With one week left to go, the action comes to a crescendo as le shit finally hits le fan and all our plots and machinations are revealed. It’s time for our Scooby Gang to work every angle and every advantage to try to outsmart the baddies, because they surely can’t outnumber or overpower them. But at least they’re armed with plenty of wiles and sleights of hand—’cause what good is it having an impish superhero leading the charge if he doesn’t pull a few tricks along the way?
SONG OF THE DAY
Clinch – “Slowly” [ Download ]
EPISODE 22 RECAP
Kang-rim barges into the news office and all but accuses Lee Chi of being Jeon Woo-chi. Though he’s suspicious that Lee Chi’s not on the level, he’s not actually basing this hunch on anything solid and Lee Chi plays dumb. (This is where I have to remind myself that Lee Chi’s supposed to have a different face, though the drama lets Cha Tae-hyun keep his; hence the lack of recognition on Kang-rim’s end.)
Oh Kyu gets huffy at the intrusion, not about to relinquish control in his office. He laughs at the absurdity of the idea that either Lee Chi or Bong-gu could be a part of Jeon Woo-chi’s operation. Heh, it does amuse me to see one villain thwarted by another… not-quite-villain. Perhaps fly-in-the-ointment is a better term.
Lee Chi feigns outrage that his assistant might be in league with the outlaw and promises Kang-rim that he’ll have him investigated. He slips away, and Mu-yeon (disguised as a court lady) manages to warn him of Bong-gu and Love Hands being taken prison at the gisaeng house. Trouble is, he can’t go rescue them because Kang-rim will be keeping a close eye on Lee Chi.
Thus he goes to Chan-hwi, dressed as Woo-chi, to ask a favor. Aw, yeah. See, this is how teamwork should work—mutual back-scratching and all that good stuff. Woo-chi says that Bong-gu has worked to help the king on multiple occasions and asks Chan-hwi to use his position to rescue him. Ironically enough, Chan-whi can use the official charge against him as the means for rescuing him—it’ll be safer for Bong-gu to be imprisoned at the royal jail than to be kept under Kang-rim’s brutal watch.
So while Kang-rim is lying in wait, expecting Woo-chi to swoop in any minute to rescue his sidekick, he gets quite the surprise when it’s Chan-hwi and his troop of soldiers who arrive instead. They have heard reports that Kang-rim has captured an accessory to the traitorous Jeon Woo-chi, and order him to hand him over to the state.
Kang-rim tries to protest, but impeding arrest makes him look like he’s helping the outlaws and he has no choice but to back down. As the soldiers haul Bong-gu off to the royal prison, Lee Chi comes barreling up and makes a big show of accusing him of being in league with Jeon Woo-chi. He grabs Bong-gu’s head threateningly, then sneaks him a wink: Play along. It’s all for show, of course, since Kang-rim is watching.
Bong-gu is taken to prison, and once they’re in private Chan-hwi informs him that he’s acting on a favor to Jeon Woo-chi. He assures Bong-gu that he’ll be safe here. So Bong-gu practically skips into the jail cell happily, though he now remembers Love Hands and worries for her safety.
She’s been rescued, too, and is soothed by Hye-ryung and Mu-yeon at headquarters. She informs Woo-chi of the plans she overheard: Kang-rim and Minister Oh are plotting to kill the king. Dun dun dun!
While I’m sure that the villains’ opposition to the king comes as no surprise, this is proof of a tangible plan in the works. Woo-chi orders them to keep their ears open for possible clues and evidence of suspicious movement, like poison sales.
It’s also imperative that they warn the king, so Woo-chi heads to court, where he conjures up a clone. Heh, it’s the same one who always hates getting called, but Woo-chi points out that he’s the fast one. Lol. How can these clones be so Woo-chi, and yet not Woo-chi at the same time? It’s pretty funny.
Complainy Clone is dispatched to act as decoy, sending Kang-rim off in the other direction while the real Woo-chi meets with the king in secret. He warns him of the assassination plot and tells him to be extra careful regarding his food and the people he keeps in his company.
Poison must have been one of their planned attempts, because Kang-rim reports to Minister Oh that the king is being very circumspect about his food and keeps to his own chambers. He proposes a change in the plan, taking advantage of the king’s upcoming birthday and the ceremonial food offerings that will be sent out to his kinsmen. Poison that food and kill the king, and they’ll get rid of the entire royal lineage in one fell swoop.
It’s hardly a subtle plan, but they don’t need subtle. In fact, the greater the chaos that follows, the better—because Minister Oh will be there to take charge and restore order.
Kang-rim swiftly has his own minions arrested and thrown into the palace holding cells—a plan that they’ve worked out beforehand, judging from the shifty nods they send each other. The minions go quietly, too, and raise no fuss while in jail. Oh boy, he’s Trojan Horsing this sucker, isn’t he?
Our Scoobies witness the confusing sight and wonder if they could have seen correctly, and are adequately suspicious that something is up. Adding to the oddity is the fact that they’re taken into the palace rather than to the police station, filling the cells to bursting.
Heh, Woo-chi barges in to report his findings to Eun-woo and Chan-hwi, not even bothering to pretend he didn’t see them in a cozy moment (she’d mended his clothes for him). He says he’d normally advise them to carry on, but today he needs their help.
He explains about the tip that an assassination is being planned, and notes the prisoner situation. He requests that they move Bong-gu into their cell to eavesdrop to get a closer read on their plans.
Thus Bong-gu squeezes in with Kang-rim’s stony-faced private militia. Lee Chi brings him large containers of food and insists that Bong-gu eat every last bit himself, without sharing, which guarantees that the soldiers are drooling in about three seconds flat.
The men cave immediately as soon as Bong-gu offers to share, ripping into the chickens. Woo-chi has thoughtfully provided games to entertain the bunch, and then it’s time to bring out the big guns: liquor-infused cake. The soldiers again tear into the cakes, sorely missing the taste of liquor, and the soaked cakes make them all tipsy and sleepy, and much more willing to share info with Bong-gu.
Thus Bong-gu reports the details to Woo-chi: The coup is set to begin tomorrow night. The soldiers will be released at the curfew bell and attack immediately.
That leaves our heroes very little time to plan countermeasures, so they mobilize as quickly as they can. They’ll marshal the queen’s beggar village and merchants for help, while Myung-gi is set to making powder that’ll sting the eyes. Lee Chi will use his strings at the news office to get the word out.
At the office, Oh Kyu is noticeably jumpy when Lee Chi tries to talk to him, all tied up in knots over what he knows. He freaks out visibly when Lee Chi says, “I know everything,” and arms himself with a dagger before facing him.
Oh Kyu tries threatening with brute force, then bargaining with promises of future promotion if Lee Chi just keeps his mouth shut till the coup is over. Lee Chi eyes him with more amusement than anything, disarming him in an eyeblink and freezing him in place. He can stay stuck there till everything’s over.
Lee Chi then takes charge in the office, telling his fellow reporters of the breaking news that just leaked: It’s their duty to report on the upcoming coup attempt. He sets them to work, and they carry the special reports out in the morning for distribution.
Unfortunately, Kang-rim stops them and reads the report, which names him as the leader in the revolt. Lee Chi slips away in time, but his scared colleagues are intimidated into naming him as the source of the information. Ack, well I suppose it was just a matter of time before his cover was blown entirely.
On one hand, this means the other side knows of his plans and the coup is compromised. On the other hand, it gives Kang-rim enough of a heads-up to swing into damage control mode, ordering the rumors quashed at the reporters detained. They’ll simply lock everything and everyone down until they’ve accomplished their goals.
In the morning, Lee Chi catches up to Eun-woo and Chan-hwi. Uh, you showed up to work looking like Lee Chi? After your cover was blown? Ack!
They have just heard of a death at the palace after a court lady ate some of the food prepared for the king’s birthday gifts. Inspection of the body points to signs of poison.
Woo-chi realizes that the food is the means of the coup and hurries to stop it. Alas, the deliveries have already gone out, so it’s up to his team to swing into action and stop each separate delivery team.
Mu-yeon, leading her team of beggars, manages a successful interception of one delivery. Woo-chi stops another.
Woo-chi takes back one of the food packages to the royal guard, telling them that a dog died after eating food dropped on the ground. Thus a criminal is in their midst, and they are set to catching the culprits. Lordy, without a superhero outlaw directing their movements these guards would be good for absolutely nothing, wouldn’t they? Oh, king, you need better employees.
Kang-rim hears of the intercepted packages and sees that his plan is in danger of failure. Now he has to cover up his involvement in it and shut mouths so that word doesn’t spread. Minister Oh argues in favor of delaying the rebellion to a later date, once they’ve had the chance to regroup and come back with a stronger plan.
Kang-rim disagrees, balking at the idea of putting this off. In fact, he counters that they have to move up the attack, to go out even stronger and catch everyone off guard. Rather than wait till night, they’ll begin now.
He gets Minister Oh’s agreement, then barges into the prison to break out his soldiers. No need to hide behind his cover identity anymore, Kang-rim freely uses his magic and kills royal guards, and his minions tie on their prepared red armband marking them as the conquering party.
Bong-gu hangs back, needing to slip away to warn his teammates of the change in plans. His new buddies on Team Kang-rim hand him a red armband as well, which he ties on for safe measure.
It’s a good thing, since Kang-rim orders his private army to kill anybody not wearing an armband. He sends them forth, then adds a quiet order to his second-in-command: The moment he captures the king, No. 2 is to kill Minister Oh. Hm, I wonder what Kang-rim means to do post-coup. Is he going to claim the throne himself? He hasn’t groomed anybody else become his new puppet…
Woo-chi leaps into the fray, fighting Red Bands left and right. Bong-gu finds him and fills him in, then gets sent off with new talismans and the order to protect the king.
It’s not looking good for our good guys, who are vastly outnumbered. There are only a handful of trustworthy soldiers left on their side, and the king’s priority is to escape alive. Bong-gu joins them, giving the king his red armband just in case. Oh, if he just gave his life for the king…
The bumbling palace guard are left guarding a gate away from the action, wondering what’s going on. They’re aware of some commotion but away from the fighting, and stupidly stand guard. One of them has lost his red band—hm, who stole that?—and they argue back and forth over the remaining one, since they’ve been told that non-banded people will be arrested as a traitor.
The other ministers do know a coup is in place, but are more worried about saving their necks. They decide to lie low for now and side with the winners, with red sashes of their own in case the Red Bands win.
Kang-rim and Minister Oh march on to the king’s chamber for the assassination, only to find that it’s already empty. They fume at being thwarted again, but Kang-rim figures the king isn’t far and heads out to track him down. This also buys Minister Oh a few more moments of life, since his own assassination gets put on hold till the king is found.
Kang-rim finds Chan-hwi guarding the king and challenges him to another fight. Oh no! We saw how this ended up last time…
Sure enough, Chan-hwi gives it his all but is soon facing the pointy end of the sword. Thankfully Kang-rim loses interest in him since he’s really after the king, and he cuts down the remaining guards to corner… Bong-gu, in king’s robes. HA. I love this recurring gag of Bong-gu as the king.
Kang-rim demands to know where the king is. He gets no answer, just Chan-hwi’s contempt that he’d never tell him.
I’m biting my nails hoping for something to spare Chan-hwi from imminent death, and just then something zooms by in blur. Woo-chi! Oh phew. Thank goodness for that.
The ex-friends stand off against each other, both echoing the same thoughts: This time, there’ll be no mercy.
Meanwhile, Eun-woo leads the king away from the palace and into the woods, where Mu-yeon joins them to escort them to further safety.
The king casts a sorrowful look back toward his palace, feeling cowardly for running away on his own while leaving his people to die for him. The ladies urge him to hurry on to safety, assuring him that they’re not dying for nothing.
They don’t go far, however, because Kang-rim’s got a team of bandits out to block their escape. The ladies raise their swords, ready to take on Doong-gae and his men.
…only there’s a lot more where that came from. Suddenly a team of archers emerges from one side, and the other, and the other. They’re surrounded now and vastly outnumbered. Even their stellar fighting skills can’t protect the king from so many assaults. Gulp.
Meanwhile, Kang-rim taunts Woo-chi with running out of time. Woo-chi assures him that the king has already been taken to a safe place—but then Kang-rim presses him, “Is he really?”
Woo-chi’s confidence falters as he thinks twice. Kang-rim’s face breaks into a huge grin as he says he prepared for every situation, and the king may even be dead this very minute.
Oh noes! Looks like Kang-rim outsmarted Woo-chi this time—and they were doing so well on the whole outsmarting and out-outsmarting back and forth there.
I’m not 100% convinced that Woo-chi’s team is totally screwed, though they’re certainly on the defensive here. But there are little hints scattered around that tell me we haven’t seen the full plan yet, so hope remains alive that we’re going to be treated to a reversal. Does that sound like blind hope and/or denial? Yeah, maybe there’s some of that mixed in.
My biggest hunch—and it’s only a hunch—is that there’s some sort of switcheroo still in place. Say, what if the king and Bong-gu were switched again? Maybe the king really IS Bong-gu, but transformed by magic to look like Bong-gu to deflect attention. On the one hand, the king in the forest is wearing the armband that Bong-gu gave him, so it could always be just what it looks like. But Woo-chi did give Bong-gu another talisman with the express order to protect the king… There’s a chance… Plus, one of the royal guards has misplaced his red band, and we haven’t seen yet where it ended up. I’m sure that scene was there for a reason (other than to annoy me with their stupidity), so we have that to anticipate as well.
I’m interested in knowing where Kang-rim is taking this coup, because while I had no expectation that he’d want to keep Minister Oh around—and Minister Oh would probably have tried to kill him if he didn’t kill him first—I don’t know where he could be headed with a complete destruction of the royal house if he weren’t planning to take over. Unless he’s on a total scorched-earth mission to just destroy Joseon entirely, out of Ma Sook-inspired revenge. But… what’s the point of a difficult and complicated coup if you aren’t going to get to enjoy the spoils at all?
I agree with girlfriday in finding the whole “Kang-rim, I am your father” bit totally pointless, in that it did nothing to advance our story—why not make Ma Sook his father from the very start anyway? Uncle, father, they’re both blood relations. I feel like Ma Sook was painted to be the utter big bad and then got dropped halfway through. I don’t actually mind the shifting of the conflict to the royal coup because that makes a lot of sense and has higher stakes than a mere power-hungry wizard, but I do think the occult-like danger fell through and kicked aside. Too bad for that.
In any case, we’re heading into the final week, and now that everything’s out in the open there’s no room for retreat. Full steam ahead, with a country’s future on the line. Naturally our hero will prevail, but the lesson will be in seeing how he does it, and with what kind of philosophy. Can Woo-chi find a way to handle his ex-bestie without killing him? Not that I need/want that from Kang-rim, but it’ll surely be a big question for our hero—because if he had to kill him, would that be something he could recover from? Is redemption in the works?
- Jeon Woo-chi: Episode 21
- 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