Jackpot: Episode 14
For a show that set out to be about gambling, it sure does a lot better when it’s about everything but gambling, and tends to be at its best when focusing on the relationships within the central and inherently broken family in the midst of it all. Maybe it’s also just better whenever our two brothers are in the same scene, since watching their friendship survive multiple trials only to come out stronger for it makes for some investing television. Not everything works (okay, a lot of it still doesn’t), but at least their relationship does.
SONG OF THE DAY
Nam Woohyun (of INFINITE) – “그 사람 (That Person)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Finding Dam-seo hovering above the gambler Golsa’s body, Dae-gil decides that it’s best if Dam-seo leaves before she can be discovered. He’ll ask her about what happened later, assuming he can find her.
As the voice of his daughter grows nearer, Dae-gil kneels down to inspect the gambler, whose final coughs spatter his hanbok with blood. That’s how Yeon-hwa finds them, which makes Dae-gil look as though he committed the murder.
At least Golsa gets to see his daughter one last time before passing on, leaving Yeon-hwa to look up at Dae-gil accusatorially, with angry tears streaking down her face. “It wasn’t me,” Dae-gil says, but his meager defense falls on deaf ears.
He’s forced to make an escape when Yeon-hwa orders her guards to apprehend him, saying only that he’ll find out who really did this. But his sword, left in a pool of her father’s blood, only confirms his guilt to Yeon-hwa.
Injwa uses the murder of Golsa to turn any would-be merchant supporters against Dae-gil, leaving himself as the only person capable of running affairs in Mapo, since Dae-gil is now a wanted man.
Having slept in, Prince Yeoning arrives late to the morning assembly, where the matter of the license ban on small merchants has already been decided. When his father tsks that Yeoning didn’t bring any evidence to prove his case, the prince looks to Chief State Councilor Kim in confusion.
The prince tells the court that he gave the two ledgers of evidence to Councilor Kim, who acknowledges that he did receive them, but found that they had no value as evidence of corruption and subsequently burned them.
Outside, Yeoning confronts Councilor Kim over his betrayal, which the councilor defends as being for the prince’s sake. If he falls, so does the Noron faction, and they can’t let that happen. “You are holding me back for my sake? Aren’t those two statements contradictory?” Hush, little prince—you’re making too much sense.
For what it’s worth, Councilor Kim truly believes what he’s saying, since the license ban wouldn’t make a dent against the Sorons or the demonic Injwa. Rather than fighting and losing, the councilor would rather the prince not try at all, and stay safer because of it.
Crown Prince Yoon joins in on Councilor Kim’s side, and tells his younger brother that this has all happened as Lady Choi willed it. She knew that Yeoning would be in danger should the license ban pass, and enlisted the help of the crown prince and Councilor Kim to try and put a stop to her son’s dangerous activities.
Under Councilor Kim’s guidance, Crown Prince Yoon received the king’s permission to reinstate Prince Yeoning to his former position in the Office of Inspector General in return for him backing off the license ban issue. Yeoning takes the badge, seemingly accepting the terms.
In flashback, we see the meeting between Crown Prince Yoon and his father, who’d asked his son what his intentions were. Why help save his younger brother from himself when he could become an impediment to his rule later?
The crown prince had magnanimously replied that Yeoning was still his younger brother and his subject, and that he would do whatever was in his power to help him regain his position and stop his dangerous activities.
In the present, Yeoning claims to be unable to accept the position or its terms, but Councilor Kim reminds him that it’s just politics—in order to gain, you must concede.
Prince Yeoning tries pleading his case to his mother, who knows her son’s stubborn streak all too well. She begs him to give up lest he lose everything, adding tearfully that this may be one of her last requests. Her days are numbered.
The royal doctors confirm her declining condition to a shocked Yeoning, but the dilemma doesn’t last long. While he would give his life for his mother, he thinks, he can’t heed her wishes and stop now.
While the king asks Councilor Kim how much he thinks he knows about Injwa, Injwa boasts of how he engineered the events preventing the license ban lift from passing to the ministers on his side. He also refuses to acknowledge that Dae-gil hindered him by beating Golsa, since he still took over the merchants under Golsa’s control.
Dae-gil’s blind search for Dam-seo brings him to Injwa’s manor, and for once, Injwa actually doesn’t know the answer to the question Dae-gil poses about her whereabouts. He hadn’t even known she was back.
And though Dae-gil suspects Injwa was behind Golsa’s death, with no way to prove it, Dae-gil has no choice but to leave. But Nameless, who wants to know what Dae-gil knows about Dam-seo, approaches him to ask if he’s seen her.
He tells Nameless that Dam-seo killed Yook Gwishin and Golsa, and somehow gauges from his reaction that Nameless does know where she is. He tells him of a temple Dam-seo liked to frequent, which is where Dae-gil ends up finding her.
Meanwhile, Yeoning learns of Golsa’s death and goes to investigate. When Yeon-hwa swears repeatedly that she saw Dae-gil commit the crime with her own two eyes, Yeoning uses his newly regained powers to assume control over the case. He meets no resistance, since Injwa ordered the officials under his control to let the prince do as he pleased.
A sullen Dam-seo tells Dae-gil to just get on with whatever he came here to say, only to accuse him of coming here only to confirm his suspicions that she killed Yook Gwishin and Golsa. “Would you believe me if I told you?” she asks.
She doesn’t deny killing Yook Gwishin, claiming he deserved it, but she denies killing Golsa, although she’d meant to. Dae-gil asks who could’ve done it if not for her, but Dam-seo just glowers at him: “I’ve told you the truth, yet you don’t believe me.” Dae-gil must look awfully small when you’re on such a high horse, Dam-seo.
Dae-gil rightfully asks what happened for her to be like this, though she seems to have inherited her former teacher’s knack for being deliberately vague as she tells him that he’ll soon find out why his father died, and why Injwa hasn’t killed him.
And, like Injwa, she tells Dae-gil that he’ll find himself at a crossroads just like she did when she left Injwa. He can either choose to stand beside him, or fight him. (Is the “him” in this scenario Yeoning, or Injwa?) Once he’s gone, she thinks to herself that he’ll find out he’s the king’s son soon enough.
Grandpa tells Dae-gil of Seol-im’s disappearance based on the straw shoe and letter she left behind, and we find her as a prisoner/guest in the angsty gambler Kejakdu’s home. He gifts her a new pair of silk shoes, wanting only for her to stay close to him. Nearby guards make sure she does just that.
Prince Yeoning personally oversees Dae-gil’s arrest for the murder of Golsa, which Nameless reports back to Injwa. Knowing that Dae-gil won’t be able to escape death if he’s found guilty, Injwa wonders how Lady Choi is receiving the news. (Answer: not well.)
Since Injwa knows that there’s no way Dae-gil can actually die, it’s really just his way of testing how the king will react. At least the king, for his awesome part, knows that this is all a ploy on Injwa’s part to provoke him.
Yeoning confronts Dae-gil over the serious accusation leveled against him, and when he denies being the murderer, Yeoning asks him to swear it on the sword the king gave him. “I can swear it even without that sword,” Dae-gil says, which seems more than enough to convince Yeoning.
If Dae-gil’s telling the truth, then it means someone else killed Golsa and framed him for it. Did Dae-gil see anything or anyone strange? Of course, Dae-gil says he didn’t in order to protect Dam-seo, leaving Yeoning to find the true killer on his own. “Even without this sword, I believe you,” Yeoning adds, which, aww.
He goes to investigate the crime scene, where Yeon-hwa admits that while she didn’t see the murder itself, she’s still dead certain Dae-gil did it. He guesses that the unlocked window might’ve been a point of entry for the intruder, and posits that Dae-gil might’ve been framed, which isn’t what Yeon-hwa wants to hear.
She offers the bloody tujeon card she found clutched in her father’s hand as evidence that Dae-gil was the one who killed him (just go with it), and all Yeoning can do is promise to bring the one who actually killed her father to justice.
Dae-gil is saved from torture by Lady Choi, who cries as she sees the state her son is in. “Tell me, did you truly commit this crime?” she asks, her eyes brimming with tears. Though Dae-gil can’t understand why she’s so concerned for him, he tells her that he’s innocent.
As for why she’s so emotional, Lady Choi claims that it’s because she knows he’s Prince Yeoning’s only friend, and demands to know who he thinks could’ve framed him. She recognizes Injwa’s name, obviously, and remembers all the horrible things he did to her.
“I will never forgive him,” she grits through clenched teeth. “No matter what it takes, I will end his life.” Then, collecting herself, she takes one of Dae-gil’s bound hands in her own, bidding him to be patient. As his mother, she will protect him. (She doesn’t say that last part aloud.)
Witnessing the exchange, Yeoning is reminded of the birth date his mother once looked into. He asks Dae-gil when he was born, and finds out that he was born in the same year and month that was on the slip of paper. Having never seen his mother fly into such a rage, Yeoning can’t help but be suspicious.
His mother’s grief, coupled with the unlikely coincidence that Dae-gil was born the same year and month of his supposedly deceased older brother, leads Yeoning to wonder if Dae-gil could truly be his brother. Huh. That was easy.
Nameless reports that the king’s been gathering all the highest officials to ask them about Injwa, a subject they’ve been purposefully silent on thus far. Injwa knows that the king’s riling up ministers against him because he knows he framed Dae-gil, and takes his classic wait-and-see approach to whatever will happen next.
Lady Choi entreats the king to save Dae-gil, which he notes is the exact opposite of what the Soron ministers want him to do. People get tried for murder all the time, he claims, so it should hardly be a matter for her to personally interrupt an interrogation for.
When she protests, he gently shuts her down by reminding her that Dae-gil is a grown man now, and he got that way without her solving his problems. He knows she knows this. “Whether he lives or dies, I will take care of it,” he adds.
Kneeling before her, King Sukjong looks her in the eyes as he warns her against taking any more action: “You will get hurt. If you involve yourself any further, you will get hurt.” He knows she’s not well just by the touch of her hand, and advises her to stay locked in her quarters. She agrees to do as he says, touched by his concern.
The king meets with Prince Yeoning next, and as always, gets straight to the point: “Do you want to catch Yi Injwa? Go and catch him, then.” He doesn’t need to hear reasons or specifics, since he can’t very well involve himself in the matter. But by tasking Yeoning with it, he’d hit multiple targets with one arrow.
“I’m giving you a chance,” King Sukjong adds for clarification. He even gives Yeoning permission to bring Dae-gil to the palace to help him, and wonders privately where martial arts master Kim Chae-gun is. (He’s where he always is, but hears the telepathic call to arms.)
With great fanfare, Injwa declares that the time has come for he and his comrades to rise up and fight, since they’ve all been in hiding for the last twenty years.
The seal he breaks out of a locked chest and stamps on his questionable artwork spells the Hanja characters for Musin, which he treats with great importance. He sends it and Nameless to the shamanistic madam with the message: “I have returned.” (The seal is referencing the Musin Rebellion of 1728, where Injwa would play a heavy role.)
Yeon-hwa, as single-minded as ever, confronts Dae-gil in prison in an attempt to hear him confess to her father’s murder. Instead, he tells her that it must’ve been someone who would’ve profited from his death (Injwa), someone who works for him (Nameless, Jin-ki), or someone who stood to gain from imprisoning him.
She proffers the tujeon card her father was holding when he died as supposedly indisputable evidence that Dae-gil murdered him. But Dae-gil sees it another way—the card points to Kejakdu, the only gambler to ever beat him at cards.
A flashback reveals that it was Kejakdu who paid an unannounced visit to Golsa the night he died. Telling Golsa that he didn’t want there to be any resentment between them for what he was about to do, he then attacked him and slashed his throat.
Yeon-hwa challenges him as to whether he has any evidence to support his claim, causing Dae-gil to wonder if she would rather believe he was the culprit. She would prefer that option, because she is afraid of Kejakdu, who she describes as an assassin for hire.
Until Dae-gil has concrete proof that Kejakdu is indeed the killer, Yeon-hwa says, she’ll continue to assume he is. She then finds herself at a loss on how to respond when Prince Yeoning comes to release Dae-gil, who cheekily reminds her that he’s always been lucky like that. He’ll hear her apology after he finds her father’s killer.
In a handy bit of exposition, Injwa mentions to Kejakdu that gaining control of the port of Mapo wouldn’t have been possible without the gambler killing Golsa, and framing Dae-gil for it in the process.
We see how the deal went down in another flashback, with Injwa trading a chest of silver for Kejakdu’s services as an assassin. He was the one who told Kejakdu where Seol-im was the night he found her at Dae-gil’s house, which may explain why Kejakdu was harboring a Dae-gil-shaped grudge.
Injwa warns Kejakdu that Dae-gil might pay him a visit later that night, having known ahead of time that the king would have him released from prison. He also hands him a mysterious letter, claiming that he summoned a few spectators for what will inevitably be tonight’s entertainment.
Dae-gil is escorted straight from prison to meet the king himself, who tasks him with arresting the real murderer before midnight. He turns to Prince Yeoning to ask how he’ll take responsibility should Dae-gil fail, and Yeoning wagers everything.
King Sukjong wants to make sure that when Yeoning says everything, he really means everything, bringing to mind the last conversation they had about friendship and sacrifice. Yeoning remembers, and stands firmly by his promise.
The king seems mildly surprised by this, and considers both his sons for a moment. Then he issues the warning that should Dae-gil fail to catch the killer, he’ll be beheaded at sunrise.
Prince Yeoning escorts Dae-gil out and asks him if he really thinks he can pull such a task off. He’ll have to do it all alone, which Dae-gil notes as being mildly unfair to him, but great from the prince’s standpoint. The two share a smile as Yeoning returns his sword to him and reminds him that he can’t be even a minute late in delivering the murderer.
Before Dae-gil leaves, he remembers that Yeoning wanted to know his exact birthdate, and tells him that he was born on the sixth day of the tenth month in the year 1693.
The revelation hits Prince Yeoning hard, since that’s the exact year, month, and day his older brother was born. “Baek Dae-gil… are you truly my older brother?”
Cut to: the king reading and waiting, Injwa holding the Musin seal and waiting, and Kejakdu just waiting inside a room surrounded by his armed guards.
But then Dae-gil appears behind him, which Kejakdu senses before he sees. “You came quickly,” he says, turning to face him.
I really like Kejakdu, so I can only hope that he won’t just become another mini-boss to overcome next week. It’ll have to come sooner or later, of course, but would it be too much to ask that he stick around for a bit? I’ll admit to having a certain fondness for villainous crushes, which tend to manifest themselves in sageuk in the form of quiet assassins with longing stares, so I’m already predisposed to like Kejakdu’s archetype. But even without that, one-sided crushes are humanizing in and of themselves, so he garnered a certain sort of pity from the first few moments he was on screen.
And it’s kind of powerful how far that little bit of pity can take a character, even though it will only get them so far—the rest is up to the performance, and Kim Sung-oh is just knocking it out of the park. I didn’t know what to expect from him, since his introduction frankly came as a surprise to me, but I should’ve remembered that he’s taken bit roles in some really terrible shows (Age of Feeling, Records of a Nigh Watchman) and made something out of them that couldn’t possibly have been on the page. That being said, I should probably start tempering my excitement now, in case next week really ends up being the end for him.
Speaking of characters living on borrowed time, we’ll probably need to start preparing ourselves for the eventual exit of King Sukjong, now that Injwa’s brought up the rebellion that’s set to take place years after he vacated the throne. I’ve been more than happy the show’s drawn it out for as long as they have, and would be happier still if he stayed until the last possible second. Not only is he a magnetic presence of epic proportions, he’s the voice of reason and logic in a sea of vagueness, and it just wouldn’t be enough even if he were in every scene. (But you could put him in more than one each week, Jackpot!)
What’s been especially interesting about the father-son dynamic as presented with King Sukjong and Prince Yeoning is just how much Sukjong tries to guide Yeoning’s way while staying as hands-off as he possibly can. Every conversation with his son is a lesson, and he teaches in such a way that Yeoning comes to the correct conclusion without it needing to be spelled out for him. And in that way, Yeoning actually absorbs and applies what his father has to teach him, enough to where we can see Sukjong’s hand in the way he’s grown and the man he’s shaping up to be.
And while it’s much too late for him to be a father to Dae-gil, there’s something to be said for the way he treats the relationship between his two sons. Though Dae-gil’s freedom didn’t come about due to the kindness of his heart, King Sukjong used events as they played out to create an opening that would benefit Yeoning for the task at hand and Dae-gil, as well as himself by proxy, since he needs Injwa gone as much as anyone. Or everyone.
- Jackpot: Episode 13
- Jackpot: Episode 12
- Jackpot: Episode 11
- Jackpot: Episode 10
- Jackpot: Episode 9
- Jackpot: Episode 8
- Jackpot: Episode 7
- Jackpot: Episode 6
- Jackpot: Episode 5
- Jackpot: Episode 4
- Jackpot: Episode 3
- Jackpot: Episode 2
- Jackpot: Episode 1
- Yeo Jin-gu as a young future king in Jackpot
- Jang Geun-seok as Joseon’s top gambler in Jackpot
- Flipping tables against fate in SBS’s Jackpot
- Hyun-woo added to Jackpot as King Gyeongjong