Writer: WaterBaby Janus
Editors: Val Kaye Taozen & Tabby
Picture credit: SBS
"Therefore, the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their Kingdom without lengthy operation in the field " ~ Sun Tzu
This episode begins where the last one ended. Dae Gil, standing in Yeon Hwa’s (Gol Sa’s daughter) room. The two trade verbal barbs over Dae Gil’s threat to take down Gol Sa as he did Six Ghosts and all the other gambling dens in the Eight Cities; In Jwa’s power and ruthlessness; and her reluctance to do anything. As he's leaving, Dae Gil makes his final remark, “I have to confront him. If I don't, nothing will change." He reminds her that, although she loves her father and wants to save him, if she sits and does nothing, nothing will change.
Dae Gil meets Seol Im outside the gibang. Dae Gil shares that he met Gol Sa's daughter. But Seol Im remains stunned about what the shaman said to her: because of her ill fate, she has two poor choices. Either she can live alone, hiding away from the “mundane world,” or she can kill the person she loves. Nevertheless, she hides her feelings and puts on a smile when Dae Gil asks if she's okay.
The shaman enters the Yeon Hwa's room and sits down. She asks what Yeon Hwa, having met Dae Gil, thought of him. Before she can answer, the shaman says she has a funny story about Dae Gil. She explains, “Dae Gil was born under the Triple Kill fate which portends becoming a great leader.” She adds that because Yeon Hwa is also good at reading people's fate, she understands what that means, namely, Dae Gil was born to be a king.
Seol Im, Dae Gil, and Yeoning meet to discuss their strategy. Dae Gil's plan is to go straight to Gol Sa and not through his daughter. He refuses to use her. Although Yeoning explains that he has lost his appointment and authority, he will find a way to help. Yeoning wants to obtain the ledger to hand over to the Minister Kim. In exchange, he is asking for the minister's help to protect Dae Gil and smooth the way for him to Gol Sa's gambling den. Their strategy agreed upon, they plan to meet the next day at Sinshi (3 pm - 5 pm). After Yeoning leaves, Seol Im says good night as well, returning to Cutter to tell him that she's leaving. Cutter recalls her first day with him when she offered her life in return for his help. (Clearly, he cares about her.)
Moo Myung, Yi In Jwa's right hand, reports what he overheard at Dae Gil's to In Jwa, who creates a poster reading, "I will come and take Gol Sa's neck today between 3pm-5pm. So wait for me.... Baek Dae Gil." In Jwa tells the shaman to made copies and post them all over Hanyang. In Jwa also tells Moo Myung to keep an eye on Gol Sa's daughter. (It's obvious he doesn't expect her to remain silent and uninvolved.)
The next morning, the ministers anxiously discuss the posters and what the outcome means for themselves. Even Chief State Councilor Kim questions Yeoning about whether he's planning something with Dae Gil. Yeoning explains that he will go after In Jwa by himself if necessary. He says that to stop In Jwa, they must stop corruption with the large merchants. Although Kim expresses doubt about the strategy, Yeoning tries to convince him again. If he gets the book from Gol Sa, who controls all the shipping and the local officials in Mapo, he can take In Jwa down a little. Finally, Kim agrees and says he will help Yeoning. He offers help from the Regional Office; in return, Yeoning must hand over the book to him and promise to stay away from the case.
The head minister of the Soron faction, clearly worried about what will happen if Gol Sa is taken down, calls for a meeting with In Jwa. When asked who Dae Gil is, In Jwa replies that he is a former student of Kim Chae Gun. The minister, still curious, asks why Dae Gil wants to attack all the gambling places. And what is his relationship with Yeoning? In Jwa avoids answering as usual but convinces the minister that he has everything under control.
Sukjong summons Suk Bin and shows her the poster. He feels the situation is dangerous if Dae Gil drags Yeoning into his plan. Since Suk Bin is their mother, Sukjong orders to her to resolve the issue. “If it doesn't get resolved, then cut out the situation," obviously meaning cut out Dae Gil. That order causes Suk Bin to faint as she begins walking back to her own quarters.
At the Hansung Regional Office, Yeoning asks for personnel to protect Dae Gil and himself so that the game can go as smoothly as planned. The Regional Office complies and stops a deadly attack on Dae Gil. At exactly Sinshi, the door opens and Dae Gil enters the gambling den. Gol Sa opens the conversation and starts the match with dominoes. Dae Gil breaks the rigged dominoes with the flat of his sword. Using his now famous skills, he explains the broken blocks are made with ox horns and unbroken blocks are made of ivory. Looking around, he sees people playing yut (a game using 4 wooden sticks). He picks up the sticks, weighing them, and throws them on the floor to show they are rigged. Next, he tosses a pack of cards into the air. Picking up one of the cards, he peels back the top to reveal a wire inside, making the cards invalid. Turning to another table, he slices it into two pieces. Looking under the sides of the broken table, he spots all the hidden cards. He tells Gol Sa his gambling room is full of tricks.
Seating himself again across from Gol Sa, Dae Gil says, “Do it for real.” Perhaps as a mark of respect for Dae Gil's knowledge, Gol Sa replies, “So let's have a proper game.” Gol Sa suggests a variation of tujeon: "Stealing Cards," where a player can switch a card with the other player. Gol Sa gives the deck to Dae Gil to check after which he shuffles and deals the cards. Meanwhile, they discuss the posters, each thinking the other posted them, only to learn neither did. Dae Gil wins the first round; on the second game, Gol Sa wins. Trying to figure out how Gol Sa wins, he asks Gol Sa if he has ever lost. Gol Sa replies he has only lost to one man, Cutter. Dae Gil remembers how Cutter uses his hearing to recognize the sound of the cards. No wonder Gol Sa won.
Just as Dae Gil is about to deal the third and final hand, In Jwa and Moo Myung enter, bringing Yeon Hwa as a hostage. Gol Sa yells angrily at In Jwa after seeing a blade placed at her throat. In Jwa states her situation will add strength to his game. Dae Gil, then, asks why In Jwa spread the posters all over. In Jwa, with his usual sly face, replies it was to welcome Dae Gil. Yeon Hwa offers to deal the cards, expecting that if Dae Gil switches a card with her father, he will win. If he doesn't, he will lose. However, when all the cards are turned over, Gol Sa and Yeon Hwa are shocked to discover Dae Gil won. Dae Gil explains he scratched the cards, so the sounds were different.
In Jwa tells Gol Sa he has to take responsibility for losing, just as Moo Myung swings his sword at Yeon Hwa's throat. Gol Sa screams “No.” Dae Gil blocks Moo Myung's sword and strikes back at him. Hwang Jin Ki jumps in to attack Dae Gil, but luckily Yeoning arrives and blocks Hwang's attack. Dae Gil sees his chance and flies across the table to thrust his sword into In Jwa body. In Jwa dodges the blade and, after a short scuffle, all swords are at each other's throats. In Jwa admits Dae Gil's progress in swordsmanship.
However, In Jwa says they're not over yet. He offers 5,000 nyang to anyone who kills Dae Gil. As people pull out their weapons and edge closer to Dae Gil, the head of the small merchants' group barges in and stops everyone. He yells that Dae Gil saved them all from Six Ghosts. At this point, Gol Sa calls a halt to all the hostilities and angrily lectures In Jwa that a man should cleanly admit losing. Gol Sa turns and tells his daughter to get the ledgers.
In Jwa, then, says he has another reason for watching the game. (Maybe to kill Gol Sa if didn't keep his deal with In Jwa?) Before he leaves, he tells Dae Gil to remember, "There is no eternal enemy or ally in this world. If you have many allies, you will have many enemies as well." He also warns Gol Sa that he will pay dearly for his failure to safeguard the gambling den.
Gol Sa reminds Yeoning that if he reveals what is in the book both the Soron and Noron factions will be up in arms. Yeoning understands the consequences. Finally, Dae Gil calls in his Grandpa. Surprisingly, Gol Sa kneels down and apologizes to Grandpa for what he did long time ago in taking one of Grandpa's eyes. Grandpa forgives him and pats him on the shoulder.
Later In Jwa meets with the Soron faction to discuss how to stop Dae Gil from taking over Mapo while Yeoning hands over the ledger to Head Minister Kim. Across town, Dae Gil, Grandpa, and Seol Im are celebrating when Yeoning joins them. He tells Dae Gil that tomorrow the world will be upside down. But just as Yeoning merrily grins because Dae Gil called him “Your Highness,” his guard arrives to tell him that the King has summoned him.
Sukjong questions Yeoning about his friendship with Dae Gil. Yeoning answers honestly. He says that by discarding everything, he was finally able to see a friend and the suffering of the people. Sukjong continues to question him, will he give his life for his friend? Or for the people, can he give up the throne? Sukjong advises, “If you can't do that, then he is not your friend, nor are the people of this land yours. Therefore, behave in a manner that suits your status and position in life.”
Back at Dae Gil's, he and Seol Im look up at the stars while they discuss their dreams. Dae Gil wants to be a dream for someone else while Seol Im says she wants her dream of being by his side to become a reality. Embarrassed, Seol Im leaves. Suddenly, Dae Gil jumps up, asking who is hiding near him. Cutter comes out and throws a knife at Dae Gil. Dae Gil avoids it and throws it back, but in those couple of seconds, Cutter slips over to the table and sits down. He asks Dae Gil what he's going to do with Seol Im. Dae Gil replies she's going to leave Cutter. Cutter repeats these words and tells Dae Gil before he leaves, "Do not die in harsh place" (with a deep meaning).
Time for Dae Gil to take over Mapo. After he leaves, someone kidnaps Seol Im. Grandpa finds a letter and one of Seol Im's shoes. Across town, Dae Gil arrives at the gambling house. Yeon Hwa makes it clear she refuses to accept that Dae Gil will replace her father. But Dae Gil says he will not replace her father. He will, however, fulfill her father's request and heads up to Gol Sa's room. Opening the door, he sees Dam Seo ready to thrust her sword into Gol Sa's obviously dying body. Dae Gil shouts stop and puts his sword at Dam Seo's throat. Hearing Yeon Hwa voice, Dae Gil tells Dam Seo to go.