Our three core characters meet and realize who each other is….except our siblings, they have not met in the present…yet.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 11 Recap
With Sung Joo watching from the fence, at the gate to Kang Kyeong, So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) meets So Rye (Park Eun Hye) who asks his household. They stare at each other but do not recognize each other. He doesn’t answer So Rye. Insteads he shows paperwork that purports that So Gae is a nobleman and asks to see the man in charge. He enters Kang Kyeong. Hak Joon agrees to meet him. So Gae does not like So Rye following him and staring. Nice fan flick! When he reveals to Hak Joon he is not a nobleman, Hak Joon wants to throw him out. So Gae grabs his interest when he shows him one of three ledgers revealing activities regarding the Head Merchant. Hak Joon offers gold for the ledger. Sung Joo calls to Hak Joon who stands to deal with the angry cattleman. So Gae whacks him on the head. Down goes Goodman. Sung Joo is a one man wrecking machine and creates the distraction. So Gae slings Hak Joon over his shoulder and takes off. So Rye’s faithful servant Deuk Gae throws a rock and takes down So Gae. He hobbles away leaving the ledger and the gold. For a moment, So Rye hopes Hak Joon is dead but makes a great show of concern when the others find them.
With the grace of a gazelle, Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk), threads his way through the woods. When he pauses for water, he looks at the braided bracelet and remembers saving, bedding, and leaving So Sa (Han Chae Ah). Bong Sam tells himself to get his head in the game of saving Sung Joo and presses on.
Meanwhile transformed into a girl, Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung), makes her way through the woods. She comes up the Head Master, So Sa, the assistant, et all in the wedding party. The assistant finds her staring and shoves her to the ground. Then he gets irritated when Gae Dong struggles to get up and accuses her of faking injury. Gae Dong calmly says he’s not the top dog yet. She calls him a mouse. Zing! She further states that he’ll be brushed aside by another. Furious, the assistant calls her a shaman (he got that right) and raises his hand to strike, but So Sa tells him to stop. I like the way So Sa interjects even when the Head Merchant told her to leave it alone. Girl power! So Sa demands to see Gae Dong and the Head Merchant backs up the request. Livid, the assistant mutters that So Sa is going to be trouble. Gae Dong tells him he’s got a big mouth. Ha! Loving her retorts! Gae Dong limps to So Sa and the Head Merchant and explains she’s not a shaman but on her way to meet her finance. Recall she’s decided she’s going to marry Bong Sam (who knows nothing about her intent). The Head Merchant tells her she’s got a long journey in front of her. She assures him she’s a former merchant and can take care of herself. She winces as she tries to walk. So Sa invites her to share the pallet. Gae Dong gratefully accepts. She seems to sense something about So Sa while they share the pallet.
The Head Merchant asks for Gae Dong to meet with him. With the assistant eavesdropping, the Head Merchant asks if he’ll have an heir. She tells him she’s not a shaman. She notes that the assistant must be worried about his marriage and a possible heir usurping his dream of taking over for the Head Merchant one day. She tells the Head Merchant he can determine if the assistant is worthy of that role. The Head Merchant appreciates her wit and insight and calls her finance a lucky man. As she turns to leave, she tells him, he’ll have a son. The Head Merchant is shocked, the assistant is shocked…Gae Dong knew it in the pallet.
Bong Sam finds Sun Dol and Gol Dae. No rest Bong Sam demands, time to go.
Sung Joo and So Gae swaps shirts, making them brothers. Sung Joo is not happy to see his face on a wanted poster and police searching for him. So Gae sneaks around and sees So Rye and Deuk Gae talking. He recognizes Deuk Gae as rock throwing man.
So Rye decides the time is right to reveal her real identity to Hak Joon. He’s surprised. I’m surprised too. The ladies are pulling no punches. Hak Joon mocks her that her father would be proud to see her now. She counters she was thrilled when he put himself in jeopardy by stealing the stables. Hak Joon realizes she stole the promissory note and slaps her. He tells her for 18 years of companionship, she can keep the promissory note. So Rye stabs him twice with her hair pins and demands to know who killed her father. Holy smokes!
Meanwhile So Gae (who “killed” So Rye’s father by letting him take the blame for the opium he was smuggling) searches Hak Joon’s quarters for the gold and the ledgers. Greedy, he decides he wants the promissory note too. He plants Sung Joo’s shirt at the scene of the crime. Yep, So Gae is all about himself. Everyone else are pawns to advance his aspirations.
Hak Joon tells So Rye he’ll reveal her father’s killer IF she saves his life. She agrees. She demands to know her father’s killer. He names So Gae. She’s stunned. Hak Joon explains the opium came from So Gae. So Rye freaks and hits him repeatedly. Hak Joon tells her it may hurt, but it is the truth. She can’t accept his claim.
So Rye finds her room ransacked. She finds So Gae. He asks if she is So Rye. Stunned, she asks if he is So Gae. He can’t believe she lived with Hak Joon. She laughs. Life delivers odd realities, like So Gae pretending to be a nobleman and robbing Hak Joon. Her father asked So Gae to protect her and Bong Sam but he ran away. So Gae hangs his head. Not exactly a warm reunion between them. I wondered if she was going to accuse him of betraying her father, but not yet. She demands to know why he left. He sweeps it away, declaring it in the past. Instead he wants to know if she wrangled the stables deal. Stunned, she throws him cash and tells him to leave. He tells her to join him. She tells him forget it, for his father’s sake, she’s funding him. He tries to tell her about Bong Sam but she cuts him off. You learn more by listening. So Rye just blew it. So Gae takes the money and leaves. Wow, again he proves the only thing that matters is his agenda.
At the stables So Gae denies associating with Sung Joo. Bong Sam questions him. He denies any involvement. Bong Sam demands to see his merchant tag. He heads the name and looks at So Gae stunned. So Gae admits he is “So Gae, your brother”. Bong Sam is angry that So Gae called himself “brother”. “You abandoned my sister and I.” He goes to hit him but pauses and doesn’t. So Gae lightly hugs Bong Sam.
It seems all is forgiven because Bong Sam and So Gae share a drink and memories. Bong Sam admits he resented So Gae with the loss of his sister. But Bong Sam realizes these bad decisions were made when So Gae was young. So Gae has a moment of truthfulness when he tells Bong Sam he deserted them because the burden was uncomfortable due to his father’s death. So Gae asks Bong Sam if he knows where So Rye is. She’s living with a nobleman is Bong Sam’s response. He’d love to talk more but he needs to find Sung Joo. He leaves.
Bong Sam and Sun Dol find the remains of Sung Joo’s camp in the cave. Sun Dol says he can’t believe the Sung Joo would leave his shirt at the Hak Joon’s home.
Bong Sam and Sun Dol hear the pursuit from the cave. They run out to intercept. So Gae sees them.
Another good episode. The eleventh episode had the three main characters meet and realize who each other was. I’m thrilled the curtain is lifted and So Gae, Bong Sam and So Rye recognize each other. Though Bong Sam and So Rye have yet to meet and know each other again.
* Bong Sam was only in a few scenes. Bong Sam was either being shocked by news of Sung Joo or trying to find him. What did I think of the Bong Sam and So Gae reunion? I found it a bit odd that they sat down to drink so quickly after Bong Sam wanted to strike him. Bong Sam was able release So Gae from his past actions citing his youth. Really? No hard feelings? At least So Gae admitted that he left because it was uncomfortable not because he couldn’t support Bong Sam and So Rye. Not sure why Bong Sam didn’t have a reaction to that statement.
* So Rye surprised me with her bold actions. After 18 years in planning mode, she admits her identity and kills Hak Joon. I was SURE she’d cave and save him to get the information about her father’s killer. But she held strong, got the information, and let Hak Joon expire. His death makes sense. Hak Joon had a certain likability even though he had done awful things. It’s more interesting when the characters have shades of grey. So Rye’s denial of the truth about So Gae was well done and reasonable. When she and So Gae finally realized who each other was, she paid him to leave. He hung his head. Was he tired or sorry for his actions of the past? Later she did realize Hak Joon’s assertions about So Gae was the truth. I wondered if she’d wait another 18 years to get revenge on So Gae but she ordered his death quickly. I was happy to see So Rye take action. This character has looked like an idiot in the past. Not this episode.
* So Gae admitted his identity to So Rye and Bong Sam. He did this after being caught trying to lie his way out of the situation. Honestly isn’t So Gae’s first choice. I thought his reunion with So Rye was better than with Bong Sam. The writer had Bong Sam brush away So Gae’s choice as a youthful error too easily. So Gae did not share the location of their respective siblings with So Rye and Bong Sam. They both acted like they knew all about their sibling and So Gae elected to keep them in the dark.
* So Sa showed some moxy interceding on Gae Dong’s behalf. She didn’t leave it alone as the Head Merchant advised, she injected herself into the argument between Gae Dong and the assistant. I liked that. If you suspected So Sa would end up pregnant from her one night with Bong Sam, pat yourself on the back.
* Gae Dong used her shaman powers to discern So Sa’s pregnancy. She stunned the Head Merchant with the news that he would have an heir. Her bickering with the assistant was superb. She had some great lines and they were delivered with zing. That was a favorite moment of the episode.