Mae Wol crosses the line as she sells her soul and ethics to achieve what she wants most in life. And if she has to kill to get what she wants…then so be it.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 28 Recap
Who else could get away with carrying a bucket of dried fish and bowing respectfully to the room full of merchant including the big dog, the Head Merchant? Why it’s our leading man, Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk). He promotes his fish. He asks the Head Merchant to buy his fish. So Gae tells Bong Sam to leave. The Head Merchant buys 1 case of fish. The former assistant comes up with the coins. Love how Bong Sam counts each coin. The merchants declare they won’t buy his fish. So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) tells Bong Sam to leave. The Head Merchant tells Bong Sam to wheel and deal and impress him. Bong Sam points out the cost of the leading brand fish (the Head Merchant’s fish) went down because of his product. More money in the merchant’s pockets. If the merchant’s don’t buy his fish and he goes out of business next year the leading brand fish price will go up, enjoy a monopoly and leave less money in the merchant’s pockets. Bong Sam asks the Head Merchant if his logic is solid. Cheeky, Bong Sam asking his competitor to valid his argument. So Gae tells Bong Sam to leave. So Gae removes Bong Sam from the room.
Team Bong Sam has a plan to force the merchants to sign contract. LOL when Bong Sam can’t get over the wall stealthily. Ninja skills…not our Bong Sam. Bong Sam asks the sympathetic merchants to buy his fish. No dice, what if he fails? Bong Sam counters that the fish should be sold at a fair price. He chastises them for being wimps.
Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) decides to intercept two of the queens’s men at the prayer site. She wants to be able to stand alone without depending on others. That is power in her book.
Her plan starts well. Bo Hyun arrives while she is praying with passion for the health of the prince. She pretends to faint. The men rush to her side and help her. Mae Wol thinks she cannot get to Bong Sam directly (because he rejects her) so this side route is the only option she sees.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The sympathetic merchants buy their fish from team Bong Sam. He promises prompt delivery. Money smells good!
The Head Merchant is not happy that Bong Sam has made sales. Head Merchant declares Bong Sam’s business must be destroyed. So Gae assures the Head Merchant Bong Sam’s business will be eradicated.
Team Bong Sam travels at night.
Mae Wol recovers with Bo Hyun and the other Lord watching over her. The Lord promises to speak highly of Mae Wol to the queen. Bo Hyun declares HE recommended her to the queen and not to forget she owes him. Mae Wol tells her maid it’s time to hit the road.
She goes to Bong Sam’s fish business. I’m kinda digging her hat.
So Sa (Han Chae Ah) is grateful for Sung Joo’s support. They joke that Bong Sam is head over heels in love with his wife. Gol Dae hesitates to interrupt and tells Bong Sam that Mae Wol has arrived. He and So Sa stare at each other. Bong Sam can’t believe she found his business’s location.
He meets Mae Wol and asks how she found out where his business was. Mae Wol is not happy to find So Sa is there. The threesome talk. Bong Sam tries to rush her off. Mae Wol refuses. So Sa offers her bedroom. Mae Wol accepts. There’s only one person happy with that arrangement…Mae Wol.
Bong Sam is visibly bummed. Gol Dae and Sun Dol worry about Mae Wol’s obsessive ways. Bong Sam says he can’t be mean to her. Sun Dol says he doesn’t have to be mean, but he should stop the friendship for the So Sa’s sake.
Mae Wol creepily croons the the baby, “if you were my child, I’d be your mother and Bong Sam would be your father.” So Sa takes the baby from Mae Wol not enjoying the picture Mae Wol painted. Mae Wol begs So Sa to leave. “Don’t be greedy and return to your home. I’ll be forever grateful”. Good grief, look in the mirror Mae Wol. You are the one that puts her greedy hands on Bong Sam, who loves So Sa. So Sa pulls away from Mae Wol’s grasp. Mae Wol gets a crazy glint in her eyes.
Mae Wol wakes to find a nightmare…Bong Sam is marrying So Sa.
Bong Sam is happy. So Sa is happy. Mae Wol watches, the pain evident on her face. Sun Dol asks Mae Wol to say a few words. Mae Wol stares at So Sa offers to support the bride’s walk to the groom. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Mae Wol imagines herself getting married to Bong Sam? The bride and groom bow to each other. Mae Wol stops So Sa’s bow and quietly tells her she’ll regret this day. There is menace in her tone. Yep Mae Wol has gone off the deep end. Mae Wol walks away crying her pain.
So Gae arrives and is surprised that Mae Wol is at the lodging he wanted. He asks her to reveal where Bong Sam’s business is. She asks if he’ll get rid of So Sa IF she tells him the location of Bong Sam’s business.
Bong Sam asks So Sa what Mae Wol whispered to her during the ceremony. So Sa lies that Mae Wol told her to be good to Bong Sam. He offers his wedding present, a coral hairpin. So Sa thinks it is extravagant. Bong Sam tells her it was his mother’s hairpin that his sister So Rye gave to him. So Sa is honored and wears the hairpin. She declares today is the happiest day in her life. She cries, she never thought she’d know this kind of happiness. They hug.
So Gae wants to know how many men surround So Sa. Mae Wol tells him that Sung Joo and his bandits support Bong Sam’s business. So Gae is surprised.
Man Chi and Bang Geum arrive at the fish business surprising team Bong Sam. Sung Joo is surprised. Man Chi and Bang Geum wonder why the welcome isn’t overly warm. They come face to face with Sung Joo. Everyone is shocked. Man Chi rushes to Sung Joo. He can’t believe Bong Sam hid Sung Joo from him.
So Gae et al find Bong Sam’s business. He declares Bong Sam has dug his own grave.
Man Chi and Sung Joo confront each other. Man Chi cannot forget the past. Sung Joo asks what Man Chi intends to do. Man Chi declares he will take Sung Joo’s head off. Sung Joo does not back away. Man Chi declares he’ll stick to Sung Joo like glue and find the perfect opportunity to kill him. Gosh that puts a pall on the group.
So Gae et all report to the Government Bong Sam’s business location. The Government doesn’t want to attack Bong Sam with soldiers. So Gae pushes that he does.
So Gae tells Mae Wol Bong Sam’s business will be take over by soldiers. Mae Wol only cares about So Sa. So Gae asks why Mae Wol is so cold. Mae Wol offers So Gae the Head Merchant position with her influence from the queen. So Gae agrees. Mae Wol is glad, kinda.
Team Bong Sam enjoy a grill of meats. The merchant accepts Bong Sam’s payments and profits and reinvest it with Bong Sam. Cheers!
Man Chi drags Bang Geum to Sung Joo’s room. They all sleep in the room together. Man Chi stares at the sleeping Sung Joo. He lifts an object to crush Sung Joo. Bang Geum calls out him and he drops it next to Sung Joo.
The Government soldiers, So Gae et al make their way to Bong Sam’s location. Mae Wol watches them go. Mae Wol utters “I am crossing the line that I cannot return from”. I couldn’t agree more, Mae Wol, I couldn’t agree more.
The Government soldiers, So Gae et al, arrive at Bong Sam’s location.
They approach team Bong Sam. They call for Sung Joo. Man Chi finds Sung Joo and tells him to flee, he’ll kill him, not the soldiers. The soldiers search for Sung Joo.
Blissfully unaware in the wood, Bong Sam and Sun Dol are in their way home after a successful trip.
The soldiers have team Bong Sam’s team captured. So Sa asks Gol Dae to find Bong Sam but the soldiers stop him. The baby cries and So Sa tries to go to him. The soliders punch her in the gut. How many times have women been punched in this series? A fight breaks out as Bong Sam’s men scuffle with the soldiers. Bang Geum takes the baby to flee to safety. A marksman has her in his sights. So Gae has hired the marksman directing him to kill the woman with the baby. The marksman aims and fires hitting in the arm, then the back. Man Chi arrives to see Bang Geum fall to her knees. Her concern is for the baby. Sung Joo orders Wang Bal to take the baby and run. Man Chi finds the marksman and beats him. Sung Joo pulls him off. He yells that the fate of the fish business falls on his actions. Man Chi doesn’t care, he only cares about Bang Geum. Sung Joo asks for one last favor.
After Man Chi leaves, Sung Joo goes to Bang Geum. She’s in pain. He’s in pain. She remembers they were once happy together (Sung Joo, Man Chi and her). She utters those were the happiest days of her life. Sung Joo apologizes and asks for forgivness. Bang Geum liked him, respected him, but her pity for Man Chi, made her choose him and she’s sorry. She dies. Sung Joo can’t believe it. The woman he loved, is gone.
So Gae et all strategy is simple. Burn everything. So Gae drops the match on the alcochol soaked merchandise.
Gol Dae finds Bong Sam and Sun Dol and declares soldiers sent by the Head Merchant have captured his team.
They watch in horror as the fish fields burn. Team Bong Sam fight the soldiers. Sung Joo yells for them to stop. They will ruin everything. Sung Joo turns himself into the soldiers. Dude – I respect your choice!
Mae Wol joins So Gae on the dark side when she asks So Gae to kill So Sa. The writer continues the “crossing the line” statements as characters make choices that cannot be recovered from as they sell their personal ethics and soul to achieve a goal. So Gae already mired in the dark side efficiently hires a marksman to gun down the woman with a baby. And normally that woman would be So Sa. But tonight that woman was Bang Geum and she paid with her life when she decided to protect the baby. Of course, it was So Gae that forced the Government to send the soldiers to Bong Sam’s business location. So Gae actions thwarted the assassination.
I like when the characters of Sung Joo, Bang Geum, and Man Chi are featured. They are important forces on Bong Sam and his journey. The consistent weaving of their story into the series strengthens it.
* Bong Sam got married with his obsessive friend, Mae Wol, watching. I don’t think Bong Sam realizes how unhinged Mae Wol is. So Sa didn’t enlighten him when he asked her what Mae Wol said to her at the ceremony. Sun Dol was right. Bong Sam needed to cut ties with Mae Wol. But she’s like a leech that won’t let go. It’s like Bong Sam cannot believe that someone he once had a good relationship with – Man Chi, So Gae, Mae Wol, could ever truly turn against him and actively seek to harm him. Bong Sam open your eyes, and see the hatred that others have for you. See the threat, the menace to you, your family and your business. His naivety costs him. I enjoyed Bong Sam’s argument to the merchants that his business created competition so they all enjoyed lower prices on the fish. When he asked the Head Merchant to confirm his logic, I thought the Head Merchant might explode at the clever question.
* So Gae was willing to hire an assassin to learn the location of Bong Sam’s business. So Gae sold his soul long ago to defeat Bong Sam’s father and then Bong Sam. Still So Gae is not overtly evil like many evil characters are.
* So Sa got married to Bong Sam with Mae Wol by her side. Mae Wol just won’t go away. So Sa was astonished when Mae Wol crooned to the baby it would be wonderful if she were the baby’s mother. That was an ick moment. So Sa contines her “be nice” behavior and does not tell Bong Sam about Mae Wol’s words in the hut or at the wedding ceremony. Unfortunately her silence allows Bong Sam to be unaware how unhinged Mae Wol is.
* Mae Wol crossed the line. Mae Wol decided So Sa’s death was the only way to clear a path to Bong Sam. She just can’t see the obvious…Bong Sam will never love her.