Six Flying Dragons: Episode 35
I never thought I’d start to have anxiety about a show eventually ending thirty-five hours in, but here we are, officially closer to the end than we are to the beginning. And it’s still just so good, or even better than it was before, so can anyone blame me for freaking out a little bit that all this awesomeness will end? What do you mean, it’s too soon?
Okay, I’ll save the rest for when it might actually be called for in several weeks(!). For now, we’re given an epic lead-in to one of the most charged moments in Goryeo’s history, with Bang-won facing a terrible decision. Will he kill, or be killed? And if you know Bang-won, you already know the answer.
SONG OF THE DAY
MBLAQ – “전쟁이야 (This Is War)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 35 RECAP
Bang-ji updates Jung Do-jeon on the situation involving Lee Seong-gye’s fall from a horse, as well as the exile of everyone close to their cause by Jung Mong-joo.
He offers to spring Jung Do-jeon from his place of exile by force, only to be politely rejected. Their cause can’t be obtained by force, or else they would’ve just stormed the palace and usurped the throne already. Whether Bang-won will be able to save his father and take him back to the capital is up to fate now.
But in a stroke of luck, Jung Do-jeon receives a royal command to be transferred to the capital. Meanwhile, Bang-won prepares to defend his unconscious father from the assassins out to kill him with only a dagger, though he thankfully doesn’t end up using it when they fail to find him.
Moo-hyul’s still shaken by his failure to protect the palanquin against Sa-kwang, since it would’ve meant Lee Seong-gye’s death had he been inside. Despite Sa-kwang’s mask, he may have recognized her—or it was she who recognized him, which could be why she didn’t kill him.
As Bang-won laboriously pushes the cart with his father in it back up the slope, a straggler from Jung Mong-joo’s assassin group comes upon him. He doesn’t believe Bang-won’s claims that he’s just a poor farmer, and when he draws his sword, Bang-won looks past him in surprise.
It’s the oldest trick in the book, since Bang-won uses the man’s momentary distraction to grab him from behind, clamp his hand over his mouth, and slit his throat. Cold, but necessary.
By pure happenstance, Bang-won comes upon a lone swordsman/scholar in the middle of the forest and pleads for him to help. He shelters both father and son in his humble home, with Bang-won lying that he’s on the run from their landlord’s men, having not paid his taxes due to caring for his sick father.
Whether the scholar believes him or not is up for debate, but when the fur-clad assassins come looking, he claims that no father and son pair are hiding in his home. The assassins take a look anyway, finding nothing.
Having overheard that the assassins are looking for Lee Seong-gye, the scholar returns to the room where Bang-won and his father are hiding. And much to Bang-won’s surprise, he draws his sword against the prone figure of Lee Seong-gye, revealing that he’s from the Jo Family of Yangju.
His teacher is a follower of Jung Mong-joo, he adds, which means he knows very well that Lee Seong-gye sent the revered Lee Saek into exile. He also knows about Jung Do-jeon’s plans to ruin their country, so his allegiance is pretty much set.
Bang-won can’t help but let out a rueful chuckle, taking the scholar aback. He can’t help but find this situation funny, what with all the bad luck that’s befallen his father lately, to the point where his life is being threatened by a rural scholar.
“Kill him,” Bang-won finally says. Then, standing, he adds that if the scholar really has the guts to kill a hero of Goryeo, why not do it? If he does, Bang-won warns viciously, he’ll bring the entire power of his father’s private army down upon the Jo Family of Yangju and he’ll gladly wipe every generation of their family tree off the face of the earth.
If the scholar is as Confucian as he claims to be, then he should renounce Lee Saek, who was against the land reform and the reformation of the Buddhist temples. The nation that his father plans to establish would be a Confucian nation, not a military state like the scholar believes.
Before Bang-won can launch into even more heated rhetoric, the scholar cuts in with a simple, “I’ll follow you.” That was an easy sell, wasn’t it? When he puts his sword away, Bang-won reacts by holding his dagger to his throat.
The scholar, in a very detached sort of way, tells Bang-won that it won’t be a good idea to kill him when he’ll need his help escaping from the mountain.
While Sa-kwang reports to the king and Jung Mong-joo that she couldn’t find and kill Lee Seong-gye, Young-kyu and Moo-hyul worry since they haven’t been able to find both father and son either.
They’re interrupted when a mourning party comes through, carrying the coffin of the deceased like modern-day pallbearers, only for Moo-hyul to openly gape when he recognizes Bang-won amongst the mourners. The scholar is with him too, and he hurriedly explains that his father is safe in the casket. Ahh, smart.
Bang-won thanks the scholar for helping him out, and asks for his name before he goes. The scholar introduces himself as JO MAL-SAENG (Choi Dae-hoon, in a role that should be familiar to Tree With Deep Roots fans), a name which Bang-won finds funny. (Malsaeng means troublesome.)
News of Lee Seong-gye’s secret capital re-entry doesn’t stay secret for long, as it reaches Jung Mong-joo and Nameless at the same time. The king is obviously worried that Lee Seong-gye might recover and take vengeance, so Poeun volunteers to find someone who can assess the situation.
Moo-hyul spots him and Sa-kwang, choosing to follow from a safe distance until they disappear into sinister Minister Woo’s house. Sa-kwang confronts him for following her, and Moo-hyul just decides to be forthcoming by asking her if she’s the Cheok Sa-kwang.
After a brief back-and-forth over who’s right between Jung Mong-joo and Lee Seong-gye, Sa-kwang seriously considers killing Moo-hyul in order to protect her identity. Completely unaware that she’s reaching for her sword, Moo-hyul saves himself by thinking out loud, “You don’t look like you’d kill anyone, though.”
She admits that though she hasn’t had much experience in the world of warriors, if he chooses to fight her, he will die. It’s not a threat so much as a plea, and Moo-hyul empathizes with the struggle he knows she’s having over killing people.
“You don’t like it, do you?” he asks knowingly. Why else would she have used the back of her blade to fight the palanquin guards in order to avoid killing them unless she didn’t want to kill people? He knows the feeling, but guesses that it’s worse for her.
“You’re right,” Sa-kwang admits. “I hate killing people. So… let’s not meet each other again.” Aw yay, she’s going to let him live even though he knows who she really is.
The situation with Lee Seong-gye’s health is looking dire, which is what the king can only hope for since Jung Do-jeon and his followers are being brought to the capital for execution. If he were to pull through, though…
Yeon-hyang’s job in Nameless is just to state the obvious now, so all she says is that the fate of the country depends on Lee Seong-gye’s health. In order to avoid word getting out, Bang-won “invites” the attending doctor to stay until his father wakes up.
He tasks Gab-boon and Grandma with fooling any interested parties into believing that Lee Seong-gye is on the path to recovery by publicly buying health tonics and his favorite wine, which eventually makes it back to Jung Mong-joo.
Jung Mong-joo is smart though, and believes that this could be what Lee Seong-gye’s family wants them to think. Plus, there’s the fact that the doctor hasn’t left the manor yet, which may mean that they’re trying to hide Lee Seong-gye’s true condition.
As everyone waits to see if the great general will pull through, Moo-hyul finds himself conflicted by Sa-kwang saying that it didn’t matter who was right or just when it came to Jung Mong-joo and Lee Seong-gye. “Why doesn’t it matter?” he thinks to himself. “I’m fighting for the world I believe in.”
He brings his existential crisis to Boon-yi when he asks, “We’re the just ones, right? The man called Poeun betrayed us, right?” It’s then that he confesses he used to think of these deep issues in too simple a manner before, since at first, he would just go along with things if he thought success would come of it.
But once he began to understand the world Team Joseon was trying to create, he began to fight for that cause because he truly believed in it. His worry now is that the people they may have to face from now on might not be all that bad (he’s specifically thinking of Sa-kwang), so what should they do?
Boon-yi thinks back to what her mother said about having the resolve necessary to abandon those most precious to her for her cause, and repeats that advice to Moo-hyul. “Do you have that kind of resolve?” he asks, only for her to reply that she isn’t sure.
Even if she isn’t, she’ll have to be unless she plans to abandon their cause. Moo-hyul has even more reason to make that resolution, she believes, since holding a sword means he’ll get into kill-or-be-killed situations. “Let’s not die,” she adds cheerfully. Good talk.
Filled with grim determination, Moo-hyul approaches Master Hong to ask him if there’s any weakness in the Goksan swordsmanship method. He answers no. When he asks if he’d lose in a fight against Cheok Sa-kwang, Hong says yes. Moo-hyul: “Would I die?” “You probably would,” comes the answer.
In that case, Moo-hyul says, he’ll probably die soon. He tells Master Hong about Sa-kwang cutting the palanquin in half with one sword stroke, which his teacher recognizes as a signature move the great Cheok Joon-kyung used to cut both rider and horse in half on the battlefield.
Master Hong’s advice should Moo-hyul run into Sa-kwang again? “Run,” he says. But Moo-hyul won’t do that, so the only option he leaves Master Hong with is to tell him any weakness he found in the Goksan method, or else he’ll surely die.
But Master Hong gives him the exact same answer he gave Gil Sun-mi when he says there is no weakness. However, just because there’s no weakness in the technique doesn’t mean there can’t be weakness in the person who wields it.
Jung Mong-joo wants to take the risk of executing Jung Do-jeon, Officer Nam, and Jo Joon despite not knowing whether Lee Seong-gye will recover. Team Joseon looks to Bang-won for guidance on how to stop it from happening, so he has to come up with a plan, and fast.
Because the king is reluctant to do it, Jung Mong-joo asks to be given the royal command to follow through with the executions, promising to take all responsibility should things go south. Though it seems like he’s lying when he assures the king that it’ll be fine, because Lee Seong-gye won’t be able to do anything to him.
Faced with a terrible decision to make, Bang-won takes some time to be alone, which is when he’s visited by a hallucination of Minister Hong. “Why do you pretend to be suffering?” the bloodied specter asks. “Or does this mean that you truly are in pain?” He effectively puts a voice to Bang-won’s inner monologue as he says:
“How long Goryeo will last now hangs upon how long Poeun lives. Does your heart not beat faster because you wish to find the honor of bringing Goryeo to an end? The one who ends Goryeo will be the one who opens the door for Joseon. Also, you will become the one who killed Poeun, the great Confucian scholar and respected leader of the sadaebu.
Accept who you are. Honestly, there is something that is tugging at your heart. Of the things that could happen to you after you kill Poeun, you think to yourself, ‘What if my position becomes smaller?’ ‘What if by heading down this road, I ruin the foundation for my successors?’ Furthermore, are you not hesitating out of fear that you will become lonely after the world turns away from you?”
Judging by Bang-won’s angry reaction to his own thoughts, everything Minister Hong said likely rings true. This is the state Boon-yi finds him in, though she proves keener than expected when she catches onto the meaning behind Bang-won asking, “Are you on my side?”
“Are you going to kill him?” Boon-yi asks, stopping him in his tracks. And then, more surprisingly, she says that she’s still on Bang-won’s side. “That’s right, I will kill Poeun,” Bang-won answers resolutely. However, in order to accomplish that, they’ll need to get him out of the safe confines of the palace.
Luckily, he won’t have to try very hard—Jung Mong-joo and bodyguard Sa-kwang have just arrived at his father’s doorstep. Poeun sends Sa-kwang out to wait while he’s invited inside to see the general himself. Bang-won says nothing, seemingly reveling in this golden opportunity.
But first, Lee Ji-ran confronts Jung Mong-joo over sending assassins to kill Lee Seong-gye. Poeun’s not afraid of him since even the great general couldn’t bring himself to kill him, which is when Ji-ran tries one last-ditch effort to convince him off the path he’s taken.
With tears brimming in his eyes, Ji-ran tells him the story of how he became Lee Seong-gye’s sworn brother, a stark contrast to how they’d once been enemies on the battlefield when he fought for the Jurchens. He tried to kill Lee Seong-gye and was captured, but instead of being killed, Lee Seong-gye worked to persuade him instead.
Promising to protect his tribe and his people, Lee Seong-gye took him in and called him brother. “Our hyung-nim is that kind of person,” Ji-ran adds. He knows that if Jung Mong-joo were to change his mind right now, Lee Seong-gye would forget everything and take him in as a brother, because that’s the kind of man he is.
His heartfelt plea has no effect on Jung Mong-joo, but his character evaluation proves true when Lee Seong-gye finally regains consciousness… only to chastise Bang-won for even suggesting his plan to kill Jung Mong-joo. He will not allow it.
Seemingly chastened, Bang-won has to be the one to invite Poeun into his father’s room. He eavesdrops from outside as Jung Mong-joo defends his assassination attempt to the man who survived it, claiming that he only did it for Goryeo.
Outside, Moo-hyul approaches Sa-kwang, who cautions him even now to just run away. Moo-hyul only stands straighter as he declares that he’s given it much thought, and won’t be going anywhere.
Unafraid and unflinching, Lee Seong-gye puts his heart and soul into this last chance to convince Jung Mong-joo of their cause. Goryeo, he says, cannot protect its people. He eliminated those people like General Choi and Lee In-gyeom because they did nothing when they could have done something, and perpetuated the broken system they live under now.
Jung Mong-joo doesn’t deny this point, but wonders why he can’t just continue to protect the people as a general. Lee Seong-gye: “I am saying that we can live better lives and protect them by building a new nation!” To this, Poeun just shakes his head: he’s reaching for justification for his actions.
“Do you think I would do this because I am vying for the throne?” Lee Seong-gye returns gravely. “Are you not well aware that I am doing this because this is what should be done?” Though he doesn’t understand politics still, he understands dreams, specifically the ones they shared with each other when they drank together at Dohwa Manor.
“My dream… my dream is… to make the aspirations you and Sambong share come true. It is to protect that!” He all but begs Jung Mong-joo to reconsider, which sends him into a coughing fit. Bang-won rushes in to see blood staining the sheets, and helps to lay his father back down.
He sends a positively murderous look toward Jung Mong-joo, who gracefully bows out. This is far from over.
Jung Mong-joo gives the order for Jung Do-jeon’s execution the next morning, again leaving no one but Bang-won for everyone to turn to. And this time, Bang-won’s decision will not be changed: “Poeun… Poeun. I’m going to have to kill him.”
As the camera jumps from Jung Do-jeon, to Lee Seong-gye, to the king, and on down the line, Yeon-hyang narrates her thoughts as to whether this night spells the end for Lee Seong-gye. If loyalty, ambition, good fortune, or even peculiar plans factored into the result, how much easier would it be to take on the tasks of this world, she wonders.
“Fate is determined by even more trivial things than that,” she adds to herself. “Because fate is like a petulant child, and because you do not know what will cause its mind to change. And though I fear the morning, it also excites me. This night will be the longest night in the history of Goryeo.”
Bang-won and his men prepare their weapons for battle, and go out into the night. It’s with grim determination that Young-kyu takes up a mace, and Bang-ji his sword.
They’re out for Jung Mong-joo, who’s only flanked by Cheok Sa-kwang, the greatest sword fighter alive.
In a case like this, where history is the absolute biggest spoiler, Six Flying Dragons is doing the right thing by immortalizing these well-known events and infusing them with its own style. It’s giving everyone the gravitas they deserve while giving us and Jung Mong-joo one last chance for reason. We know everyone involved, and the parts they have to play in the trying times to come—but most of all, we know Bang-won’s rage, and the necessity for what he’s prepared to do.
Perhaps most telling is the fact that though he’s been alone in his scheming as of late, with his thoughts going too dark for him to trust anyone to understand, this darkest and most historically heinous of plans was unilaterally approved by everyone on Team Joseon. Bang-won may have been the one to make the ultimate decision, but this isn’t a burden he’ll have to bear in complete loneliness. He doesn’t have to worry that no one’s on his side, because in this case, everyone who matters is (except for Jung Do-jeon, who doesn’t know.)
On second thought, it’s not just Jung Do-jeon he’ll have to contend with once this is all over, but his own father. Bang-won’s got the younger vote, and though it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, he could risk losing the two authority figures he needs most in his life. Even discounting the fact that he’s trying to distance himself from Jung Do-jeon, he knows better than anyone that if he dies, their cause will die with him.
So maybe I had it all wrong thinking that Bang-won wouldn’t be so alone. Maybe he’s actually taking one for the team, and risking everything to do so. Minister Hong, representing Bang-won’s current state of mind, said it best when he listed all the fears Bang-won had going into his big decision. He diverged from Jung Do-jeon because he wanted more power, but in killing Jung Mong-joo, he could lose any hope he ever had at gaining it in the first place.
And that, above all else, scares Bang-won the most. But while no one would argue that being powerless isn’t one of Bang-won’s biggest fears, there’s one other that keeps rearing its ugly head: the fear of being alone. His two greatest fears unfortunately have solutions that cannot coexist, because it’s always loneliest at the top.
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 34
- 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