Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 17
For a while, our bandits were simple men who protected their own, but as rumors begin to spread, they end up becoming greater protectors of the people. As they build a reputation, the enemy becomes clearer. We learn more about their agenda and the process that transformed the weak and vengeful into powerful enemies, and those same enemies may end up giving our Avengers a run for their money.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
“Footstool,” calls Choongwongoon, and Gil-dong turns around to find his enemy regrettably alive and well. Behind Choongwongoon, Mori steps into view, and we see in a flashback that he vowed to make Gil-dong regret keeping him alive.
The bandits are shocked and disgusted at the sight of Choongwongoon, who claims that he’s a new person now. Keeping his composure, Choongwongoon calmly threatens to change Gil-dong into a new person as well. As he leaves, Gil-dong greets Mori, who gives him a sinister smile before following his new master.
Ga-ryung awaits Gil-dong’s return and wanders outside her home in anticipation. Mori trails her, and just as he follows her into a neighboring home, she comes out carrying a rock, ready to fight as she demands to know why he’s following her. She recognizes him as Heotaehak’s former minion, and she warns him not to touch her orabeoni. He doesn’t take her seriously, though he finds her attitude to be quite unusual. She has more fighting words, but she drops them and the rock when she sees Gil-dong arriving with his entourage.
She follows them into the house, but they ignore her and solemnly walk into the room. Eop-san explains that they have something important to discuss but doesn’t disclose any details, so no one hears her when she shares that she just saw Mori.
Ilchung reports that Choongwongoon had been released from exile about half a year ago and has been roaming from village to village assuming the role of a scholar. We see Choongwongoon educating the villagers about the duty of scholars to educate the people. He’s viewed as an upright scholar by the people, but Gil-dong knows better as he laughs and says that people don’t change easily.
That night, Gil-dong and Segul locate Choongwongoon’s home, and they’re surprised to see that the former royal now lives in very humble home. Gil-dong announces his entrance and tries to provoke Choongwongoon by giving him taffy (eating “yeot” symbolizes a big fat middle finger), but the man has changed. Choongwongoon keeps his cool and vows to see Gil-dong kneel in front of him. Gil-dong disparages his words and leaves, pulling Choongwongoon’s wrapped temper at the seams.
After the meeting with Choongwongoon, the bandits are relieved to hear that the former royal doesn’t seem to know about Gil-dong’s involvement to get revenge for the people. Soboori warns everyone to watch their mouths and tells Ilchung to be more selective with the pleas they accept. But Gil-dong is more curious about Choongwongoon’s transformation. He presumes that he couldn’t have done it on his own, so someone must be behind him.
Choongwongoon asks Scholar Song to meet with Gil-dong to witness the wickedness for himself. Taking the suggestion, Scholar Song walks through the village marketplace and purposely bumps his shoulder with Gil-dong, who immediately apologizes to the scholar. Scholar Song gives him a long look before going on this way, but he sends a spy to observe Gil-dong during his gibang job. He comes up empty, and Scholar Song is convinced that Gil-dong is just an innocent gibang worker.
Choongwongoon insists that there’s more to Gil-dong, but Scholar Song reminds him that he’s a respected scholar with an honorable reputation now. If he starts to make accusations that he was framed, he’ll be perceived as a corrupt royal once more. Scholar Song asks him to be patient and help him with an important issue, and he will return the favor. Choongwongoon asks what the important issue is, and Scholar Song responds: “There’s a big thief in our nation.”
Scholar Song tells Jeong-hak about the big thief, who’s rumored to severely injure anyone he meets. In tracking down this thief, Scholar Song has found that all the people associated with the thief have been interrogated about a murder case. He warns Jeong-hak that these thieves aren’t your typical gangsters and may have a grander scheme against Joseon. He challenges his student to make his teacher proud.
Jeong-hak starts his investigation with the interrogated nobles. With Scholar Song listening secretly behind the bookshelf, Jeong-hak asks each suspect about their encounter with a thief. They all describe the thief differently: one was big, one was small, and one had very angry eyes, sharp enough to pierce someone. For further investigation, Jeong-hak brings in a villager and asks about the rumors surrounding this mysterious thief, and the villager explains that by asking for the “Great Elder,” one can resolve unfair treatment that the nation can’t even solve.
One of the elderly interrogated nobles, Kim Deok-hyung, returns to the gibang and insists on meeting Gil-dong. He warns Gil-dong about the reinvestigation by the judge and promises to keep the secret of the Great Elder. He thanks Gil-dong profusely for resolving his daughter’s murder, which was committed by his son-in-law. He says that he’s come to meet the Great Elder one last time and claims that he will feel no regret if he dies now.
At night, Gil-dong dreams about his father and the shaman, who both warn him about his menacing fate. He wakes up in cold sweat, since these dreams seem to forewarn him about something.
Gil-dong decides that he’ll save Kim Deok-hyung from jail, but Soboori and Ilchung seem reluctant. He reminds them that they have connections with the king, and he plans on creating a headpiece gift for Nok-soo, who he’s heard is favored by the king.
Gil-hyun returns from his travels outside the palace and brings with him grim news about the sudden disappearances of entire families. But before he can show the king a map of the disappeared families, Nok-soo enters the king’s quarters. The king tells Gil-hyun to rest from his travels, turning his attention to Nok-soo instead.
As Gil-hyun looks over the maps of the disappeared families, he’s called over by Jeong-hak, who tells him about the troubles with the thief. He explains how there have been unresolved murder cases about a man killing his wife, with the man being released without punishment. Gil-hyun finds a problem with those morals, but Jeong-hak doesn’t find an issue with them. He’s more troubled that these laws differ from village to village and claims that a man punishing his wife is moral by his standards.
Before Gil-hyun can argue, Jeong-hak spots his mother from afar. She turns around and calls out to him as Soo-hak, and suddenly, Gil-hyun realizes who he’s befriended. He recognizes Madam Jo and Soo-hak’s names, and the childhood memories begin to return.
In his room, Jeong-hak belittles the elderly man, Kim Deok-hyung, and compares him to the slaves in his childhood. He criticizes them for not knowing their place, and Gil-hyun can no longer take the disgusting elitism in the room. He runs out and begins to throw up, thinking back to all the painful memories of his family.
Meanwhile, Gil-dong approves of the headpiece for Nok-soo and continues to think about methods to release Kim Deok-hyung, who claimed in the trial that he injured his son-in-law for killing his daughter. But because of his age, no one is likely to believe those claims.
Ga-ryung interrupts his thoughts and worriedly mentions rumors about the man who supposedly killed his wife. At first, Gil-dong assumes that Ga-ryung wants him to stay out of the case, but she unexpectedly asks him to get involved and help the wife’s father. From what she’s heard, the husband spread untrue rumors about the wife’s jealousy and adultery to justify his murder. That gives Gil-dong an idea, and he thanks Ga-ryung before discussing his plans with the clan.
Gil-dong reasons that they cannot verify the accusations about adultery with the dead wife, but they have a similar case they can connect this with: the late dethroned queen, who was also the king’s mother. Gil-dong says that if they can properly frame this case as one mirroring the dethroned queen’s death, then they can evoke sympathy from the king.
When Gil-dong delivers the headpiece to Eunuch Kim, he asks for a favor. So in the evening, the king is escorted to the gibang to supposedly listen to the beautiful voice of a musician. But that’s not all he hears: In the next room, Yonggae, Ilchung, and Segul read from a script about the woman who was killed by her husband.
They compare this murder to the murder of the dethroned queen in graphic detail, which effectively enrages the king. They go on to announce their assumption that a murder of a wife by the husband is justified by the former king’s actions. Brimming with anger, the king barges into the room only to leave in silent rage.
Eunuch Kim stays behind to confront Gil-dong about this unacceptable conversation about the queen. He begins the conversation with a flying kick (woah), and he expresses his discontent with the manipulative conversation. Gil-dong explains that the conversation about the dethroned queen was a vehicle to show how unjust the laws are. Even a lowly person like him can see that a husband murdering his wife is a punishable deed, and he trusts that the king knows this as well.
The palace maids clean the musician troupe’s room, and one of the palace maids says that she hopes to make a lot of money to help her mother. The other maid admits that she’s an orphan, and so we’ve identified older Eorini (Jung Da-bin). The palace maid friend picks up Wolhamae’s instrument and begins to strum it, but she’s soon scolded by Wolhamae for playing the instrument without permission. Nok-soo looks unconcerned, and she even asks the ladies if they want to learn.
Wolhamae’s scolding is cut short by Eunuch Kim, who requests her comical story services to uplift the king’s mood. But she must avoid the word “mother,” since the king is mourning and yearning for his mother.
The king does get a few laughs out of Wolhamae’s comical taboo story game, and she later reveals to Nok-soo that she was nervous about her performance. She explains that the king’s dampened moods are because of his mother, and Nok-soo enters the room to attempt to console him.
Nok-soo is gentle with the fragile king and begins by pouring him a cup of alcohol. She begins to sing, but her song has everything to do with longing for one’s mother. He turns to her as she sings the sorrowful song, and he begins to tear up.
They look at each other with sad eyes as she finishes her song, and the kings tells her that he will no longer wait for her heart. He pulls her into an impassioned kiss, and the night fades to black.
The next morning, the king asks the ministers about the case of the man murdering his wife. The minsters claim that in accordance with the law, death that results from a man’s punishment for his adulterous wife is legal. Another minister adds that scholars have also agreed that this deed is right.
Choongwongoon also lectures in the village that a woman must follow her father before she is married, her husband when she is married, and then her son when her husband dies. As he continues to draw crowds, Scholar Song talks to another scholar and identifies Choongwongoon as his biggest hope. He seems determined to show the king who really establishes the law of the nation.
Back at the palace, Yeonsangun asks if there are any other opinions on the case, and Gil-hyun voices his stance. He says that there is no way to verify the wife’s adultery after she dies, so it is unfair to make such accusations to justify a deed. He pleads for the king to reveal the true reason for the wife’s death so that these murders do not continue.
Yeonsangun orders for the father, Kim Deok-hyung, to be released, and also for the husband to be interrogated again for his crimes. He also orders the dismissal of Jeong-hak from his position as a judge, and the ministers agree to the order.
As Choongwongoon continues to proclaim his beliefs to the villagers, a group of ministers from the palace urgently pass by to relay the order. Jeong-hak is currently punishing the father Kim Deok-hyung with beatings when the ministers arrive with the order to release Kim Deok-hyung and to recapture the husband for a thorough interrogation about the murder of his wife. Jeong-hak is then dismissed from his position, and Magistrate Eom is subsequently promoted to the role of the judge.
Kim Deok-hyung is released from the interrogation, and Gil-dong waits at the entrance to greet the innocent man. Kim Deok-hyung bows to Gil-dong in gratitude, and he returns the bow with a warm smile. Magistrate Eom, now Judge Eom, tells the dismissed Jeong-hak that he intends to stop all investigations into the thieves. When Jeong-hak objects, Judge Eom kicks him as a means of petty payback.
Judge Eom runs to the gibang bearing the good news of his promotion and asks to see Gil-dong. Unfortunately, Scholar Song’s spy also witnesses this good news and reports it. Scholar Song is now convinced that Gil-dong is the Great Elder who is behind all the “theft” in the village.
Jeong-hak expresses his regret for his inability to prove his worth to Scholar Song, but he refuses to continue investigating the thieves. After he storms out, Scholar Song asks Madam Jo to repeat her story in relation to Gil-dong. She claims that Gil-dong is the bane of her existence, and he adds that he’s the thief that Jeong-hak gave up on investigating. He provokes her by asking if Jeong-hak has no intention to avenge his father’s death.
Madam Jo demands that her son follow Scholar Song’s orders. He refuses, so she erupts with anger and tells him the truth about his father’s death. She wanted to keep this a secret out of embarrassment, but she reveals to Jeong-hak that his father died in the hands of their slave, Amogae. And she reveals that Amogae’s son, Gil-dong, is the wretched thief that Jeong-hak was chasing.
Shocked at this information, Jeong-hak runs out of the room and writhes with anger, remembering his childhood enemy. He falls to his knees and begins to yell in indignation. That night, he watches Gil-dong at the Hwalbin gibang from afar. Before he leaves, he overhears Soboori and Keutsae talking about Gil-dong ignoring Eorini’s memorial day.
Following his mother’s wishes and his now-vengeful spirit, Jeong-hak formally thanks Choongwongoon for avenging his father’s death and promises to drag Gil-dong to face the mercy of Choongwongoon. Outside, Jeong-hak confides with Mori about Gil-dong, and he learns that his sister’s death is his greatest regret.
The assembled crew visits Scholar Song, and Jeong-hak proposes an alternative method to capturing Gil-dong, since they will not be able to influence the court with Judge Eom in power. He states that Gil-dong’s greatest regret is losing his sister, Eorini. That sparks a memory for Scholar Song’s spy, and we see that he had captured and saved her. In a quick flashback, young Eorini tells the spy: “My name is Eorini. Please help me meet my orabeoni.”
I found this episode illuminating, in that it revealed who our real enemies are. The king is not quite our enemy (or at least not yet), since he’s actually just a puppet playing to the whims of those who manipulate him. Our real enemies are those who know how to influence the people and king with their power, which this episode identified as Scholar Song & Co. With our enemies now assembled, I’m curious to know what exactly Scholar Song has planned. He seems to be intricately planning something that Gil-dong does unintentionally, by influencing the people with his power. But the motivations for his actions are still opaque, and I wonder if he is conducting his own version of revenge through his assembly of vengeful humans. He seems to want more than Choongwongoon and Madam Jo, so I want more backstory on him. Who the hell is he?
I do love all the plotting and scheming, which I think brings this show to life. It enriches the historical and political setting with hijinks and intrigue, and I thoroughly enjoyed how our bandits manipulated the king’s sympathy to get their intended result. The juxtaposition of the bandit’s comical performance next door to the king’s legitimate indignation was a wonderfully crafted scene, and scenes like these continue to prove how cheeky and clever this show actually is. Sometimes, it’s like two dramas happening simultaneously, with the king ever so serious and our bandits ever so frantic as they juggle their multiple identities.
We’re getting warmer to the inevitable reveal of Nok-soo’s identity, and I’m not too worried about our ex-couple as I am about the king’s response. He does seem very attracted but also attached to Nok-soo, and after this episode’s beautiful and sorrowful serenade by Nok-soo, he’s a goner. But outside of her love life, I want Nok-soo to be her own person and mentor our palace maids into becoming strong women. We’ve seen how Eorini admired Nok-soo from afar, and I hope that Nok-soo takes the ladies under her wing.
Speaking of Eorini, what an interesting reveal at the end. I had almost forgotten about the mystery behind Eorini’s survival, but I’m more intrigued to know why she was saved than how she was saved. I’d like a greater reason for her existence, since she’s been used as more of a plot device thus far. She’s Gil-dong’s one regret, one motivator, and his Achilles heel. She’s really compelling as bait for Gil-dong, but I wish I could see her more as a person, since she’s made it this far alive. Simply revealing which palace maid was Eorini is not enough for me. I can only hope that she’s as fierce and strong as Ga-ryung, who can fend off mortal enemies with her colorful hanbok and a pointy rock.
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 16
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- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 14
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 13
- 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