What’s old is new. The past comes back this episode.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 16 Recap
A bound and gagged So Sa (Han Chae Ah) struggles while a drugged Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) wakes. When he sees So Sa he quickly unties and removes the gag. He calls out for help.
The Head Merchant tells So Sa maid, Wol, that she must die for her mistress’s transgressions. He tosses her a noose and tells her to hang herself. Wol shares that So Sa saved her from a life of prostitution and she agrees she must die for now protecting her mistress. The Head Merchant is impressed with her loyalty. He order her to tie him up. She is surprised. I am surprised too.
No one comes to open the door. Bong Sam shares that he expected to die from drinking the poisoned alcohol. So Sa claims she’s not afraid of death if they go together. But she doesn’t want to live without him.
Wol ties up the Head Merchant. He urges her to tie tightly.
So Sa shares she was told she’d curse a man. Bong Sam has no regrets for his actions or dying with her. He promises to hold her hand and never let it go. That pleases her and she promises the same. They hug. They kiss. They make a baby.
The Head Merchant struggles to free himself. He thinks of Mae Wol’s prediction that he’ll have a son and then Bong Sam and So Sa hugging.
Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) prays for So Gae and Bong Sam. She gets a pain in her head.
Wol calls to So Sa. She wakes Bong Sam. Wol tells Bong Sam the Head Merchant sent her to send him to the grain ship. Bong Sam says he must travel as he owes the Head Merchant. She wishes his a safe journey. They stare at each other. Will it be the last time they see each other? He leaves.
Mae Wol can’t believe Bong Sam is getting on the grain ship. She told him to run.
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) arrives with cronies in tow. Sun Dol and Gol Dae recognize So Gae is planning something.
So Gae laughs when Bong Sam tells him he’s worried more worried about Hak Joon’s brother, Bo Hyun, than bandits. So Gae jokes then he better be worried about him. The tilting camera angle to mimic the rocking ship…not loving it. So Gae assures Bong Sam they are brothers. He asks why Bong Sam doesn’t trust him. Bong Sam claims to trust him. So Gae assures Bong Sam he can be trusted. Here’s hoping Bong Sam lied. Does Bong Sam trust So Gae?
Bo Hyun greets Bong Sam and So Gae. He wants everyone to relax and enjoy themselves. Bong Sam refuses to mix business and pleasure. Everyone will relax when the work is done. Bo Hyun tells him he’s just like his father. So Gae leaves with Bo Hyun.
So Gae and Bo Hyun discuss their plot to embezzle the grain and sell it high to the Japanese. Bo Hyun tells So Gae to permanently stop Bong Sam. So Gae hesitates. Bo Hyun tells him to do it. So Gae promises.
As we suspected, Sung Joo did NOT die when he went over the cliff. He’s now a bandit and ready to rob the grain ship of 200 bags of grain. Bong Sam’s sister’s faithful servant Deuk Gae is there too. They discuss the stable gang are on the ship. They don’t recognize So Gae’s nobleman name. The man doesn’t know Bong Sam’s name. So they are heading to ship without realizing they know some of the ship’s leaders.
Man Chi’s head man (that promised to kill Bong Sam) tries to whack Bong Sam on the head with a rock but Bong Sam turns and he pulls the stone away. Bong Sam is not happy to hear the stable gang is partying before the rice is loaded on the ship.
Bong Sam arrives to a party in full swing. Bong Sam yells at the men. Their job is not done. Why are they partying now? So Gae interrupts and tells him to chill out. Bong Sam orders the men back to work. So Gae escalates by telling Bong Sam, his Merchant father killed his worker father by being a slave to rules too. Bong Sam and So Gae lock gazes.
Bong Sam tells Sun Dol and Gol Dae he can’t relax. Pirates are likely waiting to strike.
Man Chi’s head man has sized up his weapon to a chest and flings it a Bong Sam who is not hit. He tells Bong Sam to die quickly. Then he is transfixed. Bong Sam looks. It is bandits!
They sound the alarm that bandits are coming. What they don’t know is that was a diversion. Deuk Gae’s group of bandits goes on the ship and starting taking the rice. The stable gang are drunk and unable to help.
Adding to the evening’s fun, So Gae is ready to send the signal for the Japanese smugglers to come. But they see the pirates are attacking.
Sung Joo orders his men to avoid the pirates, take the grain, and get gone. So Gae sees Sung Joo and orders the bandits NOT be stopped.
It is a free for all fight bandit versus stable gang. Deuk Gae knocks out Bong Sam. His bandits flee.
So Gae wonders if Sung Joo’s bandits makes things better or worse. Pragmatic So Gae declares if it is worse, he’ll flip it around and make it better. He laughs to himself that Sung Jooo is not a worthy opponent.
200 sacks of rice were stolen. Bong Sam asks why So Gae’s soldiers didn’t catch the bandits. That should have been easy. So Gae tells Bong Sam that Sung Joo was the leader of the bandits. Bong Sam cannot accept that Sung Joo would lower himself to leading bandits. He urges Bong Sam to meet Sung Joo at the location he found.
Head Merchant is happy the rice arrived safely. Mae Wol urges So Sa to eat with them. So Sa is feeling nauseous. They made a baby! Mae Wol knows what that means and congratulates the Head Merchant and So Sa. She denies it and leaves. Mae Wol smiles broadly. She knows.
So Sa starts packing. She tells Wol they have to leave. Wol asks if she’s pregnant. So Sa confirms this. So Sa has to get away from the Head Merchant.
Mae Wol asks why the Head Merchant isn’t happy about the baby. He lies, laughs and claims to be happy.
Mae Wol visits the Head Merchant’s assistant who apparently lives in stinky squalor. Mae Wol tells him that So Sa is pregnant. He has to laugh. He writes that another man fathered the child. He thinks it is Bong Sam. Mae Wol sees that Bong Sam fathered the child.
Back at the temple, she stares at the idol. Her man fathered a child with So Sa. She’s mad! She declares she can never forgive So Sa.
Holy smokes! So Rye (Park Eun Hye), Bong Sam’s sister, is alive! Folks, I am stunned. For those that guessed this plot point. Pat yourself on the back! He asks her for directions. Without showing her face, she gives the directions. She stunned to see her beloved brother.
Bong Sam finds the bandits lair. Sung Joo’s head man greets a stunned Bong Sam. He meets with Sung Joo. He tells Bong Sam he should have left him dead. Sung Joo is embarrassed to lead bandits. Sung Joo declares the rice cannot be returned.
Wol and So Sa try to escape. But they run into the Head Merchant. He’s mad she’s leaving him when she’s pregnant with his child. He asks if she was going to meet Bong Sam. So Sa denies this. She tells him he knows why she must leave. The Head Merchant is adamant. This is his child and she cannot leave and take his child away from him. So Sa stares at him stunned. So Sa guesses he planned the interlude. Head Merchant blathers that their son will be raised to be the greatest merchant of them all. He urges her to take care of herself. If she doesn’t, Bong Sam will die. Trapped by her love for Bong Sam, So Sa weeps at the predicament she is in.
Mae Wol echoes a similar sentiment as the Head Merchant. If So Sa leaves to go to Bong Sam, she’ll die.
Sung Joo explains that morality had to be set aside when he saw the people that saved him starving. Bong Sam asks for the rice. It’s gone, distributed to starving people. Sung Joo tells Bong Sam to live by his code of ethics and let him live by his. Bong Sam wants to help them.
Little does he know So Rye is eavesdropping. When he leaves the room quickly he runs into So Rye. This time he sees her face. Her recognizes her as Hak Joon’s woman. Bong Sam Sung Joo how this woman survived. Sung Joo saved her. In flashback we see Sung Joo opening the crate and retrieving from the grave of the river. Bong Sam chastises Sung Joo for saving this caliber of woman. He chides Sung Joo he should have been forgiving to Man Chi too. So Rye grabs Bong Sam’s hand and tells him Sung Joo only saved her. The rest is her fault. Bong Sam tells her to let go. She won’t. They stares at each other.
Another round of stunned moments for all our leads. Bong Sam was stunned that Sung Joo was alive and the woman he tossed off a cliff was alive. So Sa was stunned the Head Merchant claimed the baby was his when they both knew it was not. Mae Wol was stunned when Bong Sam got on the grain ship (ignoring her advice) and when she realized So Sa was pregnant by Bong Sam. So Gae was stunned Sung Joo was alive.
* Bong Sam almost completed the grain ship voyage without incident. So Gae and Bo Hyun disrupted Bong Sam’s men’s work ethic with a party. Bong Sam could not sober up a drunk gang of men and was unable to stop Sung Joo’s bandits. He was thrilled to learn Sung Joo was alive and willing to forget what he did for a living. He was surprised to find he cliff woman alive. I’m wondering, does Bong Sam really trust So Gae or is he skeptical of So Gae’s professions of loyalty?
* So Gae is pragmatic. While suprised by Sung Joo’s bandits, he quickly calculated how to make this unexpected turn of events work for him. Pushing an unwitting Bong Sam to find Sung Joo was part of that revised plan.
* So Sa could not deny she was pregnant. She could not believe the Head Merchant claimed the child as hers when they both knew that to be impossible. The shame of not being able to father a child drove the Head Merchant to create the trap for Bong Sam and So Sa to make love.
* Gae Dong / Mae Wol quickly discerned So Sa was pregnant. It took her a bit longer to realizes that So Sa was pregnant by Bong Sam. She was not happy Bong Sam is having a baby with another woman.
* Sung Joo is alive. I expected that. The plot point that he was the leader of bandits because they saved his life worked.
* So Rye is alive. I did not expect that. Please tell me she will NOT let So Gae try to kill her again before she tells Bong Sam who she is. You know that Bong Sam will tell his brother So Gae he met her. You know that So Gae will try and eliminate her…again.