Gaksital aka Bridal Mask Episode 23 Recap
The game only gets bigger and bigger. When you’re working towards such a goal as liberation, the fight never stays with one man alone. And when you pick up the cause of the people, the more the merrier. Like Damsari said, one egg may not make a difference against a boulder, but then again, there isn’t just one egg-there’s the whole Joseon nation that stands to defend itself. Slowly, things are set into motion for the final battle-it may be tomorrow, it may be a decade later, but what’s happening today is what will matter then!
Episode 23 Recap:
Gaksital moves in to save Reporter Song without realizing it is a trap. He and the comrade save Reporter Song, the latter two making their getaway while Kang To’s escape is cut short by the appearance of Ueno’s bodyguard Samurai. Okay, a side note-the new Comrade is totally badass at fighting. Woohoo! Gaksital fights him off but its more than he can do and makes his getaway by knocking the man down. The Samurai watches him go, not giving chase.
Stumbling into a side street, Gaksital falls to the ground, unconscious just as a figure steps out from the shadows – Shunji. Bracing himself, Shunji kneels over the unconscious Gaksital and removes the mask, reeling from the discovery that it really is Kang To beneath the mask. His expression changes from stunned disbelief to betrayal and anger. He mutters to himself, “It really was you after all! Lee Kang To, it really was you!”
He flashes back to all the times he had felt Kang To was Gaksital, or even a Joseon supporter and how Kang To had deflected his suspicions-when he had refused to torture Damsari, when he’d run in to save Dan claiming he loved her, when he’d mocked Shunji for thinking he was Gaksital.
“How could you, in front of me… how could you?” he mutters to himself thinking back to the moment he witnessed his brother’s death and when Gaksital had held his father at sword point. By now, his eyes are slowly tearing up, his expression still one of rage and he sits there, seething, almost bursting into tears and composes himself when Samurai joins him.
Samurai moves in to strike Kang To down but Shunji puts the mask back on Kang To and rises, stopping the man. He looks down at Kang To wearing the mask once more.
At the dorms, Dan frets, pacing her room and Jo tells her to calm down-if she’s like this, it’ll worry the comrades too. She apologizes but can’t help be worried-the call should have come by now. Jo tells her to bear with it for a bit longer. Agreeing, she exits the room to come face to face with Rie.
Dan is her usual gruff self but Rie isn’t on the offensive. She gives Dan a set of passports and cash, telling her via Japan, to go to America, Canada, wherever they want, but to leave… “Together with Kang To, leave Joseon.” Awww! Dan’s surprised but asks Rie what she means. Rie tells her, “However you see it, it’s ridiculous, but I’ve fallen in love with Lee Kang To.” The fact that she’s fallen for a Joseon man is something she can’t believe herself but she’s sure she will receive the order to kill him. “For the past two days, Will I really be able to kill him? That’s what I thought… That is why I’ve come to this decision.”
She warns her-if Kang To doesn’t leave-she’ll have to kill Kang To. Mok Dan wonders to herself-does Lala know Kang To is Gaksital? But on the surface, she snubs her, “Why are you telling me this? You seem to have a misunderstanding-what do I care about Lee Kang To?” At that she rises but Rie turns to her in stunned panic, “Don’t you want to leave with him? With these tickets and money, you could live happily without any worries!” Dan thinks to herself, “Because everywhere he looks there are so many people suffering, he has become someone who cannot take that mask off. That intention, that will of that person, I love and respect it.” Rie prods her-is she sure she will never regret it? Dan tells her she knows Rie is sincere but she must leave. Reeling and stunned, Rie leaves, her mind engaged already with worry. Kachiyama notices her depressed and wondering state.
Shunji meets with Ueno and reports what he found-just as he expected, Kang To is Gaksital. His samurai confirms it was the man who saved Rie five years ago. That sparks Shunji’s radar as Ueno mutters, “If she didn’t kill that man, even knowing he was Gaksital, Lala is a Joseon after all.” That is news for Shunji who now realizes Ueno’s nonchalance when Shunji asked permission to kill her. Ueno asks if Gaksital is dead but Shunji tells him killing Kang To now was not the option-they wouldn’t be able to get to Yang Baek and Dong Jin. And as long as those two are still around, the people’s hope and spirit will live on. Ueno smiles at that answer, telling his Samurai (whose name is Kinpei! Yaayy!) “Kinpei, that conviction is the future of the great Japanese Empire.”
He tells Shunji to keep it a secret from Lala that Ueno knows the truth about Kang To’s identity and Shunji asks for a promise in return-“Let me be the one to take Lee Kang To’s life with my own hands!” Ueno smiles even wider at that.
Dan heads inside a Joseon hospital while Shunji tails her. Inside, she finds Kang To and the new Comrade (Comrade Ahn) with him. She asks what happened and he tells her he escaped with Song, trying to get the latter to safety so was unable to help Gaksital and by the time he got back, Gaksital had collapsed so he brought him here. Assuring Dan he will wake up soon, he turns to leave to check up on Song. She approaches Kang To, taking his hand in hers and caresses his face as tears escape her eyes.
Ahn leaves and sensing he is a comrade, Shunji follows him but the guy’s literally too good, even for Shunji as he easily runs off and loses his tail. At Angel Club, the waiter approaches a mirror and calls out, “Comrade Tasha!” Tasha opens the door, disguised by the mirror. Inside, Ahn is taking care of Song. Tasha steps out of the room just as Shunji comes in. He heads for the same room, telling Tasha not to let anyone in. Inside, Song and Ahn realize there is someone outside so stay alert. In the room, Shunji sits there, gathering his thoughts.
Just then, Tamao enters the club, bidding everyone good morning cheerfully. Of course, he’s given the cold shoulder by Tasha along with an exasperated expression. I love the way his puppy face totally falls! Tasha delivers drinks to Shunji and Tamao walks in. He’s happy to see Shunji-it’s been a long time since he, Kang To and Tamao hung out together- and they used to be such a tight bunch. Shunji ignores him and turns to Tasha-he ordered no one be let in!
For a moment, Tamao looks crushed but ignores it and continues, regaling Shunji with their old time stories. Shunji cuts him off-Get out! But Tamao ignores that and not only does Shunji punch him after that, he holds his gun to Tamao- “This son of a bitch laughs? What? Friend? Me, with a damn Joseon?” He storms out and Tamao looks stunned, Tasha looking at him with compassion. The waiter goes after Shunji, to make sure he’s gone. Tasha turns back to the mirror on the wall once he comes back with confirmation and knocks, telling her comrades the coast is clear, they can come out now.
Tamao turns back in surprise and watches the men file out. They register his presence with surprise but Tasha tells them “You don’t have to worry about him.” The Comrades head off and Tamao slumps into his seat once again-now totally dazed.
Dan tends to Kang To who finally stirs awake. Dan immediately asks if he’s alright and I love the way his eyes soften when he sees her and that he calls her by her childhood name. Awww! Taking note of his surroundings, he asks her how he got here. He struggles to rise and remembers fighting with Kinpei while trying to save Song. He thinks to himself, “Is Lala thinking of killing me, or is it Kishokai?” Mok Dan tells him Lala came to find her.
“She wanted me to run away with you, giving me passports and money. I refused but no matter how much I think about it I am nervous. Doesn’t that woman know you are Gaksital? She said she would have to kill you.”
Kang To tells Dan not to worry and Dan tells him she’s been deceived by Lala before but this time, she knows Lala was sincere and that she’s truly worried about and likes Kang To. Kang To tells Dan how he saved a Joseon person five years ago and that person was Lala. Dan is surprised Lala is Joseon, but realizes it makes a lot more sense. Kang To takes her hand and thanks her for refusing Rie and Dan reminds him-she said she would follow him to the end. He caresses her face. *meeellllttttiiiiinnnngggg*Sara, I think I’m catching your germs!
Onto the lion’s den! Ueno calls Rie for a meet. When Rie comes, Kachiyama clocks the hatred for her on Kinpei’s face and the nonchalance of Ueno. I love the way his sword subtly moves in his hand. Ueno tells Rie he has decided to accept Kang To in to Kishokai. But she mutters that cannot be and says she made a mistake. Ueno wonders aloud if she also believes he may be Gaksital-like Taro said? Wasn’t it a misunderstanding?
Kachiyama clocks the way Kinpei’s hand moves to his sword and he lets his own out of its sheath, just a few inches. The air is tense, Ueno waiting for Rie’s answer and she finally replies, “That’s right!”
That takes the smile off Ueno’s face and he tenses a bit as Rie continues-she’s suspicious of his being Gaksital ever since Shunji said he had new evidence and they need yet to make sure. He tells Kinpei, “It’s not time yet.” The samurai takes his hand off his sword and both bodyguards leave, Ueno still watching Rie.
Song and Ahn go to a temple where they run through secret passages and come upon an underground room-where Dong Jin has set up camp. Dong Jin is happy Gaksital kept his promise. Ahn meets him as well-they seem like old allies. Dong Jin says he brought Yang Baek at a dangerous time but Ahn says it is necessary-now Yang Baek and Dong Jin must meet. Dong Jin agrees-Yang Baek must have planned something to have come at a time like this. Just then, they listen to an American boradcast over the radio.
Dong Jin muses that it means Western powers-USA and UK will probably be joining the war soon and it would mean Japan’s defeat. “That means the time of our independence is drawing near.” He asks Ahn where he must go to meet Yang Baek.
At the police station, Shunji gets to hear a handful from Yoshio for losing Gaksital. It’s so awesome the way he looks totally bored during the lecture and when Yoshio orders him to spill his plans, he mutters, “I’m sorry” so listlessly. Haha! And when Yoshio punches him, he tells Yoshio, “Don’t do something you will regret later.” Yoshio’s like-what did you just say?! “I will definitely catch and bring all of them to you – Yang Baek, Dong Jin, and even Gaksital. If you do this, how are you going to face me then?” Hahaha! Sorry, I can’t hold it in-however evil the guy is, he’s got guts!!
Yoshio mutters he has too much confidence and Shunji agrees-he’s sure of it. “There are times when you can shoot and kill a person and a time when you can’t! But a prepared plan can kill even the enemies who are invisible!” Yoshio warns him to bring results-otherwise he’s just trash who can’t deliver and Yoshio is the one who makes sure to dispose of that trash.
Downstairs, he finds out Kang To didn’t show up for work and Koiso wonders why they haven’t fired him yet. Shunji tells him not to say that-aren’t they a family? Abe catches sight of it. Just then, Kang To walks in and Shunji, peering from his office, wonders to himself what to do with him now. When Kang To comes over, Shunji is sitting in his chair and easily accepts Kang To’s apology for coming late. Kang To says he got into an accident and Shunji feigns concern-what accident? Kang To tells him nothing worrisome and Shunji asks for updates on the case.
Kang To says he’s investigating people around Park-just like Shunji advised. Ah, that creepy smile on Shunji. Shunji asks him, “Kang To ya, didn’t you know? Gaksital helped Song escape yesterday!” Kang To feigns ignorance and surprise. Shunji continues-It seems like Dong Jin and Gaksital are also connected so instead of investigating separately, they should both work their case together. “Why? You don’t like it?” Kang To smiles at that-of course not, working together is better because it’ll increase the chances of them being caught. Just then, Abe comes in and tells them it’s time for the morning meeting.
In the meeting, Yoshio takes the officers to task for letting Song be rescued and tells the officers it is because they are lax in their “Japanese Spirit!” Shunji speaks up and everyone gapes, especially because he’s arguing with the boss. Shunji points out that their system is flawed-people are demoted and promoted without reason . Kang To’s eyes narrow-what’s happening? Shunji continues-for the sake of the Japanese Police officers, Sato Hiroshi should be reinstated to former post.
That earns him a punch and a warning-does he want to be demoted as well? Yoshio leaves while everyone stands, still shocked. Kang To hurries forward and gives his hand to Shunji, helping him up. Damn, Shunji is good! Making Kang To feel secure, huh? Yoshio goes to confront Taro who balks that Shunji would ever do something like that. Yoshio warns Taro he won’t go easy on him because he’s Taro’s son and tells him to control his child before leaving.
Just then, grandma nanny brings tea for Taro and asks about her granddaughter-there’s nothing wrong, is there? But Taro shouts at her to not mention it again unless she wants to be sent away somewhere. She apologizes and backs away. Gosh, I can’t hate you anymore, Taro! Poor granny and her granddaughter! *crying*
The governor general and council meet and discuss their issues-conflict is escalating between Japan and China and they need more men. Taro suggests recruiting Koreans but Murayama balks at that- “You want to give guns to those Koreans?” Taro argues that they have no time-soldiers would take years to train so they should just fashion Koreans into imperial soldiers. No matter what Yoshio argues, Taro counters back and Wada gives approval to the project.
Taro shares the news with his fellows-the Count, Countess and their new friends who offer up suggestions-stop the use of Korean language, teach them Japanese history and force worship at Shinto shrines. Only the Countess remains silent and brings up another topic with a smile-what of Yang Baek’s return to Korea? She wonders how they pretend to deal with him when they’ve let even Gaksital slip through their fingers. An angry Yoshio leaves first. And I love the still disgruntled look on the Countess’s face.
At Yang Baek’s quarters, Damsari, Jo and the female comrade are in meeting with him. Jo argues that rumors of his coming to Korea are spreading and putting him in even more danger but Yang Baek isn’t daunted-his fellow men are suffering here, how could he not return? Talking of conflict in China and Japan, he tells the others that soon young Koreans will be dragged off to become a part of the war.And remembering all their comrades who have already died, Baek says they must take action now.
Shunji calls Kang To for a meeting. Seeing as how Gaksital saved Song, it means Yang Baek has come to Kyungsung, Shunji says, and must be wanting to meet Dong Jin. Kang To simply listens to it all. Since they don’’t know who Gaksital is, they need to find out the connection between Gaksital, Damsari and Yang Baek and the only way is Oh Mok Dan.
Shunji goes on-how can he get Mok Dan to talk-torture won’t work. “Somehow I have to make Dan open her mouth. You saw it too, how she was going to go into the nail crate herself. What method do I have to use to make her talk?” Kang To says passively, “I’m not sure. Is there even a way?”
Shunji says they have to find it and leaves to look for her, patting Kang To on the back once. Kang To sits there, closing his eyes.
Shunji draws up to the dorms just as Dan is on the phone. He’s calling from the police station and asks Dan to avoid Shunji-use Baek or Jo, but don’t meet with Shunji. She disagrees and tells him she’ll be fine-if she avoids him, then her father, Jo and Kang To will be in more danger. She hangs up when she hears him enter. Following her to her room, Shunji sits opposite her.
He remembers the time she told him Gaksital was not her ‘Young Master’ and asks her, “Should I find him for you? The ‘Young Master’ you want to meet? It will take some time but if I make up my mind it’s not like I can’t find him. I will definitely find him and see what kind of guy he is.” She tells him to forget it-she doesn’t want to be indebted to him. Shunji retorts, “Because of that guy, you won’t give me your heart!”
Dan scoffs at that, “Kimura Shunji! Do you think you can BUY my heart?” Shunji leans over her and whispers, “I won’t give you up even if you die! I won’t give you to anyone.” With that, he leaves. Okay, I feel goosebumps all over me. My skin is totally crawling. CREEPY! *shudders*
Kang To rides the train and Dan joins him. He asks what Shunji wanted and she tells him not to worry, it was just to ask about her father and promises him that even if he bothers her, she won’t let it get to her.
“From hereon too, you’re always going to be resilient like this, right?”
“Of course, after all, whose daughter am I?”
Kang To takes her hand and they both smile reassuringly at each other. Kang To thanks her and at the next stop, gets off.
When he gets off, he realizes the tail behind him and runs across the street with seconds to spare in front of the train. The officer following him loses him, stranded on the other end as the train passes. He goes inside Angel Club, probably hoping to find Kang To inside. Kang To watches him go. Hailing a cab from there, Kang To heads to the tailor shop.
At the tailor shop, Kang To paces downstairs as the other comrades sit and wait. Moments later, the door opens and Comrade Ahn, Reporter Song and Dong Jin walk in. Aww, see that smile on Kang To’s face? Even I’m feeling patriotic right now! Dong Jin formally bows to Yang Baek. Yang Baek helps him rise and they both hug as the others watch with smiles on their face.
Meanwhile, in the lion’s den, Ueno addresses his Kishokai ring-the latest agenda is to enforce the measures last suggested by Taro in preparation of enlisting the Koreans for their army.
Yang Baek at the same time recounts the story of a movement he was a part of once-The March 1 Movement and asks for Yang’s help in reliving history-making the same movement again, except this time-it’ll be country wide. Dong Jin agrees-he’s been training his men knowing such a day would come soon. A flashback shows Dong Jin’s men in action as they train in the forest-complete black ops style. Yang Baek says Joseon men would soon be dragged off in the name of the war and they need to stop that.
Kang To suggests burning family registries-not just individual family registries but the government records at the registrar’s office. Dong Jin agrees and wants to give the task to his men. Baek agrees and Damsari offers to help Dong Jin. At that, Kang To speaks up again: “I have a good idea. How about making the enemy fall into more chaos at this time?” Hehe, please tell me this is because Kang To is being smart, realizing Shunji suspects him and hence not falling for Shunji’s trap!
At the police station, a police officer-the tail on Kang To, reports to Shunji. He knows Kang To met Dan but lost him after that at Angel Club. Shunji warns him-if he makes another mistake, he’s dead. Just then, Koiso bursts in-Gaksital has set fire to the . Shunji walks out immediately, looking around the station, finally coming eye to eye with Kang To, carrying cleaning supplies. His face contorts with an expression of confusion.
Abe gets a call and reports a fire at another office. A third call comes in. Shunji realizes one building is left and directs everyone to go there immediately. I love the way Shunji turns to look at Kang To-with a what the hell is going on expression! Kang To equally feigns surprise at the news. Everyone files out at Shunji’s order and he specifically tells Kang To to follow him. Dumping the supplies, Kang To follows.
The police draws up to the building just as Gaksital (it’s Comrade Ahn, by the way!) is setting fire to the place. Officers alight and fire at Gaksital but he ducks easily and beats them down. Shunji watches Kang To and tells him to go and capture Gaksital, keenly watching him as he goes. Getting down himself, he preps his gun and runs into the fray. Kang To attacks Gaksital but he’s always off the target or a second late in striking, not visibly so, but letting Gaksital win the fight. As the fight ensues, masked men jump in, throwing knives at the police officers and taking them down.
Shunji fires at them and follows one man. The man’s no match for him and Shunji unmasks him to reveal fire-man, the man who put fire to Kang To’s house.
As Shunji backs around the corner, carrying his hostage with him, he sees Kang To being beaten by Gaksital. As Kang To lies limp on the ground, unconscious, Shunji fires at Gaksital but he makes his getaway. Shunji turns his gaze back to Kang To-full of speculation.
The episode was comparatively slower compared to the fast pacing of most other episodes but it was still poignant and meaningful in its own way. The whole Dong Jin/Yang Baek angle is becoming the setup for the grand finale. It’s like seeing all the precedents to the final most glorious firework to go out.
I loved Rie in this episode-she finally made a decision and just the decision I was hoping and expecting she would make! She’s such a contrast from Shunji-she doesn’t care that letting Kang To go means she will never be with him but to her, his safety and his life comes first-as long as he’s alive and happy, she’s ready to sacrifice her own love. I loved that she approached Dan with the offer-she already knows Kang To loves Dan and as Gaksital, she suspects Kang To’s feelings are returned and despite everything, she approaches Dan and gives her a ticket to happiness!
She’s probably not ready to take on all her fears yet-giving up on Kishokai totally would mean giving up the identity she has for herself and by offering Kang To the choice to run away, she is taking the cowards way out for herself where she won’t have to face the larger dilemma and the larger challenge. If Kang To leaves, there would be no Gaksital and even if there were, he would not be someone she would hesitate to kill. And yet, Dan’s refusal to leave and the fact that Kang To is the very reason Dan refuses-he would never leave, forces Rie to look up her options once more-now, it’s either do or die. And I have faith that this time around too, Rie will choose the better path.
And seriously, I am not sure Kachiyama can come out of the fight with Kinpei alive but still, I adore his care for Rie and hope that these two really end up well!
I think Kang To isn’t buying Shunji’s act-one, because he should already be plenty suspicious, since Shunji knows about his mothers death and this time, there has been no turnaround like before that would assure Shunji Kang To is not Gaksital and two, because of the tail still on him. That is proof enough that not all is well!
Also, I think Kang To’s suggestion of throwing the enemy into chaos is because he probably suspects or realizes that his secret isn’t that safe so it’s a perfect opportunity to throw Shunji off Kang To’s back or even to make him confused so that he slips up and makes a mistake. It totally is a game of the mind-they’ve both got to find out more about the other without revealing how much they know of one another.
And Shunji’s reaction to Kang To as Gaksital had me biting my nails! On one end, I feel for the guy to finally find out he’s really lost his friend and that Kang To has been betraying him and their trust for so long and yet I hate that he doesn’t regard the context of the happenings at all. But, you can also argue that he won’t regard the context since he lost his brother to Gaksital and that his father was once in danger. And here is where Shunji stops seeing past his own want-what about Kenji killing Kang To’s mother? All said and done-his own brother was the one who was wrong first.
And Tamao-I’m so excited to see him make his mark now. Ever since he expressed disgruntlement at his circumstances, this is like the first time he’s looked like it’s time he were ready to change his ‘cowardly’ and ‘pathetic’ state and that, I guess is the very reason Tasha takes that huge leap of faith and lets him in on the secret. And I guess the turning point, the moment she decided it was when she stood there and looked at him compassionately after Shunji had left. It’s like she recognized his dilemma and that he needed a boost-in revealing herself and her comrades, she gives him the perfect boost and momentum!
Posted on August 23, 2012, in Asian Cinema, Asian Comics, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Manhwas, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged best bud, bridal mask recaps, Dan, diary, Drama, entertainment, friends, Gaksital, gaksital recaps, Kang To, kdrama, Korean drama, life, love, misc, miscellaneous, musings, personal, random, reflections, Relationships, Romance, Shunji, stories, story, thoughts, Writers Resources, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.