Away we go! We start episode 28 with an extended recap as to how the coup got set in motion. But now everything is in readiness! Despite Jin Ju and Jin Ki’s efforts to stop it, the meteor shower/flaming kite signal goes up, and so the coup starts!
For reasons best known to the writers, Kenjo, whose job is supposed to be killing Dong Soo, merely says “later” to him, and goes back to gather his men. And unfortunately, Cho Rip happens to run into Un just as he was going towards the palace with his forces, and so Un stabs him.
Fortunately, Hong Do saw Cho Rip collapse and piggy backs him back home to Sa Mo’s.
Hong stands before the massed fighters, and gives everyone the go signal. Un, Kenjo and some of the fighters start towards the Prince’s palace, while Hong will be waiting outside the King’s palace with his men. The plan, in theory, is that the assassins and fighters will invade and kill the Prince. Well, so it seems at the moment, because the plot is more involved than that.
Kenjo signals various groups to their places as he, Un and more fighters go to the palace.
Dong Soo rushes towards the palace and sees Hong Do carrying Cho Rip home. Hong Do explains that Un stabbed Cho Rip. This naturally upsets Dong Soo, who had just finished declaring that he’d protect everyone!
As he runs towards the palace, he begs Cho Rip to survive. He magically arrives at the palace on horseback (yeah, don’t ask me) and is told that the palace has been sealed, no one is allowed entry. The commander of that unit is also in on the coup.
As Hong’s men take up their positions, he gets a bad feeling, particularly about Un, and sends Hong2 off to the Prince’s palace to keep an eye on things.
Dong Soo gets into the palace by going over the wall and starts towards the Prince’s palace. He is ambushed by some of the fighters Kenjo left waiting, but easily takes them out.
Hong’s men reach the King’s palace and they send in a troop of fighters to take on the King’s guards. A wounded eunuch gets to the King’s chamber and tells them they are under attack, giving Seo enough warning to take out the fighter who makes it to the chamber.
Then the Hongs and some official-ish troops come in to the courtyard of the King’s palace and start killing the fighters, making it look like Hong and company “saved” the King. A troop of guards commanded by another of their cohorts arrives to convince the troops that Hong is on the side of the angels. They go in to see the King. However, they hadn’t really reckoned with Seo (and possibly the King) still being alive. They urge the King to order them to bring in all of the troops to guard the palace.
Seo tells the King that he has enough guards already, and pulling the troops away from other places (oh, like the Prince’s palace) will… And Hong interrupts to declare that protecting the King is the most important thing.
The King knuckles under and gives the order. As Hong declares that he’ll defend the King, the bell is rung to muster all the troops.
Over at the Prince’s palace, the mountain boys realize that his personal guards are now the only ones guarding the Prince. Meanwhile, Kenjo, Un and troops march towards the Prince’s palace. They each recall their orders, Un’s to go kill the Prince, Kenjo to kill Dong Soo, keep an eye on Un and kill both Un and the Prince if Un doesn’t do it.
As they turn the corner, Dong Soo finally catches up with them. He calls to Un and they all stop. Un leaves as Dong Soo faces off with the troops.
The mountain boys report to the Prince that the King’s palace was attacked and have to talk him out of going to the King’s palace to join in the fight there, arguing that it may be a feint to then attack him.
Dong Soo swiftly makes his way through the line of fighters and faces off with Kenjo.
Un arrives at the Prince’s palace and with a few of his men face the Prince’s guard. Instead of letting the groups fight, Un takes them all on and knocks them out. He stations his men out front and goes into the Prince’s quarters, where he is faced by the mountain boys, swords already drawn. They ask him to please leave, which causes the Prince to ask if they know this guy. Un simply says that Lord Hong is leading a coup. As the Prince grabs his weapon, Un tells him to stay put, the boys issue more threats…and then we cut away.
Kenjo and Dong Soo face each other and charge. We see in shadow one leap and the other duck, and come back to find Kenjo dropping his sword. Kenjo’s final words are that he has no regrets. Dong Soo proceeds on to the palace.
Un comes out of the palace and faces the fighters, who ask if the Prince is dead. When their leader tries to go into the palace to check, Un stops him and confirms that he was never really on their side. Un’s man, Tae San the bounty hunter, suddenly comes to his side and Un tells them that he isn’t their foe. They turn to find Dong Soo.
Dong Soo asks Un what he’s doing, but Un leaves with Tae San, apologizing to Dong Soo saying he doesn’t have time to explain.
The head fighter challenges Dong Soo, preventing him from following Un, and Dong Soo tells him that this time they will have to fight for their lives.
In a momentary comic relief bit, Hong2 is creeping back to the King’s palace and is caught by Un and Tae San.
Lord Hong is starting to wonder why they haven’t heard from the Prince’s palace or Hong2, and sends Hong1 with some more fighters and troops to check.
Un and Tae San have bopped Hong2 over the head, and find that he has a signal horn. Un leaves Tae San there and tells him to blow the horn at sunrise to signal a retreat. They also see Hong1 and men heading to the Prince’s palace.
Dong Soo makes relatively short work of the 8 fighters, and runs to check on the Prince. In a flashback we see what the boys have to explain to Dong Soo. Un came in to tell the Prince the goal of the plot was to kill him and the King and put a tame Prince Eun Jeon on the throne (who if memory serves, because I didn’t feel like translating the rest of the caption other than the name – was the youngest half brother of the Prince – let’s say he’s 7-ish at this point so he’d be a puppet).
He tells the Prince that until Dong Soo arrives, he’ll protect the Prince. And so it happened – when Dong Soo showed up, Un left. Dong Soo is truly startled to hear that Un had been helping guard the Prince, and that they’d have been in real trouble otherwise.
They suddenly hear an order being given to attack, and fighters burst into the room. They fight them off, and move out the door to see Hong1 arriving with more troops. Hong1 gets to utter the “AH! IT WAS YOU, BAEK DONG SOO!” that we were all waiting for some villain to say this episode (LOL!). Dong Soo orders the troops to put down their weapons, and Hong1 just sneers – my troops vs you and your measly guards?
The Prince chimes in with a “how dare you!” royal command, but that doesn’t work either. Hong1 gets in a nastier sneer about royal blood not mattering when you are dead.
Dong Soo sends the Prince and boys inside, telling the Prince to trust him that he can protect him. They go in, and Hong1 orders the fighters to charge.
And so it begins – Dong Soo vs. many. They charge the steps, and Dong Soo protects the door vs the first onslaught of about 10.
As Hong waits at the King’s palace worrying, Seo comes down to tell him that he should be worried – people go to the Prince’s palace and are never heard from. Should we guess why?
Hong says he sent 100 men over there, does he think 3 measly guards will protect the Prince. Seo replies – Ah, but there’s also Joseon’s best swordsman, BAEK DONG SOO!
And as we switch to the theme music, WOOHOO!, Dong Soo grabs another sword and marches down the steps to the remaining men. Hong1 orders them to kill, and we get a lovely Bidam-esque 1 vs many fight, with people circling and various fighting techniques. (The reason I mention Bidam is that it really is similar to a couple of fights in QSD – they probably had the same choreographer or something, although this is a much extended version and frankly a little less slick)
Dong Soo starts to wear down and get some wounds, and Un returns to the courtyard. From the corner he sees that Dong Soo is in trouble, so he launches himself into the circle and joins in.
Dong Soo gathers himself up, and Un remarks that it’s been while since they fought together like this (awwww). Dong Soo immediately asks what happened with Cho Rip. In a flashback, we see that at the time, Un had told Cho Rip to not move, and please stay still. Un tells him that Cho Rip should be fine, he didn’t stab him anywhere vital, and that it was unfortunate but he needed to keep his cover.
Dong Soo looks up and grins in relief and then declares that now all they have to do is deal with this bunch. Un grins back and the fight begins again. They start working their way through the fighters, when suddenly the gunmen arrive. As Hong1 yells for them to fire, Dong Soo and Un each grab another fighter and use them as human shields against the gunfire.
As Hong1 mutters that it’s time to see if their swords are faster than gunfire, Dong Soo tells Un that now they really may die. Un shrugs and says they will die together. As Hong1 mutters that they are crazy and tells the gunmen to aim, suddenly Jin Ju appears on the roof of the palace and starts picking the gunmen off with her arrows. Jin Ki and Sa Mo burst through the front gate and start fighting from behind the gunmen.
Hong1 runs off with the few remaining fighters. Dong Soo turns to thank Un, who doesn’t say anything. As Dong Soo goes to greet Sa Mo, Un beats a retreat away.
After reassuring them that the Prince is ok, Dong Soo leaves them there to protect the palace while he goes to make sure that the King is alright. He’s pleased to tell Sa Mo that he thinks Un is back to his old self.
Hong1 arrives back at the King’s palace to tell his father that Dong Soo has destroyed their plan, and that Un betrayed them. Hong1 says they’ve failed, but Lord Hong says they will play this out to the end.
Suddenly they hear the retreat horn, and realize they don’t know what happened to Hong2. Well, he’s all nice and tied up, and it’s Tae San blowing the horn.
Meanwhile, Un is reporting in to the Queen. It turns out that in case the coup failed, she had Un as a back up plan. He told her to make the military officers hers, not Hong’s, bailing out on Hong. He advised her to throw Hong to the wolves if the coup failed.
She had thought he’d easily kill the Prince, but he tells her that Dong Soo really is a best fighter, and she overestimated him, so he apologizes.
Essentially, Un has engineered the failure of the coup by first splitting the Queen away from Hong, purposely saving the Prince, and then backing up Dong Soo.
As another commander outside the gates wonders if the coup has failed, Seo confronts Lord Hong and an army commander in front of the King’s palace. Hong and Seo play battling orders, with each issuing orders to their side – arrest him, no you arrest him! The Queen, however, had told this commander that if the coup failed, he should abandon Hong.
Hong tells him that if the coup fails, he’s going to make sure this commander goes down with him. As he says he’ll go kill the King himself and leaves with Hong1, the troops stand off against each other. But the King comes out and orders them all to put their swords up, and all of the soldiers on both sides listen. The commander is between a rock and a hard place, so he launches himself at the King. As he strikes, a sword comes flying out and fells him – Dong Soo threw his sword to protect the King.
Lord Hong and Hong1 make tracks to the Queen, and cross paths with Un. Hong asks why he betrayed them, and Un tells them that he wanted to live to see a new world. When Hong1 rhetorically threatens him with a “do you want to die?” Un smiles and says “I’m an assassin. No assassin is afraid to die.” As a parting shot, he reminds Lord Hong that he had taunted Un once, but Un has now destroyed a mountain with his bare hands. As Hong tells him that it’s not over yet, Un grins and strolls away.
Lord Hong sees the Queen, who plays innocent and says she has no clue what he is talking about. He threatens to take her down with him. In a fury, he leaves and sends Hong1 home to get the scrolls that have the names of all the conspirators.
Not surprisingly, the Queen has also thought of this, and told Un to retrieve the scrolls as well.
The Prince goes to the King’s palace to check on him, and Dong Soo lays out the plot to the King, telling him that Lord Hong was behind it. The King orders the arrest of the Lord Hong and execution of any remaining rebels. Hong kills a couple of guards trying to arrest him and disappears in the palace.
As Dong Soo and company are leaving, he stops and sends them on ahead. He calls out for Un, who was hiding around a corner. (awww) Dong Soo thanks Un, who replies that he didn’t do it for thanks. Dong Soo clarifies, and thanks him for returning to his old self. Un sighs and tells him that he’s going to go look for Hong1, Dong Soo should go look for Lord Hong. As Un turns away, Dong Soo apologizes for doubting him for even a second.
Sa Mo, Jin Ju and Jin Ki happen by Tae San, who is still watching over Hong2. The other two are startled when Jin Ki greets Tae San fairly warmly and then ponder what to do with Hong2.
Hong1 rushes home and finds the scrolls, while Hong’s toady leads troops to the house. Surprisingly, he’s not there to defend it, but to arrest everyone and ransack the place for evidence. It seems Un gave him the choice, and the toady flipped sides to save his life. However, he finds the scrolls already gone.
Luckily, Un already knew where the rendezvous for Hong1 was, and Un and his men are waiting there for him to show up. Un takes the scrolls and hauls Hong1 off.
The Prince is presiding over the interrogation of Hong1, Hong2 and some of their rebels, but they still can’t find Lord Hong. Hong1 has the cojones to offer a few more threats, but he really doesn’t know either. The King wants to question the criminals at noon, so the Prince wants Lord Hong found by then.
Dong Soo finally thinks to look where no one would think of – the throne room. And that’s where Hong is, sitting on the throne and pondering how it came to this. Dong Soo demands that he get off the throne, and Lord Hong muses that he thought the throne was within reach. He ponders those who died trying to reach the throne notes that history is written by the victors, while others die unknown. Hong starts to cry as he gives himself up. He says that the one mistake he made was not killing Dong Soo back when he was a baby.
As Lord Hong takes up his sword and looks like he might go down fighting, Dong Soo tells him that all of his problems were caused by his own greed. Hong drops his sword and collapses. He tells Dong Soo he’ll die in whatever way Dong Soo sees fit, and starts to laugh.
Un returns the scrolls to the Queen, and Dong Soo reports Hong’s arrest to the Prince.
The King is busy questioning the Hongs, or more accurately, he’s busy yelling at them. When Hong says that he merely didn’t want people to follow a traitor’s son and to strengthen the crown, the King goes ballistic. He orders them beheaded and their pates displayed at the gate. Hong goes to his place still yelling about how the Prince will cause bloodshed in revenge for his father.
As the day lengthens and Dong Soo’s done with things, he runs home to check on Cho Rip. As he runs in the gate, Ji Sun is so pleased to see him, she drops a bowl and runs to hug him. Cho Rip, BTW, is more or less ok. Mi So is looking after him.
And then everyone else also starts to pair off, and greet each other in relief. ::eye roll::
Just outside the palace, where it’s execution time, Hong2 hyperventilates, Hong1 tries to hold it together, but Lord Hong sits quite calmly until he sees Dong Soo in the crowd, which makes him laugh at the irony. And the dancing executioner swings his blade…
As we get the closing credits music, the Prince is asking “WHAT?” Cho Rip is telling him that Chun Joo killed the Crown Prince. The Prince asks if he really killed his father, and Cho Rip says yes and tells the Prince to destroy the Assassins and kill Chun Joo.
As Un sits happily with Gu Hyang looking over a ledger, Cho Rip is busy telling the Prince that he needs to kill Chun Joo to secure the throne.
And there we end episode 28…
WTF Cho Rip! I have to say, the first time I saw this I pondered and thought – well, you know that could very well be a ploy on the part of Un, to actually enlist the aid of the Prince to dismantle the Assassins. Right up until Cho Rip insisted Chun Joo had to be killed. Which put it right into WTF territory. Even then I thought – well, that could be a fake deathy thing, right? Gwang Taek’s last words to Cho Rip were not to overlook any detail, and he’s clearly committing sins of omission to goad the Prince. But Cho Rip, dude, um, did you even get the whole story before going off half cocked?
Let’s talk sword fighting here for a second. That was some pretty decent fighting! As I noted, it wasn’t particularly original, but it was fun. I put it down partly to production time, but the best sequences in the series so far have been the opening fight and the Chun/Gwang Taek fight. But it’s fun to see Dong Soo and Un at work and happily fighting together.
I wasn’t thrilled to see everyone starting to pair off at the end here, but it was bearable. And yes, after 28 episodes of being the Big Bad, Lord Hong deserves to top the page.
But still WTF Cho Rip!!!