Lord Hong gets out of jail vowing vengeance on everyone involved in the ginseng/ship fiasco. The Queen meets with her father, Lord Kim, and the Prince, asking what the heck happened to get Hong off the hook. Flashback to Lord Kim telling Hong to confess. Hong refuses and says that if he goes down, Kim and the Queen are going down with him. As Kim orders Hong to be tortured, an officer runs in to confess that he was behind the ginseng problems. And in a flashback in this flashback, we see that Un had gone to the officer’s house and told him that his entire family would be killed if he didn’t confess and get Hong off the hook.
As if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that Kenjo, the Japanese swordsman/envoy, delivered a letter to the King saying that Japanese merchants were trading in the false ginseng and ginseng without permission from their government, thus causing trouble and bringing disgrace on Japan. He offers the merchants for punishment, but the King tells him that clearing the matter up is more important. He orders the release of Hong and a banquet to be held on Kenjo’s behalf.
::musical fighting interlude:: Chun heads off into the woods, and is attacked by a group of assassins. Chang and Un arrive to watch. Chun puts his sword to one of the assassins. He tells them that he’s still their Sky Lord and they’d better back off.
Cho Rip delivers the news of Hong’s release to Sa Mo and company. Admiral Seo decides to head to the palace to report to the King, so Gwang Taek sends Dong Soo along to see what is going on.
Chun finally confronts Chang one on one. Chang gets beaten, and asks why a great fighter like Chun stayed in Joseon. He lunges at Chun, who gives him a vicious stab to the neck. Chun says he was told that Joseon once ruled most of Qing (which harks back to the Crown Prince and the Plan for the Northern Invasion, and is basically his way of telling Chang that he underestimated Chun and Joseon) but he says that Chang’s big mistake was laying a hand on Ga Ok. He twists the blade and Chang drops dead.
Both Dae Ung and Un witness this final fight. Chun calls Un to follow him to the Assassins headquarters. He tells Un that he lived his life there, that it was his place to rest and recover. He asks to borrow it again. (And how odd is that, really. He’s still Chun, it’s still his – but he’s ceded it to Un already.) He tells Un that he’ll be meeting Gwang Taek soon.
Un meets with Hong, who tells him that things went well, but it’s time to buy an ending to the matter. Un asks if he means to kill the Prince. Hong tells Un he’ll go down in history if he does it, and Un tells him to stuff it (ok, he actually says he isn’t interested, but the tone is more of disrespect than disagreement). Hong tells him that the only thing that interests him seems to be Ji Sun.
Un goes stalking off, having been again threatened with harm to Ji Sun to bring him to heel. He passes Kenjo and the giant on the way out, drawing his attention. They are there to plot something. Kenjo is worried that if things go wrong it’ll be an all out war between Japan and Joseon. So he declares that the giant, Jung Hyung Mun, will do it. Kenjo says Jung’s skills should be enough to take down the Prince’s guards. To test the matter, the creepy bodyguard fights the giant, and loses miserably.
Jin Ju tries to approach Gwang Taek, but gives up. Jin Ki tells her not to feel bad about him. He had always thought that Gwang Taek was her real father. Jin Ju tells him that no matter what, he’s her father. He asks her – wouldn’t it be better to be the daughter of Joseon’s best swordsman instead of the daughter of a thief? Jin Ki tells her to tell Gwang Taek whatever she needs to tell him before it’s too late.
Jin Ju goes back to the house and Dong Soo comes by to see her. Dong Soo tells her that she doesn’t need to pretend around him. She can tell him whatever she is feeling and cry all she wants. As she starts to cry, she puts her head on his shoulder. He tells her at least she can remember her mother’s face, which he can’t do. He pats her on the shoulder and tells her it’ll be alright.
Seo and Dong Soo go to the palace and find the feast underway. The guards put on a performance of swordsmanship, however Kenjo is unimpressed. He gets permission to spar with the King’s bodyguard and easily takes him down. He then takes on one of the mountain boys, and then all three at the same time. He wins again. The King and the Prince are both embarrassed by the failures.
Kenjo insultingly asks if Joseon doesn’t have any real fighters. Dong Soo starts forward to challenge him, but Hong Do, the artist, holds him back.
Back inside, the King calls in General Seo and declares that there will be another feast in two days, and that he wants Gwang Taek to present himself. Kenjo asks Hong who this swordmaster Gwang Taek is. Hong explains that even after losing an arm, that Gwang Taek really is the best swordsman in Joseon. Hong says that Gwang Taek is the only one who can match Kenjo’s skills. Kenjo disagrees. He’s met a guy named Baek Dong Soo, whose skills are good. Hong pitches a bit of a hissy at the name Baek Dong Soo. He explains that Dong Soo is the disciple of Gwang Taek. Kenjo asks where he can find this guy.
Back at Jang Mi’s, the girls are sitting around sewing, with Mi So lamenting that Cho Rip doesn’t come around much. The mountain boys, otoh, are sitting with Dong Soo, drinking and complaining that Kenjo made them too embarrassed to be royal guards. Kenjo arrives with a dramatic toss of a knife that extinguishes the candles. Dong Soo tells the mountain boys to watch and learn.
And…we cut to Gwang Taek practicing for his fight with Chun. Jin Ju comes by, and Gwang Taek asks why she’s been following him around. He tells her to ask Dong Soo to come out, and again she avoids talking to him and leaves.
On the path back, she runs into Chun, who has been waiting for her. He asks how she has been doing. Then he tells her that he is very grateful to her for what she told him the other day (that would be when she came out to the lakeside and told him that her mother would hate to see him in that state). He tells her he’ll keep her words in his heart. He says that it didn’t matter if she was his daughter or not. He’ll protect her because she is Ji’s daughter, that’s enough of a reason.
Jin Ju tells him that she has only one request, that he and Gwang Taek not duel anymore. He nods and says he’ll think about it. Dae Ung, however, is lurking nearby eavesdropping on this conversation.
Kenjo and Dong Soo start to spar in the courtyard. They seem fairly well matched. Kenjo pauses, tells Dong Soo they’ll meet again, and leaves. Dong Soo sits down again with the mountain boys and discusses the fact that Kenjo and Hong seem to be up to something that needs investigation.
Jin Ju overhears this and offers to help. She tells them that everyone in the market already knows that Hong is throwing parties every night at the gisaeng house. Dong Soo tells her that it’s too dangerous, but she points out that sneaking in places is her specialty.
Then she tells him that Gwang Taek (stumbling over the word father and then substituting his title) wants to see him.
Gwang Taek invites Dong Soo to practice, this time with their real swords. Then Chun asks Un if his skills are better now, it’s time to test them. ::musical interlude of alternating Dong Soo vs. Gwang Taek then Chun vs. Un)::
Dong Soo and Gwang Taek draw, while Chun beats Un. Gwang Taek tells Dong Soo that the only thing he can see missing in Dong Soo’s training is a desire to kill. Dong Soo asks, EH? Haven’t you always said that he SHOULDN’T have a desire to kill? Gwang Taek tells him, yes, he has, but as a swordsman, you have to realize that the purpose of the sword is to kill, because it is sometimes necessary to kill to help others. He says that personally he’s never figured out this paradox. Go figure. He tells Dong Soo that he’ll have to solve that for himself. (Strangely enough, that is almost exactly what Chun told Un several episodes ago, when he was saying that even though he keeps asking Un what the difference between an assassin and a warrior is, he’s never quite figured out the difference either.)
Chun, on the other hand, tells Un that of all of the people he’s sparred with, that Un ranks just below Gwang Taek in skill. He nods and smiles as he tells Un that it won’t be very long before Un surpasses him. As he turns and starts away, Chun pats his heart. Un asks if there is something wrong. Chun tells him that Un is already good enough to be the next Chun. He says that he won’t be with the Assassins in the future. He tells Un to do what he will with it.
Chun looks at Un very seriously and tells him that even though he ruled this sky, he felt empty. After Ga Ok died, he knew why. He tells Un that if he loves Ji Sun, go get her. In the end, he found that that was more important than ruling the sky. (ok, awkward translation there. But “ruled the sky” is as close as I can get to what he’s implying – being the master of his fate and in command of all around him.)
Hong orders that Ji Sun’s merchant operation be destroyed as retaliation for Un thwarting some of his schemes. Hong flicks open his fan and his toady flinches as he recognizes a phoenix as the design. Hong says, yes, it’s a phoenix – they eat dragons. So if you can’t become a dragon (King) then become a phoenix who eats dragons. Even Hong1 and Hong2 look a little worried about what he’s implying there.
Jin Ju disguises herself as a gisaeng, which flips out Hong Do and Dong Soo when they see what she looks like dressed to the Joseon nines. Hong Do goes a bit overboard, much to the amusement of Jin Ki, and the consternation of Dong Soo.
Hong Do takes Jin Ju to the gisaeng house and introduces her to the head gisaeng as Jin Oh from Gaesong.
In the meantime, the troops head out to Sa Mo’s and raid Ji Sun’s business, hauling her off to jail, with Hong1 and Hong2 holding a warrant accusing her of being involved in the ginseng nonsense. Sa Mo tries to intervene, and Hong2 asks if he is going to defy the royal order. Sa Mo seriously doubts it’s a royal order, more like a Lord Hong order.
Gu Hyang goes to Un and reports that Ji Sun’s license was revoked and business raided. And lastly, she sadly reports that Ji Sun was taken away, and is likely being tortured. She tells Un that because he loves Ji Sun, it brings her troubles like this. Hong is trying to get at Un through Ji Sun.
Un tells Gu Hyang not to bother herself with this, and stalks out. (and you have to feel a bit sorry for Gu Hyang, who not only feels sorry for Ji Sun, but has obviously got a crush on Un.)
Commence the world’s least believable torture scene. Un sees her being tortured. Hong1 seems to be enjoying the torture, which just moved him right up Un’s list of people to kill off, while at least Hong2 seems somewhat disturbed. And Ji Sun passes out. (Thank goodness or I’d have had to sign her up for acting lessons. Seriously, people!)
Un breaks into Hong’s room and asks Hong why he’s deliberately angering him. Un asks him to release Ji Sun, but Hong says he can’t. Hong asks if he’s willing to accept his earlier proposal. Un refuses. (This would be the “kill the Prince” proposal). Hong tells him then he isn’t getting any help from him (with Ji Sun). Un snaps back that Hong will truly regret this. As Un leaves, Hong notes that Ji Sun really is Un’s weakness.
Dong Soo lurks outside the gisaeng house. Jin Ju’s inside serving drinks and listening to gossip. One of the men lets slip that something big will happen tomorrow. She passes that along to Dong Soo, who wonders if it’s connected to the feast and sparring.
When Dong Soo gets back home, Jang Mi and Mi So fill him in on Ji Sun being arrested, and he takes off to the jail to find out what’s going on.
Ji Sun is languishing in jail, looking all forlorn, when Un breaks in. He offers her a means of escape and first she refuses on the grounds that this will confirm her guilt. He tells her that her being arrested on Lord Hong’s orders is his fault. She asks what that means, and he almost answers, but instead tells her they have to leave, even if she waits for Dong Soo, then people will still get hurt.
Un rightfully points out that if they kill her, whether she was guilty or not is kind of moot at that point. She finally takes his hand and leaves.
Dong Soo arrives to find the guards knocked out and the cell empty. He knows that Un rescued Ji Sun.
More musical interlude as Ji Sun and Un awkwardly sit around the tea table, and Dong Soo sits and wonders whether he should worry or not. The next morning, Jin Ju startles Dong Soo and tells him that he has to take care of business, and she’ll look for Ji Sun.
Un calls in an underling and asks to be told about the assassins spy network. He asks if the current Chun is the only one with the power to activate them. He’s told that the spies have been silent on Chun’s command ever since the death of the Crown Prince. There are about 30 of them in the palace complex. He asks if Hong knows about the spy network, and is assured that it’s a secret.
Un tells the underling that as of right then, he’s activating the spies.
Now – a nice montage of various court officials – guards, maids, eunuchs, etc. – passing a message along. (My Chinese is non-existent. I lucked out earlier with LOVE and KILL, but as far as I can tell, dictionary in hand, that word is BLACK or DARK – whatever, it activates the spies.)
Gwang Taek and Dong Soo report in to the King. The King tells them that this match has the pride of the country on the line. Gwang Taek begs off from fighting Kenjo. He offers Dong Soo as the opponent instead. Gwang Taek tells Dong Soo that he knows that he’s worried about Ji Sun, but he has to suck it up and fight. He sends Dong Soo off and goes back to talk with the Prince. Dong Soo tells the mountain boys that something big is planned for today, but he doesn’t know what it is. He suspects that they might be aiming for the Prince.
He tells them to be on their toes, and goes to investigate some more. He sees Jung, the giant, with Hong. He follows and is caught eavesdropping on Hong. Hong tells Dong Soo that he reminds him of his father, and look what happened to him. Hong tells him that if he wants to live longer than his father did, he should go live quietly someplace.
Dong Soo gets angry and asks Gwang Taek how his father died. All he knows is that he was accused of treason. Gwang Taek finally tells him how his father took the fall for the Crown Prince, and so was accused of treason. He tells Dong Soo that Lord Hong was the one who was going to massacre his entire family, and should be considered a mortal enemy.
The Prince had a special bow that he wanted as a presentation gift, however, finishing it was delayed, so he was running late and sends Gwang Taek ahead to the feast.
As the feast starts, a group of attackers comes leaping over the wall, and are confronted by Dong Soo and the mountain boys.
They easily take care of the attack, and when Dong Soo takes a look at the attackers, he realizes something has gone wrong. Jung, the giant, comes sneaking (as best a giant can sneak) into the Prince’s quarters, and is confronted by Sa Mo.
Dong Soo and Cho Rip tell the Crown Prince to proceed as if nothing is going on, so he goes to the feast.
Kenjo and Dong Soo are called forward to present themselves before their match. Lord Hong and Lord Kim are startled to see that it’s Dong Soo, and not Gwang Taek. Kim objects that Dong Soo isn’t qualified to represent Joseon like this. The King tells him that his rank may be low, but his status as Gwang Taek’s disciple makes him qualified.
The Crown Prince arrives with the bow, and apologizes for being late because of it. He shows it to the King who admires it. He tells Kenjo that it will a gift.
Kenjo asks to try the bow before the match and gets permission. He takes the bow, and aims at a target. Then, he spins, and lets loose the arrow towards the King! As the arrow flies by Dong Soo, he reaches, but cannot snatch it out of the air.
And there we end episode 20!
Well, that was going out with a bang! We’ve started the next arc of the series, the passing of the old guard, and the introduction of the next conflict. With any luck, the series has finished filling up the extra space the extension gave it and really has enough plot to make it all the way to 30 episodes without falling apart.
There was something curious at the gisaeng house. The samurai is speaking and Kenjo cuts him off and tells him to watch what he’s saying. It sounded to me like he’s about to talk about the Crown Prince and what is up for the next day, but when I checked the subtitles, it read like Kenjo cut him off from talking about HIM. Unless I’m proved wrong later, which wouldn’t be the first time, I think the subtitles may be misleading.
Oh, and just because it’s pretty –