Episode 7 of Damo opens with a recap, preparing us for an eventful episode. As you will recall, Episode 6 closed with Boss Jang (Kim Min Joon) racing into a crowd of soldiers armed with guns to rescue the wounded Chae Ohk (Ha Ji Won).
SPOILER ALERT: Stop here if you haven’t watched yet.
The retreating gang members backtrack to cover their leader with a barrage of arrows as he scoops her up. He rides hard for the camp, with a fainting Chae Ohk on the saddle in front of him. The thief has hysterics when he sees her condition, but Boss Jang announces that she will survive.
He tenderly bandages her, admiring her courage as he digs out the bullet with a knife, and keeping it as a memento (ew). Chae Ohk speaks aloud to him for the first time since arriving at the camp, but only to say how mute and powerless she sees herself to be. This is ridiculously inconsistent with her behavior. I try to remind myself that Korea in 2003 (and today) has a long way to go towards female equality, but total self-effacement is just irritating.
Meanwhile, Hwangbo (Lee Seo Jin) awakens in a sweat from a bad dream about Chae Ohk, to find Nan Hui (Chae Yeong In) hovering at his bedside. She is anxious to nurse him, even if he doesn’t accept her love, but Hwangbo is annoyed by her stalking. And who can blame him? Stop banging your head against the wall and move on, girlfriend! He’s not into you!
After reading a message from the camp, Hwangbo is in a near panic. He asks Chief Joh (Park Yeong Gyoo) to pull the infiltration team out but the Chief chides him for his lack of patriotism. The Chief also reminds Hwangbo that they will both be in trouble if they don’t come up with some evidence. He orders the spies to remain in position for 3 more days. Officer Baek (Lee Han Wie) is more sympathetic to Hwangbo’s anxiety, and offers to get him a horse. After all, Hwangbo is already fired, so what does he have to lose? Sounds good to Hwangbo, and off he goes.
Chae Ohk has recovered enough to join a gang picnic at a nice little spot by a creek. Boss Jang’s female sidekick Soo Myung (Kim Min Kyeong) arrives from town, where she was nursing a nasty leg wound from the thief’s jail break.
She is shocked to recognize Chae Ohk, and asks Boss Jang why the heck has he allowed a damo into their secret rebel camp?! In a fervidly idealistic speech, he points out that the gang members come from all walks of life. He hopes to recruit Chae Ohk, and tells Soo Myung to trust him. She informs him that Hwangbo has been fired. When she insists that now is their chance, he becomes angry, and orders her out of the hut.
The damo and the thief also hear about Hwangbo’s firing at the picnic. Chae Ohk is shocked, and stumbles away from the picnic like a woman with a bullet wound who shouldn’t be out of bed. Then she flashes back to her last embrace with Hwangbo, perks up decisively, throws off her sling, and races back to her hut to dress and pack. The thief arrives, and she orders him to remain behind and cover for her for 3 days, a plan he doesn’t welcome. Chae Ohk dashes off into the woods.
She hasn’t gone far when she sees Boss Jang giving a rider a secret and urgent message to carry. As soon as he is out of sight, she flies (literally) after the rider, catching up with the galloping horse, knocking him out and retrieving the message. Then, suddenly, Soo Myung is upon her.
Their magical swordfight is a long one. They seem evenly matched at first, but soon the bullet wound catches up with the damo, especially after all of that horse chasing. Consciousness eludes her and she starts to look afraid. Hwangbo arrives in the nick of time, running Soo Myung clear through. This only slows her down a little, however. They eyeball each other for a minute, then she wrenches herself off of his sword, and escapes.
Hwangbo and Chae Ohk reunite tearfully. He binds her bleeding bullet wound, trying to find out if she’s OK, while she keeps asking him about his job. They hug.
Soo Myung collapses into Boss Jang’s hut, anxious to let him know Hwangbo Yoon has penetrated the camp perimeter. However, instead of being concerned, he is pissed, yelling at her that she should have kept out of it. When she passes out, he finally realizes she is severely (fatally?) wounded and calls frantically for a doctor.
Hwangbo, Chae Ohk and Officer Lee examine the message she has captured. It appears to be blank, but after a little clever (if illogical) candle magic, the damo exposes the hidden message. They are stunned by the contents. It is addressed to the General, and Boss Jang reports that the counterfeiting operation at the camp has been cleaned up per his orders, so that only the coins hidden at his estate remain. Perfect evidence! A little too perfect, surely?
But they don’t know, as we do, that Boss Jang set up the whole message incident. They hustle back to Left Police Station to meet with Chief Joh. The Chief is skeptical that his childhood friend could be a traitor. Hwangbo agrees, until he remembers the secret force the General is training. Reluctantly, the Chief invites his old friend over for a drink so Chae Ohk and Hwangbo can search his estate.
The Chief reflects on the General’s history of impolitic outspokenness as he awaits the arrival of the guest. Although they are well hidden (Boss Jang is really gifted at this framing business) Chae Ohk eventually discovers the coins, and bring them to Chief Joh. He dutifully orders them to arrest the General.
Back at the rebel camp, they have succeeded in forging gun barrels. Magistrate Choi is impressed, saying Boss Jang can catch a tiger in one shot now. Boss Jang says three tigers will fall, and Magistrate Choi looks surprised. Who are the other two? Hwangbo and Chae Ohk? Is that why he was stalking Chae Ohk, not as an admirer, but to know his enemy? Was he using her for some vengeance of his own all along?
The court orders Chief Joh to continue the investigation, and turn the General over for “interrogation.” Hwangbo is reinstated, and ordered to prepare to lead the raid on the mountain camp. Commander Joh does not take this news well, pitching a hissy fit in front of all the officers. We see that his father was right about him after all. Hwangbo tries to mend fences in a private meeting, but he still feels aggrieved, and vows revenge. If he and sister Na Hui join forces, Hwangbo is in trouble.
Chief Joh visits the General in the jail. The General doesn’t seem to know what he is suspected of. Chief Joh ignores this, asking him why he did it. The general insults him, and tells him to leave. Chief Joh tells him that he will be tortured, but that he will try to keep him alive, no matter what he says. This upsets the General, but whether because he is guilty, innocent, or protecting someone else, we can’t quite tell.
When the Lords interrogate the General in the torture courtyard, he answers their questions rudely. Then the King arrives, speaking to him respectfully, remembering past loyalty, and asking him to repeat his oath of service, which he does. The King urges the General to tell everything – he won’t be killed even if he is guilty. Once again, the General looks pained by this, and tells the King not to say that – everyone is unworthy of his trust. He would rather die. The King orders the raid to begin immediately so the truth can be found and suspicions cleared. The General is not to be tortured under any circumstances.
At nightfall, the courtyard is full of armed soldiers on horseback. Chief Joh orders them to capture every member of the gang, as the country, the people, and the life of a man about to be unjustly sacrificed are in their hands. The clerk comes running into the courtyard to tell the Chief that the General has killed himself. The Chief looks stricken, Hwangbo looks surprised, and Chae Ohk, perhaps remembering her father, looks serious and thoughtful as the episode ends.
See all Damo and Lee Seo Jin reviews