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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 3

Yaas, badass transformation, I was waiting for you. Amogae really takes charge of his own fate, playing with death as one would play with fire. While this episode takes a more procedural approach to Amogae’s criminal deed, it still keeps you on your toes. It’s a tug of war between different social classes, both fighting to be the greater evil needed to win the battle.

 
EPISODE 3 RECAP

Amogae kills his master with a scythe as merciless punishment for causing his wife’s death. Gil-dong watches his father walk out of the master’s bedroom covered in blood, and he silently gasps as a tear rolls down his cheek. He runs home and throws up along the way, sickened and shocked by what he just witnessed.

Amogae continues with his mission and leads his group of bandits to raid the storage shed. His slave friend, Man-seok, worries if Amogae will survive after murdering their master. But Amogae reminds his friend of their cruel master, who threw out Man-seok’s mother when she became ill and essentially useless. He gives Man-seok one final chance, which he takes in the form of a punch to the face.

The household mistress wakes up and finds her door cracked open. She walks out and nervously calls out for Man-seok, who she finds tied up and muffled. Aha, so this is way he was punched — so he’ll appear beyond suspicion. The mistress finds a trail of blood and slowly follows it to her husband’s room. She enters the room and screams.

Amogae burns his blood-stained clothes that night with a new fire in his eyes. It’s pretty badass.

The theft is reported to the magistrate, and Secretary Eom arrives to hear the report. They’re taken aback when they hear that Master Jo has been killed, and the magistrate asks for any witnesses. Man-seok claims that he saw the thieves with black masks and red ropes, and Secretary Eom misleads the magistrate into thinking that these are the same thieves from their previous theft case.

Secretary Eom paces in the magistrate’s office, cursing at Amogae for causing more damage. The magistrate enters his office and expresses concern about dealing with a murder case — he’s never dealt with one before. Considering the gravity of the case, Secretary Eom suggests that they attend to the scene in person.

At Master Jo’s house, Secretary Eom continues to frame this case as a theft, claiming that all the facts match up to previous theft cases. But the distressed mistress suddenly has a moment of realization and accuses Amogae of murder. Secretary Eom and Man-seok are rattled by the revelation and attempt to cover up this accusation, but the mistress begs the magistrate to arrest Amogae as their suspect.

At home, Gil-dong thinks back to his father walking out of Master Jo’s bedroom covered in blood. He begins to cry again but sees a group of guards headed toward his house. Thinking quickly, Gil-dong takes his father’s shoes and throws them into the fire. When Secretary Eom arrives with his entourage of guards, he demands to see Gil-dong’s father, but Gil-dong claims that his father is not home. But his father makes his presence known with a loud snore and stumbles out of his room in feigned ignorance.

In his jail cell, Amogae thinks back to Soboori’s plea for them to run away as soon as they raided the master’s house. Amogae refused to do so, since his children would have to live as runaways. Frustrated, Soboori asked if Amogae planned to just stay and die.

Secretary Eom approaches Amogae in his jail cell and scolds him for killing his master. He had agreed to cover up the theft, but there’s no way for Amogae to survive after committing murder. Amogae doesn’t care about dying, as long as he reveals the injustice done against him. Secretary Eom clarifies the laws of their land: If a slave accuses the master, the slave is punished with death. Obstinate for justice, Amogae asks, “If I give up my life, can I reveal the truth?”

Amogae is brought to the magistrate for a trial and looks to Secretary Eom, who gives him a nod. The mistress’s loyal slave accuses Amogae of killing Master Jo after unfairly receiving punishment for hurting the master’s uncle. In defense, Amogae takes off his robe to show that none of his scars are new. He endured all former beatings, so why would he hurt Master Jo for not laying a finger on him this time?

The magistrate seems convinced that Amogae is not the culprit, but the mistress insists that it’s Amogae’s deed. She explains an ulterior motive: He believes that his wife, Geum-ok, died because of the master’s uncle. Amogae remains silent and tightens his fists. He slowly looks up to the mistress and asks if Geum-ok really died because of the master’s uncle.

The mistress claims that Geum-ok tried to seduce the master’s uncle to improve her life, and Amogae must have sought revenge. Amogae simply laughs and says that Geum-ok never seduced the master’s uncle. He stands up and asks his fellow villagers to confirm this about Geum-ok. He yells, “Geum-ok never deceived me! She never seduced the master’s uncle!” The villagers watch his pleas with sympathy.

In his office, the magistrate tells Secretary Eom that the solution is simple: just get Amogae to confess his sins. Secretary Eom says that this isn’t that simple — if Amogae did commit murder, this is a moral sin. Such a sin will destroy the village and kick out its leader, which means the magistrate is in trouble.

The magistrate wonders if he will have to lie, but Secretary Eom warns him of even graver consequences with lies. He advises the magistrate to investigate this case thoroughly to find all the accurate truths for the records. This is the only way for the magistrate to survive, and this means that he must reveal the truth behind Geum-ok and the master’s uncle.

Secretary Eom announces to the village that anyone who witnessed the encounter between Geum-ok and the master’s uncle must come forward to testify, but the gisaeng friend shakes her head at the magistrate’s naïve request, knowing that no villager would risk their lives to testify against a nobleman. At the market, one of the fur vendors admits that he saw the two that day, but he knows better than to report it.

Gil-dong and Gil-hyun — who carries their baby sister on his back — visit their father in jail. As he coos at his youngest child, he tells Gil-hyun not to visit again. Gil-hyun protests, but their father makes it clear that it was an order. Gil-dong notices his father’s dirty feet, but remains silent throughout the visit.

At the master’s house, the head slave warns all the other slaves to keep their mouths shut about household matters. If word gets out, then he will assume that one of them let the truth slip. Meanwhile, Gil-dong sneaks by the entrance and calls for his hyung friend.

At the next trial, the mistress claims that Geum-ok seduced the master’s uncle but lied to Amogae that the master’s uncle had harassed her. Amogae killed Master Jo in retaliation, she says. The magistrate asks for any witnesses, but Secretary Eom reports that no one claimed to have witnessed the interaction. Then, Gil-dong’s hyung friend steps up to say that he saw everything. The crowd murmurs and his mother tries to hold him back, but the hyung friend steps up and nods at Gil-dong.

At first, he explains irrelevant context about finding stones but then goes into the accurate retelling of the situation: The master’s uncle had grabbed Geum-ok’s breasts from behind, so she knocked him away in defense. Angered by her actions, the master’s uncle slapped her so hard that she fell — and as she fell, her pregnant belly hit a rock.

The villager crowd murmurs, and the mistress says that the ten-year-old boy’s words cannot be taken into serious consideration. The magistrate confirms that according to the law, the testimony of a child under ten years of age cannot be included in the trial. But the hyung says that he’s eleven. Even then, the magistrate says that the law forbids a testimony from a slave against their master. He asks the crowd if anyone else is willing to testify.

Unable to hold in his rage, Gil-hyun yells that his mother is innocent. The guards begin to drag him away when a villager steps up to testify — it’s the fur vendor. He reports that the master’s uncle had approached Geum-ok and disparaged her for buying fur as a slave. When he finishes his statement, another villager speaks up as a witness. She says that Geum-ok was at her store as well, and the master’s uncle took the item from Geum-ok and spit on her face.

Even with clear witness testimonies, the mistress questions the truth from these village vendors. The magistrate hesitates to believe the vendors, since they are of lower status, and ultimately decides that he must hear from the master’s uncle himself.

After the trial, Gil-hyun and Gil-dong find the two merchant witnesses and thank them for telling the truth. The woman says that their testimonies are futile considering their father’s crime, and the boys seem to understand their father’s impending punishment. With their younger sister on Gil-hyun’s back, the boys leave the market. As they walk, Gil-dong asks if their father will die, but Gil-hyun continues to walk in silence.

When the mistress returns to her home, she approaches the hyung and fiercely slaps his mother multiple times. He stands in tears as his mother receives unfair punishment for his bravery, and the mistress only stops when Man-seok reminds her to lay low until the trial is over, as her retaliatory actions could cause more suspicion.

The gisaeng friend, JEOK SUN-AH (Kim Ha-eun), visits Amogae at his cell, and Secretary Eom warns them to end their conversation quickly before the magistrate arrives. Amogae requests for Sun-ah’s help, and before he can offer any sort of compensation, she agrees. She says that she has never seen a man give up his life for his dead wife, and Amogae smiles in gratitude.

The master’s uncle appears at the trial the next day and claims that they must all follow their king’s example of maintaining a social hierarchy. The king dethroned the speculative queen to restore order, so he claims that he was simply showing Geum-ok her place by scolding her for walking in front of him. He asks if this is a sin and wonders if maintaining social order is a wrong. He then turns to Amogae and scolds him for not getting rid of his unfaithful wife himself.

Then Secretary Eom announces the arrival of Sun-ah, the gisaeng, who shows up to testify against the master’s uncle. She explains that the master’s uncle does not come from a wealthy family, so he relies on his nephew’s wealth. Recently, the master’s uncle had tried to take her out of the gisaeng house, and she had wondered how he would afford to do so. That’s when the master’s uncle had confessed that Amogae’s wealth would soon become theirs. After taking Amogae’s property, Master Jo planned on selling Amogae’s children and giving the money to his uncle.

The master’s uncle insists that she’s lying, but Secretary Eom has written evidence in the form of a love letter. The magistrate decides to punish the master’s uncle with a beating and demand compensation in the form of cotton from Master Jo, since he is not alive to be punished. As the master’s uncle is dragged away by the guards, he yells that it’s all a lie. He accuses Amogae of lying and covering up his younger son’s deed, and continues yelling that the child is so strong that he cracked a tree and broke a rock. No one believes the man, but in the crowd, the young master looks to Gil-dong accusingly.

In his jail cell, Amogae thinks about the master’s uncle’s claims about Gil-dong’s strength, but his thoughts are interrupted by the opening door. He stands up, anticipating Soboori, but it’s just Secretary Eom, who’s decided that Amogae is a crazy person. He asks Amogae why he went so far to risk his life for the master’s uncle to barely receive his punishment. Amogae reveals that this punishment was not his intent. He’s decided he needs to stay alive, since these offenders are still shamelessly alive — that’s only fair.

Secretary Eom figures that Amogae has found a way to stay alive and asks how. Amogae looks up and says that his life now depends on the heavens. If the saving rope falls early, then he’ll live. If it falls too late, then he’ll die. Secretary Eom is furious that his life depends on the fickle heavens, and Amogae clarifies that he’s depending on the heaven-like king.

In a flashback, we see Amogae eavesdropping on two noblemen’s conversation about the dethroned queen. One nobleman predicted that the king will soon come after all of the supporters of the queen. Amogae found the handwritten letter from the queen belonging to Master Jo and began to plot his fate then. He’d told Soboori that his fate depends on the queen. He said, “If the queen lives, I die. If she dies, I live.”

At the home, the mistress scolds the master’s uncle for his ridiculous claim that young Gil-dong could crack open a tree with a small rock, and it’s no use for him to argue otherwise. He does find another strange thing about Amogae’s pursuit of innocence — with their sins now revealed, doesn’t his motive to kill Master Jo become clear? The mistress finds nothing strange about this, since slaves are lowly people who don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

The mistress come outside to her mourning son and vows to make him a minister one day. He responds by saying that his uncle’s words about Gil-dong are correct. He claims that Gil-dong is very strong, that he’s a beast. The mistress looks at her son curiously, now realizing Amogae’s weakness.

The mistress visits Amogae in jail and promises to kill him, since his death is the last thing Geum-ok would want for her children. He laughs and promises that he won’t die. He tells her to watch and see if he lives or not, even after killing his own master. The mistress then changes the topic to Amogae’s younger son, who’s rumored to have unimaginable strength. Amogae looks at her with more fear as she continues about the consequences of such a Mighty Child living, previously only known in legends.

She wonders what will happen if she spreads the rumor of the Mighty Child in the village, and Amogae covers up his concern with another laugh. He claims that no one will believe the legend. But the mistress is set on confirming Gil-dong’s strength herself, and she figures that Gil-dong will reveal his strength if she tortures him enough. She reminds Amogae that he’s still her servant and walks out of the jail with a new target.

At her home, the mistress orders Gil-dong to run an errand in a dangerous location by himself. Gil-hyun argues that adults go in pairs due to the danger, and many have died from tiger attacks. The mistress threatens to send Gil-hyun if Gil-dong doesn’t comply with her orders, and that’s enough for Gil-dong to follow the order. But when the mistress reveals the slab of bloody meat Gil-dong must deliver, it seems unlikely that he’ll survive the errand.

Gil-dong walks through a bamboo forest carrying the meat, and soon enough, the bait attracts a fast-moving tiger. It slowly approaches Gil-dong and stares as he remains frozen in fear. We hear the tiger attack, but we’re unsure of Gil-dong’s fate.

Amogae paces in his cell, worried about the mistress’s resolve to reveal Gil-dong’s strength. But the next morning, we hear Gil-dong calling out to the mistress that he’s completed her errand. Covered in blood, he walks toward her to deliver the branch she requested, and she’s completely shaken by his survival. As he walks away from the house, we see parallels between a blood-covered Amogae and a blood-covered Gil-dong. But only a few steps out, Gil-dong faints, and Gil-hyun comes running to his side.

Gil-hyun cares for his brother and cries, wondering what happened in the forest. When Gil-hyun wakes up later, he doesn’t see Gil-dong, and he rushes outside to find him. Gil-dong is playing with branches and asks his brother where their mother is. He says that she promised to make him scorched rice before promptly fainting again.

Amogae is brought in front of the magistrate once more to confess his sins, since his motive is clear. Secretary Eom orders the guards to hit him until he does so, but Amogae endures the painful hits to his thighs, hoping for the heavens to send their saving rope.

Just in time, we see guards raiding homes and dragging supporters of the dethroned queen away for punishment. Soboori watches this in the village and smiles to himself. He finally visits the jail and tells Amogae that there must be a god, since the king has ordered all supporters of the dethroned queen to be captured.

Slave friend Man-seok and his wife worry about Gil-dong’s memory loss and wonder what happened in the forest, theorizing that a run-in with a tiger could cause confusion. The hyung friend runs to Gil-dong’s house in concern, but the family friends unexpectedly find Gil-dong happily recovered from his dangerous errand, memory and all.

The mistress visits Amogae again to share her revelation about his son, adding that she’s decided to kill Amogae’s entire family so that there’s no one left to retaliate against her. She begins to leave with her smug smile, but it quickly fades when Amogae begins to laugh. He tells her that as a lifelong slave, he knows everything about his masters — what food they like, who they meet, and where they store the valuables. That’s why they should never corner someone like a slave, he says.

Then, he tells her about the news about the dethroned queen, who’s received the death sentence (via poison), and asks what the mistress has done with the handwritten letter from the illegitimate queen. The mistress gasps in fear, and Amogae shares that he found the letter by the master’s pillow but couldn’t read a word. He brought the letter to Gil-hyun, who’s literate, and found out that the dethroned queen cursed the king in the letter. Later, he repeated the curse to Secretary Eom and discovered that such a curse would be considered a moral sin against the king.

Amogae continues that he thought a moral sin was scary for a slave like him, but it’s also quite scary for noble people, who must give up their wealth and become slaves. He asks the mistress, “Since I’m dying for my moral sin, would you like to become a moral sinner as well?” Brimming with rage, the mistress yells at Amogae and vows to kill him. Amogae just lies back down in his cell and hums to himself.

The next day, the mistress brings new evidence to the trial. It’s the murder weapon (obviously a fake), found at their neighboring village. The magistrate is overjoyed at the news and quickly dismisses the idea that a murderer could live in their village. He scolds the mistress for falsely accusing Amogae, and she grits her teeth as she apologizes to Amogae. He still bows to her respectfully (which angers her even more), and he smiles to himself at the victory.

When Amogae steps out into the village, he’s greeted by his children. He carries his youngest from Gil-hyun’s back and heads home. Gil-dong runs to stop him and reaches into his bag. He takes out a new pair of shoes and puts them down in front of his father. Amogae smiles at Gil-dong, and Gil-dong looks up to smile back.

 
COMMENTS

What a satisfying way to reunite a family. I’m not quite sure if satisfying is the right word for it — Amogae did commit murder and Mom is dead — but there’s something fulfilling about seeing the nobles suffer the consequences of their own greed and of the underestimated slaves prevail. In no way am I condoning murder as a form of revenge (it is a terrible moral wrong), but Kim Sang-joong just makes the badass dad transformation so damn rootable. The end of the previous episode was a dark place to go, but I love how this episode carried the weight of the murder into a clever and twisted trial. The tension and deceit was gripping, and I found myself invested in the episode, even though it was heavy on the procedural side. After Mom died, I was convinced that Amogae would soon follow her, but he’s just playing with death. What a tease.

Once again, I’m amazed at the duplicity that Amogae’s character manifests so well. Narrative-wise, I approve of his character’s drive to protect his family, no matter how dark the means. But that also adds some interesting moral complexity to his character, and I question how that influences Gil-dong in the future. I loved the striking comparison we saw between Amogae and Gil-dong as they both walked away from their master’s house, covered in blood. I got chills watching that quick flashback between father and son. I want Gil-dong to be as badass and merciless as his father, and I hope that was a promising foreshadowing of what’s to come.

I’m curious to know what really happened in the forest between Gil-dong and the tiger. I assume Gil-dong was able to use his strength in some way to come back alive, but I wonder if he holds any other special superhuman abilities. And what about his brief memory loss? Does that mean anything? I don’t mind that we were left in the dark, since the reveal could have overwhelmed this episode and disrupted the focus. I liked the focus of this episode on Amogae’s trial, and I appreciate a show that knows how to prioritize its storylines.

I’m going to give Gil-hyun a quick shout-out, since he really changed the game in this episode. He’s smart, and more importantly, literate — a quality that is so rare and important for someone of the lower class. He gets less focus because he’s not the Mighty Child or the murderer father, but I think he’s the one that’s keeping this family together right now. He’s carrying the burden of the family, and is always literally carrying his baby sister on his back and taking care of Gil-dong. I want all of them to survive into adulthood, and I’m extra hopeful, if only because Amogae made it this far.

I appreciate the simple ways that this show is able to change the mood of a scene. It goes from sharp and cold to fearful and vulnerable without making the transition super jarring. The actors play a large part in this flexibility and fluidity, but there are also small details in the writing that can really warm up a scene. Like the last scene, where Gil-dong offers his father a new pair of shoes. Surely, he feels responsible for his father covering up for him, and even at the jail visit, Gil-dong simply stared at his father’s dirty feet. The shoes were a great way to capture the heartwarming reunion of the family. This show is really going strong on this family motif, and I hope that’s a promise that it’ll remain the heart of our story going forward.

 
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loving this backstory but AHHHH still waiting for kyun sangieeeeeeee

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same here moongie D:

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Yaaas to a Joseon man who loves and honor his wife against all odds. That's how you do romance in sageuks.

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I really enjoyed this episode. The directing was on point that i was invested in every scene and the acting was amazing even little gil dong
Cant wait to see yoon kyun sang.

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This show has me hooked. I'm a sucker for sageuks when they're done well, and so far, this one is not disappointing me at all.

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I love the fact that the evil mistress used to be Moohyul's warmhearted grandma from Six Flying Dragons... LOL I hope they have some scenes together when YKS appears!
I know that Lee Jun Hyuk (who was Master Hong in SFD) also appears.
Loving the SFD reunion~ XD Seriously can't wait for YKS to come out~

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OMG. I just noticed that when you brought it up!
This does feel like SFD reunion :D

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haha i thought the same thing! i seriously hate the mistress

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Okay, after watching this ep now I'm sure I'm going to drag my mom into watching this; she's a sageuk fan--SFD fan, ahem, The Viper's fan actually.

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Yesss! I love LOVE having moments that give us hope in justice...(ok, maybe not the Joseon kind), definitely hope in the simple goodness of other human beings.

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The magistrate seems indecisive but he's really funny in that he could be dictated by his secretary. At least he hears servants/peasants words and doesn't neglect them. Even when all odds and law against Ah Mo Gae, the magistrate are kind enough and not just punish him without just reason.

Still waiting for the glimpse of Yoon Kyun Sang!

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I'm suddenly curious with the hierarchy back there.

Is a magistrate considered a noble profession or a profession only nobleman can fill? Or they can be from commoner class as well?

I wish I could know where to find these kind of information... Wikipedia just doesn't cut it lol.

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@ Kendi

"Is a magistrate considered a noble profession or a profession only nobleman can fill? Or they can be from commoner class as well?"

The "chungin"class or the middle class of Joseon (the commoners below the Yangbans) were mostly lower government officials who were appointed by central government.
They were the technical guys with jobs like physicians, astronomers, magistrates, interpreters, calligraphers etc.
(In Arang and the Magistrate: Lee jun-ki's character Eun-Oh became the magistrate of Arang's town. He was a son of a nobleman and a slave so that does not make him a nobleman or a slave but a chungin).
Their jobs came with benefits like the Yangbans. They were not required to pay taxes and they were exempt from military duties etc.

That basically leaves the lower class, poor peasants and merchants to pay all kinds of taxes :(.

Read this link compiled by the ladies at The Talking Cuboard.
https://thetalkingcupboard.com/2012/09/03/social-strata-joseon-dynasty/

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Thank you so much!! :))

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I was afraid that Dad might have died, only to have Mom to be the one who died instead. Aigoo...

Yay for badass Dad though. Who would have ever imagined a mere slave could have outsmarted his master. LOL. I wish he had revealed the letter after the mistress had given her testimony though so the other slaves could've had their freedom (or that's not the way it worked in Jeoseon).

I don't understand what kind of outcome that the Mistress had wanted when she had ordered Gil-dong to run errand from her. I thought she had wanted him to survive so the rumor about Gil-dong being the Mighty Child could have spread, but she looked like she had mental breakdown when Gil-dong made it. Or had she actually just wanted to confirm whether it's true thay Gil-dong was a Mighty Child or not?

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I was wondering about the same thing. But maybe him fainting in front of her kind of making her doubting it? The other slave family was also worried that he might die after hearing that he lost his memories.

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@nchoe

I believe if Amogae reveals the letter in public Mistress Jo and her son would be taken and executed since they are supporters of the deposed queen but it won't free any of the slaves.
All their wealth, land, servants etc will become the government's properties. So she has to free him herself.

Gil Dong survived but there was no evidence of him fighting or killing a tiger. I don't think it'd be convincing enough to say that he is the mighty child just because he made it back alive.

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May someone explain the letter to me? I didn't get the contents nor how it affected the mistress.

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You might need to go back to the last episode and rewatch the scene with Master Jo and his wife's conversation about the deposed queen.
I'll try and do the historical background so it's easier to understand.

The deposed Queen Yoon is the mother of the current crown prince, the future King Yonsangun. The most notorious tyrant in all of the kings of Joseon.
Queen Yoon was exiled for her unruly behaviors (jealousy and scratching the king's face etc) and then later poisoned to death.
The scheming concubines Lady Um and Lady Chong backed by government officials of their faction were pretty much responsible for her demised.

From eps 2 recap: "They debate the merits of flocking to the dethroned queen’s side versus sticking by the current queen, because the crown prince is the biological son of the dethroned queen".

Late at night, the master and his wife look over the account books, which show that they’re still two hundred nyang (Joseon money unit) short of their goal. They think about selling more possessions, but the mistress nags to her husband that he should not have gotten involved with the dethroned queen’s movement. In his defense, he says that it’s a long-term investment for their son’s future.

Holding a letter written in the dethroned queen’s own hand, he explains to his wife that by the time his son reaches adulthood, the crown prince could become king and his mother would be naturally reinstated as the dowager. Therefore, this insurance is for that later time, when his son can reap its benefits".

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The contents of the letter says "We will cut out his Majesty's footsteps in the future" (I believe it's talking about the current king)

Unfortunately for the Jo's (for now at least) the deposed queen they supported was executed by poison so that letter is a complete treason against the current king.

So in my opinion. Mistress Jo had to choose between her son's future and avenging her husband's death and she chose her son.

(Possible Spoiler)

This is foreshadowing the future because the current crown prince is going to become the king later and he will find out about how his mother died and those who were responsible will be punished severely and those who were in support will be rewarded.
So it's safe to say that we haven't seen the last of the Jo's. Their son might be Gil Dong's biggest enemy beside the future king.

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“If the queen lives, I die. If she dies, I live.”
Amogae was pretty darn lucky. What a desperate and gutsy gamble.
Kim Sang Joon is such a good actor it's easy to read him and feel what he is feeling.

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DAEBAK!

Writer-nim Hwang Jin-Young is reminding me all over again why I loved KING'S DAUGHTER: SU BAEK HYANG so much. And that's just from watching this episode raw! The feel of this drama is so much like KDSBH, from the attention to detail, character development, pacing and exposition, right down to the instrumental music... and the feelings the show evokes in me as a viewer. It's a story with heart about underdogs just wanting to live in peace like human beings.

One of my all-time favorite Kdrama heroes was penned by this author: Su Baek-hyang's honorable and loving deaf-mute step-dad, Kuchon the Silent -- a fearsome Gogoryeo assassin who has managed to escape his former life, unbeknownst to his family. The parallels between Amogae and Kuchon are many, and touching.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning murder and stealing. But even a rat when backed into a corner will fight for its life -- and mama bears are renowned for their protectiveness towards their offspring. When the entire system is corrupt and rotten to the core, I can sympathize with the folks at the bottom of the heap who are drastically punished for the very same crimes that don't even rate a wrist slap for someone who happens to have been born a noble. "Bind not the mouths of the kine that tread the corn" (allow the oxen who thresh the grain to eat some of it, since they're doing all the heavy labor) applies to people as well as animals. The laws in Joseon are so stacked against slaves that something will have to give eventually.

After reading the subtitles, I learned that the branch that Lord Jo's widow demanded Gil-dong bring back from the meat recipient's yard as proof of delivery (no signature a la FedEx?!) was that of an apricot tree... which is in the same genus as plum, peach, and almond. Not only do we get a tip of the gat to Iljimae, but a supernatural nod to peach blossoms as well. Now I have visions of Lee Joon-gi's righteous thief and ghost-seeing magistrate (who's a lot quicker on the uptake than the one in Gil-dong's village) dancing in my head -- and from rooftop to rooftop. ;-)

The irony in this episode is positively delicious. Widow Jo (ably played by the wonderful Seo Yi-Sook) comments to Horny Uncle that slaves are too impulsive and stupid to think through the consequences of their actions. Yet her social-climbing husband aided and abetted the scheming deposed queen -- just so he could receive proof of his (oops! treasonous) conspiracy, written in her very own hand, complete with chop for the final incriminating touch. He bet on the wrong horse -- and pissed off the wrong husband -- and struck out on both counts.

continued

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Great comments! I see youre just as excited as me with this drama. I am loving it! Straight sageuks tend to be too slow for me; fusions often are a bit silly but paced better and quicker. This drama has found the sweet spot between serious and fun, slow and fast. I just watched ep 6 and it doesn't disappoint either. A great Tuesday altogether for me - Hwarang didn't drag, Introverted Boss back to rom com mode, and this story is topping them both for me.

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Hi, Barbrey!

I'm happy as a clam with the way REBEL is unfolding.

Yeah, this episode twanged my heartstrings in a way that I haven't felt in any of the other shows I've been watching for months. There's something about Writer-nim's ability to populate dramas with memorably complex characters who inhabit realistic universes and go through a full range of experiences that span the emotional spectrum that just gets me where I live. All that unfolds in an organic, and often starkly-realistic manner until, just when you need a bit of comic relief to lighten the mood -- voila! Some of the scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, others more restrained, and just plain touching. KDSBH had some lovely bromances, and I fully expect to see that in this show as well.

I seriously was expecting Amogae to be executed in this episode, and never even suspected that he had as many aces up his sleeve as he did. He's just so doggone resourceful, not to mention desperate to save Gil-dong and his siblings.

I'm in the midst of marathoning SIX FLYING DRAGONS, which I'm also enjoying no end. Now I know what all the shouting was about. It is simply brilliant... Then I'll move on to Kim Sa Bu in TREE WITH DEEP ROOTS. ;-)

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continued

This parallels a similar scene in KDSBH in which a yangban wife tries to seduce the strapping Kuchon who is minding his own business splitting firewood. When her husband catches her casting her lascivious attentions on the happily married and totally monogamous Kuchon, who is trying to escape her ladyship's icky grasp, he takes it out on the object of her attentions and has him beaten to within an inch of his life. SBH's mom (herself the daughter of a traitorous high-ranking military commander) gets word of what's going on, and manages to make the yangban stop beating him only by reminding him that his family already has a terrible reputation for this sort of thing, and that another death will only make it impossible for their daughter to marry. -- The injustice of the situation is deplorable, in exactly the same way as Lord and Lady Jo's mistreatment of their slaves.

I thoroughly enjoyed the comeuppance when Horny Uncle was trotted off to the hoosegow after the gisaeng's testimony, even if he paid someone else to receive the lashes on his behalf. (How the heck is that even allowed?! So much for corporal punishment as a deterrent to crime. It's just like paying some poor schmuck to be conscripted into the army in one's place, as happened during the American Civil War.) The idiot actually put his nephew's plan to seize Amogae's property in writing and sent it to someone else?! Does stupid run in that family? I'm beginning to suspect that Amogae could make a much better living as a blackmailer than a burglar. He seems to have a natural flair for it.

It wasn't until I read the subtitles that I understood why Amogae took off his jacket to show the old scars all over his upper body. It's to prove that he hadn't been beaten recently, so why would he kill his master? On the other hand, the whole town, along with the magistrate, got to see firsthand how he had been brutalized his whole life by Lord Jo.

I liked how the magistrate warned Lady Jo against witness intimidation -- which she went ahead and did anyway when she repeatedly slapped the face the mother of Gil-hyun's elder buddy. -- I loved it that the kid was 11 years old, and of legal age to testify. Positively delicious, but boding badly for that family later.

The CGI tiger was nicely done -- much better than some I've seen in other productions.

The child actors were great in this episode. I'll miss them when their elder selves take the stage. And baby sister is the cutest little dickens I've seen in a long spell.

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ikr?! I always expect tragedy in childhood portions of sageuks, but hats off to this drama for upping the stakes and shaking things up by not allowing the childhood portion to be just unadulterated misery and sadness.

The fact that Amogae gets away with murder (for now) is probably the biggest subversion of all - our heroes are allowed their little victories.

(that doesn't mean I've forgotten that the drama literally begins with a scene of Gil-dong having to shoot his lover through the heart, but it does mean this writer is a champ at navigating tone and mood)

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Once in a while, the rating agree with the viewer. I was rooting for this underdog and it turns out much better than expected. Everything is amazing, directing, music, acting.

Shame that we only see the little gil dong only 4 episodes. How long kim sang joong gonna last here? I dont know when the father gonna die. I thought when the father said if gil dong doesnt control his anger his family gonna die, I thought they gonna grow up without parents. Is that history accurate?

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I watched a bit of the prologue episode, and the history professor explained that the story about Hong Gil Dong's upbringings is this drama is not historically accurate. In fact, the only time Hong Gil Dong's name is mentioned in the Annals of Joseon Dynasty seems to be in one trial where the King ordered his judge to 'deal with (a criminal) just like how they deal with Hong Gil Dong.

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I hope it's going to be more like Im Kkeok Jeong, he is my William Wallace from Braveheart. I believe there is more written about him on official and unofficial historical records than Hong Gil Dong and Jang Gil San (the only one that is believed to escape death).

Maybe it's going to be a mix of all 3. Confuse the hell out of me as long as it's good lol.

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Btw, what IS that music or song at the end of the episodes. It perfectly fits how the scenes make me feel and is so unusual. It makes me happy. . Anyone know?

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I searched the OST and it seems to be '봄이 온다면' (roughly translates to 'If the spring is here') by Jeon In Kwon (the male ver - episode 4) and Ahn Ye Eun (the female ver - episode 1~3)

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Thank you, enkeys!

The outro music really grabbed my ear.

The wistfulness of the instrumental music as Gil-dong and hyung carrying baby sister are walking home along the road on the ridge was just wonderful, and reminded me a lot of the instrumental music in KINGS' DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG.

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ooooh thanks!! it's such a nice song that really does fit so well with the show!

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Thanks enkeys!

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That outro music is perfect, I love the cheeky, upbeat tone of it.

I don't think it's exaggerating to say a good soundtrack can hugely elevate the watching experience of a drama, and this one has been excellently scored/soundtracked so far. Someone at MBC/this production, knows what they're doing!

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I fell in love with this OST the first time I heard it. I like the female ver more, now I can't get the tune out of my head !

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Me, neither!
It always interests me on what it is about a song that makes it so catchy.
This is not similar to any other ones I have heard in sagueks. It sounds like something from the 50's. Don't ask me how I would know what songs from 50's Korea would sound like!

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Here's a version not tied to the drama on YT
It is also a female singer. Don't know who.
https://youtu.be/zMI7ilhVou0?list=RDPi1X8x88pSc

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So invested I am that this episode is the only episode I didn't shed a single tear - even episode 4 had me crying a bit. I am cursing my lack of English language knowledge - for I can't express how awesome this drama is enough and likewise, I am cursing lack of Korean language knowledge - for I can't thank the writers enough for her great job. I hope the drama continue to be great until the end.

P/S: Also, praise the director as well! He knows his angles and the timing of the ending OST couldn't be accurate enough. The ending OST is super good!

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Join the club. English is my 3rd language and I'm not even Korean. I just had a good history teacher.

This director must be a fan of the original Im Kkeok Jeong and it's a very good thing.

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Just curious, I find most of your comments insightful especially when it comes to Korean/Eastern history.

Are you taking this subject in school or learn these all online?

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You are too kind. I'm just a history fan :). I don't think I've even scratch the surface when it comes to Korea's history but I find it fascinating so far.

I took a semester of K- history class years ago and that's about it. I try to keep up with the current events in Korea through Korea Times etc. I love reading Korea Journals and other sources just to keep up with what the current history scholars are up to.
I'm always curious of about the new interpretations of some parts of the history and sometimes it comes when there is a sageuk about it. For eg, KBS's Jeong Do-jeon. The current history scholars reevaluated his life and brought his achievements to light. Before that, he was forgotten in history because King Taejong was the winner and he wrote the history.

There is always some kind of propaganda behind historical dramas. It's pretty interesting.

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Dear enkeys,

I have an inkling of how you feel. If I had to express my feelings in my second language, I could not -- I have a hard enough time in my mother tongue. I may be a native speaker of English, but typing words into cyberspace is a poor conveyor of how I feel about the story that's unfolding. All the verbiage I've spewed here in the recap comments is my attempt to describe the bits of the show that touch my heart in an ineffable way.

Writer-nim Hwang Jin-Young has a tremendous gift, and I am grateful to be able to watch it brought to life on the screen by a wonderful cast and crew. The cinematography is exquisite and aesthetically pleasing, thanks to directors Kim Jin-man and Jin Chang-kyu. The score is evocative and apropos.

I am happy.

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about to go watch episode 4 but wanted to drop by to share this: http://wonder-fx.tumblr.com/post/156915158463

i'm loving the cinematography and music in this drama

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Thanks, voice!

Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a million feels.

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I...honestly really love this show. Like, a lot already. It's been such a wonderful surprise, but I'm almost scared by how much I'm enjoying it.

While I don't necessarily condone murder either, there's just something so damn satisfying about seeing a man like Amogae do whatever it takes to make sure the lives of those he loves aren't trampled upon. It isn't like he didn't spend his whole life giving them plenty of chances to honor his family's sacrifices. Just how many lives have they cast aside for their greed? I find it almost impossible to blame him given the hopelessness of his circumstances. It's tragic that, in order to finally free himself and his family once and for all, he had to do something so heartless with his own hands, when they barely lift a finger to commit far worse acts.

The "heroes" fought back as ruthlessly as their masters, and succeeded with their ferocity and smarts, not power and rank. Maybe I'm just so used to seeing complete tragedy in the backstory portion (ya know, whole family dead or separated indefinitely, the same old jig, setting us up for all the revengeee) that this was just really gratifying to see.

For some reason, I felt like Gil Dong would befriend the tiger. But when they tied in the moment with his father committing murder later on, I second-guessed myself. Still, I don't think that's the last we'll see of him. The lore the other family spoke of must have some significance...

Thanks for the recap!

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I was curious so I tried to google tigers in Korean mythology but nothing fit, until I found this and remembered that Gil Dong is specifically told to go up the mountain to find Mr. Park:

Sansin - mountain spirits

Sanshin or sansin (Hangul: 산신; Hanja: 山神) are local mountain gods in Korean shamanism. They are often paired with tigers. In Korea, every Buddhist temple has a dedicated shrine called a sanshingak (Hangul: 산신각; Hanja: 山神閣) to the local sanshin, who is typically represented as an elder male figure surrounded by tigers.[1]

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Barbrey,

Thanks for that tantalizing bit of metaphysical background. Maybe the tiger will be a recurring presence.

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Wasn't the tiger beautiful? I think it was cgi enhanced but I don't care, that was a beautiful shot of the boy and tiger side by side.

I read too that what the villagers say is actually what the Korean superstition is even today. Staring into the tiger spirit's eyes makes one 'lose oneself' and go crazy, usually with hallucinations.

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I think this episode was referencing the tale of the moon and sun siblings and the tiger since they also mentioned about the rope from heaven as well.

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Sounds interesting. Do you have a link?

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There is a video on youtube about this,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFyEy7I_ETE

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It's the korean version of Red Riding Hood.

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The drama is soo good. It's my #1drama at the moment (watching 5 ongoing) . I spent the whole hour crying!!!

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I felt Gil Dong presenting the shoes could remind dad that he had forgotten the bloody shoes and was saved initially by Gil Dong. He now knows that Gil Dong knew.

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It's also a nice callback to Geum-ok seeing him return from his journey with scarred, dusty feet and trying to take care of them.

Like mother, like son, it would seem.

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I like that Amogae isn't a principled noble idiot, and is actually willing to kill and plan to get away with it for the sake of his family - it makes him feel a lot more real as a character. And considering what he's faced, I don't begrudge him that murder at all, and I was practically cheering when he manouevred his way out of being executed for murder even when it looked like he was done for.

This is one of the best-executed child parts i've seen in a LONG time, Kim Sang-joong is absolutely majestic and the kids are incredible. Both Gil-hyun and Gil-dong are perfectly cast, and I can easily see what their grownup personalities are going to be like, haha. (also their baby sister is super cute)

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Thanks for the recap, DL!

Man, oh man oh man. Everything.
I HATE THAT RICH LADY.

It burns me how stacked against the poor all these damned neo Confucian laws were. It's oh so moral since it's written down, so it must be correct. The power of the establishment.
The victors write the laws as well as the history books.

The poor never have a chance, do they? Early 20th century workhouses in England, sweat shops in the US. They were legal, too.

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