Gaksital aka Bridal Mask Episode 17 Recap
Now this was one hell of a bad-ass episode where we get plenty of action, movement and heartbreak! Kang To comes clean with Dan but has to face a slew of accusations and distrust due to his past misdeeds-there’s no outright forgiveness for him and he realizes once more that the path of Gaksital is also one of redemption. Things don’t just go forgiven and forgotten. But what Dan’s yet to realize is that Gaksital has traveled down the road of redemption many times already!
I probably say this every time but Gaksital only keeps getting better and better! Oh dear, why isn’t it next Wednesday already?! Olympics, Gaksital will never forgive theeeeeee!!!!
Episode 16 Recap:
Kang To and his ensemble of soldiers escorting Damsari get caught in crossfire with freedom fighters-Damsari’s comrades and Kang To, while keeping Damsari safe, saves the life of a freedom fighter by shooting down a soldier, causing Damsari to look at him in a whole new light. While the comrades think killing Lee Kang To is the perfect solution, Damsari is now convinced otherwise.
The fight dies down soon and Kang To and the freedom fighters face one another. Damsari stops his comrade from shooting Kang To, only to see him felled by a bullet from another party-Shunji and his men who have now reached the location to recapture Damsari.
The freedom fighters immediately start backing away and firing at the soldiers while Kang To and Damsari stand in the middle of it all. When Damsari moves to make his getaway and Shunji closes in, Kang To knocks Damsari out from the back. That action is seen by Damsari’s woman comrade.
As Shunji and Kang To stand side by side, Kang To commends Shunji’s timing, telling him it was impeccable as there would have been trouble if they didn’t come. Shunji glances at him sideways, not bought over much and asks what happened. Kang To tells him of the confrontation-the rebels must have been watching them and moved in on this chance. Just then, Koiso comes back, announcing the rebels got away. Shunji’s not worried and orders Damsari taken back-they’ll be caught later, he implies.
As Shunji walks away, Kang To gives him the transfer orders for Damsari but Shunji says there’s no need for them. That irks Kang To’s radar-aren’t they taking Damsari to be transferred? But Shunji says he’s taking him back and Kang To asks if the order has Kono’s approval. Shunji deflects-does he not realize his duty now that he is in love with a rebel’s daughter;there’s no forgiveness if he crosses the line of a Japanese officer but Kang To retorts back- Don’t cross that line. His orders were to take Damsari to prison and he was doing just that, as a Japanese soldier. Anyways, back to the police station it is.
As soon as they get back, Kang To walks in ahead of the rest, not even bothering to look back and Shunji stares at his back suspiciously. He gives Koiso two orders-the second is silent but we know it has to do with moving Dan somewhere without anyone knowing. The first is to keep Kang To away from Damsari.
Kang To goes straight to Kono and gives him the update on bringing Damsari’s transfer, the ambush by the rebels. While Damsari didn’t escape, their officers were killed and it seems the rebels still have ammunition left with them. Kono is surprised as hell-what ammunition? And Kang To tells him of the armory being robbed before the commemoration ceremony. Kang To points out Damsari’s public execution now is simply inviting more trouble-what if they were met by their own weapons by the rebels? The rebels are bound to attempt a rescue and that would put even the public in danger. Kono’s stumped-what public execution and realizes Shunji went against his order. Just then, Shunji walks in.
An enraged Kono slaps Shunji but the latter doesn’t bat an eyelash. Angry, Kono removes Shunji’s badge and orders him arrested for not following orders but Shunji speaks up-he thinks of catching Gaksital as his destiny. Does Kono think removing him will make him give up?
Kono orders Kang To to cuff Shunji but Shunji tells Kang To to stay out of it-unless the governor general gives the order, he’s not leaving this place. Kang To cuffs him when Kono repeats the order and is about to lead him away when Kono’s phone rings. It’s the governor general. He orders Damsari’s public execution. Uh oh. Kono argues against the idea but the governor general tells him to just do as he’s told and hangs up. That puts Kang To’s mind wheels running-How could someone of his rank order around the police director? Aha, now Kang To is becoming distrustful of Shunji- I bet the rest of the pieces will follow soon. He wonders, “Who in the world could be standing behind Shunji?” Shunji orders him to open the cuffs and Kang To complies. Shunji faces Kono and tells him they’ll move ahead with the execution and thanks a lot for his permission. Shunji’s mannerisms are bland like his expression but his tone contains that sarcasm, that deviousness that’s running in his mind. Parki Ki Woong is the best part about Shunji!
And the governor general’s influence was Rie who is with him at the very moment. The governor general knows Kono is right to object to the public execution but how can he say no when faced with Lala?!
Shunji calls Kang To to his office and they both sit for a one to one chat. Shunji plays the bland but evil expression so well. Shunji questions him about Damsari. Seeing as how Damsari was responsible for the attack on Kang To, it’s clear they aren’t on the same side but Kang To’s actions in transporting Damsari were a little too rushed. Why did he take him out so early? Moreover, they were ambushed. Kang To visibly swallows but tells Shunji it’s because he’s against a public execution-it would become trouble for them if things spun out of hand.
Kang To says he didn’t want Dan to see that with her own eyes-how can she see her own father killed in the public? Damsari’s death is imminent-there’s no escape but there’s also no need for it to be so public. Shunji disagrees – Damsari is the “rat poison” that can wipe out everything in one dose—Gaksital and the rampant rumors sweeping the populace.
Kang To walks up to the cells, eyes downcast but here to see Dan and looks inside the cells to find her gone. He rushes out. Shunji gets a phone call from Koiso-Dan was transported as per plan and Shunji says he’s just on his way over. Kang To comes over to find his office empty.
Kang To sits at his table and now beings to wonder-Shunji moved Dan. When did Shunji become so strong? He’s going against Kono’s orders and even moved a prisoner from lockup! He wonders who is the support behind him and remembers the commemoration day fight with Kachiyama. He flashes back to the hotel room he followed Kachiyama to. He makes a call to the hotel and asks to be dialed into suite room 501 but there’s no answer. Without hesitation, he heads out, only to have a man from the police station follow him.
Shunji arrives at 501 and knocks on the door after straightening his tie and smiling. Kachiyama watches him from the shadows. Inside, Dan is sitting. Shunji sits opposite her, asking her gently-and his voice only creeps me out more, “Esther, are you alright?” She spits in his face-and I promptly said, Yahoo! Go girl! Without a word, Shunji wipes his face and smiles at her, telling her her father was just brought back to the police station and the governor general has ordered his execution. He tells her Kang To was rushing him to the prison to have the execution carried out but plays himself as the hero who saved the day and brought him back from certain death. Oh no you didn’t, Shunji! Meanwhile, Dan is stumped-Kang To did what?
Shunji asks her “Surely you didn’t believe Kang To when he said he was in love with you?” and she tells him, “Am I crazy?” Shunji tells her Kang To and Kono want too much information from Damsari and she’s not safe in jail, nor is her father. He tells her moving her here is best for her and her father but she must stay here-he’ll try his best to stop the execution so she must believe him. She scoffs, “BELIEVE YOU?” Go girl! Awesome! I love you soooo! She spits out that she can’t trust him, “After what officers who wore the same uniform as you did to my mom? From when I was 7 I was dragged along with my mom to be interrogated. They asked her to reveal where my dad was. All night they beat her and after beating her, they burned her.” They dangled her in a well and threatened to throw her down in front of her parent’s eyes. How can she trust him?
Shunji’s expression goes shocked and he grabs her hands, telling her he’s doing everything to help her, to save her, now almost begging her. She takes her hands back and Shunji pleads, “You know, don’t you? Gaksital killed my hyung! If I just catch him, I can take off the uniform!” He swears he wants to live by taking off the uniform and teaching little kids again. By now, he’s crying and begs her, “Please!” She looks away while he continues-“I just… I want you to be safe, to be by me. Is even that much impossible?”
She bursts out-her father is undergoing torture at this very moment and he wants her to sit tight?! She screams, “Am I your toy?!”
Her answer hardens his expression and with a frustrated scowl, he sits up and slaps her hard. Whoosh, and there goes my sympathy for you boy! You’re losing your mind, but you’re crossing all the wrong lines too! He orders his minion to keep watch on her-she isn’t to take a single step out of the room.
Outside, he barks orders at Koiso and then turns to go. Kachiyama meets him in the hallway and takes her to see Rie. She realizes he’s hiding Dan here and tells him no more mistakes-he can’t let Gaksital get away this time. Shunji tells her, “If I make a mistake this time I won’t forgive myself.” She points out he lost in his trap but he tells her not to think prematurely-who says he lost? He had specifically set the trap for Kang To. Rie scoffs, “Did you get any proof that Lee Kang To is Gaksital?” Shunji replies, “Even just by proving he was not Gaksital, that trap had value.” She wants Dan returned to her, ‘the fish I caught’ but he tells her no way.
Shunji asks what importance Dan has to her and Rie retorts its because Shunji still has her in his heart. Shunji tells her if she lays one hand on her, she’ll die by his hand. She’s like-WHAT? And he tells her, “I’m warning you, don’t mess with Oh Mok Dan.” She calls him crazy-is he going to spoil their big plan for one Joseon girl? He’s beyond caring and she’s all like-isn’t that why you’re putting your life on the line. But he scoffs at that and calls her, “What a pitiful woman” before leaving. She’s left stumped in his wake-and I loved that set down on her by the way. She scoffs to herself at his words but her eyes tear up and she tries to stop herself from crying, hardening her expression.
Kang To pulls up outside Asuka Hotel and sees Shunji leaving. He heads inside just as the tail comes up behind him. Damn, this had better not be bad. An anxious Kang To heads inside, probably thinking correctly that Mok Dan is here. When he’s standing in the hallway, he ducks out just in time for the door to 501 to open and Rie and Kachiyama to walk out. He watches them walk away and thinks back to his encounters with Rie and wonders if Lala purposely approached him.
In Dan’s room, her guard is busy checking himself out in the mirror and she easily knocks him out and runs into the hallway. However, the guards outside get in her way long enough that her getaway is compromised. The guard raises his hand to strike her when a voice shouts at him to stop. It’s Kang To. *heart racing wildly* She turns to see him and her expression immediately hardens with hatred.
He escorts her back in under the watchful eye of his watch and stops the guard from going in, ordering him to stay outside while he goes in. The watchman immediately calls Koiso who relays the news to Shunji who rushes out again.
Dan collapses on the sofa and Kang To approaches her. Fuming, she turns to him and rails her frustrations out, “You said you would help my dad escape. I am the crazy one for counting on those words, for believing the words of a traitor and someone who arrests freedom fighters-I am the crazy one. You are a Joseon person too so how could you use the heart of someone who wants to live like this?”
Kang To simply looks at her with pained and tortured eyes and quietly says, “I… thought you had died.” She is surprised at his tone and words wondering what is he referring to? He continues, if he even had the slightest inkling she lived, he’d have recognized her, found her long ago. Finally he says, “Boon ah, don’t you know me? That knife… The Young-i that gave you the knife… Don’t you recognize me?”
*bated breath* She gasps at him in surprise while her eyes tear up at the reference to her knife and her love-Young. She remembers their first meeting and how Young had asked his father to help her-the time they’d spent together and the first time she’d seen the knife on him, how they’d run for days and Young had fallen, hurt his foot and lost his knife. Boon Yi had gone back to the place he’d fallen and searched all around for it in the snow with her bare hands. By the time she’d come back, she’d lost all strength and collapsed as soon as she handed it to him.
He’d covered her with his own thick jacket, building up a fire and being by her side until the final encounter when he’d given her the knife and begged her to stay alive-she’d watched him go away and his last look at her had been when he’d seen someone strike her and averted his gaze, unable to watch her die. By now, tears are sliding down Kang To’s cheek but Dan is impassive.
Shunji is walking up to the room. Dan addresses Kang To- “Lee Kang To- the one who captured my father and got him the death sentence- that Lee Kang To is my young master? Lee Kang To – the one who catches and kills freedom fighters; that Japanese officer is the young master I was waiting for all this time? To catch Gaksital, the one who caught me and tortured me, that Lee Kang To, the one who was going to stand me up in the square and kill me. He is the young master who told me to stay alive and that he would definitely find me? How? How can you be young master? ”
Whoa, I love this scene, especially her reaction-it’s so heartbreaking for him to be confronted by his earlier deeds in this way and it gives him a total perspective of all he did wrong and how much redemption he still has to seek. He’s got to be lying, she shouts at him to say it’s a lie. “How can young master become a person like you?” She thought her Young Master was Gaksital, the man who helped the Joseon people; how could the man who was against the Joseon movement be her Young Master? His expression is pure heartbreak. He tells her,“Now I know down to my bones how much I lived the wrong way.”
He moves to take her hand and ask her to hear him out but she shouts at him to get out. Shunji draws up outside just then and hears Dan shouting at him to get out. He leans closer to the door. Inside, Kang To whispers to her to believe him, he really wanted to help her father and tells her there’s no time and begs her to tell him where he can meet her father’s comrades but that sparks her temper even more with Shunji’s words in the back of her mind and she jerks away from him, shouting at him to leave. The door opens and Shunji walks in. He addresses Sato Hiroshi and tells him “Didn’t you hear the words leave?”
Kang To heads outside listlessly. Even outside, he finds it hard to control his tears. *Heartbreak* This is just awesome and exactly why the series is as good as it is.
Meanwhile, the Count is on his way somewhere and his wife sees him off. Turns out it’s a meeting at the governor general’s to decide how to make the Joseon people fall in line. Long story short-they decide to go ahead with the public execution. Also, to outlaw the speaking of Korean and instate Japanese as the national language. If anyone supports Damsari or Gaksital, they should be shot on the spot.
Kang To comes to see Damsari. He wakes up the sleeping Abe there and tells him to leave. Abe tells him he’s not supposed to be here but leaves with one look from Kang To. Kang To lets Damsari down and helps him into a chair and settles down opposite him. Damsari remembers the scene in the forest, where Kang To had saved his comrades life and tells Kang To he saw him save his comrade’s life and he is a Joseon person after all. Kang To tells him of his impending execution and that he promised Boon Yi he will save her father but he can’t do much himself and begs his comrade’s location.
Damsari asks how he could convince his comrades even if he did meet them and Kang To asks him to trust him. And he addresses Damsari as ‘Teacher’. “I want to rescue you, to ensure that life was not taken in vain.”
Damsari just tells him not to do anything risky “I can’t see any more young people dying to save me.” Kang To disagrees, “They are not just dying for nothing. As you told me, I am breaking eggs against boulders, aren’t I?”
Those words seem to reach out to Damsari more than anything.
Damsari’s comrades sit contemplating their options when the door suddenly opens and before they can react, Gaksital stands there, facing them. They are overjoyed to see him and one of them inadvertently moves in for a hug.
That night, Rie stews with Kimura Taro and asks if he didn’t realize Shunji still loves Dan. Taro points out that can’t be since Shunji is working even harder and more ruthlessly, may I add, than Kenji. She scoffs at his ignorance. He asks if it means they have to kill Dan and she tells him she’s the one who will kill her. She stops him from leaving-he should see her death himself. At the same time, Kachiyama carries an unconscious Dan away. Lol, he walks like a zombie! And the expressionless face doesn’t help either! Kang To arrives just in time to see Kachiyama drive off with Dan in the back seat. Yeah, my heart almost stopped too!
Kachiyama carries Dan in while Kang To watches and rushes off. Inside, Dan is laid before Rie. Kachiyama has brought his sword along. Dan finally awakens and Rie addresses her with that evil smile, sarcastically calling her ‘sister‘ and reminding her she said they would meet again. Rie tells Taro to convey her words to his son “You don’t stake your life on something as ever-changing as love, but power” and orders Kachiyama “Kill her”.
Kachiyama draws his blade as everyone watches. Dan closes her eyes, bracing for the blow when the door is suddenly cut open and a dagger hurls towards Kachiyama. Kachiyama ducks away but the dagger hits him in the arm. And the next second, Gaksital bursts through the door. Well, you sure did have that suit handy, Kang To. Carrying it in the car now, hehe? And again, why isn’t this music/song in the OST yet? I’m dying here! Gaksital knocks Kachiyama down blow after blow, not even giving him time to fight back. Rie stares in shock while Kimura Taro runs into the action and draws a sword from the wall. Dan stares up at her savior and Gaksital helps her up, ready to lead her out.
They both turn to see Taro approaching with the sword and Gaksital turns back to face this nemesis. Needless to say, he’s a much better fighter than the older Kimura and knocks him down with two straight blows. Rie gets up now and draws a sword just as Gaksital leads Dan out. She cuts through the space they pass through the door and Kang To knocks her sword away. She heads out to pursue him just as Kachiyama stirs and follows them too.
In the courtyard, both Rie and Kachiyama face the masked hero, here for the kill. Kachiyama and Gaksital fight sideways in the pond while Rie swings her sword at Dan. Kang To is even better now and Kachiyama deliver blow after blow to one another using the momentum of the water to their advantage while Dan adeptly avoids the sword Rie is swinging. However, Rie finally knocks her down with a kick.
Gaksital sees her approaching Dan for the kill and cuts in, finally coming out of the water, Kachiyama following close behind. The white of Gaksital’s clothes reveal blood on his leg-he’s injured. And this time, he’s surrounded by both sides-Rie on one, Kachiyama on the other. He manages to keep a protective arm around Dan, keeping her out of danger as he deals with blow after blow by Kachiyama and Rie, getting cut in the arm as well.
He finally pushes Dan back, when he has Rie and Kachiyama on the same end and gestures at her to run before turning back to fight. Dan stands there stunned for a few moments as Gaksital faces the two assassins with his bleeding arm. Even Rie is stunned to see his resolve.
Kachiyama and Rie approach and Gaksital fights them both off, delivering a knockout blow to Rie but is overpowered by Kachiyama. As Kachiyama stands to strike him, Dan hurls her dagger at him but he easily deflects it so it hits a tree instead. Kachiyama eyes her as Gaksital ekes out, “Hurry up and run” to her. This time, Dan obeys.
Gaksital takes advantage of the momentary diversion to deliver two blows to Kachiyama that send him straight into the water. Gaksital takes off as well then, limping and panting in pain and retrieves Dan’s knife from the tree. Rie awakens to see him getting away.
Dan runs into the forest and arrives at her ‘Gaksital’ spot looking around for any sign of Gaksital, waiting and praying for a long time. She finally hears the sound of a horse and sees the Gaksital horse slowly approaching her whereas its owner lay on top- unconcious and bloody.
With tears, she approaches the figure and draws away the mask as Kang To lies there, unmoving and eyes closed. She gasps in surprise and shock as he opens his eyes and tries to focus on her.
Awesome episode! Awesome awesome episode! DAEBAK!! That’s what I kept mumbling to myself throughout the episode! 😀 But again no preview?! Are they trying to kill us? 😦
Shunji, shunji, shunji! He’s such a layered character it is such fun to hate him! And I love Park Ki Woong playing him! I can’t imagine anyone else giving him such depth and such feeling. When he’s begging, you feel sorry for him and remembering the man he once was, you want him to become the better person yet when he goes the wrong way and takes the wrong steps, you cannot help but damn him to hell. I’ve not seen a lifetime of Korean dramas, but this villain totally tops all I’ve seen. I used to think the Daddy in City Hunter was bad but this-this takes it to a whole new level.
In the scene where he confronted Dan and begged her to stay by his side, telling her he wants nothing more to return to his old life and old self, you can see he’s earnest. He looks like a lost puppy that desperately needs someone to love him, to pat him and tell him it’ll all be alright and that whatever he’s doing is right. However, the fact remains, he has too much of Kimura blood in him to overcome and that is what makes him the monster he was afraid he was becoming. What he doesn’t realize is that his actions are not the noble heroic he stands them to be-Killing Gaksital and Damsari may be right by the Japanese police but what about Dan? How can he kill the only two people she has left in her life and still expect her to be by his side, smiling? For this lost puppy, the catalyst is Dan-he needs her approval, her smile and her love but he doesn’t realize that biting her loved ones will only send her farther away, not keep her by his side.
Moreover, I think by now, Gaksital has truly become Shunji’s obsession. The more the masked man evades him, the more he becomes ruthless and drowns in darkness. He cannot let go of this idea in his mind until he sees it through and because of that obsession, he cannot see or comprehend the hurt Dan is feeling. What he’s doing is for himself-with the wild conviction that it’s best for Dan as well but in truth, it’s all for self-gratification. Like Taro says, he’s truly standing up to the Kimura namesake.
I loved the exchange between Shunji and Rie-he totally blows her over by pointing out her single flaw-she would put her life on the line for power-how pitiful is it that she has nothing else in life to focus on?! It’s like she already has the realization but hid it deep inside herself and to hear someone else lay it out bare for her brings the pain and emptiness of being so shallow in life back to the surface. It shows that however tough the exterior she’s built for herself, she’s not totally closed her heart. Another indication of the same thing-the way she is bothered when she realizes Kang To was caught because he confessed to being in love with Dan.
One thing-I am so waiting for the point where she realizes Kang To is the man behind the mask and want to know what she will do then. She’s not totally, madly in love with Kang To to the point of loyalty and dedication but she does hold him in regard in her life. What I want to see is how that will develop and what will be the end result of it. Her end words tickled me, “You don’t stake your life on something as ever-changing as love, but power” and I would so like to see her life filled with the contradiction to it. I want her to realize that power, and not love is ever changing. And even if the love were to change-that moment when you live in it, all sacrifices are worth it. If she truly does go down the path I’m hoping she does, it would add such a wonderful arc to her character.
I love the way Kang To approaches Dan about who he is and outs himself, knowing very well she’ll react. We could see the torture Kang To was facing whenever Dan or her father were placed in danger and however he tried, he couldn’t get past their defenses without outing himself as who he truly is so it’s amazing to see him take that leap and confront all her anger and hatred for him, knowing full well he deserves it. The scene was played out brilliantly-you could see the anguish on both their faces-Mok Dan’s and Kang To’s-him because of the hatred and anger she felt for him and her for all the shattered illusions she had about ‘Young Master’. She’s always been idealistic where Gaksital/Young Master was concerned. She remembered him as the caring, thoughtful person and his status was even more enhanced in her heart when she thought Gaksital was her ‘Young Master’-a spirited, caring person who was reaching out and helping more people.
And then to suddenly be confronted with the idea that the man she totally hated, the man responsible for her father’s dire fate, for her own torture and almost death was the caring and spirited person she carried in her heart? The reality of it is shattering for her. No matter how much Kang To may have helped her in the past (unknown to her); what she remembers most is the way he relentlessly pursued, tortured and almost killed her. How can she suddenly turn her view of him around and think of him differently? For her, the day Shunji reacted the same as those ‘other’ officers in her life and had her tortured, he went from her friend to the enemy-no in between land; for her, its all been two sides of the coin, if not one, than the other. Yet now she has to look at Kang To beyond what she’s always thought. Knowing everything now, she just can’t peg him down as a friend, nor can she continue to hate him as a foe-what then?
I loved the way Gaksital burst through that door to save Dan. It gives us another glimpse of the hero that is not quite invincible. In his previous fight with Kachiyama and this one-he was the one who almost lost and emerged more hurt. He may have the superior skills over the Japanese army and equivalent to Shunji’s but he needs to go much further to become superior when it comes to Kachiyama and Rie since they are also a threat to him and Dan. A dagger may not be handy every time he has to fight the guy.
I love the dynamics that plays between Damsari, Kang To and Dan. Damsari sees Kang To as a shadow of something good even before he has reason to believe it of the younger man-he instructs Dan to trust him even though he himself was witness to Kang To’s cruelty. And the way Kang To calls him teacher in this episode and looks up to him-it’s like he’s no longer saving Damsari only because he’s Dan’s father. That was his original purpose, yes, but since then he seems to have realized the importance of the ‘egg’ on the boulder even more and that has become the real reason why he wants Damsari to stay alive. Kang To is taking the leaps we’d never have thought possible before-he’s holding people and their pain before himself and his own.
And while the world sees Gaksital as the hero and Kang To as the villain, Kang To knows full well he has a lot to repent for before he can truly redeem himself from the person he had become and become someone who truly deserves to don the mask and be called the protector and helper of the people. And Dan’s words become a true wake up call for him-not that he needed one but it kind of raises the question he avoided asking himself-how did he become Lee Kang To-the ruthless and coldblooded man who cared for naught and went against his own countrymen?
The whole journey and Kang To’s Gaksital is truly worthwhile! 🙂
Posted on July 26, 2012, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged bridal mask recaps, diary, Drama, entertainment, friends, Gaksital, gaksital recaps, kdrama, Korean drama, life, love, misc, miscellaneous, musings, personal, random, random thoughts, reflections, Relationships, Romance, stories, story, thoughts, Writers Resources, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.