Everyone gets a surprise this episode.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 14 Recap
Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) meets So Sa (Han Chae Ah). She asks why he came to this location. He tells her not to be confused. She cuts him off. She tells him to forget about their night together. Bong Sam asks So Sa if she can eradicate it from her memory. She tells him to leave and not come back. He stops her exit and tells her he isn’t here because he wants to be. The Head Merchant assistant watches them wondering what their connection is. Bong Sam explains that the Head Merchant purchased the land under his stables. So Sa tell him it is game over, the Head Merchant has won. Bong Sam counters that he must beg for his stable employee family. So Sa tells him her life it what matters here. If the Head Merchant finds out about them, she’s dead. Bong Sam recommends they pretend they’ve never met. So Sa’s eyes fill with tears and she leaves.
In her room So Sa weeps. Her maid, Wol, tells her that Bong Sam runs the stables and came to beg money from the Head Merchant. So Sa knows this and states she hurt him terribly. But she had to keep him safe from the Head Merchant’s wrath, so she told him what would drive him away from her. Ah, the cruel to be kind methodology. She cries pretty.
Head Merchant and Hak Joon’s brother, Bo Hyun, discuss what’s next for Bo Hyun considering the Head Merchant’s new position decreed by royal proclamation. Bo Hyun blatantly asks for 100,000 so he can retire. He suggests that the Head Merchant embezzle 10,000 in grain and sell it to the starving Japanese for 100,000. To Bo Hyun’s surprise, the Head Merchant declares no embezzling on his watch. Bo Hyun is livid. He declares the Head Merchant is uppity now that he has the royal proclamation. He demands the Head Merchant choose. Fine, the Head Merchant chooses the King over Bo Hyun. Stunned Bo Hyun reminds the Head Merchant his hands aren’t clean. The Head Merchant embezzled, ran a prostitution ring, all to gain wealth and power. He doesn’t want to be reminded of his past. The men exchange fake wishes for a long life and Bo Hyun storms out with the Head Merchant’s Assistant watching.
The Head Merchant’s Assistant asks why the Head Merchant cut Bo Hyun out of his life. The Head Merchant declares his son, when he has one, must be honored and respected not tainted by poor associations of suspicious actions. To that end, the Head Merchant wants to cut the shady and keep only the reputable associations. The Assistant bursts out laughing then chuckles agreement that only honorable associations are good.
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) listens to Bo Hyun complain about his treatment. They are interrupted by an arrival. It is Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung) in her new role as Shaman Mae Wol. So Gae is gobsmacked when he recognizes her. Bo Hyun is nervous and invites her to talk. I did love the slow shock and revectoring shrug by So Gae.
Mae Wol takes Bo Hyun’s seat and listen to his complaint about getting the cold shoulder. Her advice is simple, end the relationship with the Head Merchant and move on. Bo Hyun wants revenge and implores her for advice. She nods to So Gae and tells Bo Hyun that guy will get the Head Merchant for you. She got that right! Loved the imperious attitude. Go Girl!
Meanwhile back at the stables Bong Sam is stuck. Sun Dol urges him to go back to the Head Merchant. Gol Dae announces the Head Merchant’s Assistant is there. He wants them to work his grain ship. They the local merchants run him out. There is a certain satisfaction in that.
The Head Merchant is not happy the stable gang won’t work for him on the grain ship. They may be rough but they are honest. He orders his Assistant to return. Before he can leave, Bo Hyun visits and recommends he post one man to the grain ship. So Gae enters the room all smiles. He’s back! The Assistant recognizes So Gae. The Head Merchant recognizes So Gae. The Assistant scoffs that So Gae sold fish. So Gae tells him times have changed. He’s just been hired as supervisor. Bo Hyun happily chirps that So Gae earned the job and there’s nothing the Head Merchant can do. The Head Merchant decides to leave. As he exits he tells So Gae to work hard. Bo Hyun relishes the quick exit.
So Gae dashes after the Head Merchant and offers a small gift to congratulate him on his recent marriage. It is the 2 coins the Head Merchant gave him when he kicked him out. That was cold and excellent! So Gae tells the Head Merchant those coins helped transform him into the man he is today. The Head Merchants laughs and tells him touche. The Head Merchant leaves upset that So Gae is foisted on him. So Gae relishes the moment and his first step of revenge. If looks could kill!
The Head Merchant admits his conceit and So Gae’s arrogant quest for revenge could be troublesome. His Assistant scoffs.
Bong Sam arrives. The Head Merchant asks if he’s brought what he needs. Bong Sam affirms he has, the stable gang to work the grain ship. That gets the Head Merchants’ attention. Bong Sam asks for the loan. The Head Merchant tells him if the stable gang and Bong Sam bring the grain ship safely, he’ll loan him the money. Bong Sam is surprised to be pressed into service on the grain ship. The Head Merchant declares Bong Sam will be the General Manager of the grain ship. If Bong Sam returns in 2 days with the stable gang, the job is his. Bong Sam thanks him and leaves. The Head Merchant is using Bong Sam to neutralize So Gae’s position on the grain ship… smart.
Bong Sam is stoked. Sun Dol wonders if Bong Sam can convince the stables gang. He orders Gol Dae to get the stable gang, he wants to meet with them ASAP.
The Head Merchant’s Assistant can’t believe he’s so worried about So Gae. The Head Merchant assesses So Gae’s hatred of him as lethal and he must engage his own counter attack using Bong Sam. The Assistant is upset the Head Merchant doesn’t trust him to neutralize So Gae. The Head Merchant bluntly tells his Assistant the So Gae was always smarter than him. Shocked and upset, the Assistant calls to the Head Merchant as he sweeps out of the room. The truth hurts! The Assistant declares he will hurt the Head Merchant and make him pay for his poor judgement.
Bong Sam meets with the stable gang. Their leader is….Man Chi! Wow, I was taken by surprise! Bong Sam is stunned. Man Chi tries to kill him. Bong Sam yells that Sung Joo is dead and the stables are about to fold. Man Chi doesn’t care but Bang Geum does. She steps between the men. That doesn’t matter, Man Chi declares Bong Sam must die. Bang Geum slaps Man Chi. She can’t talk but she makes noise. Bong Sam is surprised she can’t talk. He’s stunned when Man Chi drops his pants and displays his lack of privates.
Bong Sam sits and implores Man Chi to talk. He convinces Man Chi to lend him the stables gang to regain the stables. After that Bong Sam agrees to fight Man Chi. A fan of violence, Man Chi declares if he wins Bong Sam turns in his merchant license and leaves the stables forever. Bong Sam agrees to Man Chi’s terms.
So Gae boldly goes into Mae Wol’s quarters. He wants to know if she knows Gae Dong, his one and only younger brother. Mae Wol decides to come clean and goes into her Gae Dong personna. So Gae is shocked, then thrilled. They hug each other with glee. Over rice wine, Mae Wol tells So Gae she wants him to be the next Head Merchant. She needs him to have power so he can step on Bong Sam. No fury like a woman scorned! So Gae agrees, next time he sees Bong Sam, he’ll step on him.
Bong Sam works out so he can match physical abilities with the stable gang, earn their respect and lead them.
That evening he approaches Man Chi who is surrounded by the stable gang. Man Chi offers a seat at the main table. He earns respect when he manhandles the assistant. He tells the men he’s the general manager and they need to follow him, not fight with each other and guard the rice. If the trip is successful, he’ll hire each of them as merchants for the stables. That gets their attention. Bong Sam has leadership skills.
Mae Wol meets with the Head Merchant and his Assistant. They are surprised she is the woman that traveled with them. Mae Wol reassures the Head Merchant he will have a strong and clever son. The Head Merchant is relieved, the Assistant is dismayed.
So Gae taunts the Head Merchant’s Assistant that he will never take the Head Merchant’s place.
So Gae meets with the Head Merchant and is introduced to the new General Manager, Bong Sam. The men are surprised to see each other. When the Head Merchant asks if they know each other, So Gae lies and says they probably met along the way as they are both merchants. He introduces himself. Bong Sam plays along and introduces himself. The Head Merchant implores both of them to bring the grain ship safely home. They both promise. They drink to working together.
That evening the Head Merchant tells So Sa he’s found the right man to act as General Manager of the grain ship, Bong Sam of the stables. So Sa is flustered and spills the tea.
The Head Merchants wakes to find So Sa gone from their bed. He finds her outside and crying. He watches but does not make himself known.
Bong Sam is drunk and So Gae gets him home. So Gae lays Bong Sam on his bed and thinks that Bong Sam will never survive the grain ship voyage. So Gae thinks either Bong Sam dies or he dies. As So Gae steps away from the sleeping Bong Sam, he turns and mutters in his sleep, where is my sister. So Gae turns and stares. He thinks “first your father, your sister, and now you, what a bloody fate you have. I will tell you all on the grain ship. That your sister is the woman you threw into the river.”
This episode had every major character surprised at some point. Bong Sam was surprised to see Man Chi and So Gae. Mae Wol was surprised to see So Gae. So Sa was surprised to hear the Head Merchant hired Bong Sam. So Gae was surprised to see Mae Wol and further stunned when she revealed that she was Gae Dong.
* Bong Sam realized the Merchant needed the stable gang to work the grain ship. That earned Bong Sam the job as General Manager and the promise of a loan for the stables IF the grain was brought in safely. Bong Sam does not suspect So Gae’s evil intentions for him. Man Chi was a surprise for Bong Sam. Man Chi never changes, he erupts in anger and does not listen. I wonder if So Gae will tell Bong Sam about So Rye’s death by his own hand.
* So Gae walks the line between self centered human and evil dude. He hasn’t gone all evil all the time, but it is simmering below the surface. The loathing he looked at Bong Sam with was strong. On the other hand, his joy at finding Gae Dong was real. It much more interesting that he is faceted and not all evil. He is self-centered and a user, to get what he wants. He did have a couple of nice moments, most notably his reunion with Gae Dong / Mae Wol.
* So Sa pushed Bong Sam away for both their sakes. She was stunned when he was hired by the Head Merchant. What did the Head Merchant think when he saw her crying?
* Gae Dong was consulted by the Head Merchant and So Gae. She’s got an aura about her with the Shaman title. I enjoyed when she assumed her Gae Dong personna to So Gae’s shock. But she’s ready to hurt Bong Sam to pay back the emotional hurt he gave her when he rejected her marriage proposal. She is willing to use So Gae and he is willing to be used to hurt Bong Sam. Their agendas line up well.