We jump right back in to the Prince presenting Dong Soo with a sword. Dong Soo swears he’ll succeed in the investigation.
Lord Hong meets with Un and Hong1. While it was the Assassins who helped bring the false ginseng in, the losses to them are high enough that it will be a problem more of value than anything else. However, they’ll all be in trouble if the investigation into the Queen pulls them all in.
In the palace, the Queen is recovering, with her father at her side. She tells the doctors to continue to tell everyone that she is unconscious.
Un tells Hong that the Assassins aren’t going to interfere in the investigation of false ginseng problem or in the sinking of ship. He thinks it would bring too much attention to them, and the officials can simply take the blame.
Dong Soo meets with Ji Sun, Sa Mo and Gwang Taek and tells them about the decree to investigate. Ji Sun offers to help, since she knows the most about ginseng. Dong Soo thinks, it’s too dangerous for her, but in the end she persuades them.
Jin Ju wakes up in the forest hut and finds Chun feeling slightly better. He tells her to get ready to leave. They share a meal, where she tells him that she’s only accepting the food to get stronger, while he sweetly puts things on her rice for her. She asks him how many people he’s killed with his sword, and when he asks why, she quickly takes it back and says not to answer.
He takes the sword and looks at it. He asks if she pities the people he killed, or thinks that he is disgusting. She says that she thinks her mother is pitiful. He puts the sword up.
Dong Soo and Ji Sun are headed out to investigate the ginseng, so Sa Mo has them take Mi So along, since she knows the local markets. As they leave, Sa Mo sighs and comments that while Dong Soo seems more mature, he misses the lively Dong Soo (as do we all…).
Gwang Taek checks up on Ji, but Jin Ki tells him that she’s still weak from the poison. She apologizes to him for being such a burden.
In the market, Mi So bounces along as Dong Soo escorts Ji Sun. They go from merchant to merchant, until they find one with false ginseng. They convince him to talk, and he says he got it from a government merchant believing it to be the type the Prince likes.
The kitchen lady tells Lord Hong that Cho Rip got the leavings from the ginseng tea that was served to the Queen. He tells her that she should take responsibility for it, and kill herself. She tries to leave, but the creepy bodyguard stops her and forces her to drink poison.
Dong Soo and the girls head down to the wharf to check out the incoming ships, but they have to wait around for one to come in. They chat with the other merchants who are waiting around and find out that the expected ship isn’t a merchantman, but a warship.
Dong Soo goes back to the palace and as he gets there sees guards burning ginseng supplies. He runs into Cho Rip, and they go to where Dong Soo thinks some ginseng might still be around.
At the same time, news reaches the palace of the ship sinking. It wasn’t just a small ship, it turns out to be a fairly decent sized one. Lord Hong claims that only an act of war could have destroyed it (as opposed to steering it on to a reef, which is what the sailors said happened). Lord Hong tries to put the blame on the Japanese. Since Lord Hong is the minister of war, he’s in just the right position to try to frame them.
Lord Kim, the Queen’s father, is much more dubious about this claim, and notes the co-incidence that this might be the warship that was rumored to be transporting ginseng. In return, Lord Hong mentions that it might be better if the Queen wakes up soon. (veiled threats on each side going on here – each implying that they know the other side are weasels.)
The King is at the Queen’s bedside, all concerned that she’s so ill. The Prince also arrives to check on her, but while they are outside being worried, she’s actually inside primping.
Chun goes back into town for more supplies and is spotted by some guards. He scares them off. At Sa Mo’s, Jin Ki tries to cheer Ji up by telling her that both Chun and Jin Ju will be fine. She says she’s feeling better, but when she hears the news of the Queen fainting after drinking the tea, she knows that the Assassins will be in trouble because of their role in bringing it in.
Lord Hong continues in his plan to frame the Japanese by salting Japanese arrows among the debris of the ship. He presents the arrow as evidence to the King. The King is still dubious about it, and says it isn’t enough evidence. He orders that a team experienced in naval matters re-investigate the incident. As Lord Hong receives some orders from the King (to be made clear later), they get word that the kitchen maid is dead, apparently a suicide by hanging.
Cho Rip and Dong Soo meet up with a group of government officials and ask to visit the royal kitchens. The maid there shows them their supply of ginseng, which was already in the kitchens, not in the storehouse. Dong Soo reports back to the Prince that the tea that the Queen drank was false ginseng tea, that ginseng destined for the palace made it to the local market instead, and that the merchants were waiting for more false ginseng from the warship that sank. So it’s all connected. Dong Soo asks to continue to investigate, and Cho Rip asks to look into the kitchen maid’s suicide.
Gu Hyang, the gisaeng, and Un meet. She asks why Un hasn’t asked about Ji Sun recently. He asks if there is something wrong with Ji Sun. She says no, but she thought he may have forgotten about her. He tells her that will never happen. She brings out a box that has the same leavings of tea residue that Cho Rip had (which kind of begs the question of where she got hold of it, except somehow from Cho Rip himself). She tells him that if Cho Rip had it, and Ji Sun helped them, then they must know it was false ginseng. She tells him she has a ship and plans ready for him to go where the wreck was, but he tells her it’s not necessary. He thanks her, but tells her not to become involved.
As she leaves, Dae Ung begs her for a drink and she ignores him. Then he begs Un for help, and Un tells him that he’s testing the patience of heaven. (more or less – I tried to come up with an English version of that, and that’s the closest I could come).
Dong Soo makes plans to go out to the wreck. Ji Sun says she’ll go as well, but Sa Mo asks who will take care of the business. She says Jin Ju can, which worries Dong Soo a little as he seems to realize that Jin Ju hasn’t returned. But they plan to leave the next morning.
Un ponders the box of tea leavings. Dong Soo and Ji Sun prepare to head off to the ship. Chang hears from the two guards where they spotted Chun. So all the players are in motion.
Assassins head out through the woods to where Chun is, but Ji spots them first. Chun and Jin Ju (who is still limping) start on their way to rendezvous as well. They make it to what looks like Dong Soo’s old childhood village – now abandoned – when Chun hears the rattle of the assassins swords. He grabs Jin Ju’s hand and runs to a bridge where he can defend her more easily.
Commence fight scene! A tired, wounded Chun is still better than the average lackey, but they are cornered. Chang shows up to issue the customary threats, and Chun replies in kind. The fight starts again.
Ji arrives and finds Jin Ju. This time Chun tells Ji to save their daughter. As they make their way out, Ji turns and Chang stabs her.
This completely infuriates Chun (predictably), who gets slashed in the back as he turns to see what happened. Chun tells Jin Ju to help her mother away, and he faces off with Chang.
Jin Ju stumbles through the forest away from the carnage, pleading with her mother to live.
Interestingly, we don’t get a giant Chun/Chang fight. Instead we get a tableau of each of them collapsed, bloodied and still holding their swords. Chang struggles up and says it looks like it will take more than a few days to finish Chun off, and he’ll find Chun again.
Chun makes his way through the forest, following Ji and Jin Ju’s trail. He staggers his way to Ji, as Jin Ju begs him for help. He sends her for a doctor, telling her to hurry.
Back at the wharf, Cho Rip is seeing Dong Soo and Ji Sun off. A ship arrives and they board. Kim Hong Do, the artist comes running down the dock and boards as well. However, he also bumps into Cho Rip, passing along a note.
As the ship leaves, Un watches from horseback. He flashes back to a meeting with Lord Hong. Hong guarantees Ji Sun will be safe, and Un agrees to help with covering up the matter of the false ginseng. Un reminds Hong that this has been their arrangement, he’s just reminding Hong to hold to it.
Hong Do asks Dong Soo if they know a girl who is a tomboy. Dong Soo figures he means Jin Ju, and asks what about her. We see a flashback of Hong Do running into her in the market as she bought the medicine for Chun, and noting her injured foot (in a fairly creepy way, actually). He tells them that he ran into her in the market, and that her ankle was hurt. He asks if she was better. Dong Soo and Ji Sun are puzzled, because they thought she had been sent on an errand elsewhere.
Out by the shore, General (now Admiral) Seo is surveying the situation and sees men burning some of the wreckage. But when he comes by to chat, they say it’s nothing and scurry off. He takes a closer look, but is interrupted by a local policeman. He goes back to their office and is shown a box of ginseng from the wreckage. But when the constable opens the box, it’s empty. He realizes that must have been what was being burnt. He opines that this is getting more and more confusing. (you and me both, bud.)
He gathers the survivors of the wreck and guards and starts grilling them as to what happened. Why were they on a different route than they were supposed to be? Was it the Japanese? etc. None of them are talking. One of them, however, flashes back (and I’m getting weary of the flashbacks Mr. Director) to being in the cell when Un showed up to tell them what their story would be or else they’d die – they heard gunfire, and the ship sank, it must have been the Japanese! He repeats that to Seo. Everyone else joins in, but Seo isn’t buying it. This time Seo puts his sword to one of their necks and tells them to answer. The man sticks to the story of the Japanese attack. Just as Seo is about to whack him one, Hong shows up and stops him.
It turns out that the royal decree Hong had asked for and gotten was to suspend Seo.
Dong Soo and company arrive in town, and Hong Do starts chatting up the locals to gather information. He finds out that a fisherman witnessed the wreck of the ship, so they set out to find him. However, at that moment, Un is busy threatening said fisherman. He asks him if he took anything from the wreckage, and the fisherman denies he has anything. Un tells him that if he wants to live, he should disappear.
Dong Soo and Seo have a happy reunion, with a little of the stammering happy Dong Soo returning. They are alarmed to hear that Hong himself was there to dismiss Seo, but he cheerfully notes that this was his 3rd career dismissal, so he’s used to it.
Hong gets the report that Dong Soo and crew are in town. He sends creepy bodyguard to kill them, an order that is overheard by Un.
Chun made a shelter for Ji to rest under and washes up as they wait for the doctor to arrive. He tells her not to talk, and reassures her that Jin Ju is alright. Ji apologizes, she confesses that Jin Ju isn’t his daughter. (and Chun’s and our hearts break into little bitty pieces.) He finally says that it doesn’t matter. Jin Ju is her daughter, and therefore precious to him. He reminds her that she told him to save Jin Ju. That is enough for him.
As night falls, Ji gets weaker. She tells him that she’s going to die. She asks him for a favor. (::sniffle::) He asks if she wants to see Gwang Taek. He nods, and says that while in his heart, there is only her, in her heart there is only Gwang Taek. He tells her that it’s alright. She thanks him, and he sends off a messenger pigeon for Gwang Taek (ok, now that makes me laugh, but I suppose ya gotta go with it.)
Jin Ju is on her way back with a doctor, but first Gwang Taek arrives on horseback. Chun just stands by silently as Gwang Taek begs Ji to hang on and live out their lives together. Gwang Taek breaks down in tears as he pleads with her not to die.
Just then we cut to Dong Soo and crew still investigating. They check into their inn, and Dong Soo turns down a drink with Hong Do.
The creepy bodyguard creeps up as Ji Sun is sitting on the stoop getting some air. However, Un also creeps up on the bodyguard, and runs him off. He watches as Dong Soo comes out and tells Ji Sun that it’s too dangerous out here, that she should go in and sleep. Ji Sun spots Un, but tells Dong Soo that it was nothing. Ji Sun goes for a walk and detours around to intercept Un. She asks him if he came with Hong and he says he did, that it’s part of his duties. She asks him to leave the Assassins, but he tells her that he belongs there. The creepy bodyguard reports to Hong that Un prevented him from killing any of Dong Soo’s party. Hong flashes back to Un telling him that he’d better honor the agreement to leave Ji Sun alone. Hong says he’s leaving for Hanyang, and tells the bodyguard to kill all of the witnesses to the wreck.
The creepy bodyguard goes to the jail and sets fire to the cells. A few manage to escape, but he cuts them down with his sword. One heads the other way, and encounters Un, who has seen the flames. Un knocks him down.
Dong Soo tracks down Ji Sun, who says she just went for a walk. Dong Soo sees the smoke and everyone goes rushing to see what’s going on. But creepy bodyguard is also doubling back, following Ji Sun. The lone survivor comes stumbling out, he tells Seo that everyone else has been killed. It seems that Un had saved him and told him to tell Seo the truth.
Dong Soo sees all the dead prisoners, and leaves. Un, on the other hand, is sneaking up on Hong to get a little retribution for his attempt on Ji Sun’s life. Hong and Un banter, then start to fight. And as they go crashing through screens – we end episode 18!
I realize I am a huge Chun fan, but am I the only one who was much more moved by Chun’s anguish than Gwang Taek’s? I realize that for a brief time, Gwang Taek had the hope that Ji would recover and live the rest of their lives together, but honestly I felt more for Chun, who so briefly thought that he had a daughter with Ji and then learned it wasn’t true.
And I’m going to give slight brownie points to Ji Sun for having Un radar. So those of you wishing that ship will set sail get a little hope here.
But mostly, this episode belonged to Chun and Ji. Despite all the nonsense about ginseng and conspiracies, I think what everyone will remember about this episode is Chun fighting to protect Jin Ju and then holding Ji as her life starts to fade. Or at least that’s what I’ll remember. ::sniffle::
Interesting thing about that big fight scene – supposedly the bridge collapse happened sooner than it was supposed to, you can see one of the “dead” stunt people moving away – but because the cameras were rolling and Choi Min Soo made a great save, the footage was usable.
I don’t want to spoil thundie or anyone who is watching Emperor of the Sea along with her. But WBDS really does give me EotS on crack vibes. There are real differences, WBDS has much more nonsense in it and EotS is technically a much better drama, but when it comes to the hero and anti-hero alternately protecting the lady who becomes a merchant – that’s pretty much the plot of both shows. Because I happen to love EotS (my first k-drama!), for me describing something as EotS on crack is a GOOD thing!