Last: Episode 13
While Jong-gu dedicates himself to supporting the pride of Seoul Station’s homeless population, Heung-sam realizes that Jong-gu must be stopped if he’s to keep a firm grasp on his power. And Tae-ho is just the man to do it, as he spirals deeper into Heung-sam’s trap, willing to sacrifice his friends in the name of money and power. It’s beginning to look as though Tae-ho ay be in too deep for redemption, though a burst of insight may give him the clue he needs to bring down the Seoul Station monopoly.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Having been alerted that Poison Snake plans to harvest several homeless men, including the Chairman, Tae-ho sneaks into the harvesting room to see the Chairman already laid out on the operating table. Before he can free him, he’s grabbed from behind by Poison Snake and held at knife-point.
Tae-ho quips that Poison Snake could wear himself out harvesting five people in one day, but Poison Snake says that the order came from Heung-sam himself. He oh-so-graciously offers to let Tae-ho have the Chairman’s body after they’re done, to give him a nice burial, but before things get ugly Jong-gu and his friends arrive ready to do battle.
Mi-joo brings Heung-sam the news that President Yoon’s son Jae-sung has signed up for membership at their club. She says she has no real interest in him, and ignores Heung-sam’s cheeky, “What about me?” as well. They’re interrupted by Praying Mantis, here to report that Jong-gu is about to cause trouble.
Jong-gu’s and Poison Snake’s groups face off, prepared to fight, but Tae-ho stops them and Hae-jin asks what he’s doing here. He says he came to get the Chairman, telling his friends not to cause trouble and he’ll make sure and bring the Chairman back safely. Jong-gu’s men still want to bust up the place but Tae-ho loudly orders them to stop, worried that they could all be killed.
Hae-jin senses something wrong and asks whose side Tae-ho is truly on — the Tae-ho he knows would have been the first to fight. Jong-gu finally speaks up, saying that if Tae-ho wants to be Heung-sam’s right-hand man, he can’t act like a good guy. They’re here to be the good guys, and Tae-ho is in no position to stop it.
Tae-ho is on his last nerve, and he offers Jong-gu a different kind of fight — a duel between the two of them, here and now, winner takes all.
Heung-sam and Praying Mantis head out, but Mi-joo runs after them to remind Heung-sam that Jong-gu is a simple-minded person. He’s probably just acting impulsively, and she begs Heung-sam to give Jong-gu a chance to back down. Heung-sam doesn’t answer her, but his hard expression doesn’t bode well.
Hae-jin begs Tae-ho and Jong-gu to reconsider this duel, even reminding Tae-ho that it’s not allowed to challenge anyone who’s not directly above you in rank. Poison Snake is delighted to give permission to forego that rule, and so the duel begins.
They face off, with Jong-gu getting in the first few punches, but seeming pretty evenly matched in strength and speed as they size each other up. Finally Tae-ho lands one hard right uppercut, and the fight begins in earnest. Heung-sam arrives right when things are getting nasty and watches the fight for a long minute, until Tae-ho gets the upper hand and offers Jong-gu to stop things here.
But Jong-gu beckons to him to bring it on, and so Tae-ho does, though Jong-gu seems weakened and barely defends himself. Just as Tae-ho winds up for his finishing move, Heung-sam, who knows Jong-gu well, murmurs, “It’s a trap.” And it is — we see a light flicker in Jong-gu’s eye, and he moves into Tae-ho’s open guard and flattens him.
Heung-sam congratulates Jong-gu on his win, remembering that he won his title match with the same fake-out move, but Jong-gu just wants to take his men back home. Heung-sam allows it, saying that a promise made by Tae-ho is the same as if it came from his own mouth, and picks up the limp Tae-ho to carry him out himself.
The guys take the Chairman home where Nara is wringing her hands with worry, and she asks Hae-jin why Tae-ho didn’t come back with them. He tells her Tae-ho is probably off somewhere recovering from his duel, leaving Nara confused.
Tae-ho wakes up in Heung-sam’s penthouse and shuffles out to find Heung-sam in a thoughtful mood. He tells Tae-ho that he established the dueling rules so that cocky jerks couldn’t easily upset the hierarchy, and that those rules have kept Seoul Station from being a war zone all these years.
Tae-ho apologizes, and Heung-sam tells him that he’s his cherished right-hand man as well as his secret weapon. But it comes with a warning never to do as he pleases without permission again.
Jong-gu wakes up to find Mi-joo standing over him looking disapproving, and she offers him a bag filled with enough money to go start a new life. She tells him things could get even more dangerous if he stays, but he doesn’t want to take the money she “sold her smile” to make.
Jong-gu laughs wryly that he finally re-entered the ring after many years, so he can’t throw in the towel now. The fight won’t end until either he or Heung-sam fall. Mi-joo asks tearfully if he won’t do it for her sake, and turns to go, but Jong-gu says to her back that in some ways, this fight is for her sake.
The next morning Jong-gu shows up for work, and a few more homeless men arrive having heard there are construction jobs to be had. It’s heartening to see them list their abilities, showing pride in their skills.
Tae-ho goes to see Heung-sam and Praying Mantis stops him as usual, saying that he looks like he needs more rest. Is that… genuine concern on his face? The two adversaries almost even smile at each other, and Praying Mantis’s eye twitches in amusement when Tae-ho says to just let him in already.
Tae-ho talks with Heung-sam about getting rid of Jong-gu, even suggesting they send Praying Mantis to take care of it. But he acknowledges that Jon-gu was once Heung-sam’s idol so that’s not likely to happen — Heung-sam wants Jong-gu to submit to him, but he wants it honestly and not by force.
So rather than go after Jon-gu directly, they need to remove his support system and isolate him until he surrenders. Tae-ho says he can make it happen, repeating Jong-gu’s own words that if he is to serve Heung-sam, he can’t be the good guy. And if the Seoul Station status quo is to be upheld, Jong-gu must be stopped.
Tae-ho approaches Poison Snake and Crocodile with his plan, which seems to involve handing out free food, alcohol, and cigarettes. They can’t see how this is supposed to increase collections, but Tae-ho explains that if they offer better food than the soup kitchens, Heung-sam’s reputation (and the rest of the Seoul Seven’s by extension) will soar.
Once the men realize they can get good food, alcohol, and shelter for free from Heung-sam, the group that are willing to go to work with Jong-gu decreases drastically. Jong-gu just sighs and says to let them be.
Heung-sam decides to sponsor the clinic, and when Nara thanks him for honoring Tae-ho’s request, he says that looking at her, he thinks he knows why Tae-ho asked him the favor. When he makes a grand speech about the people of Seoul Station being like family, Nara asks him for a further favor: Make it so the men stop fighting among themselves.
Nara is so innocent that she doesn’t notice Heung-sam’s expression go cold, but he tells her he can’t help her with that. Fighting happens whenever people get together, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
Though Tae-ho’s plans are successful, he doesn’t seem happy, and he drinks alone at the club that night. He tells Mi-joo that if Jong-gu keeps standing up to Heung-sam he’ll end up on his knees, and he’s even thinking of being part of making that happen. He warns her to pick a side and stick to it.
Mi-joo asks if he’s chosen his side, and gets a wry laugh as an answer. Tae-ho starts to leave but recognizes Yoon Jae-sung on his way in, and notices how Mi-joo turns on the fake chirpy charm when she sees him.
Jae-sung sits himself down right in Heung-sam’s chair, complaining about his VIP reservation this weekend with his father’s colleagues. He says he wanted to spend some time with her alone, but right away calls her out — he knows that she’s playing him on Heung-sam’s behalf.
Tae-ho calls his friends together to discuss a “mission,” set to last a month, that will involve a lot of travel. Hae-jin takes offense at his attitude, as if he’s their boss and not their partner, but Tae-ho says he’ll pay them more than the construction site.
Hae-jin asks if he’s not going to see Jong-gu to apologize, and Ship-jang jumps to Tae-ho’s defense that he was only trying to avoid a huge scuffle. But Tae-ho says that he actually was trying to become Number Two, that he doesn’t respect Jong-gu now that he’s no longer in his prime, shocking the whole group.
Since most of the men have stopped showing up for the construction work, Jong-gu and the few guys who do want to work lose the job as well. Hae-jin, Ship-jang, and Young-chil go to Seoul Station to find out what’s going on, but all they find is men with full bellies, no longer willing to work when they can get food and drink for free.
They quickly figure out the score when Crocodile arrives to pass out the day’s meal vouchers, but even worse is hearing that this was all Tae-ho’s idea. Jong-gu goes home to find the last of his followers packing up and clearing out — Tae-ho’s plan is a success.
Jae-sung knows all about Heung-sam and how he makes his money, and he offers Mi-joo anything she wants… a shop, a restaurant, maybe a nicer club than this one? She says she has nothing to offer him in return, but all he wants is information on Heung-sam. Beisdes, wouldn’t she prefer to be with a chaebol than the lowly King of Hobos?
Mi-joo says it’s a shame she has no interest in money or fame, and invites him to have a drink or leave. Jae-sung gives her his card like he’s a big shot (he tucks it into her cleavage, yuck), and tells her to call if she changes her mind.
Mi-joo goes to see Heung-sam and overhears him and Tae-ho discussing setting up their dummy company, and she exchanges some loaded glances with Tae-ho. Heung-sam tells him not to worry about Jong-gu anymore now that their plan to isolate him is working, saying that he’ll soon be the ghost of the junkyard, but Tae-ho makes a point to say that he plans to get rid of the junkyard, as well.
Heung-sam notices that Mi-joo was meant to hear that, probably to carry it back to Jong-gu. Mi-joo just retorts that Tae-ho is becoming cruel, just like Heung-sam himself. She changes her mind and doesn’t tell him that Jae-sung is aware of his plans, playing it casual and only telling Heung-sam that he’s just like all other chaebols.
Tae-ho visits Jong-gu’s home and says that one of Heung-sam’s new businesses needs a storage area, and that they plan to use this space. He says he’s taking Jong-gu’s advice and dropping the nice guy act, and warns Jong-gu to get on his knees before Heung-sam if he doesn’t want to end up on the streets. After all, he can’t get any lower, right?
Tae-ho says that his followers won’t be coming back and suggests Jong-gu focus on finding his daughter or run away with Mi-joo, which earns him a hard punch in the face. Jong-gu calmly says to have Heung-sam send Praying Mantis or Poison Snake to talk to him from now on, not idiots like Tae-ho.
Se-hoon takes Jung-min out for their anniversary to her members-only restaurant, but she suggests they leave when she sees her brother already there with Mi-joo. Se-hoon recognizes Mi-joo, but pretends innocence and agrees to eat elsewhere.
Mi-joo wants to know why Jae-sung is so eager to buy information on Heung-sam, and she ends the date when he refuses to tell her. He does reveal that it’s an order from his father and he doesn’t know either, and Mi-joo admits that she doesn’t know why she’s supposed to be watching him in return.
Hae-jin gets drunk in Granny’s restaurant and complains about Tae-ho kissing up to Heung-sam in Nara’s earshot. The Chairman is still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s got a plan, awww, and Hae-jin tells him to pick a side.
Poor Hae-jin blames himself for Tae-ho’s turning on them, since he told Tae-ho how the Seoul Seven had all the money and power back when they first met. He cries that it’s all his fault that Tae-ho is embroiled in this situation now.
Se-hoon calls his hyung to ask why Mi-joo was with Jung-min’s brother at the restaurant, and Heung-sam admits he’s behind it. He’s not happy to hear that their meeting looked more businesslike than for pleasure, and Se-hoon warns him not to underestimate Jae-sung.
Mi-joo entreats Jong-gu again to run away with her, possibly to America, saying that she’s even found someone to help them. He’s already lost this fight anyway, so why not? Jong-gu sighs that a fight isn’t over until the count is finished, and warns her not to do anything stupid on his behalf.
Tae-ho runs into Jung-min at her office building but says he’s not here to see her, he’s here as an investor for the Mi-rae City Project. Jung-min notices that he looks like he did when they first met and he was so full of himself, but Tae-ho just grins and tells her to worry about her current man.
Tae-ho keeps his meeting with Se-hoon friendly even when Se-hoon gets in a dig about the Dae Dong Bio incident, and even compliments Se-hoon on the high quality of his blueprints. But once he leaves the room his smile fades as he remembers seeing a similar well-made blueprint in President Jung’s office.
Putting together all the things he remembers both Heung-sam and President Jung telling him about the Dae Dong Bio investment, especially how the president of the company took all the assets and fled, Tae-ho goes to Hae-jin to ask a favor. We don’t hear what it is, but he says he can’t do it himself because he’s still a wanted man.
Even though Tae-ho says Hae-jin is the only one he can trust with this, Hae-jin refuses — he still has his pride. But after Tae-ho leaves the Chairman tells Hae-jin he should do it if he truly feels guilty for Tae-ho being in this position.
Hae-jin has to admit he’s right, and he catches up to Tae-ho and says he’ll do it, but only for the money. Not because he likes Tae-ho or anything, and stop smiling like that, hmmph.
Heung-sam asks Mi-joo if Jae-sung gave her a guest list for his VIP reservation coming up, and tells her to be sure to notice absolutely everything that happens at the party. She gets an ill-timed call from someone claiming to be Jae-sung’s secretary and pretends it’s a spam call.
We see that the call actually came from a homeless man directed by Praying Mantis, and Heung-sam laughs to have his suspicions confirmed. He tells Mi-joo to come with him but refuses to say where they’re going.
Hae-jin does Tae-ho’s favor and visits President Jung’s former bodyguard in jail. He reports back to Tae-ho that it’s as he suspects — the blueprint Tae-ho saw in Jung’s office was delivered by Heung-sam. Not only that, but Heung-sam himself actually found the CEO of Dae Dong Bio and got their money back, and had the CEO “repurposed.”
Heung-sam takes Mi-joo to Tae-ho’s office, which was their old boss’s headquarters and the same room where the fateful fire happened. He tells Mi-joo that he’s been working towards a certain goal for a very long time, and that he’s very close to seeing it finished.
But he tells her there’s someone trying to ruin his plans, and gives her a pointed look. As Praying Mantis carries in two large containers of gasoline, Heung-sam asks Mi-joo how much she was paid for selling him out to Jae-sung.
Praying Mantis begins pouring the gasoline everywhere, and Heung-sam says he always wondered what would have happened if Jong-gu had saved her from the fire that day instead of himself. She wouldn’t have followed Heung-sam, and the three of them wouldn’t have gotten so tangled.
He takes the gasoline from Praying Mantis and begins to pour it directly on Mi-joo’s feet, saying that you can’t go around betraying the person who saved your life. She says she didn’t betray him, only talked with Jae-sung, who wanted personal and business information. But she swears honestly that she told Jae-sung nothing, and only said that she’d think about it if he made a different promise — to send her and Jong-gu overseas.
Young-chil had seen Praying Mantis waiting outside the office door (“that glaring guy” he calls him, ha) and rushes to get Jong-gu. Jong-gu runs into the office and Praying Mantis slashes at him with his huge switchblade, but Heung-sam immediately orders them to stop fighting.
He has the nerve to ask them why they’re making him out to be such a villain — says the guy who just poured gasoline on a woman. He tells Jong-gu to leave, that this is between him and Mi-joo, but asks why he never went to find his daughter.
This is the first Jong-gu is hearing about their deal, when Mi-joo traded the information about Jong-gu’s daughter in return for her help with his business, and she still insists she only did it because she prefers the cushy lifestyle. But this time she knows she’s not fooling him, and the two look at each other sadly.
Heung-sam muses about history repeating itself and fires up his lighter, offering Jong-gu another chance to save Mi-joo. Though, soaked in gasoline as she is, he doubts she’ll avoid serious injury this time.
First of all, I want to know what in the world has gotten into Tae-ho! He used to have so much respect for Jong-gu, and now he seems to actively despise him — not to mention how he’s treating his own friends lately. I hope, for my heart’s sake, that he’s either blinded by the promise of power and will wake up and start being a good person again soon, or that he’s playing some long game and it’s all just an act after all. There was no valid reason for Tae-ho to challenge Jong-gu to the duel that I can see, since they were both fighting for the right to take the men scheduled to be harvested back to safety — unless it was to save his friends from having to fight. He had to know that they would be slaughtered, probably literally, and I want to think he offered the duel to make sure he was the only one who got hurt since he had to know he’d lose to Jong-gu.
It’s things like that, that make me think Tae-ho’s still on the side of good even when it seems he’s gone to the dark side… he made that duel appear to be about power, but really it was his way of getting the five men slated for repurposing to safety without his friends being put in danger in the process. It’s definitely the way Tae-ho thinks, and something he would do back when he was more obviously a “good guy,” so maybe I’m being a bit of a Pollyanna but I want to think he wasn’t grasping for power in that moment, but sacrificing himself for his friends.
I’m still confused though, as to why Tae-ho wants so badly to be the one to stop Jong-gu from helping the homeless men regain their pride and personal worth. He was the one who was trying to give it back to them in the first place, by giving them a higher percentage of their daily earnings and doing things like fighting Sergeant Bae. Obviously Tae-ho has a plan, though I wish I knew if it were a plan to make things right, or a plan to take control of all the power. I’d like to think that Tae-ho is concocting an elaborate scheme to right all the wrongs in Seoul Station and that he’s being tempted by all that power and money but will be able to resist, but I worry that it’s just as likely that he’s really trying to take over and doesn’t care who he has to step on to get there.
But it’s something I really love about the show, that uncertainty and worry. It’s one of the best parts about this drama, in fact, that we can see either scenario playing out and being equally convincing. The show manages to offer it’s viewers both possibilities through it’s characters without coming across as muddled or unclear, and you always feel as though, even though you’re not sure which way things will go, that it’s because you’re not supposed to know and it’s all part of the story. In less-skilled hands, Tae-ho’s actions would just come across as confusing, but with this production team and these actors, it’s obvious that we’re seeing and feeling exactly what we’re supposed to see and feel. I appreciate that level of artistry that allows it’s audience to see all the possibilities and accept each one as a credible outcome, instead of just the jumbled mess it would be in the grip of a less-talented team.
But I still have faith that Tae-ho will come out on the side of good in the end, even if he’s teetering on the brink right now. That kind of money and power would tempt a saint, and we know that Tae-ho has always been a greedy sort of man for both, so this can’t be an easy thing for him to be going through. I’m mostly concerned that it’s going to take a serious event of a tragic and permanent sort, and he’s already lost one friend due to his lust for cash. Yet Tae-ho still finds himself tempted enough to risk losing even more people he cares about, which means that he hasn’t hit rock bottom yet, and I’m not looking forward to the lesson he may still have to learn before he turns himself around.