Jackpot: Episode 22
If the last short-lived revolt wasn’t enough rebellion for the discerning viewer, fear not—another one gets planned and executed as if everything that came before it never even happened. Our two brothers end up back in each other’s orbit when Injwa rears his head again, this time with an army of followers ready to take down the king (again). You know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, don’t worry because you’ll never die.
EPISODE 22 RECAP
After the fleeing man he shot turns out to be Nameless and not Injwa, Dae-gil and his men comb the forest to look for the missing fugitive.
Meanwhile, Prince Yeoning hears the entire palace begin to cry out in mourning at the king’s death, just moments after he left his chamber. Yeoning is suspiciously unsurprised and unmoved by the news, having possibly instigated his own brother’s death.
Dae-gil suspects Injwa’s hiding nearby, and begins to stab into the brush to root him out. He gets closer to Injwa than he knows, but Injwa is once again saved by the death of a royal family member, as news of King Gyeongjong’s passing reaches the troops. Injwa can only laugh at his good fortune from his hidey-hole.
Upon reaching the palace, Dae-gil’s first thought is to suspect Yeoning of being involved in the king’s death. The Soron ministers seem to think the same, as they confront the prince over serving the already ailing king such a dangerous food as raw crab.
But Prince Yeoning musters all the authority he has to tell the Soron ministers off for daring to blame him, the crown prince, for doing nothing more than serving the king a meal. They storm off in a huff, leaving Dae-gil to ask Yeoning what really happened.
Yeoning is suspicious of Dae-gil’s suspicions, and asks him if he really thinks he poisoned the king. “Can you assure me that you didn’t?” Dae-gil asks, desperately hoping to hear him say those words. He reminds Yeoning that they were/are friends, and he would give his life for Yeoning. So the least Yeoning can do is tell him the truth.
Leveling him with an even look, Yeoning asks if Dae-gil would believe him even if he said he didn’t do it. “We were friends once,” Dae-gil says. “We were also brothers. I trust you.” Yeoning shakes his head at this, claiming that Dae-gil had already turned against him the moment he allowed himself to be suspicious of him.
Furthermore, he corrects Dae-gil in calling him “Jeoha” (or “His Royal Highness,” the way princes are addressed), instead instructing him to call him “Jeonha” (or “His Majesty,” which is the way kings are addressed). He adds that he won’t allow anyone to insult or degrade him for being the son of a water maid from this point forward, and that includes his brother.
Chae-gun, having overheard their conversation, tells Dae-gil that Yeoning wasn’t wrong—this is no longer a matter Dae-gil needs to concern himself with. He and Yeoning can no longer be considered friends.
As Dae-gil packs up to leave home, Man-geum comes to the house to pay them all a visit. Grandpa doesn’t even ask where he’s been the past twenty years, and Man-geum doesn’t bother to explain where he was or why he was in hiding until now of all times. (And is no one going to introduce him to Seol-im? No? Or we could just keep pretending like she’s not in the room. That works too.)
But Dae-gil’s plan isn’t to leave home alone—he wants to take Grandpa and Seol-im with him to a place where they can all live well together, presumably Man-geum’s secret village.
Ever the eavesdropper, Chae-gun hears Dae-gil’s plans to leave, but has no problems with him going. As for Injwa, Chae-gun feels confident that he’ll never be able to bounce back and start another rebellion. Pfft. He says that like he never told Dae-gil that he’d regret letting Injwa live.
The shamanistic Madam Jeong knows Injwa is alive through her powers of perception, but receives a letter from him telling her to wait for his return. He lives as a vagrant in the meantime for what looks like all of one day.
Prince Yeoning is officially crowned as KING YEONGJO, the 21st king of Joseon. It’s the second such ceremony we’ve seen in a short period of time, and as all the gathered ministers chant “Long live the king!”, King Yeongjo turns to see Dae-gil watching nearby.
“Do you resent me?” the newly crowned king asks his brother telepathically. “I don’t resent you,” Dae-gil thinks back, adding that they each have their own destinies, and their own separate paths to follow.
Injwa is close enough to the palace to hear the chanting from the coronation ceremony inside, and thinks to himself that this still isn’t the end—he will rise to power again and tear down the corrupt nation that is Joseon. He ducks his head as he passes Man-geum, who thinks he sees him, but for whatever reason thinks that there’s just no way it could actually be Injwa.
Chae-gun bids Dae-gil farewell, before he leaves with his makeshift family in tow. Wait, why can Man-geum traipse around in plain sight now?
King Yeongjo’s first order of business is to order Minister Kim Il-kyung executed for masterminding the massive Noron purge that killed Chief State Councilor Kim Chang-jip and so many of his other supporters. He also orders Noron turncoat Mok Ho-ryung executed for his crimes as well, effectively silencing any protest from the other ministers, who now fear for their own lives.
The king asks Chae-gun about Dae-gil, though the warrior has no idea where Dae-gil might’ve gone. King Yeongjo thinks to himself that he can endure the weight of the throne, but enduring it alone is much more difficult. Aw, he misses Dae-gil.
Man-geum takes Dae-gil & Co. to his secret village, and after a quick cut of Injwa’s wanted poster hanging in the capital, we return to the village as Yeon-hwa returns from wherever she’s been these past few episodes.
The appearance of King Yeongjo’s son CROWN PRINCE HYOJANG, as well as some kingly facial hair, lets us know that some years have passed. The now-tattered “Wanted” posters of Injwa and his cohorts hanging in the capital are replaced by posters claiming that King Yeongjo poisoned the late King Gyeongjong, courtesy of Madam Jeong.
Injwa didn’t have to spend long in thin cotton robes, since he’s back to wearing the fine silk garment of a nobleman. He finds Jin-ki somewhere in the wilderness, and tells him that Nameless is alive. We find him in prison, while Injwa muses that Nameless might be used against him someday.
As for why Injwa’s just seeking Jin-ki out now, Injwa says it’s because it’s time to achieve their great cause… again. Nameless receives a letter calling for the replacement of the current king in prison, while Jin-ki goes to tell Park Pil-hyun that it’s time to revolt. Again.
Injwa finds Traitor Jeong tilling a field, and all the other farmers/soldiers instantly mobilize behind him. “Are you ready?” Injwa asks. Traitor Jeong just wants to know when the rebellion will start, only for Injwa to say it’s already begun in his hometown of Cheongju.
Injwa and Jin-ki take control of the Cheongju Fortress after killing all the officers, bringing us back to the opening scenes of the show, with the chyron telling us that this is the year 1728, the year the historical Musin Revolt took place.
After the battle for the fortress is won, Injwa looks over the mass of cheering soldiers. A quick cut shows us a random man sending a white dove into the night, who presumably carries a message from Injwa to Traitor Jeong with instructions for him to take over the Yeongnam region. Park Pil-hyun receives similar instructions to push toward the capital city of Jeonju in the Honam region.
Despite the battles raging on outside the capital, things are peaceful inside the palace, save for the icy tension between King Yeongjo and Queen Dowager Seonui, the late King Gyeongjong’s wife. She has no love for King Yeongjo, made clear by her flashing back to when she found her husband dead.
News of Cheongju Fortress falling into the hands of the rebels spreads throughout the capital, which Yeon-hwa overhears. She returns to the home she shares with Dae-gil, Seol-im, Grandpa, and Man-geum, the latter of whom has to remind his son not to get involved. So… are we dropping the whole thing where Man-geum went into hiding for twenty years in order to make Dae-gil king?
Chae-gun comes to pay a visit to Dae-gil for the first time since he left the palace, but he’s here on business. Injwa’s revolt has caused untold bloodshed, and Chae-gun hopes that, like him, Dae-gil will want to see it end. If nothing else, it would give him a chance to end his and Injwa’s ill-fated relationship.
Injwa and Jin-ki feel more emboldened with every victory, and are ready to take their fight to the capital. Chae-gun says it’s time for Dae-gil to meet with King Yeongjo again, which he does, appearing in his old uniform.
King Yeongjo doesn’t tell his young son who the visitor is, and sends him out so he can speak more privately with Dae-gil about the revolt. Dae-gil suspects that Yeongjo was behind the recent massacre of Injwa’s supporters (that Chae-gun told him about), and while not confessing to it, Yeongjo makes it clear he has no sympathy for the rebels or anyone who aids them.
Dae-gil tries to get him to see why the people are rebelling in the first place, claiming that all the rebels want is enough land to farm and food to eat. If King Yeongjo can’t see that, Dae-gil asks, then what makes him any different from Injwa?
King Yeongjo is not pleased that Dae-gil just came to reprimand him, but Dae-gil only wants him to think of the people. But Yeongjo says that sacrifices must be made for the good of the nation, and that he’ll pay for what he’s done by carrying that knowledge with him.
But he needs Dae-gil on his side since no one knows Injwa better, and gives him a government post and soldiers to do what must be done. Dae-gil has five days to solve the Injwa problem, or else Yeongjo use military force to end the rebellion himself.
Madam Jeong delivers a letter from Yi Injwa to the Sorons, who agree to side with Injwa if the contents of the letter are true. If they aren’t, the Sorons will oppose him. The letter details Injwa’s plans to dethrone King Yeongjo and install MIL POONG-GOON, grandson of Crown Prince Sohyeon (son of King Injo, the 16th king of Joseon), as king. (Aww, Seo Dong-won, stop making me miss Six Flying Dragons!)
Injwa convinces Mil Poong-goon that he’s the only one of true royal lineage who can take the throne back from a lowly water maid’s son, and proves that he has the sheer manpower to bring this rebellion to fruition—200,000 armed rebels, to be exact.
He adds that Traitor Jeong and Park Pil-hyun are training rebels from all classes of society—scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants—but Mil Poong-goon worries that they may not be a match against trained soldiers. But there’s hope yet, when Injwa tells him that they have Queen Dowager Seonui as an ally.
She supports Injwa’s efforts to overthrow King Yeongjo, believing that he poisoned her beloved husband, and makes a deal with Injwa to work from within the palace to sway the ministers while he works to sway the hearts of the people outside the gates. With that, Mil Poong-goon agrees to join Injwa’s cause.
There’s a bit of comedic relief when Chae-gun gets all huffy over Dae-gil ordering him around, shortly before Dae-gil goes to Hong Mae in her sepia-toned casino to ask a favor. He needs some medicine, and convinces her to get it for him by making her feel guilty—she’s done nothing but take from the people her entire life, and this is her one chance to give back.
Dae-gil hands the bag of medicine over to Seol-im, while Man-geum rolls out a map of the eight provinces of Joseon, instructing everyone on where they’re to go and what they’re to do like a general addressing his troops. Their plan is to win back the people, and take down Park Pil-hyun and Traitor Jeong.
The task becomes considerably more difficult when they find out that Injwa has Mil Poong-goon on his side, a figure who the rebels can rally around. They may not be able to take on the entire rebel army, but Dae-gil believes this can all be stopped if Injwa’s taken out of the picture.
Moreover, he tells the rest of the group about the deal he made with King Yeongjo to catch Injwa in five days’ time, or else Yeongjo would mobilize his army. Chae-gun knows Yeongjo won’t just sit on his hands for five long days, so Dae-gil resets the deadline to three days.
King Yeongjo orders gunpowder and firearms to be distributed amongst an elite group of one thousand soldiers, with the instructions that they’re to wait for his orders. All other forces are to be mobilized to protect the capital from the incoming rebels.
Later, the king asks Chae-gun whether he thinks it’s possible to stop Injwa without employing an entire army, and while Chae-gun isn’t sure, he trusts in Dae-gil. King Yeongjo remembers when Dae-gil asked for his trust, and thinks to himself, “I trust in you as well, Baek Dae-gil. However, as a king currently sitting on the throne, I cannot trust you. My position does not allow it. I cannot trust anyone.”
Dae-gil travels to the township of Mokcheon, which seems to be Injwa’s latest stronghold. He and Seol-im watch as new followers pledge their allegiance to Injwa and Mil Poong-goon, and it’s actually kind of adorable that Jin-ki’s so hyped about this rebellion.
Madam Jeong arrives in Mokcheon to update Injwa on the king’s movements, including his meeting with Dae-gil. She knows the king will make his move against Injwa soon, and Injwa orders her back to the capital to keep an eye on things.
Injwa isn’t worried about Dae-gil reappearing, since he knows that it’s their fate to meet again—but next time they do meet, one of them will die.
Dae-gil’s plan is to turn Injwa’s followers against him, and sends Man-geum and Chae-gun to the two fortresses Injwa’s army plans to take next. Meanwhile, Hong Mae and Yeon-hwa spread malicious rumors about Injwa within the capital, with the latter using Pigeon Gram to send messages back to Dae-gil.
Tonight will be the decisive moment for both Dae-gil and King Yeongjo, who has his army ready to move in should Dae-gil fail. Dae-gil acknowledges that the rebels wouldn’t know each other very well yet (seeing as everything happened so fast), so they’ll use that against them.
Seol-im infiltrates the outdoor kitchen where food for the rebels is prepared en masse, and uses the medicine procured by Hong Mae in one of the large vats of stew. All the rebels who eat it end up with diarrhea, their horses disappear, and their storehouse is set on fire, all thanks to Dae-gil.
While Grandpa and Seol-im wheel the provisions they lifted from the storehouse away, King Yeongjo addresses his gathered troops, ordering them to massacre Injwa and every rebel pledged to his cause.
Against the light of the burning storehouse, Dae-gil rides up behind Injwa, noting with a cocky smile that it’s been a while. Injwa just growls his name in return.
Remember how we spent all those episodes with Injwa operating off of the dead certainty that he would make Dae-gil king? Remember how Man-geum went into hiding for twenty years operating off that same certainty, and how it didn’t matter to either of them at any point in the process that Dae-gil didn’t want to be king? Remember how Injwa tortured Dae-gil relentlessly for most of his life because it was supposed to build his character so that he could then become king? I’m asking you seriously, Jackpot, because you’re acting like none of that ever happened, and it’s kind of freaking me out.
While it’s entirely possible that Injwa finally just decided to drop Dae-gil as a kingly potential once and for all, it makes all of Dae-gil’s suffering at Injwa’s hands even more pointless than it was before. At least Injwa had his own insane reason for breaking all of Dae-gil’s bones once, but now the show’s gone and negated the already shaky logic it took great pains to establish. And that’s what I can’t seem to wrap my head around. Because if Injwa could just as easily find a backup pawn in Mil Poong-goon, someone who’s much more amenable to his ideas because he didn’t grow up being tortured by him, then what was it all for? If Dae-gil wasn’t integral to Injwa’s cause, why did he do everything he’s ever done to him? I just don’t understand.
I wish it would’ve been more gratifying to see Injwa brought low after his failed mini-rebellion, but two shots of him shivering before being somehow restored to his former glory just doesn’t cut it. It’s also strange to see how miserably he failed at first, only to skip forward a few years, and suddenly he has an unstoppable army at his heels. When has the show ever proven that Injwa is a friend of The People? How did Injwa, a nobleman and constant source of unbridled corruption whether in or out of office, manage to convince The People to rally behind his cause? If anything, it would’ve made more sense for him to plan to use Dae-gil as a homing beacon for the disenfranchised, and while he wouldn’t be the first to use a distant royal relative as a rallying point for a rebellion, he only got Mil Poong-goon on board after he’d amassed a legion of followers.
But since this revolt did happen in history, it had to have made sense to someone at some point. It’s fair to assume that the people of Joseon would’ve been pretty concerned at all the upheaval in the palace, but that’s not something the show itself has established. We’ve had glimpses of Dae-gil’s love for The People, but it’s never been a singular driving force of his character until it had to be used to pit him against King Yeongjo.
By far, the scene between the two of them was the focal point of the episode, and its strength was in the portrayal of King Yeongjo. At this point, we don’t know if he actually had a hand in his brother’s death, but he was absolutely right about Dae-gil having already drawn his own conclusions before coming to ask him about it. I’m not sure if Dae-gil would’ve believed him even if he’d said he didn’t do it, and seeing how purposefully shut off Yeongjo was in that moment was pretty heartbreaking. He knew he was pushing away his only friend, but it was Dae-gil who broke that trust first. Unless Yeongjo really did kill his brother, of course, in which case… I’d actually still feel kind of bad for him. Weird.
- Jackpot: Episode 21
- Jackpot: Episode 20
- Jackpot: Episode 19
- Jackpot: Episode 18
- Jackpot: Episode 17
- Jackpot: Episode 16
- 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