My Country: The New Age: Episode 13
One revolution may be over, but the work of building a new nation has only begun. Our heroes face the aftermath of a night that changed both of their lives forever, but not necessarily for the good. It’s not they will choose to live in this new world that will make or break them, and whether they can let the past go and move on.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Hwi and his friends arrive at the palace just as Bang-won is telling the sobbing king that his youngest son is dead because of his greed. The sight makes Hwi cry, and his friends give him privacy when he walks away.
In the morning, Bang-seok’s body is prepared for burial. Still covered in blood, Bang-won finds King Taejo and mocks him for putting on a dramatic show of grieving to earn the people’s sympathy and make him into the villain again. He says that he’ll know when the king’s tears are sincere, because it will be the day he loses his country.
Bang-won finds Hwi, aware that Hwi is shocked and saddened that he killed his own brother. He tells Hwi that it was necessary to break his father’s spirit, but Hwi just says wearily that too many people have died or been injured just so he could get his revenge.
Bang-won says they both did what they had to do, for revenge and for revolution. But Hwi just sighs, “I am exhausted. I wish to rest now.” He walks away, but he suddenly spits up blood and collapses, his internal organs damaged by the medicine he’s been taking to counter the effects of the viper poison.
After leaving Hwi with a doctor, Bang-won thanks Hee-jae for her help by stopping the king from entering the city gates last night. He offers her a reward, so she asks for Hwi’s freedom. Bang-won admits that Hwi has never truly been his, and when Hee-jae warns him not to get attached, he says, “Our emotions can’t be controlled.”
Thankfully, there was one other survivor at Chwiwoldang besides Sun-ho — Sung-rok, who takes the badly injured Sun-ho to their hideout. He warns Sun-ho to stay in the hideout, because those who fought against Bang-won are being arrested and killed. Sun-ho tries to make Sung-rok leave and save himself, but Sung-rok refuses to abandon his master.
At his mother’s shrine, Bang-won tells her that she’ll now be remembered officially as a queen. Growing morose, he wonders how much more blood he’ll have to spill to create the world he dreams of. At the same time, King Taejo sits by Bang-seok’s body and despairs that revenge for the death of his son will only be fulfilled by killing another son.
Bang-won confronts King Taejo in the throne room and admits that Bang-beon, the king’s older son with Queen Sindeok, will also have to die. The king draws his bow and aims at Bang-won, who asks why he hesitates when he’s already committed unforgivable acts. He spreads his arms wide and invites King Taejo to kill him right now, but King Taejo lowers his bow, growling that Bang-won is a monster.
He says that Bang-won just wants the throne, so he’s come up with excuses to justify his actions. He says a true king protects those weaker than him and lets go of those stronger, but Bang-won deserts those weaker than him and destroys those who are stronger. He refuses to let Bang-won have the throne when all he sees in him is bloodlust.
Bang-won says that the bloodshed will begin and end at the palace with disloyal subjects. He claims that the blood spilled will strengthen the people, but King Taejo only replies, “That blood should have been yours.”
Bang-won orders King Taejo to make his second son, Bang-gwa, the new crown prince, then step down. He tells his father to admit that he was wrong to violate the rules of primogeniture (that says the eldest legitimate son should inherit the throne) and claim that Lord Nam and Sambong influenced him to do it.
The king aims his bow again and shoots the topknot right off of Bang-won’s head, growling that this is still his country. Bang-won doesn’t even flinch, he just turns and walks away.
Sun-ho leaves the hideout and goes to the palace, where the bodies of his father and the other officials killed last night are displayed under banners pronouncing them traitors. Bang-won and Tae-ryong see him there, but Bang-won stops Tae-ryong from arresting Sun-ho, saying that they need to be careful who they kill and that they’ll wait and see what Sun-ho does next.
When Hwi is feeling better, Hee-jae reminds him of his father’s words: “Do not let anyone oppress you, that’s the only way you won’t collapse. Do not let anyone intimidate you even if they’re stronger than you, only then can you hold out.” She reveals that Seo Geom once saved her from Ganggae and said those words to her, which allowed her to hold out for all these years.
She tells Hwi that she doesn’t want him to think she only cares about him because she feels indebted to his father — she cares because of who he is. Touched, Hwi hugs her, then she gives him a note with Sun-ho’s location, knowing he’ll be worried about his old friend.
Hwi finds Sun-ho just as he’s about to take his sword to his own throat and end his life. He grabs the blade with his bare hand, but Sun-ho just tells him to let go. “Do you want to see me wrecked?” he asks with tears in his eyes.
“Will that make you feel better? Why can’t I even kill myself? I’m sick and tired of seeing you and thinking about you. So go away, please!” Hwi does as his friend asks and lets go of his sword. But before he goes, he asks Sun-ho one last favor… to live. After he’s gone, Sun-ho drops his sword and hangs his head.
Meanwhile, Hwi takes his own sword out to the middle of the bamboo forest. He draws the blade, still covered in blood, and he smashes it against a rock then leaves the pieces on the forest floor.
He heads to the marketplace where the battle was fought last night, and where Chi-do, Jang Beom, and Moon-bok are helping tend to the wounded. Jang Beom suddenly collapses from a badly bleeding stomach wound that he was hiding. Hwi apologizes to him, but Jang Beom says that they know Hwi fights because he’s trying to save lives, so there’s nothing to apologize for.
The four friends decide to hold a ceremony for everyone who died in the revolt, so they stay up half the night burning scrolls with the names of the dead written on them, and afterward, they talk about their future plans.
Chi-do wants to keep teaching, but instead of killing, he wants to teach his students to survive. Moon-bok says he’s going to invent a medicine that regrows hair and get rich, hee. They ask Hwi what he wants, and he says, “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or sick anymore. I want to see smiles. I want to see you hyungs smile, and Hee-jae, too.” Awww, that’s so Hwi.
Now that things have calmed down, Bang-gan grows jealous of Bang-won and the way he incites fear in everyone. Cheonga is still working for him as a double agent, and Bang-gan asks him what we’re all wondering — what’s up with the hair?
Cheonga explains that as an outcast from birth, he can’t wear a topknot until he has a child. He asks how long he has to keep spying, worried he’ll end up dead, but Bang-gan promises to make sure he gets to wear a topknot before he dies. Cheonga reveals that he’s found Sun-ho, and Bang-gan decides to use Sun-ho to make his move.
With nothing to live for but unable to die, Sun-ho dedicates his energy to getting drunk. Bang-gan mentions that he probably wants revenge on Bang-won for killing his father, but Sun-ho isn’t interested in fighting for someone else’s grudges.
He staggers away, but he doesn’t get far before the palace guards find him and knock him out. They drag him before Bang-won with the rest of the stray traitors, but Bang-won immediately sets him free again. Sun-ho asks why, since Bang-won killed Sambong’s children, and Bang-won says it’s out of gratitude for stirring up the king so much that he was able to revolt.
Sun-ho sneers that killing your own brothers is a sin, not a revolution, and that discriminating against illegitimate children is evil. But Bang-won tells him that that’s the very reason he’s letting Sun-ho live — he’s not Lord Nam’s son, he’s just an illegitimate child and not worth killing.
Sun-ho vows to take everything from Bang-won and make him regret not killing him, but Bang-won gets in his face and tells him, “Regret is an excuse for the weak.” Looking Bang-won right in the eye, Sun-ho retorts, “I will return for your neck.”
He leaves the palace and finds Sung-rok waiting for him. Sung-rok tosses Sun-ho his sword and says that he has a plan — there are still some Jurchen soldiers in the north, and the Jurchens follow their deputy chief if the chief dies. By killing both the chief and the deputy chief, Sun-ho and Sung-rok could become their new leaders, and have an army to use against Bang-won.
King Taejo receives a report on the revolt, and he learns that the palace guards were all killed in the market outside Sajeong Gate. He realizes that Lord Nam’s request for a market in that location was part of the plan, but that Lord Nam wasn’t aware it was a trap. Furious, he swears to punish all those who were involved in executing Bang-won’s uprising.
Bang-won takes Hwi for that drink they planned after the revolt was successful. Hwi prevents Bang-won from drinking too much, and Bang-won asks if Hwi thinks he’s taking the right path. He admits that he’s unsure and scared, and afraid of how history will remember him.
Hwi says it’s that fear that will keep Bang-won going, so never to let go of it. Bang-won asks if he’s leaving, and Hwi replies that all he’s ever done is bury bodies, but he doesn’t want to live that way anymore.
After Hwi leaves, Bang-won summons Jang Beom and mentions how he killed his master and his son (for killing his wife and baby) when he was a slave. Jang Beom thinks he’s about to be dismissed, but instead, Bang-won says that his master deserved to die and gives Jang Beom his slave ownership paper, then invites him to destroy it in the fire.
Jang Beom tearfully thanks Bang-won for letting him live as a human and not an animal anymore. Bang-won says that Jang Beom can leave him any time he pleases, because keeping people by his side (without their consent) is greedy of him.
At Ihwaru, Gyeol warns Hee-jae that the king will learn that she’s the one who burned the city gate to delay his return to the palace. He wants her to hide, but Hee-jae says that Ihwaru will be harmed if she runs, so she’ll stay and accept the consequences personally.
When Moon-bok shows up at Ihwaru, Hwa-wol fusses at him, but he walks right past her and cleans out his safe. He takes all of his savings and offers it to Hee-jae to terminate Hwa-wol’s contract. Awww! Hee-jae tells him that she got rid of all the contracts, so Hwa-wol can leave any time she likes, and she even gives them a gift — enough money to buy a house.
The two lovebirds sit outside together, and Hwa-wol simpers at Moon-bok for being willing to part with his life’s savings for her. With a forced smile that fails to hide his sadness, Moon-bok tells her that he had a sister who died of a bad cold because he couldn’t afford medicine, which is why he’s saved money his whole life.
Hwa-wol asks Moon-bok to take off her hairpiece, and when he does, he’s struck all over again by how beautiful she is even without it. She slips her jade ring on his finger and proposes to him, and his reaction is adorable.
With only fifty loyal palace guards left after Bang-won enticed the rest to his side, the king sends them on a suicide mission. He issues one simple order: “Kill them all.”
Hwi cooks dinner for his friends, surprising them with his domestic skills, though he explains that he’s been cooking since he was eight years old. Moon-bok flashes around his jade ring like a really gross newly-engaged bride, hoping someone will notice. So cute.
Hwi says that he doesn’t care about grand things like building nations, all he wants is a home where he can share meals with those he loves. But their meal is ruined by the king’s guards, and Hwi and his men are forced to fight yet again.
On her way to see Moon-bok, another group of guards pass Hwa-wol, heading towards Ihwaru. She runs to warn Hwi and the others, while at Ihwaru, Hee-jae tries to convince the rest of her gisaengs and servants that she really meant it when she released them from their obligation. They refuse to leave, saying that Ihwaru belongs to them, too.
Suddenly they’re under attack, and the only person there who can fight is Gyeol. He valiantly protects Hee-jae, but he’s vastly outnumbered, and soon pain and exhaustion drive him to his knees. Another guard raises his sword to kill Gyeol, but Hee-jae jumps in front of him, taking the strike in the back.
Hwi arrives seconds too late to stop Hee-jae, and when he sees her injured, he kills the remaining guards. He runs to Hee-jae, begging her to stay with him as she and Gyeol both collapse from their wounds.
Meanwhile, Sun-ho and Sung-rok arrive at the Jurchen stronghold, claiming to be Jurchen soldiers with a message for their chief. As soon as they identify the leaders, they draw their swords and fight their way to them. Sun-ho kills the chief and Sung-rok kills the deputy, making themselves the Jurchen army’s new leaders.
Well, this is just great — the main thing that’s saved Sun-ho’s life until now is the fact that he never presented anyone much of a threat, since he had no influence or men of his own. Now he has a barbarian horde behind him, and he’s about to go after the man who just defeated the king’s entire army. I’ve never given Sun-ho much chance to live long past Bang-won’s uprising, but now I’d say his chances of survival are pretty much zero. He’s been hunting his own death since he sent Hwi off to die in the war, and I’m afraid he’s about to finally get his wish.
I’m so proud of Hwi for his change in mindset after witnessing the true horror of the revolt he helped Bang-won stage. He’s been through so many battles just to survive, but after the revolt and seeing an innocent child killed in the name of revolution, Hwi realized that all of the death that night was ultimately avoidable. He took responsibility for his part in it, vowed to leave that life behind, and tried to move forward in a more positive direction. Unfortunately, his actions aren’t without consequences, and now the king is out for his blood. Now that Hee-jae is injured (I don’t care for her, but I hope for Hwi’s sake that she’s only injured), I’m afraid that he’ll be forced to team up with Bang-won again just to survive.
Then there’s Sun-ho, who (predictably) didn’t learn any good lessons from that night. I don’t blame him for being angry… his own vengeance was stolen from him by Bang-won and Hwi, who had their own valid reasons for wanting Lord Nam dead, but with his father gone, Sun-ho found himself with nothing left to live for. Now Bang-won is planning to build a country where people like Sun-ho — illegitimate children — will have no rights or status, and what little respect and credibility Sun-ho managed to scrape up for himself in the old regime will be stripped away. It felt so tragically symbolic when Sun-ho left the palace and the gates shut on him, sealing any hope of ever gaining that life back.
My biggest fear is that Sun-ho going to be even more resentful towards Hwi now, who grew up poor and powerless but who has one thing Sun-ho doesn’t have… a legitimate birth. I think that even though their friendship was genuine and they do/did love each other, Sun-ho has always felt a bit superior to Hwi because he at least had the appearance of nobility and respectability, while Hwi didn’t. Now Bang-won’s revolt is going to switch their situations in life, and I’m afraid Sun-ho isn’t going to handle it well and may even accuse Hwi of fighting for Bang-won with an ulterior motive. Their story is probably going to end with one final confrontation on the battlefield, and I’m scared that this time, they’re not going to both make it out alive.
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