Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 6
I knew it was coming, but I had still held out hope that Gil-dong could be carefree and happy just a while longer. Amogae’s carefully built illegal empire starts to topple like a house of cards, and the greatest victims are the people he loves most: his children. Surprisingly, it’s not Gil-dong or Gil-hyun that I’m most worried about — it’s Eorini, who has no memories of hardship while they still lived as slaves. But I can also see how she could become the pivotal glue that holds this family together as they endure more troubles to come.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Gil-dong scouts out the land he’s set aside for his family to start their farm. Grasping the fertile dirt soil, he smiles and puts some in a gourd to take back to his father.
Choongwongoon wants Amogae to find his runaway servant girl and kill any man who has helped her escape. As they leave, Soboori and Yonggae notice that around his residence, young girls scurry about everywhere (hinting at his proclivity toward pedophilia).
Back at Bandit HQ, Amogae listens with his eyes closed and turns his prayer beads as his gang deliberates on what they should do next. Soboori informs them of a rampant rumor about Choongwongoon beating a female slave to death, earning the wrath of the current king.
Ilchung thinks that Choongwongoon specifically wanted Amogae to carry out this task because he doesn’t want to rile up any more anger from his relative, the king. Amogae opens his eyes and announces his decision: It’s a task given by a royal, so there’s no choice for them but to find the girl.
Team Amogae spreads out, showing copies of the slave girl’s portrait everywhere to ask the region’s people whether they’ve seen her. Yonggae finds her easily as she’s running down a mountain path. They take her back to Amogae and give her a meal, for which she’s exceedingly grateful.
But when they mention that they will be taking her back to Choongwongoon, she abruptly falls to her knees and starts begging Amogae to kill her instead — death would be kinder than going back to the lecherous royal. Amogae acquiesces, and the gang takes her up to the mountains, where she’s presumably going to be executed.
Yonggae holds a knife up to her throat, and she flinches, but doesn’t turn away. Instead of slicing her neck, he cuts off her braid and presents her with a bag of full of clinking money. When she turns back to Amogae in disbelief, he tells her it’s the price of her hair, and warns her to leave straight away and not look back.
She does a full bow on the woodland floor, thanking him. As she leaves, Soboori’s expression is full of discontented unease, and he asks Amogae how he’ll handle the consequences of disobeying a royal. The Ikhwari elder just tells him to bring a similar-sized girl corpse from the next town over.
But of course, this girl does not heed Amogae’s warning and goes back to the house where her grandmother resides. She cries from behind a wall while watching her grandmother eat rice with water (implying that they were too poor to afford even the cheapest banchan to accompany the meal). She throws the bag full of money over the wall, but a figure has been spying on her the entire time. It’s Heotaehak’s son with plans of cold-blooded murder showing through his eyes.
Amogae presents a dead girl’s body to Choongwongoon, claiming that it’s the girl he sought, and that she was discovered near a diseased area. After hearing that, Choongwongoon won’t even look at it, and he tells Amogae to get the corpse out of his sight. When he later meets with Amogae in private, it seems like he did accept the girl’s braid, because he strokes it fondly during their interview.
Amogae, relieved that this task is over, makes his goodbye bow to Choongwongoon. Hearing the note of finality in his tone, Choongwongoon smiles bemusedly and asks whether Amogae doesn’t plan on seeing him anymore, but doesn’t press him any further when Amogae bumbles his answer.
Choongwongoon’s side door opens to reveal Heotaehak and his son, who tell the royal that Amogae is a bald-faced liar. They brag to Choongwongoon that they were the ones who killed the real girl, but instead of thanking them like they expect, he strikes Heotaehak and stands up in a fury. He shouts that they had no right to touch his girl. But then he calms himself down, reflecting that it’s better that she’s dead than in some other man’s arms.
Choongwongoon asks what Heotaehak wants, and his son replies that they want Amogae dead. At first, Choongwongoon doesn’t want to involve himself in the local gangster turf wars, but when the son mentions that Amogae is a threat to Joseon’s social order, he sits back, interested. Heotaehak’s son says that there’s someone he wants Choongwongoon to meet, and the scene cuts to Amogae’s former household mistress.
All of her rich finery is gone now, and she’s reduced to drab peasant clothing. She clutches a bundle full of books for her son, not even sparing money to buy some food despite her obvious hunger. She catches sight of Amogae making his rounds as the Ikhwari elder through the market, and her eyes shed tears of anger.
She goes to Choongwongoon and pleads her case to him, asking that he catch her runaway slave Amogae for her. She’s outraged that Amogae has lived a prosperous life, providing an opportunity-filled childhood for his children, when he is actually the murderer who killed her husband.
Meanwhile, someone finds the slave girl’s corpse at the riverside. Heotaehak and his son approach Magistrate Eom.
Meanwhile, at Bandit HQ, Soboori asks Amogae if he really means to follow Gil-dong and start a farm, and he replies vaguely that it would be a nice life. Soboori grumbles and threatens to move in with their family if Amogae does retire from crook business. Just then, soldiers barge into the courtyard, ready to arrest Amogae for the death of the runaway servant girl.
Although Gil-hyun tries to object, Amogae says that he’ll follow them willingly. Gil-dong stops by a crowd that’s gathered to watch a spectacle. When he sees Amogae being led away to prison by soldiers, he tries to stop the them, to no avail. As he passes by, Amogae quietly whispers to Gil-dong to go find Magistrate Eom.
But the self-serving magistrate is already being persuaded to the other side by Heotaehak’s son, who says that he’s already aware of Amogae’s murder twelve years ago. Although he objects to betraying his loyal friend at first, Magistrate Eom is visibly shaken when Heotaehak’s son warns him to choose sides wisely, and when Gil-dong comes to ask for his help, he doesn’t even let him into the house.
The bandits gather round with Gil-hyun at the head of the table to discuss how they’ll break out their beloved leader. They deduce that Heotaehak is working for Choongwongoon, and that’s why no one is stepping up to help them. Gil-hyun brings out a ledger book full of people who owe a favor to Amogae, and assigns teams to go call those favors in. He tells Gil-dong to go to the prison to comfort their father, but Gil-dong refuses, because he never wanted a criminal for a father.
However, later we see him together with Yonggae visiting Amogae in his solitary cell. They apprise him of the outside situation, and when it dawns on Amogae that Choongwongoon is the real power behind his arrest, he grows quiet. But you can almost see the gears turning in his head as he tries to think of a way out of his dangerous predicament.
Behind him, Gil-dong calls Amogae, not by “Father” as he usually does, but respectfully as “Ikhwari Great Elder.” Surprised, Amogae turns back, and Gil-dong hands him his prayer beads, a silent sign of his social power. It’s a moment that’s laden with meaning — it’s the turning point where Gil-dong accepts that a quiet farm life is no longer an option for them. He lays down his dreams for an ordinary life because his first priority is his father, and they need all the help they can get, illegal or otherwise, to get him out safely.
On their way out, Gil-dong demands that Yonggae pull all the strings necessary to get his father the luxurious comforts possible to make his stay in prison more endurable. Yonggae is surprised to receive such an authority-filled command from the usually laid-back happy-go-lucky Gil-dong. So when Heotaehak comes by Amogae’s cell with his son in tow, he’s surprised by all the food and silk bedding that’s now surrounding Amogae, who’s singing and relaxing more like a man on vacation than a man in prison.
Lounging in his comfortable cell, Amogae taunts Heotaehak by saying once he’s out of prison, he’ll take off the other ear too. To this, Heotaehak takes an alarmed step back and clutches his mangled ear, and using his fear, Amogae bargains with him to gain an audience with his backer, Choongwongoon.
When Amogae meets with the royal, he kneels abjectly and loudly repents for his deception. He even offers to hand over his illegal silver mine business to be extracted from this situation. But Choongwongoon chuckles at him, and says that the mines were his as soon as Amogae stepped into prison, and so that offer is moot.
Clearly ready to defend what’s his, Amogae then tries to use the stick instead of the carrot to persuade Choongwongoon to let him go. He threatens to use all of his connections to prove his innocence, but the royal brings up the homicide case from twelve years ago, and dares Amogae to try his best.
The mistress, who was hidden behind a sliding door listening to everything, reveals herself to the stunned Amogae. His face turns ashen, and she has her moment of triumph when Choongwongoon tells Amogae that he’s decided to help the mistress uphold Joseon’s justice by making sure the former slave stays beaten down.
He confirms that he is truly a psychopath when he shares with Amogae the story of how he cruelly killed several slave girls and wasn’t punished. He calmly explains that even the king couldn’t reprimand him for his crimes, because punishing a royal would disrupt the natural social structure. Heotaehak and his son drag Amogae away, and the mistress cries tears of happiness for finally getting her revenge.
Later, Heotaehak brings up the fact that there’s little evidence tying Amogae to the runaway slave girl, and that framing him and getting the murder conviction to stick would be difficult. Choongwongoon scoffs at his naive belief in the justice system, and tells him to bribe a couple officials to torture Amogae until he dies.
He then tells the gangster to also “take care of” Amogae’s crew, but expresses his doubt at Heotaehak’s ability to do so when he’s already lost once to them before. At this, Heotaehak’s crafty son steps forward and proposes a scheme to use Magistrate Eom to lure Amogae’s family and his followers into a trap.
In the beginning, Magistrate Eom is resistant to the idea of betraying his close friend to appease a disgraced royal, but Heotaehak’s son tells him that the tides are changing in Choongwongoon’s favor. Then, we see Yeonsangun half-heartedly studying and being quizzed by a circle of his tutors.
He mumbles his answers, more concerned with picking at the large blister on his face. However, when he sees the shadow of his father, the king, at the door, he straightens his posture and starts reciting verses more clearly.
But after only a moment of listening from the outside, the king and his retinue continue on their way past Yeonsangun’s classroom, seemingly satisfied enough with his progress. As the shadows grow fainter, Yeonsangun slumps back down, because his hopes to see his father were dashed again.
When the crown prince gets back to his chambers, he grabs a mirror to see if his blister has gotten worse, perhaps worrying that it’s his appearance that’s deterring his father from visiting him. A eunuch announces that Choongwongoon has sent a rare gift: a golden eagle.
When we snap back to Magistrate Eom and Heotaehak’s son, we learn that Choongwongoon has been the only steady source of support that the crown prince has had in the royal palace during these past twelve years when his mother was dethroned and killed. Heotaehak’s son implies to Magistrate Eom that once Yeonsangun ascends the throne, Choongwongoon will be in a position of unrivaled power.
At Bandit HQ, discussions are underway because their attempts at reaching out to people who owe Amogae favors aren’t working too well. Fear of royal retribution has stopped the flow of goodwill that normally would have been on Amogae’s side. They talk about approaching Magistrate Eom again, and just as they’re speaking of him, he comes by to call on Gil-hyun. He informs them that Heotaehak and Choongwongoon know all about Amogae’s murder of his master all those years ago.
Gil-dong argues that his father was let free after the trial for that crime, but Magistrate Eom tells them that this time will be different because the enemy is a royal, not just a minor noble. He suggests that they flee, but Gil-dong won’t leave without his father. Magistrate Eom promises to help Amogae escape with them if they follow his plan.
Later, when Gil-dong and Gil-hyun prepare for their escape, Eorini asks if they’re making the right choice. Gil-hyun says that there is no other option, and Gil-dong nods in agreement, although his expression looks like he has some reservations.
A bloodied and broken Amogae lies on his cell floor when his former mistress comes by to have her final say. She tells him that she’s not angry at him, because it’s not his fault. She works herself up into a passion as she says that it’s the Joseon government’s fault for not controlling its social order, and for allowing slaves like him to rise in the world. Therefore, she says her greatest contribution to the land will be to crush Amogae and his descendants so that social order will be restored.
On a hill, Gil-hyun, Gil-dong, and Eorini wait for Magistrate Eom to bring their father, but the only people that approach are a group of Heotaehak’s underlings who are out for blood. They separated from the rest of Amogae’s followers according to the magistrate’s plan, but now they realize that he led them into a trap. Gil-hyun tells Gil-dong to get Eorini to safety while he will follow afterward, after fighting off the closest gangsters.
There’s no time, so Gil-dong grabs Eorini’s hand and runs, but a lasso separates Eorini from her brother, and she’s dragged away. While trying to get her back, Gil-dong is beaten and knifed to the point of near-death. But the moment he closes his eyes in defeat, he remembers the shaman tree that his father spoke of, and he regains his consciousness. A gust of wind blows, and a supernatural energy fills the air as Gil-dong rises up again, with a knife still sticking out of his side.
He calls to Eorini and tells her to come to his side, but the men have her in their grasp, having been given strict orders from Choongwongoon to bring her back for his pleasure. Five men use various weapons to wrestle Gil-dong to the ground, but suddenly he lets out a roar, his eyes shine green, and he throws their combined might off easily. The specks of grain he blows into the air have so much force they cut skin like ninja stars, and he uses a stalk of wheat more effectively than most men can use swords to cut down the rest of the gangsters.
When he finally reaches Eorini though, he’s no longer a monstrous superhuman — he’s just a worried older brother. He takes her hand in his and ties a piece of cloth around them so that they won’t be separated again. But soon they run out of room to run, and they’re left against the edge of a cliff with a formidable group of archers aiming at them. Gil-dong asks Eorini if she trusts him, and she looks down at the sea far below them but closes her eyes as he requests. Just as the arrows fly, he turns so that he can protect her from them — and together, they fall into the water.
The fatally tortured Amogae recalls his children one last time, and his fingers twitch with longing and worry. Gil-dong, whose back is now embedded with arrows, opens his eyes in the water.
I almost thought that Eorini would be captured then killed by Choongwongoon, and that would be the trigger that would send Gil-dong over the edge. Nope, Gil-dong proved me wrong and showed that he is one crazy protective mofo when it comes to his sister. I’d been expecting badass Mighty Child Gil-dong to be super strong, but I was thinking more along the lines of Mr. Incredible-type abilities to lift heavy things in the air. I must say I was impressed by some of the innovative manifestations of his powers when he busted out those crazy fight moves. I especially liked the one where he blew dried grain through his hands, and it turned into a gust of wind that stopped the soldiers in their tracks.
Now I’m thinking he has more Wolverine or Superman-esque powers, like bulletproof (or maybe knife-proof would be a better term) invincibility, supernatural reflexes, and rapid healing. The comic book geek in me wants to know all the nitty-gritty details of the rules of his powers, but the sageuk fan in me wants him to get on with the story and start his revolution ASAP. Either way, I’m so excited to see more of that beast-like Gil-dong in action that next week can’t come soon enough.
But let’s talk about the heavy opposition, because I was not expecting to have any sympathy for Amogae’s previous household mistress (Madam Jo), but actress Seo Yi-sook makes a compelling villain. Initially, I just perceived her as a greedy woman who wanted to take advantage of Amogae for her own gain, but I think she sincerely believes that he is a dangerous aberration that needs to suppressed to maintain social order. Obviously living in the twenty-first century, I have an enlightened view of human rights that leads me to instinctively protest against the unjust treatment of Amogae and his family. But this episode took me aback by helping me understand (at least to a certain extent) the retrograde perspective of people in olden times.
During most of the Joseon dynasty, everyone was raised their entire lives thinking and believing that certain individuals were born with an innate, inherited quality that made them superior to others. And many autocrats, and the noble houses that backed them, twisted widespread Confucian ideology, especially the parts that emphasized the patriarchy, loyalty (of the people to the ruler), and filial piety to fit their purposes, resulting in a rigid caste system. So Madam Jo is just a regular brainwashed citizen who has been ingrained with the idea that her duty to her country is to keep her slaves in their places. To Madam Jo, Amogae is like a rabid dog who bit his owner and needs to be put down. She doesn’t view him as her peer or even another human being. The way that this drama is portraying its antagonists makes me hate them and pity them at the same time.