Jackpot: Episode 12
There’s still a lot of juggling going on when it comes to the politics and the gambling, though this episode finds some much-needed focus in the character of Prince Yeoning. He’s the tie that binds the two storylines together, and the only free agent who can move in and out of both worlds almost seamlessly. Watching his growing friendship with Dae-gil is proving to be one of Jackpot’s stronger assets (no one beats Choi Min-soo, of course), so, bring on the teamwork.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tablo (feat. Jinsil) – “Bad” [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
While Dae-gil struggles with the shock of seeing former slave Seol-im in Yook Gwishin’s casino, she doesn’t seem hardly as fazed. She’s here on behalf of her new master, the angsty gambler Kejakdu, and tells the scarred swindler that while he can lose everything, her master doesn’t want him to lose his life.
She’s here to make sure that doesn’t happen, and doesn’t allow herself to be pulled by the wrist when Dae-gil tries to talk to her in private. “The Seol-im you once knew no longer exists,” she tells him flatly. “I now belong to Kejakdu.”
Injwa and his cronies come to watch the match, and settle in for the long haul as Dae-gil and Yook Gwishin sit at a new gambling table, now without human baduk pieces. For his part, Dae-gil bets the deeds of twelve gambling dens he took from Injwa, which are worth about ten thousand nyang total. On top of that, he’ll also bet his life, because you just can’t gamble in this show without one.
In return, Yook Gwishin agrees to bet his own gambling den, as well as his life. Injwa decides to join in on the fun so he’s not just a spectator, and opens the floor to allow himself and others to bet on who they think will win. Injwa himself bets two chests of gold worth at least five thousand nyang on Dae-gil.
As the two gamblers begin their game, we return to Prince Yeoning facing off against the warrior Jin-ki for the slave papers he seeks. Yeoning clearly hits a nerve when he calls Jin-ki out for being a former military officer, only to now be nothing more than Injwa’s dog.
Knowing that he can’t win against Jin-ki in battle, he offers to pay him for his help. When that fails, Yeoning tosses in two jars of oil and throws in a torch, locking Jin-ki inside the now-burning room. Of course, Jin-ki just breaks himself out, leaving Yeoning with no other choice but to run for his life.
Back in the game, Yook Gwishin has only to roll two sixes in order to win. But when he tips over the cup containing the dice, one comes out broken, leaving him unable to win.
Turns out, Dae-gil had cracked the wooden die in his hand before giving it over to ensure that this would happen, but it doesn’t do him much good. They’ll have to play the round again with a new set of dice to determine the winner, but only when they can bring a set of dice that aren’t rigged to roll double sixes. Whether it’s a sleight of hand on Dae-gil’s part or a ton of rigged dice on Yook Gwishin’s part, all the rolls reveal double sixes.
In order to appease Dae-gil, Yook Gwishin asks if anyone else has a pair of dice, and a raggedy child from the human baduk group comes forward to give a pair. Either way, this roll will decide the winner of the game, but Dae-gil changes the rules: If Gwishin rolls anything but double threes, he’ll win.
But if he rolls exactly double threes, Dae-gil wins, and he’ll take all the disenfranchised human baduk pieces with him. Injwa cautions Yook Gwishin against agreeing to the bet, but Gwishin’s so sure he’ll win, with the odds being so highly in his favor.
Of course, he reveals double threes, meaning that Dae-gil’s won. It wasn’t by sheer luck, since the child who provided the dice did so because Dae-gil gave them to him, but Yook Gwishin doesn’t know that. He only grows more enraged when Dae-gil tells him to spit out all the money he’s taken from the poor, but as Dae-gil told him once before, “I’m just that lucky.”
Yook Gwishin’s minions attack Dae-gil, who easily fends them off. He draws his sword when Gwishin comes for him, and delivers a slash to the bear man’s chest, which actually seems to scare Gwishin. “Have you ever killed someone?” the gambler asks, as though he’s hoping Dae-gil won’t have the courage. “Don’t just pretend to be tough and try it. Try to kill me, you bastard!”
But Dae-gil sheathes his sword instead, telling him that it’d be easier to give that pleasure to all the people he’s exploited. It’s not the human baduk pieces who tear him to shreds though—it’s Seol-im who stabs him in the ribs, as revenge for him killing her parents.
The enormous gambler plucks the dagger from his side like a needle before grabbing Seol-im in a chokehold, threatening her with the bloody blade. As if to make her suffering greater, Yook Gwishin tells her that he poisoned her father’s drink before he died.
“And how do you feel?” Seol-im asks, before biting his hand to free herself. Ah, so that’s why we saw her refilling his drink—she used the same poison against Gwishin that he used against her father.
As if by magic, the effects take hold just then, causing Yook Gwishin to fall to his knees. Seol-im takes hold of the dagger and stabs him in the gut, crying, as she grits through her teeth that she stayed with Kejakdu and went through hell just to stay close to Gwishin, waiting for a chance to get her revenge.
All those he’s exploited then descend upon Yook Gwishin. Meanwhile, the fight goes on with Jin-ki and Yeoning, though Jin-ki finds himself outnumbered when Yeoning finally calls all his guards forward. Injwa makes his presence known to Yeoning then, claiming that he couldn’t care less about Gwishin’s fate.
But he can’t leave without speaking in vague metaphors to Yeoning, before getting to the real point: He’ll pay him back for that punch to the face threefold. “Perhaps you’ll even have to give up everything you have,” he adds.
Prince Yeoning attempts to put a stop to the beating going on in the gambling den, even though those dishing it out claim that Yook Gwishin deserves it. Which, clearly, he does.
With no other way to stop them, Prince Yeoning sinks to his knees. “I will ask for forgiveness,” he says, causing the room to fall into a hushed silence as his guards also kneel behind him. “For the sin of putting the people of this nation through this indignity, for failing to notice the people’s tears, and for allowing the people to fall to such lows, I ask for forgiveness. So please, stop.”
After his guards bid him to rise, he starts to go into how the slave papers have all been turned to ash (meaning that the people are free), only for someone to rush in screaming, “FIRE!” Did Yeoning forget that fire spreads?
Everyone evacuates save for Yook Gwishin, who declares his intention to go down with his gambling ship. He gets that wish with two arrows to the back, delivered by a female assassin in black. Is that you, Dam-seo?
Prince Yeoning runs out to look for her, and she’s thrown into a flashback of their night together as she watches him from a distance. But when he turns toward her, she’s gone.
Dae-gil, Seol-im, and all the mistreated commoners look on as the gambling den burns, with the man who once owned them burning inside. Dae-gil and Seol-im leave the cheering lot with much more sober expressions, saying nothing to Yeoning as they pass.
Though Yeoning upheld his end of the bargain by freeing Merchant Baek and his people from Yook Gwishin, the merchant doesn’t have the ledger he promised him, having already sold it to the gambler Golsa. (One of the Three—… er, now Two Gamblers.)
Dae-gil brings Seol-im home to grandpa, who jokes that her name sounds like seol lim, or “heart flutter.” Grandpa asks all the questions that a father would, like what their relationship is, who her parents were, how old she is, etc. It’s adorable.
Grandpa fusses over Seol-im as if she were already part of the family, making it clear to Dae-gil that he should just hurry up and make it happen. But Dae-gil, who was all too ready to take a random stranger for his wife before, now claims that it’s just not like that with Seol-im.
Using the earnings from betting on Dae-gil, Injwa bribes those ministers Yeoning was trying to get to abandon him back over to his side. On top of that, he asked them to exert some influence with the crown prince, which they’ve already done.
Cut to Prince Yeoning reeling from the news that his hyung, Crown Prince Yoon, is removing him from his position in the Office of Inspector General. The knowledge that Yeoning got on his knees in front of the people to apologize on his behalf infuriates the crown prince, who tells his brother that he couldn’t excuse his shameful actions even if he had a hundred mouths.
Now that Yeoning’s had his wings cut off, he won’t be able to push that lift on the merchant ban through, which is exactly what Injwa and his cohorts wanted. But Injwa knows that it won’t be enough, something that Chief State Councilor Kim Chang-jip also knows, since he advises the young prince to go to the only person that can help him now: his father.
Kneeling before King Sukjong, the prince says he’s come to seek his advice, which sounds ironic to the king’s ears since he used the last bit of advice he gave him to shoot himself in the foot. Still, the ailing king challenges his son by asking whether he truly considers himself powerless without his position, which, at the end of the day, was just a title.
He compares the tide of public opinion to the water in his kingly bowl, which flows in whatever direction the bowl is tilted. “Are you the water, or the bowl?” he asks his son, his voice taking on a hard edge.
It’s up to Yeoning to decide where the water will be poured, or whether he’ll just allow himself to be swayed like the water in the bowl, the king warns. “Whether you live or die, act as though you are holding the bowl.” That’s his advice, and Yeoning vows to take it.
Meanwhile, Seol-im tells Dae-gil about what happened to her after they last parted, which we see in flashback. Having resolved to die if it meant getting revenge on Yook Gwishin for killing her parents, Seol-im had made an attempt on his life while he was meeting with the brooding gambler Kejakdu.
Her attempt had been foiled, and Yook Gwishin had been ready to chop off her hand for it, but was stopped by Kejakdu. He got an axe to his forearm for his efforts, but had just as easily plucked it out and warned Yook Gwishin against laying a hand on the girl. (It’s a fine in-show reason for his arm to be in a sling, though poor Kim Sung-oh actually injured it.)
Ever since that day, as Seol-im explains to Dae-gil in the present, she’d dedicated herself to Kejakdu until she could get a chance to kill Yook Gwishin. She plans to tell him that she’ll be leaving him now that her revenge is complete.
Yeoning finds the two of them drinking together and crashes their party, only to find himself disappointed when even Seol-im doesn’t treat him with respect, just like someone he knows. “I’m older than you,” Dae-gil explains, only for Yeoning to retort, “What does that matter? We’re friends.” Awwwwwwwww.
It’s unclear whether Dae-gil agrees with this assessment of their relationship, but if Yeoning really wants to commit to it, he’ll have to call Dae-gil “hyungnim” out of respect. Seol-im doesn’t see what Yeoning’s problem is with this idea, it’s not like he’s a prince or anything…
Once Seol-im hears the truth, she has to spend the rest of the conversation with her arms up in the air as punishment. Hah. It’s even funnier that Yeoning has to keep reminding her to keep her arms there whenever she tries to cut in on their conversation about taking on the gambler Golsa next, since she seems to know some helpful information.
Since Golsa is Dae-gil’s next target anyway, Yeoning asks to be included in his plan. In order to achieve his goal of abolishing the ban on small merchants, he needs the ledger that was sold to Golsa. Plus, getting rid of Golsa would help him achieve his primary goal of cutting off Injwa’s revenue stream.
At last, Yeoning allows Seol-im to rest her arms and speak. Just as she’s about to tell them what she knows about Golsa, Grandpa comes barging in at the name, yelling “GOLSAAA!” the way one might yell “KHAAAN!” so we know they have a past together.
He tells the three youths that Golsa is the one who took his eye when he was caught cheating, and again, Seol-im is interrupted before she can tell them what she knows. Instead, Grandpa tells them of the power Golsa holds over the Mapo Port, reigning like a king over all the commerce there.
Once there’s a lull in the conversation, Seol-im finally gets to tell them that Golsa had a child, and that child is still Injwa’s hostage. It would explain why Injwa gets such a huge percentage of Golsa’s earnings, which means that they have to find that hostage if they want to take away Injwa’s power over Golsa and Mapo Port.
Grandpa acts as a distraction so Yeoning can sneak into Golsa’s gambling den, which Hong Mae also has a hand in running(?). Meanwhile, Seol-im does her part by pretending to be a wannabe gisaeng, in order to be accepted by the gibang madam/part-time shaman, which distracts the madam enough for Dae-gil to sneak inside.
The madam thinks Seol-im has a fine enough face to become a gisaeng, but her physiognomy says that she’s a harbinger of great misfortune. She’s kind to others but has no friends, and anyone who touches her will have a hard time avoiding death. Judging by the look on Seol-im’s face, this fortune may well be true.
Seol-im doesn’t get the job, and leaves as disheartened as Dae-gil, who didn’t find what he was looking for. But the madam pursues Seol-im, claiming to be able to teach her how to rid herself of her terrible fortune, so perhaps all is not lost after all.
But a female voice waylays Dae-gil, since she’s able to sense that he has great skill in martial arts. She tells him that there’s nothing to steal, which piques Dae-gil’s interest enough to open the door…
Grandpa’s doing pretty well on his own in the gambling den, though Hong Mae guesses something’s up by the way he’s acting. Plus, she’s seen Yeoning stalking about her casino.
The owner of the female voice is a young noblewoman surrounded by books, and Dae-gil guesses that she might be Golsa’s daughter, and thus, Injwa’s hostage. She hides Dae-gil in her room when the madam comes in to deliver more books to occupy her time, though the madam seems to suspect something amiss.
Once they’re alone again, the girl corrects Dae-gil on his assumption that she’s a hostage, since she gave herself to Injwa of her own accord to save her father. (So… she’s a hostage.)
Since she claims she can leave whenever she wants, Dae-gil wants her to leave with him, and counterintuitively declares his intention to kill her father. She must’ve heard by now about Yook Gwishin, right? Well, he’s the one who put an end to him.
Cut to Dae-gil greeting her father, the swindler Golsa, who recognizes him as Man-geum’s son. Golsa’s daughter is left waiting anxiously in her prison room, unsure of her father’s fate.
There were some highlights in this episode, and overall, the story’s become a bit easier to follow now that there are more attainable goals for our characters to focus on. Even so, we just can’t seem to escape some genuinely strange editing choices that tend to do the exact opposite of what directing is supposed to do, which is to tell the story in the clearest way possible.
Instead, we got a series of intercutting scenes during the whole divide-and-conquer plan that did very little to give us a sense of time and place, leaving me scratching my head over what it was our good guys were out to achieve, and how exactly they planned on going about it. After their conversation with Grandpa, it sounded like they were going to infiltrate Golsa’s gambling den, but after that, the details get a bit fuzzier.
At first, it seemed like the plan was to take Golsa’s daughter away from Injwa so that he wouldn’t have that bargaining chip to use against Golsa. But that would presume that they’d use Golsa against Injwa, which now doesn’t sound like the plan. Maybe they just wanted to use her against Golsa, but again, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when Dae-gil’s plan is just to kill him. (And even if it is, why would you tell the guy’s daughter that?)
The introduction of her character bring some fresh blood into the mix, so I am interested to see where they’ll take her story. Similarly, I’m really pleased with the integration of Seol-im as a member of the team, and any ham-handedness with her reintroduction can be forgiven out of consideration for what she brings to the table. Not only did bring some serious, heartfelt drama with the completion of her revenge, but she also brought some much-needed levity, which is probably the greatest gift anyone could give this show at present.
It does leave me wondering what Dam-seo’s role in all this is supposed to be, however, especially since they didn’t even try explaining why she was in Yook Gwishin’s casino or why she thought to kill him. Also, why was that not a thing ever discussed among the three who were there to see it? Are people in Jackpot’s universe so used to random arrows flying that they don’t stop to question who’s shooting them and why anymore?
- Jackpot: Episode 11
- Jackpot: Episode 10
- Jackpot: Episode 9
- Jackpot: Episode 8
- Jackpot: Episode 7
- Jackpot: Episode 6
- Jackpot: Episode 5
- Jackpot: Episode 4
- Jackpot: Episode 3
- Jackpot: Episode 2
- Jackpot: Episode 1
- Yeo Jin-gu as a young future king in Jackpot
- Jang Geun-seok as Joseon’s top gambler in Jackpot
- Flipping tables against fate in SBS’s Jackpot
- Hyun-woo added to Jackpot as King Gyeongjong