Writer: Saranya GS Eel
Editors: Val Kaye Taozen & Tabby
Pictures credit: SBS
“Secrets are like plants. They can stay buried deep in the earth for a long time, but eventually they'll send up shoots and give themselves away. They have to. It's their nature. Just a tiny green stem at first. Which slowly, insidiously grows taller, stronger, unfolding itself, until there it is. A big fat secret, right in front of your face; a fully bloomed flower perfumed with the scent of deception.”
― Judy Reene Singer, Still Life With Elephant
The episode starts where we left off in the last episode. Dae Gil, shocked to see Dam Seo, with her sword pointing down at Gol Sa's body, stops her. He asks what in the world she is doing. Hearing Gol Sa’s daughter call her father, Dae Gil tells Dam Seo to go; she leaps through the window. Yeon Hwa (Gol Sa's daughter) enters and sees Dae Gil crouched by Gol Sa. She panics, seeing her father drenched in blood, and cries as Gol Sa dies in her hands. Obviously, given the circumstances, she thinks Dae Gil killed her father. She looks at Dae Gil, eyes blazing, and asks, “How could you do this to my father?” Panicked, he replies that he didn’t kill Gol Sa. She's not convinced as tears well in her eyes. He repeats he didn’t do it but will find the culprit and why her father was killed. She doesn’t believe him and asks how dare he deny it. As the guards storm in, she orders them to catch Baek Dae Gil—her father’s killer. Dae Gil escapes.
The heart-broken Yeon Hwa sees Dae Gil’s sword lying in the blood. Angrily, she vows she will never forgive him.
Several Mapo merchants gather inside a room to talk about Dae Gil's recent victory over Gol Sa. They suspect it’s not only Dae Gil’s intention to take down Gol Sa’s gambling den but also kill him just like Six Ghosts. During the discussion, a man hurries in and informs them that Gol Sa is dead. All are stricken by the scary news as In Jwa, Jin Ki and Moo Myung walk in. In Jwa says the killer must be Baek Dae Gil and his brutal deeds will not end here. In addition, he is going to be arrested for murder soon. That leaves only Gol Sa’s naive daughter, who doesn’t know how things work, or himself to take care of Mapo’s merchant organization. In Jwa asks the merchants to be with him or…(Jin Ki pounds his sword hard on the floor to scare the merchants).
Back in Gol Sa’s den, the police investigate the murder site and the dead body. The investigating officer asks Yeon Hwa whether she saw the murderer. She says yes, the killer's name is Baek Dae Gil.
In the palace, Prince Yeoning apologizes for being late for the morning assembly in the Throne Room. The Crown Prince says that they have submitted all the reports to His Majesty. Prince Yeoning asks about the abolition of licensed monopoly rights. The king replies that he already told him to bring proof. Yeoning responds that he already found the proof, as he looks at Minister Kim Chang Jib. Kim tells the king that he received a book from Yeoning which shows collusion between licensed merchants and ministers of the Royal court, but the books had no weight as evidence so he burned them. Prince Yeoning stares at Kim in shock.
Outside, Prince Yeoning hails Kim. The prince asks Kim what on earth he is trying to do. Obtaining those records was very difficult; why did he burn them? Kim tells the prince not to get involved; he is doing it for the prince. Kim tells him that he is a pillar of the Noron faction and cannot collapse because of the licensed monopoly rights. He asks the prince if he thinks abolishing the licensed monopoly right will break the Soron faction. Yi In Jwa, he says, is like a devil and this case is not enough to lock him behind the bars. In the process, Yeoning will be the only one to get hurt.
Furious, Prince Yeoning replies he will not tolerate them, meaning In Jwa and those corrupted. The Crown Prince joins them, saying that stopping him is Lady Suk Bin's wish. The Crown Prince explains that the more he pushes the abolition of licensed monopoly rights, the more the ministers will turn their backs on him. In the end, he will suffer. In a flashback, the Crown Prince meets with Suk Bin in her chamber. She asks him to stop Yeoning's recklessness. After calling him in, Kim suggests the Crown Prince ask the king to restore Yeoning’s position, then he will take care of the events after that.
Back in the present, the Crown Prince asks Yeoning to stop, then he will regain his lost position. The Crown Prince, then, gives an official badge to Yeoning, remembering his conversation with the king. The king asks why he wants to help Yeoning who will stand in his way when he sits on the throne. But the Crown Prince answers that he is Yeoning’s hyungnim (older brother) and his lord too. Therefore, he will stop Yeoning's actions and reinstate his position. Though Prince Yeoning remains unconvinced, Kim advices him that if he earns one thing, he has give up another. That is politics.
In Suk Bin's chamber, Prince Yeoning asks why she is involved in his business. She replies that if he makes enemies of the ministers, he will not survive. Besides, it is her request as his mother and soon she won’t be able to make any more requests like this.
Prince Yeoning hurries to question the royal doctor, who reveals that her condition is very bad and there is nothing they can do to save her. Prince Yeoning is devastated.
In king’s chamber, Sukjong inspects the book that Kim gave him and asks rhetorically, “Did the storerooms become infested with the rats because the crops were rotten? Or did the crops rot because it became infested with rats?”
Later, In Jwa meets with the Soron ministers. Their leader asks if he met with Kim or not. In Jwa replies he doesn’t have the power to move a stubborn man like Kim. However, everybody in the palace is against Yeoning’s plan. So, fortunately for him, everybody ends up wanting the same thing.
Meanwhile, Dae Gil storms into Hong Mae’s gambling house and asks for Dam Seo. Hong Mae says she is not there, so he hurries to In Jwa’s residence. Again he demands to know where Dam Seo is and did In Jwa send her to kill Gol Sa. But In Jwa retorts that it was Dae Gil who killed Gol Sa. Dae Gil leaves when he learns Dam Seo is not there, while In Jwa remembers the last conversation he had with Dam Seo before she left his service.
Moo Myung, intercepting Dae Gil outside the residence, asks Dae Gil if he's seen Dam Seo. Dae Gil replies she killed Six Ghosts and Gol Sa. Moo Myung tells him about a temple she used to visit. Dae Gil runs to the temple to find her.
Over at the palace, Yeoning learns of the murder and goes to investigate. When he examines the corpse, he is told that the wound was made with one slash of a sword by someone trained in martial arts. Yeon Hwa enters, saying the killer must be Baek Dae Gil. Yeoning asks her if she saw the killing with her own eyes; she says yes, and she wants him arrested immediately.
At the temple, Dae Gil asks Dam Seo if she killed Six Ghosts and Gol Sa. She replies that Six Ghosts committed many vicious acts and deserved to die. Gol Sa wasn’t much different and she wanted to kill him, but she didn't. Dae Gil wants to believe her and asks if it wasn’t her, then who? Dam Seo says that even if she tells the truth, he won’t believe her. She adds that he will find out soon why his father was killed and why In Jwa didn’t kill him.
Grandpa searches for Seol Im who disappeared. He wonders where she went without a shoe, while over at Cutter's house, Seol Im serves him lunch. When she turns to leave, Cutter’s guards stop her. He tells her not to turn her back on him and gives her a pair of beautiful shoes. (Oh my Goodness! Is he proposing to her? Giving her pretty shoes and saying not to turn her back on him. Yes. He is asking her to marry him. I think.) Cutter tells her there is no point in waiting; no one will come for her because he left a letter at Dae Gil’s place.
Dae Gil reads the letter, “Dae Gil, thank you for everything. Be well.” Grandpa, holding out Seol Im's shoe, believes something happened to her. Dae Gil says he will find her, but as he starts to leave, Yeoning and his guards arrive and arrest Dae Gil for murder. (Poor Dae Gil! He is being framed by someone. But his prison clothes look nice on him. I think Joseon prison clothes look better than modern prison clothes.)
Moo Myung later informs In Jwa of Dae Gil's arrest for the murder. When Moo Myung asks if is he planning to kill Baek Dae Gil, In Jwa answers, “Dae Gil is destined to live longer than you. He won’t die that easily.” In his mind, he challenges Sukjong, “What are you going to do King? Your son is about to die.” When news of the arrest reaches the palace, Suk Bin panics while Sukjong laughs at In Jwa's audacity.
In prison, Dae Gil sits with his eyes closed. (It's the first time I've see a prisoner this handsome.) Yeoning asks what happened. When Dae Gil says he didn't kill Gol Sa, the prince demands to know if he can trust Dae Gil. Dae Gil replies that he can. Dae Gil still lies about having seen Dam Seo at the murder site. Yeoning believes someone framed Dae Gil and says he still trusts him.
Yeoning questions Gol Sa’s daughter again at the murder site. He asks whether she saw the murder take place. She replies she didn’t witness the actual murder, but she is sure Baek Dae Gil is the culprit. Yeoning inspects the floor where Gol Sa died and notices some scattered cards. Yeon Hwa tells him that her father held a tujeon card when he died. If Baek Dae Gil wasn’t the killer, she asks, then why was her father holding the card.
Yeoning, back at the palace, sees Suk Bin hurry to where Dae Gil is being tortured. Despite the pain, he refuses to confess because he didn’t do anything—he never killed anyone. The officer orders the guards twist his legs with iron rods again, but Suk Bin commands they stop and leave immediately. Suk Bin's concern confuses Dae Gil. She asks if he really did murder someone. “No, I didn’t,” he answers.
When he asks why she is so concerned about him, she answers that she heard he is the only friend Yeoning has in the world. She asks him with tear-filled eyes, who framed him. He replies that he is not sure, but he suspects Yi In Jwa.
Suk Bin remembers In Jwa trying to kill Dae Gil when he was a small baby and promises Dae Gil that she will take In Jwa down no matter what. She will never, ever forgive him. She asks Dae Gil to endure a little bit longer. Before she leaves, she silently promises to protect him this time. Yeoning quietly watches and remembers once finding his dead brother’s horoscope in his mother’s chamber. He approaches Dae Gil and asks his birth date. Dae Gil says it’s an inappropriate question to ask given the situation but replies he was born in October. He doesn’t know the date because he never cared about his birthday. As Yeoning leaves the prison, he reflects on the similarity between the birth dates, and that he’s never seen his mother so furious before.
Yeoning heads to the king’s chamber but is denied entry. He hears his mother’s voice from within, requesting the king have mercy on Baek Dae Gil. The king points to all the appeals from the Soron ministers, demanding Dae Gil's execution. He tells her Dae Gil is a grown man, and she doesn’t have to worry about him every time. It is up to him whether or not to kill Dae Gil. She should not interfere again because she will get hurt.
Yeoning joins the king at archery practice. The king asks if he wants to take down In Jwa. When the prince seems unsure how to answer, the king tells him to go ahead; he has permission. He also asks Yeoning to bring Baek Dae Gil to him. Meanwhile, In Jwa calls forth his hidden allies from the eight provinces. After 20 years, he says, it’s time to rise and stand.
Yeon Hwa visits Dae Gil in prison to confirm whether or not he killed her father. Dae Gil asks her to think again: who benefits from Gol Sa’s death; who benefits from him being locked up in prison. When Gol Sa died, he says, he was holding something in his hand. Yeon Hwa shows him the tujeon card. Dae Gil realizes who is guilty. In a flashback, Gol Sa sits at his desk. He sees a shadow cross the door and says come inside. Cutter enters and, with one slash on the neck, kills Gol Sa. Back in prison, Dae Gil asks Yeon Hwa if she really believes he is the killer or is she scared of Cutter. She tells him Cutter is not just a gambling master but also the head of an assassin group. While they talk, Yeoning arrives to release Dae Gil.
In Jwa expresses his gratitude to Cutter on killing Gol Sa, which also resulted in Dae Gil's imprisonment. In a flashback, In Jwa pays Cutter a box full of silver sovereigns to kill Gol Sa. In Jwa also mentions that Daegil and Seol Im seem close to each other, which is like pouring oil on a fire. (This man In Jwa knows how to control people without much direct involvement.) Back in the present, he informs Cutter that Baek Dae Gil might come after him that night.
In the throne room, the king commands Dae Gil to catch the killer before 10 pm. He also asks Yeoning to take responsibility if Dae Gil fails to do so. The prince agrees to give up everything in order to take responsibility. Outside, Yeoning returns Dae Gil’s sword. As Dae Gil leaves, he turns back and tells Yeoning his birthdate is October 6, 1693 - the same date as his olde brother. Shocked, Yeoning realizes Dae Gil may be his older brother.
As the episode ends, Cutter stands inside a room, tight security outside. Dae Gil suddenly appears as Cutter says, “You came sooner than I expected.” He turns to Dae Gil, and both look at each other with eyes blazing.
This episode ends with a cliffhanger. So many questions are left unanswered.
What will happen between the brothers? Can the prince accept the commoner Dae Gil as his brother? When will Dae Gil find out that he is the King’s son? Will Dae Gil realize that Suk Bin is his mother before she dies? Will Seol Im accept the shoes from Cutter? What if Dae Gil can’t catch the killer before 10pm? Who are the people In Jwa called for help? Are they scarier than he?
We await the next episodes to find the answers. I hope Dae Gil will take down the assassin Cutter in the next episode.