The cinematography in this drama continues to amaze me with every scene. It’s literally so beautiful that I almost forget to pay attention to what’s actually going on. Anyways, this will be a rough recap as I’m drowning in university work, and am here procrastinating instead of being responsible.
First we encounter the instant replay of Baek Man Geum’s death and Dae Gil’s immediate grief and anger once he awakens to find out the truth.
Our Baek Dae Gil is mourning the loss of his father and it’s not going too well. Much to Grandpa’s dismay, Dae Gil decides to run away and seek revenge for his father. He gives Lee In Jwa an ultimatum. He’s here to fight, and one of them will die, even if it costs him his own life. Basically, Lee In Jwa beats the fucking crap out of him without breaking a sweat, which is pitiful to watch. However, he leaves Dae Gil alive and tells him to come back when he’s actually prepared and capable of a good fight.
Dae Gil eventually returns to In Jwa but only a few days have passed since having his ass whooped, which means he’s still just as terrible at fighting as he always was. Lee In Jwa, notices, and comments that he hadn’t expected Dae Gil to come back so soon. Then we have the second battle which is particularly gruesome. Lin In Jwa is not beating around the bush this time and delivers some devastating blows to Dae Gil before tying him to a tree and shooting an arrow at his heart. The coin Dae Gil’s father gave him a while ago saves him from death, but Lee In Jwa isn’t quite finished. After forcing Dae Gil to swallow this coin, the two make a bet. Dae Gil will jump over the cliff, and if he survives, Lee In Jwa must kneel in apology at Baek Man Geum’s grave. In Jwa agrees, but on one condition; he gets to stab Dae Gil first. Thus Dae Gil is stabbed and pushed over the cliff, much to Dam Seo’s horror.
A masked man enters the secret quarters of In Jwa on the hunt for something. He is caught, however, by Dam Seo. She knows it’s Prince Yeongjo snooping around, and chastises him for breaking and entering uninvited. He’s looking for the money and documents he knows Lee In Jwa has hidden, and isn’t afraid to confront her about it.
Seokbin meets with the psychic in the hopes of finding out whether her son (Dae Gil) is alive. Meanwhile Prince Yeongjo catches Dam Seo snooping around his room. (Oh the irony). With an arm outstretched he boldly offers her the inspection journal he knows she’s looking for. She’s clearly taken aback, not to mention embarrassed and he takes pleasure in chiding her for being such a hypocrite. The moment is interrupted when they hear the guard looking for Yeongjo. He helps her hide, but she is very turned off by the physical closeness of it all which causes her to snap at him. He isn’t too pleased with her lack of gratitude and if you ask me she needs to chill a bit.
The episode concludes with Dae Gil still breathing, but buried from the neck down in a swampy salt field/mud flat, whatever you want to call it. A stranger walks up to him, pushing the little crab Dae Gil is trying to eat, into his mouth.
Hong Mae finds Dae Gil holding onto his life by a thread, but she notices something is different about him. He’s lost his memory. Hong Mae chooses to capitalize on this situation by selling him into slavery, not only to make money, but to exact revenge on Dae Gil, who gave her a nasty knuckle sandwich back in episode four.
The owner of the slaves is Agwi, a.k.a. ‘The Demon’ (Kim Roe-Ha) and basically he’s the scum of the earth. He works all of his slaves in the salt fields to their eventual death whether the cause is malnutrition, old age or brutal beating. One of the slaves, Gye Sul-Im (Kim Ga Eun), befriends Dae Gil, and basically acts as his guide during his short-lived time as a slave. Dae Gil coughs up the nyang coin that In Jwa made him swallow before his fall off the cliff, and Sul-Im holds onto it as a souvenir.
King Sookjong then calls Yeongjo for a meeting in his weed factory. Seriously, I’m convinced it’s a weed hut, he looks high as fuck and there’s clouds of smoke everywhere. Sookjong is his usual ominous and creepy self as he questions Yeongjo on whether he wants to be king or not. Yeongjo hesitates, clearly from shock, prompting his father to demand an answer. Yeongjo is quick to say he is not worthy, which his father doesn’t buy. However, Yeongjo really doesn’t desire the throne, and he makes this clear to his father, who in turn decides to honor his decision.
The next day, King Sookjong announces his decision to abdicate the throne. The palace ministers plead with the King to change his decision, but the King stands firm and declares that the throne with be handed to the Crown Prince Gyeongjong.
The Crown Prince is clearly startled by this sudden announcement and calls upon his father to reverse the command. Unfortunately, King Sookjong has no intentions of doing so. We discover that the Crown Prince is suffering from hemoptysis and his father seems to be aware of it as well, interrogating Gyeongjong on how long he’s been coughing up blood.
Back in Dae Gil territory, we see him pondering escape. He ventures up into the woods when no one is looking, and we see the man who discovered him in the mudflat. That man now has a name, Kim Chae Gun (Ahn Kil-Kang). The two make intense eye contact with each other, until Chae Gun nods his head to indicate the presence of a snake behind Dae Gil. Dae Gil then proceeds to eat the snake raw, while staring very intently at Chae Gun. Not really sure what this whole scene was aiming to communicate, but alright.
Then we have an awful rape attempt. The Demon tries to force himself upon Sul-Im, but her screams for help are enough to alarm Dae Gil, who comes to her rescue. He manages to maim The Demon enough for the two to run away to the woods. Unfortunately for the pair, the forest is plagued with tigers, and they come face to face with a hungry looking one not too far into their escape. Dae Gil tells Sul-Im to run for it, raising a stick to the tiger right as it pounces. But it is Chae Gun’s sword that slays the tiger. Talk about good timing. Chae Gun mumbles a few words about Dae Gil having luck, but hopefully they weren’t too important because I’ve already forgotten them.
Dae Gil is taken back to the Demon by his lackeys and gets a ruthless beating for trying to run away, much to the horror of Sul-Im. After the beating, the Demon feels that a more suited punishment would be to have Dae Gil eat his shit. Literally. So, Agwi takes him to the shit box and literally takes a dump on him. I’ll leave that one to your imagination. Shortly afterward, Agwi shoves that infamous nyang coin back into his mouth. In this moment, Dae Gil suddenly remembers his father’s death and spits out the precious coin, now teary eyed at the recovery of all his memories. Cue mudflat scene where Chae Gun encounters Dae Gil, who asks to make a bet on his life. Chae Gun simply remarks that he should live, before quietly walking away. The image of Chae Gun is then replaced with Dae Gil’s father, Baek Man Geum, refueling Dae Gil’s desire to exact revenge on Lee In Jwa.
Later, Dae Gil finds out how Sul-Im came to be a slave. She reveals an awful scar on her chest, explaining that her father lost her in a bet and died leaving her to grapple with all his leftover debts. She says she still loves her father, and hopes to one day get revenge on the people who took advantage of her father, and asks Dae Gil not to forget her.
The final scene takes place in the gambling house where Dae Gil is winning continuous betting rounds against all who challenge him. This is all thanks to his recollected memory, since he is able to utilize all of the gambling tricks his father taught him. His owner allows him to gamble in the hopes that Dae Gil will bring in big money for him. Everything stops however, once In Jwa enters the scene, and is challenged by a fiery and confident Dae Gil. In Jwa recognizes Dae Gil immediately, but at this point, Dae Gil is still feigning memory loss.
The two engage in a round of tujeon. They pick their cards. In Jwa chides that Dae Gil’s fate relies on the cards he’s chosen, and Dae Gil finally snaps, laying down his hand and demanding to know why In Jwa killed his father. But everyone is in shock when In Jwa lays down the only possible pair to beat Dae Gil’s hand. Dae Gil isn’t phased however, and proceeds to accuse a confused In Jwa of cheating. Because of Hong Mae’s pre-established rules, if Dae Gil is proven correct, In Jwa will lose a hand. Both men seem confident, but the Demon fishes out a card hidden in In Jwa’s sleeve. In Jwa infers that Dae Gil must have snuck it in when confronting him earlier. Just as The Demon raises his axe to cut of In Jwa’s hand, the episode ends.
I’m really glad to see another female character introduced in these episodes, because Lim Ji Yeon cannot act to save her life. I really like Kim Ga Eun. She’s much more believable and her character is also much more compelling than Dam Seo. A solid two episodes in my opinion. Both had enough action to keep my attention and push the story forward. There were a few holes but nothing major. And as I mentioned earlier, the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking and that alone makes the show worth watching.
Have you watched the Royal Gambler? What did you think? If you haven’t, you can check out the six minute extended preview with english subs here.