[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People” Episode 26
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[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People” Episode 26

Now that Eorini has finally been identified, it’s up to attempted memory triggers by her brothers and various flashbacks to explain how exactly Eorini has not been able to recognize anything of her own life. It’s not clear to me that Eorini was really young enough for such brainwashing to plausibly work, and the motives for anyone to even try it in the first place were comically pointlessly evil for the sake of being evil. Haven’t we had enough of that by now?

Apparently not, because King Yeonsangun fills the other parts of this episode with the usual trying to solve problems with needlessly violent orders that just make people more angry at him. Although the real kicker is that King Yeonsangun remains completely oblivious as to why people hate him so much. We always get these juxtapositions of King Yeonsangun enjoying traditional performances while outside the palace people are beaten to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Aside from the obvious visual irony, though, this angle remains largely unexplored except to explain why Nok-soo is important to the story, as the main character encouraging King Yeonsangun’s artistic side. Ga-ryeong also gets an honorable mention- her big moment is the latest in a long line of scenes wherein a character gets tantalizingly close to just finishing King Yeonsangun off once and for all only for the scene to, as usual, end up coming to nothing. Well, hopefully Ga-ryeong will at least inspire Nok-soo to do something more constructive down the line.

Weirdly enough, the main characters to show serious character development that I’ve noticed aren’t any of the actual named characters, but rather the random extras in Gil-dong’s citizen army. Gil-dong continues to show a frustrating unwillingness to acknowledge that fighting King Yeonsangun requires he fight on a vastly larger tactical scale than has been seen up until now. Why bother training peasants how to fight if you’re not expecting them to help out?

That’s probably what’s really come to irritate me about “Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People”. At times, the drama shows real promise in accurately identifying how and why power gets abused, but completely pulls its punches when it comes to the moral ambiguity necessary to defeat a corrupt regime- and more importantly, guarantee a replacement with moral scruples. Yes, Yoon Kyun-sang’s presence constantly reminds me of the much better “Six Flying Dragons”. Unfortunately.

Review by William Schwartz

“Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People” is directed by Jin Chang-gyoo, Kim Jin-man, written by Hwang Jin-yeong and features Kim Sang-joong, Yoon Kyun-sang, Kim Ji-suk, Lee Honey and Chae Soo-bin.

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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People