So it turns out the whole run-in with the foreign invaders really was just a one-off plot point intended to establish how Gil-dong and his team are the unambiguous good guys. In context that's not quite as cheesy as it sounds, since some serious discussion is given to the idea of how Gil-dong's popularity is a risk to the ruling class mostly because people like him. They don't especially like King Yeonsangun.
Ironically if King Yeonsangun knew he could become popular by icing random obnoxious nobles he'd probably be a lot more interested in that scheme than chasing after Gil-dong. The villains in general are a weak point in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People", since the only guys who are really explicitly evil appear are never around for that long. Everyone else is just doing their job. Gil-dong is a bandit, after all, and context notwithstanding the government is supposed to make a priority of catching criminals.
This proves awkward since Gil-hyeon has sworn to capture Gil-dong so as to ingratiate himself with the authorities, and has only just now caught up with Ja-chi well enough to realize that his brother is still alive. While I'm glad that the characters are finally learning important story facts we've known about for some time now, it is somewhat daunting to realize that it's taken this long for Gil-hyeon to figure out what's going on. You'd think Gil-dong's name would have been a decent clue.
...Then again I'm not sure Gil-dong's name has ever been brought up in connection with the bandit attacks until this episode. Which does somewhat explain why the authorities used to have such trouble, yet this time they're able to affect captures with startling efficiency. Well, once the script calls for it anyway. "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" has not been the best in explaining the logistics of Gil-dong's operation aside from "the common people run interference for him", and it's not totally clear why that ploy suddenly failed.
Maybe they just finally ran out of luck? The often arbitrary obstacles at play in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" are the drama's most contrived weakness. There's not even much sense of irony since Gil-dong is not aware that the two most important female characters are hanging out at the palace right now. I am naturally excluding Ga-ryeong since at this point her only purpose in the story would seem to be as Moley's inevitable kidnapping victim.
Review by William Schwartz
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 20"
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