Mr. Sunshine: Episode 9
Eugene makes pivotal decisions that determine his alliances, and it’s a breath of fresh air to finally see a more decisive Eugene who’s ready to confront the consequences of his choices. Ae-shin’s assertive nature seems to be rubbing off on him, and it’s leading to some satisfying payoff. Dong-mae and Hee-sung still remain relatively idle, though they seem to be strategically inactive as they try to navigate the new knowledge of Ae-shin’s other identity.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
In the medicine shop, Ae-shin admits to Eugene that “love” is harder than she thought. He tells her that they can stop if it’s too difficult, but Ae-shin insists that they continue, since they can choose to stop any day. She asks what the next step is in “love,” and he shyly reckons that she won’t be able to do it. He says that the next step after introductions and a handshake is a hug, and Ae-shin runs to hug him, which surprises Eugene.
With her arms wrapped around Eugene, Ae-shin explains that she already learned the letter ‘H’ in her English class. When she steps out of the hug, she asks if she did it correctly, and Eugene jokingly scolds her for studying English too diligently.
Ae-shin asks Eugene to wait for her for a moment and suggests that they move locations, since they would inconvenience the medicine shop owner if they stayed too long. Then, she tells her loyal servants (her maid and sickle-wielding servant) to enter, and she formally introduces them to Eugene as her right- and left-hand sidekicks. Eugene looks at them suspiciously and asks if they’re on the same side as Ae-shin, and she quotes Seung-gu as she enigmatically says that it’s better for him not to know, just in case.
Ae-shin leaves Eugene with her trusted servants, who look like they’re about to mug him. Eugene asks sickle-wielding servant if he’s the right-hand, but he isn’t. The servant says that the maid is the right-hand, which is a part of their strategy, since everyone thinks the opposite (lol). The maid throws Eugene a bundle of medicine and says that he’ll need a reason to frequent the medicine shop to avoid looking suspicious.
Eugene mumbles that she’s setting him up with an alibi, and the maid chastises him for vocalizing their secret. She wonders if she’ll need to give him an actual reason to visit the medicine shop and prepares her fists.
Just in time, Ae-shin arrives in her disguise outfit to save Eugene from the wrath of her maid. Eugene looks relieved and informs Ae-shin that her servants have been threatening him the whole time she’s been gone. She doubts that the threats were real and says that they were just giving him a hard time, which he deserves. She ushers him to meet him outside, and the servants continue to glare at him.
Ae-shin and Eugene squeeze in a rickshaw together, and Eugene seems slightly nervous about their proximity. The rickshaw bumps over a rough patch, and Ae-shin sticks her arm out to protect Eugene from jerking forward. They laugh at her protective gesture, which breaks the awkward silence between the two.
Eugene asks where they’re going, and Ae-shin admits that she didn’t think that far. She just wanted to sit alongside him on this ride, since they’ve already walked beside each other last time. Eugene suggests that they go to Glory Hotel, saying that he can return her mask.
When the two arrive at Glory Hotel, Eugene awkwardly tells his “friend” to meet him upstairs in his room as they approach Hina at the front desk. Ae-shin covers her face and silently walks up the stairs. As Eugene checks in with Hina, he explains that his guest is an old friend from New York and that this friend will be heading home after they catch up. Noticing the medicine in his hand, Hina offers the hotel service of brewing and delivering it up to his room. Eugene accepts the offer and heads up, but Hina notices that he’s distracted.
Meanwhile, Hee-sung visits the tailor to track down Ae-shin’s tailored suits. Playing the part of doting fiancé, Hee-sung says that he would like to re-tailor the suit that Ae-shin had matched for him, since the one she requested was too small. The tailor shows him the cloth that the suit was made of, and Hee-sung takes note of this.
Ae-shin walks around Eugene’s hotel room, and Eugene says that he’s never let someone into his room — it’s always been rummaged through without his permission. Ae-shin presumes that he must have valuable things in his room, and Eugene flirts that he just let another valuable into his room.
Ae-shin asks about the music box, and Eugene explains that it plays a folk tune called “Greensleeves” (referred to as “What Child Is This?” in the first recap). He offers to play it for her, and Ae-shin’s excited expression transforms into a pensive one as she notices the somber tune. As they listen, Hina passes by the room and comments on how peculiar it is for friends to be listening to this music box together.
Eugene asks if Ae-shin likes the tune, and she admits that she expected a more cheerful melody. She asks if there’s a story to this music box, and Eugene tells her about his rough adjustment in the U.S. as a young boy. He was unfamiliar with the language, afraid, and hungry. His hands were freezing and his wounds stung – that’s when he heard this tune. He remembers crying heavily.
Ae-shin asks if he’s listened to the tune upon returning to Joseon, and he says that he only recently listened to the song because he heard that someone was hurt. He’s referring to Ae-shin, who he knows was shot in the leg by Dong-mae. He warns Ae-shin about Dong-mae knowing her identity, but Ae-shin assures Eugene that she’s already confronted Dong-mae about it. She knows that he recognized her before shooting her, but he still didn’t commit to killing her. She expects that he’ll act the same way in the future.
But Dong-mae isn’t one to fulfill expectations, and he tells his right-hand Yujo that they can report to Hayashi (the Japanese ambassador in Joseon) that they have their tail on one of the resistance shooters from Jemulpo.
Eugene asks if Ae-shin trusts Dong-mae, and she admits that she does because he’s indebted to her. She explains that she saved Dong-mae in their youth, and he tarnished her sincere gesture by clawing back at her. She expects that he’ll repay the favor by saving her this time.
Eugene isn’t satisfied with this trust in Dong-mae, but Ae-shin assures him that she’ll be the one to shoot first at Dong-mae if she meets him again in her disguise suit. She thanks him for the mask to continue her work, but Eugene requests that she stop utilizing her disguise, meaning she stop with the resistance work. He says that Joseon is becoming more precarious, which will put Ae-shin in further danger.
Ae-shin wonders why he only tells her not to do things — don’t stand out, don’t study English — but Eugene corrects her, saying that he told her that they could love. Ae-shin bashfully laughs at this, but Eugene still looks unsettled by Ae-shin’s commitment to the resistance. He remembers from his youth that noblewomen could live like flowers, and he asks why Ae-shin doesn’t defer to this life. Ae-shin says that she is living like a flower, except she’s a flame (in Korean bulkkot literally translated to “fire flower”).
She admits that she thinks about death every time she embarks on another insurrection, but that’s why she shoots accurately and flees quickly. She says that in her suit and mask — without a name or face — she’s just a soldier. And that’s why soldiers in the Righteous Army need each other. Although her reality is cruel for her grandfather, Ae-shin wants to burn bright as a flame before her defeat. She admits that she’s afraid of death, but she’s committed to this path.
Eugene looks with admiration at Ae-shin and wonders where his pathetic self lies in her spectrum from passionate to cruel. He ponders in his hypothetical letter to Joseph, “I thought I had reached my end, but I may need to go further into the flames — one step further. Joseph, I think I’m completely ruined.”
Ae-shin decides to head out, but Eugene tells her to wait for Hee-sung to return to his next-door room to avoid being caught. Eugene seems pleased when Ae-shin says that she didn’t know Hee-sung has been staying at the hotel this long, and Eugene says that he probably sees Hee-sung more than his fiancée. They table this conversation for another time, and Ae-shin swiftly makes her exit, jumping off the third floor of the hotel.
Eugene runs out the balcony and watches Ae-shin in awe. He notices a passerby try to follow Ae-shin after finding her suspicious, and he hurls a coin at the passerby to let Ae-shin escape smoothly. As she makes her way through the night, Ae-shin stops to take a break for her injured leg. She looks pensive as she thinks about her interaction with Eugene and breaks into a smile before heading on her way.
Dong-mae stops a seemingly innocent commoner on the street and accuses him of being a familiar face on their train to Jemulpo and on the streets by the port. After a beating from the gang, the Righteous Army soldier is brought to Dong-mae, who tries to make a deal with the soldier. Dong-mae tempts him to betry another comrade by saying that he only needs one captive, but the soldier demands that Dong-mae just kill him.
Before they proceed, Dong-mae asks out of pure curiosity: Why do they do it? He’s curious why the Righteous Army fight to die rather than to live, and he tauntingly asks if they make a lot of money. Accepting that these may be his last words, the soldier says that he fights for his nation because the Joseon owns nothing. Everything Joseon belongs to the foreign forces — Japan, U.S., Russia, England, France — from train lines to the electricity. All the soldier can do is fight for whatever is left of his nation.
Dong-mae asks if there are many others in Joseon who are better than himself, and the soldier says that Dong-mae won’t hear another word about his comrades. With that, the soldier tries to kill himself with the sword intended to threaten him, but Dong-mae pushes him to the ground before he can do so. Dong-mae thinks the soldier is crazy, but the soldier says that all of his comrades will act by the same mantra: Flee if you’re discovered, die if you’re captured. Dong-mae isn’t satisfied with the soldier’s response and orders his gang to drag him away.
Dong-mae drags a man to Hayashi, but it’s not the soldier — it’s the geisha house Hwawollu’s owner. Hayashi isn’t pleased with this captive substituting the ones from Jemulpo, but Dong-mae argues that Hwawollu’s owner is the source of their grief anyway. Also, Hayashi misled the gang by pointing them in the wrong direction in the geisha chase, which resulted in injured gang members. Hayashi doesn’t argue with this compromise, and Dong-mae takes his leave.
That night, Dong-mae addresses the captured Righteous Army soldier and tells him to run away as far as he can from Hanseong. The soldier asks if he’s letting him free, but Dong-mae clarifies that he’s just not killing the soldier yet. Dong-mae vows to kills him if he sees the soldier again in Hanseong, and he cuts the ties on the soldier’s wrists. The soldier seems confused, but he takes the opportunity and runs for his life.
Dong-mae visits Hina while she’s taking a bath, and she isn’t fazed by his sudden appearance. She welcomes him into her room and puts on her bathrobe. Dong-mae notices the scars all over her body and asks how she has more scars on her body than a man who wields a sword. She responds with a question, asking how a Joseon woman must have lived in Japan.
Hina asks why he’s visiting, and Dong-mae admits that he’s in a bad mood because he let a soldier go free. She wonders why, and Dong-mae says that he thought the other soldiers would be saddened if he killed the soldier. Hina laughs at Dong-mae’s uncharacteristic mercy and says that’s the funniest thing she’s heard from him.
Dong-mae explains that most victims he captures beg him to save their lives, but this soldier insisted that Dong-mae kill him. He couldn’t fathom why this soldier would risk his life for this nation, and Hina agrees that there are some righteous and passionate hearts that you just can’t kill. She says that he did indeed lose this one, but she still says that it’s not too late to kill that soldier. Dong-mae says that he can’t do that now, since he’s one to keep his word. Hina laughs again, saying that’s the second funniest thing she’s heard from him.
Hina can see right through him and wonders what Dong-mae is risking his life for. Dong-mae thinks about shooting Ae-shin and claims to Hina that he doesn’t risk his life — he takes them.
At Glory Hotel, Hee-sung gambles away all his money with Ae-soon, and they both end up in front of pawnshop to fund their gambling habit. To break the awkwardness, Hee-sung suggests that they introduce each other, but that reveals that they’re soon to be in-laws.
Before Ae-soon barges into Ae-shin’s room, Ae-shin quickly hides any hints of her English learning with the help of her maid. Sitting in Ae-shin’s spot, Ae-soon describes to Ae-shin her fiancé’s gambling habits. Ae-shin points out that Ae-soon must also have been a part of the gambling, since she describes the hotel and pawnshop with such detail. Ae-shin calls for her aunt, which effectively kicks Ae-soon out of the room.
The worker at Glory Hotel delivers Eugene’s brewed medicine, and Eugene reluctantly drinks the bitter brew. As he takes the medicine, the worker tries to peer into his room, looking to make more money from selling intel to Dong-mae.
Eugene comes down to ask Hina for that drink she owes him, and she comments that she didn’t even need to switch his key for him come to her. They start out with small talk about the fixed music box before Eugene asks how long she’s been in the hotel business. Hina explains that it’s rare for a woman to run a hotel in Joseon, but she benefitted from her late Japanese husband, through whom she was exposed to the hotel business early on.
Eugene thinks about Ae-shin’s words about the faceless and nameless soldiers, and he seems to suspect Hina is also involved with the Righteous Army. He asks Hina why she advised that he use the interpreter when he was summoned by the king, and she correctly presumes that the interpreter mistranslated Eugene’s words to favor Japan. He wonders if she works for the government, but Hina claims that she’s just a businesswoman.
Hina says that Glory Hotel carries a lot of intel and that she’s also a curious person. She asks what he decided to do, and Eugene asks if she has any information in all that Glory Hotel intel about him ending up dead. She wonders if he made a choice that would put his life at risk, and he’s in the same boat, awaiting the consequences of his decision.
Minister Lee Jung-moon, the foreign affairs minister and trusted advisor to the king, secretly meets with the interpreter who mistranslated Eugene’s message to the king. The interpreter looks shocked to see Minister Lee, having expected a client for a private interpreting service. Minister Lee accuses the interpreter for his deliberate Japan-favoring mistranslation to the king, and the interpreter trembles as he admits that he was ordered by Wan-ik to do so. The interpreter offers to investigate further, but Minister Lee shows no mercy and slays the interpreter with his sword.
The next day, Il-shik meets with Eugene, who’s confused by the facial similarities to Gwan-soo (someone’s keeping a tally of this joke, right?). Eugene asked about his request, and Il-shik reports that Minister Lee Jung-moon made his move last night. We see that Il-shik and Choon-shik followed the minister and the interpreter, and they discovered the interpreter’s dead body. Eugene realizes the consequences of his decision and decides to make his next move.
Hina greets Ae-shin as she enters Glory Hotel, and Ae-shin announces that she’s here to meet her fiancé, Hee-sung. Hina informs her that Hee-sung is not yet awake but should be down soon for his morning coffee. Hina introduces Ae-shin to a sweeter coffee, but Ae-shin isn’t fond of its taste, wondering why people enjoy this bitter drink. Hina says that over time, the bitterness becomes sour, savory, and sweet. She says poetically, “It makes your heart race, makes you lose sleep, and above all, it’s expensive. Much like futile hope.”
Ae-shin asks if Hina is selling futile hope, and Hina responds that the more futile, the more expensive it is. People spend a lot of money on this hope, she claims, like people who hope to make it rich by selling their country, people who pitifully hope that their efforts will prevent their country from being sold away, people who effetely hope that they can break off their engagement.
Ae-shin’s face hardens at Hina’s pointed comment, and Hina explains that she just inferred this, since Ae-shin wouldn’t be visiting the hotel if her marriage plans were going smoothly. Ae-shin says that Hina must have a particular interest in her, but Hina responds that it’s only because Ae-shin is in the way of her interest (in Eugene). Hina wonders if she’ll have to cry or bite, but since she’s received a handkerchief, maybe she’ll cry. She holds Eugene’s handkerchief in her hand, the one he gave to her when she injured her hand while kicking out the repulsive customer.
Hee-sung interrupts their conversation before the tension builds any further, and he says his dream about a field of flowers must have indicated that Ae-shin was coming to visit him. Hee-sung tries to avoid the looming conversation by offering to teach her how to play pool, but Ae-shin gets straight to the point about breaking their engagement. Hee-sung says that this will be difficult because it’s a promise made between their families, but Ae-shin suggests that they attempt this feat.
Hee-sung asks if Ae-shin has another lover, and Ae-shin responds by asking if that would be reason enough to break off their engagement. Hee-sung doesn’t back down and says that he’ll need to fight whoever it is. She tells him not to, and Hee-sung gets in her face and warns her not to provoke him.
Ae-shin tells him not to waste time on her, as he must have dreams of his own. But Hee-sung claims that he has no dreams. He says that he can’t work in government because he’s not a morning person; he won’t protest because it’s too physically straining; he won’t side with the Japanese because it’ll wear on his heart. He claims that he likes useless things like the moon, stars, flowers, the wind, laughter, and jokes. He wants to die enjoying these things.
Ae-shin thinks that he’ll end up like that, but she doesn’t support him because they’re destinations are different. Hee-sung says that it’s okay because no one is rooting for him in this life anyway. Since they can neither get married nor break off their engagement, Hee-sung suggests that for today, they remain friends.
Taking him up on that offer, Ae-shin asks Hee-sung to teach her how to play pool. A sharp shooter, Ae-shin learns quickly and sinks consecutive balls into the holes. Before she can catch herself, Ae-shin limps around the table, and Hee-sung notices but doesn’t make it known. Ae-shin continues to play while Hee-sung cheers her on from the other side.
Dong-mae enters the local bar, and he reluctantly joins Hee-sung’s table because the house is full. Hee-sung offers his glass for cheers, but Dong-mae tells him that he prefers to drink along. Hee-sung explains that the cheers gesture is one to inform the other party that they have not poisoned their drink, since the drinks flow into each other when they clink. Dong-mae says that’s further reason not to join their glasses.
Hee-sung asks if everything is going well with Dong-mae’s work, which he vaguely understands as capturing people, beating up people, and killing people. Based on that job description, Dong-mae admits that work isn’t going well and takes a drink. Hee-sung asks why he does such work, and Dong-mae responds by asking why Hee-sung doesn’t do any work. Hee-sung says that he’s been getting that question a lot recently, and he claims that if he does something, he’ll become someone great. At that, Dong-mae mutters that he should really carry around poison. Ha!
Eugene enters the full bar, and Dong-mae kicks an open seat as a gruff invite to their table. Hee-sung looks less enthusiastic than usual about their trio, mainly due to his confrontation with Eugene about his family. Hee-sung belatedly welcomes Eugene back to Joseon, and Eugene responds that it sounds like he’s ushering him to leave. Dong-mae quite enjoys this tension between the two and asks if there are any more developments in their rivalry, but Hee-sung says that they’ve got plenty as it is.
Eugene asks Dong-mae if he’s found the limping man he was seeking, and Hee-sung immediately thinks to Ae-shin limping during their game of pool but remains silent. Eugene claims that he saw a limping person: Wan-ik. He wonders if Dong-mae is close with Wan-ik, but Dong-mae refutes this by claiming that he’s long parted ways with Wan-ik. Besides, he’s looking for a young limping man, Dong-mae says.
The waiter comes to their table to refill their alcohol, and he comments that they must be friends. They all deny this, and Hee-sung says that the three of them all just joined this table out of coincidence, describing their group as: the American Joseon person, the Japanese Joseon person, and the handsome Joseon person. With that Hee-sung announces that the handsome Joseon person is taking his leave. He limps on his way out, and when Dong-mae comments that it’s the other leg, Hee-sung switches his limp. Haaa.
Dong-mae wonders if Hee-sung actually knows what’s going on, and Eugene presumes that he does because he always acts out of sincerity. Dong-mae suspects that Eugene also knows, and Eugene claims that he does — it’s Wan-ik, he says. Eugene says cryptically that for the sake of all three of them, the limping man must be Wan-ik, and Dong-mae’s silence seems to indicate agreement.
Ae-shin waits for all the lights at her home to turn off before hiding in her closet to listen to the music box that Eugene lent her. She listens to the sad tune, smiling as she thinks about Eugene.
Eugene meets with Seung-gu the next day, and they talk ambiguously using their exchange currency of alcohol as their topic of conversation. Since Seung-gu received an ample payment — sneaking their comrade So-ah out to Shanghai — for the alcohol, Eugene requests that Seung-gu support his alcohol cost this time. Seung-gu immediately puts down his alcohol and does the whole “oh no, I just quit drinking, sorry.” But Eugene says that Seung-gu will support this next mission, which targets foreign affairs minister Lee Se-hoon (who sides with the Japanese).
Ae-shin waits in front of the U.S. embassy and fakes her exhaustion about being constantly summoned to the embassy. Little Domi tells Ae-shin that Eugene is out and asks who she is. Ae-shin takes offense that he’s the second person to not recognize her and keep her waiting. Then, Eugene arrives and tries his best to hide his smile at the sight of Ae-shin.
Ae-shin takes her rightful seat at Eugene’s desk, and Eugene smiles as he says that he doesn’t recall summoning her to the embassy. He wonders if she’s here to return the music box, but Ae-shin says that she’s saved that excuse for a later time. This time, she’s here to ask about how to translate a phrase to English. She shows off her notebook with her name in English, and then she shows him the written phrase in Korean. It reads: I missed you.
Unfortunately, Eugene can’t read Korean, so he just laughs off the phrase, saying that it’s so easy that she shouldn’t ask him about it. That’s not the reaction that Ae-shin was hoping for, and she tries to leave in a hurry. Eugene asks her when she’s going to pick up bowls next, hoping that she’ll need someone to row the boat. Ae-shin begins to tell him the time, and then it dawns on her that Eugene didn’t, or maybe couldn’t, read her last letter.
Ae-shin shows him the page with her written Korean phrase again and tells Eugene to read it, but Eugene tries to avoid this by greeting his fellow soldiers passing by the halls. He mumbles that he’s good at English and walks away, leaving Ae-shin thoroughly amused that Eugene can’t read Korean.
Eugene looks slightly mortified as Ae-shin enters her carriage, throwing him a look. The carriage takes off, and Eugene stops the servant to ask him about the medicine that they gave him. The servant explains that the medicine should be brewed in water and then used to soak one’s feet in to rid the body of any toxins. He warns Eugene to never drink the brew, and after he leaves, Eugene gags at the thought of the drunken medicine.
The interpreters all gather to share the news about their American interpreter colleague being found dead. They call each other by the country they represent, and all of them flee to Wan-ik except for France, who reports to Minister Lee Se-hoon.
When only France shows up to report to Minister Lee, the minister curses all the interpreters who flocked to a lowly person like Wan-ik. France tells Minister Lee that the rumors have been swaying more government officials to follow Wan-ik, since Minister Lee is losing the favor of Japanese prime minister Ito Hirobumi. Furthermore, the rumors claim that Minister Lee was slapped in the face by Wan-ik, which is true.
Minister Lee visits Wan-ik with his mistress and flinches when Wan-ik raises his hand in greeting. Minister Lee says that he’s been informed that Wan-ik is Ito Hirobumi’s right hand, and he gets on his knees to offer to be the prime minister’s left hand. Wan-ik looks surprised by this turn of events and asks Minister Lee if he knows that the prime minister comes from a low class. Minister Lee lowers his pride and claims that it doesn’t matter, though the information does seem to pain him a bit.
Minister Lee says that he’s brought a gift, and Wan-ik looks around for an item. Then, Minister Lee presents his mistress (ICK, NO!) and orders her to bow to Wan-ik. But Wan-ik demands that Minister Lee bow, since he’s the one making the request. Wan-ik can barely hold himself together, smiling with glee at the sight of the minister surrendering his pride.
Eugene claims his banknote from the pawnshop and thanks the duo for endangering their lives. Next, Eugene confronts Minister Lee Se-hoon once again blocking the road on horseback. The minister’s carriage bearers recognize Eugene and immediately make a run for it, leaving the minister with a weaker defense. Eugene jumps off his horse and tells the minister’s guards that he has no hard feelings towards them, only the minister.
Upon the minister’s orders, the guards all attack Eugene, but Eugene expertly defends himself. He knocks out all the guards with only a scratch on his face, and he approaches Minister Lee with one of the guard’s swords. He strikes the sword through the wooden seat and cuts the minister’s neck, vowing to kill the minister today.
Minister Lee says that an American soldier dare not kill the foreign affairs minister of Joseon, but Eugene says that the minister will die in the hands of a Joseon person today. Tearing up, Eugene recalls his mother who threw herself in the well, his father who was beaten to death, and his younger self escaping for sins unrightfully bestowed on him.
This stirs Minister Lee’s memory, and he laughs that this must be a joke. But he quickly realizes Eugene’s identity and begs that Eugene save his life. Eugene tells him to stop begging lest he kill him now, since Minister Lee’s death is planned elsewhere.
Minister Lee returns home to find his room rummaged through and his gold all gone. He screams for his stolen wealth, and then shots began to fire towards his room. They’re from Eugene and Seung-gu, and Minister Lee frantically crawls through his room to find his gun.
With his gun in hand, Minister Lee runs out of his room and orders his servants to call the Joseon forces. He can’t seem to figure out the gun and accidently shoots a young servant girl, who falls with a fatal injury. He feels no remorse for his fatal shot and blames to girl for being at the wrong place. Meanwhile, Eugene sneaks into the minister’s room and slips a paper into a vase.
The servants try to carry this young girl out to seek treatment, but Minister Lee points his gun at the servants, threatening to shoot again if they don’t call back-up forces first. Then, a shot fires and hits Minister Lee in the arm. It’s Seung-gu, and he reloads his gun to aim at the minister again.
Then, the Joseon forces enter Minister Lee’s home, and the minister looks relieved until he realizes that they’re lead by Minister Lee Jung-moon, his rival foreign affairs minister. Minister Lee Jung-moon orders his forces to thoroughly search through Minister Lee Se-hoon’s home and calls the minister a criminal.
The soldiers bring Minister Lee Se-hoon to his knees, and in a flashback, we see that Eugene visited Minister Lee Jung-moon to set up this situation. Eugene offered to return the banknote to its rightful owner, but they would have to do this his way. He told Minister Lee Jung-moon that he would plant the banknote in Lee Se-hoon’s home and asks what his punishment would be. The minister told him that Lee Se-hoon would be sentenced to death, and Eugene seemed pleased with that answer.
Back at Lee Se-hoon’s home, a solider finds the banknote in the vase, which proves Minister Lee Se-hoon’s crime. The king arrives, and all the servants lay prostrate at his entrance. But from above, Seung-gu thinks back to his youth when Wan-ik informed the war captives that the king had abandoned them. Seung-gu cocks his gun and aims it at the king, but Eugene stops him. He tells him to save it for another time, as one traitor is enough for tonight.
The king receives the banknote that was discovered in Lee Se-hoon’s home, and despite Lee Se-hoon’s insistent pleas that this was a set-up, the king declares him guilty of treason. The king orders that Lee Se-hoon be sentenced to death, and Minister Lee Jung-moon kills him with his sword without a moment of hesitation. The servants spit on this wretched minister’s dead body, and Eugene watches the death of his enemy from above.
Eugene waits for Ae-shin at the dock by the inn, but the river has frozen over. When Ae-shin arrives, she notices the cut on his face, and Eugene lies that it was from training. He says that she no longer needs someone to row the boat, but Ae-shin says that now they can just walk together beside each other.
Walking on the frozen river, Ae-shin tells Eugene about the commotion over Minister Lee Se-hoon’s death. Eugene feigns ignorance and asks more about the minister, since he’s not familiar with Joseon politics. Ae-shin says that she was merely wary of the minister but had no significant interaction with him. She adds that no one is mourning his death.
Ae-shin asks Eugene to tell the story of how he ended up in the U.S., as she’s curious about his long backstory. Eugene says that when he’s finished with his story, they’ll need to part ways. She wonders why, but he continues with his story: He ran away from Joseon when he was nine years old, and with the help of an American stranger, he sailed to the U.S. for a month as a stowaway.
Ae-shin asks why a nine-year-old ran away to the U.S., and Eugene quotes Ignobleman’s command to kill young Eugene, as it will be a good lesson for his fellow slaves. Eugene says that this is his last memory of Joseon — the words from his owner.
Shocked and speechless, Ae-shin’s eyes fill with tears as she realizes the truth that Eugene was a slave in Joseon. Eugene asks what she’s surprised about — the cruel words of the noble or his real identity? He asks, “Who lives in the Joseon that you’re trying to save? Can butchers live? Can slaves live?”
It’s so satisfying to finally see Eugene take some action and be willing to face the consequences. It was refreshing to see him take the reins in this episode, since he’s mainly been the quiet observer to Ae-shin’s action. While the decisions he made happened to overlap with the resistance efforts, I think his main motivations were still rooted in revenge. He’s still fairly distant from the resistance that Ae-shin so deeply believes in, and I think the final scene really addressed his reasons for his hesitation. He doesn’t believe that Joseon has a place for outsiders like himself or Dong-mae, since he’s only experienced a Joseon that embraces wealthy nobles. I hope that his confession to Ae-shin about his background will spark some reflection in Ae-shin and give us more about the resistance than her naïve perspective as a noblewoman. There are reasons why people have betrayed their nation, and I would love to see Ae-shin come to terms with those valid reasons.
As always, I enjoy watching these three admirers interact because they’re so wary and reluctantly friendly with each other. It’s funny that the person that brings them together is also the person that makes them enemies, and watching this three-way game of chess between these guys is so entertaining. They’re calling each other out without explicitly doing so, and I’m holding my breath waiting to find out who will break this silence first. I’m interested to find out how Dong-mae and Hee-sung will respond to catch Ae-shin’s attention, since they do have the potential to wield a significant amount of power for or against her movement.
Ae-shin’s blooming relationship with Eugene is sweet, and I think I’ll be satisfied if the relationship continues to give us adorable moments without forcing us invest in the romance too much. The romance lost in translation is actually quite enjoyable, and I found it so adorably tragic that Ae-shin’s romantic gesture was totally lost on Eugene because he’s illiterate. It probably touched me more than it did him, and that irony is just wonderful. I feel like this show is finally reaching a nice balance without anything feeling forced, and I hope they continue with this pace. Please take this affirmation to heart, show — I’m rooting for you!