Jackpot: Episode 16
With his entire world upended and everything he ever thought he knew about himself thrown into question, our hero is left with much to think about, and not much time to do it. He dedicates himself to the tasks given to him instead, proving that you don’t need years of specified training in order to achieve your dreams—you just need a change of scenery, and a little bit of luck.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Prince Yeoning asks Dam-seo the question we all want to know: “What has become of you?” Looking as dour as ever, Dam-seo tells him that they no longer have a relationship, something that Yeoning adamantly denies.
“I have found my path,” she adds grimly, leading Yeoning to ask if that path includes killing people. Her goal, as she tells it, is to ensure that the people will no longer have to suffer injustice or be trampled upon. To do that, she’s made it her mission to get rid of all the evil people of the world. Wait, seriously?
“How did this happen?” Yeoning asks incredulously. “Who made you like this?” Dam-seo’s expression doesn’t change as she answers that it was he who made her like this.
Meanwhile, Dae-gil has trouble digesting that his father could be the king, and opts for denial instead. But Injwa provides his four pillars of destiny (the exact day, year, month, and hour of his birth) that match the pillars of the prince known only as Yeongsoo, who was officially recorded as deceased.
Dam-seo blames Yeoning for her finding out that her teacher killed her father, and for her being alive, and for her being shaken in her beliefs because she found out the truth. Prince Yeoning: “In what world does that make any sense?” Hahahahaha. Points.
In return, she asks in what world he can stand in front of a murderer like her, causing him to vow that should they ever meet again, he’ll have her arrested for her crimes. She tells him to go ahead and do just that, because by the time they meet again, Injwa will be dead by her own hand.
Grandpa’s elated to see Seol-im again, though he can’t help but notice her troubled expression. She presumably tells him about the terrible fortune the Wolhyang madam read from her physiognomy, leading Grandpa to proclaim that he’s an expert at face reading as much as he’s a gambler.
He takes one good look at her and declares that the Wolhyang madam was full of crap—there’s nothing in her features to suggest such a horrible fate. She’s led to doubt the accuracy of Grandpa’s reading, however, when he adds that Dae-gil’s physiognomy is that of a king’s.
Dae-gil goes to the palace to report to the king, though he and Prince Yeoning make it a point not to talk about the uncomfortable truth they both now know.
The king acknowledges that Dae-gil was able to prove his innocence, but adds that he failed to return by the appointed time or capture the criminal alive. They can either be punished for their failings, or follow his command to capture Injwa.
Yeoning, who’s on a roll calling people out this episode, asks the king why he wants Injwa captured now of all times, when he could’ve done so after Injwa sent Dam-seo to assassinate him. King Sukjong replies that it wasn’t the right time, but now, they must stop Injwa before he gains too much power.
Outside, Yeoning confronts Dae-gil over how much he knows, only for Dae-gil to admit that he knows everything. He’s Yeoning’s hyungnim, or older brother. Yeoning controls his reaction and says that he’ll never be able to call him “hyungnim,” because this is the palace, and he’s the prince.
Lady Choi can barely hold in her tears when both Dae-gil and Prince Yeoning pay her a visit, and knows by Yeoning’s silence that Dae-gil’s found out the truth. She immediately breaks into sobs, but desperately tries to hold them in by covering her mouth with her hand. It’s actually heartbreaking just to see the restraint.
“M…mother,” Dae-gil ventures, causing Lady Choi to rise from her seat and take his hand. “I’m sorry,” she cries. “I should have found you sooner. Please forgive me. Please forgive your terrible mother.”
Dae-gil blinks back tears, and slowly pulls his hand from her grip. This is all a lot for him to take in, he admits, and he’ll need some time before coming back to see her. Only when they’re alone does Prince Yeoning ask why Dae-gil wouldn’t give her his forgiveness, but Dae-gil reiterates that this is all just a lot.
After all, he just found out that his mother was alive, and that his brother knew the truth but kept it from him. Yeoning defends that it was because he hadn’t accepted the truth himself yet, a sentiment Dae-gil agrees with—if Yeoning felt that confused because he gained a brother, how does he think Dae-gil feels gaining a brother and mother? He’ll need time, but he’ll still follow the king’s command regarding Injwa.
Injwa hears that the warrior Kim Chae-gun was not-so-secretly brought into the palace, and thinks of the warning the prophetical Jeong Yi-ryung had given him about the possibility of the king drawing his sword against them. Clearly, the king has done so by bringing in Chae-gun.
During dinner that evening, Grandpa does his best to keep hinting at the possibility of a Seol-im/Dae-gil romance, in that adorable way old people seem wont to do. But their meal is interrupted by a surprise guest: Chae-gun.
Chae-gun’s happy to chow down at Dae-gil’s table, while Dae-gil introduces him to Grandpa as the master he trained with. Watching the way Chae-gun scarfs down his food, Dae-gil guesses that he hasn’t been eating very well since he no longer has Dae-gil to cook for him, and offers him his home for as long as he wants to stay.
On Injwa’s orders, Hong Mae keeps an eye on Chae-gun and Dae-gil while Jin-ki keeps an eye on Jeong Yi-ryung, and Nameless keeps an eye on the goings-on in the gibang—all so that they can report back to Injwa that nothing interesting is going on.
Injwa studies the azalea flower Jeong Yi-ryung gave him, which symbolizes a king’s bloody tears. He reveals that Jeong Yi-ryung is the chosen one from the Jeonggam-nok book of prophecy, and orders Jin-ki to kill Jeong should he betray him. But if they join hands, he wagers that by tomorrow, Joseon will be turned upside down.
Going by Jeong Yi-ryung’s instructions to follow the scent of flowers at the Dog hours (Sulshi, 7:00-9:00 p.m.), Injwa ends up in a trap Dae-gil’s sprung. Similarly, Jin-ki falls into a trap made by Yeoning and Chae-gun, while the king’s spooky eunuchs intercept the Wolhyang madam on her mission to deliver Injwa’s painting to whoever she was going to deliver it to.
Flash back to Dae-gil’s last meeting with the king, where he’d mentioned that he saw the traitor Jeong Yi-ryung’s face when he happened upon him and Injwa outside Kejakdu’s place. Having overheard their secret meeting place and time, Dae-gil was able to wait for Injwa to come to him.
The plan had been to capture both Injwa and Jeong Yi-ryung, but Jeong managed to escape. Injwa, however, now finds himself surrounded by Dae-gil’s armed men, and ends up behind bars with his other co-conspirators.
When Chae-gun reports this to King Sukjong, the king is more interested to know if Injwa seemed composed or not, wondering if they actually managed to surprise him.
Of course Injwa acts unfazed even in prison, and asks Dae-gil and Yeoning what crimes they’re hoping to convict him on. Yeoning says he’ll need to stay up to compile such a massive list, but Injwa just chuckles knowingly.
Outside, Chae-gun notes that Dae-gil must be feeling pretty pleased with himself now that Injwa is finally behind bars. But Dae-gil just sighs that Chae-gun was right about the whole revenge thing—if his life goal really had been just to get revenge on Injwa, he’d feel so bereft now.
But then, Dae-gil asks if Chae-gun knew about his true identity from the very beginning, remembering how Chae-gun had said that he reminded him of someone he knew. “Is that important?” Chae-gun retorts. (Kind of, yeah.)
What matters, Chae-gun claims, is that Dae-gil’s the sort of person who would’ve ended up in this exact same spot with or without his guidance. He leaves, and Dae-gil looks up to the night sky as he asks, “Father, I’m doing what’s right, aren’t I?”
News of Injwa’s arrest on charges of treason spreads through the palace, as Yeoning leads the interrogation of Injwa, Nameless, Jin-ki, and the Wolhyang madam, whose name he finally reveals to be JEONG YOUNG-SEON (so we’ll just call her Madam Jeong from here on out).
He lists the crimes they’re each accused of, but when it comes to Injwa, he has to take out an actual list. Along with murder, bribery, and contempt for the throne, he’s also being accused of plotting treason, though of course Injwa acts above it all.
He claims Yeoning has no basis for his accusations, and defends himself on every count, since this is the only interrogation in any sageuk where the accused gets the chance to speak before they’re tortured. As for being caught in the act of meeting with the traitorous Jeong Yi-ryung, Injwa says he was planning to capture the traitor and deliver his head to the king.
Just as Yeoning is about to lose his cool, the king himself arrives. Taking the list of crimes from Yeoning, he throws it aside in favor of talking directly to Injwa. “Who is the traitor from the Jeong clan?” he demands to know.
Injwa arrogantly begins to name every Jeong he knows, adding that it’d take all night to list every member of the Jeong clan. (Please, please just torture him already.) Instead, the king orders that he should be executed by dismemberment in two days’ time.
The topic of whether or not Injwa actually committed treason is debated amongst the ministers, with Chief State Councilor Kim Chang-jip defending the king’s stance and chastising those ministers who don’t as being in league with Injwa.
One minister we haven’t met before by the name of KIM IL-KYUNG makes the frankly silly argument that it can’t be considered treason if no swords were drawn (in what world does plotting treason not count?), causing King Sukjong to throw a table in rage. “I gave the order! I did!” he roars. “You should be searching for the traitor, Jeong, yet look at the pitiful way you all are talking in here!”
The king makes it very clear that Injwa and his lot are to be beheaded in two days’ time, and the ministers can either get with the program or face his wrath.
Suddenly, the king seems to waver, but covers it well with his exit. Away from the ministers’ prying eyes, he asks his sixth son, PRINCE YEONRYEONG, to give him a massage. But when even the little prince, having heard of Dae-gil, asks his father to tell him more about him, the king just says it’s not important.
While Yeon-hwa apologizes to Dae-gil for mistakenly blaming him for her father’s murder, Prince Yeoning confronts Minister Kim Il-kyung for being in cahoots with Injwa—why else would he have defended him?
Minister Kim redirects the subject, making it seem as though Yeoning is just mad that he’s always supported Crown Prince Yoon over him, despite the crown prince being ill and having no children. He doesn’t mince words when he explains that it’s because he couldn’t bear to see Yeoning, the son of a lowly water maid, sit on the throne of Joseon.
Lady Choi pays Injwa a visit in prison, looking like she’s already got one foot in the afterlife. Injwa taunts that she may not even live the two days needed to see him executed, to which she replies that just seeing him like this is enough to make her feel better.
Injwa rises to face her before growling that he has every intention of walking out of his confinement alive. “Your two sons pointing their swords at each other’s hearts… I will make sure that happens,” he threatens, only for Lady Choi to reply that her sons aren’t animals like he is. No one will be happier than she to see him beheaded, though Injwa’s haughty laugh automatically tells us that her wish won’t come true.
Minister Kim pays a visit to the Soron ministers who support Injwa, guessing that they had thoughts about cutting ties with him. A flashback reveals that he was bribed by Injwa, who promised to give him Jeong Yi-ryung, the leader of the rebellion of 1697, if he were to make sure that Injwa walked free.
Though Minister Kim still seems willing to drop Injwa despite the deal, all the ministers present receive boxes of gold from the prisoner himself as a bribe. In a letter to Injwa, Hong Mae confesses that the gold isn’t enough—even if she had all the gold in the world, no one would accept it. More importantly, she adds that she has herself to think about, and now wants only to take her casino back.
Yeon-hwa’s become another staple at Grandpa’s dinner table, leaving Dae-gil to wonder why he’s the only one out of them who actually works. But he’s got bigger fish to fry, and goes to Injwa to ask him the all-important question: Why did he kill his father?
Injwa hopes to coax Dae-gil over to the dark side by turning him against the mother who abandoned him and the younger brother who got to grow up in the palace, but Dae-gil won’t be swayed.
In that case, Injwa brags that he had a hidden card prepared for just this moment: “He’s alive. Your father, Baek Man-geum, is alive.” What.
He even dares Dae-gil to check the grave himself, since he’ll find no body there. Dae-gil digs it up himself, heedless of Grandpa & Co.’s concerns, while a flashback reveals that Injwa also told Dae-gil that he has never lied to him. He’s the only one who wanted the best for him, so that he could become a great tiger.
“Save me,” Injwa said, “and I will have you meet your father, Baek Man-geum.”
As Dae-gil uncovers the coffin and opens it to see what’s inside, we cut to Injwa, who says: “Only you can save me, Baek Dae-gil. Save me.”
Please don’t. Please do anything but that. Literally anything else, just dream it and you can do it, Dae-gil.
I thought I was pretty used to Injwa spouting metaphorical nonsense by this point, but the whole “I’m the only one who’s wanted the best for you” talk threw a lot of things into question. Namely: Is Injwa supposed to be insane? As in, actually insane? Does he believe the garbage he spouts, or does he just say whatever he needs in order to get his way? It’s been great so far to have Dae-gil see Injwa for the snake he is, but with Injwa’s promise to turn the brothers against each other, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the only way he can achieve that is by influencing Dae-gil. And it’ll be a kick to our collective crotch if Dae-gil starts buying into it, which unfortunately seems to be the direction we’re heading.
The thing with villains like Injwa who aren’t especially clever is that the intelligence level of all the other characters has to be taken down a notch to accommodate them, which isn’t very fun to watch. Yes, there’s the argument that Injwa can’t die before the end of the series, which would all be well and good if there were any sort of excitement or intrigue built in to these supposedly life-or-death stakes. At least there were a few moments where Injwa looked a little disheartened, but what do those failings matter when he’ll always come up with another option?
For instance, if he had managed to successfully bribe those ministers into helping him, was he just going to save the Man-geum card for later? I thought the whole point of Dae-gil taking over Injwa’s casinos was to cripple him financially, but not even a shadow of a ramification from Dae-gil’s actions seems to have manifested itself in Injwa’s life. It’s just business as usual, and Injwa had more than enough gold to use in his attempts at bribery—the reason the bribes didn’t work wasn’t because of the amount of gold, as Hong Mae explained, but because even gold wasn’t enough to coax those ministers onto a sinking ship.
As for his former protege, I’d held out hope that Yeoning’s confrontation with Dam-seo would yield some answers, or at the very least, would give us a clue as to why she’s doing any of the three whole things she does. And while it’s vaguely satisfying to have Yeoning call out what she said as being the very opposite of logic, it’s just getting frustrating at this point that the show doesn’t even seem to be trying with her anymore. It’s like she’s been abandoned as a character, relegated only to being a walking, barely talking plot device.
But even as a plot device, she fails. Her inclusion in any given scene does nothing to move the story anywhere, much less forward, and it’s even worse that the only time she’s featured is when she hasn’t done something she was about to do. It’d be different if she’d made the choice not to do anything herself, but having her in a scene solely to kill characters only for her to have nothing to do once those characters get killed by someone else just reeks of utter pointlessness. She can’t even explain why she’s not doing things, using one breath to say that she’s just going to kill all the evil people, and another to say that she’s out for self-serving revenge (and it’s all Yeoning’s fault). Just… make sense, Jackpot. Just make sense.
- Jackpot: Episode 15
- Jackpot: Episode 14
- 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