My Country: The New Age: Episode 8
The king is ready to name his successor, and his choice will affect the future of the country far more than anyone suspects. Our heroes’ plans must be adjusted, and everything changes so much that even they aren’t quite sure how everything will turn out. Knowing the historical outcome doesn’t lessen the tension when innocent lives are at stake, and anyone could be sacrificed in the name of creating a better future.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Hwi posts a letter on Lord Nam’s front door — a direct copy of the pact Lord Nam made twelve years ago to conspire to kill King Taejo, then Yi Seong-gye. Lord Nam had killed his co-conspirators and taken their copies of the pact, but one copy had gone unfound.
Sun-ho comes home with Yeon and sees the letter before Lord Nam takes it down. He asks if it’s true, because it will destroy their family. Lord Nam growls that “he” did this, so Sun-ho summons Hwi to the hideout. Lord Nam asks if it was Hwi who sent the arrows into the king’s target at archery, with the note attached.
Hwi mockingly repeats Lord Nam’s words to him: “Hide your anger and hold it in.” He admits that he shot the arrow, but as Lord Nam is swinging his sword, he continues that he was acting on Bang-won’s orders. He swears that he would never lie to Lord Nam since he has custody of Yeon, and promises to report Bang-won’s every move to him.
But Lord Nam doesn’t trust Hwi and says that he’ll get his information elsewhere. After his father leaves, Sun-ho tells Hwi that he hopes he’s not the one behind all this, because he plans to kill the mastermind who’s plotting to destroy his family.
One of Hee-jae’s informants tells her that Hwi met with a young woman at his house, and that she then joined Sun-ho and went to Lord Nam’s home. Hee-jae asks Lady Seo if she gave her mother’s letter that she was promised to Hwi instead, and if the “person he’s trying to save” is Yeon, but Lady Seo refuses to answer.
Hee-jae starts to storm out, but Lady Seo tells her to take Gyeol, giving him permission to kill anyone who tries to harm Hee-jae. Lady Seo tells Hee-jae, “Protect those you need to protect. Meanwhile, I will protect you.”
While looking for Hwi, Cheonga finds Chi-do, Jang Beom, and Moon-bok eating dinner. He attacks them when they refuse to give up Hwi’s location, so Moon-bok throws dirt in Cheonga’s face and they slip away. They join up with Hwi at the hideout and warn him that Bang-won is out for his blood.
Hwi says that this is all part of his plan, and that he has to make Bang-won utilize “the secret letter” in order to take down Lord Nam and save Yeon. Chi-do reminds Hwi that it’s over for all of them if Bang-won discovers that he’s a spy.
Hee-jae goes to Lord Nam’s house and looks around for Yeon. She finds a room with one embroidered slipper on the steps, and when she calls, Yeon tentatively peeks out. Hee-jae falters when it becomes obvious that Yeon doesn’t know her, but Yeon begs her to tell her anything she knows about her.
Before Hee-jae can say anything, Sun-ho shows up and tells Yeon that they’ve never met. Hee-jae follows him away and slaps him, for lying and for keeping Yeon from Hwi all this time. He argues that his father would have killed them, but Hee-jae spits that he’s holding her hostage to control Hwi, and that now she knows why Hwi hid everything from her.
She leaves, and Sun-ho watches her go, looking heartbroken. Behind the wall, Yeon was secretly listening, and what she’s learned has her looking terrified. Lord Nam finds her there and gets angry, assuming she was trying to leave without his permission.
He asks where she went when she snuck out, scaring her so badly that her hand starts to shake like it used to before a seizure. Lord Nam asks if Yeon’s regained her memories, but Sun-ho intervenes, so Lord Nam lets Yeon go and stalks off. But Yeon is scared of Sun-ho too, after what she heard Hee-jae say.
Apparently the thug Ganggae has seen this secret letter, so the plan is to kidnap him and take him and the letter to Bang-won. Lord Nam also has an idea that Ganggae might know something, so he orders his man to bring Ganggae to him.
Despite being the most wanted man in Joseon tonight, Ganggae is pretty unconcerned. A flashback shows that back in 1380, he witnessed Lord Nam kill the his three co-conspirators, and Ganggae believes that his knowledge means that he’s safe from Lord Nam.
Hwi and his friends walk right into Ganggae’s hideout, quickly overpowering Ganggae’s men and capturing Ganggae himself. Hee-jae was on her way to see Hwi, and she arrives at the exact wrong moment. She’s frozen at the sight of Ganggae, recognizing him from the night her mother was killed.
She tells Gyeol that Ganggae killed her mother, and while Hwi tries to stop him from killing Ganggae, Ganggae grabs a sword and takes Hee-jae hostage. Hwi draws his bow but hesitates, scared to hit Hee-jae, even when she screams at him to shoot.
His stance jogs Ganggae’s memory, who says that Hwi is lucky he didn’t kill him as a child. While he’s distracted, Hee-jae stabs him in the leg, causing him to fall away. He jumps back up and swings his sword, but Hwi fires an arrow into his shoulder and stops him from killing Hee-jae.
He runs to her to see if she’s okay, but her focus is on Ganggae. She picks up the sword he dropped and prepares to stab him with it, but he blurts out, “Nam Jeon! Nam Jeon ordered me to bring the secret letter to him. That bastard told me to kill everyone.”
He begs for his life, but Hee-jae brings the sword down. In her mind, she sees herself as a child, standing over Ganggae holding a blade. Seo Geon had interrupted her, saying that her real enemy was the mastermind behind Ganggae. She had made the same choice then as she’s made now — to spare Ganggae, and save her revenge for the man who controls him.
Hwi gently takes the sword from Hee-jae and leads her away. She admits that she’s killed Ganggae in her mind hundreds of times, but she couldn’t do it today because Hwi needs him to save Yeon. She tells him that this is the spot where she floated lanterns for her mother and for him, and that the letter her mother was delivering when she died now belongs to him.
She tells Hwi to stop carrying his burdens alone, and share them with her so they can be together. She says she’s entered his world now and embraces him, and Hwi reluctantly lets himself hold her.
Sun-ho inspects the archery range where Hwi shot the arrow, and he asks Sung-rok what Bang-won would gain from making the king doubt him. He tells Sung-rok that the note attached to the arrow (that looked like Bang-won’s) endangered both Bang-won and Lord Nam. He ponders who benefits the most from this — the king, or the person with the secret letter.
Lord Nam’s house is searched by order of the king. He submits meekly, sure that King Taejo is warning him, and threatening that he can trample or kill Lord Nam at any time.
Queen Sindeok is scared with everything that’s happening and Bang-won out of control, but Bang-seok hasn’t been made crown prince yet. The king says that he’s chosen Bang-seok because he’s the youngest, ensuring that King Taejo can stay on the throne as long as possible. Queen Sindeok counters that it’s about staying on the throne for him, but about survival for her son, and she refuses to wait quietly.
Sun-ho goes to the palace and demands to see the king, bellowing that he knows where the secret letter is. First he asks that he and his family not to be harmed, then tells King Taejo that Bang-won has the secret letter. He says that the contents of the letter will make King Taejo want to kill him and his father, but that would leave nobody to fight Bang-won.
He suggests that the king name Bang-seok crown prince before Bang-won reveals the letter, then use the letter to keep Lord Nam under control and exile Bang-won. King Taejo asks what he gets for all this, and Sun-ho tells him, “Me.” The king agrees, but he makes it clear that if the letter is ever revealed, their deal is off.
Sun-ho tells Hwi to cancel the original plan, which hinged on Bang-won giving the letter to his father. Sun-ho believes that instead, Bang-won would just hold it over King Taejo’s head and ditch Hwi, or kill him if he discovers he’s a spy.
Hwi says he doesn’t care since he’s dead either way, so Sun-ho asks him to trust him to take the letter to King Taejo and save Hwi and Yeon. But Hwi doesn’t buy it, calling Sun-ho a hypocrite who only wants to save himself and his family.
Hee-jae sits remembering her mother and wondering if she’s doing the right thing. Lady Seo joins her, and Hee-jae asks why she never told her that Lord Nam was responsible for her mother’s death. Lady Seo says that she lost her dearest friend that night, so she’s been determined to protect Hee-jae and not lose her, too.
Later, Hwi is ambushed and taken to Bang-won, who asks if Hwi is after him or Lord Nam. Hwi says that Lord Nam sent him to Liaodong and tried to have him killed, and that he needs Bang-won to get rid of him. He says that given a choice between him or Lord Nam, the king will choose Lord Nam, and Bang-won will end up dead.
Nothing is found at Lord Nam’s home, and the guard tells him that their orders were to turn things inside out — both the house, and him. When Lord Nam returns to court, he’s informed that the king has made a decision regarding the crown prince, and he wonders if he or Bang-won will be thrown away, or both of them.
At the palace, Bang-won greets his brother Bang-gan, who taunts Bang-won for the way he’s treating their father. Bang-won tells him to keep still and behave himself, and Bang-gan meekly backs down… for now.
As expected, King Taejo announces his intent to make Bang-seok the new crown prince, and says that until he’s officially crowned, all crimes except treason, conspiracy, and murder will be forgiven. In exchange, he orders all private armies disbanded.
Afterward, he speaks privately with Bang-won to ask how he can appease him. He offers Bang-won a commander’s position, but Bang-won sees that for the banishment it would be. He asks what he did so wrong, and King Taejo says that Bang-won destroys everything he has, so he’d do the same with the crown prince title. Bang-won yells that his father doesn’t know him at all, and that he won’t back down until he gets his due.
As he leaves, Bang-won runs into Queen Sindeok and Bang-seok. Bang-won kneels to whisper to Bang-seok that hiding behind his mother’s skirts won’t protect him from his enemies. Queen Sindeok tells him to enjoy the scenery at his new post, and Bang-won tells her to hold tight to the throne, because Bang-seok won’t be able to.
The queen summons Lord Nam and demands that he do something about Bang-won, but he says that they can’t be hasty. Queen Sindeok tells him that they need to act before Bang-won does, and that she’s willing to accept the consequences.
Bang-won talks with Hwi and asks him his motives, and Hwi says that he could have killed Bang-won many times over if he wanted him dead. He says that Bang-won can trust him and he’ll make sure he lives, but Bang-won points out that Hwi put him in danger in the first place and declines to put his life in Hwi’s hands.
An invitation arrives to Bang-seok’s crowning ceremony and Bang-won turns it down. Hwi says he should attend, and that he’ll lay out his plans for him in full so he can decide if he wants his help.
Hwi’s friends have been keeping an eye on Ganggae — Jang Beom especially. Moon-bok asks Jang Beom about Sam-rye, Jang Beom’s wife, and Jang Beom says she was beaten to death for defying their master when he tried to rape her. He says tearfully that they also had a small baby, who was killed for crying. Ganggae comes to and Jang Beom punches him until he passes out again.
Hee-jae tells Lady Seo that she wants to watch Lord Nam and kill him, but Lady Seo says that will take too long. She gives Hee-jae the keys to the room where she keeps her secrets locked up, on the condition that she protect Ihwaru. Hee-jae asks if Lady Seo is choosing her as her successor, and Lady Seo replies that Hee-jae is the only one who can do it.
She asks what Hee-jae will do in the aftermath of Bang-seok being announced as crown prince. Hee-jae states that chaos offers the opportunity to score information, so she’ll keep her head down and profit with minimal risk. Lady Seo grins and tells Hee-jae that this is why she chose her.
Bang-won arrives at Ihwaru with Hwi at his side, having been invited to a party where Lord Nam is holding court. One of Lord Nam’s followers taunts him that he’ll soon be banished far away to die. Lord Nam warns him to remember that Bang-won beat Po-eun to death, and the man pretends to be scared, making everyone laugh.
Bang-won gives Hwi a signal and Hwi grabs a sword, walks down the table, and swings at Lord Nam. Bang-won issues a command to stop at the last moment, and Hwi halts his sword and steps down. Lord Nam growls that Bang-won crossed a line, but Bang-won says that Lord Nam crossed it first.
While they’ve been inside, someone posted notices all over the walls of Ihwaru that condemn Lord Nam as a traitor. Bang-won reads aloud that on November 23, 1380, Lord Nam plotted treason and killed his comrades, and calls on the king to have him executed.
After Lord Nam leaves, Bang-won says to Hwi that without proof, these posters are just rumor. Hwi says that the proof and witness must be provided at the right time, so that the king sees it in front of everyone. Bang-won likes Hwi’s plan so much that he makes his decision to join with him.
Suspecting that Bang-won has the secret letter, Lord Nam summons Hwi. He asks if Hwi would have killed him if Bang-won hadn’t stopped him, and Hwi says that he knew Bang-won would stop him because he was testing him. Lord Nam offers his own test — for Hwi to kill Bang-won, tonight, because they’re all dead if Bang-won lives until morning (when he believes Bang-won will give the secret letter to the king).
He says it’s a suicide mission, but that Yeon will be saved. He gives Hwi poison to dip an arrow into, and tells him to make it look like an assassination. Hwi tells Lord Nam to keep his promise regarding Yeon, and Lord Nam says he will, but that someone will be watching Hwi.
Meanwhile, Yeon is beginning to experience some emerging memories of her old life, and in the middle of them is Hwi… her brother. She sobs with the horror of knowing who he truly is and that he’s been kept from her.
Tae-ryong did a background check on Hwi, and he reports to Bang-won that he has a sister, whom Lord Nam is holding hostage. This makes Bang-won suspect that Hwi might be working for Lord Nam, but Tae-ryong says that he needs to see something before going after Hwi.
They go to Hwi’s hideout, where Bang-won sees Hwi’s wall of targets with himself at the center, and he concludes that Hwi is working with Lord Nam to kill him. He tells Tae-ryong that he no longer cares what Hwi has planned — he wants him dead.
Chi-do runs to warn Hwi that Bang-won has seen their plans. Cheonga catches up to them, and Chi-do tells Hwi to run while he keeps Cheonga busy. He finds himself outnumbered when more men join Cheonga, but he doesn’t back down.
Sun-ho learns of Lord Nam’s orders for Hwi and why, but he yells at Lord Nam that he’s only made things worse.
Hwi rushes to Bang-won’s home and fights all the way to Bang-won, immobilizing (but not killing) his guards. He takes aim at Bang-won, who isn’t at all surprised to see him, and he snarls, “I’m here to kill you.” He shoots his arrow directly into Bang-won’s chest, then draws a second time, and fires.
ARGH, Hwi, what are you doing?? I know he has a plan, he always has a plan with several back-up plans just in case, but he scares me so much. He takes so many chances and comes this close to death over and over again, and it’s going to give me a heart attack. I just can’t see how he’s going to go from the man who just shot Yi Bang-won point-blank in the chest, to the man that Bang-won won’t make a move without.
I’ve always seen Bang-won as a complex historical figure — ruthless and cold-blooded, even (600-year-old spoilers!) killing his own family to gain the throne, yet he did what he did for the good of the country. He truly was a better king than Taejo, bringing a lot of progress to the country, though the way he got there was truly horrific. But I like how My Country is portraying his actions as a necessary evil, a product of the times, and that Bang-won might have chosen different methods if he’d been given the choice (not to mention Jang Hyuk’s incredibly nuanced portrayal of the betrayed prince). His father used Bang-won’s willingness to get his hands dirty to get rid of his opposition, then cast him aside, selfishly naming his youngest son as crown prince to ensure his own longevity on the throne instead of giving it to his son who was the most deserving and capable of making the difficult decisions a king must make. You almost can’t blame Bang-won for what he does next, because he truly did earn that throne — and while I’m not condoning his future actions, I certainly can see why, again, he felt it was his only option.
As much as Hee-jae’s actions confound me, I still like her as a character, I just think she’s being underutilized. She’s smart and strong in her own right, without needing male protection or guidance, and I love that Hwi and his friends are fully aware of her capability. When she confronted Ganggae and almost killed him, not one of them tried to stop her, and they all looked more than a little in awe of her. I only wish that we got to see more of Hee-jae being a smart, wily spy, because it feels like everything important that she does happens off-screen, so that all we get to see of her is either pining for Hwi or missing her mother. But my main complaint about Hee-jae is that I think Seolhyun was slightly miscast — she’s a decent actress and she’s playing Hee-jae just fine as written, but there’s a soft quality to her that doesn’t quite fit with the character we’re told she is. Just think how badass Hee-jae could have been if we got to actually see her maneuvering things from the sidelines, and if she’d been played by an actress with a more steely quality… say, Nam Ji-hyun or Kim Ji-won.
I think it was a stroke of genius for My Country to show the viewers the future stand-off between Hwi and Sun-ho before anything else. Seeing it without context gave the impression that Hwi and Sun-ho were mortal enemies on opposite sides of a deadly conflict, which was, and is, true, but it’s also much more complex than that. Each episode since then has added nuance and meaning to their characters and their relationship with each other, and every every piece of information we’re given makes me see that scene in a different way. Are they still working together at that point, or have they truly chosen sides and are trying to kill one another? Is Hwi genuinely loyal to Bang-won, or is he still working with Sun-ho, and their confrontation is all part of the show? I can’t wait to find out what the true meaning of that scene will be once we catch up in time, and learn whether the two former friends will manage to survive or if they’ll destroy each other.
- Premiere Watch: Tale of Nokdu, Extraordinary You, My Country: The New Age
- Jang Hyuk explores humanistic side of bloodthirsty prince in My Country
- Yang Se-jong, Woo Do-hwan, Seolhyun prepare for a new world in character stills for JTBC sageuk My Country
- Woo Do-hwan, Seolhyun character teasers for Goryeo drama My Country
- Warrior Yang Se-jong to protect his loved ones in My Country
- Jang Hyuk, Seolhyun join JTBC sageuk My Country
- Woo Do-hwan to join Yang Se-jong in JTBC’s sageuk, My Country