Tour de force moment for Jang Hyuk. What happens to our hero when he loses someone important. Hint – an ax is involved!
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 31 Recap
Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) tries to stem So Sa’s anger by claiming she feels badly for the Head Merchant. He’s ruined. So Sa (Han Chae Ah) is distracted and feels bad. Mae Wol declares So Sa pushed the Head Merchant to the edge of sanity. So Sa counters that if Mae Wol hadn’t kidnapped the baby, So Sa wouldn’t have had to confront the Head Merchant.
Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) bursts into the room. He’s livid Mae Wol kidnapped his son. He demands Mae Wol confirm this. Mae Wol tries to stem Bong Sam’s anger by saying she hoped he’d be different. Fed up and not contrite, Mae Wol admits she kidnapped the child. Mae Wol flees. Bong Sam believes this is all for the best. These dangling relationships must be ended. So Sa says ending a relationship is harder than starting one.
Mae Wol’s assistant tells So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) that Mae Wol is deep in prayer and cannot meet him. So Gae asks the assistant to ask Mae Wol if her wish about So Sa’s death has changed. Her assistant relays the message stating So Gae leaves tomorrow morning and she must declare a change of heart otherwise he’ll make it happen. Mae Wol won’t change her mind. Her assistant worries this is the wrong choice. Mae Wol is willing to deal with the consequences.
So Gae realizes there will be no change of plan. He tells the assassin get the job done at the stables.
Mae Wol screams to the temple gods that she’s not afraid of whatever they dish out. So Sa must die. She must have Bong Sam. When So Sa is gone, Bong Sam will open his heart to Mae Wol. If she could only live as Bong Sam’s woman for one day, she’d be willing for the gods to punish her forever.
The assassin makes his way into the stables with a group of merchants. Bong Sam wonders why they are there. The merchant leader tells Bong Sam they surrender. They want to deal with Bong Sam directly regarding Chun Fish.
The Head Merchant is informed that his merchants are abandoning him. Faith in him is gone. The Government gave a vote of no confidence. The contract for the fish is shredded. The merchant leaves. The Head Merchant is surprisingly calm. He wants to determine who are his friends and who are his enemies.
Mae Wol asks after the Head Merchant’s health. He asks if she brought him the child for So Gae or herself. Mae Wol claims she did it for herself. Mae Wol tells the Head Merchant his time of power is gone. She urges him to give up gracefully. The Head Merchant states there is no graceful loss of power. He hopes she won’t live to regret her choice. He walks away, obviously not strong.
Bo Hyun is irked that So Gae has talked to the Government official without his knowledge.
Bo Hyun is irked when the Head Merchant arrives unannounced. The Head Merchant suggests they both were stabbed in the back by So Gae, shouldn’t they band together?
Bong Sam asks the merchants about the trade they want. It’s not only fish, but all the merchandise the Head Merchant normally sells. Wow! Bong Sam is happy. The merchants are happy.
The assassin watches So Sa hand over the baby while she cleans outside. So Sa realizes she needs to get kim chi from the storage area. The assassin watches her. So Sa senses something is wrong and hurries to make sure the baby is ok. She finds Wol with the baby and is relieved everything is ok. So Sa returns to the storage area to get the kim chi. The assassin dumps a snake into the storage area. The snake bites So Sa on the leg. She screams. The men hear and come running. They find her clutching her leg. Gol Dae sees the snake. The men realize So Sa has been bitten. Gol Dae goes to get the doctor. So Sa is brought to her room. Man Chi ties off her leg. He extracts the poison and spits it out. So Sa refuses to let him disturb Bong Sam while he’s negotiating with the merchants.
Unaware anything is wrong, the papers are signed between Chun Fish and the merchants. They decides to celebrate with a delicious meal. Smiles all around.
Mae Wol waits to hear news. So Gae arrives. He has the stare of a man that did as she asked.
The merchants leave happy. Bong Sam et al are happy.
Gol Dae tells Bong Sam about So Sa’s condition. Bong Sam finds So Sa unconscious. The poison has spread in her body per the doctor. Bong Sam tries to draw out more poison. It’s no use. He calls to her, but she doesn’t stir. He pleads with her.
So Gae tells Mae Wol that So Sa has died. Her assistant arrives stating people from the stable have arrived. Sun Dol and Gol Dae enter and inform Mae Wol that So Sa has been bitten by a poisonous snake. They ask for her help. Gol Dae bluntly states “I know you don’t like her, but this is a human life”. Mae Wol agrees to come to the stables.
So Gae asks why she bothers to go to the stables. Mae Wol admits she’s unsure what she’ll do but she must go. So Gae believes it will be difficult. He offers the poison of the snake to ease So Sa to the other side. Mae Wol takes the poison.
Bong Sam begs So Sa to fight. She stirs. She tells Bong Sam that he is her love. She asks about the baby. Wol tells her he’s sleeping. So Sa feels badly the baby hasn’t been weaned. She asks Wol to take care of the baby. Bong Sam tells her to fight. She needs to raise their baby. He implores to prevail. So Sa cries.
Mae Wol arrives. Gol Dae prods her to treat So Sa.
Mae Wol enters the room and finds Bong Sam kneeling by So Sa. He begs her to save So Sa. I liked that he called her Gae Dong in the heat of the moment, reverting to their former friendship. Mae Wol pushes him aside and checks So Sa’s condition. So Sa stirs and sees Mae Wol. She’s surprised. So Sa asks how she could do this. Mae Wol pretends not to understand and tells So Sa of course she had to come. So Sa tries to tells Bong Sam that Mae Wol is the person that created the situation but is interrupted when Man Chi calls out that he’s found the snake. Mae Wol urges him to go outside so So Sa can reserve her strength. Bong Sam believes this is how So Sa will live by reserving her strength. Thrilled he leaves. So Sa tries to stop him but to no avail. So Sa is alone in the room with the real snake, Mae Wol.
Team Bong Sam have found the snake. Yep, he’s poisonous. Sun Dol doesn’t understand how the snake got in the storage area. That is not snake normal behavior. Man Chi believes this snake is a weapon not a wild snake. Man Chi declares they need to find the person that raised the snake.
So Sa suffers. Mae Wol stares and considers…poison now or later? She pours the poison into So Sa’s drink. Crossing another line Mae Wol or is it the same line again and again? She sits So Sa up to drink. So Sa asks Mae Wol if she’s the reason she’s like this. Mae Wol tries to distract her saying her time has come. So Sa tells Mae Wol she’ can’t believe she’d stoop this low. She coughs. Mae Wol declares one day she’ll be punished for this. So Sa asks “why go this far”? Mae Wol states she had no chance with Bong Sam with So Sa alive. She declares Bong Sam is the only man that can help her conquer her spiritual powers. It’s been a while since Mae Wol trotted out that excuse for her Bong Sam obsession. So Sa calls Mae Wol “pathetic and pitiful”. You got that right So Sa, but it may be too little to late. So Sa coughs. So Sa claims she wants to forgive Mae Wol. I would NOT be saying those words to the woman that killed me. Mae Wol can’t take if either and tells So Sa NOT to forgive or understand her. She begs So Sa to die. So Sa coughs. Mae Wol offers the poisoned drink. So Sa drinks the poisoned drink. Mae Wol calls for her assistant. She tells them So Sa is dying and now. She tells them to get Bong Sam and the baby. Riveting scene!
Bong Sam enters the room. Wol brings the baby. Bong Sam calls to So Sa. Mae Wol leaves the room listening to Bong Sam’s please to So Sa.
Outside the room, Mae Wol staggers away. Her assistant helps her. Mae Wol cries. It’s hard to be evil yet care.
So Sa stirs. Bong Sam is happy. So Sa’s death speech. I was happy to have met you. Don’t despair. Don’t cry. We will meet again. Don’t be heartbroken. Bong Sam tells her he can’t release her. He cannot live without her. He begs her to stay for him and the baby. So Sa asks for the baby. Wol offers the baby. So Sa apologizes to her son. She cries. I cry. Bong Sam cries. Wol cries. So Sa tells the baby she’s leaving. She tells the baby to make his father happy. She dies.
Mae Wol hears Bong Sam’s cries of pain. She struggles to her feet and leaves. She clutches her heart. Mae Wol struggles forward in the snow and rain. So Gae sees her walking and listing in the rain. Her assistant is worried that she’s soaked through. Mae Wol faints. So Gae carries her into the temple.
Bong Sam stares at the alter. He holds the bracelet that So Sa gave him. He remembers their greatest moments together. What can I say after 31 episodes, they had lovely journey. They excelled at tender moments.
Bong Sam leaves the room. He walks in the rain. He looks driven by something. He grabs an ax. Good grief. If looks could kill! Sun Dol and Gol Dae ask what he is doing. Bong Sam declares he cannot let the person that took So Sa away, live. Man Chi tells him to let him kill So Gae. Bong Sam pushes through and starts running with the ax. Team Bong Sam is concerned.
So Gae wishes So Sa a safe journey to the other side. He apologizes. He didn’t have any grudges against her. The gall of this man – unbelievable the warped logic world he lives in.
Men rush into the room and tell So Gae that Bo Hyun knows he betrayed him. They drag him out of the room.
Team Bong Sam tries to stop him. He’s their leader. Sun Dol yells everything will be lost if he acts. Gol Dae tells him to remember right and wrong. Bong Sam stuns them by putting the ax to this throat. Holy smokes! Grief has unhinged him into a pain laden don’t care about the consequences, must have vengeance man. He’s morphed into So Gae and Mae Wol- when their goals are all that matter – right in front of our eyes. Gol Dae realizes he’s not talking to a sane man in this moment. Team Bong Sam watches him run away. Wow! That was so powerful by Jang Hyuk. Just think about how simple those movements were, how few words he uttered, but I believed he was crazy for vengeance in that moment. This guy can act! Riveting scene. Every actor delivered!
So Gae is dragged in front of the Head Merchant and Bo Hyun who declares him ungrateful. So Gae doesn’t understand. Bo Hyun hits him. The Head Merchant tells everyone to leave. Now it’s only the three of them. The Head Merchant tells So Gae that meeting with the Government official was not a private meeting. Bo Hyun is livid that So Gae went to the Government official directly. So Gae claims it is a misunderstanding. The Head Merchant states So Gae should have killed him not wounded him. Now he’s mad and will retaliate. Bo Hyun declares So Gae will die. So Gae stares in disbelief.
Bong Sam enters the Head Merchant’s yard. He calls for So Gae. He raises the axe. The guards try to stop him. But Bong Sam is a man possessed by grief, and fueled by an adrenaline for vengeance. Bong Sam declares he’ll kill whoever stops him from getting to So Gae. He calls for So Gae. Dripping wet, holding the ax, Bong Sam is convincing as a man who cannot be stopped.
So Gae hears Bong Sam’s call. He’s hopeful. The Head Merchant’s assistant burst into the room screaming that Bong Sam has an ax! So Gae is unneverved. The Head Merchant leaves the room. Bo Hyun and So Gae remain.
The Head Merchant goes to the front porch and yells at Bong Sam – what do you want? Bong Sam approaches him. The guy liner only adds to Bong Sam’s unhinged mental state. Bong Sam yells – did the Head Merchant killed So Sa? The Head Merchant is shocked. Bong Sam calls for So Gae. He raises the ax! Our hero has lost it – but in a good way!
So Sa kept her own counsel and it cost her. Too bad she did not tell Bong Sam the truth about Mae Wol went she had the chance. When she wanted to tell Bong Sam the truth, she couldn’t. It must suck dying knowing the woman that killed you has a major obsession about your husband.
* Bong Sam lost it after So Sa died. Jang Hyuk’s performance in those scenes were stellar. He was a man on a mission…slay the man that killed his wife. If he only knew his “friend” Mae Wol was the instigator and his former “friend” So Gae was the middle man that hired the assassin.
* So Gae was surprised when Bo Hyun and the Head Merchant teamed up against him. I enjoyed his surprise at their partnership. I loved it when the Head Merchant told So Gae it was a mistake that he didn’t strike a fatal blow and now So Gae would pay.
* So Sa died. So Sa, what can I say? You were too nice. You couldn’t believe the evil in others even when they repeatedly hurt you. You couldn’t burden your husband with the truth about his friend and it cost you your life. You gave Bong Sam love and a child. You had one brief shining moment of moxy in episode 29 that I’ll remember. RIP.
* Mae Wol killed So Sa. She had the opportunity to stop the assassination, but didn’t. She squashed the opportunity So Sa had to reveal her. Mae Wol spouted the ridiculous notion that Bong Sam would turn to her when So Sa died. Ain’t gonna happen.