There are some big payoffs in this episode, along with a few surprises, and Woo-chi and the gang finally start to put some effort into knocking Minister Oh down from his tower of untouchable wealth and power. I have to admit; it’s pretty damn satisfying to watch him squirm. Are the good guys actually going to win this time?
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Mu-yeon sees her shot and flings a dagger right into Ma Sook’s heart. He falls to the ground, clutching his chest in disbelief. He vows not to die like this, but she tells him she’s laced the dagger with poison; it’s too late.
Kang-rim returns to find his uncle lying there alone, bleeding to death. He sends the minions for a doctor, and reels to find out that Mu-yeon did this to him. He promises to save him, but Ma Sook says he’s already dying and there’s no saving him from this.
Instead he tells Kang-rim something he’s been keeping from him all this time: “I am your father.” Er? Well, Darth Vader you are not. I don’t think it changes that much in the story at this point, except I guess one key thing: now Mu-yeon is the enemy who killed his father.
He says that if he had raised his son in Joseon, he knew Kang-rim would be as ostracized and belittled as he was. So he purposely took him to Yuldo so he could grow up in a good place.
Ma Sook: “I wanted to have you live in a good world. No, I wanted to give you this whole world.”
And then he actually fans the flames of Kang-rim’s anger, reminding him not to forget the rage he feels right now. He tells him to turn that rage against Joseon and change the world.
He starts to fade, and orders Kang-rim to take the last of his powers before it’s too late. Kang-rim starts to cry, regretting having taken Ma Sook’s powers to begin with—otherwise he would have been able to fight this poison. Ah, so that’s how Kang-rim got so strong. They pooled their wizard powers into one person.
Ma Sook insists he take the rest, shouting for Kang-rim not to let him die in vain. Kang-rim wails that he’ll die if he takes the rest of his powers, and Ma Sook tells him he’s the only one who can fulfill their plans and raises Kang-rim’s hand.
With tears pouring down, Kang-rim clenches his eyes shut and sucks out the last of Ma Sook’s powers, which drains and kills him. Damn, what a thing to make your son do.
Woo-chi brings Mu-yeon back to the fold, where the gang is still miffed at her betrayal. Woo-chi explains that she didn’t really betray them, and lied so that she could kill Ma Sook. Yeah, she still lied for no good reason, and I’m still pissed about it, whether or not she offed the baddie. Just sayin’.
Hye-ryung must be on my wavelength, because she points out how little Mu-yeon must’ve trusted them, turning them all into fools just so she could run off and be a big hero all by herself. She huffs that she wanted to kill Ma Sook herself, and stalks off.
Mu-yeon follows her inside to apologize for acting on her own, and says that they would’ve stopped her if she had told them her plan. But Hye-ryung is more sorry than anything, upset that while Mu-yeon was being a big hero, she was busy feeling petty and resentful.
She shouts in her prickly yet lovable way that it’s Mu-yeon’s fault for making her into the fool, and then yells, “What if you had gotten hurt?” Aw. Mu-yeon says she’s sorry, and Hye-ryung sighs that at least her father and brother can rest in peace now.
At the same time, Kang-rim burns Ma Sook’s body on a pyre, surrounded by his soldiers.
Woo-chi asks Mu-yeon if she was upset that he didn’t trust her, but no, she’s just grateful he came back for her. She muses that the group really feels like a happy family now. Well technically the only thing that threatened the Scooby teamwork was YOU, miss lone ranger Butterfly.
Hye-ryung has an ill-timed run-in with Kang-rim’s thug Doong-gae, and Mu-yeon is there to kick some ass and rescue her in time. The whole group gathers indoors, fearing that they can’t even step foot outside anymore, with so many of Kang-rim’s men on the hunt.
They worry that it’s only a matter of time before their hideout is discovered, and Woo-chi hatches a plan.
He goes to see Chan-hwi and Eun-woo, and tells them about Ma Sook’s death. He says that it’s time to uncover Kang-rim’s true identity, because with him guarding the king, they can’t do anything.
He suggests they use the reporter Lee Chi to sneak news of Kang-rim’s suspicious activities into the official palace records. Chan-hwi wonders how they’ll get Lee Chi to help them, but Woo-chi assures him that the fellow is quite brave and he’ll prove to be useful. Hee.
They worry that they don’t have enough evidence to convict Kang-rim of any of his numerous crimes, but Woo-chi says he’s got the perfect witness. He goes straight to see the young prince who was almost murdered the other night, and finds him still crying in his secret safe room.
Woo-chi asks if he’ll help identify the man who tried to kill him, but the young boy is too scared, and just clutches Woo-chi in tears.
Chan-hwi seeks out Lee Chi and asks him for the favor, and Lee Chi has some fun pretending to be scared, wondering how he’s supposed to stick his neck out without getting caught.
He plays hard-to-get for about a minute, and then agrees to help as long as Chan-hwi keeps him in the loop from now on, and doesn’t kick him out of any future investigations, including any news pertaining to Jeon Woo-chi. Chan-hwi agrees, and Lee Chi skips off happily.
He prepares the reports about Kang-rim, and just has to add them to the set that Oh Kyu is about to carry away. So he zaps his editor with a sudden need to visit the outhouse. Ha. He runs off, handing the pile of scrolls to Lee Chi, who’s ready to make the switch.
The report reaches the king, who fumes at the news. The ministers balk, trying to come up with excuses, but the king orders Kang-rim brought in for questioning. Nice.
It’s extra awesome because Chan-hwi gets to bring him in. Kang-rim refuses to go quietly, so Chan-hwi draws his sword and at Kang-rim’s throat. Okay, that’s pretty satisfying.
Minister Oh tells him to do as they say, adding the warning to think carefully and answer the king’s questions well. The implied clause being: Or die.
The king orders Chan-hwi to proceed, and he interrogates Kang-rim on his background and his whereabouts on the nights that each of the princes were killed. Kang-rim spews defense after defense, not backing down in the least.
It’s all circumstantial, and with Kang-rim swearing up and down he had nothing to do with the deaths (which were all declared accidents), Chan-hwi starts to run out of things to accuse him with.
But then Eun-woo walks up… holding the hand of the young prince that Woo-chi saved. He immediately points out Kang-rim as the man who attacked and tried to kill him. Yay, one for the good guys.
The king orders Kang-rim locked up immediately. This can’t hold him, though. I hope they have a plan.
Woo-chi wants to hit Minister Oh’s compound while Kang-rim is locked up, but they find it impossible to sneak in with 200 royal guards stationed there. The group asks if Woo-chi has a plan, and he smiles, saying that there’s no need to sneak in when you could just be escorted in.
To that end, he leaks a bit of information to his editor Oh Kyu that a Ming envoy was spotted about town, knowing he’ll hush up the news and go straight to his father. He does, like clockwork, and Minister Oh sees his chance to meet a key political player before the king does.
Cut to: Woo-chi, disguised as a Ming envoy with Bong-gu and Myung-gi in tow. They’re laughing it up, waiting for Minister Oh to come to them.
He escorts them right into his home as honored guests, and Woo-chi takes particular joy in passing by Oh Kyu with a smug expression. Inside, he asks if that was his son, and sneers, “I don’t like the look of him.” Ha.
Suddenly an arrow flies into the room with the mark of Butterfly, and Woo-chi flails about, acting terrified and wanting to leave. Minister Oh hurriedly takes him to another room—his secret treasure trove, and tells the Ming envoy to choose something he likes while he takes care of the problem.
Once alone, Woo-chi poofs out two clone Woo-chis, who look down and complain about their costumes, heh. They start to gather the treasures in the center of the room.
Mu-yeon arrives on the rooftop, dressed in her ninja Butterfly wear, and gives the guards a good chase. Distraction, set. Bong-gu and Myung-gi run in to put talismans on the shelves where Minister Oh’s treasures used to be, and then they pack up the goods for transport.
Woo-chi leads the way out, warning Minister Oh to keep his visit a secret. He’s happy to comply, of course, thinking he’s just gained a political ally. He sends Oh Kyu to escort them back, and Woo-chi makes him carry one of the loads, just to be an ass. Hee.
The Scoobies laugh their heads off at the pile of rare treasures in their hands, and Chul-gyun assures them he can turn them into cash on the black market. And Hye-ryung gets what she asked for—the deed to Minister Oh’s house. She smirks that if they’re going to ruin him, they might as well go for broke. Now we’re talkin’.
Chan-hwi warns the guards to check on Kang-rim every hour, not that it would actually be enough to keep him in jail. For now though, he’s staying put in his cell, gathering his strength.
Oh Kyu bursts in, crying to his father that something’s wrong with their stash of riches. Minister Oh follows him in and freezes in shock as Oh Kyu demonstrates how he accidentally knocked into something on the shelf, and on touch, it vanished into thin air.
They test object after object—each a mirage, and nothing but a talisman left behind. Under one is a note that the things will be used for good, from Jeon Woo-chi. Minister Oh blows his top.
Woo-chi and Bong-gu decide to hustle a little cash from the gambling house, and Bong-gu bets over and over on a game of dice that Woo-chi zaps to land in his favor every time.
Soon they’ve cleaned the house out, and the men start telling Bong-gu to leave. He goads them to put up the gambling house itself then, if they have nothing else to bet. Aw, are you getting Chul-gyun’s gambling house back for him? How sweet.
He manages to bait them, and they put up the deed to the house as a bet, as they grab the pair of rigged dice. But all Woo-chi has to do is force them to turn over, and Bong-gu wins.
The air quickly turns tense as they accuse him of cheating, though of course insisting that it’s impossible to win with those dice is proof that THEY were cheating. The police raid the place, and Bong-gu grabs the deed in the fray.
Chul-gyun squeals in delight to have his precious gambling house back, and wonders if something can’t be done to help all the other shopkeepers who want to fight back against Kang-rim’s thugs but lack the strength.
Myung-gi wonders what powerless merchants can do against armed thugs, but Woo-chi argues that the shop owners will never be able to move forward unless they can overtake the thugs themselves. He asks the team to gather them.
The next day, Doong-gae and his men find themselves surrounded by a group of shopkeepers, nervously wielding sticks. He laughs and draws his sword, and then from the distance Woo-chi puts it right back.
They’re stuck there, unable to use their weapons, and suffer a beating from the townspeople. This is my favorite of Woo-chi’s little punishments—he’s giving the power to the people, rather than just punishing the evildoers himself. It’s great.
Doong-gae goes running to Kang-rim like a wounded dog, and they worry that things are spinning out of their control. Is it time for Kang-rim to break out?
Minister Oh gets woken up in the middle of the night and jumps back to find Kang-rim sitting in his room. He’s there to ask, no demand, that Minister Oh get him out of jail. Ha. So… you broke out of jail to tell him to break you out of jail?
He means the official way, of course, and threatens to tell the king that Minister Oh was the one who ordered the princes’ deaths. He narrows his eyes at the threat, but does agree that he could use Kang-rim back in the fold, especially now that Jeon Woo-chi is making things personal for him.
Kang-rim says all they have to do is present them with another suspect, since they don’t have any hard evidence that he killed anyone. The next day Bong-gu runs in to tell Woo-chi that someone just confessed to the crimes.
It’s absurd, but also too late, because Minister Oh is already ordering Chan-hwi to let Kang-rim out. He fights it, but there’s nothing he can do, and Kang-rim gives him a cold stare as he walks out. Crap.
Chan-hwi polishes his sword with a determined look that’s making me worry. Eun-woo wonders how Kang-rim got away with it, and Chan-hwi says he feels something dark brewing.
He takes Eun-woo’s hand and asks if she’s frightened, and she just says she worries that he’ll be hurt. He tells her to stick to his side at all times because he worries the same, about her. Awww.
Chan-hwi: “I’ll protect you, and I’ll protect the king too.” Augh, you’re making me nervous, Chan-hwi. Why do all my favorite characters in dramaland always end up dead? Not you too, right?
Minister Oh tells Kang-rim that it’s time to speed up their timetable and go for the big fish: does he have a plan to kill the king? Kang-rim offers up the idea for a poison that will look like he ate rotten food.
Suddenly there’s a crash at their door, and Kang-rim runs out to see the gisaeng Love Hands dashing away in terror, clearly having overheard their assassination plot. Oh no, Bong-gu’s girl?
He’s thankfully on his way to her with a present, and runs into her crying frantically that they’re going to kill her. He tells her to ride piggyback and taps his speedy talismans… only he’s not wearing them today.
He sends her running away first, and manages to divert their attention, but they catch him and bring him back to Kang-rim. He recognizes him as one of Woo-chi’s boys, and asks where he is.
And then Doong-gae returns to report that he lost Love Hands… and then he recognizes Bong-gu as Lee Chi’s servant. Crap crap crap. Kang-rim’s eyes widen. Is Woo-chi’s cover blown?
Bong-gu just cries nervously, “Who’s Lee Chi? Jeon Woo-chi and Lee Chi have no connection whatsoever!” Bong-gu! Ack!
The gang panics to hear that Bong-gu’s been taken by Kang-rim, and Mu-yeon sneaks into the palace to warn Woo-chi. But she’s a step too late, and Kang-rim arrives first.
He bursts in and asks for Lee Chi, who squirms at his desk, trying not to look Kang-rim in the eye. Kang-rim asks calmly if he knows that his servant Bong-gu is in league with Jeon Woo-chi, and Lee Chi plays dumb.
Kang-rim: “Then are YOU Jeon Woo-chi?”
Ooh, secret identity blown. The Lee Chi disguise is so Clark Kentish in its obviousness that sometimes I forget how many people still don’t know that he’s Woo-chi, so it’s nice to bring it back in a big way in this episode—first the comedic version where Woo-chi sets Chan-hwi up to befriend his alter ego, and then later the much more threatening version where Kang-rim puts all the pieces together. It doesn’t necessarily make Kang-rim any more of a threat than he already is, but it does make things much more complicated for Woo-chi. And that’s always a good thing late in the game.
Overall I’m not wholly satisfied with how they used Ma Sook’s character in the grand scheme of things, especially for long stretches of story where he sat around doing nothing. At least his death propels Kang-rim forward with new determination and new character information, though if that was his biggest purpose, he should’ve died ages ago. I wanted his badness to be bigger, I think, for the scale that he started out with. He sort of went from great arch villain to pot-stirrer and scheme-maker, which let a lot of air out of his tires. I do think his overarching reasons for his being an anti-Joseon terrorist are interesting, but were left mostly unexplored, and remained at the very basic this-is-my-motivation-go! stage.
I do think a huge hiccup in the story happened with Mu-yeon’s arc in the last episode, because in trying to give her a big role in the final act, it had the unintended effect of making the bad guy too easy to kill. He just sort of went down without much fight, bested by a poisoned dagger which came out of nowhere because we were told to focus on Mu-yeon’s betrayal rather than the assassination plot. What could have been really tense and thrilling ended up rather quick and lame. Boo.
I’m hoping that Kang-rim’s discovery turns the tables on Woo-chi in a big way, enough to push our main characters out of their safe hideouts and cover identities. With three more episodes to go, I want to see the stakes take big hike upward. It’s time for things to get dire, yo. Just in time for Woo-chi to save the day.
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 20
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 19
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 18
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 17
- 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