So Gae had a bad day. Will it end with a death sentence?
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 36 Recap
We start with Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) meeting with the Nephew who displays the artist’s picture of Bong Sam. The Nephew says that Bong Sam played it perfect. He took the rice. But he didn’t do it without someone realizing he was the culprit. Sun Dol begs for mercy. Bong Sam, on the other hand, says the tax rice belonged to the people. The Nephew doesn’t care about the rice. Then what Bong Sam asks? The Nephew cares about the 20,000 merchants. He wants Bong Sam to become the leader and bring the merchants under his thumb. Bong Sam, gotta love him laughs, says no, the merchants aren’t something the Nephew needs. The Nephew sticks it to Bong Sam, the lives of your friends and merchants depend on your choice. He offers Bong Sam to consider this important choice. Bong Sam looks pained.
Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) is on an intercept course and in a hurry.
Bong Sam asks why the Nephew wants the merchants. The Nephew asks how many merchants there are 200,000. How many soldiers? 190,000. Ah, there is power in numbers and people. Bong Sam does not want to involve the merchants in the Government power struggles. The Nephew offers him one more chance to change his mind. He hears Mae Wol is there but declines to see her. Boldly, Mae Wol rushes into the room without an invitation just as the Nephew loses his patience with Bong Sam. Mae Wol convinces the Nephew they must speak. The Nephew tells Bong Sam he dodged a bullet. He asks for Sun Dol’s name. Hmm, is the Nephew thinking the next in line might bend to his will?
Mae Wol tells Sun Dol that she’s more valuable to Bong Sam than he is. In other words, Sun Dol you’ve got a target on your back.
Bong Sam broods. Sun Dol cannot sleep. He notes that Bong Sam doesn’t talk about So Sa. Bong Sam doesn’t feel he has the right until he confronts So Sa’s murderer So Gae. Sun Dol asks if Bong Sam is sure the culprit is So Gae. Bong Sam cannot see that anyone else could be a possibility. Dude, put your brain in gear. Sun Dol sighs, I sigh, you probably sigh too. Bong Sam is still considering the Nephew’s “offer”. He really doesn’t want the 200,000 merchants to be used. Can’t blame Bong Sam’s hesitation in this matter.
Mae Wol wakes from a bad dream of involving the Queen, rats and a cat. She has a bad feeling about the dream. Love it when a shaman spooks herself.
Bong Sam decides the other merchants must know about the Nephew’s “offer”. The merchants are pragmatic. They are in dire straights, shouldn’t they take the offered life line? Sun Dol reports the soldiers are on the verge of revolt, their rice was mixed with dirt, they are mad and may revolt. Sun Dol and Bong Sam head back to the stables.
Some stable people pursued the soldiers to save those important to them. Bong Sam says they have to stop them. Gol Dae interjects that Bong Sam should run the other way. No way and so Team Bong Sam pursues them.
Mae Wol learns the soldiers stormed the palace. She sees the hit list the soldiers have. Good grief, the royals, Bo Hyun, So Gae are on the list. Mae Wol heads to the palace much to the consternation of her assistant who wants Mae Wol to run the other way.
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong), his assistants, Bo Hyun and the Government official are worried. Maybe they should run the other way. Bo Hyun is upset for them all. So Gae is upset too. He and the Government official run out of the room. The others exit the other way. So Gae and the Government official avoid detection by the soldiers. So Gae, the pragmatic dresses as a soldier to get away. The Government official won’t lower himself to put the uniform on. He begs So Gae to save him. Instead So Gae turns on the Government official and calls the soldiers over. They start beating the Government official who tries to identify So Gae put he passes out.
Team Bong Sam yell for their friends but cannot find them. Bong Sam guesses they’ve taken off for the palace. They find the dead Government official. Sun Dol finds the hit list. Bong Sam reads the list of names which include So Gae.
Meanwhile So Gae plays dead among soldiers to avoid detection.
The Nephew and the Queen are sweating bullets. The Nephew offers to get her out of the palace. The Nephew believes it is better to run. Mae Wol arrives. The Queen is impressed Mae Wol risked her life to come. Mae Wol offers clothes for them to change into. She tells them on of their own was killed. That stuns them into accepting the clothes and changing.
Meanwhile So Gae finds Bo Hyun hiding behind a flag. Bo Hyun tries to push So Gae away but when the soldiers come they both huddle together.
Mae Wol, the Queen and the Nephew wait to make their move. Mae Wol urges the Queen to trust her. The Queen and Mae Wol go together. The Nephew makes his way alone. A solider asks who they are. Shocked but not daunted Mae Wol and the Queen join other court ladies that have been corralled. They do not give away the Queen. A man claims he is there for his sister. He approaches the Queen and tells her to get on his back. The Queen does the piggy back. The man blusters his way past the soldiers taking the Queen with him. Mae Wol is relieved her plan worked.
When Mae Wol’s assistant leaves the soldiers want to see inside the pallet. They open the door and find Mae Wol. They ask Mae Wol if they will win. She tells the soldiers they’ll do great things. They let her pass. Gotta give Mae Wol credit for being cool under fire. We see the Nephew is in the pallet with her. They both laugh at their escape and hope the Queen is safe.
Bong Sam escaped team members are finally corralled. Bong Sam tells them they are merchants first and it is time to return to the stables.
The soldiers continue to beat and kill those they find. So Gae’s assistants find So Gae and Bo Hyun who begs the assistants to save him. They tell So Gae they need to separate. They grab So Gae and call for the soldiers. So Gae frees himself and runs away with the soldiers in pursuit. The assistants then head in the opposite direction with Bo Hyun.
When Gom Bae hears the soldiers pursuing So Gae he joins in. So Sa must be avenged.
The soldiers are hot on So Gae’s path. They fire their guns but he isn’t hit.
Bo Hyun returns home. The assistants ask for their reward. Bo Hyun tells him they will be they next Head Merchant. That puts smiles on their face.
So Gae runs into Mae Wol’s assistant. He demands to know Mae Wol’s whereabouts. Inside the temple Mae Wol prays and the Nephew frets. Mae Wol suggest food and warns the Nephew to stay in the temple or he’ll be killed. They hear the soliders outside the temple. Wait it is So Gae. Mae Wol goes to open the door but the Nephew stops her. Mae Wol wants to help So Gae. The Nephew is blunt – save So Gae or save me. So Gae pleads for her help. She tries to open the door. The Nephew stops her. Soliders take So Gae away. The Nephew is relieved. Mae Wol is upset.
The soldiers play kick the man with So Gae. They don’t care the So Gae is the Head Merchant. Team Bong Sam arrives. So Gae calls to Bong Sam to save him. The soldiers want to know who they are. The soldiers tells Bong Sam they are going to kill So Gae. He took their rice for profit and left them to starve. What can I say? They are right. So Gae deserves to die. Man Chi tells Team Bong Sam they should leave. So Gae despairs that he is a friend to the merchants. Sun Dol scoffs. You are our friend? So Gae fumbles and reveals his merchant ID. Bong Sam looks at the merchant ID. So Gae asks for the merchant court. He promises to abide by the court’s decision. Bong Sam asks the soldiers to leave So Gae to him. They don’t want to let So Gae go, they want to kill him. Bong Sam says that So Gae killed his father, his sister and his teacher (Sung Jung) and even his wife. The soldiers are stunned at the list of the dearly departed. Bong Sam promises the court will make sure that So Gae pays for his crimes. Convinced, the soldiers hand over So Gae. Team Bong Sam grabs So Gae and bring him with them.
The Nephew wonders why So Gae called her Gae Dong. Mae Wol says she has a past that he doesn’t need to know about but So Gae was like a brother when her real family rejected her. The Nephew has the good grace to feel bad. When Mae Wol’s assistant tells her that Bong Sam has So Gae under custody and will try him in the merchant’s court, Mae Wol is stunned. Mae Wol must be thinking…now I wish So Gae was dead! He will expose me to Bong Sam! Mae Wol explains to the Nephew that the merchant’s court has jurisdiction over any merchant with a merchant ID.
So Gae gets a meal. Bong Sam, Gol Dae and Sun Dol tells So Gae his trial will be soon. So Gae asks to see Mae Wol before he dies. Bong Sam directs Sun Dol to get Mae Wol. Gol Dae offers to go with Sun Dol. Bong Sam asks if So Gae will admit killing So Sa and why. So Gae is silent.
Mae Wol arrives at the stables. Stunned Gol Dae declares that Mae Wol must be psychic, they were going to get her. You have to chuckle at that! Mae Wol asks to see So Gae. Sun Dol states So Gae wants to see her too.
Mae Wol unties So Gae. He is furious she locked the doors of the temple on him. Mae Wol counters that if she’d let him in, they would have found him anyhow. So Gae counters that Mae Wol wanted him dead so her part in So Sa’s murder would never be revealed. Mae Wol calmly wonders if that is what she wanted. She urges him to eat. He begs her to save him. So Gae agreed to the merchant court to buy time. Mae Wol says there are 200 soldiers outside. How can she save him. So Gae tells her to figure it out. He’s just reached his goal of Head Merchant. The So Gae plays the card. He tells her he under duress of the merchant court he could reveal the truth about So Sa’s death. That gets Mae Wol’s attention. She asks if he is threatening her. He tells her to help him escape. They still have this one shared bond…they killed So Sa.
Mae Wol asks to see Bong Sam alone. Team Bong Sam leaves the room.
Sun Dol visits So Gae. He offers to share his food. Sun Dol tells So Gae he’s doomed. Sun Dol guesses that Mae Wol is his hope to survive. Sun Dol asks if Mae Wol asked him to kill So Sa. So Gae laughs. Sun Dol urges him to tell the truth. So Gae will not admit that Mae Wol told him to kill So Sa. So Gae says the merchant court is where he’ll reveal the truth and laughs.
Bong Sam guesses that Mae Wol is there to plead for So Sa’s life. Mae Wol admits So Gae killed many. Bong Sam states that So Sa and too many others were killed by So Gae. Mae Wol asks Bong Sam to make So Gae’s death quick and pain free. She knows he must die. She leaves.
Wol prepares to attend the merchant court. She can’t wait for So Gae to be questioned about So Sa’s death.
We’ve come full circle. Bong Sam stands as judge (as his father did). Man Chi et al seize So Gae to take him to court. So Gae blusters this must be a mistake. Man Chi says the time has come. So Gae begs for Mae Wol.
Wol arrives to watch the merchant court. Boldly she stands next to Mae Wol. She tells Mae Wol her crimes will soon be revealed. Mae Wol tells her to watch her mouth. Wol wonders if Mae Wol will be calm once So Gae reveals her part in So Sa’s death. The debt to So Sa will be paid today. Bong Sam watches the two women argue. Nope, I don’t think for an instance that Bong Sam will flex his brain and realize Mae Wol was in cahoots with So Gae. Why would his wife’s maid argue with Mae Wol? What do they have in common? Think Bong Sam, think!
So Gae had a bad day. So Gae was betrayed, kicked, beaten, betrayed, kicked and beaten. Rather, rinse, repeat. He ended in Bong Sam’s custody. Bong Sam’s list of grievances are serious – So Gae killed his father, his sister, Sung Jo and So Sa. We’ve seen the merchant court. It doesn’t go well for the accused.
* Bong Sam eluded the vice gripe the Nephew put him in. Bong Sam did not want to become the merchant’s leader but really be under the Nephew’s control. I was surprised the Nephew wanted the merchants under his control for the sheer numbers that riveled the solider population. And speaking of soldiers they were on a rampage to wipe out the current powers that be to make them pay for short changing the soldiers and their families by selling their rice right out from underneath them. Once again Bong Sam turned a blind eye to the possibility that Mae Wol a dear friend to So Gae could be involved in So Sa’s death. I look forward to finding out. I hope So Gae reveals the Mae Wol connection in merchant court. I wonder if she’ll cause a distraction at a crucial confession moment.
* So Gae may pay for his crimes. We’ve got 5 episodes to go, so no I don’t think So Gae will die next episode. So Gae pleading with Mae Wol to open the temple door only to have them remain closed and then soldiers to drag him away was satisfying. Why wouldn’t So Gae sacrifice Mae Wol to save his own skin?
* Mae Wol asked Bong Sam to make So Gae’s death quick. I’m sure that wasn’t the kind of pleading So Gae imagined Mae Wol would offer on his behalf. Sun Dol pinned her with a clear question – was she part of So Sa’s death? Mae Wol dodged answering, nothing new there. Wol was happy to be able to watch the moment when So Gae would reveal Mae Wol’s part in the So Sa’s death.