Our three core characters gather at a cliff. Judgement is pronounced for one of them. The merchant tribunal never goes well for the accused.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 12 Recap
At the end of the last episode, Sung Joo has the bad luck to run into the police. They ask for identification. He runs. The police chase. Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) and Sun Dol hear the pursuit from the cave. They run out to intercept. So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) sees them. The chase leads to the cliff edge for Sung Joo. Bong Sam sees the police have Sung Joo trapped. The police captain tells the men to shoot Sung Joo. Bong Sam yells no.
At the start of this episode, the police shoot Sung Joo. He falls over the cliff. Bong Sam rushes to the cliff. He yells at the police for shooting a man without investigating the crime. That doesn’t go over well.
In jail, Bong Sam is surprised when Sun Dol and Gol Dae visits. He asks about Sung Joo. They can’t find his body. Sun Dol has arranged for Bong Sam to be questioned. If he denies breaking into Hak Joon’s house, he’ll be freed. This is guilt by association. I’m a bit miffed that Bong Sam insulted the police officer put himself in this situation. I think that Sung Joo may not be dead. Man Chi must get his revenge at some point in this story.
Hak Joon’s brother pretends abject grief. He rudely tells So Rye (Park Eun Hye) she was only a mistress, not a wife. He orders her to leave. He orders his butler to pack up all Hak Joon’s valuables. That makes So Rye mad. She rails to faithful Deuk Gae. First order of business is to pack and then get rid of So Gae.
Bong Sam is taken for questioning. They want So Rye to participate in questioning the man they caught.
Here we go folks, 12 episodes into this series, our brother and sister come face-to-face. Do you think they will recognize each other? I believe they won’t know each other by sight too. Let’s see.
Bong Sam and So Rye stare at each other. Deuk Gae recognizes him from earlier encounters (but doesn’t know his relation So Rye). Bong Sam proclaims his innocence. Hak Joon’s brother interjects himself. Bong Sam combs his memory and remembers the man who insulted his father when he was a boy. Bong Sam declares that Hak Joon killed himself. He says Hak Joon’s thieving ways created the situation that lead to his death. Bong Sam declares it was not Sung Joo. Hak Joon’s brother says the shirt with Sung Joo’s name places him at the scene of the crime. The police agree.
Hak Joon’s brother must have a glimmer of recognition because he asks Bong Sam what his name is. The police read the name off Bong Sam’s father merchant identification tag. So Rye is stunned, Daek Gae is stunned, Hak Joon’s brother is stunned. So Rye calls him a liar. Bong Sam tell her his name. She can’t speak. Hak Joon’s brother laughs. He sees it now. Bong Sam looks like his father. Bong Sam declares he strives to be like his father every day. So Rye looks at him with tears and pride.
Hak Joon’s brother, Bo Hyun, orders Bong Sam taken away. So Rye falls to her knees and begs him to let Hak Joon rest in peace and close the book on the stable incident. She’s never seen Bong Sam before. Bo Hyun is unmoved and orders Bong Sam taken away.
Bong Sam and So Rye stare at each other. She knows him but cannot declare it. He stares not knowing why she stood up for him.
She wants to go to him but Deuk Gae’s cool head prevails. He reminds her Bo Hyun’s doesn’t know her identity and if she declares herself, she’ll be killed.
Deuk Gae goes to kill So Gae. He begs for his life. Deuk Gae says Hak Joon spilled the truth that So Gae killed So Rye’s father. So Gae offers to reunite Bong Sam and So Rye, he knows where Bong Sam is. So Gae lies that he saved Bong Sam’s life when he fell from a cliff. Geez, lying is like breathing for So Gae. So Gae perceives the Deuk Gae was part Bong Sam getting hurt during the chase for the promissory note. Now he has an advantage over Deuk Gae and presses it. He knocks Deuk Gae out cold.
Ah, Bong Sam was released by Bo Hyun. He, Sun Dol and Gol Dae stare over the cliff where Sung Joo supposedly fell to his death. Bong Sam honors his mentor and bows. Bong Sam promises to revive and run the stable. He wishes Sung Joo well in the afterlife.
So Gae runs into our trio and claims that Hak Joon’s mistress sent a swordsman to kill him. So Gae calls her greedy. So Gae says the mistress killed Hak Joon and framed Sung Joo. Sun Dol counters that she tried to save Bong Sam. So Gae counters that she did that to save herself from being revealed. Bong Sam says the merchant council is only way to discern the truth. I must say, none of the methods we’ve seen find the truth, they only confirm the assumptions of the accusers. Bong Sam declares Hak Joon’s mistress is the reason why Sung Joo is dead. She’s the reason why Hak Joon is dead. Bong Sam declares she will meet her death at the river where Sung Joo died.
So Rye packs to flee. She’s thrilled she’s finally found Bong Sam.
Bong Sam and So Gae scale the wall to snatch So Rye to bring her to justice. So Gae goes ahead and tells Bong Sam he’ll snatch So Rye. Bong Sam stands guard. That was a little too convenient that Bong Sam allowed So Gae to go solo. Whatever. So Gae finds So Rye packing. She can’t believe he is alive. She demands to know where Deuk Gae is. So Gae is mad she tried to kill him. He says they were to live together. Until you ran away, jerk!
He declares Bong Sam is here. He brought him. Awk, another punch to the gut to disable a woman! How many does that make? He ties an unconscious So Rye. Bong Sam finds him in the room with So Rye. So Gae covers the Chun Merchant sign to help hid So Rye’s identity. Bong Sam gags So Rye. She wakes and tries to talk. They put her in a chest. Bong Sam locks the chest. Gosh this is getting maudlin. Brother unknowingly killing his long lost sister. I’m totally disgusted with So Gae for perpetrating this.
At the cliff, Bong Sam declares she must be told why she is dying. So Gae tries to stop him from talking to So Rye. Bong Sam declares her actions killed Hak Joon and Sung Joo and according to the merchant’s rules, she must die. Needless to say, she hopes he’ll allow her to speak before she dies. But he doesn’t ungag her. They close the chest. So Rye can’t believe it. She’s going to die by her brother. Over the cliff she goes. Bong Sam tells her to beg forgiveness from the men she killed.
The chest sinks. How is she getting out of this without dying? Holy smokes, she’s going to die. As she drowns, So Rye hopes that Bong Sam never realizes what he did. She hopes he never learns she was Hak Joon’s mistress. She hopes he never knows that he killed his sister.
Initial reaction, So Gae is total scum. So Rye was flawed and her death, once revealed, will shred Bong Sam then make him realize what a scumbag So Gae was. Deuk Gae, will we ever see you again? Will you figure it out?
Head Merchant, So Sa, and Gae Dong hear the news that Hak Joon has been murdered by Sung Joo. The Head Merchants sends condolence money. Gae Dong decides it is time to leave. The Head Merchant gives her a ring of coins as a thank you for her positive words. She tells So Sa to bear the Head Merchant a son to provide an heir. She wonders if Sung Joo really killed Hak Joon.
Bong Sam tells So Gae if he wants to at the stable, the door is open. So Gae scoffs that he wouldn’t repeat the cycle of his family working for Bong Sam’s family. Bong Sam, So Gae reveals his feelings if you would just see it!
Bong Sam sits at the cliff and wonders what the gagged So Rye was trying to tell him. He tells his friends he should have listened to her. Too little, too late, Bong Sam. He agrees with his friends that saving the stable has to be the priority and they travel that way. So Gae watches them go and heads the opposite direction.
So Gae gets drunk and hallucinates So Rye. He tells her she died because of her own actions not his. He muses that Gae Dong told him once he crossed the line there was no turning back. He wonders if he’s crossed the line. He claims that when her father killed his father the line was crossed. He states once he becomes head merchant he’ll make her a nice memorial marker and grave. Way too little, way too late, you self centered delusional man.
So Sa and the Head Merchant arrive home. So Sa doesn’t appear impressed, but her maid is. The assistant has a man observe So So and Head Merchant, even the time they go to bed. In the bedchamber the head merchant tells So Sa he wants a son. If heaven helps, is her response. His response is to lay her on the bed and start the process. She can’t hide her dismay when he goes to kiss her. The Head Merchant pulls away. He tells her she will have to participate. He tells her his heart was moved by her portrait. He tells her not only the young love. He leaves the bed chamber.
It is anarchy at the stables. The merchants are upset and worried that the stables will go bankrupt. When Bong Sam and his friend arrive they hear that someone bought the stables. To Bong Sam’s surprise the new owner is Gae Dong. Bold move on her part! She soothes the angry merchants saying when Bong Sam returns, everything will turn around.
The merchants wonder who she is and when Bong Sam approaches he asks who she is. Recall he only knows Gae Dong as a man, not a woman. She chides him for deserting her. It dawns on Bong Sam that this is Gae Dong. He is stunned. They all smile.
Late that evening when they are alone, Bong Sam asks why the switch. Gae Dong counters shouldn’t you ask, what’s my wish? Playing along, Bong Sam asks what is your wish. Gae Dong says she wants to marry him. He thinks she’s joking. With sincerity she asks him to marry her. Bong Sam realizes she is serious and is speechless.
This episode eliminated So Rye, Bong Sam’s sister. It could have been titled “so close but so far” or “rush to justice, regret for a lifetime.” It was despicable how So Gae manipulated Bong Sam to kill his own sister without hearing her side of the story. Oh the irony of Bong Sam jumping off a cliff to save So Rye (it turned out to be So Sa) only to push So Rye off a cliff and put her to death by drowning.
* Bong Sam is being played like a piano by So Gae. He accepted So Gae’s advice, let So Gae take the lead, and agreed with the rush to punishment. The truth is that Bong Sam did kill his sister. Yes, he had help from the mastermind So Gae. But in the end, Bong Sam ignored a pleading woman’s eyes, pronounced judgement without allowing her to speak, and pushed her off a cliff. What do I think of that? That is good plotting. Now we wait for the payoff…the day Bong Sam realizes what he did and So Gae’s full knowledge of the situation. So far, Bong Sam has gone easy on So Gae, not seeming to hold any grudges for the past. I look forward to the day the blinders are lifted and Bong Sam sees So Gae for who and what he is. Then at the end of the episode, Bong Sam gets a major surprise when Dae Gong reveals herself as a woman and asks Bong Sam to marry her. What will he do? The woman he loves is married to another. Why not get married?
* So Rye died without Bong Sam realizing who she was. Too bad that So Rye was finally freed from her life with Hak Joon to be summarily dismissed from his household, then save her brother from a false charge of murder, only to be cornered by So Gae then shoved into a chest by Bong Sam and have Bong Sam act as judge pronouncing her death sentence. She valiantly pleaded with her eyes, but he didn’t remove her gag, and over the cliff she went to drown beseeching her father that she hoped Bong Sam would never realize what he had done. Terribly cruel to have her own brother participate in her death. But So Rye was not the strongest or smartest character. I’m not devastated to see her go. I will miss Daek Gak, he was faithful and an excellent shield.
* So Gae got revenge against So Rye. His logic and arguments depend on his shockingly revisionist history and view of what acceptable behavior is. He is no longer likable.
* So Sa couldn’t sleep with the Head Merchant. If she’s pregnant with Bong Sam’s child, she need to engage the Head Merchant or it will be obvious the child is not the Head Merchant.
* Gae Dong was true to her word. She accompanied the Head Merchant and So Sa until she was able to break off and return to the stables. I liked how she bought the stables and kept the hordes of merchants at bay until Bong Sam returned. I liked that the reveal that she was a woman was quick and complete. She was sincere when she asked him to marry her. Will she get a husband or heart broken?
* Now we are down to the central characters. This show has not been shy about killing characters. The characters eliminated in this series so far have made sense in the story line. So Rye’s death is excellent future story line fodder and I hope the payoff is worth it. It could be gold. I hope the writer mines killing a core character for all it is worth.