Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 29
A powerful final battle looms in the penultimate episode of our hero’s epic, and it’s time for everyone to pick sides. Gil-dong politically maneuvers his enemies and allies, forcing everyone to choose between a manic ruler or the rebellious people. And with the rumor of the king’s defeat resonating in the villages and the palace, it seems that the rebels may stand a chance at becoming the true pulse of the nation.
EPISODE 29 RECAP
We see a montage of the previous episode’s epic battle and hear the passionate cries of the people who won their fight against the king. After their victory, the wounded rebels return to Hyangjumok, and Gil-hyun comes with a special guest for Eorini. It’s Ok-ran, along with the other palace musicians, and Eorini embraces her friend with a warm hug.
Gil-hyun finds Gil-dong sitting by an unconscious Ga-ryung, and he soon falls unconscious as well. Gil-hyun rushes to his side and finds a pool of blood forming from Gil-dong’s unattended injuries.
Our other Hong Bandits are injured as well, but they’re conscious and alive. Yonggae’s heart skips a beat when one of Eorini’s fellow palace musicians gets too close to treat him; Soboori whines like a child when Deputy Governor Eom tries to treat his wounds; and Ilchung, Keutsae, and Eop-san revel in their near-death experience before proceeding to roughhouse on the ground like brothers.
The rumor of Hyangjumok’s victory spreads to another village, and the rumors become more believable with talk of the Hong General being on the side of Hyangjumok’s people. A merchant tells his friend about how Hyangjumok has become a haven for people who wish to escape the tyrannical rule of the king, but at the price of many casualties and injuries. But the friend wishes that he could live freely for once and fight like the people of Hyangjumok. The merchant hushes his friend, but not before Scholar Song overhears this unsettling conversation.
At the palace, the ministers gather to discuss the unnerving sight they witnessed as well as the chilling song of the rebels. One of the ministers, Park Won-jong (who would later become the prime minister of the next ruler, King Jungjong), does not share the same anxious sentiment and sits in silence.
The king squirms in his sleep as he dreams about the rebels rushing to kill him. He jolts awake from his nightmare and calls Eunuch Kim to tell him about his vivid dream about the defeat and of how he escaped by disguising himself as a commoner. He says that it almost felt real, and at this point, it’s clear to Eunuch Kim that the king is in denial of what has happened.
Nok-soo enters the room and assures Yeonsangun that everything in his dream was not real. She sits next to him and places his head on her lap, coaxing him back to sleep. As he falls asleep, Nok-soo sheds a tear, sympathizing with his denial.
Later that night, Nok-soo wakes up after nodding off to find that Yeonsangun has disappeared. She finds him outside and cautiously approaches him. He turns to her and says that everything was not just a dream. Once he verbalizes his realization, he begins to convulse with anger, then desperation, then fury. As he falls down with overwhelming emotion, Nok-soo watches him with tears welling up in her eyes.
Jeong-hak and Madam Jo kneel in front of a minister who sentences Jeong-hak to his punishment — for not fulfilling his duty, the punishment is death. But thanks to the previous contributions of his mother, his life will be spared. Instead, he says, mother and son will serve as the king’s slaves.
Madam Jo’s face falls, and she refuses to be dragged away. She tells the minister to kill her instead and cries that she’s worked all her life to make her son a judge. Finally, she cries so hard with indignation that she falls unconscious.
Yeonsangun demands for more soldiers to be sent to Hyangjumok to destroy them completely, but the ministers remain silent. Minister Park Won-jong steps up and agrees to follow the king’s demand before requesting some time to feed the horses.
Afterward, the ministers meet to discuss their next course of action. Even though Hyangjumok has been severely affected by the battle, the ministers don’t believe that sending more of the king’s soldiers will destroy the village because of Gil-dong. As long as Gil-dong is there, the spirit of the people stays alive.
Speaking of, Gil-dong wakes up from his unconscious state next to Ga-ryung. He turns to face her and gently holds her hand as he asks why she’s sleeping for so long — is it because she hates him? He says that she doesn’t need to forgive him, but he begs for her to wake up. Gil-dong cries as he holds her hand close, and Ga-ryung’s body remains still. But then, her finger twitches. (Yes! The dramaland signal of life!)
The shaman leads the ladies through the woods and instructs them to gather as many nourishing plants as possible. As Ok-ran starts to search further away, Eorini warns her not to go too far, and she nods. But of course, Ok-ran goes a little too far, and she finds an abandoned shed. She cautiously enters the shabby structure and gasps when she sees an injured person in the corner. It’s Mori — very weak and injured, but alive!
Eorini looks around for her friend and calls out for her. Ok-ran thankfully returns in one piece and pretends that nothing is wrong. Hmm, so she just left him there to die?
A tear falls on Gil-dong’s hand, and he slowly opens his eyes. He looks up and finds Ga-ryung tearfully looking at him. He gets up and says, “If this is a dream, let’s not wake up. Let’s live in this dream forever. If we’ve died, let’s stay here.” But Ga-ryug confirms that it’s really her by bringing his hand to her face. He feels her physically there, and all the floodgates open up. They embrace longingly, crying in each other’s arms.
Ga-ryung returns to her Hong family with Gil-dong at her side, and they all welcome back their talkative sister. She spots the palace musicians in the room then, and Wolhamae looks relieved to see her alive and well.
They all gather to discuss the future of the palace musicians: Eorini and the other musician, Baek-gyun, decide to stay with the rebels, but Wolhamae asks to return to the palace. The palace musicians try to dissuade her, but she explains she left her daenggi friend (her instrument) there. But more importantly, Nok-soo is in the palace alone.
Upon hearing the news of Wolhamae’s return to the palace, Nok-soo urgently searches for her. She barely holds in her tears as she approaches Wolhamae and takes her hand. She cries and admits that she thought she’d never see her again. Wolhamae says that she wouldn’t leave Nok-soo alone, and they smile happily in reunion.
Jeong-hak serves as a slave at the palace, and the ministers uncomfortably face their new slave as he helps them take off their boots. Inside, Minister Park updates that king that the horses are almost ready to leave, since the king is determined to uproot and incinerate the whole village.
The Hyangjumok villagers receive news of the king’s deployment of more troops, and Gil-hyun confirms that their temporary haven will eventually face another battle as long as Hyanjumok remains labeled as a rebel village by the king. A woman asks how they can change their label, and no one seems to have a solution. But Gil-dong speaks up with a radical suggestion: “We don’t need to change the king’s mind. We just need to change the king.” Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Gil-dong explains that the people of Hyangjumok initially had no intention of becoming rebels, but the king labeled them a rebel village anyway and sent troops to destroy them. If they leave this king in his place, he will surely seek retaliation for his defeat. “So, we must choose. We must choose to become real rebels. That is the way for Hyangjumok to live. Let’s get rid of the king.”
The villagers nod in agreement, and Ga-ryung watches the people from afar, proudly realizing that her husband is not exclusively her person anymore. As she walks away, Gil-dong catches up to her from behind and asks what’s on her mind, and she says that she’s just impressed that her husband is confronting the king. He knows there’s more and nudges her to continue, so she admits that she’s also scared, and Gil-dong embraces her. He tells her not to worry, promising her that they won’t separate again.
Yeonsangun anxiously paces in his room with a bottle of liquor in his hand. He continues to take swigs from the bottle, trying to get the voices out of his head, but to no avail. He hears the voices from the battle and the echoing song of the rebels, and he covers his ears in desperation. When Eunuch Kim enters the room with Scholar Song, the king throws the bottle at him and walks out with a sword in hand.
Outside his room, Yeonsangun wildly swings his sword at his hallucinations. Eunuch Kim is joined by Scholar Song and Nok-soo, who watch the king’s derailment with some fear. Then, Scholar Song falls to his knees in front of the king and reminds him that he’s the great enforcer of social elitism. Scholar Song urges him not to fear, for the king is the person who is widely feared by the socially inferior. For a moment, the king believes him, but then he remembers that there are exceptions because there are people who refuse to fear him, which means that his power is limited.
And so the king’s hallucinations return, and he swings his sword in the air. He hears the voices again and trembles with his ears covered until Nok-soo wraps him in hanbok. Under her hanbok, the king doesn’t hear the voices and looks like a child at ease under his mother’s protection. With that, Nok-soo asks Scholar Song to leave for the day.
When Scholar Song returns to his home, he expresses his disappointment about how a meager village could ruin his life’s work in making the useless king into a powerful politician. He decides that he needs someone to save the situation, and we see that he chooses Minister Park.
The rumors about Hyangjumok have reached far and wide, and the king’s reputation has become increasingly weaker. Gil-hyun predicts that one of the king’s ministers will soon approach them about partnering up, and he’s right. An arrow with a message arrives at the Hyangjumok gates, and Gil-hyun identifies their potential partner as Pyungsunggoon, aka Minister Park. He seems more confident in Minister Park because he was once punished for sticking to his values and because his sister was rumored to have been punished by the king.
Minister Park prepares to meet with Gil-dong, and we see in a quick flashback that Scholar Song requested that he help their cause for the king. Scholar Song nervously watches this interaction from above as the rebels arrive at their rendezvous location. In their meeting, Minister Park warns the rebels about more troops headed their way — while they may have defeated the king’s forces once, it will be difficult a second time. He makes an offer: They can send those who killed the most soldiers for punishment and then flee Joseon with the rest of the people.
But Gil-dong doesn’t accept the offer and responds with a greater warning about the king being destroyed first. Ilchung confirms that the rumors about Hyangjumok have spread throughout the nation, and people believe that their unfair treatment can be avenged. When the people come for the king, those supporting the king will go down with him. Gil-hyun says that those who have made it this far — by accusing their colleagues, by flattering the king — will suffer the same punishment from the people.
Gil-dong tells Minster Park that the only way for him to survive is to bring down the king. At that, Minister Park takes out his sword, but Gil-dong’s two rebels take out their swords in defense. Gil-dong pushes the blade aside and tells Minister Park to think about whether he wants to live or die. From above, Scholar Song scowls at Gil-dong’s audacity.
Back at the palace, the ministers fret about the former generals and ministers who have escaped exile. Upon hearing about Hyangjumok, it seems that these runaways have found the courage to escape and face the king. If they were to get revenge, the minters worry that they will likely get back at them, since they scapegoated their colleagues to remain in power.
Minister Park urges the ministers to report this to the king, but the other ministers have already given up on finding him. After the Hyangjumok incident, the king has hidden himself away deep in the palace, nowhere to be found. Still, Minister Park is determined to find the king.
They first search the entertainment theater, where a group of dancers is performing, but the ministers only find Nok-soo seated to watch the performance. Then, one of the performers takes off his mask, revealing himself to be the king. Yeonsangun happily asks the ministers to join him in the dance, and Minister Park realizes at this moment that Yeonsangun can no longer be the king.
Later that night, Minister Park seeks the advice of Scholar Song, who already suspects that his life’s work will soon be overthrown. He tells Minister Park that there are two routes of overthrowing the king: fail and face the death of their entire families, or succeed with the support of the people and remain as the people’s hero. If they can pull off a coup, then this is a feasible feat — but this all depends on Gil-dong, who holds the key to people’s sentiment. Minister Park must officially confirm Gil-dong’s support for the possibility of a coup.
Minister Park meets with Gil-dong again, this time to request his support. Gil-dong assures him that the people will stand behind the coup, but he warns him not to forget where their power will come from. He threateningly says that they’ll be watching.
Minister Park gathers his fellow ministers and begins to organize the coup. They’re driven by the possibility of honor and merit as public servants, but they’re mostly propelled by their survival instincts — if they don’t overthrow the king first, then the people will surely kill them.
After a dance performance on his own, the king takes of his mask and orders Eunuch Kim to prepare for a banquet. But in a split second, he decides the cancel the feast because the weather isn’t good. Suddenly in a depressed mood, Yeonsangun sits on the ground, and Nok-soo joins him. He says that he’s in a mood and that he feels no excitement, and he looks like he’s slowly losing his soul.
An arrow with a message hits a pillar in the palace, and one servant reads the message that warns the palace of a coup coming to overthrow the king. The servants frantically escape, jumping over the palace walls to save themselves from the rebel attack. Eunuch Kim swings his sword at his fellow servants and orders them to defend the king, but their fear overwhelms any remaining loyalty. Seeing their desperation to live, Eunuch Kim lets them run.
He walks back into the palace and faces Nok-soo, with Wolhamae at her side. She comments that the palace feels especially empty today, and Eunuch Kim assures her that they will return after chasing the rat who infiltrated the palace. Nok-soo tears up, reading between his lies and understanding what’s ahead. She asks Eunuch Kim to prepare a big feast and accompany the king while she prepares for their final celebration.
Eunuch Kim wakes the king up and announces a great banquet prepared by Nok-soo. He gets up and notices that no other servants are around, but Eunuch Kim says that he’ll prepare the king himself for the special occasion. As Eunuch Kim cleans Yeonsangun up, he nostalgically comments on the king’s younger days, when he served the king as proxy for the nation. Yeonsangun nods lifelessly.
The king enters his entertainment quarters to find the whole room empty. He asks where his musicians have gone, and Nok-soo gently lowers him to sit down. She assures him that he still has her and Wolhamae, but he still looks confused. Wolhamae offers her performance and prefaces it with a word of gratitude to the king for collecting Joseon’s best musicians and for allowing her to live in their company. Then, she thanks Nok-soo and plays her instrument. She sings her final song, and the king watches with blank eyes.
Minister Park prepares for the coup at the gates of the palace, and he remembers the warning from Scholar Song that Gil-dong must promise the support of the people in order for the coup to be successful. The ministers get anxious about the people who have yet to show up, but then a roaring crowd arrives. They yell in rebellion for a new king, and Minister Park’s eyes fill with determination.
As promised, Gil-dong and the Hong Bandits watch the people gather and prepare to overthrow the king from afar. Minister Park yells to initiate their invasion, and they begin their revolution, all under the careful watch of the wielder of the people’s spirit.
The palace is in chaos as the servants try to run away for their lives, but Jeong-hak turns around toward the palace gates. He opens the gates for Minister Park and tells him the king’s location. With that, Minister Park enters the palace with a flood of people charging in. Off to the side, Gil-dong and the Hong Bandits watch with satisfaction, and Gil-hyun looks especially pleased with Jeong-hak’s reversal.
Minister Park approaches the entertainment quarters, and comes face to face with Eunuch Kim. He requests that the king face an honorable death, but Eunuch Kim only clutches his sword with a pained look on his face.
From inside, Yeonsangun hears the screams from outside and wonders what’s happening. Nok-soo takes his hand, reminding him that he is the king and urging him to remain bold. His eyes widen in slow realization, and Nok-soo stops Eunuch Kim from relaying the message until Wolhamae finishes her song. Eunuch Kim struggles to say the words and gets to his knees to deliver the heartbreaking message requesting that the king die an honorable death.
Minister Park and his forces enter the entertainment quarters, and Nok-soo watches them approach with a tearful and knowing look. Yeonsangun looks at them with a renewed fire in his eyes, finally awake from his lifeless slumber.
These last couple episodes have really been nailing it with the emotional and epic beats, and I’m so content. It’s been extremely gratifying to watch our baddies receive rightful punishment in an ultimate twist of irony. Seeing Madam Jo be condemned into a life as a slave was a great finish to her story arc, proving once again that karma’s a bitch. And I do find Jeong-hak’s reversal in the end gratifying as well, because he also unintentionally became a part of the rebel movement. It’s a cheeky way to end the wretched fate between our Hong family and the Jo family, and I like the closure I got from seeing them suffer.
I notice that I’ve turned into a bit of a sadistic creature with this show, and I blame the king for all of that. It’s been amazing to watch the chilling performance put on by Kim Ji-suk as the insufferable King Yeonsangun, and I would say that he was at his best in this episode as he smoothly portrayed his fluctuating personas. At times a child, at times a madman, at times a bloodthirsty king, he played Yeonsangun with such rich emotion and a palpable desperation for power. Watching Yeonsangun slowly being engulfed by his own demons was a sight, and Kim Ji-suk has done an incredible job in making that sight both pitiful and enjoyable.
I really loved how Nok-soo’s relationship with Wolhamae was highlighted in this episode, though I wish we had more of it earlier. There was so much exchanged in a single glance when Wolhamae prepared to perform her final performance. I think it would have made me more sympathetic towards Nok-soo, who I lost interest in about halfway through the show, if we had seen more of this relationship sooner. She stopped being the complex character that I first learned to love, and she simplified herself and objectified herself as a subject of the king’s desires. Though she remained stubbornly proud through this episode, I think she redeemed herself a little bit by showing us that her true vulnerabilities lie with the people she loves.
I knew that Ga-ryung would come back to life because there was no way Gil-dong would be able to continue being the beating heart of the revolution without her — his heart would be so broken that it couldn’t fuel such a movement. But even though it was expected, the reunion between the lovers was so heartwarming. Yoon Kyun-sang and Chae Soo-bing acted with an emotional intimacy that filled the tender moment of their reunion with so much heart and emotion. Once again, I’m so impressed with these two, and I look forward to seeing them in more sageuks. Because after this performance, how could they not be cast in another sageuk?
I thought that last week’s episode drained me of all the chills and tears, but I still got the chills and honestly got emotional when the people gathered to rebel. And I really appreciate that Gil-dong isn’t the leader the movement most of all. He’s strong physically, but his strength as a mover of the people is what makes him the Mighty Child. I love that the show committed to that calling instead of resorting to his immense power to solve all issues. Gil-dong is the heart of the people, and that’s so much more powerful that the mysterious strength he was born with. I have so many words for this show, but ultimately, I just loved it. It was an incredible ride, and these avengers brightened my weeks with their charm, wit, and camaraderie. Thank you, show, for being a good one. Here’s hoping for a great finale.
- Pre-emptions in store for Chicago Typewriter, Rebel, Tunnel, Whisper
- 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