With a heavy heart I watched the final episodes of Ruler: Master of the Mask and forced myself to say goodbye. I delayed this moment in my denial that it was really over, but I come today to finally say goodbye and show you the final moments of this great story.

Previously on Ruler: Master of the Mask: 01 & 02 - 03 & 04 - 05 & 06 - 07 & 08 - 09 & 10 - 11 & 12 - 13 & 14 - 15 & 16 - 17 & 18 - 19 & 20 - 21 & 22 - 23 & 24 - 25 & 26 - 27 & 28 - 29 & 30 - 31 & 32 - 33 & 34 - 35 & 3637 & 38

Ruler: Master of the Mask
Episodes 39 & 40

The episode starts with the medical team in despair for still not finding the antidote when Hwa Goon's father tells them they need to use the roots of the flower. He hands in the instructions and they are surprised, Ga Eun even suspects him and asks why he's helping, but the man declares that's something that only concerns the king; like that he leaves, reminding them the antidote is poison for those who haven't had the deadly flower pill.

Somewhere else, Chief Jo is igniting the flames of an uprising with the water delivery men, making them believe the king is against them and mobilizing them.

   

The king is informed of this situation and he understands this is what Dae Mok referred when he said his people would turn their backs on him, and he does understand and for that he uses the pack carriers to tell them they'll have jobs and a way to make a living even if they stop being water carriers. 

Meanwhile, the ministers are getting more and more anxious, aware that Dae Mok is waiting for them to beg for the antidote. The antidote they need, however, is being created with the new instructions and to relief of everyone, this time it passes the test and they run to inform the king the great news. Ga Eun tries to give one to the prisoners first, but they refuse knowing Hwa Goon's father was who gave them the knowledge to make it and thinking it's just a way to kill them. And just like them, everyone else refuses to take the antidote. All ministers come to beg the king to let them go to Dae Mok and Sun, being the ruler he is, allows it if his subjects don't trust him, as long as they are saved. The others yell and scold them, but it's finally Ga Eun who does something to make them believe the king. She stands in front and takes two deadly pills, immediately being struck with the effects of the poison. The king runs to her, worried, and watches her take the antidote but even then she faints. The ministers take this as a proof it was all a trap and walk away, Sun allows him to do so.

Dae Mok in his residence is waiting for them, anticipating all the ministers to come to him for the antidote, so he smugly tells them only the first ones to kneel and beg will get the antidote. To his surprise, no one does as told and they only glare. It is then when they realize none of the men have red spots, and right after that, the king is announced.

What happened is that Sun came and stopped the minister and prisoners before they left, showing them Ga Eun alive and well. Back to the present, Sun tells Dae Mok they created the antidote and he cannot control his people with poison anymore. He came to take the elder and even if all the Pyunsoo Hwe should be punished, the king gives them one last chance to surrender within an hour and they shall be forgiven. The countdown starts and bits by bits they swordsmen start surrendering. When the hour strikes, the last guards surrender and the king can walk inside the Pyunsoo Hwe. Inside, Chief Jo is ready to fight for the man who gave him the chance to live as a human. With swords and skills, they fight each other. At some point, Chung Woon spots Chief Jo before he attacks the king and stops him with one strike, the body of the man falls limp to the ground and like that, the victory is for the king's men.

Sun walks inside Dae Mok's room where he is waiting, his right hand tried to escape but was captured already, now only the elder is left. Sun comes to take him, not kill him because Hwa Goon's father asked for his father's life to be spared in exchange of the antidote. Sun says he won't forgive the man, but acknowledges how his antagonism shaped him into a true ruler, and he apologizes in behalf of the nation for abandoning him before and pushing him to become a monster. Dae Mok challenges verbally Sun again, asking him what he'll do when his people are like Dae Mok, but Sun replies he'll lend them his shoulders to overcome anything. Dae Mok finally realizes the kind of man that's standing in front of him and murmurs, "If I had met a ruler like you before…" Then the poison starts making effect and as he declares not regretting all his actions, he promises to watch Sun from the afterlife and exhales his last breath.

With Dae Mok and Chief Jo dead, the victory is clear and everyone celebrates at the palace, but Sun doesn't care, he just goes to hug Ga Eun as everyone turns to give them space. Now that it's over, Sun tells Ga Eun to go and save their friend. That same night, Chung Woon escort Lee Sun and the king presents him with the antidote but Lee Sun only glares at the king.

   

The final episode starts with Sun telling Lee Sun to take the antidote for Ga Eun, as if it came from her, and Lee Sun does, as he'd take anything she gives him. After swallowing the pill, the red spots disappear. Lee Sun says he won't apologize although Sun does, saying he never imagined things were going to be so hard for the poor boy. The king states Lee Sun will always be his first friend but the boy doesn't return the feeling and walks away. Ga Eun tries to tell him to go back to how they were, but it's impossible to turn back time and he walks back as Sun tells her they shall wait for their friend together.

Without their enemy, Sun has now to deal with other matters like the reaction for forgiving Lee Sun, but he declares the boy was once a king and deserves the same respect and consideration. Then his advisors tell him he should let go of Ga Eun as she was the fake king's queen. Ga Eun accidentally eavesdrop this conversation and feels the need to remove herself from the king's life, leaving a letter explaining she doesn't want to be a hindrance for him. Sun, aware of this, calls for a meeting where he states he shall give up the throne for not being fitting, he cannot ignore or let go of Ga Eun, a woman that sacrificed herself for them all, so the minister should find a new and better fitting king. Obviously, they refuse to.

Lee Sun wonders, finally, why Sun gave him the real antidote this time and as he thinks, he realizes it was Hyun Seok who made him doubt the king, so he runs back. Hyun Seok is meeting Dae Mok's right hand, asking if he should kill the king but instead he is ordered to kill the king's weakness.

Ga Eun watches the people rejoice when the wells are opened for everyone and in that moment Sun shows up, telling her he cannot lose her because that means losing himself, he needs her to keep an eye on him so he won't be corrupted by the throne and asks her to marry him and become the mother of the nation. This time, moved to tears, Ga Eun accepts his proposal and pure love. Sun hugs her as the people on the streets recognize him and bow to him in gratitude and devotion.

Sun allows for Ga Eun to say farewell to her loved ones and returns to the palace, while Lee Sun finds out Hyun Seok lied about his father so he was most definitely with Dae Mok, so he rushes to alert the king and runs into Woo Bo, asking for Hyun Seok. The man answers the guard isn't with the king but someone else. 

Actually, he's escorting Ga Eun back to the palace, and in the middle of the forest he makes everyone stop and Ga Eun to exit her palanquin. In that moment, Hyun Seok kills everyone else as he approaches Ga Eun to kill her, too, not because he has a grudge against her but because she is the king's weakness. Before the man can strike, Lee Sun shows up, standing between them. Hyun Seok tells him to step aside, he does not desire to kill him, but Lee Sun fights, yet he isn't fit to the task and is easily disarmed. The guard goes at Ga Eun again, but Lee Sun stands in between when the other man swings his sword, receiving the cut. Ga Eun is targeted again as Lee Sun falls, but the king and his men show up, trying to stop Hyun Seok, ultimately it's only Sun who manages to stop him and save Ga Eun. The two rush to an agonizing Lee Sun who thanks Ga Eun for giving him a name and a dream, and apologizes to Sun, telling him he was also his first and last friend and asks him to be a great king for the nation. He dies with the memory of that first day when they met.

One year later, Sun walks with Ga Eun and keeps pondering what makes a great king, accepting that's something he'll always ask himself, his way to repay those who died for him. 

Then, in the courtyard of the palace, the coronation ceremony takes place, with everyone watching proudly how the young couple stand together. From among the ministers, Ga Eun's father shows up, asking Sun to become a king loved by his people. Sun looks somewhere else and Hwa Goon's also there, asking him just to be happy. Finally, next to his family, Lee Sun also shows, smiling and asking Sun to be a great king for all the nation. Sun smiles sadly before turning to Ga Eun and together watch their people, with the promise of a great future ahead.

   

I'm not crying… I'm sobbing! I got really attached to the characters and it broke my heart seeing some of them die, but it shattered me seeing them showing up in the coronation, smiling and proud of their friend and king. My emotions changed a lot, characters I was wary of became my most beloved ones, those characters I loved at some point I ended up hating them at another point. My experience was never dull with this K-drama and I can imagine it was somehow similar for the rest of you. I enjoyed every episode and I'll keep this story in a special place in my heart. I might even write fan fictions of Hwa Goon and Gon! Who knows?

It was my pleasure to recap this show for you and this is where I say goodbye, my last recap for you all.

Farewell.

COMING SOON

Ruler: Master of the Mask

Starring Yoo Seung Ho and Kim So Hyun

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The selection of scenes and gifs were made by Bel, just a regular fangirl who spends too much time watching K-dramas. Sarcasm is for the sake of humor. If you want to make use of the gifs, please give credit.

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