We back up a little in our story to Chun heading out of town after being stabbed by Dong Soo. What’s nice about this (and a few of the other repeated scenes in the last few episodes) is that it’s re-edited to give a different feel. This one has an extended walk out to the field for Chun, and a flashback to one of my favorite shots of the whole series – Un following Chun away for the first time.
Anyway, we’re back with Un greeting Chun and then asking why he never once had a lesson from Chun such as Dong Soo just got, only orders. And Chun replying that it was Un’s own choice. Which Un has to admit is true, however going forward, he’ll chose his own path. The rule is that to become Chun Joo, you must kill the previous Chun Joo. Chun acknowledges that and says it’s time. And so the fight begins.
A minute or so of lovely fight and flashbacks later (and this time set to the theme music, instead of the much sadder music of episode 24), Un stabs Chun in the side. They both look shocked. Chun pats Un gently on the shoulder and tells him that is it (in sort of a that’s enough or well done meaning).
As the score changes to the solemn chant, Un pulls the blade out. Chun pats him on the other shoulder and tells him that he now has the heavens in his hands. Chun turns and starts to stagger off, and Un falls to his knees. Chun stops and tells Un not to follow his path. And in voiceover, Un says he won’t, he’s no longer an assassin, he’s given up that path. Addressing Dong Soo mentally, he says he’ll give it all up.
Meanwhile, Jin Ju is walking down a path, presumably headed home, when she’s stopped by troops being led by Un.
Chun limps away, like a wounded bear looking for a place to die. Jin Ju slowly walks out in front of him, looking behind her. He smiles to see her, and she quietly tells him to go back. However, they are surrounded by troops with Un and Hong there as well. The score shifts to the slow piano version of the theme song.
First one archer shoots Chun in the leg, and then another shoots. He shakes his head, and Jin Ju starts to cry. He finally reaches her, and tells her that he is so sorry. The Hongs smirk in the background as she begs him to go back. Hong1 orders a volley of arrows, and Chun spins Jin Ju around and down, so that he takes the arrows in the back. Chun smiles at her and tells her not to cry anymore. As he tells her it’s ok, Dae Ung fires his crossbow, and puts a bolt into Chun’s back.
Chun dies in the arms of the weeping Jin Ju. ::cue momosan’s tears, because truly, Choi Min Soo has carried most of this show for me for 25 episodes and he went out like a star::
A bit of flowing water and undetermined amount of time later, we arrive at Sa Mo’s, where Jin Ju and Ji Sun are sorting ginseng, while Sa Mo and Jin Ki are playing a board game. Three men arrive and ask for Dong Soo. Sa Mo tells Jin Ju to deal with the men, who are getting angry to be ignored.
Jin Ju asks if they are looking for a swordfight. They ask if she’s Dong Soo. She sighs and tells him to pay, and points at a cash box. A fist fight is 5 yang, a fight with a staff is 10, and a sword is 20. They toss the money in. Jin Ju dusts off her hands, and the next thing you know, the fighter is tossed out of the yard and lands in the road.
Meanwhile, on a town street, another fight is going on. As his hand is raised in victory, we see that it’s Dong Soo. As the crowd learns that it’s him, he is roundly congratulated and feted. He’s been making a name for himself.
Back at the Assassins HQ, an underling brings in Jang Tae San and Baek Myun Young, two of the fighters from the list who Chun had fought and beaten. Un blindfolds himself and takes them both on. He wins handily and also wins their respect. He then enlists their help.
Dong Soo is eating a meal and sketching fighting techniques when he is rudely interrupted by another challenger who smashes his table with a huge blade. Dong Soo sighs and after insulting the oversized weapon, he easily disarms the guy with his book and a few kicks. And then he calmly asks for another meal.
He returns to sketching, when Hong Do, the artist arrives for a visit. He greets Dong Soo as “Young Suk” – which the caption handily tells us is a different translation of the characters of his name. Hong Do says he’s been wandering around painting, and guess who he ran across here in the backwater village of Naju – Cho Rip!
As they happily sit and drink, Dong Soo asks what they are really there for. Cho Rip tells him that a few weeks earlier a mudang gave a prophecy that has rattled the court. And we see that the mudang was visited by the Hongs, when she gave the prophecy that the Prince had to die for the country to prosper. Lord Hong handed her a sack of money and told her that her prophecy had better not change, even with a sword to her neck.
The prophecy had spread by rumor, causing panic and unrest. Then the guards found a voodoo doll the mudang had made buried outside the Prince’s palace. And the mudang persisted with the prophecy, even until she died.
Then there was a shooting star falling over the palace, another bad omen. Even worse, the King caught a cold that day and has been in bed ever since, so everyone is jumpy.
Dong Soo asks what he can do about any of that. Not much, but it turns out that a fight club/gambling hall has opened in town. Anyone can fight, and lots of money is being wagered. Among the fighters is Jin Ju, wearing a Phantom of the Opera half mask, getting in a return to some badassery.
Rumor has it, partly because they keep showing up, that Lord Hong is behind this place somehow. And so they want Dong Soo to come back to town to look into things.
Over at Assassins HQ, Un looks around the main hall and recalls Chun telling him that it holds the history of the place. Gu Hyang arrives and asks him if he really intends to disband the Assassins guild. He tells her that he won’t force her to help him, but she can. She tells him it won’t be easy, there is a lot of history in behind the guild, and so many branches and deals with various people reaching into so many places.
He agrees, but says if he doesn’t do it, someone else will come along and rebuild it. So, he wants to remove it down to the last root. She agrees to help him.
Next, Dae Ung is enjoying a meal of chicken without apparently bothering to cook it. He starts trying to think of ways to get rid of Dong Soo. He still has the payment he got from Lord Hong for helping to take out Chun and seems to have a plan in mind.
In the palace, the King is recovering from his cold, as the Queen pounds home the prophecy while being overly solicitous. She meets with her father and Lord Hong and reports that the King is getting spooked, but the rest of their plan needs to be worked out in detail.
Over at the gisaeng house, Un leads a meeting of merchants, attended also by Hong1 and the toady. He insists that their cut of the proceeds is going to be 70%. The merchants protest that this is too much, however he points out that without Lord Hong, their monopolies would be broken up immediately. One of the merchants protests and gets up to leave, saying that he doesn’t care whose support they had, this is too much. Another gets up as well. Un stands up and stabs one of them. Then he tells the others that if they are going to withdraw, do it now. (HAHAH! – no, we aren’t told what their monopolies are specifically, but let’s assume that Lord Hong has been getting a smaller cut and enforcing the monopolies by his control of licenses and such.) Hong1 reports to his father that Un had a firm look about him as he did this, and Lord Hong chuckles as he thinks to himself that Un has come around to their way of doing things.
Hong lists a long list of commanders and officials that he wants to meet at the gisaeng house. Everyone except the commander of the Royal Guards, General Seo – who Hong hates and can’t control.
Back at the Assassins, Gu Hyang tells Un that the guy he stabbed will recover easily and has agreed to leave town. She hands him a list of Noron officials who are getting kickbacks from merchants. It’s a big list.
He sends the two fighters to the fight club to see if they can infiltrate and find out what Lord Hong is doing funding the place.
Another underling comes in to report that Dong Soo and friends should be back in town soon. Un tells him to keep a close eye on them and report back.
Dong Soo is welcomed home, and hears from Sa Mo that Jin Ju has been going down to the fight club. Ji Sun takes him to see it. Curiously, the guy selling tickets to the place is Dae Ung. Also in attendance are Hong1 and Hong2.
Dong Soo and Ji Sun arrive just as Jin Ju is about to fight. Dong Soo watches and observes the crowd as Jin Ju wins. As she pockets her winnings, Jin Ki arrives and hauls Jin Ju off by the ear.
Dae Ung goes in the club and bribes the front man into telling him where the Hongs are taking the successful fighters.
Jin Ki wants to know what the heck she is doing, and she tells him that since the merchants are squeezing them out, the trading business is short on money. It’s an easy way for her to get some cash for them. Dong Soo and Ji Sun catch up with them, and say hello. Ji Sun comes to Jin Ju’s defense. The local merchants with monopolies are all squeezing out the smaller ones, and having to pay bribes to the merchants to trade. The trade group could use the cash. Jin Ki on the other hand wants her to stop acting like a tomboy, get married, and behave like a lady like Ji Sun. Oh wellz.
They review the martial arts book Dong Soo has been working on, and Sa Mo tells him that he reminds him of Gwang Taek more and more. Dong Soo says the book should be used for the army as a training manual, as the Prince wants.
Dae Ung finds the house where the successful fighters are staying and snoops around. We meet one who seems to be in charge of them (which amuses me because he’s played by a guy who was one of the Prince’s bodyguards in Yi San.) Dae Ung shows them his box of gold and offers them that and more to kill Dong Soo.
Ji Sun and Mi So spot Hong1 and the toady in the market picking up large orders of odd supplies and checking on others. When they report that, Jin Ki figures out that those supplies are for making swords, but these aren’t government orders, so it must be Lord Hong himself who wants the supplies. Ordering weapons supplies for his own use seems more than odd, so Sa Mo tells Dong Soo to figure out what it’s all about.
At the gisaeng house, Lord Hong heads up what seems to be a meeting of military officials, but one of them notes that General Seo isn’t there. Hong makes the excuse that Seo can’t leave while the King is sick.
Hong wines and dines the officials, and tests their temperaments by serving them water and telling them it’s wine. When they all agree that it’s a fine, fine wine, he knows that they are loyal to whatever he says.
The King is recovering, and calls in the Prince. He tells him that since he’s been down with this illness, he realizes that he needs to hand over things to the Prince to let him be the regent and get practice governing.
The Queen calls in her father and Lord Hong, and they tell her that they can’t allow this to happen, it is a step too close to letting the Prince rule. So they decide to speed up the schedule of their plan.
At the Assassins, Un gets his reports at a table covered with packages wrapped in red. First Tae San reports that the fighters all seem average, but the good ones are being picked out for some reason. Gu Hyang points out that this means the Hongs won’t have to rely on the Assassins for some things. Finally, he’s told that everything is ready, so he tells them to follow him.
In a flashback, we see Lord Hong giving him a fake royal seal. Now Un and his assassins deliver those fake seals – the packages – around town. It’s a setup, anyone who gets the seal and goes to Hong for answers is loyal to Hong.
Dong Soo heads back to the fight club to check it out some more. He signs in as a fighter, and with a blow and a kick sends the first guy he faces clean out of the ring.
Hong1 reports back to his father that Dong Soo has shown up at the club, but he tells them it was to be expected, and to keep to their plan. The officials who got the seals start showing up to ask Hong what the heck he meant by testing them. He tells them that it was a command of the Queen, because the King has suggested a regency period for the Prince.
The police are rounding up the officials who didn’t go to Hong, arresting them for treason for having the fake seal.
Un keeps an eye on all the proceedings, concluding that a military coup is in the offing. Hong calls him in to chat and Un cuts to the chase. He asks if it’s treason, and says it must be, otherwise Hong wouldn’t be being so polite to him. Hong agrees, and says he needs Un’s help. Un basically says “yeah, with what?” Hong tells him not to be in a hurry, first he needs to meet someone, and he brings out Kenjo.
Back at Sa Mo’s, they get word of the regency plan from Cho Rip. Not only is the palace all a twitter, but Seo reports that the Norons seem to be up to no good. Dong Soo points out that these are the same people that killed the Crown Prince, so whatever they are up to can’t be good.
Hong cheerfully sits with Kenjo and Un and offers drinks. Un asks rudely why Kenjo is back in Joseon. (Actually what I love about this scene, and most scenes with Un and Kenjo from this point on, is that Un pretty much refuses to even acknowledge, let alone speak to Kenjo.) Kenjo says he’s there for the same reason as Un. Hong chuckles and tells them to loosen up, he’s going to take them someplace interesting tomorrow.
That place, of course, is the fight club. Although Dong Soo tries to dissuade her from fighting, she brings Dong Soo along to show him around some more. Inside, Tae San is making short work of another fighter.
Jin Ju goes in the ring, and fights a guy with an ax as Lord Hong’s party arrives to watch. As Kenjo spots Dong Soo in the crowd…we end episode 25.
And because it really is one of my favorite images from the whole series….
Oh, my poor Chun. My little furry heart, which bleeds for long haired fighting men in black, just breaks that you would go out like that. Snuffle. Snuffle. And not even an indication of a funeral or who mourned other than Jin Ju. Snuffle. So, let’s say a fond farewell to my favorite assassin. He almost got Song Il Kook’d there, but at least he died in the arms of Jin Ju, and not alone on a beach. Snuffle snuffle. I was actually hoping that he’d die in Un’s arms, but dying in Jin Ju’s was one last reflection of the whole triangle with Gwang Taek. And yes, the screencap at the top is from episode 24. Because it was pretty. Snuffle.