We start back at the beginning of Chun and Gwang Taek’s fight, with Gwang Taek pouring them drinks. As they put them down, and Chun asks “ready?” off we go, back into the fight. As Gwang Taek pauses and struggles a little, Chun asks if he’s alright, and when Gwang Taek nods, they continue.
About a minute of acrobatic fighting later, Gwang Taek gets slashed across the chest, but the fight continues. They pause again, and Gwang Taek again says he’s fine. Not really, because a second later he takes another slash across the side.
Chun gets a slightly puzzled look and deliberately pauses. He waits while Gwang Taek has a coughing fit. Gwang Taek suggests they go outside.
So, outside they go, to the courtyard where they start circling each other. In the background, Hong1 and the archers arrive and start taking aim. As Hong1 starts to signal the archers, Un puts a sword to his neck and tells him to stop.
Chun and Gwang Taek stop circling, and smile and have a little laugh. Chun says that Gwang Taek made his life interesting. He thanks him sincerely. Gwang Taek, in return, thanks Chun.
As they get into position to start the fight again, Hong1 orders the archers to shoot. Gwang Taek uses his sword to block the arrows, and not meeting the expected parry, Chun slashes Gwang Taek deeply across the abdomen.
As Gwang Taek collapses, Chun is paralyzed in shock, as in Un. Hong1 and the troops take the opportunity to run off. Chun looks up and sees them. He asks Gwang Taek why? Did he think Chun would be fine with this? Gwang Taek replies that Chun had given up everything for Ga Ok (Ji), and he never did. Chun tells him to shut up. Instead, Gwang Taek says that now he can go be with Ga Ok and at peace.
Chun shakes as he asks if Gwang Taek really wanted to die like this. Gwang Taek replies that he wanted to see Chun back the way he was before. (And I’m stomping my feet – WHICH before? before Ga Ok died? When they were young? There’s a story here!!) Gwang Taek says he wants to see Ga Ok. Chun simply tells him that he will see her soon.
A very upset Chun leaves, as a very upset Dong Soo arrives. Gwang Taek prevents Dong Soo from rushing after Chun. He asks him if Dong Soo saw him? He tells Dong Soo to exceed him that Dong Soo will exceed him by being the best swordsman in the world, not just Joseon.
Jin Ju runs up, screaming for her father (the first time she’s said that outloud). As Jin Ju sits at his side, Gwang Taek apologizes to her. He stutters out that he loves her, his daughter. And then he dies.
Back at Lord Hong’s, the archers are bowing down out front, and he’s hearing the explanation that the order to withdraw the archers got there too late. Hong1 tells his father that while Chun didn’t see him, Un did.
As Lord Hong calmly drinks, Chun throws a guard though the door and comes in. He asks who it was. Lord Hong says it was his orders, but as Chun reaches his sword, Hong1 draws his and says he was the one who was there. Chun disarms him and throws him down next to his father. As he is about to slit Hong1’s throat, Lord Hong tells Chun it was stomach cancer. Chun pauses and asks what did he say? Lord Hong says that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to kill Gwang Taek, but that when he heard that he had stomach cancer, he ordered the attack to stop.
Chun stops and starts realizing what happened. And then he stabs Hong1 in the back. He tosses him aside and squats down to Lord Hong’s level. He says that because of their long ties, he won’t kill Hong1, but from now on, he thinks it’s best if they live as if they don’t know each other.
He takes his sword and leaves, and Lord Hong sends Hong2 for a doctor. (I have to say, what I love about this scene is that Lord Hong doesn’t flinch until after Chun leaves. He stays seated, mid-drink, while chaos erupts around him. And Chun – the dead look on his face and then the one of hatred he shoots at Lord Hong. Ah, you guys are great.)
Jin Ju and Jin Ki sit by the body. Jin Ju apologizes for not calling him “Father” sooner, she just really didn’t know what to say.
Dong Soo goes out to where he’d been kneeling, and as he cries, Ji Sun comes out to comfort him.
Lord Hong berates Hong1 for being such a baby about the wound. He says that instead, you should pay it back twofold. Then he ponders what he should do about Chun. He sends Hong2 and the toady out to look for Dae Ung at the funeral, figuring that he’ll show up there.
And now we get to the weirdest scene in this whole show. Sa Mo calls Dong Soo in to see Gwang Taek’s wounds. Dong Soo recoils at the thought, but Sa Mo tells him that it was Gwang Taek’s wish that Dong Soo see the wounds. Dong Soo refuses at first, but Sa Mo leaves him there. He braves up after remembering that Gwang Taek asked if he had seen him and after apologizing, he uncovers the wounds. Each time we see a flashback of the stroke that made the wound. (Now here’s what even weirder about this – there is no way Dong Soo could have seen these scenes, so I guess that he’s supposed to learn from the wounds what a sword can do. As in – we aren’t playing here boyo, these are serious for real type things. Whatever. Personally, I think the scene is just creepy.)
Word gets to the palace that Gwang Taek has died, and the King tells the Prince to make sure the funeral goes well. He accepts the task and tells the mountain boys to plan accordingly. The gossiping nobles note that at least he left behind a disciple, so Gwang Taek has a legacy he left behind. Lord Kim notes to the queen that Dong Soo has already made a name for himself, and will likely be trouble in the future.
A parade of swordsmen and other assorted folk arrive to pay their respects, and Hong2 and the toady find Dae Ung among the onlookers. They haul him back to Lord Hong and they start a plot to finish off Chun. Dae Ung starts his thoughts on the matter by noting that Chun has a daughter – aka Jin Ju – so he apparently didn’t get the memo about Gwang Taek.
Sa Mo and company, including the Prince and guards, cast Gwang Taek’s ashes to the winds, as we get a nice replay of Gwang Taek scenes.
Chu sits by the lake, drinking and trying to absorb what happened. Dae Ung spots him there and mutters that Chun will be next. Un is at the Assassins HQ, also thinking about Gwang Taek. Gu Hyang asks why he didn’t go to the funeral, and Un says that he would be unwelcome. He notes that Gwang Taek left behind everything for Dong Soo.
Sa Mo’s final complaint at the funeral is that Gwang Taek should have told them about the cancer. Jin Ki offers the comforting thought that Gwang Taek will be with Ga Ok in the afterlife, which might make him happier than being here. When asked to say something, Dong Soo says that Gwang Taek asked them to live on in happiness.
Jin Ju clutches her heart and goes off by herself. Dong Soo follows and she laments that if she had known, she would have been a more attentive daughter. She breaks down and tells Dong Soo that it just hurts her heart too much.
Down by the lake, Chun ponders Gwang Taek fishing without a hook, and the results of the fight. At Assasssins HQ, Un thinks about the fight, which he witnessed all of. He thinks about it in detail and concludes that Gwang Taek had several chances to strike at Chun that he didn’t take. He wonders if Gwang Taek deliberately wanted Dong Soo to be the one to fight Chun in the end.
The next morning, Dong Soo gravely draws his sword and continues the same set of exercises he and Gwang Taek had practiced.
Back at the palace, the Prince gets his father’s pole weapon out of storage. He starts training with it. However, the King happens to see him and gets upset. He doesn’t buy the Prince’s assertion that he was just training, and orders Seo to destroy the weapon. The Prince protests that it’s King Hyojong’s, but the King is more worried that the Prince is taking after the Crown Prince, and that word will get around that he’s using the Crown Prince’s favored weapon.
Over at Sa Mo’s, they are worried because Dong Soo has been gone for several days. Sa Mo tells Ji Sun not to worry too much, he’ll be back eventually. Back in town, Dae Ung picks up a new crossbow and bolts from the blacksmith.
Chun is still down by the lake, pondering. He starts to enjoy watching a father play with his daughter, but then the father becomes frightened of getting too close to Chun and leads her off. He recalls Jin Ju asking how many people he’s killed. He gets up and walks to Jang Mi’s, and sits in the courtyard.
He waits and Mi So is the first to see him. She immediately recognizes the man who killed her father, drops her basket of veggies and pulls out a knife. He asks where everyone is, but she comes at him with the knife, saying that he killed her father, and should die. He grabs her arm and takes the knife, asking who her father was.
She tells him it was Jang Dae Pyo. He repeats the name, and says that he understands. He hands the knife back to her, and asks her where Dong Soo is. Jin Ju arrives just then. She asks what he’s there for. She motions Mi So away, and she runs to find Dong Soo.
She asks again why he’s there, if there is someone left for him to kill? She tells him that she was never scared of him until now. She demands to know how the person who killed her father could show up in front of her. She tells him she hadn’t even had a chance to say father or hold his hand. How could he kill her father? She grabs his arm and tells him to leave. He just sits like a rock and takes it.
Sa Mo and Jin Ki show up. Sa Mo grabs Jin Ju away from Chun and Jin Ki asks what he’s doing there. Sa Mo starts to draw out his knife, saying Chun should apologize to Gwang Taek in the afterlife, but Jin Ki stops him.
Mi So finds Dong Soo, and tells him to go avenge her father’s death.
Chun asks again for Dong Soo. Sa Mo yells back at him, but Chun simply keeps asking. He tells them that they can kill him if they want, but he’s there to see Dong Soo.
Dong Soo runs back, but by the time he’s there night has fallen. Chun asks Dong Soo to follow him out, and he nods. He tells Sa Mo and Jin Ki to look after Jin Ju and nods to her.
They head out the gate, and Dong Soo draws his sword. Chun stands with his back to Dong Soo, and Dong Soo tells him that he’ll start, and then he attacks.
They spar, and in a voice over Chun asks Gwang Taek if this is what he left for him to do – to test Dong Soo. They go fighting through the streets, scattering some bystanders (also we see Hong2, who is lurking nearby). Dong Soo gets the advantage, but Chun recovers.
At one point, they stop – Dong Soo’s sword to Chun’s neck, and Chun’s at Dong Soo’s waist. Neither completes the blow. Chun moves Dong Soo’s sword and imparts a little instruction, a return to the theory of what moves a sword – Dong Soo couldn’t kill Chun because his sword is being moved by his heart. He’s angry, but he doesn’t want to kill. If he really wants to kill Chun, he has to move the sword with not just his heart, but with a heart with a desperate desire to kill him. Dong Soo recalls Gwang Taek telling him that it takes a desperate heart to move a sword.
Dong Soo starts to raise his sword, and Chun nods. He tells Dong Soo that he’s paid back his debts, now Dong Soo will have to fight for his life.
The fight starts again. They have a great scene of busting doors down and sliding around, and Dong Soo starts to gain the advantage. After a bit of close grappling, a few spins later, Dong Soo slices Chun across the side.
Chun staggers back a bit, and then tells Dong Soo that Gwang Taek went fishing without a hook, he gives a little laugh and asks what Gwang Taek expected to catch like that.
Chun limps off, and Dong Soo sheathes his sword, never looking back at Chun. As he moves forward, Un comes out from behind a building, drawing his short sword and stabbing Dong Soo. Dong Soo’s instinctive reaction blocks the thrust with his sword. He asks Un what he’s doing. Un tells him that was his best attack. Un steps back and tells him that if he could block that, then indeed, Dong Soo is Joseon’s best swordsman.
Dong Soo nods and asks Un why he’s there. Un tells him that he’ll become Joseon’s best assassin.
Dong Soo arrives home to a relieved group. Dong Soo shakes his head to Sa Mo’s inquiry as to whether Chun is dead. Sa Mo vows to kill Chun the next time he sees him, but Jin Ju looks relieved.
Chun goes out to the fields and sits, followed by Un (through the beautifully lit foggy streets, I might add). Un arrives, bows and is greeted politely by Chun. Un asks him why he never gave him any lessons, as he just did for Dong Soo. He only gave him orders to be followed. Chun replies that it was Un’s own choice. Un agrees that it was his choice, and so from now on, he will find his own way with his heart and his life.
Un reminds him that to become Chun Joo, he has to kill the previous Chun Joo. Chun nods and agrees that it’s time (as opposed to last time, when he told him that there were still things to do).
Chun stands and, limping quite badly, gets ready. They draw their swords and fight (and it’s interesting what a difference choreography and music make – this is a more controlled, and sadder fight). We get a few flashbacks of Chun and Un, with some new thoughts of Un’s thrown in, including his final thought that the only path left to him is that of being an assassin. After clashing overhead, as they step forward to breakaway, Un stabs Chun in his side. And as they both look surprised – we end episode 24.
It’s interesting to ponder what each character (and viewer, since opinion seems divided on the subject) thinks about Chun’s fight with Gwang Taek. Earlier in the series, Chun said that he always thought that he and Gwang Taek would only have a fair duel if they each honestly wanted to kill each other. Instead, by the end, each of them wanted to fight, but not necessarily to kill each other.
Un, who saw the whole thing, is fairly certain that Gwang Taek missed at least three chances to strike Chun. Chun himself was getting puzzled as to exactly what Gwang Taek was up to. And by the end, when Gwang Taek deliberately blocked the arrows instead of the sword thrust, Chun realized that Gwang Taek wasn’t fighting to win. He keeps thinking of the fact that Gwang Taek was fishing without bait – a weird metaphor in the end for going through the motions.
On an up note, the fight with Chun and Un at the end was nearly as lovely a piece of choreography as the opening fight. A totally different thing, light vs dark, but still of cool.