My Country: The New Age: Episode 6
Our star-crossed heroes maintain a healthy distrust as they continue working together, one to save his loved ones and the other to save himself. Their plans are getting more dangerous as they grow closer to their target, increasing the danger with every step. When something goes wrong, one of them is forced to act fast or else they’ll lose everything they’ve worked towards for years.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Hwi goes with the hired assassins and storms Ihwaru, intending to kill Grand General Jung on Bang-won’s orders. Hwi finishes the job, but on his way out, Hee-jae sees him and grabs his hand. Hwi looks ashamed of the blood on his hands and face, but Hee-jae tells him that she still misses him and dreams about him.
Hwi says that he’s never dreamed of her because it was all he could do to survive, so he erased her from his mind. He starts to leave, but he pauses when Hee-jae says to his back, “Thank you for being alive.” Hiding his own tears, Hwi leaves without another word.
Sun-ho has alerted King Taejo to the plan to kill Grand General Jung, claiming that it was his own plan on the king’s behalf to let his enemies know he’s not to be messed with. He asks for full authority and access to anywhere he needs to go, and he’ll make sure King Taejo has no need to miss or fear Bang-won.
King Taejo asks Sun-ho what his opinion is on letting the officials keep their private armies. Sun-ho just says he’ll take care of it, and a tiny smirk crosses King Taejo’s face.
Except for Hwi, all of the assassins were killed at Ihwaru. Hee-jae refuses to call the authorities, saying that they’ll try to blame Ihwaru for helping the assassins. She promises Lady Seo that she’ll make sure there’s no trace left of what happened here.
Hee-jae goes back to her vigil at Hwa-wol’s bedside, and Hwa-wol finally wakes and asks if she’s glad she finally saw Hwi alive. Hee-jae says that it looked like hell was engraved all over Hwi’s body, and she could hear every one of his scars screaming. She says that the look in his eyes broke her heart more than his words did.
On his way out of the throne room, Sun-ho passes Lord Nam and tells him that audiences with the king are over for the day. Lord Nam has guessed that Sun-ho told King Taejo something he hid from him, such as Bang-won’s weakness, and he accuses Sun-ho of overstepping his rank. Sun-ho just says he’ll accept the consequences of his own actions.
Later, Sung-rok informs Sun-ho that Grand General Jung was killed at Ihwaru, and that of the assassins, only Hwi came out alive. Sun-ho stifles his emotional response, but he can’t hide his worry when he hears that Hee-jae was there. He runs to Hee-jae’s home and arrives just as she’s returning.
She tells Sun-ho that she saw Hwi, angry that he’s known all this time that Hwi was alive. Sun-ho says that Hwi was purposely avoiding her, and that he and Hwi are no longer friends. Hee-jae growls that Sun-ho has become just like his father, and from the look on Sun-ho’s face, her observation stings.
Bang-won learns that Grand General Jung is dead and that the assassins didn’t leave Ihwaru alive, as planned. His man asks if they can trust Ihwaru’s silence, and Bang-won says that thousands of plans have been made at Ihwaru that nobody knows about.
At the same time, Hee-jae talks to Lady Seo about the need to discover who had Grand General Jung killed so they can prepare for their next move. Lady Seo says it can only be one of two people… Lord Nam, who would never hire lowborn swordsmen, or Bang-won. She tells Hee-jae to stay out of it or risk her own and Hwi’s safety, but Hee-jae says that it’s because of Hwi that she needs to step in.
Lady Seo warns Hee-jae to be wary — that Bang-won will be named crown prince, but that Bang-won will take the throne. Bang-won approaches them just then, bringing Lady Seo a gift of medicine for her cough, and he asks Hee-jae to talk with him. Over tea, Bang-won says that he always knew when his father had returned from a battle because he constantly reeked of blood.
He says that Ihwaru smells that way right now, and he tells Hee-jae that he sent the assassins to kill Grand General Jung. She asks if they work for him, since they looked like roughnecks, and Bang-won says that he’ll just kill them if they cause trouble. Lady Seo objects to him carrying out his assassination at Ihwaru, but he says it will keep happening.
He makes it clear that it will cost Lady Seo her life if she causes him any problems, but she says she hasn’t long to live, anyway, and Bang-won guesses pointedly that someone will have to take over after she dies.
Hee-jae tells Bang-won that she could have killed him back when they were on the run together, and his smile fades as she says that she’ll probably get another chance. He offers her a job spying for him as long as she continues working for Queen Sindeok and being Sun-ho’s friend, and extends her permission to kill him any time she wishes.
Hee-jae asks what happens if she declines. Bang-won glares, but then he grins and says they’ll see, if and when that happens.
At his hideout, Hwi tears down the picture of Grand General Jung now that he’s been eliminated. He covers his target wall just as Sun-ho arrives to discuss the next step in their plans. Their next target is Bang-won’s arsenal, so he tells Hwi to get work as a guard, move up to the elite squad, then approach Bang-won. Hwi sighs that he’ll grow old and die before that happens, but Sun-ho says that, as suspicious as Bang-won is, it’s the only way.
The hear a noise, and Hwi goes outside to aim an arrow at the intruder. It’s just Hee-jae, but Hwi quickly puts out her lantern and pulls her away from the cabin. He asks why she’s here, and she says he should be asking how she found him, since if she found him, so can Bang-won.
Hwi tells her to leave and stay away, but she says he can’t stop her. He implies that he’ll kill her if she doesn’t leave, and even draws his bow when she moves closer. But Hee-jae sees the cloth tied to the bow, the one she tied onto his forehead years ago, and she knows he was lying when he said he forgot her.
Hwi turns away, but Hee-jae rushes over and backhugs him, and she promises, “I will protect you from now on. I won’t lose you again.” Hwi says he’d have to die to enter the world she lives in, and she lets go.
She tells him to forget the girl who used to put up posters, and says that she won’t step in without his permission and that in front of Bang-won, they’ll be strangers. She leaves, and Hwi turns to watch her go.
They don’t see Sun-ho watching them, looking a little broken himself. He goes back to town to drink himself senseless, pretending to be fine but remembering the day he revealed his feelings for Hee-jae, when she’d told him that her heart was already taken.
On his way home, Sun-ho runs into two noblemen who taunt him for being Lord Nam’s illegitimate son. Sun-ho says that none of them chose their parents, so they should be glad they were lucky. One of them plays the “it was just a joke” card, but Sun-ho says that the next time they meet, he’ll ruin the hand the man is using to point at him.
Yeon is waiting up when Sun-ho finally staggers home, and she catches him when he stumbles. He gently pushes her hand away and tells her not to wait for him anymore. He says it makes him uncomfortable, though he tells Yeon that she did nothing wrong.
The next day, Hwi goes alone to see Ganggae, who marvels that he’s alive after Grand General Jung’s assassination. Ganggae sets his men on Hwi, who ignores them and shoots an arrow into Ganggae’s shoulder, then takes three of the men down by firing three arrows at once.
Just as he’s about to be overwhelmed, Chi-do, Moon-bok, and Jung Beom show up, having guessed that Hwi wasn’t going hunting as he claimed. While they fight, Ganggae runs off, but Hwi stops Chi-do from following since he might need Ganggae later.
Elsewhere, Sun-ho leads some men to the home of the young nobleman who insulted him. They fight the noble’s men then Sun-ho slashes him, and the noble screams about his father’s influence. Sun-ho sneers that he once invoked his father’s name to gain advantage, and now it’s the thing he regrets the most.
He slams his sword through the nobleman’s hand, just as he promised. He invites him to report him if he likes, but that he’ll end up dead.
Hwi was very careful not to kill any of Ganggae’s men, only wound them, and he tells them to leave or he will kill them next time. Hwi’s friend want to know what he was doing, so he leads them to the forge that the men were guarding and tells them to sell the weapons.
Chi-do asks who they belong to, and Hwi tries to lie, but he eventually admits that they’re Bang-won’s. At his friends’ horrified reactions, he says there are more dangerous plans in the works, so they should go their separate ways. Chi-do gets angry, and the guys insist that Hwi tell them everything.
So Hwi takes them to his hideout and shows them his plans. He explains that Cheonga and Tae-ryong each manage a third of Bang-won’s army, with only the best serving directly under Bang-won himself. Cheonga’s group protect Bang-won’s home, and Tae-ryong’s men are the ones they just defeated.
His friends correctly guess that Hwi is being forced to do this to protect Yeon, and they tell Hwi that they consider her their sister, too. They don’t hesitate to swear to help Hwi, who gratefully accepts.
Ganggae, meanwhile, reports to Cheonga that someone has raided both the gambling house and the forge, but that the armory is still safe. Cheonga is furious, having given control of those places to Ganggae in exchange for kickbacks, and Ganggae frantically promises to take them back.
We flash back to the night that Hwi’s father, Seo Geom, saved Hee-jae from the assassins that killed her mother. He’d sent one assassin back to his master with a message: “If he ever hurts this little girl, he’ll answer to me.” But another assassin had also survived that night — Ganggae, who still blames Seo Geom for the way he’s been treated since that day.
Lady Seo learns that Hee-jae found Hwi, and Hee-jae vows never to lose him again. She wants to be assigned to watch him, promising Lady Seo twenty percent of the Ming tributes sent this year in exchange. Lady Seo allows it on one condition — that she hears the deal from the queen herself.
Hwi meets with Sun-ho at a library and tells him about the weapons at the forge. Sun-ho says he’ll take over from here and instructs Hwi to wait for his next assignment, reminding him to follow directions carefully or their plans could crumble.
Hwa-wol comes to the pharmacy looking for medicine for her head wound and runs into Moon-bok, who instantly falls head-over-heels for her. He’s so awkwardly sweet, asking her name and fussing over what he considers a sloppy job treating her wound so far.
He gives her some medicine, then gets busted by the real doctor for pretending to be one. Hwa-wol asks if Moon-bok also has salt, and when he hands it over, she tosses a handful in his face, hee. But she takes his medicine, and as she stomps off, he calls out his name to her.
Later, Hwi and Chi-do leave together, and Moon-bok sends some new medicine with them that causes numbness. As they walk, Hwi tells Chi-do that he’s going to use Bang-won to get rid of Lord Nam, and he asks Chi-do not to get involved if something goes wrong and it looks like Hwi may get killed. Chi-do refuses at first, but Hwi threatens to go alone, so he reluctantly promises.
Sun-ho has begun disbanding private armies, so Bang-won tells Tae-ryong to recruit any men who have been let go. He says that when his father is the only one left with an army, he’ll need his personal army even more, to turn the tables on the king.
Sun-ho attends a dinner with the royal family and the advisers, who don’t look happy about it. Little Bang-seok asks Queen Sindeok who he is, and she says that Sun-ho is the man who will protect him. King Taejo lists Sun-ho’s accomplishments during the war, so that his advisers know why a man of his low rank was invited to join them.
The dinner is crashed by Bang-won, and Queen Sindeok hisses to Bang-seok not to cower from him. Bang-won says that he also accomplished brave acts during the war, including protecting the queen and princes. He addresses Bang-seok as “crown prince,” causing Queen Sindeok to snap at him for jumping the gun, but Bang-won speaks directly to Bang-seok and tells him not to forget his brother after he’s on the throne.
King Taejo invites Bang-won to take Grand General Jung’s empty seat, “Since you’re the one who made it that way.” Bang-won kneels and insists on taking the lowliest seat, infuriating the king even further. Sun-ho stands unprompted and states that the private armies are causing unrest and requests that they all be abolished.
Bang-won points out that it was King Taejo’s private army that founded the new nation, but Sun-ho argues that the only reason for a private army is for an uprising. Bang-won bellows as if the idea is offensive to him, but Sun-ho only sneers that he must have guessed Bang-won’s plans.
Bang-won says that they need armies because they’re still under attack from the Japanese and the northern barbarians, but Sun-ho calmly retorts that the nation will handle them. One of the advisers objects to Sun-ho questioning Bang-won’s loyalty and asks the king to reconsider abolishing private armies, and the others join him.
In private, King Taejo asks Sun-ho why he interrupted him. Sun-ho says that Bang-won came to be belittled by his father and make the ministers pity him, but King Taejo notes that Bang-won still got the best of them both. He warns Sun-ho not to cut him off again or it will cost his head.
Lord Nam waits for Sun-ho and guesses that the king is getting old or he wouldn’t still be alive. But he tells Sun-ho that he was right, because his interruption drew the ministers’ anger to him and away from the king, and that the king knows this.
He advises that targeting higher-ups is the way to advance. He points out that Bang-won is feared because he’s killed high-ranking officials, and Sun-ho asks what side Lord Nam will be on when he targets Bang-won.
While out game hunting, Bang-won spots a wolf and impulsively goes after it. His arrow hits its target, and moments later, a second arrow strikes the wolf. Bang-won turns to see Hwi, who arrogantly refuses to kneel and complains that Bang-won’s shot to the wolf’s body ruined its pelt.
Looking amused, Bang-won tells Hwi that it’s illegal for peasants to hunt in this forest. Hwi says that tigers and wolves have been sneaking out of the forest to kill villagers, so he’s just protecting the people. Bang-won bellows at him, then laughs when Hwi doesn’t even flinch.
He introduces himself, and Hwi pretends to be intimidated and stammers his own name. Bang-won offers Hwi a job, but Hwi declines, saying that he prefers not to be subservient to anyone. His comment is blatantly offensive to Bang-won’s men, so Tae-ryong and Cheonga dismount to fight him.
Hwi asks for a sword and Bang-won tosses down his own, and Hwi manages to hold off Cheonga’s double sickle weapons. As they fight, Cheonga snarls that he knows Hwi invaded the forge. Hwi throws him off, and as Cheonga charges again, an arrow strikes him in the chest.
More arrows rain down on Bang-won’s men, so Bang-won reins his horse towards the archer with Hwi hot on his heels. It’s only Chi-do, but Hwi pretends to be on Bang-won’s side and starts firing back. He looks worried when Bang-won continues chasing Chi-do, but they soon lose their target, and Bang-won is impressed by Hwi’s skills.
Hwi returns to skin his wolf while Bang-won asks how he got through his several layers of guards, but Hwi says he was already in the forest. He declines Bang-won’s offers to repay him for his help today, so Bang-won says instead, “Beg for your life.”
His men beat Hwi, wrap him in a straw mat, and drag him behind one of their horses. Chi-do watches, and he aims an arrow at Bang-won as he rides away, but he doesn’t take the shot.
While Bang-won and his men hunt, Sun-ho plans to attack his arsenal. Sung-rok brings him the news that something went wrong and Bang-won has taken Hwi captive, so the raid is postponed. Sung-rok tells Sun-ho to cut Hwi loose since he won’t survive this, but Sun-ho says that’s his call to make.
Hwi is tossed at Bang-won’s feet in his courtyard. He finds it suspicious that Hwi was able to fight Cheonga so skillfully that neither of them was injured, but Hwi just says with a bloody grin that many coincidences add up to fate.
Not trusting that they ran into each other by coincidence, Bang-won asks Hwi who he is and who sent him, but Hwi sticks to his story that he’s just a hunter who happened to be in the forest. Still suspicious, Bang-won puts his sword to Hwi’s throat and asks him one last time who he is. Hwi just stares at him, so Bang-won raises his sword and says they must not be fated.
He brings the sword down, stopping just before slicing Hwi’s head off, but Hwi still doesn’t move. They’re distracted by Sun-ho’s arrival, but Sun-ho says he’s not here for Bang-won. He draws his own sword and approaches Hwi, but Bang-won steps between them.
I really love they way My Country doles out just enough information to advance the story, but the characters’ true motivations and plans are kept slightly murky, giving every interaction between them a heightened feel of suspense and deliciously shivery anticipation. We know, for example, that Sun-ho and Hwi are working together, and that deep down they still care for each other. But their friendship is broken and they each have more pressing concerns than a long-lost childhood connection, so they treat each other with only enough trust to accomplish their plans and no more. Because of that, the audience is kept in suspense as to the larger scope of their scheme, and whether they even truly have the same goals. The only thing I’m sure of is that at some point, Sun-ho and Hwi’s purposes will diverge, and they’ll find their tenuous partnership split up for good.
And then there’s Hee-jae, who is beginning to make plans of her own. I can’t really bring myself to feel sorry for Sun-ho when it comes to Hee-jae, exactly, though I do feel bad that he’s stuck in the position he’s in with her. He’s known from the beginning that Hee-jae doesn’t love him and never will, so it’s not like he’s been holding out much hope, and he’s aware that the things he does to keep her and Yeon safe will alienate both Hee-jae and Hwi. He’s made a conscious choice to forfeit their friendship in favor of saving their lives, so I’ve never felt the usual second-lead-syndrome for Sun-ho that breaks my heart because he truly believed that he could win the girl. Sun-ho has always known he would never win the girl, and although that’s the sacrifice he chose, it still stings.
Honestly, Hwi is really no better than Sun-ho when it comes to being distressingly, destructively self-sacrificing. This episode made me glad all over again that he’s got friends with some sense, because without Chi-do, Moon-bok, and Jung Beom, Hwi would have gotten himself killed ten times over by now. The problem with Hwi’s brand of selflessness is that, while it’s noble and all to be willing to die alone and spare those he loves, it would then leave those he loves behind with all the same problems, but no Hwi to help them solve them. I really wish these types of heroes would understand that they can’t accomplish anything, or save their friends, if they’re dead.
And don’t even get me started with the way Hwi is pushing Hee-jae away in a pure Noble Idiot attempt to keep her safe. Hee-jae has been perfectly capable of taking care of herself since long before Hwi met her, and she not only survived while he was gone, but she maneuvered herself into a position where she’s advising the queen of the entire country. Hee-jae doesn’t need Hwi — or anyone — to protect her… what she needs is someone who will stand beside her and support her. As far as I’m concerned, until Hwi can understand that and be a partner for Hee-jae, then he doesn’t deserve to be with her, anyway.
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- Woo Do-hwan, Seolhyun character teasers for Goryeo drama My Country
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- Woo Do-hwan to join Yang Se-jong in JTBC’s sageuk, My Country