My Country: The New Age: Episode 9
It’s finally time for our hero to put his final plan into motion — the real scheme he’s been working towards for years. Everything falls perfectly into place, and he finally gets a chance to relax and enjoy his revenge. But for once he hasn’t accounted for every eventuality, and when things go horribly wrong, his life is changed in permanent, tragic ways that will affect everything he does from now on.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Lord Nam orders Hwi to kill Bang-won, and that night, Hwi breaks into Bang-won’s home and shoots him point-blank in the chest. He shoots Bang-won a second time, and Bang-won simply sits there, staring at Hwi while Tae-ryong screams for the doctor.
Having heard about the plan from his father, Sun-ho shows up moments too late. He can only watch as Tae-ryong slashes at Hwi with his sword, and he tries to fight his way to Hwi, but Bang-won’s men hold him back. Tae-ryong tells Sun-ho that he saw nothing, and that he’ll die if any rumors are spread.
Sun-ho and Hwi are bound and thrown into a cell, and Sun-ho gasps, “Why choose this obvious path to death instead of choosing to live?”
One of Bang-won’s men is a spy for Lord Nam, and he reports that Bang-won is in critical condition after an assassination attempt, and that both the assassin and Sun-ho have been captured for later questioning. As soon as Lord Nam has the information, he has the spy killed.
He goes to Bang-won’s home and demands to see him, but Tae-ryong claims that nothing happened tonight. Lord Nam threatens to kill Tae-ryong, so he’s allowed into the house, where he sees the blood splatters. He locates Bang-won, who’s lying unconscious, and the physician tells Lord Nam that there’s poison spreading throughout Bang-won’s body. After dismissing the physician, Lord Nam gloats that Bang-won doesn’t seem so powerful now.
He grabs Bang-won by the throat and Bang-won wakes, and Lord Nam whispers that the secret letter will be gone for good once Bang-won is dead. He growls that he’s struggled his whole life for the privileges Bang-won was born to, but Bang-won just curls his lip at him derisively. Lord Nam lets go, saying that history will hate Bang-won for killing Po-eun and laugh at him for getting killed by one of his own men. He vows to make sure the crown prince is under his thumb and become the real power behind the throne.
Hwi finally rouses, just as Lord Nam comes to have Sun-ho released. Sun-ho demands to know what Lord Nam is planning, but Lord Nam says that he already knows, and Sun-ho screams in desperation as he’s carried out. Lord Nam sneers that Hwi was a good dog but he didn’t bite hard enough, and Hwi says that he’ll never give Lord Nam’s name, but Lord Nam doesn’t trust him.
He pulls out a dagger, but instead of killing Hwi, he cuts the ropes tying him up and tells him to take his own life. Hwi picks up the dagger, and he’s reminded that his father made this same choice, to save him and Yeon.
Looking up at Lord Nam, Hwi asks if he did this to his father, but Lord Nam only says that Hwi wouldn’t believe him if he denied it. Hwi makes Lord Nam promise to care for Yeon, then plunges the dagger into his own belly. He falls to the floor, and Lord Nam nods in satisfaction.
Sun-ho can see his friend’s body, and his father tells him to blame him like always, “After all, that is what you’re best at.” Sun-ho tries to crawl to Hwi, but a guard knocks him unconscious. Lord Nam issues an order: after he leaves for the palace tomorrow, Yeon is to be killed.
He goes back to Tae-ryong and says that he’ll tell the king that a soldier revolted and killed Bang-won. Tae-ryong points out that Bang-won isn’t dead, but Lord Nam just asks if that will still be true tomorrow.
Tae-ryong carries Hwi’s body into the house and confirms that he’s alive – because he’s wearing chest armor. Bang-won walks into the room, perfectly fine, as Hwi struggles to sit up. We see that after Lord Nam gave Hwi the poison to kill Bang-won, Hwi had planned to take the secret letter to Bang-won, but he’d learned that Bang-won saw their hideout and knows that Hwi is a spy.
He’d gone to the hideout and confessed to Bang-won that he’s Lord Nam’s spy, but that Bang-won is not his true target. He’d shown Bang-won the secret letter and told him that his goal has always and only been to take down Lord Nam. Bang-won had asked how he can trust Hwi, and had handed him his sword, which Hwi had thrown to the ground.
Bang-won asked Hwi why he wants to side with him, and why now. Hwi said that only Bang-won can get the secret letter to the king, and that he had to wait until Lord Nam ordered him to kill Bang-won so that he can report that order to King Taejo. That way they have proof that Lord Nam tried to kill both King Taejo and Bang-won, and Lord Nam is sure to be punished.
Now Bang-won confronts Hwi and asks why his arrows pierced his chest armor. Hwi says that Lord Nam wouldn’t have been fooled unless Bang-won was truly shot, which is why he had Bang-won drink Moon-bok’s paralyzing medicine. Moon-bok shows up to patch up Hwi’s stab wound, which he purposely positioned to miss any vital spots, grumbling that he’s mad at him, awww.
Hwi pulls out the dagger, and Moon-bok notes that it’s already getting infected. Hwi says that it won’t kill him, since he’d have been dead ages ago if he were meant to die. But Chi-do says that injured men on the battlefield still try to draw their swords even if they’ve lost their arms, and he tells Hwi that this is his battleground, and that he doesn’t understand that he’s “lost his arms.”
Hwi says that when he stabbed himself, he was terrified that he might actually die and never see Yeon again. He knows now how scared his father must have been to leave his children behind, and it breaks his heart.
Sun-ho wakes with a start, back in his bed at home. He recalls hearing his father order his men to kill Yeon, so he grabs his sword and hurries to find her. She’s under guard but he’s allowed a few minutes to talk to her, but once they’re alone, he’s too choked up to produce any words.
Since he’s there, Yeon asks him to save her brother, revealing that she’s regained her memories. Sun-ho asks who else knows and she says he’s the only one, so he urges her not to tell anyone. He promises to save her, but Yeon surprises Sun-ho by drawing his sword and holding it to her own throat.
She says that if she’s dead, Hwi can live, but Sun-ho stops her at the last second. He starts to say that (he believes) Hwi is already dead, but his arm is cut by the sword when Yeon flings it away. He begs her to leave with him when Lord Nam goes to the palace tomorrow.
In the morning, Hee-jae receives information that Bang-won is alive after the so-called assassination attempt. She deduces that Hwi plans to take care of Lord Nam and save Yeon, and wonders if Hwi and Bang-won are working together. She orders Gyeol to watch Bang-won’s home to see if a body is carried out, and to send a spy with a physician to find out exactly what’s happening.
She’s summoned to the palace by Queen Sindeok, and she congratulates her on Bang-seok being chosen as crown prince. Queen Sindeok says that she needs to protect this achievement but she’s not allowed to leave the Queen’s Palace, so she wants to use Ihwaru.
With Lady Seo so ill, the queen wants Hee-jae to take over Ihwaru then give it to her. Hee-jae bristles, pointing out that Lady Seo is still alive and that Ihwaru doesn’t take sides. Queen Sindeok says that this is a war and Hee-jae won’t be able to remain neutral, but Hee-jae advises her to be patient. Queen Sindeok tells Hee-jae that Bang-won will kill Lord Nam, and that Hee-jae may watch, but she will fight.
Hee-jae holds firm that Ihwaru remains neutral no matter who is in charge. The queen asks if this is how Hee-jae repays her kindness for taking her under her protection, but Hee-jae respectfully reminds her that she’s put her life on the line already to repay that kindness. She advises Queen Sindeok to be sure and kill Bang-won, because if she fails, she’ll face death.
Queen Sindeok accuses Hee-jae of deserting her and asks what she’ll do without her backing, Hee-jae says that she plans to make sure nobody messes with Ihwaru, making it sound like a warning.
Bang-won tells Hwi that while his father was off fighting in wars, his mother took care of the family by herself. Unfortunately she died before the new kingdom was founded, and he’s bitter that Lord Nam and Queen Sindeok pressured King Taejo to deny her the posthumous title of queen.
Hwi asks why Bang-won spared his life when he learned he’s a spy. Bang-won says thoughtfully, “Because you remind me of someone I know,” but he doesn’t say who it is.
Hee-jae informs Lady Seo that she’s decided to take her up on the offer to run Ihwaru, and names herself Madame Han. Lady Seo takes her to the locked room of secrets, and she tells Hee-jae that it contains information that could ruin entire families. She warns Hee-jae not to use the secrets incorrectly or she could be the one harmed.
She correctly guesses that Hee-jae plans to go after Lord Nam. Hee-jae says that she’ll start with those loyal to him, then when Lord Nam is alone with no support, “I will make a mockery of him, and kill him.”
In her last act as lady of Ihwaru, Lady Seo has her employees send out copies of the secret letter to Lord Nam’s supporters, who are horrified. They gather to discuss this, and they decide that he’s becoming a problem, and they’re not willing to die for him.
Hwi goes over the last step in his plans with his friends, who fuss at him for being so negative and cynical. He asks them to rescue Yeon if anything happens to him, and they easily agree.
Lord Nam heads to the palace for Bang-seok’s coronation, giving his man a meaningful nod before he goes. Yeon hears fighting outside her door, and she finds Sun-ho standing over her now-dead guards. They literally run for their lives, but Lord Nam’s men soon catch up and corner them.
Sun-ho fights them until he injures his hand and drops his sword, and Yeon sobs that she’s the one they’re after. She turns to face their attackers and one raises his sword, and Sun-ho whirls Yeon around to cover her protectively.
Suddenly Chi-do, Moon-bok, and Jang Beom swoop in and surround Sun-ho and Yeon, and Moon-bok offers Yeon the cutest hello. Jang Beom tells her to close her eyes because they’re pissed and this is gonna get ugly, and it takes them about ten seconds total to dispatch the rest of the men.
They tell Yeon that they’re going to take her to Hwi, and both Yeon and Sun-ho burst into tears to hear that Hwi is alive. It looks like it kills Sun-ho to hand Yeon over to them, and she asks if he’ll be okay, but he gives her his bravest smile and promises to stay safe.
King Taejo isn’t happy that Bang-won didn’t attend Bang-seok’s coronation, wondering if he’s sulking or if he’s planning some sort of retaliation. He shows Bang-seok the sword he used to found the new nation, and says that there are many swords in human form, too… some who died for him, and some who are aiming at their throats. He orders Bang-seok to destroy those who disobey the nation, and thus lay the foundation of a dynasty.
Bang-won bursts in, still wearing the bloody robe he was wearing when Hwi shot him, and he announces that someone made an attempt on his life. Stunned, King Taejo asks who it was, and Bang-won names Lord Nam. The king asks for evidence, so Bang-won gives him the secret letter, signed and stamped by Lord Nam. He invites in the assassin that Lord Nam hired, and the look on Lord Nam’s face when Hwi walks into the room, alive and perfectly fine, is priceless.
Hwi introduces himself, reminding King Taejo that they met once on a hunt. He tells the king that Lord Nam held his sister hostage and ordered him to kill Bang-won, but that instead, he confessed everything to Bang-won in order to bring Lord Nam to justice.
The king gives Lord Nam a chance to explain himself, and he says that the letter is authentic, but that it doesn’t tell the whole truth. He claims that he only pretended to plan King Taejo’s assassination, and that Hwi and Bang-won are lying. King Taejo asks what the other ministers think, and one of the ministers who got a copy of the secret letter from Ihwaru quickly says that Lord Nam is always accusing Bang-won of plotting a revolt and talks about eliminating the older princes.
King Taejo orders Lord Nam imprisoned, intending to question him later himself. Bang-won mentions that this happened right after the king had private armies disbanded, and he asks his father to revoke the command so that his family and counselors can defend themselves against their enemies.
Lord Nam is tortured as he’s questioned by the king, and he claims that the order to kill Bang-won came from the queen. Later, Hwi visits him in his cell and asks if this is his reward for being the king’s loyal dog, and for trampling on his entire family. Lord Nam growls that it’s not over until he’s dead.
Hwi says that he didn’t kill Lord Nam with a sword because it wouldn’t have been painful enough. He tells him to enjoy a living hell of misery and mockery, but Lord Nam retorts that it remains to be seen who will end up in hell.
Hwi leaves and thanks Bang-won for being merciful with him, and Bang-won tells him to go be with Yeon. He confesses to Hwi that he thought of Seo Geon, Hwi’s father, as a mentor and a father figure.
On the way to the hideout, Hwi only stops once when his stab wound bothers him. Everyone is there to see his reunion with Yeon, even Hee-jae and Hwa-wol, and Hwi smiles his first real, happy smile in years. He’s a bit shy when he goes inside where Yeon is waiting, and they both cry as she fusses at him for still being a terrible housekeeper.
But she thanks him for not changing, and she apologizes for what he’s been through on her behalf. Hwi just says he’s sorry for not coming sooner, then pulls his sister into his arms.
Hee-jae and Hwa-wol have brought food, and Moon-bok continues his flirtations with Hwa-wol… until he tastes the food, HA. Hwi tries it and declares it delicious to spare Hee-jae’s feelings (Moon-bok: “Is he taste-blind?” Jang Beom: “He would happily eat rocks.”), while Hwa-wol pouts to Moon-bok that she likes clean men with white teeth. Ouch.
Later, Moon-bok tells Yeon about Hwi’s prowess in battle, and when he gets too graphic, Chi-do simply says that Hwi fought hard to come home to her. Moon-bok tells the story of their captain who threw Hwi’s hairband into the fire and how Hwi reached in after it, and he shows the ladies that the hairband is still wrapped around Hwi’s bow.
At the sight of it, Hee-jae’s face crumples, and she leaves the group to collect herself with Hwi following her. She tells him to let it burn next time because hairbands can be replaced, but Hwi says that that one is unique. He takes Hee-jae’s hand and sighs that it feels like he’s been living in a nightmare, though Hee-jae says that it’s not all bad, like the day they flew kites, and this moment when they’re together again.
He says that if this is a dream then he hopes he doesn’t wake up. Hee-jae agrees, admitting that she wants to be part of that dream. She promises to wait for him, and Hwi promises not to make her wait too long, then he kisses her.
When confronted by the king, Queen Sindeok admits that she ordered Bang-won killed because she felt it necessary to protect her son. King Taejo counters that Bang-won is also his son, but the queen asks who will be next after Lord Nam dies, snapping that he may as well depose her and Bang-seok now and make Bang-won crown prince.
She warns King Taejo that Bang-won will kill Lord Nam, then go after her and Bang-seok next, and inevitably his own father. She begs him to let Lord Nam live (to give Bang-won a different target?).
The king visits Lord Nam and tells him that the last thing he wants is a feud between the princes. He admits that he’s scared of losing the queen and the crown prince, but Lord Nam just says that he can’t have everything. King Taejo says that if he kills Lord Nam, he has to kill his brothers, who both hold important government positions.
King Taejo notes that it’s legal for him to pardon Lord Nam, since those of his status have immunity, but he orders Lord Nam to stay away from Queen Sindeok and Bang-seok. He also tells Lord Nam to stop opposing Bang-won, but Lord Nam asks who will stand against Bang-won if he doesn’t. King Taejo replies that Sun-ho will — that he’s immature, but he’s a lot like his father was at that age.
Once he’s released, one of Lord Nam’s supporters tells him that a bunch of them received copies of the secret letter. Lord Nam growls that they came from Ihwaru, and he guesses that Lady Seo must be near death to pull a move this big. He orders the royal guards assembled, determined to kill both the person who turned him in, and his sister.
Sun-ho has arrived and says that he won’t let this happen, but Lord Nam tells his man to instruct the guards to kill everyone who gets in the way… even Sun-ho. He taunts Sun-ho to run off and tattle to Hwi, and Sun-ho goes.
Sun-ho arrives at the hideout and tells Hwi (whose stab wound is getting worse) that his father has been released and has sent the guards after them, then he’s shot in the shoulder with an arrow. Hwi and Gyeol escape with Yeon and Hee-jae while the others stay back to delay the guards. In the forest, Hwi sends Gyeol ahead with the ladies, promising to meet up with them soon.
He and Sun-ho fight the guards following them, and Sun-ho quickly notices that Hwi is struggling and missing his targets. But the two friends quickly fall back into their old patterns, fighting together as if they share one mind. When there are only a few men left, Sun-ho tells Hwi to rejoin Yeon, adding, “Go… and let’s never again see each other this way.”
Hwi runs as best he can, but he keeps having to stop, the pain and weakness of his wound seriously affecting him. He finally catches up and sends Yeon a great big smile and wave as if nothing’s wrong, and she runs to meet him.
Suddenly, a guard rides out of the forest and heads straight for Yeon. Hwi nocks an arrow and shoots the guard out of his saddle. He runs to Yeon, but another guard appears, and again Hwi shoots him.
But the guard gets to his feet, and as Hwi tries to ready another arrow, he’s wracked by a spasm of pain. The guard runs Yeon through with his sword just seconds before Hwi’s arrow pierces his eye. Oh no…
Yeon sinks to the ground, and Hwi screams her name.
I’m not so naive that I don’t know that in dramas like this, someone we love will die, but I just didn’t expect it to be Yeon. I’m just shocked, and really terrified that if Yeon dies, Hwi will seriously go off the deep end. Everything Hwi has done was to save his sister, and for the others, she’s a symbol of what they’re all fighting for. Everything that Hwi has done for years was to save Yeon — she’s been his only motivation, and he’s even been willing to die for her. I’m scared of what Hwi might do without his entire reason for living, especially since knowing him, he’s going to blame himself for being too slow (because of his wound) to save her. On the other hand, now Hwi will really have a reason to make sure this time that Lord Nam is good and dead.
Just when I thought that Sun-ho and Hwi’s former friendship was dead, Sun-ho proved that he, at least, still cares very much for Hwi. He was devastated when he thought Hwi had killed himself on his father’s orders, and he didn’t hesitate to risk his own life to save Yeon. It broke my heart when Sun-ho had to let go of Yeon and send her to Hwi, because he’s spent years taking care of her as if she were his own sister, and it’s obvious that he’s always loved her as much as he loves Hwi. But it was also hard to see him let her go because Yeon has been the only bright spot in Sun-ho’s life ever since he was forced to send Hwi away. I’m almost equally concerned about Sun-ho if Yeon dies, because she’s been a focal point for him as well as for Hwi, and now they’re both going to be out there with no good personal reason to keep them doing the right thing.
This seems like a strange thing to notice, but one of the things I love most about My Country is how it doesn’t pretend that someone can be injured and heal within a day or two, especially since so much of it is about battles and fighting. Hwi got a cut on his cheek very early in the show, and he still carries a scar — it’s a nice detail that reminds us that he’s home, but he’s not healed from what he suffered in battle. Also, Hwi usually looks very pallid and unhealthy when most shows would have had him arrive home from war still looking like a smooth-skinned flower boy after a weekend at the spa. It provides an interesting contrast to Sun-ho, who has managed to stay out of most physical conflict, and his cushy lifestyle shows in his healthy color and lack of scars. You can tell by looking at them that they live very different lives — one eats well and works a genteel job (and has a lackey to do the dangerous work for him), while the other is living on the edge of poverty, fighting for every scrap of food he gets and even his very life. I just appreciate that touch of realism that’s reflected on their bodies, reminding me that they are far apart in circumstances as well as emotionally.
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