My Country: The New Age Episode 16 Recap
1400…the second strife of the princes…
Nam Sun Ho (Woo Do Hwan) can’t stand it. He tells Bang Won to kill him. Lee Bang Won (Jang Hyuk) aka Prince Jeongan tells Sun Ho to rest and lifts his sword. As Bang Won readies to strike the death blow, Seo Hwi enters. Sun Ho curses not happy to see Seo Hwi. He collapses on the ground.
Bang Won reminds Seo Hwi that he’s warned of the consequences of this action. Seo Hwi (Yang Se Jong) raises his bow at Bang Won and tells him to kill him just like he killed his father. He promises to forget the bad (framing his father) and the good (saving Seo Hwi’s life) if Sun Ho can leave with him alive. Seo Hwi states Sun Ho is his dearest friend. But if Bang Won refuses, Seo Hwi says he’ll kill him. Seo Hwi says their alliance ends here.
Bang Won considers and pulls his sword from Sun Ho’s throat. He tells Seo Hwi to leave and consider this compensation for his service. Bang Won tells him to run far away. Seo Hwi lowers his bow. He pulls Sun Ho up. Sun Ho asks why Seo Hwi ruins every death opportunity. Seo Hwi vows that Sun Ho won’t die while he’s around. Seo Hwi says they’ll both live. Sun Ho touches his right-hand man and cries. Seo Hwi helps Sun Ho hobble away with him. Bang Won lets them go.
Jung Beom quits telling Bang Won he can’t work for the man that killed Seo Hwi’s father. Jung Beom tells Bang Won’s men he’ll handle Sun Ho’s right-hand man’s body.
Seo Hwi tells Sun Ho they have to stick together as evidenced by how messed things got when they separated.
Seo Hwi brings Sun Ho to Hee Jae (head of Ihwaru’s Kisaeng house). Han Hee Jae (Kim Seol Hyun) orders the injured Sun Ho taken to a sick room. Mun Bok tends Sun Ho and declares that he’ll live. Seo Hwi is relieved. Seo Hwi recalls Seo Yeon imploring him to take care of Sun Ho no matter what.
In the end, Seo Yeon was the real glue between these two men.
Seo Hwi reports to Hee Jae is doing well. He promises to leave as soon as possible. Hee Jae reports the former King recently visited cities he used to rule in hopes of a coupe. Hee Jae believes Bang Won will eventually kill Seo Hwi and Sun Ho. She urges them to leave. Seo Hwi takes her hand and says he won’t go anywhere without her. He grimaces in pain. She worries. He suggests a walk.
Seo Hwi and Hee Jae watch other happy couples as they walk through the town. Hee Jae knows they can’t make long term plans. Seo Hwi spots bracelets as they pass. They duck under cover when it starts to rain. Hee Jae recounts the other times its rained with them. Seo Hwi remembers their past moments. They look into each other’s eyes. Seo Hwi kisses Hee Jae. He says she never left his dreams even when things were difficult. They hug. Seo Hwi says she’ll be in his dreams until he dies. They cry.
Bang Won stares at his sword. He tells Tae Ryeon he remembers when they met, when Tae Ryeon tried to kill him. Bang Won wanted him to join him. He admits he felt the same about Seo Hwi. But was Seo Hwi ever his? Tae Ryeon thinks Bang Won is wavering in his resolve. Tae Ryeon points out that Bang Won will be mocked for letting two men that tried to kill him live. Bang Won recalls his father telling Seo Hwi his father taught Bang Won swordsmanship. Bang Won chuckles. He declares after the crown prince installation ceremony; the bloodbath will begin.
Bang Won has been supremely patient, but Daddy can’t be allowed to ruin another chance.
Sun Ho wakes to find Jung Beom watching over him. When asked, Jung Beom assures him his right-hand man’s body was sent to the afterlife with respect. Sun Ho clutches his former aide’s sword and cries.
The current King tells the former King that he plans to adopt Bang Won so he can be made crown prince. Their father looks at them and knows that finally Bang Won will make his move. He yells at the King that with his seal of approval, a bloodbath will follow. He slams the seal on the order approving the adopting. Bang Won counters he will strengthen the kingdom for future generations. His father hopes Bang Won can stay alive until the installation ceremony.
That’s the most emotion daddy dearest has ever shown. Having Bang Won on the cusp of the throne is too much for him.
Outside his father’s chambers, Bang Won murmurs “3 days until the installation ceremony”. Steely determination is all over his face.
Seo Hwi finds Sun Ho’s room empty.
Sun Ho visits the burial site of his right-hand man. He takes the man’s sword and places atop the rocks over the grave. He touches the stones and thanks him for his service.
Seo Hwi finds the sword on top of the grave but no Sun Ho.
Seo Hwi goes to Bang Won and proposes that he and Sun Ho persuade the northern troops that the King used to command not to rebel against Bang Won. Seo Hwi believes that would earn him and Sun Ho the right to live. Bang Won asks why Seo Hwi didn’t ask why he killed Seo Hwi’s father. Seo Hwi snaps that he’s put that in the past. Bang Won admits that he orchestrated Seo Hwi’s father’s false accusation and evidence. Bang Won says Seo Hwi’s father was a more powerful adversary than his own father. Bang Won looks into Seo Hwi’s eyes and states “that’s why I killed him”. Seo Hwi yells for him to stop. He declares he hasn’t killed Bang Won because he must protect those he loves. Bang Won yells at Seo Hwi to hate him, so he can kill him. Seo Hwi takes a breath and promises to bring the proof. Bang Won warns him to bring it before the installation ceremony, the offers ends after the ceremony. Seo Hwi tells him to keep his word. Bang Won muses that Seo Hwi will never be his. Seo Hwi counters that Bang Won won’t have anyone’s loyalty. He leaves. Bang Won murmurs he has no choice but to destroy everything.
Look, the way this episode has gone, Bang Won’s confession that he was the puppet master doesn’t surprise me. The wind has gone out of Bang Won’s sails. He’s now resigned to doing whatever he must to secure the throne.
The former King tells his aide to stage it so it looks like Bang Won was responsible, and kill Seo Hwi. He states then Bang Won will die too.
Remember daddy dearest’s chant is “I can’t kill my son.” Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Jung Beom and Mun Bok aren’t thrilled when Seo Hwi states that he’s only taking Officer Park with him to convince the northern troops that the King used to command not to rebel against Bang Won. But they have no choice, so they wish him well. They smile in friendship.
Officer Park and Seo Hwi walk to the northern cities. The assassins stalk them. They realize an ambush is imminent and strike first. They fight and just when things look dicey Sun Ho appears and joins the fight. With their foes dispatched, Sun Ho informs them the former king sent the assassins. Officer Park notes this is only the first wave. They agree to make haste.
The music! Never fails to lift my spirits!
Sun Ho tells Officer Park that Seo Hwi has wonderful people that love him. Officer Park tells Sun Ho that he earns the top spot in Seo Hwi’s heart. Officer Park shares that Seo Hwi’s father asked him to take care of his children but his forced consignment into the army took him away. Officer Park thanks Sun Ho for taking care of Seo Hwi and Seo Yeon. Seo Hwi returns to the campfire and quips they might fall in love with each other with all the flattery. As they break into the chestnuts, Sun Ho admits that he doesn’t trust Bang Won’s word. He points out that becoming King is Bang Won’s only goal and he’ll do what it takes to reach it. Tossing them aside after getting what he wants is typical behavior of the powerful. Seo Hwi counters that he wants to believe in Bang Won’s vision of a country for the abandoned. Sun Ho calls him gullible. Seo Hwi reminds Sun Ho that he still helps, even when he doesn’t believe in Seo Hwi’s path. The friends smile.
Fan in hand, Bang Won decides the death toll. He burns the fan and tells Tae Ryeon to kill them all.
And Bang Won falls into the same pit his father and Nam Jeon occupied. Disappointing.
Tae Ryeon enters Cheonga’s cell. Cheonga is impressed that Tae Ryeon came to kill him personally. Tae Ryeon gives Cheonga his double sickles.
Officer Park, Seo Hwi and Sun Ho arrive at a village that is really Officer Park’s stronghold. Officer Park is embraced. He introduces Seo Hwi as Seo Geom’s son. Everyone rushes to meet him. They thank him for coming. Seo Hwi doesn’t understand the reaction. Officer Park says his father gathered those injured and displaced from the war and established this village. Officer Park declares this is Seo Geom country.
Nice to have a father with a positive legacy.
Cheonga and his men track our trio.
A cute little girl gives Sun Ho a flower. He smiles. She smiles. They hear footsteps. Cheonga and his men charge the village.
Seo Hwi tries to convince the leaders that the former King is poisoning them against Bang Won. He declares the former King will kill him to implicate Bang Won. A cry is heard about the attack on the village. They rush outside.
Everyone joins the fight. Seo Hwi and Cheonga face off. Seo Hwi calls him a rat that won’t die. Cheonga counters that he’ll kill him this time. When Seo Hwi gets Cheonga on his knees, Officer Park and the other leader order Seo Hwi and Sun Ho to take care of the children. While they want to continue to fight, they agree. They gather the children, women and elderly.
Hee Jae tells Hwa Wol, Mun Bok, Jung Beom that they must save Seo Hwi et al now that Bang Won has broken his word. Hwa Wol sends Mun Bok off telling him she’ll take care of their baby-to-be. Jung Beom promises to take care of Mun Bok. Hee Jae tells her security man to take care of Ihwaru’s Kisaeng house.
Seo Hwi and Sun Ho guide the children, women and elderly to safety.
Tae Ryeon reports that their troops won but sustained injury. Bang Won asks about Seo Hwi. Tae Ryeon informs him that Seo Hwi is alive.
Seo Hwi and Sun Ho and their charges face a small band of Bang Won’s men but Mun Bok, Jung Beom and other arrive to dispatch them. They are happy to see Seo Hwi. They are happy to see Sun Ho. As they enter the new village Hee Jae is there. She and Sun Ho smile at each other. Seo Hwi is surprised to see Hee Jae. She is firm, she had to come. Seo Hwi sighs.
There is warmth around the table. Hee Jae invites them all to her place for the next year’s dinner. Smiles all around.
After dinner, Sun Ho and Seo Hwi sit outside. Sun Ho admits this kind of life would be nice. He didn’t think he could reach for this, believing only bad choices were open to him. Seo Hwi verifies that Sun Ho’s belief would have been his too. He chides his friend those days are gone and now he can smile. They wish each other a good night.
Seo Hwi takes his bow and sword with him to Hee Jae’s room. He reveals he’s got the bracelets he admired in the marketplace. He finds Hee Jae sitting outside. He puts the bracelet on her wrist. He tells her it stands for their fate. He reveals he’s wearing a matching bracelet. Tears fill her eyes. Seo Hwi hugs Hee Jae and promises to return to her. She promises to wait. Seo Hwi cries. They smile with the longing and hope that maybe they’ll have their chance at happiness when this is done. Seo Hwi strides away. Hee Jae cries knowing it could all end.
As Seo Hwi prepares to mount his horse, Sun Ho says he can’t go alone to meet Bang Won. Seo Hwi is touched and tears spring to his eyes. They mount their horses and ride.
Bang Won prepares for the installation ceremony.
The King tells his father he must attend the ceremony. The former King accepts that Bang Won will be the crown prince but declares he won’t congratulate his son.
Bang Won strides into the throne room. He tosses his ceremonial hat on the throne he plans to make his.
Sun Ho and Seo Hwi eye the palace. Seo Hwi muses he only wanted food in his belly at the beginning of this journey. He admits he is nervous. Sun Ho says he’s a little nervous. When the palace gates open, they charge the palace guards. Officer Park, Jung Beom, and Mun Bok join them and fight off the guards. As Seo Hwi and Sun Ho rush into the palace the doors close behind them. Officer Park yells they must return to them alive. The trio cries hoping against hope.
Tae Ryeon informs Bang Won there is an intruder. Bang Won knows it is Seo Hwi. He nods to Tae Ryeon.
Now Seo Hwi and Sun Ho face even more palace guards. The blood flies and the guards fall. Tae Ryeon arrives. The odds aren’t good. Their backs to the palace, Sun Ho tells Seo Hwi to go see Bang Won. Seo Hwi stares at his friend. Sun Ho yells go. The two friends stare into each other’s eyes knowing this could be the last they see of each other in this lifetime.
Seo Hwi rushes to the palace to see Bang Won.
Sun Ho declares no one will take a step past him. Sun Ho is speared multiple times. He falls to his knees blood spurting from his lips. Tae Ryeon delivers the death blow. But Sun Ho isn’t done yet. He refuses to let Tae Ryeon withdraw his sword. He plunges his sword into Tae Ryeon. When Sun Ho withdrawals his sword, Tae Ryeon staggers backwards and falls down. Sun Ho stares at Seo Yeon’s embroidery as tears roll down his face.
Seo Hwi strides into the throne room. Bang Won stands next to the throne. The palace guards enter behind Seo Hwi ready to defend Bang Won. Seo Hwi steps onto the platform. Bang Won says he’d hoped Seo Hwi wouldn’t come. But he also wanted Seo Hwi to see the ceremony too. Seo Hwi asks why Bang Won broke his promise. Seo Hwi asks why Bang Won didn’t trust him. He’d hoped that Bang Won wouldn’t abandon him per his promise of his vision. Bang Won replies that nation of the abandoned can only be accomplished when sits on the throne. Any sacrifice to get that is his burden to bear. Seo Hwi draws his sword and places it at Bang Won’s throat. Seo Hwi states the sacrifice should be Bang Won’s. Seo Hwi tells him to reverse his order or he’ll die. Bang Won says you mean it this time. Seo Hwi confirms that his friends, family, and others must live. Bang Won counters that Seo Hwi must die. Seo Hwi agrees to die IF those he loves live. Bang Won states that choice guarantees those he loves will live. Bang Won declares his order is revoked. Seo Hwi drops his sword and walks through the palace guards, who part and let him walk out.
Seo Hwi finds Sun Ho still kneeling and waiting for him. Seo Hwi tells Sun Ho it is over. Sun Ho falls back into Seo Hwi’s arms. Sun Ho says he owed Seo Hwi his life, now his debt it paid. Tears fill Seo Hwi’s eyes as he tells Sun Ho that he’ll have to pay for years to come. Sun Ho admits he focused on the wrong thing with his life. He left Seo Hwi and Seo Yeon behind him. He tells Seo Hwi “my country was just one step behind me. If only I’d know that earlier.” Sun Ho says he’s tired and ready to sleep like a baby. Seo Hwi tells his friend to rest. He promises to join Sun Ho soon. Sun Ho says he can now face Seo Yeon. He looks into the sky and says “I missed you so much.” With that, Sun Ho dies. Seo Hwi cries. He looks at his bracelet and knows he won’t see Hee Jae again. He tells her “you are going to cry again. I should have made you happier”. He sighs.
Bang Won sits on the throne. He chuckles, then laughs, then cries. Bang Won says “you did well”. Then steely determination floods his face.
Hee Jae rushes to the palace gates. They open and guard pour into the courtyard. She sees Seo Hwi holding Sun Ho’s body. Seo Hwi and Hee Jae lock eyes. He smiles. Tears stream down her face. The palace archers aim their arrows at Seo Hwi. The palace gates close. Seo Hwi and Hee Jae take their final gazes at each other’s face. The arrows fly impaling Seo Hwi.
Flashback to happy memories for our leads…
Inside the palace, Seo Hwi is dead still holding Sun Ho, his hand protecting his friend.
Mun Bok, the baby, Hwa Wol, Jung Beom, Officer Park, and Hee Jae enjoy a picnic by the river. Jung Beom claims he says he’s dating someone. They laugh. They look at Hee Jae knowing she’ll never have Seo Hwi.
She steps to the river and stares at her bracelet. Hee Jae looks to the sky and thinks “we all have a country we wish to protect. Even though we break and crumble, we can’t turn our backs on the nation…it is our lives.”
Hee Jae turns back to her friends and smiles. She walks to rejoin them.
Bang Won was cast as the ultimate villain. Writer Chae Seung Dae revealed that the Bang Won we’d watched for 88% of this series, wasn’t really the man we thought he was. Before our eyes, Bang Won morphed into the bloody King who were willing to do anything, kill anyone, to gain and keep the throne. Loyalty be dammed, honor wasn’t necessary, though respect was offered to those that died to aide him in his goal. In essence he transformed into his father. That isn’t a complement. Bang Won used, abused and ordered people killed BUT he accepted responsibility, something his father never did. He also felt remorse, something his father never did.
Writer Chae’s choices changed this series in the last two episodes. Frankly, I disagree with his choices. That aside, this series ended with our two male leads once again fast friends and willing to die to save each other and those they love. The series ended were it started. If you hoped that Sun Ho would reform you were satisfied. If you hoped that the gang would survive and live happily ever after, you were partly satisfied. If you wanted Bang Won to become King with his honor and integrity intact, you were disappointed.
My Country: The New Age was a terrific series with multiple chapters, each gripping. The production team was superb. The cinematography was top notch. The night scenes were clear and beautifully lit. The fight scenes were well done and not over long. The costumes and makeup were excellent.
Seo Hwi (Yang Se Jong) died to save his country. Seo Hwi believed in a country where those he loved could live in peace and happiness. He achieved that. Seo Hwi believed Sun Ho was his friend, no matter what. Sun Ho came through in the end and proved Seo Hwi correct. Seo Hwi believed in Bang Won as a leader his loyalty he could respect. Bang Won failed Seo Hwi and ordered his death, though he did keep his promise that Seo Hwi’s country would survive.
Nam Sun Ho (Woo Do Hwan) died to save his country. Sun Ho realized his life had been spent pursuing what wasn’t important. He turned away from his pursuit of power and gave all to secure Seo Hwi’s vision. When he looked to the sky and knew that Seo Yeon would be proud of him, that got me. While I never considered Sun Ho’s intentions to Seo Yeon to be romantic, his love for her was a powerful driving force. Sun Ho died a noble death. Sun Ho died in his dear friends’ arms. Sun Ho died as a man that warranted respect for changing his life and supporting his friend when the odds were stacked against them and eventually impossible to overcome.
Han Hee Jae (Kim Seol Hyun) lived in her and Seo Hwi’s country. Hee Jae had moments with Seo Hwi where their love was evident. The matching bracelets was a lovely touch. Hee Jae didn’t squander the country that she and Seo Hwi fought for, she lived and thrived.
Lee Bang Won (Jang Hyuk) admitted he ordered Seo Hwi’s father framed. Bang Won’s explanation was that Seo Geom was a more dangerous advisory than anyone else. Seo Geom was honorable and had the loyalty of an army of men. Bang Won believed he had to eliminate rather than cultivate Seo Hwi’s father. This not what I wanted. But it is what happened. In the end Bang Won declared his nation of the abandoned could only be achieved through the throne and there was no sacrifice too great to ensure that eventuality. I’ll be blunt, Writer Chae assassinated Bang Won’s character in the final two episodes. The Bang Won we saw for 14 episodes was replaced by a man whose quest for the ultimate power overruled his ethics and loyalty. Gosh, I was disappointed in that.
Was my wish list for the final episode granted or denied?
* Bang Won becomes King. GRANTED. We didn’t see his rule, but we know he kept his word to Seo Hwi that those he loved would be safe.
* Bang Won is revealed not to have ordered Seo Hwi’s father killed. DENIED. Bang Won confirmed he was the puppet master behind the events that killed Seo Hwi’s father. Bang Won went full circle and ordered Seo Hwi killed too. Bang Won didn’t keep the promise to Seo Geom (that his children would be legitimate if he committed suicide) but did keep the promise to Seo Hwi.
* Seo Hwi lives and finds happiness with Hee Jae. DENIED. Seo Hwi’s death gave Hee Jae and those he loved that ability to live a life without being punished by the palace. Seo Hwi and Hee Jae did have some happiness before the dramatic moment when the palace doors shut ending our couple’s future dreams with a dozen piercing arrows. Seo Hwi realized his support of Bang Won was the wrong choice. He aligned with the wrong man. Sorry, not sorry, the man Bang Won was the first 14 episodes wasn’t the wrong man to align with, but the morphed Bang Won in the final 2 episodes was the wrong man to align with.
* Sun Ho’s life status can go either way. GRANTED. Writer Chae revived and evolved Sun Ho to be a man that was willing to sacrifice all for his friend and Seo Yeon. Sun Ho saw the error of his ways.
* The gang finds happiness. GRANTED. Mun Bok and Hwa Wol had a daughter. Jung Beom and Officer Park survived and found happiness in Seo Hwi’s country.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as almost terrific. My rating chart is below: