Six Flying Dragons: Episode 36
And so it falls to Bang-won to do the utterly unthinkable, if not for the fact that everyone else likely thought about it and just didn’t want to admit it to themselves. While people like his own father would rather choose to live in denial, our most ruthless young dragon chooses to make his own dreams a reality, even at great cost to himself and others. Especially others. No one ever thanks the garbage man.
SONG OF THE DAY
VIXX – “Beautiful Killer” [ Download ]
EPISODE 36 RECAP
We backtrack a bit to Bang-won’s decision to kill Jung Mong-joo, which he explains as his own decision and not his father’s to Young-kyu and Bang-ji. Even the greatest swordsman in the Three Kingdoms seems hesitant to face off against Sa-kwang, but Bang-won tells him to have faith.
Later that night, as Sa-kwang walks with Poeun back to the palace, she asks if the fighting will end tomorrow when Jung Do-jeon and the others are set to be executed. He wants it to end as quickly as she does since neither of them like conflict, though both are gritting their teeth and doing what they feel they must.
Sensing murderous intent in the air, Sa-kwang sends Jung Mong-joo ahead while she hangs back to deal with the threat. Meanwhile, Moo-hyul has to find out from Boon-yi that everyone left without him, since no one thought to tell him why or what for.
Sa-kwang easily dispenses with the contingent of men traveling with Bang-ji, using the sharp end of her sword this time. It’s just her and Bang-ji now, and he tells her that he’s here to fulfill a dream long since buried in his heart: “It’s to end Goryeo.”
Though normally slow on the uptake, Moo-hyul quickly figures out that Bang-won & Co. went to kill Jung Mong-joo. “They’re all going to die,” he says worriedly, before explaining that none of them will be able to win against Sa-kwang. He finds out their location from Boon-yi and runs as fast as his feet will take him.
Bang-ji and Sa-kwang draw their swords to do battle, and at first, he seems to be holding his own—but a simultaneous flying leap and clash of blades sends him hurling into a nearby tree.
He recovers fast enough, though in the second it takes him to raise his sword, Sa-kwang dives in to make a clean slash across his abdomen. That’s when he has a flashback to when Master Jang Sam-bong read his palm, proclaiming that he’d have a very long life indeed… unless he met the reaper. Translation: “You’re going to live until you die.”
Since Jang Sam-bong had warned that Bang-ji’s reaper could come in the form of a master swordsman, Present Bang-ji thinks to himself that he might be facing said reaper now. He’s not afraid of dying—his only fear is that everything will be for naught if Bang-won can’t catch Jung Mong-joo.
Resigning himself to just buying time, Bang-ji fights for all he’s worth, and holds off against Sa-kwang for longer than even she anticipated. He’s able to block one of the two swords she hurls at him with great speed, but not the second, which pierces through his abdomen.
Though unhurt, the fighting is enough to make Sa-kwang break a sweat. She knows Bang-ji is no easy foe, which is why she has to end it, and soon. Bang-ji seems to pick up on the fact that she’s tiring quickly all while mentally breaking down her techniques, which are deceptively simple.
She’s also scrutinizing his technique, recognizing Jang Sam-bong’s hand in his training. “Our ill-fated relationship goes deeper than I thought,” she murmurs. Her goal is to get Bang-ji running so he bleeds out, while his is to keep her fighting and (hopefully) tire her out.
Moo-hyul races toward the sound of swords clashing, just as Bang-ji lands his first real hit on Sa-kwang’s leg. Her startled and hurt reaction actually earns a small chuckle from Bang-ji, who rightly guesses, “This is your first time getting cut by a sword, isn’t it?”
While she’s otherwise occupied, Jung Mong-joo reaches the infamous Sonjukkyo Bridge (infamous, of course, for what happens next), where Bang-won waits for him.
Relieved that he made it before Bang-ji could be killed, Moo-hyul recognizes the stance Sa-kwang takes as the one she took before she cut the palanquin in half—the same move her ancestor coined to cut both horse and rider in half.
All Moo-hyul can do is yell “Don’t block! MOVE!” as Sa-kwang launches into the air, and thankfully, Bang-ji dives to avoid being killed. That’s when Moo-hyul joins in the fight, but even with the two-to-one odds in their favor, he knows they still won’t be able to defeat her.
Recalling Master Hong’s advice that he should look to the person and not the technique itself for a weakness to exploit, Moo-hyul also recalls how Sa-kwang had confessed she had little experience in real battles. If that was the case, Master Hong had guessed, then she wouldn’t have the capability to react timely to unexpected situations.
It’s this, and her unwillingness to kill, that Moo-hyul banks everything on as he drops his sword to the ground and runs straight for her. Using her split-second moment of hesitation and confusion, he locks a hand around her throat with all the forward momentum he can muster, sending the two of them down the nearest slope in a blur of speed and brute force.
On the bridge, Bang-won gives Jung Mong-joo one more chance to give up on Goryeo, which the scholar vows he will never do for as long as he’s a Confucian scholar.
He thinks Bang-won is going to use “the people” as reasoning against him, only for Bang-won to surprise him by replying that the people don’t care what happens to the nation. “What would it matter to the people whether it happens this way or that? Whether you lose the land or Sambong establishes a new country, it does not matter to them at all.”
As long as they have food and joy in their lives, he claims, that’s enough for them. Which is when he recites an extremely (historically) significant portion of what’s since become a sijo, or traditional three-verse Korean poem: “Who would blame the arrowroots of Mount Mansu for being tangled together?”
His meaning being that no one would blame him if he joined hands with Jung Do-jeon for the greater good of the people, which isn’t a concern for Poeun the way it is for them. A country and system are needed to guide the people and earn their devotion, he claims, which is definitely not a concern for Bang-won. Remember, he’s the one who said “new people are born every day.”
Eyes glistening, Bang-won gives him one last chance to change his mind, as the slow clanking sound of Young-kyu’s mace draws ever closer. That’s when Jung Mong-joo recites a version of his part in the sijo: “Kill me and kill me again. Try to kill me a hundred times! Until all of my bones rot and my body returns to the earth and becomes dust, you shall not gain a piece of my fiercely loyal heart.”
Bang-won can’t help but admire his resolve as tears stream down his cheeks. But Jung Mong-joo has one final warning for him, in that history will never forget this moment (and not in the good way). Bang-won’s name will always be entwined with his from this moment forward, which he seems to take some pleasure in predicting.
“So be it!” Bang-won proclaims. “If my name cannot be tied with yours in this life, then let it go down with yours in history!” He calls Young-kyu forward, and Jung Mong-joo uses his last moments to think of the absurdity of it all. He’d hoped to use his life to sustain Goryeo for a thousand years, but now, his beloved country will die while he’ll live on forever.
With that, Young-kyu swings the mace down on Jung Mong-joo’s head in a splatter of blood, and keeps bludgeoning him even after he falls in an increasingly sickening sequence. Bang-won doesn’t stop him, nor does he avert his eyes.
Having just watched the forest fight scene between Sa-kwang and the boys (this being the second time someone’s disappeared over a cliff only for him to go, “Welp, there’s no way of knowing how that turned out,”) Gil Sun-mi reaches the small crowd gathered around the pool of blood and flesh that was Jung Mong-joo.
Much to his surprise, Jung Do-jeon is released from prison that very same night. He’s greeted by Bang-won, who tells him the news, bows respectfully, and departs. Jung Do-jeon instantly loses his ability to stay upright.
Bang-won turns to comfort Young-kyu, still spattered with blood and shaking from the shock of it all. “You’ve done a great thing. A great thing,” he stresses. And because of that, everything will change.
It’s only when Bang-won returns to Boon-yi that he allows himself to show any sign of weakness by falling to his knees in front of her. She puts a hand on his back for comfort, but says nothing.
Tears are shed within the palace and without over the murder of Jung Mong-joo, but it’s not until Jung Do-jeon goes to the crime scene himself that it really sets in. There, the body of his once best friend and sworn brother lies covered in a straw mat, and the sight of it seems to fill him not with sadness, but with fury.
Before they can send out a search party for him, Bang-ji returns, holding his bleeding gut with one hand. Poor Grandma is sent into fits when he reveals that Moo-hyul and Sa-kwang fell off a cliff together, and that he knows no more than that. Because cliffs in this show’s universe are bottomless black holes.
Moo-hyul awakens at the bottom of that black hole, and wonders if Sa-kwang used the falling technique Bang-ji described to slow their descent downward and save their lives.
Feeling for her breath, Moo-hyul quickly discovers that she’s alive. His first instinct is to grab a nearby sword as if to stab her prone form, but he just can’t bring himself to do it.
While Boon-yi uses her people to comb the mountainside for him, Sa-kwang awakens in a cave, with her wounds bandaged and a fire lit nearby. Aww, Moo-hyul, you big ol’ teddy bear.
Jung Do-jeon copes with his friend’s death by raging against Confucianism, and takes to tearing up all the books that led him to this point and the written papers detailing his great cause. What does it matter when their cause is as good as dead now anyway? What does it matter when nothing in those books could be used to convince Jung Mong-joo?
Da-kyung is the one to tell Bang-won that his father wants to see him, and reassures him that it’s not because he wants to kill him. In a surprisingly tender moment, she adds, “I’m sure no one has told you this yet: You did well.”
Indeed, Lee Seong-gye doesn’t want to kill his son, and instead tosses him a dagger with the instruction to kill himself for his crimes. Bang-won takes it wordlessly, bringing the blade up to his neck…
But his father knocks it out of his hand with an ink stone, demanding to know why his son disobeyed his order to stay away from Poeun, only to be all too willing to follow his order for suicide. His voice at a roar, he rails against his son for that temper of his, which he uses to do whatever he wants.
This is what finally breaks Bang-won’s silence as he yells in return, “Even when your path is clearly laid out for you, you still look elsewhere. Why do you have to make this so complicated?” More importantly, what was he supposed to do? Let Jung Do-jeon, Jo Joon, and Officer Nam be executed?
His father doesn’t have much of an answer for that, since he’s more upset over the fact that Bang-won killed what little remained of the people’s sentiment and respect toward them.
With a frustrated sigh, Bang-won returns, “Do we truly need those things to achieve our great cause?” When his father roars that he will not be king, Bang-won tells him to go ahead and quit if he’s so afraid.
Leaving his father shaking with rage, Bang-won is met with his eldest brother’s fist, and his equally unflinching wrath. It’s only because of Bang-gwa interceding that Bang-woo doesn’t kill him where he stands.
Scholars left and right revolt, ready to do everything in their power to ensure that Bang-won receives justice for what he did. They paper the capital with his crimes and call for his execution, in order to rile the people up against him.
Moo-hyul returns home to his very happy Grandma, and lies when he claims that Sa-kwang was gone when he woke up. He makes sure to change the subject away from her and the fact that he was fully intending to sacrifice himself when he went off the edge of that cliff. How about that Jung Mong-joo, huh?
Yeon-hee finds Jung Do-jeon poring over his torn papers, though it’s with a level voice that he says, “In the end, I am the one who killed Poeun. He died because of me.” When asked what he plans to do, it’s revealed that he’s laboriously pieced together all the ripped shreds of his various manifestos.
Folding the last one into a box, he claims to have two options: live mercilessly, or die mercilessly. Now, the only way to redeem their great cause is by following through with the creation of their ideal nation.
There’s nowhere Bang-won can go to escape recognition, which is when Minister Hong’s hallucination comes back to him: “Are you not hesitating out of fear that you will become lonely after the world turns away from you?” Turn away it has, and he looks awfully lonely from here.
The only person to approach him with a friendly face from the crowd is Ha Ryun, even though he wishes Bang-won would have lied low like he told him to. When asked what he would’ve done differently, Ha Ryun says he would’ve had Jung Mong-joo assassinated—sure, the people might wonder, but it would pass like any other rumor.
Bang-won stands at this, defending his choice to murder Jung Mong-joo openly as a justified one. He killed a man about to kill his father and one who was preventing history from moving forward, why should he hide from that?
When Jung Do-jeon goes to visit Lee Seong-gye, the general laments the current state of affairs and knows how the people must think of him. All this means he’s completely unprepared for what Jung Do-jeon tells him to do next: “We must denounce Poeun as a criminal and hang his decapitated head in the marketplace. We must denounce him as a traitor!”
In shock, Lee Seong-gye asks him if he’s out of his goddamned mind—Jung Mong-joo was bludgeoned to death with a mace for coming to visit his sickbed, and he wants to hang his head for all to see? He didn’t even do that to his worst enemies on the battlefield.
Calm and collected, Jung Do-jeon asks if he’d rather build a monument commending Poeun for his loyalty, or maybe even a commemorative shrine while he’s at it. “We must assume responsibility,” he says. That’s what politics is, and that’s what politicians do. Poeun made his choice to oppose them as a politician, and took responsibility by dying for it.
And the only way they can take responsibility now is to achieve their great cause no matter what. If not, they should all die. “If Poeun had not died, then I would have.” Plus, people like Jo Joon, Officer Nam, and the perpetually missing Shin-jeok—people they can put to great use in their cause—would have died.
Jung Do-jeon: “It is my burden to bear. My first mistake was when I thought that Poeun would easily agree with my thinking, which I believed was right. My second mistake was that even though I knew striking down close friends would be much harder than striking down my enemies, I wished to ignore it.
And at least, to Poeun… my desire to be acknowledged by him… that was my third mistake. I fully accept my responsibility. However, as long as we are alive, as long as we cannot die, we must assume responsibility.”
Bang-won, who’s been eavesdropping on their conversation, doesn’t look very pleased.
Moo-hyul returns to the cave he left Sa-kwang in with food, only to find it empty. Before he can turn around, he finds a sword held to his neck—and a bloodied and bruised Sa-kwang on the other end of it. “What happened?” she asks.
Jung Do-jeon seems unsurprised to find Bang-won outside, and reacts levelly to Bang-won’s defense that there was nothing else he could’ve done by agreeing.
But when Bang-won says that he was fully prepared to face the consequences for his actions, he doesn’t seem prepared for what Jung Do-jeon says next: “There is no longer a place for you in this great cause. I’m sure you were prepared for that much, at least.”
Mustering up his courage, Bang-won fires back, “Is it not true that there was no place for me in this great cause to begin with?” Jung Do-jeon turns around then, and meets Bang-won’s challenging gaze head-on.
I know Bang-won wishes he didn’t have to seek Jung Do-jeon’s approval with every fiber of his being, but there’s still that part of him that just wants to belong to something, isn’t there? Which is why it hurts to see him kicked while he’s already down (so to speak), enough to make one wonder whether a bit of kindness and understanding on Jung Do-jeon’s part might’ve made enough of a difference to change the course of history.
On second thought: Nah. Bang-won is perhaps the greediest out of everyone, and likely wouldn’t change his course even if Jung Do-jeon showered him with gold stars and constant praise. Because at the end of the day, what he wants is power, and he wouldn’t get an iota of it if Jung Do-jeon gets to create the exact nation he wants. What makes Bang-won an untrustworthy player in the greater scheme of things is that he wants to cherry pick the pieces of Jung Do-jeon’s life’s work that work best for him, and to exorcise the pieces that don’t.
Still, it’s hard not to feel even a little sorry for him, since he was the only one who was willing to do what was necessary for the creation of their new nation. That Jung Do-jeon recognizes how important his contribution was while at the same time ostracizing him for it speaks to a double standard within him, since without Bang-won, he and his dream would be dead. And yet there he was, ready to do absolutely nothing about it. What did everyone think was going to happen?
Props definitely go to Boon-yi for being as rationally ruthless as Bang-won, even though she’ll take none of the heat from his actions. And in a way, Jung Do-jeon surprised me by turning the brutal murder of his friend into a boon for their cause, especially since it was his idea to desecrate the corpse and display Jung Mong-joo’s severed head for all to see. If ever there was a character who could turn lemons into lemonade, Jung Do-jeon would be it.
But while we’re on the subject, if—and I’m just saying if—there was ever a show that could make a pairing out of the deadliest warrior to have ever existed and the derpiest, it’d be Six Flying Dragons. (Hint, hint.)
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- 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
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