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.
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.
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 2
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 1
- Twisted ambitions clash in posters and teaser for Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
- The bloody battle for the people’s hearts begins in Rebel
- Yoon Kyun-sang’s sorrowful tears in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People teaser
- First glimpse of MBC’s Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
- Rebel Hong Gil-dong becomes Thief Who Stole the People
- Yoon Kyun-sang, Chae Soo-bin sign on for Rebel Hong Gil-dong
- Yoon Kyun-sang in talks to headline Rebel Hong Gil-dong
- Kim Sang-joong considers being Rebel Hong Gil-dong’s father
- Honey Lee in talks to join fusion sageuk Rebel Hong Gil-dong