So Gae’s judgement day has come. Sun Dol’s past affects his future.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 37 Recap
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) is brought to merchant court and he’s not happy to be there. Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) holds up So Gae’s merchant tag. He declares he wants to convict So Gae. Bong Sam tells So Gae he must abide by the rules of merchants. Crime – So Gae stole the rice tax rice. Crime – So Gae hid opium in his father’s backpack. Crime – So Gae tried to steal from the stables. Crime – Sung Joo’s murder. Crime – So Sa’s murder. Bong Sam declares the punishment is death. Wol stares at Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) knowing she’s guilty of So Sa’s murder too. Bong Sam orders the poisonous lye prepared for So Gae to drink. The bowl of lye is placed in front of So Gae. Wol calls out that So Gae cannot die yet, they do not know how So Sa was really killed. Sun Dol requests the opportunity to question So Gae. Bong Sam grants this. Sun Dol asks the perfect question – did So Gae act alone in So Sa’s death? So Gae stares at Mae Wol. She looks away. Bong Sam demands the truth. So Gae looks to Mae Wol with tears in his eyes. So Gae declares he will tell the truth. Mae Wol can’t look at him. So Gae admits he killed So Sa and he acted alone!
Wow! This follows So Gae’s shielding of Wol in the past couple of episodes. I am to believe that he cares for Mae Wol more than his own life? I am to believe that So Sa is protecting Mae Wol because he loves her? I have a hard time believing it even though his actions of late have indicated this. I’m rejecting this twist the writer is offering. I’ve watched So Gae be self-centered for this entire series. NOW he does something for someone else and is willing to die shielding Mae Wol’s evil actions? I see but it doesn’t feel authentic to the character of So Gae.
Bong Sam demands to know why So Gae killed So Sa. So Gae practically sneers that he did it to destroy Bong Sam. If So Sa died, Bong Sam’s world would crash down around him. Merchants declare they should beat So Gae. He stares at Mae Wol. He remembers Bong Sam’s father decreeing his father’s punishment. So Gae tells Bong Sam that his father killed his father. Now Bong Sam will kill him. Bong Sam counters that So Gae’s father’s crime would have helped others. So Gae’s father was loved. But So Gae, his crime was selfish. What is his legacy? So Gae states he’ll drink the poisonous lye. His shaking hands grasp the bowl. He lifts it to his lips and drinks. Mae Wol clutches her heart. Bong Sam stares at So Gae whose face drips with the poison. So Gae tells Bong Sam that he didn’t win. He was the Head Merchant not Bong Sam. He has no regrets. He rolls to his side.
Mae Wol rushes to him and cradles him. He says he did it for her so she could live with Bong Sam – then every day will be hell for her. So Gae calls to his father and says he’s coming. So Gae dies.
Wow! They really killed So Gae. These historical dramas love the maximize the body count. So Gae’s final words to Mae Wol – he hoped she’d suffer if she got what she wanted. Is that love? I did appreciate the full circle moment. Bong Sam sentenced So Gae to death just as his father did the same to So Gae’s father. So Gae died by drinking lye just like his father. So Gae’s venomous feelings to Bong Sam were raw and real at the end.
Everyone stares at the dead So Gae cradled in Mae Wol’s arms.
At So Gae’s grave Mae Wol remembers So Gae uttering that marrying Bong Sam would be a living hell.
Wol berates Sun Dol for not revealing the truth about So Sa’s murder. She declares she’ll tell Bong Sam personally.
Outside Mae Wol’s home she hears Sun Dol getting past her assistant. The Nephew hides behind the screen. Love that the Nephew is the one hiding behind the screen when Sun Dol was the one that hid behind the screen last episode. Mae Wol tells Sun Dol she is grieving for So Gae. Sun Dol declares he’ll tell Bong Sam that she initiated So Gae’s killing of So Sa. Mae Wol gets angry then belligerant – tell Bong Sam. Sun Dol offers Mae Wol to opportunity to tell Bong Sam herself. When the Nephew returns he asks if Bong Sam was her man or merely the man she lusted after. He declares he doesn’t care. He advises she break up Sun Dol and Bong Sam. He tells her men’s friendship can be easily broken by women, money, fame, etc. The Nephew states Sun Dol is noble man. Mae Wol doesn’t believe it. The Nephew is positive. I’m loving this twist! I like Sun Dol and like learning about his past. Of course if it leads to his death (and what doesn’t on this show), I’ll be bummed.
The Queen is “dead” so the merchants have to suspend business for a short period of time. Sun Dol says business must honor the government wishes. Not all the merchants are happy about their trade respite.
Mae Wol bluffs the Nephew through the gate. He urges the Queen to go along with the fake funeral. She’s not happy. Mae Wol tells the Queen she will rise again. The Nephew wants to secure soldiers to help the Queen rise again. The Nephew wants to go to the Quin Dynasty. Hmm, is this an opportunity Mae Wol will offer Sun Dol?
Bong Sam and Sun Dol visit Mae Wol. They are surprised to see the Nephew. He shares the Queen is alive. The Nephew asks for help.
A big wig arrives at the stables and wants to see Bong Sam.
The Nephew asks for protection for the Queen and someone to get a message to the Quin dynasty. Bong Sam politely declines a quick answer. The Nephew asks Sun Dol to stay and play a game of Go. Bong Sam departs. The Nephew tells Sun Dol that he seems to be willing to help the Queen. Sun Dol counters he’ll follow Bong Sam’s decision. The Nephew remembers someone from his past, Sun Dol’s hands shake, the Nephew guesses those were his parents. Mae Wol shows Sun Dol a picture of him as a nobleman. The Nephew laughs. He’s got Sun Dol’s secret identity nailed. He tells Sun Dol he must help him because he’s noble. Sun Dol leaves without committing to anything.
Bong Sam asks Sun Dol what the Nephew said. Sun Dol lies that they just played Go. Bong Sam jokes he was worried the Nephew stole his good friend Sun Dol. Shaken, Sun Dol asks what Bong Sam would do if the Nephew stole him. Bong Sam assures him he’d steal him back. Relieved, Sun Dol hugs Bong Sam. Gol Dae rushes up and tells them people will get the wrong idea if they hug like that. Ha! Bon Sam laughs, Sun Dol laughs. Gol Dae tells Bong Sam an important visitor has come.
The visitor is the noble man (who looks a bit like So Gae). Bong Sam and Sun Dol introduce themselves. The noble orders everyone to leave but Bong Sam and Sun Dol. The noble tells them his family used to have a relationship with the Head Merchant. He gives Bong Sam a picture. Can’t be positive but does it looks like Queen? The noble states they have to find this woman.
After the noble leaves Sun Dol tells Team Bong Sam the noble is looking for the Queen and will murder her if they find her. Sun Dol is upset. Others worry if they help the Queen, the surviving prince will be angry at them. Bong Sam worries the political situation will hurt them no matter what side they choose. Bong Sam doesn’t understand why Sun Dol is willing to support the Queen. He tells everyone to keep silent about this meeting. Everyone leaves. Bong Sam tells Sun Dol his outburst to side with the Queen surprised him. Sun Dol demands to know what Bong Sam intends to do. Bong Sam declares cannot support either side, this is the only way to save the merchants. Sun Dol disagrees. Bong Sam is firm. He declares as the leader Sun Dol must follow his direction. Sun Dol gets angry and leaves. Yes, there is fissure between our friends.
Sun Dol he wakes from a nightmare about his former family. He remembers his Uncle urging him to flee so he could survive. Sun Dol heads to Mae Wol’s house.
Mae Wol asks Bo Hyun for a ship. He asks if the Queen is alive. Mae Wol doesn’t answer that and distracts Bo Hyun with being on the “kill” list. The assistants urge Bo Hyun to flee until things settle down. Bo Hyun offers Mae Wol a ship if he can be on it too.
Bong Sam is surprised that Sun Dol left the stables. Bong Sam says Sun Dol is acting strange.
Sun Dol meets with the Nephew and Mae Wol. He’s brought soldiers disguised as Merchants. Mae Wol tells him he has chosen wisely. Sun Dol tells her this is a separate matter from So Sa’s murderer. Sun Dol meets Bo HYun and the assistants. Bo Hyun’s claims his woman is in the pallet. At the gate, Sun Sol flashes his merchant ID and lies that the pallet has Bo Hyun’s mistress. They demand to see in the pallet. The pallet crashes open and is full of money, jewels, etc. The soldiers recognize Bo Hyun. Sun Dol and his men run leaving Bo Hyun in the solider hands. The assistants watch Bo Hyun getting beaten by the soldiers. They realize their own survival has to come first. Clutching the money, the soldiers shove it in Bo Hyuns’ mouth and leave him beaten and unconscious. Is he dead? If Bo Hyun is dead, I did enjoy this childlike selfish vain evil-ish character. He made me laugh and brought a lightness to Team Evil.
Team Bong Sam is not happy with Sun Dol’s actions who declares trying to kill the Queen is treason. That doesn’t go over. Who’s more important the Queen or us? Bong Sam tells Sun Dol to come with him.
Bong Sam asks why Sun Dol made that choice. Sun Dol says it was the right thing to do. Bong Sam asks for his leader badge. He cannot allow Sun Dol to endanger Team Bong Sam. Sun Dol hands of the leader badge. Bong Sam calls in Team Bong Sam. He orders Sun Dol locked up. Bong Sam declares that Sun Dol’s crime cannot be swept under the rug. Gol Dae begs Bong Sam to forgive and forget. Sun Dol declares he should be taken away per Bong Sam’s edict. He leaves for lock down. Bong Sam stares at Sun Dol’s leader badge, upset the situation forced him to strip his dear friend.
Tied to a pole, Sun Dol waits for a decision. Gol Dae urges Bong Sam to be lenient. Someone brings the picture from Sun Dol’s room. Bong Sam is shocked to see Sun Dol depicted as a noble and the death list with Sun Dol’s name circled. Bong Sam brings the picture to Sun Dol. He asks if Sun Dol rejected Team Bong Sam because he is a noble. Sun Dol is stunned. Bong Sam stares into his friends eyes.
Sun Dol was put in a bad spot and elected to go against Bong Sam’s wishes. Bong Sam couldn’t let Sun Dol get away with ignoring his orders. Sun Dol was insubordinate. Bong Sam stands by the might of the Merchant’s rules. He had Sun Dol tied up like a criminal. When faced with the pictorial evidence that Sun Dol was a nobel, Bong Sam believed Sun Dol prioritized the royals over the merchants. You gotta know at this point, if the merchants are not the priority for any Team Bong Sam member, this is not acceptable. I like Sun Dol. He’s been the logical thinker when Bong Sam became a hot head or emotional. But this was the beginning of the end to Sun Dol. The Nephew advised Mae Wol to split up Bong Sam and Sun Sol then provided the mechanism when he demanded Sun Dol help him or face exposure.
* Bong Sam watched So Gae die and seems ready to punish Sun Dol for his insubordination. Bong Sam shed tears but knew So Gae had to die. Once Bong Sam makes up his mind, if you aren’t with him, you are against him. Bong Sam determined that So Gae’s list of crimes demanded punishment with death as the appropriate sentence. Now Sun Dol is in Bong Sam’s field of view as the next person that did something that hurt or would hurt the merchants.
* So Gae paid the ultimate price. I was wrong thinking the writer would not kill him. Historical dramas have high body counts. Will Bong Sam even survive this series? But back to So Gae. This guy was a narcissist unable to see anything or anyone as important unless it supported his goal to become the Head Merchant. I was taken aback at So Gae NOT telling that Mae Wol was part of So Sa’s murder. I disagree with the writer’s choice to have So Gae not betray Mae Wol, not tell everyone that Mae Wol instigated So Sa’s death. I know that So Gae supposedly loved Mae Wol, but I take issue with this plot point. It was not true to So Gae. He’s selfish, this character would not sacrifice himself for Mae Wol. So Gae was a villian but was more a pawn to more powerful characters willing do to their evil bidding without blinking an eye. In that regard So Gae was not as impactful as I would have hoped. He was not stand alone evil, but an evil arm for others. When he finally achieved Head Merchant status, it was so brief, we never got to see this character wield power.
* Mae Wol had the Head Merchant keep silent about her crimes and now So Gae joins the club. By the way, if you are a member of the “keep Mae Wol’s secrets” club, you die. I disagree with the writer’s choice to have two strong character elect NOT to tell the truth about Mae Wol. What did it gain them to keep silent? Why did they lie by omission or directly? Too bad Sun Dol’s problems stopped Mae Wol from being exposed.