Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 20
While vigilante justice may be completely warranted in these Sugwidan abuse cases, it is technically illegal, which causes problems for our heroes. More importantly, by ignoring the proper channels for justice, our avengers are flaunting disrespect toward the government, the nation, and by extension, the king. Tragedy strikes as Gil-dong and Yeonsangun’s worlds collide, and although the brothers reunite, misfortune is never too far behind. And by the end, we’re left reeling with emotional whiplash from all the sudden events unfolding.
EPISODE 20 RECAP
Scholar Song briefs Yeonsangun on Hong Chum-ji’s popularity amongst the people—he tells the monarch that the bandit Hong is stealing the hearts of his citizens.
Deputy Governor Eom calls after Gil-hyun, who hurries away. But as soon as they turn the corner, Gil-hyun presses Eom against the wall, still burning with rage for his betrayal of Amogae and his family all those years ago (when they were first separated). In awe and shock that Gil-hyun is still alive, Eom calls up to the sky for Amogae while Gil-hyun tells him never to refer to his father again.
Then, Deputy Governor Eom tells Gil-hyun that Gil-dong is waiting for him, but when he can’t identify Gil-dong’s precise whereabouts, Gil-hyun thinks that Eom is trying to trick him again. Gil-hyun admits his guilt in deceiving his nation and his king and tells Eom that he can blackmail him all he likes, but he can never mention Gil-dong again in front of him.
Gil-dong and the others are still looking for the mysterious Geo-in that were written about in the Heng-rok. They’re in a town passing by Hanyang, and Soboori suggests that Gil-dong visit his wife. Initially, Gil-dong says he doesn’t have to, but with the smallest of urgings by Soboori and Ilchung, he happily runs to Hanyang to see his beloved.
She’s alone in the house, having fun writing her stories about Hong Chum-ji, when she hears a noise from outside. Initially, she’s scared of potential intruders and takes a bat with her outside. After calling into the dark a couple times, she becomes even more frightened, but then she hears Gil-dong’s voice behind her saying “Honey, I’m home,” and she immediately falls into his embrace.
When they’re back inside, she gazes up at him lovingly and tells him how she wanted to ask him so many questions, but now she’s forgotten everything with him right in front of her. She goes to get him some food and tells him to read her storybook while he waits. He tries to protest, but she shoves the book in his hands and leaves. After just one line, his eyes close, and when he sways back awake, he wonders how a book could be this boring. Ha.
Ga-ryung finds him with his head bowed over the book, fast asleep, and she caresses his face and lays him back in a more comfortable position. When he comes to, she tells him to get some more rest, but he tells her he’s interested in doing something more than sleeping as he pulls her waist toward him. Rawr.
When they’re lying together in the bedcovers, Gil-dong explains to her about his journeys so far. He tells her that although he started this journey to find Eorini, sometimes he forgets his purpose, especially when he sees so many injustices happening to people right in front of him. He says that he gets so angry sometimes that he just wants to destroy everything, and in those situations, the magistrates always blame the king and say that they’re acting under his orders.
Frustrated, Gil-dong wants to have a chat with the king to ask if they really are his wishes. Ga-ryung tells him that everything will be all right if he just calms down, helps the people who need it, and concentrates on finding Eorini. Gil-dong wonders if everything will go back to normal if he does.
Gil-hyun is in charge of a task force to find the Hong bandit, and he decides to go to a specific village, Yeongunjae, where Gil-dong and the Avengers have decided to try their luck. On their way, they encounter a group of people who want to dispute a financial claim with their local government office.
But when the men confront the magistrate, he punishes them for going against the government, and one man is beaten to death for being the ringleader. The magistrate looks only minutely inconvenienced by the death, but rumors on the street say that the man who died was sickly already, ergo it wasn’t the magistrate’s fault. This is a patently false rumor operation to remove blame from the magistrate.
Gil-dong and company decide to go to the magistrate and teach him a lesson. After some wrangling, he gets the truth out of the magistrate and the witnesses, who were initially coerced into providing false testimony about the beating and the false illness. Just as the magistrate is about to be punished by Gil-dong, Gil-hyun and his troops arrive at the gates, here to catch the Hong bandit.
It’s decided that Gil-dong will be the distraction while the others escape, and when he runs, Gil-hyun (who didn’t get a good look at his brother’s face) gets everyone to chase him down. However, when Gil-dong runs into a dead end, he turns around and sees that the officer who wants to arrest him is his own brother.
Gil-hyun is shocked to see Gil-dong alive, but when an assistant officer sees Gil-dong and thinks it’s the Hong bandit, Gil-hyun denies it firmly while his brother makes his escape. A while later, after redirecting his troops elsewhere, he goes back to the dead end and calls for Gil-dong. He appears out of nowhere, and they embrace in a heart-wrenching reunion, but they don’t have much time to talk when the police are still in the area looking for Gil-dong.
The assistant officer tattles on Gil-hyun and tells Jeong-hak that he was sure that he saw the bandit, but Gil-hyun let him go. When they’re in front of the king giving their reports, Jeong-hak tells Yeonsangun about Gil-hyun’s defection and effectively plants a seed of doubt about Gil-hyun in the king’s mind. Later, Jeong-hak speaks with Gil-hyun separately to say that he thinks that he’s changed; he’s not the same man who was a loyalist through and through. Park Ha-sung/Gil-hyun says that while he was willing to sell his family to serve the king, he’s not willing to sell his soul, and he asks whether Jeong-hak is still in possession of his.
Gil-hyun, now realizing that Deputy Governor Eom told the truth about Gil-dong, follows him to Ga-ryung’s house where she is praying for her husband’s safety. Eom asks whether he wants to meet his sister-in-law, but Gil-hyun says that he’ll save that for next time. He confirms that Gil-dong was the one who sent Choongwongoon into exile, and on the streets, he collapses down crying that he wasn’t there for his younger brother when he needed it.
The next day, Gil-hyun starts issuing orders to recall all the troops searching for the Hong bandit. That’s when Jo Jeong-hak barges in to state that he is now taking over Gil-hyun’s investigation because the king was disappointed by him. When Gil-hyun tries to protest this change by pleading with Yeonsangun in private, the king just says that while he knows Gil-hyun is loyal, the lack of progress and incompetence at finding the Hong bandit is still a problem.
So Gil-hyun has no choice but to give over his case, and Jeong-hak’s investigation strategy is to plaster posters of the Avengers in all the town squares and to mandate punishment for anyone who willingly does not report their whereabouts. It becomes difficult for any of the Hong brothers to walk around in public, and eventually, Eop-san and Soboori are caught by Mori, who has tailed them.
Gil-dong is stopped at a gate entry point and is recognized by a guard. He’s chased down a public alleyway where Jeong-hak corners him with a battalion of soldiers, but Gil-dong doesn’t even blink an eye as he promises that he’ll keep all their vital organs intact lest their families at home worry. Strength-wise, they’re no match for him, but he’s outnumbered, and he barely escapes when the townspeople come to help block the soldiers.
Ga-ryung hears about this incident through rumors on the street and is alarmed for a second, thinking that Gil-dong was caught, but she continues on with a relieved smile when she learns that he was not. Meanwhile, Yeonsangun makes incognito rounds through his capital’s streets, and his expression turns dark when he hears rumors praising the Hong bandit, who may or may not be the mythical Mighty Child.
At Scholar Song’s meeting, Mistress Jo wants to tell the king about Gil-dong, his father’s criminality, and the possibility of him being a Mighty Child. However, Scholar Song tells her to wait, adding that they should use another strategy to trap Gil-dong. To the king, Scholar Song suggests that they use Gil-dong’s friends in order to get him to willingly walk into prison with his own two feet.
Yeonsangun—who has become more concerned and angered by the positive street talk regarding the Hong Bandit—agrees, and soon all of the Hong brothers and Deputy Governor Eom are captured. Ga-ryung sees a notice on the public board telling Gil-dong to give himself up, and later that night, he comes to visit.
Ga-ryung prepares him a final meal, and he eats it with seemingly oblivious joy. Then she mentions the public notice, and when he tells her that he’s going to turn himself in, she begins crying. She understands his reasoning and his need to go, but she can’t help but worry. Gil-dong wipes away her tears, telling her that he won’t apologize for anything, because he’s going to come back soon with all of the Hong brothers. He kisses her on the forehead one last time and says goodbye.
Gil-hyun is waiting for Gil-dong, having already prepared an escape route to China for him. But his younger brother tells him that he wants to turn himself in, since he already has a plan in mind.
The following day, Jeong-hak reports that he has captured most of the Hong bandit’s crew, but when Yeonsangun asks about their leader, he cannot reply. Right then, Gil-hyun enters and announces that he’s successfully arrested the famous Hong bandit.
The two girls who may be Eorini watch as Gil-dong walks into the palace, one feeling sorry for the bandit and the other getting the sense that he’s familiar to her. They then hurry to Nok-soo’s room where they tell her about the capture of the bandit, and hearing that he may or may not be a Mighty Child, she immediately thinks of Gil-dong. She rushes out to see whether it is the man she fell in love with and confirms with her own eyes that it is the very same Gil-dong.
In the interrogation courtyard, Gil-dong is strapped to a chair, while Yeonsangun himself presides over the proceedings with Gil-hyun by his side. When Gil-hyun commands the Hong bandit to confess everything, Gil-dong just introduces himself, and the king’s eyes narrow.
All right folks, let’s unpack this situation—Gil-dong is now captured in the palace, which is packed full of royal soldiers willing to kill him on Yeonsangun’s command. Choongwongoon, Jeong-hak, and Scholar Song, who all have the ear of the king, want Gil-dong to be punished in the worst way possible while his band of avenging vigilantes are stuck in prison as well. There seems to be no way out, although Gil-dong seems to have an ace up his sleeve. What could it be? Does he turn to Eunuch Kim, who was his main contact point in his moonshining venture to replenish the treasury coffers? Or does he have the dethroned queen’s handwritten letter? Will Nok-soo attempt to save Gil-dong from her current lover, or will she pretend not to know him in order to save herself?
One of the other things I wanted to know was why Yeonsangun is so hung up on the Hong bandit now. Even a couple episodes ago during his conversation with Nok-soo, it almost seemed like he didn’t care whether a random folk hero was going around beating the Sugwidan. Initially, during the start of his reign, he was concerned about the opinion of his court, but after his first purge, it seemed like Yeonsangun stopped caring about anyone else’s thoughts, whether they be noblemen or his common citizens. He even said at one point that it was only himself and his wishes that mattered because he was was chosen divinely as king, while everyone else is equally base in comparison. So I’m not sure why he would suddenly become invested in this case about a commoner thief who poses no threat to his social authority. Perhaps the rumors regarding the divinity of a Mighty Child scared him into thinking that a usurpation might be possible.
Speaking of Mighty Children, what’s going on with Mori? We didn’t see much of him during the episode, but the shaman said that a Mighty Child will die unless he uses his god-given talents for good. Gil-dong has been using his powers for vigilante justice so I’m assuming his life span has been restored to the norm. Since Gil-dong and Mori are on different sides, does this mean that will one of them die? Clearly, Mori is on the wrong side of this social hierarchical power issue, and he’s also a murderer, so shouldn’t the powers have abandoned him by this point? What’s making them return? Is he secretly a double spy (because that would be an awesome plot twist)?
On a different note, Gil-hyun is just a bundle of contradictions that I don’t understand. At his core, he loves his family, so when Gil-dong showed up, he immediately changed his priorities so that his brother came first. He even lied to the king and tried to help his brother escape punishment. However, just a few episodes ago, he had a fanatical bent when it came to blind loyalty to Yeonsangun, only now he’s revised his position 180 degrees and rarely is seen with his mentor Scholar Song—although, to be fair, they haven’t really had a direct conflict with each other yet.
At least Jeong-hak had a reason to change his position and suddenly become best buddies with Choongwongoon over their shared hatred of Gil-dong and his father. I’m almost at a point where I feel like I should stop trying to understand Gil-hyun as a character and accept that he’s just a convenient plot device. I wish he had met up with Ga-ryung when he had the opportunity to do so before Gil-dong’s arrest, because then they could have become a team to help our hero break out of prison. Mostly because I appreciate when dramas have side characters making important contributions so that it’s not just the lone hero always seeming to carry the entire weight of the world’s fate on his shoulders.
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 19
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 18
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 17
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 16
- Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 15
- 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