Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 7
After a whirlwind of events that seemed determined to condemn our family to misery, we get a quick break from the family tragedy to get to know the talented Nok-soo. She’s not the Nok-soo we were initially introduced to quite yet (she even goes by a different name at this stage in her life), but she’s still a rich character at this point with plenty to share. She’s complicated and beautiful, and we see how she becomes entangled in Gil-dong’s life, for better or for worse.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Chased to the edge of a cliff, Gil-dong fearfully looks down at the water and tells Eorini to close her eyes. He takes one last look at his enemies, and as arrows flies towards them, he shields his younger sister from three of the arrows and falls off the cliff.
Unconscious, Gil-dong and Eorini slowly sink underwater, still tied together at the wrists by the cloth. Gil-dong’s family flashes through his memory, and at the memory of Eorini’s desperate call for her orabeoni, Gil-dong’s eyes jerk open underwater. He holds his sister in his arms and swims upward towards land.
Amogae lies on the floor of his cell, beaten to a pulp and barely alive; Gil-hyun limps up the hill, having survived his fights, and calls out for his brother and sister. Though he doesn’t find them, Gil-dong and Eorini are both alive. Gil-dong passes out with three arrows in his back after checking that his sister is breathing, and his sister wakes up to find her brother barely conscious.
Eorini tries to wake her brother, but he can only whimper out: “Water.” Determined to help her brother, Eorini tries to stand up to find water, but she’s pulled back down by the binding cloth. She uses her teeth to rip the cloth and set her wrist free, but something about that makes me nervous.
Eorini finds a frozen pool of water, where she uses a stick to hack away at the ice. She smiles when she finally reaches the water beneath, and a shadow from behind appears. She looks back, hoping to see her brother, but her falling face indicates otherwise. She call for her brother, and that quiet call stirs Gil-dong awake.
Gil-dong opens his eyes and looks shaken to find the undone wrist bondage. He immediately stands up and yells for Eorini, embarking on an urgent search with the arrows still stuck in his back. Gil-dong’s search continues as night becomes morning, and he hopelessly asks a pair of hunters if they had seen a young girl. They shake their heads but look alarmed to see three arrows stuck in his back as he passes.
Clearly losing his sanity, Gil-dong walks through the village seeing every young girl as Eorini, and the villagers are frightened by the sight of the walking dead. He sees a group of girls ushered by Ga-ryung into the gisaeng house, and Gil-dong stumbles along to follow them. He calls out for Eorini as approaches the gibang, pushing and throwing the guards to break entry.
Inside, the gisaeng WOLHAMAE (Hwang Seok-jung) plays a traditional stringed instrument, and the young girls dance to her music. Their dance is interrupted by Gil-dong’s manic search for Eorini, and they all scatter away from him. Nok-soo sees this disturbance from the building across, but it’s quickly ended when someone smacks him on the head with a wooden beater and knocks him unconscious. He falls over the rails, and we see Ga-ryung holding the beater.
Everyone gathers around the unwelcome guest, and when the guards flip him over, Nok-soo and Ga-ryung gasp in recognition. They remember his playful words about their fateful reunion and look at him with worry.
Nok-soo brings Gil-dong inside to treat his wounds, but he seems to be dying, according to the doctor. They clean him up, and Ga-ryung begins to share her reading on Gil-dong’s unfortunate fate, only to be silenced by Nok-soo. Ga-ryung mumbles her thoughts on her way out anyway, and Nok-soo gently smiles at Gil-dong, telling him that they’ve met again.
Ga-ryung retrieves hot water and brings it to Nok-soo, who argues with Wolhamae about taking care of Gil-dong. Wolhamae sees no use in caring for a dying person, but Nok-soo takes the tub of hot water inside for Gil-dong anyway. But she stops in her tracks when she sees Gil-dong awake and upright.
Ga-ryung and Nok-soo watch with surprise as Gil-dong stands up and repeats the same words about his upcoming sister’s birthday and his gift of shoes for her. As he takes small steps forward, he begins to remember everything that’s happened, and his past flashes to the most current events with each continuing step. Overwhelmed by the memories, Gil-dong faints and falls unconscious yet again.
Gil-hyun continues to wobble down the hill calling for his siblings, and he comes upon a small home. Seeking refuge, he enters the home and finds an old man reading at his desk. He tries to shake the man to grab his attention, but the old man simply falls over. Gil-hyun looks alarmed, and we’re unsure of whether the old man is dead, or simply unconscious.
As Gil-dong snores in his deep slumber, Ga-ryung tells Wolhamae and the group of gisaeng that the stranger sleeping in that room is none other than the famous crafty merchant, rumored to help women bear children and achieve the impossible. Cue Gil-dong walking out and scratching his head. He’s completely clueless about where he is.
Under the watch of Nok-soo, Wolhamae, and Ga-ryung, the doctor pokes around Gil-dong to check his vitality. He’s amazed at the miracle of Gil-dong’s survival, but Gil-dong doesn’t seem to remember a thing. He sheds a tear, and Ga-ryung asks why he’s crying. Confused, he wipes his tear and claims that doesn’t know why he’s crying, other than that it’s a symptom of his aching heart. The last thing he remembers is meeting with the other merchants before entering the tiger-infested forest.
Ga-ryung determines that Gil-dong has been bewitched by the tiger and thus, has been turned into an idiot. Gil-dong adorably takes offense to this, but Ga-ryung insists that his memory loss nominates him as an idiot, ha.
Outside, Ga-ryung gossips about idiot Gil-dong, who’s completely lost his memory. A loitering merchant at the house entrance overhears the conversation. Back inside the room, Gil-dong asks to see the arrows that were shot into his back. Nok-soo retrieves them and offers the space to him until he recovers his memory. Wolhamae actively disapproves of this offer, and Gil-dong tries to appease her by calling her “noonim” (the formal version of “older sister”) and then “elder,” but that only angers her more.
As Gil-dong continues to get scolded, Nok-soo thinks back to a conversation with the loitering merchant, who sells mats. As the gisaengs looked over the items, he told them of people who are quicker, stronger, or recover faster than others — people known as the Mighty Child. Wolhamae dismissed such fables, but Nok-soo listened to the merchant’s claims intently. Back in the room, Gil-dong tries calling Wolhamae “halmae” (grandma), which obviously exacerbates the situation even more.
Later, we see Gil-dong working his crafty merchant magic again with the gisaeng ladies while Ga-ryung and Wolhamae shake their heads at his lies. They approach the group, and Wolhamae accuses him of infatuating women with fancy perfumes, but he shakes his head that it’s all a misunderstanding — men won’t fall for women just because of their luxury items. Ga-ryung urges him to continue, and he explains that men don’t look at individual items, but rather the overall aura of the person.
Nok-soo looks amused as she watches from afar, and she’s approached by the loitering merchant, who asks about this new stranger. He’s heard rumors that he recovered after near-death injuries, but Nok-soo lies that the quack doctor didn’t assess the injuries correctly. But the loitering merchant already knows the extent of Gil-dong’s injuries and passively wonders aloud if he’s a Mighty Child who survived.
Flashback to Nok-soo asking about the Might Child to the loitering merchant. He told her that the Mighty Child has “wings” that symbolize varying powers, some even difficult to articulate. He also adds that most Mighty Children die, as it’s as difficult for a Mighty Child to born as it is for one to survive. “However, if one does survive, a Mighty Child is fated to someday change history.”
Back in the present, as Nok-soo watches Gil-dong, we hear the continuing voiceover from the loitering merchant that a Mighty Child may exist somewhere, hiding his wings. She looks over at the merchant, who looks pensively at Gil-dong.
As she’s washing the clothing, Ga-ryung asks Nok-soo if she should throw out the cloth that was wrapped around Gil-dong’s wrist. At first, she tells her to throw away the scrap of cloth, but she ends up taking the cloth to return to Gil-dong. Except, she doesn’t return it to Gil-dong. Instead, she stores it in a jewelry box, sensing that it could be important to Gil-dong’s memory.
Gil-dong decides that he’s going to find the owner of the arrows and asks permission from Nok-soo to leave. She assures him that she’ll still house him and asks if he remembers what he said to her the last time they met (that the next time they meet, it would be fate). He doesn’t seem to remember, so she doesn’t linger on the issue and sends him on his way.
After the armorer tells Gil-dong that the arrows are used to hunt animals, Gil-dong finds a group of hunters and asks if they know who these arrows belong to. They can’t identify the owner and laugh at the idiot who can’t remember who shot these arrows at him. Gil-dong laughs along sheepishly and requests to follow them temporarily to find who shot these arrows.
At first, the hunters refuse to adopt him, since they (correctly) presumed that he was seeking revenge. But Gil-dong insists that he just needs to know what accident this forgetful idiot caused. To sell himself, he even shows them how fast he can run. He runs down the hill and looks back with a goofy grin, only to look forward and run into a tree. Haha, what a klutz.
As they unpack gifts from a recent guest, Wolhamae praises Nok-soo for her great work in entertaining their patrons, which has made their house even more vibrant. Nok-soo promises to continue her good work, under the condition that Gil-dong be her drummer. Gil-dong doesn’t seem too confident in his drumming skills, but Nok-soo doesn’t seem to mind. She tells Ga-ryung to come along as well, and she follows along with excitement.
Before Nok-soo begins her singing performance at the patron’s home, they overhear the nobles questioning Nok-soo’s skills as a singer. But as she performs around the room, the men are captured by her song and dance, and one even tries to embrace her before she finishes her song.
The patron requests that Nok-soo sit down and pour alcohol, but Ga-ryung steps in to explain that Nok-soo doesn’t pour alcohol until she finishes her song. Nok-soo explains that alcohol can alter her singing, but the eager friend of the patron tries to force her to join. Gil-dong steps in with a threatening glare, but eases his attitude to provide his version of entertainment.
Gil-dong ends up telling a funny story about a pregnant woman and her suspicious husband, hilariously playing both roles. Ga-ryung and the patrons look amused by the performance, but Nok-soo doesn’t seem to appreciate his intervention.
After their time is done, Nok-soo scolds Gil-dong for stepping in. She claims that she can handle her patrons, but Gil-dong says that he doesn’t like seeing her comply with the patron’s requests. She’s an artist, he says. Nok-soo is more self-deprecating, as she calls herself a gisaeng who simply sings and dances, but he claims otherwise.
Ga-ryung challenges him on how he would know, and he says that he’s traveled the land of Joseon and danced to the song of the birds. He knows why the Jirisan tree blows, and he knows why the river is so blue. So blue, in fact, that it’s sometimes called Nok-soo.
She asks, “Nok-soo?” Gil-dong responds that it’s all because life is unbearably sad, good, and sad again. He walks away with that poetic line, and both Nok-soo and Ga-ryung watch him for a moment, probably swooning inside.
Gil-dong lives busily, working with the hunters and drumming for Nok-soo. He arrives to follow the hunters one day, and they update him that there are new hunters in the area today. Gil-dong readily carries the baggage and heads off, while two hunter thieves sneak up from behind. They’re the same ones that saw Gil-dong walking through the hills with the arrow in his back, and one of the thieves seems to recognize him.
The entertainer trio heads home from another trip, and Gil-dong sees Nok-soo and Ga-ryung struggling to climb down steep stairs in their dresses. He offers to piggyback Nok-soo, and he pulls her onto his back despite her hesitation. She clearly enjoys and appreciates the ride, and jealous Ga-ryung pouts at his gesture. Noticing this, Gil-dong climbs up the stairs to offer her a piggyback ride, and she adorably latches on with the widest smile. So cute.
Back at the gibang, Ga-ryung watches the dancers as Wolhamae plays her string instrument. She mutters that she could probably dance like them, but Wolhamae shakes her head and says that she’s too ugly. Gil-dong shows up and disagrees. He says that Ga-ryung is probably the prettiest in the whole house. Ga-ryung silently watches him leave, alarmed by the sudden confession.
As Ga-ryung empties the clothes to wash, she finds a mirror in the pile and thinks back to Gil-dong’s compliment. She giddily smiles to herself and fixes her hair in the mirror. Still flattered by the compliment on their walk from another job, Ga-ryung asks Gil-dong if he really thinks she’s pretty. He looks at her blankly, and she starts to babble on about what exactly he finds pretty, but when she turns around, she’s talking to herself.
Gil-dong left the conversation to follow Nok-soo, and they hum along to a song. The exchange lines as they sing the song, and she begins to dance as he begins to drum. It’s a beautiful harmony between both voices and a wonderful gift to the ears. Ga-ryung admires her unni’s beauty, and the song continues until Nok-soo sees a young child up the road. The child calls out to her, “Mother.”
Back at the gisaeng house, Nok-soo silently takes off the decorative ornaments in her hair and hands Wolhamae a pouch to relay to her son. Gil-dong takes the pouch to deliver, and he hears Nok-soo say that she does not have the heart or will to be a mother. At that comment, Gil-dong stops at the door and looks to her. She notices his gaze and asks, “Why? Do I seem like a monster?” She looks at herself in the mirror and acknowledges that she is, in fact, a monster.
Gil-dong delivers the money pouch to the young son outside the house, and he tries to offer his scarf to the boy before sending him off. But a greedy man, the son’s father, grabs the money pouch and drags the boy away before Gil-dong can offer anything else. The gisaengs crowd at the entrance of the house and gossip about how Nok-soo has to run from house to house trying to avoid her greedy ex-husband.
Gil-dong enters Nok-soo’s room and reports that he’s delivered the money. She’s cleaning her gayageum, and she tells him that her mother was a head gisaeng. Every time the house owner would change, her mother would serve him, do his laundry, and sleep with him. If the owner liked her mother, they were well off; if he didn’t like her mother, they would starve. So, pleasing the owner was the most important thing to her mother.
She continues her story as Gil-dong stands and listens: One owner had his eyes on Nok-soo, not her mother. So her mother took her to the owner. It was a cold winter, and her mother’s hand was full of sweat. Fascinated, she asked her mother about the tears on her hands. Her mother advised her to treat the magistrate well, in hopes that her daughter wouldn’t live such a difficult life. But Nok-soo could never forgive the shameless men who ordered her mother to sacrifice her daughter like that.
Nok-soo explains that she needed power to throw those bastards into the flames of hell. In the process of hating these people, she says that she’s become empty. Even if her child calls out to her as a mother, her heart is frozen. “I am a monster. I became a monster.”
Gil-dong approaches a crying Nok-soo and comforts her. He pats her shoulder and says that she isn’t a monster, seeing that she’s crying. He pulls away from the embrace and reminds her of what he said when the first met — that the next time they met, it would be fate.
She looks surprised at his memory, and he leans in for a gentle kiss. Gil-dong pulls away, and they look at each other with tearful gazes. He goes in for another kiss, and they hold hands fondly.
The next morning, Nok-soo looks at the wrist cloth as Gil-dong sleeps in her bed. She looks hesitant about what to do with it. While she’s out, the loitering merchant sneaks into the room and uses a glowing piece of coal to scorch Gil-dong’s side. He yells in pain as he jerks awake, and the merchant pretends that he made a terrible mistake and runs out to get help.
The merchant’s run becomes a walk, and Nok-soo follows him to find out why he would do such a thing. He says that he’s heard the rumors, so now he can see for himself whether this person is actually a Mighty Child who could change history.
Later that night, the merchant looks through a hole in the door to the bath, stealthily watching for Gil-dong’s injury. He sees that the burn is almost completely healed, but this peeping Tom is caught red-handed by Ga-ryung. She scolds him for watching someone bathe and checks to see who he’s looking at. She sees that it’s Gil-dong and looks enamored for a moment before she snaps out of it. She turns around to scold the merchant some more, but he’s disappeared.
Ga-ryung turns back to look through the hole, but she doesn’t see anyone inside. Someone grabs her ear and pulls her away from the door — it’s Gil-dong! She tries to explain that it wasn’t her looking (technically, it was), but he doesn’t believe her. In her escape, she bites his arm and sticks her tongue out, saying that there was nothing to see anyway.
After Ga-ryung runs away, Nok-soo comes with a new set of clothes. She covers him up and tells him to wait for her in the room. They look at each other lovingly, and Ga-ryung watches curiously.
As Gil-dong heads to the room, the merchant asks him about his injury. He tries to pretend that he’s just a merchant who sells mats, but Gil-dong can see through his disguise. So the merchant explains that someone requested for him to find some strange things — things that the heavens mistakenly spit out, possibly something like a Mighty Child.
Nok-soo watches from afar, and Gil-dong tells the merchant that no such thing exits. The merchant grabs Gil-dong and asks him to answer one last question. We don’t hear the conversation, but we see a satisfied merchant talking his leave from the house. As he heads out, Nok-soo asks if he got his answer, and if Gil-dong is indeed the Mighty Child. The merchant simply shrugs and says that he’ll tell her during his next visit. Then the skies begin to thunder, which can only mean that bad things are ahead.
At the palace, Prince Yeonsangun rushes to his ill father’s side with his clothes robe barely on him. His weak father tells the prince to properly wear his robe, and Yeonsangun follows orders through his tears. Outside, rows of officials bow in mourning of the king’s deathbed, and the king tells his son how he must navigate the throne.
The king says that the officials are the pulse of Joseon. Yeonsangun doesn’t seem to agree, asking if they must believe every ridiculous claim that the officials make. The king sits up and tells his son that he’s been suspicious of his officials, but Yeonsangun doesn’t let him finish his argument. He asks if it’s the will of the officials to kill off the queen.
He leans in close and asks his father if he really thought that his own son wouldn’t know about his father killing his mother. He’s proclaims that he’s the son of the late dethroned queen, and the king begins to throw up blood, close to death.
In the woods, Gil-dong sits with the hunters and tells them that he should look elsewhere for information on the arrows. Suddenly, a hunter spots thieves taking their animals, and Gil-dong voluntarily chases after them. He grabs one, and the thief’s pleas are quieted upon recognition of Gil-dong. The recognition stirs Gil-dong’s memory, and the pieces have finally come together.
Gil-dong walks through the village in a daze, numb to the pain that he’s finally remembered. The villagers in the town rush into the streets dressed in all white, signifying that the king has passed away. They run into Gil-dong, but he’s too shocked to process anything else happening around him.
We see a wrist with the cloth, and it’s Eorini. She’s alive! She sits in the corner of a room, looking hopeless and bedraggled. The door to the room opens, but we don’t see who it is.
Gil-hyun looks through the old deceased man’s books and finds the man’s will, which asks for any passerby to fulfill his wishes. Then we see Magistrate Eom dressed in all white as he approaches an isolated home. He tells someone inside that it’s him and that there’s nobody around. He gets a snore in response, so he opens the door. A man with his long hair undone looks up. It’s Amogae.
The family lives! It’s incredible how hopeless this drama can make you feel about life, and then it comes back with an amazing miracle that makes me believe that this family is invincible. I didn’t believe that anyone was dead yet, but I wasn’t keeping my hopes up here. There’s was a very small chance that Eorini was saved, a very slim chance that Gil-hyun survived his outnumbered fight, and an impossible chance that Amogae would escape Choongwongoon’s wrath alive. Yet, here they all are. Alive. It’s a pendulum of emotions, and I’m bracing myself for the downward slope of this ride. This family is going through their nine lives pretty quickly, and they’re really testing me on how much tragedy I can bear.
Though the ending really captured my attention with that plot twist, I appreciated the focus of this episode. Again, I’m enjoying how this show knows how to prioritize storylines, so that we’re not constantly bombarded with everyone’s tragedies all at once. I loved the background we got on Nok-soo (including how she got her name) and especially loved seeing how she was portrayed in this episode. She’s flawed and hurting and with subtle selfish intentions, yet she’s full of elegance and beauty. I also enjoyed seeing how she became involved in Gil-dong’s life with this “fated reunion” that kept getting hinted at. My favorite part about the paring was the duet, which was full of chemistry and sounded sooo beautiful — enough so that their harmony alone would have sold me on their romance. Honey Lee is perfectly cast for this role (she sings, she dances, and she oozes with elegance), and I love seeing her thrive in her strengths.
And while I am a huge Nok-soo fan, I really can’t wait for more adorable bickering between Ga-ryung and Gil-dong. Ga-ryung is immature and a bit petty, but I love how honest and straightforward she is. The show’s still stingy with Ga-ryung’s scenes, but I do hope we get a full and lengthy introduction to her, as we got with Nok-soo. She’s really a riot, and I want enough time to fall in love with the Gil-dong/Ga-ryung pairing before we’re given a heavy load of tragedy and sorrow and regret. I’m just really thirsting for all the cute and beautiful things this drama has to offer because I know they’ll soon be throwing us into a desert full of blood and despair. Savages.