rim leads his crew in to deliver yet more ill-gotten gains.
Woo-chi takes that intel right to Chan-hwi, along with the tip that his culprit is the palace’s very own Officer Jung, whose real name is Ma Kang-rim. He’s the copycat, and Chan-hwi should take the king to the storeroom to confirm the truth for himself.
While Chan-hwi does as instructed and informs the king, Woo-chi superspeeds to the warehouse and knocks out the guards, then works his way inside. But he’s in for another nasty surprise, because the only thing inside are guards slumped on the ground, injured or dead, with swords stuck in them.
Woo-chi rushes to one guard’s side in horror and pulls out the blade from his gut. Just as the king’s voice bellows, “Jeon Woo-chi…!”
Goddamn it. This time he’s literally red-handed in front of the dead man, and the king glares furiously at the murderer who would dare kill again in the palace. Woo-chi swears his innocence and asks the logical question—why would he ask them to bring the king here if he was going to perpetrate all these crimes?
Chan-hwi is acting upon royal orders, though, and draws his sword. Woo-chi says he doesn’t want to fight them and flings swords aside. He exclaims, “I didn’t kill anyone!” as he blows them back with smoke, then zooms toward the door.
Ahhhhhh crap. It was bad enough when the king was ranting against Woo-chi based on circumstantial evidence and forged letters, but when you catch him (seemingly) in the act, you can’t really blame him for assuming the worst. I’m betting it was Kang-rim thinking fast at the last minute, because it seems he may have noticed something going on outside his warehouse at the last minute, but in any case our hero is scrrrrrrewed.
I really enjoy this twist in the story with our alliances fracturing and the lines of trust becoming obscured by a wily villain who knows just how to use the hero’s strengths and turn them into weaknesses. Got a famous good guy? Make him infamous with a few sleights of hand. He’s got a powerful backer in the king? Shake that trust.
The thing is, the execution was rather slipshod this episode, probably because it all happened way too fast. I’m all for quickly developing storylines, so I’m not advocating dragging it out. But you do need SOME time to fester a resentment/suspicion that runs so deep that all former goodwill goes poof in an instant, and that change of emotional current really does require more steeping time. The king’s turnaround comes so quickly that it’s character whiplash, and it runs the risk of negating all that good stuff earlier—all his slow growth from scared little boy into a potential ruler worthy of the throne.
We’ve built up such a great character with him, which is why I’m annoyed that the drama fell back so quickly on using him as a tool rather than treating him as a person. He became that plot device puppet, arranged into whatever configuration the story needs him to be rather than building from the character first. I’m bummed about that. Let’s hope that we’re going somewhere good with this turn, because thematically I really do think this is interesting stuff. I just want it to play out as interestingly as it is conceptually.
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 16
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 15
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 14
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 13
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 12
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 11
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 10
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 9
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 8
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 7
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 6
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 5
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 4
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 3
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 2
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 1