The rivalries are brewing, as Ae-shin’s courters are beginning to realize that they’ve got company. They’re all pretty bad at making their affection known, but Ae-shin isn’t waiting around for someone to make a move. She makes some big moves on her own in her new partnership and against her enemies, which is both dangerous and promising for her future involvement in saving her nation.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Eugene approaches Ae-shin and asks if her offer still stands. He’s referring to her request for him to be her partner in “love,” the mysterious English word that Ae-shin vaguely understands as something more desirable than civil service. Eugene agrees to do “love” together with Ae-shin, and Ae-shin is satisfied with his response.
She asks what they do first, and Eugene instructs her to introduce herself. She follows his instructions and says that she’s already familiar with her partner, Eugene Choi. But Eugene corrects her and introduces himself as Choi Eugene, pronouncing his last name as the familiar Joseon surname. Ae-shin nods in understanding of this subtle difference and admits that she has plenty yet to learn.
Eugene reaches out his hand to offer a handshake and explains the gesture as one signifying that you have no weapons or intent to hurt the other person. Ae-shin gladly takes his hand and says that “love” is easier than she expected. She then asks when to let go of his hand, and Eugene responds that she can let go when she wishes to hold a weapon against him.
Ae-shin notices the ceramist’s apprentice approaching with her items, and she excuses herself first. She rides in the boat with the innkeeper and glances at her hand, thinking back to the handshake. The innkeeper returns to retrieve Eugene, and he also looks at his hand, reliving the moment.
When Eugene returns to the hotel, he passes by Hee-sung struggling to open his door. Eugene can’t open his door either, and he realizes that their keys have been switched. They exchange keys, and Hee-sung asks Eugene if it’s his father or grandfather that makes him the target of Eugene’s hatred. Eugene says that he didn’t like Hee-sung from the start, and that makes Hee-sung smile in relief.
Eugene seems curious about why Hee-sung is always jolly and positive, and Hee-sung admits that he’s not like this all the time. In a more serious tone, Hee-sung asks Eugene who his oppressor was — his father or his grandfather? Eugene finds offense to Hee-sung asking the oppressed who his oppressor was and tells him to ask his parents directly. Eugene shuts his door and leaves Hee-sung with his key on the ground.
Hotel owner Hina waits for Eugene at the reception desk after purposefully switching the keys and calls herself pathetic for this ploy. She stands up at the sound of a new guest, but her face freezes when she recognizes the man. It’s Wan-ik, and she doesn’t seem to welcome his presence.
Speaking in a familiar manner, Wan-ik comments on the grand scale of the hotel and asks Hina how she’s been doing. She describes the uncomfortable assumptions she faced after being widowed by her rich husband, and Wan-ik apologizes for not attending the funeral. He says that he noticed her mother’s face being posted on a bulletin, and Hina admits that she’s sent people to search for her every three months. Wan-ik derides her attempts to find her mother, doubting that she’s alive.
Wan-ik asks for a room at the hotel, but Hina refuses. She says that she’ll allow anyone but Wan-ik to use her hotel. She asserts that she has no obligation to listen to his demands because her surname makes her loyal to the Kudo family. Wan-ik claims credit for her surname, since he’s the one who sent her off to marry that old man, who bequeathed this hotel to her. Ah, Wan-ik is her father!
Wan-ik says that he’ll send correspondence soon and turns to make his exit. Before he leaves, Hina warns him that her husband was one wrapped in secrets. She tells him to beware of frequenting this hotel, since he’ll never know what he’ll eat there, implying that he could be poisoned.
Later in her room, Dong-mae responds with surprise at Hina’s disclosure of her husband’s cause of death, which we assume is poisoning. She asks if he’s scared, but he proves otherwise by saying that he accepts his fate if he must die in her hands and takes a sip of his coffee. Hina sighs and admits that she’s angered by both this impressive man and that disinterested man who only show interest in another woman. She says that if she bites Ae-shin, then Dong-mae will be partly to blame.
Dong-mae stops drinking his coffee, triggered by the mention of Ae-shin out of the blue. He tells Hina not to mention Ae-shin abruptly again and asks how she knows Wan-ik. Hina truthfully reveals that Wan-ik is her father and asks Dong-mae to affirm that she’s nothing like her father, which Dong-mae does. She says that he’s the reason why she needs a personal bodyguard — she won’t bear to be stolen from again. “He stole my mother, my youth… my name.”
Dong-mae asks what her stolen name was, and Hina discloses: Lee Yang-hwa. He says that it’s a beautiful name, but unfortunately, he can’t fulfill her request because he’s already being paid a massive amount by Japan to guard Wan-ik. Dong-mae gets up to meet Wan-ik, and Hina childishly wishes him all the worst, which amuses him.
Wan-ik asks about the location of the bank document, and Dong-mae assures him that it hasn’t been found yet, meaning that it’s really lost or someone who found it doesn’t know its value. But Wan-ik isn’t content with the bank document just rotting somewhere because it’s worth too much. If Japan gets its hands on the document, then more railroads will exploit and ruin Joseon. If the Righteous Army finds the document, then they will have the funds to buy dynamite to blow up these railroads.
Dong-mae asks what will happen if the document gets in Wan-ik’s hands, and Wan-ik smirks as he says that he can make sure the king can never sleep peacefully. Wan-ik claims direct influence on whether Japan rises or falls. Dong-mae laughs that he’s found the ultimate rebel, and Wan-ik belittles him by ordering the eternal butcher to just find the document.
That mention of his butcher roots provokes Dong-mae, and his eyes turn bloodthirsty as he warns Wan-ik not to target his inferiority complex. He threatens him with the hypothetical in which this eternal butcher finds the document and makes sure that Wan-ik never sleeps peacefully. Dong-mae threatens to invalidate their agreement and storms out, leaving Wan-ik shocked and furious.
The Japanese ambassador, Hayashi, scolds the two Japanese soldiers who stormed into the U.S. embassy without reporting to their superiors. Hayashi can’t stand being humiliated and being the target of the Joseon people’s gossip, and he demands to know who was behind this.
One soldier throws Baldy under the bus, and Baldy accepts his fate. As Hayashi approaches him with a sword, Baldy also takes out a knife to pierce himself. But the sword slices the tattletale soldier, and Hayashi says that a crazy is better than a tattletale.
Hayashi warns Baldy of his fate if he acts out of line again and orders him to clean up the mess, meaning his dead bloody comrade. Baldy isn’t fazed by the death of his comrade and digs into the fallen soldier’s clothing to find their salary payment from yesterday. Baldy sits on his dead comrade and counts the money, which the Joseon translator watches with horror.
Horrified by the sight he just witnessed, the translator finds Gwan-soo to share what he just experienced. But when he sees the man he’s talking to, he realizes that it’s not Gwan-soo but Il-shik, the look-alike pawnshop owner. Ha, it’s another poke at the visual similarities between the two actors.
Gwan-soo is sitting at the next table, and the translator runs over to him fretting about the crazy Japanese soldiers. He tells Gwan-soo to relay his warning to Eugene, who’s bound to be their next victim. But Gwan-soo isn’t worried because Eugene can clearly hold his own. He repeats Eugene’s solemn vow to get revenge, and the eavesdropping pawnshop duo at the next table realize that they’re doomed.
Il-shik and Choon-shik try to temporarily close their pawnshop out of fear that Eugene (who they’ve figured out to be the young slave they lost in their slave hunter days) will seek revenge on them. Cue: Eugene entering the pawnshop and telling the duo to lock the door behind them. Il-shik and Choon-shik look to the heavens, accepting their looming fate.
Late at night, Ae-shin practices her English and gets distracted with Eugene’s name, which she spells and repeats. The next day, her maid stops the carriage in front of the bakery and tells Ae-shin that her cousin once again opened a tab under Ae-shin’s name, this time for bingsoo (shaved ice). Ae-shin is curious about this popular dish and enters the bakery to try it with her maid. They both thoroughly enjoy the bingsoo, and Ae-shin expresses her enjoyment with English exclamations (“D is for Dance!”)
At the English school, Ae-shin and her classmates sing along to the alphabet song. Afterwards, her friend tests her on the letters she’s learned so far. Ae-shin proudly zips through the letter and word associations for letters ‘A’ through ‘F’ (A is for apple, B is for boy… ). But at ‘E,’ she says: “E is for Eugene.”
Her friend stops her to repeat the word association for the letter ‘E,’ and it takes Ae-shin a moment to correct herself: E is for English. Next, her friend teaches her the letter ‘L’ and says that everyone at the school likes this letter because it stands for “love.” Ae-shin looks eager to learn and confirms that this “love” is the thing that is more difficult, more dangerous, and burns hotter than shooting a gun.
Her friend seems jealous that Ae-shin can exchange love with her fiancé, but Ae-shin flatly denies this. She admits that she’s agreed to “love” with someone else and says that it’s easier than she thought. Her friend freaks out and says that’s not allowed. She finally explains what love means, and Ae-shin yells in shock. She grasps the letter card in her hand and screams once more.
Mortified by her misunderstanding, Ae-shin lies down in her room and thinks about her conversations with Eugene regarding “love.” She comes to the conclusion that Eugene was trying to ruin her, and she sends off her servant to surreptitiously deliver a letter to the U.S. embassy.
The servant tries his best, but he gets caught by American soldiers while clumsily trying to hop over the wall. He gets brought to Eugene, and he delivers the letter from Ae-shin. The servant then takes out this sickle and threatens Eugene to keep this a secret lest he feel the wrath of the sickle. Eugene doesn’t seem threatened at all but plays along.
Eugene opens the letter and stares at it intently, but little Domi points out that he’s holding the letter backwards. The cheeky boy says that they now share another secret, and embarrassed Eugene tries to cover up his illiteracy by clarifying the difference between choosing not to read versus not being able to read. Eugene realizes his futile explanation and Domi gratefully leaves before Eugene embarrasses himself even further.
Sitting outside with her working maids, Ae-shin stares blankly, deep in her thoughts. One of the servant girls finds her with a delivered letter, and Ae-shin assumes that it’s from the U.S. embassy and fakes her unwillingness to head over. But the girl clarifies that it’s from Hee-sung, who’s sent yet another love letter and carriage for Ae-shin to come to the hotel. Deflated, Ae-shin orders the girl to send the carriage and letter back.
Hee-sung sits in the hotel restaurant, brooding about why Ae-shin won’t accept his affection. Hina fills up his glass and advises him on the matter. She instructs that in order to pull on a woman’s heartstrings, he must express his sincere feelings to Ae-shin instead of sending her temporary seasonal flowers. Hee-sung admits that he doesn’t have much to offer since he’s just met Ae-shin, and he proposes the idea of lying that his admiration for Ae-shin started before he left Joseon. Hina opposes this idea, and he accepts her advice.
Hina suggests that he just send the letter confirming their engagement, which is an easier way to secure Ae-shin as his wife. Hee-sung knows that this option exists, but he admits that he’s scared that he’ll resort to this easy and bad method. Hmm, interesting.
The worker at Glory Hotel meets with Dong-mae, trying to take Hina’s advice to use her weapons instead of crying in the face of difficult situations. The worker needs to buy medicine for her ill mother, and she offers information about Eugene in exchange for Dong-mae’s sponsorship.
She reveals that she saw an envelope in Eugene’s room with English writing. She didn’t open the envelope to make sure it wasn’t moved from its original location, but that’s enough to plant suspicion in Dong-mae’s head. Dong-mae hopes that it’s the document he’s looking for because he doesn’t want to make a certain woman cry.
Dong-mae shows up at Eugene’s door and announces that today is the day of their search. The gang scours through Eugene’s room, and Eugene asks Dong-mae if he’s also searching Hee-sung’s room, trying to figure out if this is for work or due to a grudge. Dong-mae finds no difference, since both his work and his grudges involve a sword.
Yujo presents an envelope to Dong-mae with Eugene’s name on it. Eugene says that it’s a personal letter that he hasn’t (not can’t, he insists) read. So Dong-mae offers to read it to him, and his smile drops when he realizes that it’s written in Korean. He reads Ae-shin’s letter, which asks him to respond immediately upon reading the letter so that they can discuss a change in their arrangement.
Dong-mae seems disappointed by this personal letter, but Eugene looks relieved that someone read it to him. Referring to the letter’s contents, Dong-mae says that a change can lead to misfortune and avoidance can lead to bloodshed.
Dong-mae warns him to beware since he seems to be a wanted man and threatens to kill him if he has anything remotely close to a letter in his possession again. As Dong-mae and his gang retreat, Kyle arrives and asks if Eugene has been hurt. But Eugene just stands there, flabbergasted that Dong-mae can read Korean.
Hina hears of this nuisance and runs into Eugene as she heads up the stairs to his room. She says that it’s a relief if someone’s been injured, because usually someone dies. Eugene shows her the broken music box, a casualty of the search, and asks her if she knows anyone who can fix it. She refers him to the best mechanic she knows, who happens to be Seung-gu’s friend who disassembled the American gun.
Eugene seems suspicious of the mechanic, who says that it’s his first time seeing a music box. But he’s the best Eugene can find in Joseon, and just as he gets up to leave, he notices a familiar piece on the ground. He recognizes it as the missing piece on the stolen American gun.
He asks the mechanic if he really knows what he’s doing when he takes apart these items. The mechanic admits that he doesn’t fully reassemble items belonging to people he doesn’t like, but he reassures Eugene that he’ll fix the music box because he’s curious what song it’ll play.
That night, as Eugene tries to read Ae-shin’s letter, he’s attacked from behind by none other than Ae-shin. She’s dressed in her all-black shooter outfit, and she orders Eugene to meet her at the medicine shop near the area where they first met. She runs off over the embassy wall, and we see that Eugene dropped the letter and a basic Korean language book.
When they meet, Ae-shin demands to know why Eugene hasn’t responded, and he tries to explain that he has yet to read the letter. Ae-shin thinks this is all a cheap excuse, and Eugene infers that Ae-shin discovered the translation of “love.”
Proud Ae-shin claims that she knew the meaning of the word all along and that she’s just there to warn him that she may kill him. Eugene is amused by her reaction and says that she was the one who made the initial offer.
Ae-shin takes offense to Eugene’s light nature and grabs his gun. She points it at him and cocks it properly, despite not knowing how to use it. Eugene looks surprised and raises his hands in surrender, suggesting that they use words. Still pointing her gun, Ae-shin asks why he chose to “love” when he previously admitted that he wouldn’t do anything in Joseon, and if he did, it would be to ruin Joseon.
Eugene clarifies that his action wasn’t intended to ruin Joseon but a person. But he admits that he realizes now that this was path to ruin himself. She asks why he did this, and he says that he doesn’t know if it was revenge or jealousy.
She asks him to elaborate on this revenge, but Eugene wonders if she’s not curious about the jealousy. She says that she interpreted that as a confession, which he’s already done multiple times. She’s caught on to his admiration and admits that she’s also subtly confessed to him herself. Eugene seems betrayed that seemingly innocent Ae-shin detected his admiration all along and tries to leave to collect his thoughts, but he can’t budge under Ae-shin’s watch and under the point of the gun.
Meanwhile, Baldy eats at an expensive Japanese restaurant, where he spots a server in the next room to his liking. He barges into the room and points his gun at the two men, threatening them to leave. He sits next to the server and asks where she’s from. She says she doesn’t quite know where in Japan, but she came to Joseon to make money. Baldy says that he also came to Joseon to make money and plans to own a house when he returns to Tokyo.
They discuss that spring is upon them, and Baldy asks the server how many beans she plans to eat this season. She says that she likes beans, so she’ll probably eat around a hundred. Baldy laughs and then suddenly accuses the server of being a Joseon person. He angrily explains that there’s a Japanese tradition (mamemaki) in which people eat the amount of beans to match their age. He grabs her by the hair and drags her out.
Baldy drags the server into the streets and hits her brutally, punishing her for being privy to all the secrets of the high-ranking Japanese officials who frequent the house. She demands that he just kill her, and Baldy yells at her to speak in her mother tongue to prove his accusations. He starts dragging her by the hair down the street, and when a man tries to intervene, Baldy shoots him dead.
The sound of gunshots interrupts the argument between Ae-shin and Eugene. They peer out of the shop and notice the scene outside. Ae-shin recognizes the woman as the one who opened the window at the Japanese restaurant for a clear shot at Logan Taylor, and of course, she recognizes Baldy as the arrogant soldier who pointed his gun at her on the train.
Ae-shin tells Eugene that she’ll be borrowing his gun, and he tries to stop her from intervening, since she’ll be in danger. But she insists that she’s always been in danger, and she must go to save this woman because one day, that woman could be her. Eugene drops his case and informs her that the gun only has five bullets. Ae-shin confidently says that she only needs two.
Ae-shin heads outside and uses her first bullet to shoot the street lamp on her side. Once she’s hidden in the darkness, she aims at Baldy and shoots his hand. Baldy lets go of the Joseon woman and falls to the ground, screaming in pain.
The woman runs away, and enraged Baldy begins to shoot randomly into the void, cursing at the person who shot him. Ae-shin points the gun at Baldy once again, but Eugene takes the gun from behind and approaches the volatile soldier, who continues to shoot randomly everywhere.
In his last step in darkness, Eugene shoots his own hand with his gun and then steps into the light. Baldy points his gun at Eugene, but he’s out of bullets. He demands to know who shot him, and Eugene says that’s not important because Baldy just shot an American soldier. Ae-shin watches from the protection of darkness as the Joseon army gathers around the two rival soldiers.
Ae-shin sits in her room, engrossed in the thought of Eugene claiming that he ruined himself and shooting his own hand. Meanwhile, Eugene sits in a jail cell quietly in thought while Baldy screams wildly in the cell next to him.
The Japanese server and disguised Joseon woman reports to Seung-gu and Eun-san (the ceramist) about the incident, and about Ae-shin and Eugene saving her. Since she’s no longer safe working in Joseon, they plan on sending her to Shanghai, and the innkeeper provides her with money to settle there. In a flashback, we see that this Joseon woman was the young girl who mourned her father’s death right next to young Seung-gu at his father’s grave. Eun-san calls her by name, So-ah, and tells her that they will meet again, assuring her that they’re stronger than they think.
The next morning, Seung-gu and Eun-san discuss their wariness of Eugene. Knowing that Eugene is the young slave boy he saved decades ago, Eun-san infers that he must have some grudges that could taint his intentions for getting involved with Ae-shin. Seung-gu decides that he’ll need to pay him a visit.
They wonder how the king will determine Eugene’s fate, and Seung-gu comments that he still doesn’t trust the king. He remembers in his youth that Wan-ik had told the war survivors that the king had abandoned them. Eun-san scoffs and asks why Seung-gu is trying to save the nation if he doesn’t honor the king. Seung-gu answers that he must save the nation so that he can be a rebel, as he’d originally planned.
Kyle and Hayashi visit King Gojong to make their arguments for who deserves the blame for this. Hayashi claims that the American solider was also responsible, but Kyle blatantly argues that Baldy is the sole assailant in this situation. Hayashi continues to argue otherwise, and King Gojong takes offense to Hayashi’s lack of remorse and responsibility for the two innocent Joseon people that drunk Baldy killed. King Gojong declares that the Japanese soldier will be subject to Joseon laws and consequently be sentenced to death while the American soldier will be released.
Kyle is waiting for Eugene when he’s released, and they head back to the hotel on horseback. On the way, Kyle comments on the king’s royal garment and wonders where he can find one for himself. Eugene notices a familiar carriage on the side of the road and passes by slowly. In the carriage, Ae-shin hears the horse pass by and glances through the small opening in her window.
Dong-mae steams in anger at the dojo, and Yujo asks what’s going on. Dong-mae explains that he recognized the handwriting in Eugene’s letter. We see that Dong-mae had collected pieces of Ae-shin’s writing from her visits to the book shop by demanding her shopping lists from the owner once she was gone. As he looks through his collection of Ae-shin’s handwriting, he thinks back to the letter addressed to Eugene and repeats the contents to himself as he simmers with jealousy.
Hee-sung meets up with the servant in his home in his attempts to figure out what secret his parents were keeping from him. He noticed their weird behavior on the day he arrived, so he asks the servant what his parents were investigating. The servant explains that his parents sought out slaves in their household from thirty years ago after an American soldier barged into their home recently.
Hee-sung confirms with the servant that this American soldier looked like a Joseon person, and he wonders why Eugene would look for slaves and not nobles. Hee-sung seems to assume that Eugene comes from a noble family, considering his rank in the U.S. navy.
Eugene unfolds a piece of paper hidden in his bible and thinks back to his exchange with the pawnshop duo. He had asked them to hold the bank document, and he looks at the receipt of the exchange before slipping it back into hiding.
Ae-shin visits the medicine shop and makes eye contact with the owner, who shakes her head. She must be waiting for Eugene to make a visit, but he hasn’t shown up yet.
At the hotel, Hee-sung notices Eugene arriving and asks if he was the soldier involved in the Japanese soldier case. Eugene seems annoyed and tired, but he turns around at Hee-sung’s comment that Eugene seems to be busy making appearances everywhere. Eugene notes that he’s finally seeing Hee-sung’s unsmiling face, which makes him look like a nobleman’s son.
Dong-mae listens in on this tense conversation and joins the two. He wonders if his words became seeds for reality: change leads to misfortune and avoidance leads to bloodshed. Dong-mae wonders if next time, he should just tell Eugene to die instead of taking care, since it could once again become seeds for reality.
Eugene feels like he’s being ganged up on, and Dong-mae vaguely explains that he feels like he’s been cut in line, even though he’s never had anything to begin with. Hee-sung glances at him with a surprised look as Dong-mae continues with a warning to Eugene to just linger around as the American soldier and do no more. Dong-mae no longer cares about what document he holds because he already holds something too great.
Hee-sung intervenes and says that he’s grasped why they’re so angry. He asks if the person by their side is the same person by his side. This person isn’t here now, but she’s been with them from the beginning. That person is Ae-shin.
Ae-shin waits at the medicine shop and thinks back to Eugene’s intervention to face the Japanese soldier. She hears someone approaching and looks at the door expectantly.
Hee-sung tells the two men that this person had better not be his fiancée, because he doesn’t want to have to hold any bad intentions. At least not yet, he says.
Hee-sung has my heart in this episode, with his clumsy yet sincere efforts to win Ae-shin’s affection. He’s not trying to be disrespectful, but he only knows how to court ladies with his playboy smile and gestures, and that is no way into Ae-shin’s heart. With Ae-shin and his attempts to absolve himself from his family’s sins, I can see how much he cares to make things right. Unlike his father and grandfather, he has a conscience that makes him so much more complex and desperate for resolution. And while he may not want to hold any bad intentions, I cannot wait for his patience to run out. Things are just waiting to get interesting when he goes rogue and spices things up.
But wait, Dong-mae also has my heart in this episode, because how frighteningly cute is it that he collected those papers with Ae-shin’s handwriting? I’m pretty sure that he had been collecting Ae-shin’s book request papers before he read her letter to Eugene, which explains his severe disappointment when he saw the letter’s handwriting. He’s even worse at expressing himself than Hee-sung is, and he really needs Hina’s coaching, if only she would offer it. Hina held herself with a tender confidence that was beautiful to watch as she confronted her father. Wan-ik as her father adds another layer of tragedy in her life, and it will surely make things interesting when she decides which side to take, which will never be her father’s side.
The “love” partnership felt a little contrived, so I enjoyed how quickly this mystery was dispelled for Ae-shin. I found the banter between Ae-shin and Eugene held at gunpoint more natural than their previous interactions. Their conversation was quite humorous and surprisingly candid, with each of them confirming their interest in each other while also feeling betrayed by the other person’s lies, which are a given when you need to keep up an act. I could watch more of this roundabout love lost in translation (literally) over the slow-motion glances with lens flare for extra drama.
While Ae-shin and the boys will surely be a fun source of drama and action, I’m more interested in Ae-shin’s arc as a resistance fighter. She’s a talented shooter with sharp instincts and almost too much courage, and I want to see how she grows out of her noblewoman disguise to fully embrace her true calling. You could just tell how much her heart was in the movement when she explained with conviction that one day, that woman being dragged by the enemy could be her. She’s able to be carefree and adorably naïve as a noblewoman, but I want more of that badass shooter on the screen. Raise the stakes, y’all. I’m ready!