Bong Sam faces death in this final episode. Is his life snuffed out or does he beat the odds?
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 41 (Final) Recap
Let’s do this…
Bong Sam tells the Merchant that are on the edge of revolt that they need to stop. He willing turned himself in. He encourages them to continue and help each other during this difficult time. He claims he’s not sad, scared, or upset at being screwed by those he once trusted. He asks they put down their weapons. Man Chi leads the way and everyone follows suit. Bong Sam declares the merchants association is closed. Gom Bae won’t agree with that. Man Chi says they will send him off to the prison (aka walk your leader to his death). At the prison Bong Sam bids them farewell and asks them to leave. Man Chi has tears! Bong Sam disappears with Sun Dol and the Nephew.
Bong Sam tells the Nephew he must be the only merchant arrested, the merchants must be given free choice, and Gol Dae must be freed. Bong Sam tells Sun Dol that Gol Dae needs urgent care. Sun Dol agrees to help.
The doctor tends Gol Dae. He tells Sun Dol he’s too late. Gol Dae asks what the doctor said. Sun Dol lies and says he’s fine. Gol Dae says he wants to be buried next to Bong Sam. He knows with the bullet still in his body that he’s doomed to die from complications. Gol Dae, my dear loving lug, once again you are smarter than you look. He asks Sun Dol to lie to Bong Sam.
Bong Sam is convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Sun Dol is outraged. The Nephew tells Sun Dol he knew this would be the outcome. Stoically Bong Sam walks away to his fate.
Gol Dae asks Bong Sam the outcome. He can’t believe Bong Sam is in trouble for something he didn’t do. Gol Dae cries. Drat him! That gets me! Heavy sigh from Bong Sam.
A distraught Mae Wol is told the same thing as Sun Dol, she knew this would happen. Man Chi is angry at Sun Dol for his betrayal. Gom Bae wants to kill him. Sun Dol claims he feels awful about this turn of events. Cry me a river Sun Dol, cry me a river. Where are those bandits when you need them?
Mae Wol pleads with the Queen to save Bong Sam. The Queen won’t reverse the judgement and leaves.
Sun Dol gets drunk. Mae Wol accuses him of starting this mess. Sun Dol agrees it’s his fault and he is hurting. Mae Wol doesn’t care about his pain. She wants to save Bong Sam. She suggest they trade their lives for Bong Sam.
Sun Dol visits Gol Dae and Bong Sam. He tells Gol Dae the doctor is waiting. Bong Sam sends him out. Gol Dae does not want to leave Bong Sam.
Gol Dae meets with Sun Dol and Mae Wol. She suggests that if someone offers their life for Bong Sam, he could be saved. She suggests a switch, so everyone thinks Bong Sam is the one being hung. As expected Gol Dae offers his life for Bong. Drat him! His passion is overflowing and it gets me!
In prison Bong Sam waits for his death. He is sad he’ll never see his son grow up, get married, etc. Gol Dae tells Bong Sam to cry for the loss. Bong Sam realizes his father must have felt the same as he does before his death. Drat him! He gets me!
Wol brings the baby to see Bong Sam. He tells his son to grow up to be healthy. Wol brings Bong Sam’s outfit. Gol Dae has tears watching his friend.
Wol has tears walking away from Bong Sam.
The officials tell Gol Dae he’s been released. He says good bye to his friend. He tells Bong Sam he’s life turned fun once they met. They laugh, they cry, and they celebrate their friendship. Bong Sam tells Gol Dae thank you. Drat them! Will the tears end?
Gol Dae has his last meal with Sun Dol. He wonders why Gol Dae doesn’t hate him. Gol Dae remembers the good times. Sun Dol apologizes.
In prison Mae offers Bong Sam drink. He tells her that he owes her but hates her too. He’s about to see So Sa so he tells her he’ll let go of the hate with the drink she offered. Mae Wol wonders if she ever had a chance at his heart. Bong Sam says he’ll always remember all he owes her. He tells her to be a good person. He says it would never have worked between them. He tells So Sa he’s ready to come to her. He falls over, drugged by the drink. Mae Wol apologizes for what she’s doing. She cries and ask for his forgivness.
It’s execution day. The prisoner, Gol Dae, is ready to be hung. The police ask his name. Gol Dae says he’s Bong Sam. The police take him to the noose. Gol Dae stares at Sun Dol. Drat him! Our big lug makes the ultimate sacrifice.The noose is put around Gol Dae’s neck and he is hung, never uttering a word of protest of betraying his dearest friend Bong Sam. What a brave kind soul! Sun Dol cries and I don’t care. Though it was an agonized cry with the realization his decisions lead to murder.
Bong Sam is taken from prison as Gol Dae, who supposedly died from complications to the gun shot wound. Sun Dol and Mae Wol escort the body. The Nephew appears and Mae Wol sends the body on. The Nephew can’t believe they switched the men. Mae Wol says his choice is simple – kill her or save her. She leaves. Sun Dol follows. The Nephew looks torn over his choice.
Bong Sam wakes. He gathers his wits, surprised to be alive. He calls out. He heads outside. He calls out. Man Chi, Wol, and Gom Bae come. They tell him Mae Wol sent them. Bong Sam asks about Gol Dae. They don’t answer. Bong Sam realizes what happened. No, no, no! The tears come. Drat him! Man, I buy his grief. He calls for Gol Dae.
Bong Sam remembers the good times with Gol Dae. He yells to Gol Dae in heaven. He falls on his knees and cries.
15 year time jump….
Merchants talk to Sun Dol and his assistants. Holy smokes, everyone has western hair and the one assistant sports a tiny mustache. I feel like I’ve time jumped more than 15 years. Sun Dol says they need to find who owns the land they want to build the railroad on.
His assistants led him to the owner. Oh yes, it is Mae Wol. She and Sun Dol are shocked to see each other. Mae Wol is surprised that she still owns the land the Queen gave her. She’s living simply now. Sun Dol urges her to sell the land and continue her simple life. She tells him she owes him for saving Bong Sam so she’ll give it to him.
No, a voice declares. I know that voice and you know that voice. I’m thrilled to hear that voice. Bong Sam, Man Chi, Gom Bae approach. They all chuckle. Bong Sam says hello Mae Wol and asks how she is. Sun Dol asks if Bong Sam is the land buyer. He confirms it. Mae Wol urges the two men to come inside.
Sun Dol urges Bong Sam to realize that the railroad will help the county. Bong Sam agrees but says the timing is not right. He argues that their resources will sold and scattered. Sun Dol says he can’t stop progress. Bong Sam worries about the merchants and their way of life. Bong Sam wants more time to prepare the merchants for the new world. Sun Dol says they must change now. Bong Sam says Sun Dol is still so far from his philosophy. Sun Dol stalks away.
Sun Dol tells his assistants they’ll have to find another way to build the railroad without Mae Wol’s land. His assistants don’t think that is possible.
Bong Sam asks Mae Wol is she likes living quitely. She does. She coughs. Bong Sam offers drink. Mae Wol says she’ll die by spring. But her spirit will be reborn in the spring. Bong Sam asks that Mae Wol not give the land to Sun Dol as a favor to him. She asks to see his son so she can see how well he has grown. Bong Sam is pleased she’s at peace, just like when they first met. I like that he calls her Gae Dong, the woman that was his friend. He leaves. She smiles.
Mae Wol eats lunch with Bong Sam’s son and Wol. Mae Wol gives Wol her land for schools. Yu Su wants to bow but Mae Wol won’t let him. She coughs. Yu Su and Wol rejoin Bong Sam. He looks back briefly. Mae Wol watches the trio leave. She thanks him for letting her love him and says goodbye.
It’s ribbon cutting time. The Nephew wonders where Sun Dol is. He knows the country will change when the railroads are built. The merchants especially will get a rude shock.
Sun Dol is wondering about Mae Wol’s land. Was it given to Bong Sam? An ex team Bong Sam men raises a gun to Sun Dol and shoot him – twice! They run. They are chased.
Bong Sam is stunned that Sun Dol was shot. Is it good news or bad news that he’ll live? Wol arrives and asks Bong Sam to join her and the children. Bong Sam is teaching the children merchants the new word. He shares stories of his father, and the multi generational wood. Bong Sam urges them to have spirit and use their business to benefit citizens. They pledge to follow the merchants rules.
We end the show with Bong Sam taking the young merchants to an overlook. He breathes deep. He remember leaving on the expedition with his father. He smiles. He teaches them the cheer “Let’s Go!” He flips his fan with style and leads the next generation forward!
It’s been a journey folks! We did it. It didn’t end horribly. It didn’t end murky. There was hope at the end! For all of you that followed this show, thank you for sharing along the way. What I love about the community of viewers is our mutual passion for these shows. Your comments and insights enriched my viewing experience by pointing out things I’d missed and offering different perspectives. Thank you! Till we meet again when I blog a show you watch or the next Jang Hyuk drama comes around (’cause I always blog JH dramas).
What worked for me in the final episode:
1. Gol Dae sacrificing himself for Bong Sam. It was exactly who that character was. My term “the big lug” was affectionate and I felt it for this character. I said in my last recap that Bong Sam assumed that others saw friendship and loyalty like he did but he was disappointed time and again by his friends. Gol Dae, however, was a true friend, a loving friend, an honorable friend.
2. Bong Sam teaching the next generation and raising his son. How fitting that Bong Sam built the schools on the land Mae Wol gave him and taught the next generation of merchants about living in the changing world in front of them.
3. The ending scene of Bong Sam and the next generation of merchants on the overlook and charging forward together to meet the challenges ahead. “Let’s Go!” they yelled. I especially loved Jang Hyuk’s fan flick – he’s got flare!
* Bong Sam lived and helped others. Fitting end to this character.
* Mae Wol found a simple quiet life. I liked that she gave the land to Bong Sam though he didn’t ask her to do so. She finally came to grips with her obsession.
How did I do on my wish list for the final episode?
* Bong Sam doesn’t die – Granted. A triumph for a historical when the hero doesn’t die.