Writer: Tania Khor (LeLamb)
Editors: Val Kaye Taozen and Tabby
Photo credit: SBS
“Sometimes you have to be apart from people you love, but that doesn't make you love them any less. Sometimes you love them more.” - Dae Gil’s first encounter with his unknown parents.
Episode 9 begins with Kim Chang Jib, a powerful minister being welcomed back by the Noron faction ministers from his long expedition in Qing China. Yi In Jwa, with an asymmetrical smile and watching from afar, says, “The old tiger comes back to this place to die.”
The scene shifts with Lord Kim paying his respects to King Sukjong and asking to stand in the empty spot that is aligned with the Noron faction. Suddenly, the Crown Prince lets out a bloody cough that shocks the ministers. They, then, gather outside of Crown Prince’s room, asking to see him, but a court maid turns them down.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prince meets with Yi In Jwa on a palace balcony. After Prince Yeoning’s earlier warning, he suspects Yi In Jwa’s intentions. He remembers In Jwa’s support ever since his mother was exiled out of the palace. Nevertheless, after learning of Yi In Jwa’s conspiracy in manipulating the ministers and controlling the money from the gambling rooms, he seeks confirmation that Yi In Jwa is not using him or seeking the throne for himself. Yi In Jwa assures the Crown Prince that he only has good intentions: to unify all four social classes through the throne and a monarchy that the Crown Prince will lead. Yi In Jwa’s assurance pleases the Crown Prince.
Back at the mountain hut, Daegil fails to convince his master to let go his plan of killing the king. Daegil is moved by his master words that no matter if he is an assassin or a rebel, he remains Daegil’s master. After Chae-Geon leaves the hut, Daegil searches his master’s belongings and finds the palace map. Not willing to lose his master who means so much to him, he swears to save him. With the palace map firmly tucked inside his clothing, he races toward the palace.
At the same time, Dam Seo, dressed in black, pays her respect to Yi In Jwa. He tells her to sneak into the palace amidst the chaos created by the assassin. She agrees and leaves for the palace, after bidding goodbye to Moo Myung and Hwang Jin Ki.
A short while later, Kim Chang Jib visits Yi In Jwa. He obliquely tells Yi In Jwa that he sees him as a rat in the court. Kim looks down on Yi In Jwa, reminding him that has no family connections or title to be able to achieve his ambitious plan. Yi In Jwa, sarcastically replies that for a dozen years he carefully cared for his field and now is the time to harvest.
Inside the palace, Prince Yeoning orders the court guard to watch over the entrance gates and to restrict entry from the citizens. Afterwards, Prince Yeoning receives an order to see King Sukjong. In his chamber, King Sukjong proposes a bet with Prince Yeoning. He will be rewarded the Royal Seal and throne if he succeeds in catching the assassin; but if he fails, the Crown Prince will take the throne and he will have to leave the palace immediately.
Prince Yeoning refuses to take up the bet and says that he will catch the assassin by all means possible. King Sukjong drops a hint to Prince Yeoning: if he unmasks the assassin, he or she will be someone that the King cherishes or who was beside him. This hint enlightens Prince Yeoning that the assassin plot is a test of him by the King. His mother, later, agrees the King is testing the Prince.
The court guards find Daegil acting suspiciously when he sneakily checks the entrance of the palace. He escapes from the guards by running into a dark building where he stumbles into Dam Seo who also hides from the guards. Daegil covers Dam Seo’s mouth to silence her from the guards who are still searching for him outside. When the guards leave, he removes his hand and questions Dam Seo’s intention for being there. She says she has no time to explain and pushes past him, causing him to grab her arm. She tells him she understands his feelings of revenge towards Yi In Jwa as there is someone she hates and wants to kill too. He tries to stop her, but she reminds him that he has no right to stop her, as she is no longer the woman that he plans to marry anymore.
With that said, she rushes out into the night with Daegil in hot pursuit. Daegil finds her again and says he too wants to get into the palace. Using his offered help, Dam Seo climbs over the palace wall, leaving him behind, and finds her way to the west entrance. Prince Yeoning, at the same time, realizes the assassin intends to create havoc at the east entrance as a diversion, thereby, leaving the west entrance unguarded. He races across the palace only to find Dam Seo purposely striding towards the throne room. His earlier suspicion of Dam Seo as the assassin comes true when she reveals her identity. Prince Yeoning tries to change Dam Seo mind. She refuses and draws her sword, saying the only way to stop her is to kill her. With that she rushes off again, only to have Prince Yeoning intercept her one more time. They clash swords but, in the end, Dam Seo runs off when the guards arrive to help. Prince Yeoning signals the guards to chase the assassin in another direction to prevent Dam Seo from being caught.
After Dam Seo leaves him standing outside the palace wall, the guards find him again and give chase. Hiding in another building, he knocks out a curious guard and changes into the guard’s outfit. Now, dressed as a guard, he easily gains entry into the palace. Since all the assassins target the king, he decides that will be the place where he can find his master.
Kim Chae Gun, now dressed in his black assassin outfit, uses his great martial and sword skills to easily enter the King’s chamber. As Kim Chae Gun approaches the King with his sword, Prince Yeoning skids in and confronts him. A swift but short sword battle ensues. Kim Chae Gun easily knocks the royal sword out of Prince Yeoning’s hand. Kim points his sword at Prince Yeoning’s throat and asks him to move aside. Prince Yeoning replies that he has no intention of moving, adding if Kim Chae Gun takes another step forward he will die from the arrows shot by the guards who suddenly surround the outside of the chamber.
Kim Chae Gun, unafraid of the threat, raises his foot to step forward. Yeoning grasps his swords and raises it to Kim Chae Gun’s throat. Racing into the room, Deagil shouts ‘Stop!’ In a nick of time, Deegil pins down Prince Yeoning’s sword. A twist of the sword fight between Daegil and Prince Yeoning gives Daegil a chance to point his sword at Prince Yeoning’s throat. Kim Chae Gun, still holding his sword pointed at Prince Yeoning, asks Daegil why he is there, to which Deagil replies ‘I came to save you, Master’.
King Sukjong, who attentively watches the fight, smiles. Kim Chae Gun receives the smile as a signal from the King, pulls his mask down, and kneels to the King. Daegil and Prince Yeoning put down their swords when the King says, “It’s has been a long time, Kim Chae Gun.” By this time, Prince Yeoning and Daegil both sense that this event is a plot of the King’s making.
Back in Yi In Jwa’s house, he tells Moo Myung there is no assassin. The King invented the assassination plot to test the security of the palace and to verify Prince Yeoning’s capability. However, the main purpose of the ruse is to challenge whether or not Yi In Jwa has the guts to confront the King. Yi In Jwa affirms he threw Dam Seo out as bait to challenge the King’s trap.
Meanwhile, King Sukjong asks Kim Chae Gun about his observations of palace security. Kim Chae Gun points out that over the course of the last month he managed to get into the palace numerous time without being noticed and highlights the complete lack of security around the Crown Prince’s pavilion. He continues, stating the failings of the military guards and that they need to be reorganized and expanded.
The King switches his attention to Daegil, asking Kim Chae Gun who he is. Kim Chae Gun responds that Daegil is his immature disciple. The King, then, asks his name to which Daegil replies, “Baek Dae Gil”. Curious, the King picks up his favourite sword and lifts the edge of the transparent curtain to see Daegil more clearly. He summons Daegil to come closer. Daegil kneels in front of the transparent curtain, but the King tells him to come a bit closer.
The two eunuchs lift the curtain as Daegil moves closer and kneels in front of King Sukjong. Daegil has a face-to-face moment with him. The King asks Daegil who his parents are, and he replies that his parents already passed away. Daegil lifts his eyes, looking boldly into the King’s, then shifts them down again. But for that moment the two stare intensely at each other. Once Daegil’s gaze returns to the floor, a smirking smile lifts the corners of King Sukjong’s mouth. He, then, offers his favourite sword to Daegil. With the sword inches from his face, Daegil hesitates in accepting the King’s favourite sword. Kim Chae Gun reminds Daegil of his manners in not accepting the King’s gesture, telling him to take the sword. Deagil humbly lifts his hands, palms up, as the King lays the sword on them.
King Sukjong turns his attention to Kim Chae Gun after Daegil backs up to his place beside his Master. The King proclaims him the King’s Swordsman and rewards him with a saving tag that one day will save his life. Thinking their interview over, the three prepare to leave when King Sukjong says the night’s adventure is not over.
Dam Seo shoots two arrows through the paper window directly at the King. Daegil knocks them away with his new sword. Through the arrow holes, Daegil and Dam Seo see each other. He races out to catch Dam Seo after her mission fails. Palace guards encountering her, shoot two arrows injuring her. Seeing her on the ground with arrow wounds, Daegil knocks down the guards and carries her away. She recalls Yi In Jwa’s words that if she fail s in the mission and cannot find a way out, there is one person that she can rely on for help: Choi Suk Bin.
While all this activity occurs at the palace, Moo Myung questions Yi In Jwa about why he put Dam Seo into the king’s trap, one that may end her life. Yi In Jwa explains that to receive something, one needs to give something. Yi In Jwa knows that Dam Seo will not die, as there are people like Moo Myung, Hwang Jin Ki, Prince Yeoning, and Baek Dae Gil are there for her.
Back in Suk Bin’s room, Dam Seo pleads for Suk Bin to save her. With a concerned look, Suk Bin shows pity towards her. She, then, turns to Daegil and asks who he is. Hearing him reply, “I am Baek Dae Gil”, Suk Bin recalls her conversation with Prince Yeoning’s guard during which she learned Baek Man Geum’s son still lives and the son’s name. For the first time since she gave him up a few weeks after his birth, she looks upon his face. Holding back her questions, she softly smiles at him.
Prince Yeoning suspects that Dam Seo may be hiding in Suk Bin’s room. His mother denies that the assassin is in her room, but Prince Yeoning notices blood drops near the room’s wall. Not wanting to press his mother further, he acknowledges her mother answer and steps outside.
Once alone, Daegil wipes and bandages Dam Seo’s wounds. While Daegil carefully tens Dam Seo’s injuries, Suk Bin looks at Daegil attentively. But when she asks if Baek Man Geum was his father, Daegil registers shocked surprise. Suk Bin highlights that Prince Yeoning mentioned it to her. She continues questioning Daegil on how he was raised and has he always been with his father. Instead of answering her questions, he asks why she is curious. To brush away possible suspicions, she raises her worry that the longer the two stay in the palace, the harder it will become for them to escape.
Outside of Suk Bin’s room, Prince Yeoning stops Daegil. He says that even though he is the disciple of Joseon’s best swordsman, he cannot get Dam Seo out alone. He adds he has a plan to help Dam Seo leave the palace, but he need Daegil to open the gate while he and Dam Seo ride a horse past the guards. Suk Bin receives the message from her court maid that the three successfully escaped. She breathes a sigh of relief, and to herself begs Daegil to please be safe.
Without warning, Hwang Jin Ki appears in front of Daegil. He sees Daegil in the royal guard’s outfit but holding the king’s favourite sword. Finally, he identifies Daegil as Kim Chae Gun’s disciple and tries to take his life. Kim Chae Gun arrives just in time to rescue Daegil from certain death.
Writer’s Personal Thoughts:
I would like to convey this message to Dam Seo – “If you simply ignored the feeling, you would never know what might happen, and in many ways that was worse than finding out in the first place. Because if you were wrong, you could go forward in your life without ever looking back over your shoulder and wondering what might have been.”
I hope she eventually comes to the realization of Yi In Jwa’s motives and moves forward.