Jackpot: Episode 13
It’s nice to have some smiles and general merriment this hour, even though things seem poised to take an even darker turn sooner than we’d probably like. Still, it’s one of those cases where you just have to enjoy it while you can, since happiness is so fleeting in the world of Jackpot—someone’s win is always somebody else’s loss, and nothing comes cheap.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tim – “기대도 돼 (Lean On Me)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
In a bid to get the swindler Golsa’s daughter YEON-HWA up and on her feet, Dae-gil tries to present himself as a threat to her father in the hopes that she’ll take the bait and do something about it.
But while she knows that he’s infamous for killing Yook Gwishin and for taking down multiple casinos while wearing Injwa’s signature white mask, she still has no faith in his ability to take Injwa down. “No matter how hard you try, you can’t destroy him,” she grits out, seemingly from experience.
Dae-gil begs to differ, and defends his decision to face Injwa again, even after losing to him so many times. “Because I have to confront him,” he explains. “If I don’t, nothing will change.” He knows that Yeon-hwa’s staying under Injwa’s power in order to save her father, but argues that she’ll accomplish nothing without doing something.
In flashback, we see the rest of Seol-im’s fortune (or misfortune, really), as revealed by the all-knowing shamanistic madam. According to the madam, Seol-im has only two options: she can either live out the rest of her life alone in order to save others from her misfortune, or she’ll end up killing the one she loves.
By the look on Seol-im’s face when Dae-gil approaches her, it’s clear that he’s the one she loves and is now afraid of inadvertently killing. She doesn’t betray any of this to Dae-gil though, and keeps as cheery an expression as she can manage.
Dae-gil updates Prince Yeoning on his progress with Yeon-hwa, but adds that she was never part of his plan to defeat Golsa. The prince, however, is part of that plan, since he needs Yeoning to use his Office of Inspector General powers to get Golsa’s men out of the way. That way, he and Golsa will be free to gamble.
Prince Yeoning has a bit of an “uh oh” moment as he reveals that he’s been stripped of his rank and position, which means he won’t have the sway Dae-gil was counting on. Regardless, he says he’ll find another way to help.
Seol-im, meanwhile, returns to broody gambler Kejakdu to declare that she’ll be leaving him. He looks heartbroken as he tells her to at least wait until the morning to leave, which seems to be his own way of delaying the inevitable. A flashback reveals that she’d once promised her life in exchange for his help, only for him to chastise her over treating her life as though it were worth so little.
Thanks to his informants, Injwa knows exactly when Dae-gil’s planning to spring his trap on Golsa, and papers the capital and surrounding areas with leaflets proclaiming Dae-gil’s intention to do just that. Now everyone knows.
And because everyone knows, including those Soron ministers who depend on Golsa’s control of Mapo, they can work to upend Dae-gil’s plans. Strangely, this also matters to Chief State Councilor Kim, who confronts Prince Yeoning with the leaflet and demands to know if he knew what this Baek Dae-gil character was up to.
Prince Yeoning says that whatever Dae-gil was planning is besides the point—he’s going after Injwa himself. He proposed the lift on the merchant ban in order to cut off Injwa’s ties to the select few who control trade, but in order to get that passed, he needs the ledger of damning records currently in Golsa’s hands.
Councilor Kim is no friend of Injwa’s, but he expresses his doubt over Yeoning’s assuredness—will taking down one gambler really affect Injwa? Yeoning reminds him that the port of Mapo is the richest port in all of Joseon, and Golsa has absolute control over everything that goes in and out of it.
Because of that, he also has control over any officials who might challenge him, which means Yeoning will need Councilor Kim’s help. The chief state councilor agrees to use his resources, but in return, he wants Yeoning to turn the ledger over to him and step away from the matter entirely.
The Soron ministers piece together who Dae-gil is thanks to Injwa reminding them that he was the one the king gave his sword to after the assassination incident two years(!) ago.
As is typical, when Injwa’s asked to explain why Dae-gil’s burning his way through casinos and why Yeoning’s been hanging out with him, Injwa just chooses not to. (“It’s a long story,” he literally says.)
King Sukjong calls Lady Choi in to confront her with the leaflet and the truth: Neither Dae-gil or Yeoning know they’re brothers, and the situation they’re getting into with Injwa could spell disaster. “What are you going to do if they end up drawing swords against each other?” he asks her.
It’s up to Lady Choi to fix this situation, the king adds, because she’s the mother of both boys. All this began with her, and it needs to end with her. But Lady Choi, already ailing, can only faint under the stress of it all.
Thanks to Councilor Kim’s connections, Prince Yeoning is able to enlist help from the Hansungbu, or regional administrative office (technically a governing office, one of many that controlled different provinces), so that their men can take on the minions Golsa throws at Dae-gil.
After Golsa’s men are subdued as well as the officials Golsa bought off, Prince Yeoning can only look to Dae-gil as he thinks, “Now that I’ve set the stage, the rest is up to you.”
Dae-gil arrives in Golsa’s casino within the timeframe the leaflets proclaimed he would, and is welcomed by Golsa, who’s now had ample time to prepare for him. He proposes a game of dominos, only for Dae-gil to bring his sword down on the playing table to make his point (har) that the dominos have been rigged.
Likewise, he’s able to point out how Golsa’s rigged his other games with only a cursory examination of the playing pieces. By chopping another one of the tables in half, he reveals the cards hidden underneath, which is more than enough to prove that he can’t be fooled.
Golsa presents a deck of cards for Dae-gil’s inspection, which he deems to be free from trickery. It’s only when Golsa asks why Dae-gil put up the posters declaring his intentions that Dae-gil pauses—he’d assumed Golsa put up the posters in an attempt to catch him.
Before they begin, Golsa explains the rules, which only differ from every other game of tujeon in one respect: before revealing their hand, they can choose to switch one of their cards with one of their opponent’s (blind, of course). The best out of three wins.
Dae-gil wins the first round, but suspects that Golsa intentionally lost. For the second, Golsa takes one of his cards, which proves to be the card he needed to win. Now, Dae-gil can only wonder how Golsa knew which card to pick.
As Dae-gil shuffles, he asks Golsa if he’s ever lost at a game of tujeon. Seemingly unable to comprehend how bad an idea answering his question is, Golsa admits that the only game he ever lost was to Kejakdu.
Remembering how Kejakdu was described as having superhuman hearing, Dae-gil focuses all his senses on listening to the deck as he shuffles it, in order to differentiate the sound of each card. I think.
But before they can play their deciding round, Injwa interrupts by having Nameless hold a sword to Yeon-hwa’s neck. With his daughter’s life on the line, Injwa expects Golsa to put his all into winning.
Dae-gil knows that Injwa was behind the posters, but it doesn’t matter much now. Yeon-hwa offers to shuffle the deck in order to make sure Dae-gil can’t pull any tricks, but it’s actually a trick on her part—she had practiced dealing cards with her father, who could pick out each card just by sound.
Similarly, she can recognize each card by sound as well, and knows which cards she ends up dealing to the two men. Her father has a pair, and Yeon-hwa knows that if Dae-gil were to switch out cards with him, he’d win, and her father would lose.
Dae-gil reaches over to make the switch, but at the last moment, decides he’d rather keep the hand he has. Before they reveal their hands, Dae-gil makes sure to hear Golsa say he’ll give his casino to Dae-gil if he loses (since he’s so positive he’ll win). Dae-gil agrees, but adds that the loser must grant the winner one wish.
When it comes time to turn over their cards, Golsa’s hand is not the pair he and his daughter expected. Dae-gil smirks knowingly and calls the gambler out for using the ol’ sound trick, revealing that he scratched the cards with his fingernails while shuffling in order to change their sound. (We gotta just go with it at this point.)
Golsa is gobsmacked that Dae-gil did so without being detected, but Injwa is much less amused. He gives Nameless the go-ahead to kill Yeon-hwa, but the downward swing of his sword is blocked by Dae-gil’s before it can land.
Instead of fighting Nameless, Dae-gil heads straight for Injwa. A last minute save by Yeoning intercepts Jin-ki’s blade, and while those two are otherwise occupied, Dae-gil makes a flying leap through the air toward Injwa.
He and Injwa engage in a very brief battle, which ends in a standstill when all the men find themselves pointing swords at each other. It’d be a domino effect of death if one of them were to strike, so they decide to just call it.
Injwa, however, addresses all the extras in the casino with a note promising one thousand nyang to whoever kills Dae-gil. When he ups the ante to five thousand nyang, everyone pulls out their daggers, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Merchant Baek and his men, finally ready to make good on his debt to Dae-gil. Is there anyone else who hasn’t yet made a surprise appearance? Dam-seo, now’s your chance!
It’s Golsa who puts a stop to the madness, sparing a word to Injwa about how a man should accept his losses. Once he’s acknowledged Dae-gil’s win, Dae-gil tears up the promissory notes Injwa was willing to give in return for his life.
Since Injwa can never technically lose when he’s always playing a different game, he suddenly acts like he didn’t just lose a casino, and claims that he only came to watch their game for the thrills. (His real reason was so that he could shape Dae-gil’s experiences for his greater purpose.)
Before he goes, he tells Dae-gil that he’ll be faced with a crossroads soon. And when he finds himself there, Injwa wants him to remember these words: “There are no everlasting friends or enemies in this world.”
Golsa gives Prince Yeoning the ledger he’s been after, but warns that its contents will incite both Norons and Sorons alike. Dae-gil gets the casino as promised, and as for the wish Golsa owes, he leaves the taking of it to Grandpa.
Grandpa wants revenge for the eye Golsa took from him when he was caught cheating, only to be caught off guard when Golsa gives him a formal bow of apology—it was an arrogant mistake he made when he was younger.
Surprisingly, Grandpa accepts his apology good-naturedly, which means smiles all around. Dae-gil is greeted by dozens of thankful merchants outside the casino, causing Prince Yeoning to note that he’s become a hero.
“Don’t you still need to thank me?” Dae-gil teases. Yeoning laughs and thanks him all the same, and the two part ways amicably.
Yeon-hwa is incensed to see Dae-gil leave with a crowd of cheering followers after taking her father’s casino, but Golsa’s already made peace with it. He’d rather focus on his daughter getting married, and wonders what she thinks about Dae-gil as a potential husband. She doesn’t seem to hate the idea, at least.
Now it’s all about that ledger and whose hands it falls into, with the ministers on Injwa’s side determined to take it for themselves. Prince Yeoning delivers it to Councilor Kim, relieved that his name was not among those who gave bribes, took them, or witnessed them.
Now, he has to keep his promise to leave the matter of the ledgers to Councilor Kim, and step away from the matter. Judging by the shady look on the chief state councilor’s face, Yeoning’s trust may have been misplaced.
Dae-gil spends the evening in celebration with Grandpa and Seol-im, but the real party starts when Prince Yeoning arrives. He and Dae-gil drink way too many bottles of wine, and get adorably drunk together. Yeoning can tell Dae-gil’s drunk when he refers to him as “Your Highness,” since he never uses such formalities. Hah.
The revelry ends when Prince Yeoning is called back to the palace to meet with his father, who doesn’t mince words as he asks his son why he and Dae-gil are close. Does he think Dae-gil is his friend? At his status?
“It was when I threw aside my position, status, and self-interests that my eyes were truly opened,” Prince Yeoning explains, his voice steady. “It was then that I saw a friend in someone I didn’t before. I was finally able to see the pain the people suffered, which I knew of but ignored.”
King Sukjong says that that’s all well and good, but is Yeoning willing to give his life for that friend of his? Is he willing to give his throne for the people? “If you cannot do those things, then that person is not your friend, nor are the people of this nation yours.” More importantly, the king adds, it’s time for his son to act according to his status.
Dae-gil has Seol-im to keep him company in Yeoning’s absence, and we find the two staring up at the stars together. When Seol-im asks what Dae-gil’s dream is, he flashes back to the crowd cheering him on as Yook Gwishin’s casino burned.
“I don’t know what my dream is,” Dae-gil confesses. “But I think I’d like to become someone else’s dream.” Seol-im: “Can you become my dream?” He blinks at her as she explains that she’d rather have a dream she can make a reality rather than an unreachable goal, her meaning apparent to both of them.
And because neither of them really know how to proceed, they part ways for the evening on an awkward note. It’s only then that Dae-gil becomes aware of another presence, who rounds the corner to make himself known.
It’s Kejakdu, who throws his signature blade at Dae-gil to see how he reacts. Dae-gil catches the flying blade by its handle and throws it back, but he’s much too slow for Kejakdu, who’s already at his table by the time Dae-gil turns around.
“What are you going to do with Seol-im?” the gambler asks, only for Dae-gil to reply that she plans on leaving him. The gauntlet seemingly thrown between them, Kejakdu takes his leave, but not without calling his guards to account for getting themselves spotted by Dae-gil. (He’s nice about it, at least.)
Seol-im sees Dae-gil off, unable to shake the madam’s fateful curse. She’s planning to heed the madam’s advice and remove herself from everyone and everything, but is kidnapped with a hand over her mouth before she can go anywhere.
Grandpa finds a letter in her place, along with one of her straw shoes. Clearly, she left in a hurry.
Dae-gil shows up at his new casino the next morning, and receives a very reluctant greeting from Yeon-hwa, who says he’ll never take her father’s place. Dae-gil claims he has no need of it, and is there only to see to it that he grants Golsa the favor he asked of him.
But when he goes to Golsa’s room, he finds the man lying in a pool of blood with Dam-seo standing above him, sword at the ready.
Even after seeing Dae-gil, she attempts to stab downward toward the prone form, only for Dae-gil to swat her blade away with his own. “What do you think you’re doing?” he asks, holding his sword to her neck.
I’m going to go ahead and work off the assumption that Dam-seo isn’t the murderer for three reasons: (1) The unwelcome visitor who came calling on Golsa wore white socks, (2) if his murderer came the night before, she/he wouldn’t still be there murdering in the morning, and (3) it would just be way too obvious. Even for Jackpot.
I wasn’t expecting the Golsa storyline to go by so quickly, especially since that means Dae-gil’s beaten two of the three mini-bosses leading up to Injwa with very little effort on his part. Even so, I was surprised at how likable Golsa remained, which had much to do with him taking his loss so gracefully. Or maybe it’s just because he got in a lick with Injwa about how one should lose gracefully, which is something that Injwa seems to know nothing about.
Already, the story seems to be setting itself up for the eventual face-off between our two brothers, which is something I’m more than happy to not think about at present. The two are absolutely lovable as friends, which seems to be a phase that the adults in their lives are all too ready to end. I get it on Injwa’s side (by which I mean I don’t get it, because I don’t get him), but et tu, King Sukjong?
Though King Sukjong’s presence in the story has been much more minimal than is deserved, I’ve really loved how he uses what little time he has to speak sense, which has become an increasingly rare commodity these days. Every time we see him he says something profound, and he’s established himself as someone who, unlike Injwa, means every single word he says. Whether he’s interfering with Yeoning and Dae-gil’s relationship because he genuinely believes they can’t be friends remains to be seen, but he does enjoy testing his favorite son’s mettle, and this might just be another one of those tests.
And while I don’t think Yeoning cares about the glory of it all yet, it seems as though Dae-gil is beginning to enjoy his newfound role as the people’s champion. Maybe that’s where their conflict will eventually stem from, since Yeoning is putting in just as much work as Dae-gil without the thanks and recognition Dae-gil enjoys. I mean, they’re not going to end up fighting over something like a girl, right?
- Jackpot: Episode 12
- 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