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Credit: Melinda (MelyPr Eel) from Puerto Rico and ECI
Photo credits: SBS
Episode 20 makes us wonder if In Jwa will truly get away with all his crimes and manipulations, since all he has planned has come to fruition, the death of the young Prince, the ascension of CP Yoon, the distrust between the brothers, Yeoning and Dae Gil. Will Evil win? Our hopes lay with the Treasure and Hope of the Joseon People…Baek Dae Gil…our Royal Gambler, who will gamble everything, including his life, for the Joseon People and the trust of the Crown Prince and his younger brother Yeoning.
Our episode begins with Crown Prince Yoon ascending to the throne with his spouse (?) during his coronation ceremony, becoming the Joseon Imperial Father, King GyeongJong. The King is dead…long live the King…as the British say.
We then see the newly appointed King enter the throne room and making himself at home in it. And then, Devil In Jwa is kneeling before him. King Yoon thanks him for keeping his promise and getting him there and asks him, with what I believe is a subtle threat, if he would call on Prince Yoon’s promise and demands the throne for himself, to which Devil In Jwa “humbly” responds that, like then, he still remains his most devoted and humble servant. (Gag).
Our gambler of excellence, Dae Gil pays a visit to Traitor (and not as astute as he thinks he is) Jeong in prison to ask about the whereabouts of the Blood Oath he made with In Jwa, proof of his treason to the Crown. Bittered Jeong over Dae Gil’s betrayal and getting caught, and In Jwa’s letting him hang, has no intentions of giving up the Blood Oath, since it’s the only insurance he has to keep him alive. So, our astute gambler, with a cocky attitude and that beloved smirk asks Jeong, “Shall we make a bet? Whether I will find it or not?” Gotta love him. As Dae Gil turns to leave, who was standing there listening…none other than Doubting Prince Yeoning.
So, during archery practice Prince Yeoning asks Dae Gil if he would like to make a bet with him: If Dae-gil defeats him at archery, he’ll buy him a drink and grant him a wish. But if Dae-gil loses, then he has to tell Yeoning how he really feels, and where his heart lies. Dae Gil wonders where it all started to awry. Oh I know…when you all allowed the lies and manipulations of Devil In Jwa to take root poisoning your heart and mind!!!! With a tiny seed base on half truths thrown on fertile soil, how easily does it take root and flourish.
In the dinner table, Dae Gil asks Yeoning, in an almost accusatory manner for his lack of trust, “Do you really think I am interested in the throne?” Prince Yeoning is tense and full of doubt wondering if it came to it, would Dae-gil be able to say no to the people if they wanted him to become king, a position he believes is the foundation of their nation. Dae Gil disagrees saying that he cannot partake of the meal since the Joseon people, root of the nation, are suffering and starving at that very moment. Prince Yeoning becomes angry rebutting that it is the King who the root of the nation and it his job to worry and take care of the people. Dae Gil demands of Yeoning if that is why he covered and lied about the young Prince’s death, for the good of the people…for the stability of the country.
Dae Gil then reveals to him that he’d considered losing to Yeoning on purpose, but decided to win because he needed a wish granted. “Trust me. Not for my sake, but for yours. That is my wish.” After Dae Gil leaves, Yeoning thinks to himself that he can’t grant that wish because he can’t trust Dae Gil. Really??? Knowing full well what a manipulative vile and evil man In Jwa is, he lets him poison his heart and mind against Dae Gil! Our Yeoning used to be so rational, what happened? What will it take?
As Dae Gil stated in the previous episode, his ultimate goal is to destroy In Jwa, who now thinks he is the King’s Hand.
Dae Gil’s father had given him a broken nyang, with the instruction that if he ever wanted to meet with him, all he had to do was give it to a specific beggar in the market. He does, and once the beggar sees that the broken piece matches the other half she has, she takes a note from Dae Gil to be covertly delivered to Man Geum. Man-geum advises Dae-gil to be wary of Madam Jeong more than Hong Mae, who’s dim-witted, and to be especially wary of In Jwa.
Since Jeong did not tell In Jwa the place where he hid the Blood Oath and his minions were unable to find it in Jeong’s house, In Jwa pays a visit to Hong Mae, calls her out for betraying him to Dae Gil, reminding her that she vowed to complete three tasks for him in order to get her casino back. In Jwa demands her to give him Jeong’s Blood Oath because he knows she has it. Jeong had warned her that In Jwa would seek her for it. At first she denies it, but then Devil In Jwa holds a sword to her neck to persuade her; and gives her until the next day to give it to him.
Man Geum’s team, in a very James Bond type of move, inform Dae Gil of In Jwa and Hong Mae’s meeting and give him a slip of paper with the location of where to meet his father.
In Jwa and Dae Gil cross paths in the palace, since they are now both paid servants of the Crown, and Dae Gil warns In Jwa to enjoy it while he can, which In Jwa answers with that hateful and despicable small smile that you just want to slap off his face and pats him in the shoulder, “Prepare yourself. Prepare to be king.” I tell you, I have never truly hated a drama character like I do this man. I mean, I hope his death is not quick but slow, torturous and excruciatingly painful to the pain he begs for death. Uff, feel so much better that I got that out of my system.
Dae Gil appears before King Gyeongjong who wants to reward him for bringing Traitor Jeong to justice by awarding him a higher government post. Dae-gil says he doesn’t deserve it because he was unable to catch Jeong’s co-conspirator, bravely stating he means In Jwa. The King in turn, warns Dae Gil that if he cannot provide evidence he will pay for it. Dae Gil confidently assents and asks the King to hold off Traitor Jeong sentence, because he believes that while he is alive in prison In Jwa will eventually show his true self and intentions.
In Jwa, being the manipulative evil Devil he is, goes to the king to ask him to declare Yeoning the Crown Prince, successor to the Crown, since he has no heir. Since the Norons will eventually ask him to do it, he would be in a better position to identify his enemies, if he does first.
While the Norons are discussing this very same idea, who shows up? None other than Devil In Jwa in a disguise of benevolence and servitude. In Jwa tells them that they should request for the King to install Prince Yeoning as the Crown Prince Successor and he offers them to sincerely help them. This makes Chief Councilor Kim Chang Jip very suspicious, and rightly so. Nevertheless, they go forth with the plan to ask the King to do it. During said audience that King has a coughing fit, further proving that his health is indeed failing, and proceeds to name Yeoning Crown Prince Successor, which Yeoning has no option but to accept, and so he does.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, In Jwa’s No. 1 Minion, yes the one who looked utterly horrified when he killed the young prince and still keeps doing his dirty work, that one, makes a deal with Hong Mae for the Blood Oath, what she does not know (or does she?) that In Jwa gave No. 1 Minion instructions to kill her afterwards since she has outlived her usefulness, but Dae Gil arrives and ruins his plans. Hong Mae become angry with the tug-o-war and burns the Oath as Dae Gil watches horrified the vital evidence turning into ashes. In Jwa is quite happy with the news that the Oath is no more.
Minister Kim of the Soron faction pays a visit to In Jwa and demands to know why he supported making Prince Yeoning successor to the Crown. To which In Jwa replies that it is all part of his Machiavellian plan to destroy the Norons.
Prince Yeoning is officially declared the Royal Prince Successor Brother, and is given the red robes of the crown prince successor. The burden of his new position weighs heavily on him, though the Norons try to encourage him as best they can.
Dae Gil goes to the secret village where he was told he could meet his father, filled with all the people he’s helped so far, like the members of the merchant guild. He is greeted by all as their Hero and their Savior. His father then tells him, you see now, you understand now, Dae Gil belongs to the people. Man Geum tells him he cannot escape his fate. Dae Gil tells him he has no intentions of become king. His father just smiles and shrugs.
His father tells him that he is head merchant of all eight provinces and is now looking for a man named Park of the Honam region. This is Park Pil Hyun, Devil In Jwa’s partner that plans to betray the Norons. He asks Dae Gil to keep it a secret until Park surfaces.
Dae Gil seeks with Prince Yeoning and congratulates him. He then answers Yeoning questions about whether he would be able to refuse the will of the people. He says he wouldn’t be able to reject a hand outstretched toward him, which Yeoning intrepets as, Yes I would become King if need be. But, our very wise and mature Dae Gil further explains that he doesn’t need a throne to look after the people of Joseon, and that he’ll do what he can for them with the position he has. Still, Doubting Yeoning is unsure and again asks if that is all he wants. Dae Gil, again reassures, yes, that is I want.
Finally, Doubting Yeoning, is no longer doubting, thought he could have fooled me with his face, but, he finally accedes and grants Dae Gil, his hyung, his wish, he will put his trust in him. Yet, Trusting Yeoning still feels a bit forlorn, still feels the weight of it all, and I think is a bit jealous of Dae Gil, because he has found a way to help the people of Joseon, while he, a Crown Prince, has not.
After Dae Gil leaves Prince Yeoning, his little brother, he makes a promise to his mother that he will protect his dongsaeng.
In comes the greedy Norons, who go against Chief Councilor Chang Jip counsel and behind his back, and go to the King, asking to give over power of regent to Crown Prince Yeoning; and playing right into Devil In Jwa’s plan for their own downfall. Making things worse for the Prince Yeoning and inciting the King’s wrath. Prince Yeoning is left to face the king to defend his innocence and the intentions of the Norons, that in a way it had certain merit. The King really looses it then and screams and demand from Prince Yeoning if his intention is to take the throne. Yeoning just stares like a deer in front of headlights…never did get that answer from him.
Over at Dae Gil’s humble abode, Hong Mae stops in for a surprise visit bearing a treasure: the real Blood Oath. Nope, you guessed, she burned a fake one. We travel back in time, wit Dae Gil speaking to Hong Mae, warning her that In Jwa would kill her after he got the Oath and asked her to give it to him instead because, unlike Devil In Jwa, he would never kill one of his own people.
So, of course, instead of running to the King, no, he now has the Oath, is confident, so he takes his own sweet time. Thank god for Chae Gun, who comes to him and updates him on the latest gossip in the palace and tells him, you better get your butt over to the palace early and show your evidence to the King. Leaving Dae Gil to ponder if it is all Devil In Jwa’s doing (ya think???) and Prince Yeoning’s safety.
So while these two are sharing the latest, In Jwa is meeting with the Sorons, telling of his new evil plan to take over Joseon, and introduces to the a young Noron by the name of Mok Ho Ryong, who has even less scruples than Devil In Jwa, since he is willing to betray his own people, the Norons. He has agreed to, drum roll please, go to the King and tell him the Norons are planning a rebellion and his assassination.
Our easily manipulated King is already paranoid, since he is seeing assassins where there are none, added to that the royal taster who collapses after eating poisoned food intended for the King, so when this Mok Ho Ryong appears before the King and tells him of the Norons planned rebellion and assassination and that Prince Yeoning is in on it, he orders the Norons arrested, grabs his sword and storms into Prince Yeoning’s rooms.
Dae Gil is on his way to Prince Yeoning, when Devil In Jwa intercepts him claiming he is acting on the King’s authority to have him arrested. Again, thank god for Chae Gun who appears and sends Dae Gil forthwith to the King to do what he came to do. In Jwa is fuming for his waylaid plans and promises vengeance for Chea Gun’s interference.
So back to the King. He thunders into Prince Yeoning’s rooms ranting like a madman over his younger brother’s betrayal. Prince Yeoning’s eyes are wide with surprise, confusion and fear at having a sword inches from his neck. And in the nick of time, Dae Gil comes into the room throws himself on the floor, begging the King to spare Yeoning. The King lowers his swords and turns towards Dae Gil, just momentarily, only to turn around, sword raise intent on killing Yeoning. In an instant, Dae Gil appears placing himself between Yeoning and the King, saying if you he wants to kill the Prince, he will have to kill him first. If that doesn’t prove trustworthiness to Yeoning, I don’t what will. Hope Yeoning is finally convinced.
But I digress, it seems the newly anointed King knows a lot more than he lead on. Yes…he knew they were blood brothers and vows to sever the tie between them permanently. So, the King pushes Dae Gil aside, lets out a mighty roar as he raises his sword once again to put an end to Prince Yeoning’s life.
So…will Dae Gil make the final proof of trust…will he sacrifice his life to protect Prince Yeoning…
…to be continued.
On a personal note…
I must say, Actor Jang has impressed me since I saw him in You Are Beautiful. And with every drama and movie I saw the more he impressed. From a young age he is truly an extraordinary and gifted actor. But seeing him in Daebak, he truly has matured. The character development in this drama has been beautiful to watch. He makes you feel, and only great actors can do that. I am so excited, that all the main male actors are so good, that he is finally acting with peers of the same caliber. I have noticed that this is a man’s drama, female roles are pretty much on the background. But you know, I don’t mind, I don’t care that there is no budding romance, it really does not needed. That’s why, I really was a bit indifferent towards Daem Seo demised. She wasn’t really needed to continue the story, because it is that strong, the male actors are that strong. It almost feel like the writer/PD wanted to add a love triangle, half way through it was not feeling, hid her away, tried again, changed his mind so he killed her off. Tried with 2 other girls, still not convinced on the romance, so he sticks them to the very background giving them some face time. He needs to make a decision and commit to it. Other than that … I am so glad he chose this drama. It’s not only different, but perfect for him. And he looks damn sexy in that uniform. [END]