Warrior Baek Dong Soo – Episode 29 – review and rant

As we start episode 29, Dong Soo is riding out to meet Un. They go for a walk, and Dong Soo tells Un that he should come back to them. They run across a group of boys playing at swords, and Un helps the one who lost and shows him how to hold a sword. They reflect back to being that young, and Un says that had he known back then what he does now, he never would have picked up a sword, and regrets it every day. Dong Soo tells him that he doesn’t need to carry all of the burden for his actions.

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Meanwhile, Cho Rip is telling the Prince that Chun Joo killed his father (ok, to clarify, I’m saying Chun Joo here because Cho Rip is purposely using the title, not the name). Cho Rip tells the Prince that he needs to destroy the Assassins and kill Chun Joo to help stabilize authority.

The Prince, however, remembers that it was Un who helped protect him from the rebels. As a final nail, Cho Rip admits that Un is his friend, but that’s irrelevant, he needs to be killed. (again, WTH Cho Rip? Granted that he isn’t wrong about the power of the Assassins, but given that Un helped ya’ll out just the other day, couldn’t you ask around first?).

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At the Assassins, Gu Hyang asks Un why he seems so much happier, and he says it’s because he’s finally cast off the destiny of being a killer. He gathers up the guild’s ledgers, preparing to clear the books and close the place down.

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Dong Soo arrives home to a happy gathering. The next day Dong Soo meets with the Prince and is shocked to hear that the Prince wants Un dead. Dong Soo asks if this was Cho Rip’s idea, and hears that it was, but the Prince agrees. The spy network hears some of this and sends an urgent message back to Un. Gu Hyang burns the last ledger at Un’s command but doesn’t deliver the message from the spy network. His assistant arrives with a list of new identities for everyone, but he’s hasn’t yet told anyone but Gu Hyang that he intends to shut down the Assassins. Gu Hyang asks if he really thinks they can all go back to normal lives, and he replies that it will be hard but they can. He turns and asks if she is going to come with them.

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Dong Soo tracks down Cho Rip and asks what he was thinking. Cho Rip insists that Un left their side long ago, and that while Un saved his life, he was merely using Cho Rip to fool the rebels. (WTH Cho Rip?) He insists that the assassins are too dangerous, and Un is the head of the assassins. Dong Soo sadly asks if they shouldn’t welcome Un back, to what they were like in the past. Cho Rip insists they have no other way, and that this is their fate. ::tosses things at screen in frustration::

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Dong Soo takes a message to a merchant and tells him to deliver it to Un. Gu Hyang delivers it to Un, who writes a reply and tells her the time they’ll meet- call it 9. Instead Gu Hyang burns the message and tells the assistant that she’s doing it because she knows that Un’s friend Cho Rip got the Prince to order Un’s death and that Dong Soo is supposed to do it. However, she didn’t inform Un of this. So she isn’t going to set up a meeting with Dong Soo as ordered (WTH Gu Hyang? – for the first time in your life you are going to withhold info from a Chun Joo and go behind his back when they’ve always proved to have motives you know bupkus about? Especially since you are the only one who knows he’s shutting the Assassins down? Not buying it. Not even on half price sale do I buy this sudden veering from your character.)

Anyway, she asks the assistant to help her set things up.

Dong Soo asks Cho Rip to trust him and they receive a message via arrow to meet. Even Mi So reminds Cho Rip that Un is their friend, and that despite her own father being killed by the Assassins, she doesn’t blame Un for it. Cho Rip finally agrees to meet with Un, and the message said meet at 7.

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They meet at the gisaeng house, and Gu Hyang serves them. She drugs them both, and calls in the assistant. However, they were feigning being drugged, and grab the assistant. When questioned, Gu Hyang insists that Un didn’t send them, but Cho Rip doesn’t believe it. Dong Soo tells them to tell Un to come find him.

Un sees Dong Soo storming after Cho Rip, and goes to the gisaeng house to find out what happened. Gu Hyang finally tells him about the Prince’s order to kill him. Un insists that they wouldn’t do that to him. Even more, he tells her that even if they had such orders, he would still owe it to them to beg their forgiveness.

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Un decides to have a wee visit with the Prince to see what is really going on. He strolls into the palace, and enters the Prince’s rooms much as Chun did with the Crown Prince all those episodes ago.

He sits and the Prince asks him if he killed the Crown Prince and Un agrees he did. (Ok, actually, Chun killed the Crown Prince, but Un is willing to take the blame for his part in it. Frankly, I thought Gwang Taek had told the Prince this episodes ago, and I’m puzzled why someone doesn’t make the distinction now between Chun and Un.) The Prince tells Un that there are three reasons he has to die: first, he killed the Crown Prince (Un says he regrets it and will bow before the Crown Prince’s grave in repentance and even cut off his arm if need be); second, the Assassins have killed too many innocent people and have tentacles everywhere (Un says he’s removing all the spies from the palace and their funds will be returned to people in reparations); third, the Prince can’t allow anyone who can freely walk like a shadow into his rooms to live (Un tells him that he’s dismantling the Assassins, and will no longer be Chun Joo).

The Prince agrees to trust Un, who bows to him.

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Dong Soo tries to convince Cho Rip to meet with Un, but he’s being a pig about it, tells Dong Soo he’s too trusting and leaves. Un shows up and asks if Dong Soo was really going to kill him. He tells him that the Prince gave him a reprieve, and Dong Soo is relieved. He tells Dong Soo that he’s shutting down the Assassins and will be leaving.

Dong Soo protests that he doesn’t have to leave, but Un tells him that he has to go someplace where no one knows who he is.

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Un tells his assembled men that he’s dismantling the group. He hands them their new identities and some money. He tells them to work and raise families. They protest that they only know how to fight, and he tells them it’s an order.

Gu Hyang, Un’s assistant, and the two fighters meet and formulate a plan. The network goes into action and Cho Rip finds a note on his desk asking him to meet Un. (again this makes no sense – if they are being shut down, why would Cho Rip matter now?) He rides out to the middle of freaking nowhere, taking a sword but meeting Seo along the way.

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There, instead of Un, he finds Tae San, the assistant, and Baek the scholar. They then say they have to kill him. More assassins pop up and they tell them that the Assassins have been dismantled but they have taken this as their last mission (why?? I’m about to switch languages in order to curse properly at this screen.)

Long story short, after bantering back and forth some more, they prepare attack Cho Rip.

Back at the Assassins, Un asks where everyone is, and Gu Hyang tells Un that half of the people have left already. He asks why she’s lying, because he knows that their swords aren’t in the weapons room. He has to threaten her, and the next thing we know, he’s riding out towards Cho Rip, praying that he’s safe.

Cho Rip stands off against the Assassins, but is wounded badly. (well, at least Cho Rip got a final fight in.)

Dong Soo hears from Seo that Cho Rip was off to meet with Un (and somehow magically knows exactly where they’ll meet, but hey, at this point unicorns make more sense than this plot), He runs off praying Cho Rip doesn’t do something stupid because everything was already settled.

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Un arrives telling everyone to stop. He runs to Cho Rip, who refuses his help. (I’m on my third language of curses at this point.) He tells Un that as long as Un is alive the Assassins will be around, and that the Prince and Dong Soo won’t be safe. He lists everyone died who because of the Assassins and therefore Un.

Cho Rip collapses, and Un feels the weight of all the guilt back on him again. He gets up and tells the remaining fighters to drop their weapons and leave, and that he’ll kill anyone who disobeys. So, they wander off, and Un stands there wondering what to do.

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Dong Soo arrives, finding Cho Rip barely hanging on. He asks Un if he did this, and Un nods in agreement. Dong Soo asks why Un did this when it was already all over. Un tells him that for a short time he thought otherwise, but in the end he’s just a killer. Un asks Dong Soo what he’s going to do with him – he’s a killer, Chun Joo and a criminal. Dong Soo tells him not to use fate as an excuse, but Un asks him again what he’s going to do. Then he asks what he, himself, should do.

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Finally, Un tells him that it looks like they’ll have to fight, and draws his sword. Dong Soo asks if Un thinks he will win, and Un points out that Dong Soo has never beaten him. Dong Soo draws his sword, and they begin a lovely fight sequence interspersed with flashbacks. It becomes obvious that neither is really trying to strike each other, so Un spins and slashes Dong Soo’s arm.

The guards start to arrive with troops and find Cho Rip. It seems that the mountain boys had reported to the Prince that Cho Rip had gone out to meet Un, and Dong Soo had followed. Their orders were that if Cho Rip was harmed, they were to kill Un.

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They continue to fight, again without striking. Finally, Un tells Dong Soo that he has to fight meaning to kill him. They back away, and crying, Dong Soo asks if they can’t go back. Un tells him that being with him and Cho Rip was the one place where he was happy for that short time, and it was enough.

They take up their positions and move forward — Dong Soo merely brings his sword forward and braces himself, while Un leaps into the air, throws his swords away and impales himself on Dong Soo’s sword (and sadly that’s not a euphemism).

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As Dong Soo reacts in shock, Un clutches his shoulder and tells him that if he had to be killed, he always wished it was by Dong Soo’s hand. Dong Soo tells him that he can still live, but Un shifts to make the wound worse. Un says he’ll kneel before to the Crown Prince and Gwang Taek in the afterlife for forgiveness. He pats Dong Soo on the back, tells him not to blame himself and thanks him. And then he dies.

Dong Soo is left with Un in his arms, begging him not to die.

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We fade to a scene some unspecified time later, of Dong Soo drinking by himself, as quietly Un, dressed as when they were slightly younger, sits down next to him and smiles. As Dong Soo pours another drink, we see that it’s Ji Sun sitting there. She asks why he’s drinking (well, DUH) and he agrees that it’s because he misses Un.

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Anyway – Mi So comes by and it turns out that Sa Mo and Jang Mi just got married and the mountain boys are hanging out outside their room being idiots. Jin Ki wanders by as they are horsing around and they tell him that the Prince has cleared his name so he’s no longer wanted. Cho Rip shows up, and everyone is paired off holding hands – Dong Soo and Ji Sun; Hong Do and Jin Ju; Cho Rip and Mi So.

Over at the palace, the King is weakly telling the Prince to become a good king, He tells the Prince that he’ll ask the Crown Prince for forgiveness in the afterlife. And then he dies.

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After a flashback of the Crown Prince, we see the Prince, now King Jeongjo, declaring from the throne that his father was Prince Sado, and henceforth insulting him is punishable offense. Then a scene of Dong Soo training the troops while Hong Do helps document it. Then Jin Ju and Mi So practicing with wooden swords, except that Hong Do and Cho Rip come by to tell them that women shouldn’t use swords (sexist pigs). Hong Do drags Jin Ju off, and Cho Rip and Mi So kiss. Hong Do takes Jin Ju out for a walk and gives her a nice bouquet and a painting of them getting married. Sa Mo and Jin Ki randomly hang out and plan on relaxing and growing old. Dong Soo presents his training manual to the King.

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Ji Sun goes through the market buying ginseng and is met by Dong Soo on horseback. As they ride off, again they see a group of boys play swordfighting. The one who had his rear handed to him tells Dong Soo that his father told him not to give up, which Dong Soo remembers saying about fighting Un. He asks the boy if he knows what martial arts is. Dong Soo tells him that it truly means saving a friend, people or a country. The boy asks if Dong Soo will teach him, and Dong Soo agrees.

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And then Ji Sun and Dong Soo ride off into the sunset.

And now for the ranting epilogue – and slightly epic review

You were all sensing my reluctance to recap the finale, weren’t you? I’ve ranted quite a bit about it already. From what I can tell, the verdict around the globe was a resounding WTF!? It doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue that Un died (hey, it’s a sageuk, peeps are gonna die) or even that he was killed by Dong Soo since it was clearly set up as a matched set of older/younger generation mirror, although there is a faction of viewers who feel that Un dying to save Dong Soo from something would have been just as fitting and would have allowed him to escape his fate and die an honorable death.

I think what irked viewers most was how they got to that fight and that both Cho Rip and Gu Hyang acted out of character to set things in motion. The deus ex machina was a particularly dumb one, particularly hinging on Cho Rip not finding out or even being able to believe that Un would shut the Assassins down. Even then, I don’t think we would have reacted so negatively if it hadn’t segued so quickly into happy times at Sa Mo’s.

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I really think it was the discordant happily ever afters that jarred everyone. Had the episode just ended at the point of Dong Soo getting drunk and missing Un, I think we could have lived with it. But no, the writers went bonko in the OTP department. I may never forgive these writers for the riding off into the sunset bit, not to mention the giggly, “oh dearies don’t be playing with swords anymore” bit. Mind you, I don’t dislike a little happily ever after. Other recent shows got there after much travail. Even Chuno tossed us a little bone of reviving Gen. Choi and Wangson and giving them a farm and inn to live out their days.

The other thing that grated was that they literally spent 25 episodes impressing on Un and us that he could change his fate. Then he attempted to do so. In the end, it was Cho Rip who thought that Un couldn’t change his fate, and that was the last straw that made Un give up.

In the end, most people seemed to take away the message that Un couldn’t change his fate and I’m pretty sure that’s not the message that we were supposed to be getting.

::rage rage rant rant:: Now that I’ve finished beating my head against my desk, I’ll just try to round up some thoughts to finish this series up.

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In general, the acting was pretty good, but for me, Choi Min Soo was truly fantastic. Honestly, without him, I wouldn’t have even wanted to recap this. I mentioned in the first recap that I have a serious failing for long haired fighting men in black. He really upped the ante in that department. He really grabbed the role of Chun and just went with it. He was great.

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It was lovely to see Manzzang rock the hat and chew the scenery in the early episodes.

Yoon Ji Min as Ji was a quiet and yet kickass character who was also great to watch. Ji Chang Wook and also Yeo Jin Goo as young Dong Soo were quite good, and JCW really had to go from highs to lows and everything in between, and ended up being fun to watch as well. Yoo Seung Ho started slowly as Un, but seemed to grow in to the role more, until finally he was owning it. Yoon So Yi overdid it a bit in her first episodes as Jin Ju but settled in as well, especially after the writers suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be kickass too.

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The opening fight sequence between Chun and Gwang Taek actually ranks fairly high on my memorable scene list. From the second Chun shows up with that hawk on his arm to the very end of the fight, THAT was a heck of a well-crafted sequence. If there is a second unit director or cinematographer for Chun’s scenes, I’d give that guy credit for his scenes being framed and shot so well.

For the rest of the show, all of Chun’s scenes seemed to be better lit and directed. But many of the earliest episodes were nicely shot in general.

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In terms of the action sequences, it was fascinating that they chose to have Dong Soo end up with Chun’s style of fighting and Un with Gwang Taek’s. Some of the training sequences were really incredibly well done, like Un practicing alone in the woods. Whoever did the training and stunt doubling, well done guys!

For the low notes, well, obviously I have issues with the ending. But I also blame the extension in part for messing up what was clearly the planned the arc of the show with additional padding and nonsense. Whoever made the choice of obsessive and excessive use of flashbacks needs to go back to directing school.

And for a show that was clearly reaching for filler material, I blame the writers for dropping some narrative threads into an abyss from whence they never returned.

I also blame them for taking the lessons of the day and then brutally proving it to be false. If you are going to pound those things home narratively as WBDS did, then you have to follow through.

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As for the down side of the actors, I think we can all agree that Shin Hyun Bin wasn’t helpful to the cause. I rather pity the actors who were trying do scenes with her because she was so stiff and reactionless that they had nothing to play off of. And then there was Dae Ung. I happen to know, from seeing him in other things, that Park Chul Min is a decent actor. Which only leads me to the conclusion that he was specifically directed to be the screeching annoying deathless wonder that he was. Why? Other than going for cartoon-like based, screeching, evil villain, I really don’t know. But instead of being an evil Riddler, he became an annoying buzzing mosquito. If he was going for cartoon villain, he over-reached.

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On the down side for the action, some of the larger action sequences were terribly derivative even for this show. If you are so minded, compare the sequence where Un joins Dong Soo in fighting in episode 28 to the one in QSD where Yushin comes charging in to help Bidam defend Deokman the first time and then toss in Bidam’s fight when he’s a false prophet trying to escape Mishal right before the eclipse. Clearly I’ve seen way too many action movies and dramas, but either they had the same choreographer, or this one just liked those moves so much that they cropped up again.

It also became clear that in the later episodes, that the quality of production suffered somewhat in some continuity issues and some sloppiness in the staging of action scenes. Although they were not quite shooting live, they were clearly more pressed for time than in the earliest episodes when the production values were higher.

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I happen to be a sageuk junkie. I am not going to pretend WBDS is the greatest thing ever. Not even the greatest fusion saguek ever. In fact, not the best one this year. It’s not going to make my top 10 saguek list. Happily it doesn’t make my lowest 10 list, either (and yes, I really have seen that many).

This show was based on a manhwa. It didn’t really pretend to be anything else. It played so fast and loose with history that I only rarely used the real names of the historical figures like the King and Prince because the story lived in such a distant alternate reality that I couldn’t really bring myself to do so. If you are looking for history, give the show a wide pass (and if it makes you feel any better, historically Cho Rip’s character ends up dying in miserable exile for political machinations).

However, in terms of wanting a rollicking yarn that you can park your brains to watch? In that, Warrior Baek Dong Soo succeeded for most of the series. If you happen to like swashbuckling stories with handsome and pretty men, well then, this fits the bill. I happen to be of the ilk and age where I was happy to sit back and watch Choi Min Soo. Other, possibly younger, folk might say the same of Ji Chang Wook and Yoo Seung Ho.

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This to me is not a problem in choosing a show to watch, despite the knowledge that Life Is Too Short For Bad Dramas(tm hjkomo). I’ll admit to watching QSD almost exclusively for the Hwarang hotties, and King Geunchogo for a particular actor even after it got to the point where I hoped he got killed off so I wouldn’t feel a moral obligation to watch. So I understand watching shows for the pretty.

Earlier this year, Thundie asked what made a drama a good drama. I opined, more or less, that I thought a good drama did what it set out to do. A great drama did that and more. An okay drama had some problems somewhere, say in acting or writing. A bad drama had some serious problems, and the worst dramas were ones that could have been either good or great but for some reason went horribly wrong somewhere.

Realistically, I’m going to have to say that WBDS is an okay drama that included some really quite good parts. I certainly enjoyed a great deal of it, and if I knew someone who also liked a good swashbuckler, I’d recommend it.

If you managed to make it this far to the end of all of the recaps and this ranting finale, you are made of brave stuff!

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But finally, and most importantly, I need to thank Thundie for letting me take up residence here for the last few months. My recaps went from fairly terse to overly epic, from having her insert the screenshots to me throwing in so many that it might as well have been a photo book. Thundie, thank you for your patience! It’s been fun!

93 thoughts on “Warrior Baek Dong Soo – Episode 29 – review and rant

  1. THANK YOU for guest-blogging for TP, dearest momosan! You’ve worked so hard. I always love your writing and am honored that you agreed to do the WBDS recaps here. Muah!!!!!!

    (Need to run now; back later to insert audio!)

  2. Thank you for doing these recaps! I loved the series in the beginning, but had to stop around the time the ginseng (or whatever it was) storyline started up, lol. So these allowed me to enjoy the pretty and pick out the storylines that I cared to follow.

    Can I ask though what your top 5 sagueks would be? Or maybe just your favorite fusion saguek? I like the genre in general, but it’s hard for me to actually commit to watching one if I don’t know it will be good or not.

    • My top 5?- which are actually my top 5 dramas of any genre, so I just looked up that list – Conspiracy in the Court; Shin Don; 8 Days; Damo; Joseon X Files.
      According to X, all of those are fusion except for Shin Don, which he calls a hybrid.
      8 Days is set in the court, but it’s very very different from a traditional court based sageuk.

  3. Thanks for the finale recap, momosan! You did an epic job of covering WBDS. I do have one question for you. You’ve described this as a “fusion” sageuk. What makes this fusion? I thought that fusion meant that 21st century concepts are introduced into historical sageuk – like in Hong Gil Dong (especially the opening episode). I know that the OST plays a big part, but does a modern soundtrack have that much weight as a deciding factor? And if WBDS is fusion, does that mean that EotS is fusion? Seriously, I’m confused. Help!

  4. Oh! Last WBDS recap 😦 I’m feeling sad. First of all, thank you momosan for your wonderful recaps. Your recaps helped me understand so much more about this drama and they were so much fun to read. Also, thanks to all who posted comments. You guys were so much fun and so helpful too!

    I loved WBDS very very much. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. I’m glad this recap was posted a few days after the actual episode aired. So I’ve already made my peace with most of the things that annoyed me silly when I first watched it. But a few things I will never get over.

    1) I think the writers really shortchanged JCW in the last episode. Dong Soo is supposed to be the hero. He’s supposed to save the day and be heroic. Nothing in the last episode showed me any signs of heroism on his part. What I wanted from him was the same daredevil stunt he pulled in episode 15 where he burned JS’s back. Something like that. Whether YW died or not, that’s a different story, but DS should have done something more than just try and talk CR into understanding YW.

    2) After being the cause for his best friends death CR completely forgets YW. So do all the mountain boys. But most of all, Samo! he supposedly brought YW up like his child. If not that, atleast like his student, if not that, YW was the son of his best friend. Come on! show some signs of grief or atleast sympathy or something.

    3) YW’s death! I don’t care that it was filmed beautifully. I don’t care that the sun was setting in background or that his silhouette looked amazing while he dropped his swords or even that the music made me feel like crying. I don’t care that his last words before he ran into DS’s sword haunt me even now. Just because it was filmed and acted beautifully doesn’t make it any better of a message. He died because he gave up! he literally killed himself. That’s not a heroic death. That’s a losers death. He lost to his fate. It’s the message that the writers sent that I really hated about this drama. If they believed in the fact that your fate is set in stone, then they really shouldn’t have gone around beating the drum about changing one’s destiny. It was almost the crux of the show and they took the wrong path.

    now, for what I love about this drama. I loved YW. I absolutely loved how complex he was and how much effort I needed to put in just to figure out what was going on in his mind.

    I really loved JCW! I think he’s amazing and so very talented. I also loved YSH. My! that boy is pretty! and again, so very very talented. I think he really stole the show in the last few episodes.

    But oh! Choi Min Soo. How you stole my heart ! He’s what I call a genius actor. To take a character and give it, well, character! and an attitude. Did I tell you guys I dreamed about Cheon? Yup! one night (one of my happiest nights actually) I dreamt that he went on a killing spree and all my friends were killed. and I was waiting impatiently for my turn. Yes. This man does things to my subconsious!

    WBDS you gave me sleepless nights and lovely dreams so, thankyou.

    • Oh! a funny story about YSH. I was reading through a WBDS post and one of the screenshots was a picture of YW (YSH) in the preassassin days. My collegue happened to be passing by and he said, “oh, she’s pretty. Who is she?” I laughed and said, “that’s a boy silly!” He didn’t believe me! He kept peering at the picture searching for his adams apple!
      No offense to YSH fans btw.

    • My English is not so good but you just wrote everything I wanted to say (well, no dreaming on my part) so there´s not much I want to add. I loved it and I try hard to erase episode 29 from my memory so I will have a better ending :-))

  5. Thanks so much for the recap… I love reading your insight of the drama… to me, WBDS is an ok drama.. probably won’t make it to my top 5 list this year.. even thought this drama has tons of flaw in its plot… but I found it extremely addicting… I like the action sequences.. i like the scenery.. i like all the pretty faces.. i love the bromance between DS and YW… and I like most of the actors… i found the acting overall very solid.. especially Choi Min Soo and OMS even though he was only in the earlier ep… I also love YSH and JCW… i am looking forwards to seeing them more in the future…

    The ending of the drama is what give me the WTF moment… the moment that YW died… i was shocked.. i kept saying.. ‘OMG.. that was it… that’s how he die?’ what a let down… i have no doubt in my mind that YW would die… but i thought he would have died in a more glory way… at least put up a good flight with DS… i was so looking forwards to the showdown between the 2 buddies…. but no… the fight between them was depressing…. i think what I remembered the most in the final ep was when DS was drinking and remembering YW.. I thought that was nicely done… and I would be happy the drama just end there…but no.. the writers decided that this drama needs some happy ever after ending with all the couples… sigh….

    Like i said, WBDS is not a great drama… but it’s just entertaining and addicting… and I really did enjoy it during its run… and momosan…thanks again for the recap!

    • “the writers decided that this drama needs some happy ever after ending with all the couples”. That’s what irked me as well. Mainly because none of the couples were the one’s I really wanted to see together. I can understand the DS and JS couple, because DS was crushing on her since the beginning. But to me it looked like nothing but a crush. I really couldn’t see true love there. And JS was well… Shin Hyun Bin. So enough said there. Anyway, given the lack of chemistry between the leads, the very few interactions between them coupled with DS’s total neglect of JS in the last few epsiodes, seeing them together irritated me.

      I hated Jin Joo with the Painter dude because I really didn’t think they were meant to be together. They might have been a cute couple in a romantic comedy…maybe. But in this show where things are so much more serious, I really don’t think they match. JJ doesn’t deserve a consolation prize. It might have been better had they shown her heartbroken over DS/JS. It would have been sad, yes, but something I would have understood.

      To be honest, if I didn’t hate CR so much, the CR and MS couple would have been one I would have been happy with. Unfortunately, I wanted CR dead! so I really didn’t get any happiness from that couple.

      Samo and JM couple was the only couple I think I was happy to see. Unfortunately, when I saw the 2 of them together, this is what I thought. “Samo! shouldn’t you be in mourning for the loss of the kid who you took care of for 8 years. Not 1 or 2… 8 freaking years!”

      So really, the happy ending that the writers wanted to give us was really not a happy ending, but salt on a wound.

  6. To say that the ending of WBDS was a disappointment is almost an understatement. It’s like the writers decided all that they’d set up over 28 episodes was meaningless. It’s like they gave up and forced Woon-ah to give up too. 😦 Sadness.

  7. To be totally honest, while I hate the fact that Yeo Woon had to die, I think that production had intended for this tragedy to occur since the beginning. Or at least it was intended at some point in time as a means to close up the series. I truly DID hate that Yeo Woon had to die, but I knew that it was inevitable. And so I braced myself for it.

    It would have been rather symbolic: an end battle between Dong Soo and Woon to mirror the opening battle scene between Sword Saint and Chun. At least I thought it would have made a good ending.

    But what truly sent me on a cursing spree was the ending build up to Woon’s death. It was terribly and poorly planned, simple as that. I am in agreement — it’s not so much the fact that Woon died that threw me into rage, but HOW the events lead to his death. The out of character Cho Rip and Gu Hyang simply made absolutely no sense. The writers were just wanting a reason to send Woon into battle with Dong Soo; nonetheless, I can’t find myself able to forgive Cho Rip or Gu Hyang for their stupid actions, even IF it was probably just the writers’ faults. The entire deal about being able to defeat destiny and write your own path kept hanging in the air and then it was pretty much flushed down a dump when Woon’s deciding death scene was due to the fact that he resigned to believe he could not escape his own fate. And it had to be one of his best friends who condemned him when he had been so happily ready to rewrite his life and start over with a fresh new slate.

    This is what gave me the most heart break of all. Woon was so close to getting that chance to return to his friends and be happy. But because his ex-minions nearly slaughter Cho Rip causing him to use that as proof that Woon’s existence would mean continued death, Woon finally broke down and gave up his fight against his fate. Oh… he was so, so close.

    Dong Soo didn’t quite help the matter either, because he hadn’t really tried very hard to help Woon; he willingly jumped into the sword fight as if it was his only option. As the titular hero, what was there that he couldn’t have done to save Yeo Woon from his fate? Didn’t Woon spend quite a bit of effort helping to protect Dong Soo and company behind the assassins’ backs? I know that Yeo Woon was the one who resigned himself to death, but why didn’t anyone even try to at least save him? Goodness, Dong Soo apparently hadn’t tried very hard outside of his “Please return to us” pleading every now and then.

    Finally, the forced happy endings really did piss me off. Because then it was like Woon’s death never even happened, or worse, wasn’t really that significant to everyone else. Woon died and that was it; now have a happy curtain call.

    I think the final straw for me in the last episode was forcefully pairing off Jin Ju with Kim Hong Do. No matter what anyone else thinks, it just doesn’t feel right. I don’t care that the Ji Seon and Dong Soo ship had already sailed off without Jin Ju a long time ago. I just doesn’t feel right to suddenly dump some other guy onto her when she had spent twenty-eight episodes pining after Dong Soo.

    Anyway, excuse me for my own rant; it got quite lengthy.

    I really enjoyed reading all of your recaps, momosan, and a lot of it helped me set in motion some of my own opinions to write about in my blog about WBDS. Thank you for following the series for so long and sharing all of your thoughts with us. Well written and quite inspirational.

    Final thought: I truly did fall in love with Yeo Woon (and not for the fact that he was portrayed by handsome little Yoo Seung Ho) but solely for his character. In my opinion, he was the true hero of WBDS, even if he was a silent and tragic one. It was a plus that once Yoo Seung Ho settled into his role, it brought Yeo Woon to life beautifully. And it IS also nice that he’s a pretty little thing. 🙂

    • He was the hero of this show! He wasn’t even my favorite character, but he won me over just by always (I Mean ALWAYS protecting everybody…all. the. time.). This guy was suppose to be bad? When? DS killed more than he did. *sigh* The Hero of this show was killed by the TPTB’s that is all I can figure. HE saved everybody! He even killed himself in a weird way to save DS. The whole thing pisses me off to no end. He deserved a fitting end…but was screwed over while the people he ‘MADE,Saved,Loved’ all lived happily ever frackin’ after. I just wanted them all to die. Thats it. 😉

      Ranting gain…sorry.

    • AMEN to everything you say!
      Also adding that history shows DS actually married JinJu IRL.
      Why does the show try to rewrite that bit?

      • ”Also adding that history shows DS actually married JinJu IRL.
        Why does the show try to rewrite that bit?”

        Show rewrote pretty much every detail. It was more anime than sageuk anyways.

  8. I watched the finale more than a week ago, but my heart sank when I saw that main picture. I began to cry again. I’m sorry I’m not gonna be able to participate in this discussion an rant because I’m still to hurt. That scene of Woon jumping in the air and throwing his swords away is still to fresh in my memory. But the part that hurts the most is that apparently no one else, apart from DS, cared about Woon’s death. I know assassins don’t get funerals and all but COME ON!! They never new how much Woon helped them!!!
    OK… I guess that was a little rant…
    Thanks momosan for a wonderful written series of recaps! I’ll come back later 😦

  9. I echo what @Linda165 said above… even after TWO FULL WEEKS, I’m still too raw and numb to even formulate Word One about the finale. My hands shake when I hold them over my keyboard attempting to put my thoughts into words. (Doesn’t help that I’m in a severe sleep deficit due to massive work constraints right now.) I’ll eventually post a long, rambling tome on my Tumblr blog, but for now, I’m just going to drink in the pretty courtesy of JCW and YSH. Gotta give the producers serious credit for casting those two, or else I would not have given this show a second look. I’ll be back later as well… ::sniffle::

    Arigatou gozaimashita, momosan! Your recaps were the best!! I’m sure doing this took a lot out of you and some rest and relaxation is warranted, but have you decided what your next project is going to be yet?

    • LOL! The next project will be one that begs me to recap it. I think I was enchanted by Choi Min Soo and the fact no one else seemed to be recapping. It seemed to give some legitimacy to my screencapping the heck out of it! LOL!

      • Hiya Sister-in-Lust! Sorry, I didn’t see your post until this morning. Just clicky-click my name-check here, and it will take ya right to it. I’m going to be spinning off my JCW spazzing into a whole ‘nother blog and keeping my original one for non-fangirl squeeing… but that and my version of “WDBS War and Piece(s)” will have to wait until the weekend. Work is absolutely killing me right now. Sigh.

        • Oooh… Don’t think I can spazz on your tumblr without having an account, but I will stalk it out… for our Changwook-sshi! With or without the mane of glory…*sob*

          • Oh sorry, sweetie! I need to send you a link where you don’t need a Tumblr account to read posts therein. We’re now spazzing over the JCW “Bachelor’s Vegetable Store” announcement made yesterday on Dramabeans, and I’m sure you want in on the action. In the meantime, we’re suggesting that everyone start hopping on the Vegetable Bandwagon now (hee!): http://tinyurl.com/3dy6jqr

  10. I want to say thank you, momosan, for your recaps, they were great and so helpful. I am not disappointed in the series, not at all, it had so many beautiful scenes and so many beautiful, talented actors. The ending was awful really because, as you said, they killed Un and then everything was just so great, they all enjoyed their lives and that stupid Ji sun didn’t even shed a tear for a person who loved her so much. ( but who cares about ji sun anyway?!)
    I didn’t like the pairings from the start and at the end just throwing jin ju and the painter together seemed idiotic. So the ending should be ep 28 and we should try to delete ep 29 from our minds.
    Thank you again!

  11. OK, where do I even begin… Firstly, momosan, thank you! I am seriously awed by how good your Korean is. It PWNed mine, considering I’m half-Korean and have had a bit of a headstart and everything. Yet, wherever there was a grey patch or two I left it to you to decipher in your lovely detailed recaps. Gracias.

    About the finale; I really wish I had jotted this down somewhere as I’m too tired and comatose to think now (ermm… always am), but here’s to trying.

    Chorib’s motivations… as I commented in the previous recap, made sense in terms of story. for the monarchy’s (hence society’s) sake, Heoksa Chorong alongside its leader, had to go. Collectively, he and his pals had successively brought down all that threatened the monarchy one by one, it was inevitable he would finally go after the ‘last remaining threat’ which happened to be his former friend, Woon. Woon was always a waverer, he was never black and white so I don’t think he was ever going to be magically ‘cured’ suddenly in spite of his best efforts and Cheon’s encouragement, his end was pretty definitive of everything Woon was.
    But the script during the lead up… was something else. Still the overall plot remained somewhat intact so I wasn’t going to let that bother me, personally for me, details are nice but my bigger priority is the context of it all. Similarly with Guhyang and the assassins; I was glad they opted to go down fighting (read: scramble about in desperation) as opposed to merely slipping away quietly.

    So the leadup, in spite of a shaky script was ‘ok’. It had somewhat of a Sandglass-esque theme running through it until Woon’s ‘suicide’ added a twist…
    I honestly wasn’t expecting that, I was expecting an open ending, I truly was!
    I wouldn’t have minded Chorib or Jisun dying instead (haha!) as story-wise (yes really, ”story-wise”) that would have kept a believable conflict alive between Joseon’s alternate Romeo and Juliet, Dongsoo-Woonie and then like Gwangtaekie and Cheon they would have bickered until their old age and eventually faced off just like their previous generation and then died in a similar way, full of regret, and then a new generation would have been borne of said conflict…
    Instead… I guess the writer opted for closure — to all of this Fate debate, thus Woon ended it all sooner rather than later. I guess in that moment he reverted back to his old mode of thinking and knew there was no other escape. If not Chorib there would have been another reason and then another… and so forth. The final fight scene was incredible in terms of the way it was filmed, the acting from the two, their emotions, Dongsoo squeezing his eyes shut, then… *squelch*.
    It was incredibly sad, and pretty depressing really, and then the way they mirrored it with Dongsoo drinking himself into stupor, imagining Woonie by his side. It was just…

    But then, as per something I read on DCinside, someone moaning about not having a chance to grieve — one minute you’ve lost your most important character, Woon, the next you’re celebrating a wedding!? Ditto! That’s where I was irked too, I hated it, and more than In the mountain boys were… such a waste of space. Those few minutes of coupling off and all that cheesy filler stuff — I am going to forget that ever happened for my own sanity.
    But… back to context, which… the final scene brought back into perspective and I loved it. The final scene was glorious. For those who don’t like Jisun, let’s just ignore she was in that scene. (Really she was barely in it anyway, and even so she was just symbolic of Dongsoo still having a companion and the only other one who understands what it means to have lost Woonie, plus I never really hated her character.)
    But back to that scene, I love how ‘riding off into the sunset’ seems such an old cliche yet, within this story it was all actually symbolic. It was all about forward movement, hence they barely ‘looked back’ other than Dongsoo’s drunken scene saying he can’t forget Woonie and there were no things like funerals etc.
    And that then explains the horseback riding across vast plains of a newer, better (albeit fictional version of) Joseon, because in kdrama shorthand the horseback riding and such transportation — in a finale — usually means — moving on, going forward. And Ji Changwook was fabulous in that scene, his expression was perfect, his entire journey etched across his face (and those sad eyes *sob* — Woonahhh!).
    The setting sun motif was sad, but also cathartic, that Dongsoo’s story was almost over and having introduced us to little Dongsoo-lite on the way (so cute!), the new generation’s turn had come.
    Just to clarify, there were no writerS, it was Kwon Soon-gyu alone and this was his debut as a screenwriter. I never expected anything epic from him, but I thought he wrote decently, especially considering he was writing a ‘youth sageuk’ (what I usually call ‘kindergarten sageuk’). I loved the story he had to tell, there was a lot more depth and maturity than I could have expected from a camp manhwa-adaptation, he needs to work on his script a bit more, otherwise I would happily anticipate more projects from him. My disappointment lies with production more, the extension (or rather the indecisiveness as to how many episodes it should have been) definitely hurt this drama and thus the writer’s pacing and some characters were left a little underdeveloped (*cough* the female leads!).
    Though saying that, this drama is still in my good books, never quite Top 10 material but not a waste of my time either. It’s not a ‘guilty pleasure’ either, in spite of all the pretty, for the sheer fact that I was invested in its story and characters till the end and cried so much and still am crying over it is a testament to this show, that in spite of its niggling flaws and its hits and misses in terms of overall quality and weight, somehow it all… worked.

    As a farewell, here’s the song ‘Standing’ from the OST which… kinda has to be one of da best OST pieces in a long long time. Not only because it’s sung by my ahjusshi crush — the sexy Shin Sung-woo but it was just perfect as the Cheon-Gwangtaekie frenemy anthem and such epic if not epically tragic lyrics which sum up the underlying story in this show, so beautifully. Excuse me as I weep some more…

      • ::snort:: You mean my fusion sentences? At least two of those came out an amalgam of two seperate things… Uhhh… Like about Dongsoo’s drunken scene I had meant to say he was mirroring Cheon. And Woonie had gone out like Gwangtaek and stuff. Oh well…

        Speaking of Shin Sungwoo…. *rubs hands in glee* Invisible Pile of Crap! OMO! We must!

    • Hi Supah,

      I was really looking forward to hear what you’re thought were about the ending. And you didn’t disappoint. You actually did make it easier to accept lots of things about the ending. (I have to admit I had to give it some time to sink in though)

      CR”s motivation. I think you’re right. In his eyes, the king comes first. So I can accept that now. (after cursing him and wishing him dead for, idk, 3 weeks!!!). I really didn’t mind that it seemed to be out of the blue even when I saw the episode, because I go easy on the writers of most dramas since I know they work under pressure and time constraints.

      I wanted to break my laptop when I saw the ending scene, but I think you made me see it in perspective. Looking forward makes sense. I think when he told the young boy, what a marital artist was (” it truly means saving a friend, people, or country”) perhaps he was thinking of YW. I hope he was. It was the only hint I got that DS knew of YW’s good deeds.

      I didn’t understand why you thought YW was a waverer, though. hypothetically speaking, if he hadn’t died and he had left town as he intended, do you think he would have gone back to the path of an assassin? even though he promised never to hold a sword again?

      Oh and I forgot to mention, you totally called the OTP way back in ep 13!

      • ”… do you think he would have gone back to the path of an assassin? even though he promised never to hold a sword again?”
        Yes! I say he would have reverted back to it. When I say his character was written to be a waverer, I mean as in he never picked one side and stuck with it and like Cheon before him, he was never wrong nor right. I don’t think that was ever going to suddenly choose one side and then commit to it fully and change for the best, so I never expected a miraculously happy ending for him, an open ended one or a tragic one, yes.
        As a story it all worked, the execution of it seemed a little off, but I kind of got where the writer had intended to take it. It had a very humane message about what a warrior is (definitely no heroes over here), and as Gwangtaek had said ”it’s a burden, especially when you can’t protect those you set out to”, what it means to take lives and protect lives. What sets warriors apart from assassins etc. In the end not only could Dongsoo not protect his beloved friend from ‘Fate’, he also ended up dying by HIS sword.
        No one said it was going to be one of those fluffy kindergarten sageuks though.
        And that was not a happy ending. It was cathartic but not happy (well, not for Dongsoo anyway).

        • In a way I agree. I don’t think YW was a waverer in terms of values but I do think that he would never really pick a side. Because to him politics, glory and money don’t matter. Unlike DS, he has no ambition. To him what really matters are the people he loves. He went with the assassins not because he wanted to become one, but because he wanted to get away from his father and I guess be with Cheon. He didn’t really know what he was getting into. It was only after the assassins attacked the warrior camp that he truly realized what he had signed up for. (btw, PGT acted that scene sooo very well)

          I think the only way he would go back to being an assassin is if JS or someone he loves was kidnapped and he was blackmailed into it. In such a situation DS might behave differently. He was ready to accept the mission to kill YW because the CP said so, so I believe even if JS was in danger he would not go against the CP.

          To me, this show really was about heroes. One hero in particular. Baek Dong Soo. He saved Jisun by burning her back when no one, not even the CP thought of it. He killed 100 men in a single night! that’s a hero! But he couldn’t save the person who needed his help the most. And only because he didn’t even try. I think that’s where the drama failed me. He was a hero for 28 episodes and then suddenly he forsakes his friend because it’s convenient for the writer.

          I understand what you mean by “no heroes” but this is a manhwa turned drama. It’s supposed to be about heroes. Why on earth did the writer suddenly decide to go all artsy on us?

          But I have to say that the actual death scene was really beautiful and heart wrenching. If the drama had not taken the stance of “changing one’s destiny”, if it had been like most other dramas where destiny went hand in hand with the life of the characters and that was what they had emphasised, then I think this ending would have been classic. Old fashioned but classic. Then again, if the show had really taken the stance of “fate being above all” then I don’t think I would have watched past ep 17. What I really thought set this drama apart was its 21st century stance against fate. It was really disappointing and disheartening to see the ending.

  12. Thanks so much momosan! I gave up on the drama at ep 21, but I continued to read your recaps just to find out the fate of these characters and the ridiculous story ^^

  13. Thank you momosan for hanging in there till the end. You deserve some kind of reward for your herculean effort to write this final one cuz after a point, this drama must have been difficult to recap. There is a huge difference between wanting to recap in the beginning and later on mustering whatever will you have left to complete the series. I know how you felt cuz I went thru that with the few episodes of Midas I recapped – watching paint dry instead would have been a welcome relief. At least you had more eye candy to keep you going, Noh Min Woo wasn’t on enough to make a difference. I agree with everything you said in the epilogue – especially that part about Shin Hyun being “stiff and reactionless.” Could not agree more about Park Chul Min as Dae Ung when you said “instead of being an evil Riddler, he became an annoying buzzing mosquito. If he was going for cartoon villain, he over-reached.” I blame his character for making me give up on the series cuz when he wouldn’t die, it was just too much for me. Recently I watched his interview and heard his real life sad story – watching him break down in tears almost made me forgive him for portraying Dae Ung like that-I emphasize almost cuz I am still not there yet. Anyway thanks to you, I was spared having to actually watch and could enjoy the series thru your recaps. Great job and I will follow you on your next sageuk endeavor cuz somehow you make it sound fun – which in my book is really difficult. Thank you 🙂

    • Midas! You are a brave brave person to have recapped that. Not even for the fun of watching Jang Hyuk could I finish that show. My language skills jut fall right off a cliff when it comes to the business stuff. I had the hardest time with just Ji Sun’s ginseng business. Give me an audience before the King any time over a bunch of business men sitting around a table plotting a merger!

      On an up note, at least Hyukkie is in Tree with Deep Roots now, because that has been fun to watch so far.

  14. Thanks Momosan for the recaps.

    I want my 29 hours back. Well not all of it maybe three-fourths as I discovered Choi Min Soo as the Sky Lord. He was like a walking piece of art and I could watch him all day. Crown Prince Sado was also an interesting character so I may check out the King and I. This show had some very irritating characters like Dae Un, the Minister of War and his evil spawn, Cho Rip, evil queen and the spineless King but Dae Un takes the cake. I don’t understand why he picks the catoonish character? He was the cat-with-9-lives villain here, sideways guy in ROI, crazy-navigator-guy-who-probably-bought-his-post in IYSS (he was actually enjoyable when he dialed back the crazy here and I ended up rooting for him). Even though I liked the bromance between adult DS/YW I prefer their younger counterparts.

    • “Even though I liked the bromance between adult DS/YW I prefer their younger counterparts.” Yeah. Me too. I think Park Gun Tae ( young YW) was just amazing. He really did have the “murderous intent” that everyone kept talking about. In YSH I didn’t see it at all. PGT really did embody what I thought the character should be. He had the anger, the rage, and the guilt at having all those emotions as well. He also had the charm and the maturity. You could see his reluctance to love DS but he couldn’t help himself. YSH had everything except the murderous intent. (whenever I say murderous intent, I feel like laughing.) I’m not sure if the character lost it after spending 8 years with DS & Co. or if YSH has too pretty a face to emote that way. Actually if PGT had played the older YW, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt such pity for the character. With the YW played by YSH, I really felt he was far too pitiful. He really had nothing left in life at the end. The fact that I didn’t want him to die: I’m still not sure if that is a talent of YSH or a limitation.

    • I am here to tempt you and your Choi Min Soo love.
      Sandglass Sandglass Sandglass Sandglass Sandglass Sandglass Sandglass
      Did you ever start it?

        • Yes, but he looks hotter! really! In a very young, troubled way. I’ve never thought 80’s outfits (remember the high rise jeans?) hot till I saw it on him. Strangely, he’s almost like the YW character. I won’t say more since I don’t want to spoil it for you.

  15. Thank you for the recaps. I didn’t watch the final for a long time after it aired, and that was only to try to understand why it ended that way. Not one thing made anything better for me. I loved your recap (reasons why the end was a WTF) because I am still upset about this. One of my first shows like this, and I am on the ‘never watch another ever again’ bus. Everything about the end makes me want to cry a river (I have BTW), and while reading your recap I teared up again. I am still wondering when I will get over this horrible hatred for the writers for wasting my time, and everyone else’s time.

    CMS was THE bestest of the best since the best was ever made! When he ‘died’ it hurt even more than Un’s death. WHY not have a memorial for the two best characters? Oh cause tptb are morons. Only explanation. Used Un’s spectacular spying behind the scenes to benefit DS/CR/CP etc then label him useless to kill him. That just takes the cake. No matter what rationale is used that is shoddy logic at best.

    Sorry for my rant. I have done it a million times already, and I should move on obviously.

  16. momosan – Thanks for recapping this whole bloody series. I will be forever grateful that you did.
    I found myself either nodding my head in agreement with your words, or having “Ah-ha! THAT’s what they were talking about!” moments. I really enjoyed your humor and writing style.
    As exhausting as recapping is, I hope it is as addicting [See Softy’s history – evil laugh and rubbing hands greedily] so I get to enjoy others from you in the future.

    I agree with Crazycat about the tears for this show. But having been through a few besties- destined-to-kill-each-other dramas, I knew it would happen from the git go. Some shows do it better than others, but it always hurts. Always. I guess knowing that makes me a glutton for punishment or for that pain in the back of my throat that I get holding back tears.

    Unah didn’t deserve that death. He didn’t deserve to have Chorip make him feel like his life was all evil destiny. As many have pointed out, Unah saved more people than he killed, and it brings tears to my eyes even now that he would have died with that burden of guilt and pain in his heart.
    And nobody, not even Miss Block of Ice can shed a tear?
    And Cho rip didn’t die after causing all the unfair bad feeling between his friends? HIs lovely, close friends he spent his childhood with? If DS went after Un in the last battle because he thinks Unah has betrayed Chorip, the least CR could do is DIE.
    ..weeping…removing glasses wiping tears.
    The OTP wrap up was throw stuff at the screen insulting. I would have preferred a montage of flashbacks of all the beautiful fight scenes and goodbyes to our fallen heroes, including BDS’s parents.

    Overall, except for the slow boat to ginseng plot, I liked the drama. It was a good one to share with my 11 year old son who ususally mocks my drama watching. If only I could get him to watch ROI…that way I get hours of pretty, and he gets to see people’s ninja skills.

    What others would folks recommend? I don’t think he would forgive me for the Hong Gil Dong ending, so I can’t do that one.

    • “Unah didn’t deserve that death. He didn’t deserve to have Chorip make him feel like his life was all evil destiny. As many have pointed out, Unah saved more people than he killed, and it brings tears to my eyes even now that he would have died with that burden of guilt and pain in his heart.”

      That’s exactly what I felt but couldn’t put into words. And I think that’s the primary reason why I was so angry at the ending. Not because he died, not even because of how CR and GH acted out of character to bring about his demise, but because of the way he felt when he died. He died never getting a feeling of redemption even though he more than earned it. He saved the whole country (because he was the mastermind behind the whole coup failure) ! He saved ALL his friends at one point of time or the other. And he died still thinking that he deserved an assassin’s death. Even when he was dying he didn’t get to hear any words of consolation that he did good in his life.

      I wish GH had gone and told DS and Co about his good deeds atleast after his death so that his friends would have known how much he had actually sacrificied for them. I hate that they’re (not DS, coz i think he looks upset enough, but the others) living a happy and guilt free life at the expense of YW’s.

      Hmm… and here I thought I was over WBDS. 😦

      I need another kdrama addiction soon.

  17. Momosan, thank you so much for the recaps and the rant at the end ….. you said much of what I’ve felt with a lot less swearing involved.

    I’ve waited a few days, wondered if I should rewatch the last two episodes, hoping I missed something, maybe my Korean is terrible and I got it wrong, or …. you know, that lame thing you do when a pretty good drama just dumped crap on your lap? You try to excuse it, find a reason why, say it isn’t so, re-write it in your mind, re-interpret the material … and then you just give in and say, Oh, omo, they did it again, they screwed it up in the final episode/s.

    And still, I will watch the next one and hope ….

  18. Oh, I long for a redemption of the storyline–perhaps in a season 2 or a special! (If there were a way that Woon could really still be alive without the script being contrived; if there were a way that Jin Joo could ultimately end up with Dong Soo in a believable way…)

    The writer would have to “explain” what happened to Woon after being impaled by Dong Soo’s sword. Perhaps in the group of soldiers who were there at the scene there were some residual Shadowless World Heuk Sa Cho Rong who could have arranged to “bury” him. (I can hear groans from the readers of this post already.) They discover a weak pulse, etc. (The residual Heuk Sa Cho Rong could still be there even though Woon had ordered them to be disbanded–they could be inactive and dormant!)

    (I did secretly wonder why there was no burial or release of ashes… Often writers don’t put the finale on the death scenes so that they can “resurrect” the characters in the future!)

    Am I hopeless, or what?

    I don’t recall ever feeling betrayed like this by any drama. Or book or movie, for that matter! There have been endings that I didn’t like, but not this inexplicable sense of betrayal.

  19. I have another idea for spin-off. How about the 3 years YW spent as Heksachurong while DS trained up himself and JS was becoming a businesswoman? (Insert: if she was a nun, wouldn’t it be more likely for her to have renounced the worldly desires and temptations? So someone tell me why she decided that earning money was her way of making herself useful??)

    They could put YW in China [HSCR was created by the Chinese spies, right?] and he could be taking a short term stay there or something. Hopefully some new characters would be introduced to take everyone, esp JS, off his mind. Eventually he will have to leave everything behind and return. But a YW spinoff could make those 3 years an awesome compensation for a sucky ending.

    Actually, Cho Rip’s wanting YW dead wasn’t completely unexpected. I’d say CR’s intentions were borne of jealousy. He was always the one out of action, having to stay away because he was too weak in DS and everyone’s eyes to do anything. Killing YW was probably his way of saying “look i CAN do something and I did”.

    As for Gohyang, I was surprised that she didn’t understand YW’s invitation to a farming life. I took it as his first sign of accepting her into his life, possibly his first instance of showing affection to a girl apart from JS. And she has t mess it up? The only way I can see it is, she cannot accept a life of farming and simplicity when she was used to luxuries as a gisaeng.

  20. Pingback: 2011 – A Year in Review – thundie's prattle

  21. Why did they give Yeo Un those stupid lines to say as he was dying? What’s with his desire to “bow down to the late prince Sado and Gwang Taek in the afterlife?” Why, for god’s sake!? Yeo Un didn’t kill the prince, and he wasn’t even close with Gwang Taek! Out of all the people he’s known and people he’s killed, Yeo Un only wanted to bow down to those two guys and beg for forgiveness? Since when were they so significant to him that he would remember them even during his final moment? That makes no sense to me. And it’s such a waste of lines, too! Those were suppose to be Yeo Un’s last words. The writer should have given him something more personal and poignant to say… something about never forgetting their friendship or even a request to Dong Soo to take good care of the “agassi” he likes so much. Although Ji Seon is my least favorite character on the show, considering everything Yeo Un has done to protect her, you would think she’d be in his thoughts during these final moments. But no. It was the late prince and Gwang Taek. What the hell kind of scripting is that?

    Look, I don’t have much of a problem with Yeo Un dying. Yes, it was the saddest moment in the entire series, but because of that, it was also the most memorable. It made me cry like crazy, and stayed in my thoughts long after the show was finished. I don’t think it would have left such a deep impression had Yeo Un not died so tragically. So yeah, I don’t have a problem with tragic endings… as long as it is done well.

    What I didn’t like (same as most of you) is that we didn’t even get a chance to grieve for him. I was still reeling in sadness and horror when they abruptly shoved Sa Mo’s happy laughy wedding in my face. What the hell is with that? One moment Yeo Un’s dead, and the next, everyone’s happily moving on with their lives. He was such a pivotal character throughout the whole series, yet within two minutes, he was completely cast aside and forgotten. Other than Dong Soo, no one even cried for him. No one ever mentioned him again after that. What great evil did Yeo Un do to deserve an ending like that? Is the scriptwriter some kind of idiot who’s never written a decent drama in his life? Is that why he thought it was ok to commit such a horrible injustice to one of the most beloved characters on the show? I must take note of his name so as to never watch anything he’s written again.

    • Aww give the writer a 2nd chance, after all, he did give us lots of sympathy moments with YW.

      I just have to say Jisun’s role was badly done, even Jinju and Gohyang barely had any really important, pivotal moments. The writer needs to include more female action if he wants his dramas to succeed in the 21st century.

      I think the bowing down to the prince and GT part was because they had a lot of expectations of him, which he failed to live up to? GT took YW under his wing, while the Prince took them into the palace and made them important. So those two were people who gave him a chance to be great but he let them down, so he felt he needed to apologize to them….

      But still, no excuse for the very random and abrupt nding. But well, YSH is now having the last laugh because his fame’s on the way up, up up!!!

  22. If you’re missing Yeo Woon like the rest of us…there’s always Yoo Seung Ho! He’s so talented in anything he does – dramas, MVs, movies, etc. Here’s the official teaser for his newest drama, Operation Love or Operation Proposal…on YT:
    /watch?v=BipH35L-eRM&feature=player_embedded
    (Note: If it’s been taken down, you can check one of the ‘Yoo Seung Ho Tumblr’ sites for updated info.)
    Starts on Feb. 8th…can’t wait!
    Yoo Seung Ho & Park Eun Bin are not only adorable together, but very talented!

  23. Momosan… you picked a nice pic (1st/top one) of Yeo Woon! Then again, YSH is so photogenic, he practically steals the screen every time he’s in it. Thanks for the review and rant!

  24. yeah..yeah.. too bad he has to die in vain.
    YeoUn’s death should have been grander T_T

    Despite the title referring to the heroic path of Dong Soo’s as the main character,
    the real screen stealer and heart throb here is definitely Yeo Un 😉

  25. The ending was so incredibly forced and very unnatural, but I’ll forgive it since I really did enjoy the characters especially dong soo and yeo woon. in my mind, it ends at episode 28! 🙂 plus the manwha was the real story and i dont think the ending to that manwha was as dissapointing as the drama’s ending was.

  26. Thank you Momosan for the excellend review. I am watching this show now and enjoying it. Can anyone tell me where i can stream Shin Don with English subtitles? having seen QSD and am watching Ge-reat King’s Dream, I would like to see this drama too.

    • Shin Don should be available on Dramafever, but if you are in Gran Couva, it may be US only. So you’d probably need a US proxy to see it.

      • I cried when Ga Ok cooked for Sword master and when Chun looked after Ga Ok while she was dieing. Haven’t reached the end as yet but I’m loving this show. I dont like characters playing the fool as Dong Soo did for some years and as Iljimae did in his ordinary life. I thought though that this show even though not strictly historical, had a good mix of the culture, political fighting, martial arts, personal stories and gorgeous scenery and songs that make seguks so fascinating. The changing your destiny theme is new for me and i love it for a time and place where so much is set by the circumstances of your birth.

      • I have just reached Episode 24 and have read the reviews and comments here. Thanks for the head’s up- it will spare me some of the heart break of Woon’s death. And i totally agree that the ending as described by you all is bogus. We diehard sageuk junkies are used to sad endings so if it has to be bad news, bring it on. But like most of the comments, i agree that it would have been so much better if breaking away from your personal destiny was in fact the theme and then Woon could have lived on. Dong Soo got the most expressionless mate ever (and he may have been her 2nd or 3rd choice) when Jin Ju would have been a better match, and that would have left Miss expressionless for Woon.

  27. Choi Min Soo…the cinematography, the lighting (yes!!!) the character…undoubtedly, the “swagger” & demeanor…I watched this series purely by chance because I happened to see the opening fight sequence…and he remained the reason I watched it to the end…(even when I was ranting & raving myself)…his voice & tone echoed a Clint Eastwood-style-gunslinger at times to me…especially when he would speak of warriors, killers, life and death and how fate & destiny are already in play (and unchangeable)…simply fantastic…

  28. Thank you very much for this…. although I was not able to watch it, thank you for your review, it really helps a lot with my imagination….. Un dying, I just can’t help but cry~ I was still crying ’till past 3am. oh ghad~ I am mourning over Un’s death.
    Snot and tears fell most especially on the part where: “Dong Soo drinking by himself, as quietly Un, dressed as when they were slightly younger, sits down next to him and smiles. As Dong Soo pours another drink, we see that it’s Ji Sun sitting there. ”

    ;A; They’re brothers…. Un saves more lives than those he killed… He killed people who deserves to die, and as much as he can, he tries to not really kill. OMG! I can’t just stop crying!

    This is so sad, I actually fell asleep crying. Sadness and tiredness and I ended up falling asleep, I just realized earlier that I did not shut down the computer.

    Haha…. ;A;

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