Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 13
After patiently laying the groundwork for revenge, our bandits are finally collecting their dues. Gil-dong sets up all his pawns and shows us that his strength is not the only asset he brings to the table. His clever manipulation of greater powers speaks to his intelligence and willingness to bend to the rules, which perhaps isn’t the cleanest way to go about revenge. But the ends justifies the means in this game, and revenge has no rules in anyone’s book. His enemies better be ready to reap what they sow.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Gil-dong is dragged into the jail where Choongwongoon resides, and he acts as the loyal “footstool,” worried about his precious royal highness. But once they’re separated by the jail cells, Gil-dong becomes explicitly two-faced. Gil-dong smirks at Choongwongoon’s assumption that his dim “footstool” will do as told at the hearing, while we see in a quick flashback that Gil-dong planted an accusatory note in Choongwongoon’s porn book (which Heotaehak stole right after Choongwongoon’s subpoena).
Ja-kwang explains to the scholars that Choongwongoon’s hearing will be heavily guarded and omitted from records because they will be interrogating a royal. The king has only allowed select officials to be present at the trial, but Ja-kwang extends an invitation to Gil-hyun, since he played a big role in finding evidence. But Gil-hyun refuses the offer, wishing to follow the king’s orders without exception.
At the trial, Choongwongoon yells about this injustice, vowing to prove his innocence. He looks relieved at the sight of Yeonsangun, but his smile drops when the king doesn’t show any sign of familiarity. Ja-kwang provides the background on the trial: In the process of uprooting Kim Jong-jik’s followers, Kim Il-son revealed the names of his students. Among them, Lee Jong-soo accused Choongwongoon of spreading treasonous rumors.
Choongwongoon desperately reminds Yeonsangun about his admiration for the king. Although Yeonsangun looks more sympathetic and hesitant in response to Choongwongoon’s pleas, he lets the trial commence.
Outside the gates, Jeong-hak tells Gil-hyun that the king has begun the trial. Jeong-hak wishes he could be present at the trial to witness this, but he suspects that the king may just be orchestrating this trial with no real intention of punishing Choongwongoon. He points out that the witnesses are two loyal followers of Choongwongoon, so the king may be providing a way out for his royal family. At that realization, Gil-hyun looks worried.
At the trial, Lee Jong-soo (captured as a colleague of Kim Il-son) enters and testifies against Choongwongoon. Although he was not particularly close with the royal, he’s attended his parties and claims that he definitely heard Choongwongoon speak defamatory comments about King Sejo. Choongwongoon erupts in indignation, and Lee Jong-soo is pressured to provide further support for his claims.
In a flashback, we see Gil-dong providing Lee Jong-soo with private information that Choongwongoon shared in confidence. At the trial, Lee Jong-soo shares his knowledge about the eagle gift exchange between the king and Choongwongoon, and the disclosure of this private exchange paints Choongwongoon as a gossiper, thus planting suspicion in the king.
The witnesses are summoned next. Heotaehak has yet to respond to the summoning, but “footstool” Gil-dong arrives in court with an innocent mask on. Eunuch Kim recognizes Gil-dong with shock and watches Gil-dong happily greet Choongwongoon. Gil-dong nods at the order to testify as told, but his smile gradually morphs into a serious face, ready for business.
At the musician troupe’s quarters, the jealous women criticize Nok-soo for reporting rumors to the king, and Wolhamae tries to disprove these criticisms by asking Nok-soo herself. But Nok-soo confirms her deeds. She’s divorced and left her child, so she’s using any means possible to prove her worth to the king. Nok-soo vows to get to the top and repay the world for all the hardship it bestowed on her. Looking afar with nostalgia, Nok-soo shares with Wolhamae that her time with Gil-dong must have been a dream. Other fates — not love and happiness — are allotted to her life, she claims.
Back at Bandit HQ, Ga-ryung assures Amogae that Gil-dong will return safely, since she threatened him to do so. He mirrors her smile, but her smile turns doubtful. She asks if Gil-dong will really be okay, and Amogae nods with assurance.
Gil-dong testifies in the trial and acts clueless when they ask about Choongwongoon committing treason (“Huh, what’s that?”), so they dumb it down and ask if Choongwongoon spread any bad rumors about King Sejo. Initially, Gil-dong only has positive things to say on Choongwongoon’s behalf, claiming that the royal only boasted of his grandfather supporting King Sejo and of his respect for the late king. Then, he gets creative.
Gil-dong claims that Choongwongoon got in a fight with Lee Jong-soo, and this is news to Choongwongoon. Gil-dong nods at Lee Jong-soo, and they proceed with their aligned stories. Gil-dong claims that Choongwongoon found no issue with King Sejo taking in Lady Yoon and Lady Kwon, since he was the ruler. Lee Jong-soo continues on with the story, confirming that Choongwongoon found no problem with King Sejo raping Lady Yoon and Lady Kwon, who were both concubines of King Sejo’s son.
At the “realization” that King Sejo raped his daughter-in-laws, Gil-dong reacts with surprise and claims that he had no idea. Lee Jong-soo continues to testify with another claim, a true one this time. He reports that Choongwongoon found no issue with King Sejo’s disposal of his nephew’s corpse (Prince Nosan, formerly King Danjong) to feed to the wild beasts. Gil-dong fans the fire, and Choongwongoon orders him to say no more.
Turning to the king, Choongwongoon tries to explain his side. But Yeonsangun doesn’t listen and expresses his disappointment that Choongwongoon actually believed these bad rumors. The guilty Choongwongoon gets dragged away while demanding that Heotaehak to stand as witness, and Gil-dong smiles to himself. Eunuch Kim observes Gil-dong from afar and smiles to himself as well.
Heotaehak packs his valuables, ready to flee the area while Gil-dong and Choongwongoon fight. Mori admits that he has known about his leader’s deal with Amogae, but Heotaehak doesn’t intend on joining the bandit brotherhood. Instead, he’s looking to pull the rug from under their feet and take over the silver mine while they’re diligently fighting off Choongwongoon.
The king wonders if Choongwongoon is simply a foolish but true supporter of King Sejo or if he’s performing with a loyal façade while actually disparaging the king. He hopes that it’s the former, but he will have no mercy if Choongwongoon proves to be disloyal.
Upon the king’s orders, the royal guards search through Choongwongoon’s house. Gil-hyun joins the guards in the room and notices a piece of paper stuck in the cover of the porn book. It’s a copy of the incriminating eulogy.
Gil-hyun brings this evidence to the king, who then determines his course of action. He releases Lee Jong-soo and the “footstool” servant, since they were important players in capturing a traitor. Then, he renounces Choongwongoon’s official connection with the royal family and orders a thorough search, deprived of all the royal immunities.
Gil-dong greets the newly released Lee Jong-soo and thanks him for his help. Lee Jong-soo reciprocates the gratitude, saying that he never thought he could be free because of Kim Il-son’s accusation. He reunites with his young daughters, and Gil-dong nods at Yonggae and Ilchung upon completion of their successful mission.
The bandits return to the Hwalbin House, where Ga-ryung paces back and forth in worry. She approaches them with anticipation and asks where Gil-dong is. They remain silent and look solemn, so Ga-ryung assumes the worst and begins to cry. Then, Gil-dong appears, and the bandit crew gets a good laugh out of teasing adorable Ga-ryung. She claims that she wasn’t worried about Gil-dong and walks away from him, and he smiles.
With no royal protections this time, Choongwongoon is interrogated by Gil-hyun. He’s shown the written eulogy found in the porn book that Gil-dong gifted him, and everything comes together. Choongwongoon demands that the “footstool” be re-summoned to court, but the evidence is all too clear now. Gil-hyun orders the guards to continue with the punishment, and we see that these guards were bribed by our bandits to really punish this man of debauchery. They hit Choongwongoon with all their might, and with a slip of the paddle, they injure his crown jewels.
News of Choongwongoon’s big injury reaches Eunuch Kim, but when he reports this to the king, he shows little worry for his now estranged royal family member. He simply tells Eunuch Kim to find a place for Choongwongoon’s exile.
Eop-san urgently runs to the Hwalbin House, where the bandits are waiting for the punishment verdict. They interpret Eop-san’s hesitance as bad news — that Choongwongoon would be released after a beating because of the royal family connection. But they’ve assumed wrong, and Eop-san happily reports that Choongwongoon has been exiled. They jump and hug in celebration of this miracle. They framed the wretched royal!
Gil-dong returns to Bandit HQ to report this good news to his father, but he finds his father’s limp body sitting outside. He cautiously calls out to his father, and Amogae slowly lifts his head (oh thank god). Gil-dong tells his father of Choongwongon’s punishment, and he takes his father’s hand to watch a good sight.
A bloody and weak Choongwongoon lies in his jail cell, and Gil-hyun approaches him with a confession that he’s been wanting to meet him. He didn’t know this moment would come so soon, but he wishes for Choongwongoon to experience living hell in the harsh conditions of his exile.
On his way to exile the next morning, Choongwongoon gets shamed by the villagers, who throw rocks and food at him. He looks up and finds a line of familiar faces watching him from a veranda. He first spots Amogae, then gibang owner Soboori, then the line of bandits who entertained him at the gibang, and finally, “footstool” Gil-dong. He remembers Madam Jo’s warning about Amogae’s ominous second son and identifies Gil-dong as that son. They send off the enemy, and Amogae requests that they head to Ikhwari.
Choongwongoon is thrown into his shabby exile home, and as he tries to fall asleep, he finds maggots next to him. He greets them and says that no one else seeks his company. He miserably wonders if this is how he will spend his life.
The bandits travel back to Ikhwari, where they are welcomed warmly by the villagers. Eop-san’s father limps toward his oldest friend, Amogae, and they embrace. Eop-san holds his father in an emotional homecoming to his family. Magistrate Eom also makes an appearance and welcomes Amogae back to his home.
Amogae reminisces on the olden days with Soboori, Magistrate Eom, and Yonggae. They tell the stories and laugh over drinks, and Amogae watches them with a whiff of distant nostalgia.
Amogae gathers everyone and announces that he wants to create a family name. He reveals it to be “Hong”, which means “boisterous.” He explains that they eat and drink and laugh with each other nonstop, so he finds the name to be fitting. Their family name will be Hong, and their homeland will be Ikhwari.
They go around calling each other with their family names, from Hong Ilchung to Hong Yonggae to Hong Segul to Hong Kkeutsae to Hong Eop-san (it’s very cute). And finally, Hong Gil-dong. Amogae nods and says it again: Hong Gil-dong.
Amogae watches the sun set from his home, and Gil-dong covers his father with another layer. Amogae tells his son that he doesn’t need to think too hard. “You live because you’re born, fight because you need to fight, and when the time comes, you die.” He hands his prayer beads to Gil-dong, and Gil-dong hesitantly accepts them. The time has come to pass on the legacy.
Madam Jo hears from Jeong-hak about Choongwongon’s exile and rushes to find him. She catches him just as he’s about to hang himself, and she asks how he ended up in this state. He cries that Amogae is still alive and condemned him to this place, and Madam Jo is shocked at this news.
Seeking help, Madam Jo approaches Scholar Song and asks that he meet someone who was a strong pillar for the nation. She describes a group of people who cannot be crushed and accuses them of framing Choongwongoon.
At Ikhwari, Amogae downs a bottle of alcohol and claims that he feels much more alive at his home. He stands up and gives them a big bow, thanking them for following his ordinary self into fire and ice, for living and eating together. Thanks to them, he’s lived a fun life. They cheer to the Hong family, and Amogae joyfully drinks away.
Gil-dong helps his father into bed that evening, and his father calls his son, Gil-hyun. That reminds Gil-dong about his lost brother and sister. He insisted to his bandit crew that they continue to search for them, but Eop-san showed him Eorini’s shoe as evidence of her death and revealed that his father wanted to keep this a secret from his hurting son.
Back at his father’s bedside, Gil-dong takes his father’s hand and cries. He thinks back to his father’s plea for Gil-dong to forget his family, fly away to great heights, and live a different life from his father.
Gil-dong falls asleep next to his father, and Amogae dreams of Gil-dong. He asks the shaman in his dream about how Gil-dong can live out his fate. She tells him that Gil-dong will die. If the granted powers are not used for good, the person will die, and Gil-dong is using his powers in the wrong way.
Gil-dong wakes up to his father watching him. Amogae tells his son that they’ll go to meet their mother. Gil-dong nods, unaware of the implications of that request.
Now we’re getting somewhere. There’s no such thing as free lunch, or more fittingly, no such thing as power without consequences. Although I would rather that Gil-dong pave his own path to use his immense strength for good, I like the limitations set on Gil-dong’s strength. There are rules to his existence and limitations on his free will, and these are the consequences of being granted such great power. With great power comes great responsibility, and as cliché as that may be, it holds true for any worthy hero.
This was an incredibly enjoyable episode, but not only because of the successful result. I found the whole trial process to be very well-crafted, keeping me engaged and invested in how Choongwongoon would face the demons of his own creation. I love how sneaky the whole revenge plot was and how Gil-dong was able to manipulate his own identity as a dim footstool servant without revealing all of his cards. He never revealed any ill will towards Choongwongoon; rather, he stuck to his script and crafted a believable response as his footstool character. Only when Gil-dong was free from Choongwongoon’s reach did the pieces come together for the royal pain in the ass. It was genius, cheeky, and cathartic, mirroring his father’s clever manipulation of his trial back in the day.
Perhaps the more tragic element of this revenge was Gil-hyun’s unknowing contribution to Choongwongoon’s exile. The show elevates the tragedy by encouraging Gil-hyun’s role in pursuing this revenge while also changing Gil-hyun’s character. He’s become the king’s favorite scholar, but only through blind loyalty to the throne. His ties to family and justice are being diluted by his involvement in the king’s politics, and I’m sad to see his character become increasingly distant from our bandits. To be fair, he still believes his whole family was obliterated by Choongwongoon’s wrath, but I wonder what will become his new purpose now that the evil royal has been banished. I’m mostly afraid that he’s been uprooted and planted to become a mindless follower of the king. And that loyalty may blind him from noticing his family’s existence.
On the upside, it seems that overcoming this great tragedy has bound our bandits to become more than just blood brothers — they’ve become family. Amogae’s establishment of their family name was heartwarming and so darn cute, with everyone calling each other by their collective family name. In the cruelest fashion, almost every Amogae moment in this episode was happy and seemed to hint at his death. It seems like Amogae is making moves to prepare his family for his passing, but I have an inkling he may not be through with his nine lives quite yet. The show has fooled me many times about Amogae’s death, and I won’t believe a single thing until I see it for myself. Cheers to your remaining lives, Amogae. Don’t ever die.
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 12
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 11
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 10
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 9
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 8
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 7
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 6
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 5
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 4
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 3
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 2
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 1