Mr. Sunshine: Episode 19
Our villains prompt some tragic yet necessary sacrifices to impel the forces that seek to protect Joseon. The scattered pieces of the rebellion begin to unite under tragedy, and they’re learning that it’s not mere passion that will fuel their battle to success. The precarious nature of Ae-shin’s nobility seems to shake her world, but her suppressed passion and anger will soon infiltrate her enemies’ world in the only way she knows how.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Dong-mae confronts Ae-shin in public and swiftly cuts off her braid. Enraged by Dong-mae’s vile act, Ae-shin takes a sword from his belt and sets it on his neck. Tears brimming his eyes, Dong-mae says her mercy — saving his life when he was a young butcher’s son — kindled a false hope, and that false hope is what sliced her hair. Ae-shin warns him not to underestimate her, saying that if she were to relive that moment, she would still save him but would kill him immediately if she ever saw him again.
Ae-shin tells Dong-mae to put aside his worries and simply see her as a noblewoman spoiled in luxuries. A hand gently guides Ae-shin’s sword away from Dong-mae’s neck, and we see that it’s Hina. She intervenes and tells Dong-mae that his black bird must keep trying to fly, alluding to his cryptic confession that he shot a black bird so that it couldn’t fly anymore. Hina advises Ae-shin not to draw any more attention and guides her away from the crowd. Glaring at Dong-mae, Ae-shin grabs her braid from his hands and follows Hina.
Hina uses Eugene’s handkerchief to tie Ae-shin’s hair and says that it belongs to Ae-shin. Disparaging Ae-shin’s devastation over her hair, Hina doubts that Ae-shin could save Joseon if she can’t handle her hair being cut off. She chides Ae-shin for choosing to hold a gun instead of more delicate things, since her gun is putting three other men in danger. Hina asserts that Joseon will inevitably fall into Japan’s hands and that Ae-shin’s involvement won’t change the outcome.
Ae-shin says that everyone lives in different worlds, with different priorities. She says, “In my world, Joseon, my family, the hair my parents gave me are all precious. I don’t know what world you’ve lived in, but I’m doing my best in my world, so don’t be so derogatory towards me.” Damn, that’s how you stand your ground.
At the hotel, Takashi confronts Eugene about the music box he found in Ae-shin’s room. He knows that it belongs to Eugene, and although Eugene plays dumb, he can see through his awkward act. Fortunately, Eugene is saved by the Japanese interpreter relaying the message from Ae-shin that she didn’t lose anything when her room was searched. Eugene misleads Takashi by saying that the music box must have been stolen from him during one of the many times his room had been searched. This clears Eugene from suspicion for now, but Takashi doesn’t seem completely convinced.
Soomi finds Eugene in his hotel room and discloses the secret she had been keeping with Ae-shin. She reveals that Ae-shin had been repaying a debt to Dong-mae as her proxy, and Dong-mae just cut off Ae-shin’s hair. Eugene sighs in stoic anger and assures Soomi that he’ll address this.
Ae-soon hears about Ae-shin’s haircut from the bakery, and she runs to Grandfather to tattletale about Ae-shin not properly respecting the body that her parents gave her. Grandfather find Ae-soon’s childish tattling unacceptable and goes straight to the source to handle this scandal.
When Eugene arrives at Hwawollu, he sees Grandfather beating Dong-mae with a broom. Grandfather threatens to show Dong-mae the wrath of a noble against a butcher if he gets near Ae-shin again, and Dong-mae silently takes the beating. After Grandfather leaves, Eugene enters and asks why Dong-mae would dare to cut Ae-shin’s hair. Dong-mae reveals that Wan-ik is trailing Ae-shin, and Eugene decides to restrain his aggression and call it even. But it’s Dong-mae’s unlucky day — Hee-sung runs in and immediately throws a punch at him.
Hina sits on the steps with a cigarette and wonders who will be the saddest: dongji (“Comrade” aka Eugene), dongmu(“Friend” aka Hee-sung), or Dong-mae. Hee-sung throws a couple more punches at Dong-mae, letting out his anger while Dong-mae takes the beating once again. Eugene leaves with a helpless look.
Grandfather comes into Ae-shin’s room and pulls away the handkerchief to reveal her shorter hair. Ae-shin apologizes, but Grandfather unexpectedly doesn’t scold her. He expresses relief that she didn’t come home like her mother and father, that she came home alive. Grandfather doesn’t speak any further, and Ae-shin cries in regret.
As Wan-ik contemplates the identity of the rebels he killed in Japan, Duk-moon informs him that the telegram from the Japan police has yet to arrive. Wan-ik doesn’t seem bothered by this, and he assumes that the telegram has been intercepted by another party because it shouldn’t take this long. With the help of Duk-moon, he recalls the name that Ae-shin’s mother revealed before she died: Go Sang-wan, Ae-shin’s father. He finally pieces together the relationships and realizes that Ae-shin is the daughter of the rebels he murdered.
When Hee-sung returns to the hotel, he finds Wan-ik and his father waving him down to join them. Hina has also been summoned and threatens her father to just drink his coffee before she brews him a new (poisoned) cup. She tries to avoid the meeting, but Hee-sung asks her to stay, since he’s in a foul mood. Hina and Hee-sung grudgingly sit by their parents as they hint at a potential marriage between the two and imply a bribe to secure Hee-sung a job with a Japanese railroad company.
As Wan-ik leaves, Hina warns him not to visit again, lest she serve him lethal coffee. Wan-ik suggests that she serve her remaining poison to Takashi and instructs her not to meet Ae-shin anymore, since he killed her parents. He leaves nonchalantly, and Hina hyperventilates at this news. Eugene finds Hina in this shocked state, and she quickly recovers her composure to greet him. He asks for a favor — that she “accidentally” switch keys to let him into Takashi’s room. She offers him the master key and comments that her hotel seems to be broken into often these days.
Eugene quickly searches through Takashi’s room and finds the music box in a drawer. Under the music box, he finds a list of names for a Joseon mob. As he reads the list, he recognizes the names: Go Sa-hong, Hwang Eun-san, Lee Jung-moon, Jang Seung-gu. The room bell rings to warn Eugene of Takashi’s arrival, and Eugene leaves just as Takashi keys into his room.
When Takashi enters his room, he senses something off and immediately checks his drawer with the music box and hit list. He looks reassured that both items are still in place, but he runs downstairs, still suspicious. When Takashi gets to the lobby, Eugene enters and makes casual small talk before heading to his room. Takashi doesn’t remembers seeing Eugene on his way back to the hotel and asks Hina what road Eugene takes, but she gives him the obvious useless answer of the front road or back road.
Dong-mae looks longingly at Ae-shin’s hair ribbon, but his brooding is interrupted by urgent news about Takashi at his dojo. Yujo informs Dong-mae that Takashi, an aristocrat Japanese soldier, seems to be seeking control of Jingogae’s (the neighborhood Dong-mae controls) commercial rights, and his presence drove out the Joseon people from the area. Yujo also warns Dong-mae about speaking Korean in front of Takashi, since he understands the language, and Dong-mae sneers about this curious nuisance.
At the dojo, Dong-mae introduces himself to Takashi and comments on how Takashi caused the disorder in Jingogae. Takashi says that the rejection of Japanese currency in a Japanese colony is unacceptable, but Dong-mae informs him that these Japanese banknotes have no value in Joseon. Takashi takes offense to being taught by Dong-mae and belittles him for his butcher origins. Dong-mae warns Takashi not to interfere in his district, saying that he hates two things: aristocrats and soldiers.
Takashi boasts that as the top official among the Japanese forces, trying to gain control of Dong-mae through fear and authority. But Dong-mae clarifies that he’s loyal to the Musin Society, not Japan, and degrades his aristocrat soldier status. Takashi pulls his gun, but Dong-mae immediately disarms him by flipping him to the ground. Takashi tries to reach for his gun again, but Dong-mae warns him that he could see his end if he picks up that gun. As Dong-mae walks out, he requests that Takashi take off his boots when he walks out, since his gang cleans the floors every day.
The innkeeper shoots an arrow to warn Eun-san about the hitlist Eugene found. As Eun-san’s apprentice releases the boat down the river, Eun-san remembers Eugene’s earnest wishes to keep Ae-shin alive and to let Eun-san live a long life. He departs with his assistant, and Eugene suggests that the innkeeper also escape. But the innkeeper remains loyal to her post to minimize suspicion of Eun-san’s escape. Plus, she’s waiting for someone (Seung-gu), and she worries about his recent absence. Before she leaves, she thanks Eugene for his assistance.
Wan-ik senses someone following him, and he uses his cane to throw his pursuer on the ground. He demands to know why he’s being followed, the man (one of Joon-young’s friends) admits that he’s seeking revenge for the innocent lives Wan-ik slaughtered seven years ago. Wan-ik laughs that Takashi was right about the lineage of Righteous Army members, and he seems glad that he found a lad to manipulate. He crouches down next to the cowering pursuer and asks how many more are after him.
Hina delivers a coat from the tailor to Hee-sung’s room, and he invites her inside, since they did go on an arranged date with each other. Hee-sung jokingly asks if she would accept his proposal, and Hina doubts she would accept a proposal from a man who’s tailored a coat for another woman. Hee-sung claims that the coat is just for a friend, and he wonders what Hina knows. She thinks about Wan-ik’s confession that he killed Ae-shin’s parents, and she says that she may know too much.
Ae-shin practices with her gun in a shed and recalls Eugene’s lessons as she goes through the motions. She sees a red pinwheel perched at the wall of her house from Eugene, who rides away on his horse. He comes back around and comments on her short hair. She asks if she’s more handsome, and Eugene acknowledges this. She says that she was hoping for another comment, one that starts with the letter ‘B.’ He says that he missed her (which in romanized Korean, starts with the letter ‘B’ – bogoshipda), but that’s not what Ae-shin was hoping for. A servant calls for her, and they reluctantly part with a wave.
It’s a rainy night, and Eugene catches Joon-young red-handed as he tries to open the gun storage shed. Eugene had been waiting for Joon-young, knowing that he would show up some time between the end of training and curfew, likely on a rainy night. He knows that Joon-young practiced at night to improve his shooting accuracy and gain access to the storage key, which was the initial intention for the forged documents. Eugene calls Joon-young’s plan foolish, since they don’t even know the real actor they’re targeting, but Joon-young demands that Eugene stay out of his way.
Eugene obliges and throws him the keys to unlock the gun storage, but he follows Joon-young, claiming that he’s headed in the same direction. Joon-young sees his friend at the other side of the tunnel, but Eugene stops him before he proceeds further. Eugene notices the tilt in the friend’s shoulder and presumes that his arm has been broken. Joon-young doesn’t believe him and tries to approach his friend, but the friend yells a warning to stay away because Wan-ik found them out.
A gun shot pierces the self-sacrificing friend, and Eugene pulls away a shocked Joon-young to bring him to his senses. He tells Joon-young that his friend just risked his life to save them, so he can’t just run out without a plan. He demands that Joon-young act like a solider and says that they need to save his other friends first. They run off to gather the other friends while the shot friend lays crumbled with a fatal wound to the chest.
Joon-young falls to the ground as his other comrades join him, and they wonder why Eugene is with him. They ask about the gunshot and their missing friend, and they deduce what happened based on Joon-young’s sobbing. Eugene tells the young rebels that they’ll lose something precious if they act solely on passion. He advises them to build their skills before pursuing revenge, and he gives them a choice: run away or find a way to survive there. The young friends mourn the loss of their friend as the storm rages on.
Wan-ik pokes at the dead rebel with his cane and regrets not being able to discover the young lad’s scheme. He resorts to his last option and tells Duk-moon to prepare a meeting with the head of the railroad company. He also asks Duk-moon to bring a map, since they’ll need to plan accordingly for the looming war between Russia and Japan. Wan-ik says that he plans on sabotaging Nobleman Go for this endeavor, and he forces Duk-moon to decide where his loyalties lie.
The next morning, Wan-ik enters Nobleman Go’s home with a mob of men carrying hammers. He redraws the railroad route on the spot, and railroad company head announces that Nobleman Go’s home must be relinquished to the government for the construction of this railroad. Nobleman Go rejects Wan-ik’s irreverent demands, but Wan-ik motions for the mob to destroy the home. Nobleman Go grasps his chest and seems to feel the pain with each blow to his home.
Ae-shin runs to Grandfather, and Aunt braces him as he weakly endures the pain of his crumbling home. Wan-ik collects his men and warns Grandfather to clear the land before he visits again to completely demolish his home. Ae-shin sharpens her gaze at Wan-ik, and Grandfather weakly instructs his servants to hold Ae-shin back and lock her up. She demands to be let free, but she’s pulled away and saved from her own impulses.
Grandfather gathers all his servants and distributes his land to all of them. He’s chosen plots of land that won’t stand in the way of the railroad, and he frees his servants from their service to his family. He asks that they promise to never sell their land to the Japanese, to defend the land of Joseon by passing it on to their offspring. The servants agree to the promise and mourn Grandfather’s surrender.
Duk-moon hits Ae-soon repeatedly for refusing to salvage any wealth from Grandfather and says that he only kept her in hopes of receiving some of Grandfather’s inheritance. Grandfather walks in on this scene and reprimands Duk-moon for using his fists against a woman. After witnessing this beating, Grandfather refuses to leave Ae-soon in Duk-moon’s household and drags her out. Duk-moon watches them leave with a grimace and thanks Grandfather for making his decision for him.
The mole servant from Grandfather’s household meets with Dong-mae to deliver another piece of intel. He regrets that he’s been kicked out of the household, since all the current servants just received a plot of land. He delivers a paper that he found when the Japanese soldiers searched Grandfather’s room — it’s a receipt of funds that Grandfather gave to the military. The mole assures Dong-mae that this is exclusive information, and Dong-mae presumes that the reason the mole was sent to him was to keep the mole’s mouth shut. With that, Dong-mae’s lackeys kills the mole.
Outside, our main servant watches this slaughter and meets eyes with Dong-mae. He remembers Eugene’s instruction to release the mole as soon as he’s discovered, since another person will take care of keeping the mole’s mouth shut. Looks like that prophecy came true.
Dong-mae and Eugene both meet with Grandfather, who pleads for their assistance. Grandfather offers Dong-mae plots of land and asks that he protect Ae-shin. Turning to Eugene, Grandfather reminds him that they both don’t want Joseon to lose and requests that he kill Takashi. Dong-mae asks why he’s asked to protect while Eugene’s asked to kill. Grandfather responds that Dong-mae will protect through thick and thin, and Eugene will kill with perfection. He says that’s the difference between one who will enter by jumping the wall (Dong-mae) and one who will enter through the door (Eugene).
Eugene asks why Grandfather requests the assassination of Takashi and not Wan-ik. Grandfather explains that it would be harmless if Wan-ik died in the hands of the Joseon people, but if Takashi died in the hands of the Joseon people, it would be justification for invasion. Hence the reason that Grandfather is asking Eugene, an American soldier, to carry the responsibility for Takashi’s death. Eugene calls Grandfather cruel, and Grandfather accepts this, saying that he intends to be the black bird in Eugene’s sky.
Observing the collapsed wall of the house, Dong-mae tells Eugene that Grandfather succeeded in keeping both of them away from Ae-shin by making one protect and one kill. Eugene looks at the debris and the fallen red pinwheel, and in a voice over he says, “It didn’t matter who would be the saddest. Although we were all walking our separate paths in life, we would reach the same destination. Since we loved her, we wished that she would survive, and thus, none of our ends would be a happy ending.” As we hear those words, we see Ae-shin sitting alone, locked in the storage shed.
The next day, Aunt enters Grandfather’s quarters to wake him, but his body remains still and an envelope with his will lies on the table. She cries for Grandfather, and we hear his will for a small wake but abundant food. He asks that they accept all who wish to visit with condolences, since everyone has contributed to his life. Ae-shin’s maid unlocks the storage shed and can barely put together words through her weeps. Ae-shin walks out and finds the servants in front of Grandfather’s quarters, mourning his passing.
Ae-shin tries to leave the wake, but her maid stands in her way. Ae-shin doesn’t try to struggle past her and remembers her Grandfather from the previous day. Grandfather opened the storage shed and told Ae-shin that the shed would remain locked until next day, knowing that she would try to get her hands on a gun that night. Since her father wasn’t this rebellious, he could only guess that she took after her mother. He handed Ae-shin a picture of her parents to keep, and he asked that she forgive him for his angry curse telling her to die when she refused to follow his orders. He pleaded that she stay alive. Remembering his plea at the wake, Ae-shin crumbles into tears.
Eugene sees the funeral as he rides by on his horse, and he takes off his hat to honor Grandfather. He sees Wan-ik and Duk-moon arrive, but the enemy’s arrival is overshadowed by the emperor’s grand entrance to pay his respects to Grandfather. Wan-ik eyes widen when he sees Emperor Gojong bow at Grandfather’s memorial, and he denounces the emperor’s deference to this old man, saying that this is humiliating for Joseon.
The emperor takes Seung-gu’s whip and hits Wan-ik across the face. He dismisses Wan-ik of any position in the royal court, and Wan-ik looks shocked at the emperor’s sudden reversal. Wan-ik raises his cane in rage, and Seung-gu knocks him down. He presses the cane on Wan-ik’s neck, and when Wan-ik vows to kill him, Seung-gu responds that he’s been waiting.
The funeral procession makes its way through the village, but they’re intercepted by Wan-ik and his mob. The mobsters beat the loyal servants, and Aunt cries in devastation while the sadist Wan-ik rejoices in the suffering of innocent men. Eugene walks through the rubble of Ae-shin’s home, and we hear the news that all of Ae-shin’s family scattered to their relatives’ homes, but Ae-shin disappeared that day.
At the hotel, Domi tells his older sister, Soomi, that Eugene has been gloomy recently, and Soomi presumes that it’s because of Ae-shin. Hina joins them and asks about their serious conversation. Soomi shares that their discussion of the atrocious offenses of Wan-ik against Nobleman Go. Sensing their indignance, Hina asks if Wan-ik is an evil person, even through their young eyes. Domi confirms this and says that many people are plotting revenge. Hina excuses them with a smile, but she can’t seem to hide her sorrow once they leave. She fails to light her cigarette and tries to stifle her cries of resentment.
Takashi praises Wan-ik’s successful riddance of Nobleman Go and asks about the whereabouts of Ae-shin. Wan-ik pitches his plan to trap her when she stops by to honor the ritual 49 days since passing and requests some forces to back him up in this trap. Takashi agrees to this plan and says that he’ll take care of the others.
A man holds the innkeeper at gunpoint and demands that she lead him to Eun-san’s kiln. She remains calm and tells him the price to escort him down the river. The innkeeper rows the boat at gunpoint and suddenly stops to tell the threatening man that this is the deepest point in the river. She rattles the boat, and they both go overboard.
The innkeeper climbs back onto the dock from the river with a knife in her hand, but she’s met with another threat: Takashi. She stands frozen at the end of the dock as Takashi approaches her, and he shoots her without hesitation. She falls into the river, and Takashi immediately regrets killing her because he needed information from her. But he doesn’t take the murder too seriously and instructs his soldiers to retrieve the body so that they can utilize it to get the answers they want.
Dong-mae tells his gang to stay behind while he visits the temple at Jemulpo, but they’re interrupted by larger gang walking toward them. Dong-mae recognizes the leader and immediately falls to his knees to greet his mentor, who calls Dong-mae his son.
The trolley comes to a halt when a body hangs in front of it from above, and we see that it’s the innkeeper’s corpse hung by a rope. Perched on the bridge, Takashi watches the Joseon people gather in fright, and he comments on how he’s getting a bird’s eye view of Joseon’s powerless history.
Kyle informs Eugene about the corpse that Japanese forces hung from the bridge and says that he recognized her as the innkeeper. Eugene immediately heads toward the hanging corpse with Kyle, and we also see Seung-gu racing on horseback. Eugene arrives at the site first, and Takashi welcomes Eugene as the first person to respond.
At the Jemulpo temple, Aunt and Hee-sung along with the relatives pay respects to Grandfather on the ritual 49th day. As they leave the temple, they’re met with an army of Japanese soldiers, and Hee-sung approaches them with his charming smile. They demand for Ae-shin, and Hee-sung translates to the family that they’re asking for someone they shouldn’t be looking for. Hee-sung says that he’ll signal for them to flee, but a relative’s fear gets the best of him. When the relative tries to run away, a Japanese soldier shoots him dead and the massacre commences.
Hee-sung helplessly hides behind a rock while the Japanese soldiers chase the relatives and shoot them one by one. It’s terrifying, but Servant stands his ground and swats away the soldiers with a mere broom. Attempting to help, Hee-sung tries to wrangle a gun out of a soldier’s hand. We see the first Japanese soldier fall next to him, but that’s not enough to keep the others away. Hee-sung finally takes the gun, knocks the soldier unconscious, and runs to help defend the family.
Inside the temple, the monks resort to their stash of guns (!!) as they prepare to defend their people. Aunt takes a bow and expertly shoots the enemy forces, and the maid uses a rock to hit the soldier that’s wrestling her fellow servant. She notices a solider aiming for Aunt, and she throws a rock at him to defend her. Aunt shoots the soldier, but only a second after the soldier shoots his gun and hits the maid.
Aunt looks shocked, and the servant crawls to her side. A soldier tries to attack him, but Hee-sung shoots the soldier dead. Hee-sung looks absolutely rattled by the bloodshed, and Aunt screams at him in warning of soldiers rampaging towards him. Hee-sung turns around to find three soldiers coming straight for him. OH SHIT.
The massacre continues to devastate the family, and Hee-sung breathes heavily as he accepts his fate. We see the image of his newspaper sign, the one flower that was on his path, and we hear the gunshot as Hee-sung drops his gun in surrender. But the three soldiers fall, along with multiple other Japanese soldiers, who drop dead in the hands of Eun-san. And he’s not alone – he’s joined by multiple other guerrilla Righteous Army fighters who shoot at the Japanese soldiers.
Hee-sung opens his eyes and turns to look at the roof, where a black-clothed figure in a hat shoots a gun from above. It’s Ae-shin, of course, and she expertly shoots at the enemy. He looks at her with the most solemn look, and she seems to pause in recognition of him.
Yes!!!! At last, we’re seeing some real action, real consequences, and real revenge. I must admit that while I was thirsty for this battle, I was a bit overwhelmed when it actually happened. Maybe it’s because this show made me wait forever for this and decided that whiplash would make the best impact, so it let me saunter around the exposition and a distracting zebra for too long that I forgot that this show promised me something more epic. But I digress — I’m putting that behind me for now so that I can savor some good moments from this episode.
This episode felt like a tribute to Grandfather, but I’m all about it because he really stole the spotlight with his wisdom and patience. He did seem hypocritical throughout the episode as he was trying to make amends and ensure Ae-shin’s safety, but I’m willing to overlook that because it was clear that everything he did was for good. I got chills when Grandfather distributed his land to his servants, which transferred the power of Joseon to the people. With the looming Japanese invasion, it seems that the people of Joseon are the only ones that can really endure that pressure. I think these are the moments that I’ve been really waiting for because there’s something incredibly powerful about trusting the fate of your nation in the hands of the most humble — in all sense of the word — humans.
Grandfather entrusting Dong-mae and Eugene with protection and assassination, respectively, was cruel and hypocritical, but he really had no other choice. I’m actually a fan of Grandfather’s last wishes for these two because Dong-mae and Ae-shin are my favorite tragic pairing and because Takashi is a monster that needs to be stopped. He makes my skin crawl, and I will be happy to see him exterminated once his work in this plot is done. Eugene’s voiceover after his meeting with Grandfather was a bit unsettling as it foreshadowed Ae-shin’s death but also interesting because it implied that the three men would survive her to experience her death. I never doubted that Ae-shin would die, and I still think she’ll die, but I did think maybe one of the dudes would die with her. Do any of them die with or before her? Maybe they all survive her for the sake of the bromance? And then they all go to the U.S. where they spot a zebra on a lawn? Where did that come from? I don’t know — you tell me, show.
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