Six Flying Dragons: Episode 34
In the absence of more seasoned leadership, the ever resourceful Bang-won finds himself perfectly suited to the task of ruling his small group of willing followers. Without him, they wouldn’t stand a ghost of a chance against the force of nature that’s assembled against them, whether it be kings, scholars, or the handful of fuddy-duddies in Nameless. The stakes don’t get much higher when it’s not just political ideologies hanging in the balance, but people’s lives. Specifically, the lives of our six dragons. (Don’t let the show tell you any different, Moo-hyul!)
SONG OF THE DAY
Guckkasten – “Vitriol” [ Download ]
EPISODE 34 RECAP
Unable to tell her own brother about her bizarre family reunion, Boon-yi opens up to Yeon-hee, though she doesn’t get far into the story before Bang-ji interrupts. Having heard her mention their mother, he demands to hear the story.
He’s unwilling to believe that their mother advocated for sacrificing one’s loved ones in the name of a bigger cause, and that she apparently never wants to see either of them again. But Boon-yi sighs, wondering whether she’s just not as attached to their mother as her brother, since she’s not as devastated by this turn of events.
As news of Jung Do-jeon’s arrest spreads, Bang-won begins to wonder whether his father—who hasn’t been seen since last night—gave his tacit approval to Jung Mong-joo. He has to find his father first, and soon.
Nameless wonders what Lee Seong-gye will do about the arrest, but the whole time, Yeon-hyang keeps thinking of how Yooksan fooled her about her supposedly dead children. The only reason she’s holding back now is to prevent a civil war within the organization.
Meanwhile, Jung Mong-joo convinces the king to order Jung Do-jeon’s exile before Lee Seong-gye can return and do something about it. He has to face his old friend when he goes to the state tribunal to deliver the order, but defends his actions as being for Jung Do-jeon’s own good.
The other dragons find out about their leader and rally around Bang-won in order to take action. Right now their main prerogative is to find his father, but Bang-ji seems inordinately preoccupied with whether Nameless had a hand in this. The only thing Bang-won is sure of is that this outcome is what Nameless would’ve wanted.
Back in the prison, Jung Mong-joo states his plan to let Jung Do-jeon be remembered as a great scholar executed for trying to reform Goryeo, since having him executed is the only way to stop him. The scariest thing is that he means it, and really does think he’ll be doing his friend a service.
Jung Do-jeon can’t help but find a little wry humor in his friend’s reasoning, but grows serious when he advises him to make sure he kills him—if not, he’ll be the one to die.
Which means that Jung Mong-joo would be the one remembered as a great and loyal scholar instead, though this thought causes a tear to run down Jung Do-jeon’s cheek. Even after everything, he doesn’t want his old friend to die.
Bang-won & Co. search desperately for the open palanquin they expect Jung Do-jeon to be carted away in, but soon realize that they must’ve used an enclosed palanquin in order to prevent any rescue attempts. Bang-ji attempts to use his spidey senses to locate him, but fails.
Instead, Bang-won takes his rage straight to the source, berating Jung Mong-joo for turning on Jung Do-jeon, even after being offered absolute power in the new country. “What is so great about this nation that you would go this far to protect it?!” he demands to know.
In answer, Jung Mong-joo asks what’s so great about his cause for him to be willing to sacrifice Goryeo for it. Bang-won doesn’t back down, and challenges him on whether he actually believes that Jung Do-jeon is of low birth, and what evidence he has.
Is it just like the “evidence” he used to depose King Woo, based on a rumor that he was actually Shin Don’s son? In the end, he reasons, the powerful get to claim noble status while the weak are made to be of low birth.
And that’s precisely why Jung Do-jeon is of low birth, Poeun reasons, and he cautions Bang-won to remember that. “Yes,” Bang-won answers with false sincerity. “I will engrave your lesson deep in my heart, Teacher.”
With Jung Do-jeon out of the picture, the king reinstates all those sinister ministers Jung had exiled or impeached, including Lee Saek and Ha Ryun. The latter wonders what Bang-won is doing about all this, being the only one shocked that Jung Mong-joo would use such a method to oust his political opponent. (I love that they all look like they’re dressed for a Goryeo slumber party.)
When Lee Seong-gye finally returns, he’s shocked to hear about Jung Do-jeon’s exile, having had no idea Jung Mong-joo would do such a thing. He sanctioned getting Jung Do-jeon to step down from politics for a while, but this?
Bang-won fans the flames of his father’s outrage against Jung Mong-joo, spurring him to take his sword when he meets with the man himself to demand answers.
Poeun claims that he did what he did because Jung Do-jeon couldn’t be convinced, though Lee Seong-gye says that under that line of reasoning, he could accuse all of them of treason and sentence them to death. And Poeun agrees, though he grudgingly admits that while he can have Lee Seong-gye punished for treason, he can’t have him killed.
Lee Seong-gye doesn’t miss the implication that Jung Mong-joo can kill Jung Do-jeon though, and asks if Poeun really thinks he’d let that happen. The day Jung Do-jeon dies will be the day Goryeo falls, Lee Seong-gye promises, and backs up his demand for Poeun to bring him back by holding a sword at his throat.
Unconcerned about the immediate danger he’s in, Jung Mong-joo proclaims that Goryeo will only fall if he dies. He all but dares Lee Seong-gye to kill him now and take the throne for himself, knowing that he wouldn’t and won’t. “If you do not stop [following this path], more blood will flow in the future. General, please… please remain a hero of Goryeo.”
Lee Seong-gye gives him one more chance to bring Jung Do-jeon back from exile. When Jung Mong-joo refuses, he sheathes his sword and announces that he’ll resign as commander of the military. Bang-won eavesdrops on their conversation nearby as Lee Seong-gye adds a caveat to this early retirement, meant to threaten Poeun—he may be resigning, but not all his military might will be lost.
King Gongyang goes into fits when Lee Seong-gye announces his resignation, because without him, their army would be leaderless. This is the whole point, so Lee isn’t perturbed in the slightest when Jung Mong-joo brings the royal command stating that he’s forbidden from resigning.
As for Jung Mong-joo’s promise to visit him every day and pester him, Lee Seong-gye coolly answers that he’ll just leave the capital. He’ll leave his son Bang-gwa to train the soldiers so that they’re ready to act on his orders. The implicit threat isn’t lost on Poeun.
Layered like he’s going to take up a second job as the guy who gets bitten by attack dogs professionally, Jung Do-jeon wonders what Lee Seong-gye will do, knowing that he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. He won’t harm Jung Mong-joo, but he surely won’t leave him in exile to rot, either.
Nameless knows this too, so they make it their goal to kill Lee Seong-gye so that Jung Mong-joo will be free to kill Jung Do-jeon. Sure that this will stabilize the country, Yeon-hyang explains her reason behind the rush—she can’t afford to deal with Yooksan and cause internal strife as long as there’s external strife going on.
In order to clear his mind, Lee Seong-gye goes out for some hunting, unaware that one of the sinister ministers lurks nearby with a bow and arrow. Instead, it’s Gil Sun-mi who approaches him, and I love that even in this most dour of moments the show carries on its running joke when Lee Seong-gye asks if he’s Gil Tae-mi.
Gil Sun-mi has only to say that he’s here to escort him to the afterlife for Lee Seong-gye to draw an arrow and aim it right at him. The warrior wonders aloud whether he can kill him before he could let that arrow fly, to which Lee Seong-gye answers that his brother once faced the same dilemma and ended up walking away from the fight. Badass.
“I am different from my brother,” Gil Sun-mi says, before Lee Seong-gye’s concentration is broken by an arrow that comes flying at him. It grazes his horse, throwing Lee Seong-gye off its back and down the hill. The source of the arrow is the sinister minister from earlier, who goes scampering back from whence he came. (And to tell Minister Woo, who tells Jung Mong-joo.)
While the doctor treating Lee Seong-gye’s injuries seems pessimistic and leaves Ji-ran worried for his sworn brother, Nameless takes this news much more positively. Though Gil Sun-mi never bothers to explain why he didn’t just follow Lee Seong-gye down the hill and finish him off.
Lady Kang disperses the news of her husband’s serious horse fall to the rest of the family, though Bang-won seems less concerned about his father’s recovery than he is about Jung Mong-joo using this opportunity to persecute his followers.
And that’s exactly what Jung Mong-joo proposes to the king, who agrees to sanction his orders with the royal seal. Bang-won tries to get to Jo Joon before the king’s men can, but he’s too late—Jo Joon is arrested before he can even leave his home on charges of treason.
Officer Nam and Shin-jeok are also arrested, while Bang-gwa is stripped of his post as an officer and his title. King Gongyang is seized with panic at what he’s set in motion, because he knows that if Lee Seong-gye recovers from his injuries, his vengeance will be swift and terrible.
Seeking to ease her true love’s worries, Sa-kwang offers to kill Lee Seong-gye and finalize the deal. But he’s not keen on turning her into an assassin, so he refuses.
Boon-yi tries reassuring her people that all isn’t lost just because Lee Seong-gye’s supporters have been obliterated, but they’re all too worried about themselves and their recently acquired land to pay her much heed.
Rather than be upset by her people bravely running away, Bang-won takes inspiration from them and orders what’s left of his and his father’s people to mobilize. He has a plan.
Jung Mong-joo calls for the king to execute Jung Do-jeon and his followers via royal command, but the king’s only hesitation is that Lee Seong-gye will wipe them off the face of the earth should he live. Sa-kwang volunteers again to assassinate him, and doesn’t take no for an answer this time.
After ordering Boon-yi to gather her contacts and Yeon-hee to spy on Jung Mong-joo, Bang-won tasks Bang-ji with updating and protecting Jung Do-jeon in exile. Young-kyu and Master Hong are to take the army to Byeokrando (where Lee Seong-gye is convalescing), where he and Moo-hyul will also go.
“The only thing that can save our lives and our cause are the people in this room,” Bang-won says by way of a pep talk. “I wish everyone good luck.” Before they disperse though, Boon-yi warns her brother against letting thoughts of their mother distract him from the long and grueling journey ahead. Bang-ji gives her a small smile as reassurance that he’ll stay on task.
Moo-hyul recognizes Sa-kwang in passing and calls out to her, but she ignores him. Aw, he’s going to be heartbroken when he has to face off against her, isn’t he?
Ignoring Ji-ran’s protests that he’s sustained internal injuries, Bang-won tries to rouse his father from his sickbed so he can return to the capital. They’ve been deceived by Jung Mong-joo, he claims, and unless his father takes action now, everyone who’s been arrested will die.
Lee Seong-gye is conscious enough to hear everything, but his rage alone isn’t enough to heal him. His attempt to sit up is foiled when he starts coughing blood, but Bang-won is desperate. Even if the journey might kill him, without him, they’ll all die anyway.
Bang-won isn’t the least bit surprised when their men report strange activity near them, knowing that Jung Mong-joo wouldn’t miss the chance to send an assassin.
The only chance Bang-won has to throw off Jung Mong-joo’s men is to send two palanquins from the house—the red one guarded by Ji-ran, the blue guarded by Moo-hyul—so as to force the band of would-be assassins to follow whichever one they think has Lee Seong-gye inside.
Deciding that Ji-ran must be guarding the real general, they descend upon the caravan and stab into the palanquin like a magician slipping swords into a box. But there’s nothing inside.
Sa-kwang, dressed and masked in white, comes upon the blue palanquin on the road, and draws two swords as she darts toward it. Moo-hyul’s blow flies right over her as she slides beneath it and forward, and in the blink of an eye, her sword cuts straight through the palanquin as if it were butter.
The top half gives way and slides off, though thankfully, nothing is inside this one either. (Smart thinking, Bang-won!) She disposes of the guards easily, and expends little effort in blocking the one powerful blow Moo-hyul gets in before she has her sword to his throat.
She doesn’t kill him, leaving Moo-hyul wondering who she is to be so inhumanly fast and powerful. But with no decoys left, Sa-kwang goes to find the real Lee Seong-gye, who we find being laboriously carted away from the fray by Bang-won.
Even that movement is too much for him, as he asks his son to stop for just a little while. Bang-won’s face is etched with worry, but he can’t give up—he has to get his father back to the capital, or else.
But it seems he has little chance of succeeding when his father trails off into a rambling nightmare he had the night before he went hunting about a king dismembering him before dying himself. In whatever haze he’s in, he now believes that the king from his dream was Taejo Wang Geon, the first king and founder of Goryeo.
Worse, he believes that all that’s happened to him must be Taejo Wang Geon cursing him from beyond the grave. How else could he explain Jung Mong-joo turning the way he did?
Bang-won explains that this is just what comes when someone like his father attempts to establish himself as the ruler of a country, an endeavor where blood will inevitably be spilt. “The idea of revolution without bloodshed is only an illusion,” he adds sardonically.
And since his father has taken it upon himself to rule, he’ll also have to withstand all of the evils that come with it, including Jung Mong-joo. His voice rises with every word, until he’s all but shaking with resolve as he declares, “I, Lee Bang-won, will emerge victorious. I will not lose to that great scholar of Confucianism called Poeun!”
Torches in the distance bring Bang-won back to himself, and he heaves his father off the cart and the cart into a ditch before endeavoring to carry him into the closest hiding place.
There, Bang-won crouches like a cornered animal ready to pounce, and waits.
Ahhhh! It feels like my heart is going to pound out of my chest with all the suspense, which is literally one of the greatest gifts a show could give me. Not necessarily the almost-a-panic-attack part, but just the unbridled excitement, that feeling of getting so caught up in the moment that everything else fades away.
To do that, a show has to have a near-perfect blend of good storytelling and Grade A presentation, which this episode had in spades. And while it’d be no stretch to say that Dragons hasn’t faltered in either of those regards since day one (because it really, really hasn’t), it’s been playing its cards right as far as pacing is concerned, doling out about two mind-blowingly suspenseful and/or action-fueled hours in every ten. Which isn’t to say that we’re left wanting during the time in-between, since it’s not like this show ever steps off the gas pedal. It’s just that every race needs pit stops, or else everything would start to blur together.
So in an effort to not have this comments section blur into an overlong love letter, let’s talk about some of the things that are a little less than deserving of such high praise, like Nameless. I’ve been reluctant to touch this topic since the Yeon-hyang reveal, partly based on two reasons: (1) I’d hoped that Yeon-hyang wasn’t the real leader, and (2) I was too disappointed that she was to acknowledge it. And there’s still a small part of me that thinks there must still be some secret they’ve got up their sleeve, since this supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing organization can’t just boil down to a small group of people in a dilapidated room… right?
I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe it would help if the motley crew who currently make up Nameless’ leadership didn’t come off as an assemblage of caricatures with no rhyme or reason we can understand or sympathize with, which I’m desperately hoping will be an issue that gets addressed. It’s not as though they don’t have the time, anyway. But we aren’t even given a chance to see the humanity of characters like Yooksan, Jukryong, or even that unnamed granny. Or everyone in that group, for that matter.
We can feel a little bad for Gil Sun-mi getting into all this for love, and as much as the object of his affections may talk a big game and carry a pencil-width dagger, she makes little sense when we look at her from this side of the screen. Even with her tragic backstory and the fact that we know her two children, I just don’t buy her, and I wish I knew why. Is it a lapse in casting? Is it because we hear Nameless’ cause repeated but aren’t given any reason as to why each of them would die for it? And probably off-topic but of arguably greater importance, if Moo-hyul is this unequipped to face Sa-kwang now, how will he ever earn his title as a Dragon?
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 33
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 32
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 31
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 30
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 29
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 28
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 27
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 26
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 25
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 24
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 23
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 22
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 21
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 20
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 19
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 18
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 17
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 16
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 15
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 14
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 13