The Head Merchant makes a big move – will it be his last?
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 32 Recap
Here we go, Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) arrives brandishing an ax looking for the Head Merchant, who he believes killed his wife, So Sa. The Head Merchant comes to the porch and is shocked to see Bong Sam, the ax, and the murder in Bong Sam’s eyes. Bong Sam demands – Did you kill my wife? He raises the ax but elects not to strike the Head Merchant. Upset, the Head Merchant flees only to have Bong Sam follow him. He demands to know if the Head Merchant had his wife killed. The Head Merchant confirms he killed So Sa. Bong Sam swings the ax into So Sa’s clothing (which the Head Merchant had packed for her). The Head Merchant said he was desparate for the baby, so he had So Sa killed. Bong Sam says the Head Merchant is wealthy but he’s not jealous of that. He notes a tiger (the Head Merchant) sheds his skin when he dies but a hero leaves his name. He calls him pathetic and pitiful (echoes of So Sa’s words to the Head Merchant). Bong Sam points and declares he’ll watch the Head Merchant from now on.
Drained, Bong Sam walks away in the rain. Cue montage #1 with So Sa (Han Chae Ah) and Bong Sam. Gosh, she was a pretty crier. Bong Sam reaches out but she’s not there. Our hero is suffering big time.
Bo Hyun feigns concern about the Head Merchant. He order him to leave. Bo Hyun takes offense, they need to kill So Gae, doesn’t he remember? Bo Hyun leaves. The Head Merchant orders So Gae to leave too. The Head Merchant coughs and is worn out from the day.
The next morning, the Head Merchant stares at the portrait of So Sa. His assistant wants to talk business but the Head Merchant cannot engage and tells him to handle it.
The Government official arrives and shows the Head Merchant the ledger So Gae gave him (of the Head Merchant’s secret assets). The Head Merchant asks what he wants. The Government official shows him a 20,000 promissory note.
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) tells his former assistant friends the Government official will skewer the Head Merchant for them.
The Government official asks for 40,000. The Head Merchant tells him he can meet this request.
Bong Sam sits in the woods remembering So Sa. Cue montage #2. Tears flow when he realizes she’s gone, he’s alone, and life will never be the same.
What’s a guy to do? Bong Sam drinks to forget. Team Bong Sam bring the baby and try to get him to snap out of his grief. He rejects his son and tells them to leave. The baby cries and Team Bong Sam are dejected to see their leader wallowing in grief and pain.
Bong Sam asks for water. Someone gives him water. He hallucinates So Sa. He asks if it is her. She asks why he drank too much. He tells her he doesn’t want to be separated. She tells him their memories will be with him forever, they don’t end because she’s in a different place. He admits that looking at the baby, he feels more alone. She tells him that she’s in his heart. She’s alive in his heart, his head, his world. She urges him to close his eyes and know that she’s with him…always. Practically the best scene the two actors ever delivered together…sweet, tender, forgiving, chiding, and loving. Bong Sam awakes to find that baby on his belly and Mae Wol in his room. He asks Mae Wol if she sent So Sa to him. She didn’t and tells him So Sa came because he missed her. Mae Wol says the baby is getting bigger every day. Bong Sam tells his son he’s sorry that he pushed him away.
Bong Sam visits So Sa’s grave marker with the baby. He tells So Sa that she was right. She’s in his heart. He can live without seeing her for awhile. He promises to raise their son well. He tells her not to worry about him, just wait for him. Another nice, quiet scene.
Wol tells Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) that she better not pretend to be the baby’s mother. She tells her that So Sa may be gone, but the truth about her death will be revealed. She’ll find the out exactly who killed So Sa and make them suffer. Mae Wol says the Head Merchant admitted to the murder. Wol stares into Mae Wol’s eyes and declares the Head Merchant would use another method to murder.
Mae Wol cannot get Wol’s accusation out of her mind.
Bo Hyun is thrilled to see the Head Merchant. So Gae is not happy to see what the Head Merchant has brought. The Government official is not happy either. It’s the original promissory note. The Head Merchant notes that a second port was opened by the Government and now he can’t make the same money, so he cannot pay the 40,000. The Government official is furious. The Head Merchant is given 1 week to pay the 40,000.
The Head Merchant tells his assistant he cannot be blackmailed by the Government official. The Head Merchant declares the Government official (who is also the Queen’s brother) will bleed him dry. Besides that, he’s in cahoots with So Gae. The Head Merchant declares he must see Bong Sam.
Team Bong Sam are upset about the news another port has been opened. They are concerned about the increase of foreigners at the port. They see “their” merchants trading with the foreigners.
The other merchants claim there is nothing to sell to Chun Merchant group. Bong Sam shows them the contract. The merchant rips it. They are outraged. The merchant is unfazed and will not stop trading with the foreigners. It’s all about whoever gives them the most money.
Bong Sam, Sun Dol and Gol Dae caucus. Bong Sam is upset he didn’t see this coming. He’s surprised to learn the Head Merchant’s assistant is there to see him.
The Head Merchant’s assistant declares Bong Sam must come. Bong Sam says he won’t come. The assistant swears that the Head Merchant did NOT kill So Sa. Loving it!
Bong Sam meets with the Head Merchant. He and Bong Sam discuss the new port and the influx of trade with the Japanese which robs the local merchants of good trade. The Head Merchant says he can let go of everything but his trading empire. The Head Merchant admits the trading empire has been a joy and a burden. He tells Bong Sam to become Head Merchant. HOLY SMOKES! Bong Sam thinks he’s nuts and laughs in his face.
So Gae can’t believe that the Head Merchant and Bong Sam are in deep discussions. The former assistant quickly ascertains that the Head Merchant is offering Bong Sam the trading empire. So Gae leaves quickly.
The Head Merchant tells Bong Sam to protect the trading empire. Bong Sam says it is too late, the empire is being flooded and drowned as they speak. The Head Merchant claims Bong Sam can find a solution. Bong Sam agrees to find a solution. He wants to save his markets and trading. He tells the Head Merchant his trading empire is done. He leaves.
So Gae asks Bong Sam what the Head Merchant talked to him about. Bong Sam warns him that the Head Merchant position may be more trouble than it is worth. So Gae is livid.
Mae Wol is happy when Bong Sam spends time with her. He’s thinking. Is it a solution? He says the Head Merchant did not kill So Sa. Mae Wol chides him that no one else would have. Bong Sam is sure the Head Merchant did not kill So Sa. He asks Mae Wol who killed his wife. She tells him to eat and forget about this matter.
Mae Wol clutches her heart as she hurries away. Yep, karma is a bitch.
Bong Sam tells his team more ports will open. The rich foreigner are more dangerous than their foes in the country. He decides to take Sun Dol and Gol Dae to the port and figure out a solution.
The Head Merchant prepares the 40,000 for the Government official. Gosh he’s looking older by the minute. His assistant begs him not to make this deal with the devil.
The Government official is not happy to see the note is only for 500. The Head Merchant says profit is low, so the note is low and it’s all his fault – he opened the ports so the profit went down. The Government official bashes the Head Merchant in the head. He yells at the Head Merchant for cheating him. The Head Merchant gets dizzy and says he needs a doctor. He struggles to his feet and leaves. The Government official changes his demand to 200,000. Ouch! That’s quite the escalation factor!
The Head Merchant pushes his assistant’s ministrations away. So Gae catches up to them and tells the Head Merchant to pay. The Head merchant tells So Gae defeating a big prey requires small bites not a single big bite. He leaves. I do like the Head Merchant’s moxy. He’s crazy like a fox.
The Head Merchant stares at So Sa’s portrait. I do feel sorry for him. It was unrequited love, the loss of a dream and an heir.
The Head Merchant visits So Sa’s grave and finds Mae Wol there. He asks why is she there. Mae Wol claims she and So Sa were close. He tells regret comes too late. He asks So Sa to forgive him for his actions. Mae Wol turns to leave. The Head Merchant asks to talk. I’m loving the potential for this conversation!
The Head Merchant notes that Mae Wol once said she had a fiancee. He asks if it was Bong Sam. Mae Wol claims she’s banished thoughts about her pre-shaman life. The Head Merchant tells her, she must have killed So Sa. Mae Wol laughs. She tells him everyone knows that he was embarrassed about his son not being his son. She tells him he should fade away gracefully. If he doesn’t he should be careful. He tells her “you can be shot by her own arrow…what goes around comes around…she should be careful”. He only tells her this because he likes her. They smiles the insincere smiles of enemies.
Mae Wol is upset. So Gae arrives. She berates him for not taking care of the Head Merchant. She has a plan. She says that the Head Merchant is cleaning up his illegal assets by divesting his assests.
So Gae and the Government official are upset about this news. Alert our cohort – Bo Hyun!
Bo Hyun doubts the Head Merchant could do this quickly. So Gae urges him to act. He gets his attention when he tells Bo Hyun that he could lose money.
The Head Merchant gives Wol a book and envelope to give to Bong Sam. He tells her it is a gift for the baby. He asks she give Bong Sam the letter. The Head Merchant coughs up blood. Not good, not good. I see another death soon. He urges Wol to leave but take a circuitous route. She offers a formal bow. She’s smart our Wol, she knows he’s not doing well. Bless her heart.
Wol leaves only to find the former assistants staring at her. They wonder why she visited.
The Head Merchant is brought before the Government official. He plays old and tired. He gives So Gae a promissory note for 5! LOVE IT! The Head Merchant feigns surprise and claims it was the wrong note. He acts confused. So Gae notes he’s heard that the Head Merchant has cleaned up his assets. The Head Merchant states he gave all his money away. Everyone looks upset.
The former assistant declares the money went to Wol. So Gae realizes the money was given to the baby. So Gae yells they must catch Wol! The Head Merchant grabs So Gae to stop him.
Mae Wol is suspected by Wol and the Head Merchant. Her discomfort is my pleasure. Can’t wait until she’s discovered and publicly humiliated and pays the price.
The Head Merchant avoided the trap of his enemies. I loved it every time he brought another promissory note to the official and decreased the amount! I loved it when he told Mae Wol that he knew she killed So Sa and what goes around comes around. I sincerely hope so. The Head Merchant is obviously dying and he knew it. He tried to rally Bong Sam but to no avail. He went to one of the smartest ladies on this show – Wol. Can Wol avoid capture so the Head Merchant’s assets will go to the baby? This was a stellar episode for the Head Merchant (Lee Deok Hwa).
* Bong Sam realized that the Head Merchant did not kill So Sa. He realized a snake would not be the method used by the Head Merchant. How interesting that the “snakes” of this series Mae Wol and So Gae, utilized that method to murder So Sa (though the assassin likely chose the method). Bong Sam didn’t give the Head Merchant’s offer to take over serious thought. His reasoning? The Head Merchant’s empire is a sinking ship, why waste energy there? It was more important to figure out a way to counter the foreign merchants. Though I’m not sure that is possible. A flood of foreign goods, merchants, once started, may not be able to be stopped.
* So Gae urged the Head Merchant to cave to blackmail by the Government official. I loved it when the Head merchant told So Gae defeating a big prey requires small bites not a single big bite. Then when So Gae realized (after the tongueless assistant figured it out the Wol factor) that the baby was the key to the Head Merchant’s sudden divestiture of funds, he sprang to his feet to pursue Wol. What chance does the Head Merchant physically have against him?
* So Sa montages – two of them. Pretty crier. I did like the dream scene when she told Bong Sam, she’s still with him, in his heart and head.
* Mae Wol is suspected of murdering So Sa. Love it. Want more of it. Want her caught. Want Bong Sam’s reaction to slay her.