Oh my goodness! This show really knows how to pack in the story! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I thought my heart was going to fail me as I watched this episode today. Whew~good thing I’m made of sterner stuff, or I would no longer be around to blog, not after today’s episode.
We’re only on episode 8, and the show continues to pile on the developments, slipping in one twist after another, not in just the real world but also in the spiritual world, emphasizing the connection between the two. The fast, yet solid, pacing of this show–particularly in the love triangle department–adds to the show but is certainly not the main focus, something I really appreciate. First and foremost, this show is about the bigger issue of evil vs. good; the romance is just a nice whipped topping on an already scrumptious cake.
Recap: The episode resumes with Eun Oh waking up to find Dol Swe on top of him. Poor trusty servant had fallen asleep while watching over his master.
Of course, Eun Oh’s first words are to ask after Arang. When he learns that Dol Swe sent guards to search for her body, Eun Oh jerks up, despite his injury, and rushes out of the magistrate’s residence to search for Arang himself. Never mind that he raises his voice to Dol Swe and stuns his faithful servant. I guess Eun Oh has never gotten mad like this at Dol Swe before. Aw…Poor Dol Swe…
He goes to seek the advice of Bang Wool, whom he is convinced can help him, but he interrupts her just as she’s about to have her lunch. Experiencing the same infatuation that Bang Wool had over his wet hair look, Dol Swe is mesmerized by Bang Wool and gently wipes the kimchi stain from her lips with his thumb. At this unexpected gesture, both of them stare at each other stunned for a moment before Dol Swe rushes off. Then safely hidden from her view behind a building, he berates his thumb, asking why it did what it just did. Pffft. Seriously, these two provide so much light comedy to balance the dark supernatural tones of this show. LOL
Meanwhile, Eun Oh pushes his horse to arrive at where he suspects Arang fell, only to find no trace of Arang. Yelling her name from the tops of his lungs, all the while clutching his injured arm, Eun Oh frantically searches for her, wondering where she is and what’s happened to her.
Unbeknownst to him, Joo Wal has Arang in the safety of his arms, escorts her back to his house, and lays her down in what looks like his bedroom.
Returning to the magistrate’s residence empty-handed, Eun Oh learns from the Bang trio that no one has come to claim the belongings. Certainly, none of the current inhabitants have lost loved ones. They theorize that the remains are either of people not associated with the village or of those who lived in the village so long ago that they are no longer remembered by the current villagers. Eun Oh dismisses this idea and declares that this crime scene happened in this village, so it’s a matter that pertains to this village.
Later that night, he paces the grounds and recalls Arang’s words about how she fears dying. Arang had told him, when he tried to callously drag her to the burial site, that he doesn’t know how frightening the moment of death is since he’s never experienced it. She has, and even though she can’t remember much about her human life, what she does remember is the terrifying fear right before she died. Remembering her words, he wonders how she died and exactly what she did to have to deal with this type of pain and torment.
Meanwhile, our demented soul-sucker performs a dark ritual that infuses blood into some black fabric, creating dark magic/black talismans. She then opens an ornately decorated box and takes out two long swords. Summoning her own demonic reapers, she hands them each a sword and commands them to go about their mission.
With her magic boundary disturbed by Eun Oh when he ripped those black talismans off the trees, another aimless/nameless spirit takes human form and attempts to eat the livers of a woman and child. In an attempt to save her child, the mother wrestles with the man and ends up dying.
As the daughter cries over her mother’s mother, the spirits of both the mother and the nameless spirit leave their respective bodies and look down on their corpses. But before the mom has time to truly worry about what will happen to her daughter now that she’s dead, ghost reapers show up and bind them with the infamous red ropes to take them to the afterlife. Unfortunately, two demon reapers show up to cut those ropes, and a vicious battle between the two groups ensues. The end result? Mother ghost and a ghost reaper are slashed by the demon reapers. Just as it looks like the demon reapers are winning, Moo Young shows up and fights back the demon reapers. Although one of them escapes with the nameless spirit in tow, Moo Young is at least able to recover one of their dark magic swords.
When the demon reaper returns, the soul-sucker is displeased until she realizes that she at least has another soul. She quickly “sucks” his soul out and transports it into one of the clay jars she has on the floor, a replica of the two jars she released to create her two demon reapers. *Shivers*
Moo Young returns promptly to report his findings to the two kings. The King of the Underworld is furious that that nome (a derogatory Korean word for a guy) should dare to touch one of his reapers, much less kill one. While his brother fumes in anger, the Great Jade Emperor muses that the nome seems to have recovered some of its skills, a comment that causes Moo Young to wonder if the two kings know who this nome is.
Underworld returns to his throne and thunders his anger while Jade comments that he hasn’t seen his brother this furious in quite some time. Moo Young gets the courage to ask Jade if he knows who is behind all this, but Jade merely comments that it’s not important who it is but rather how to capture it. When Moo Young asks if Arang is affiliated with this mess somehow, Jade simply sighs and leaves without answering. Uh-oh…
The next morning, Eun Oh rushes out again to search for Arang. Dol Swe, seeing the group of villagers, at first thinks that they are there to claim the belongings found in the burial site, but he soon learns that they are hoping the new magistrate will listen to some of their concerns and help them. Briskly putting them in their place, Dol Swe declares that this new magistrate is not the type of magistrate the villagers think; he doesn’t care much about the problems of others. One useful piece of information he does learn is that the villagers didn’t come to look over the belongings because they were afraid of angering Lord Choi. Dol Swe begins to realize the extent of the power that Lord Choi holds over the villagers.
Meanwhile, Eun Oh arrives at the lake, clutching his injured and obviously pained arm, still looking for Arang. With no sight of her, he suddenly gets an epiphany and races off.
As for Arang, she finally wakes up and fearlessly explores her new surroundings. *Exasperated sigh* Did no one tell this girl that she should be afraid? I mean, c’mon…someone actually killed her when she was Lee Seo Rim. What makes her think the same fate won’t happen again? She’s already died twice now in her “humanized” form. Twice! As she explores the house, asking if anyone is there to tell her where the young master is or whose house she is at, no one answers because there is no one there to answer her…Very odd. Absolutely. No. One. Is. Around. Not even servants.
And this is the creepy, spine-chilling part…as she goes from nook and cranny–kitchen, veranda, clay food jars, etc.–to ask the ghosts that normally reside there whose house she’s at or where the young master is, she can’t find any. Not. A. Single. Ghost. *Shivers*
Leaving the house, she sees a series of steps that leads into a bamboo forest. Still fearless and completely unaware of the potential danger, she climbs them, asking as she goes if anyone is there. *Palm smack to forehead* She’s seriously asking for trouble. I would have personally gotten out of there. Out. Of. That. Creepy. House. *weak, scared whimpering* C’mon, the lack of ghosts should have told her something is amiss in that household. As I was watching this earlier in the day, I was silently screaming “Leave! Leave! Leave!”
Meanwhile, Lord Choi meets with the soul-sucker and thanks her for his recovered health. Ah, his failing health is what prompted him to make a pact with this devil. He then tells her that he’s taken care of everything and covered the burial site. As he excitedly chatters about how much more he can do to aid her, she coldly tells him to shut up, effectively silencing him.
As he leaves, he mutters that if it weren’t for his health, he would kill her in a heartbeat.
As he returns on the path to his house, he is rudely surprised to find Arang there. He demands to know what she’s doing there, and Arang simply looks at him in stunned shock, a loud gong ringing in her ears…or is it simply the background music? If it is, indeed, the sound of the “bell” that Jade told her she would hear, then we have our answer as to who killed Lee Seo Rim. Also, she had noticed some writing on the tree before Lord Choi interrupted her, but before she could touch them, they glowed red…Not a good sign. In any case, before Lord Choi can drag Arang to see the soul-sucker, Joo Wal arrives in the nick of time to escort Arang away. When his “father” protests, insisting that Arang should be taken to the soul-sucker, Joo Wal whispers meaningfully, yet nervously so as not to attract the soul-sucker’s attention, that the father wouldn’t want a repeat occurrence of what happened the last time a woman walked down this path and was taken to see the soul-sucker. Ack! He’s talking about Eun Oh’s mother!
Unfortunately for Joo Wal, as Lord Choi lets him take Arang away, the soul-sucker senses what Joo Wal has done. Instead of bringing Arang directly to her, he’s taken Arang away from her.
Joo Wal takes her away and offers to give her a ride all the way back to the magistrate’s residence–probably fears for her safety–but Arang declines, saying that she’s got a strong heart. Heh, I’ll say. He offers to at least buy her a change of clothes, but Arang again refuses, saying that he is going to be paying for her replacement clothes. Heh…I love how it’s Eun Oh’s fault that she fell down the mountainside.
Then just as she’s about to take her leave, she glimpses the porch on which Lee Seo Rim’s fiance sat that day she and Eun Oh came to question him regarding Lee Seo Rim.
Calming her pounding heart, Arang asks for Joo Wal’s name and discovers that he is, indeed, Lee Seo Rim’s former fiance. Hmm…we originally thought that her heart was pounding because of Joo Wal, but it turns out that it pounds because of the porch. My suspicion is that there’s fear associated with the porch, but Arang has erroneously mistaken it for a heart pounding from anticipation/love. She asks for his name, and he hers. With his identity confirmed and his lukewarm response to having met Eun Oh at Lee Seo Rim’s body recovery, Arang runs off.
Meanwhile, Eun Oh arrives at his destination–the burial site–intent on giving Arang a piece of his mind if he finds her there. After all, she should have returned promptly home so that he wouldn’t worry rather than continue the investigation on her own. Only when he arrives, he’s rudely surprised to find the entire place leveled. The house has been dismantled and the burial site completely buried.
Confused and hurt by what she’s learned–that Joo Wal doesn’t seem to recognize her or exhibit any sadness over the loss of his fiance–Arang runs to her thinking place, the lake. As she processes her tumultuous thoughts, Joo Wal walks up from behind her and asks why she’s here and not on her way to the magistrate’s. He apologizes for following her, but he was concerned when she took off running like that. Then noticing her tears, he tenderly asks if she’s crying. Arang quickly wipes them away and tells him that she’s headed back home now.
As he follows her still (so cute the image of him following her home), he promises himself that he will not surrender Arang to the soul-sucker until he knows exactly what will befall Arang. Aw…When Arang asks if he’s following her, he replies oh-so-nonchalantly that he’s just headed in the same direction. LOL. Arang comments that he reminds her of someone.
When they arrive at the doors of the magistrate’s residence, Arang learns that Joo Wal and Eun Oh have already met…at Lee Seo Rim’s body recovery site. Realizing that Eun Oh has kept Joo Wal’s identity from her all this time, Arang seethes in anger and humiliation. She thinks Eun Oh has had a good laugh at her expense.
And who should shout her name at that exact moment of her epiphany but Eun Oh who is equally furious that she’s safe and sound AND in Joo Wal’s company. Joo Wal apologizes for not bring Arang back sooner but that her return took longer than anticipated. Arang, however, doesn’t speak a single word to Eun Oh and simply stomps past him through the doors. *Sigh* Such a short male-to-male “confrontation” if we can even call it that.
As she marches coldly into the residence, followed immediately by Eun Oh who has his own ax to grind with her, the Bang trio halt in their congratulations over disposing of all the belongings from the burial site. With Eun Oh preoccupied with Arang’s sure death–after all, she supposedly fell from the mountain–they are sure that he won’t be bothering them about the belongings anymore. But of course, when Arang and Eun Oh walk past them, they freeze in their tracks, wondering what on earth is going on.
A full out battle of wills, that’s what! Arang slams the door to her room, and Eun Oh taunts her, wondering if she spent the entire night with Joo Wal. Incensed, Arang comes out and asks him if he had fun at her expense. Momentarily abashed, Eun Oh tries to explain and express his concern over her well-being, but Arang asks why he was so concerned about her. Oh, that’s right, she answers. Without her, his search for his mother would be null and void. Eun Oh’s eyes flicker to indicate that that is not the whole reason. But of course, her anger gets the better of her and she insults him, calling him a hypocrite: pretending to care when he’s only after the truth about his mother. She vehemently tells him that she’ll never surrender her memories to him.
The four men witness this heated exchange from afar, completely at a loss. Dol Swe is convinced that she must be a gumiho since there’s no way she could have survived that fall while the Bang trio wonder what this means for them.
Completely peeved after his argument with Arang, Eun Oh latches onto the first victims and unleashes his anger on the Bang Trio. He demands to know on whose authority they did what they did. The three replied that it was on Lord Choi’s command. However, when Eun Oh asks why they buried the burial site and got rid of the house, they confusedly tell him that they only got rid of the belongings. Uh-oh. And right on cue, one of the guards comes to report that the last of the items have been burnt. Heh…perfect comedic timing. Lee Bang pitifully tells Eun Oh that this is the order of things in the village; everyone and everything in the village is under the control of Lord Choi.
Determined to put an end to this, Eun Oh commands the Bang trio to summon Lord Choi. They gasp. No one dares to tell Lord Choi to do anything. Eun Oh insists on summoning Lord Choi to the magistrate’s residence, AND he orders the Bang trio to iron his formal magistrate clothes. So stiffly that his clothes are completely flat. WITHOUT A SINGLE CREASE. LOL. Then huffing and puffing, he comments that the Lord Choi has awakened a sleeping tiger. Before, he may not have concerned himself with other people’s business, but no more! That all changes now!
With Arang’s reappearance, Dol Swe is completely confused as to what Arang is and would love to ask Bang Wool, but he can’t. Why? Because of his thumb! The thumb that did a horrible thing! LOL. He touches his cheeks to calm the blush creeping up his face and looks glumly at his thumb as he resigns himself to the fact that a potential gumiho has bewitched his young master.
Up in the celestial sphere, Moo Young worries that Moo Yeon might be the nome but reassures himself that she simply couldn’t be. Jade comes by at that moment and offers him a new tea that he’s created. After drinking it, though, Moo Young says that he doesn’t know what he thinks, and Jade laments that his new tea is a failure; it’s supposed to reflect the person’s state of mind. Of course, Moo Young doesn’t know his state of mind right now, but Jade doesn’t realize that and mutters to himself if he should try adding cow dung. Pffft.
When Joo Wal returns home later that night, the soul-sucker waits for him in his room. CREEPY! In her fake, sincere voice, she tells Joo Wal that he has no cause to doubt her and reassures him that he is her most prized possession. DOUBLE CREEPY! She then tells him that she has nothing to hide from him and reveals why she wants Arang: Arang is immortal. At this news, Joo Wal’s eyes widen in shock. She cajoles him to woo Arang so that Arang will tell him why she’s here and so that Arang will come to the soul-sucker of her own volition. Why? Because Joo Wal will have won her heart, and Arang will trust him. She then suggests that Joo Wal should ask Arang for her hand in marriage but to not give away his heart. Um…I think it might be too late for that. She then tells him what a relief it’ll be for him to not have to kill before every yoon dal (Twin/leap Moon). With Arang’s body, she’ll be immortal and no longer need him to bloody his hands for fresh humans.
The next morning, in a flourish of colors and dramatic music accompanied by slow motion filming, Eun Oh exits his room dressed in his magistrate’s clothes. Wow~
However, this dramatic buildup is completely juxtaposed with the comedic as Joo Wal walks by him, greeting him briefly. Heh. Eun Oh follows…
…only to see Joo Wal ask Arang out on a date! LOL Eun Oh even huffs and puffs when Joo Wal gives Arang a good look up and down. Heh…he is merely looking at the bloodied clothes, but all Eun Oh sees is Joo Wal checking out Arang’s body. LOL
Eun Oh leaves and prepares to meet Lord Choi, whose arrival the Bang Trio have prepared with some fanfare to impress Choi and to indicate to him that they’re on his side. Eun Oh faces off with Choi, and when Choi asks the reason for Eun Oh’s request to come to the magistrate’s residence, Eun Oh corrects him firmly with all the authority vested to him by his office: “It wasn’t a request. It was a summons.” And the show ends on that climatic note.
Musings: As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this episode packs a whole lot of punches into a single episode.
In addition to the escalated creepy/scary–I seriously thought I was going to have a minor heart attack when Arang goes looking through Joo Wal’s house with the soul-sucker so close by, and let’s not even mention all the supernatural things–what this episode does is further the compelling story of Eun Oh and how he’s slowly leaving aside his life of selfishness and aimlessness in exchange for one of duty and meaning. Arang, unwittingly, keeps pushing him to evaluate exactly why he’s so bent on helping her, and in the process, he starts to care more about the larger picture than just about himself. This is clearly evident as he summons Lord Choi for a confrontation and declares to himself that he’s led a life of not caring about other people’s problems thus far but no more! *Happy humming* Our Eun Oh is coming along nicely as a great “hero,” one who shows his emotions, intellect, and humor.
As for Joo Wal, my heart goes out to the guy–desperate for acceptance and a parent, uncertain about his life’s purpose and end, etc.–but his continual obedience to the soul-sucker prevents him from gaining a firm foothold in my kdrama heart. His only saving grace for now–aside from his adorable looks–is his reluctance to blindly turn Arang over to the soul-sucker, at least not until he’s certain of Arang’s fate. It’s definitely in his favor that the soul-sucker has given him the task of romancing Arang and making her his fiance…yet again. LOL. One thing that puzzles me is the carrot that the soul-sucker dangles before him: he can call her “mother.” Although she calls him “son,” has she not allowed him to call her “mother” yet, or has he simply been unwilling to call her that moniker thus far?
Well, whatever the reason, he now knows why “mother” wants Arang so badly; she’s immortal. The look of devastation (or just shock?) makes me wonder if Joo Wal harbored some thoughts of making Arang his wife (Hmmm…am I reading too much into the situation?) Ultimately, though, Joo Wal knows that he’s going to have to sacrifice Arang to the soul-sucker, and the fact that he “goes along” with the plan to woo her makes me wonder if Joo Wal is ever going to get to the place where he disobeys “mother” in order to save Arang and do what is decently right. Oh gosh, I just had a thought of calling the soul-sucker “Mother dearest” from that creepy black and white movie about Joan Crawford (starring Faye Dunaway).
The show’s focal point is really Arang, though, and how she is instrumental in solving this 4-centuries-old dilemma of souls and body snatching. It’ll be interesting to see how Arang reclaims her humanity, if she ever gets to, and how she unravels the secrets regarding her death but ultimately the mother of secrets of who and what that “thing” is that keeps snatching and disrupting the heavenly balance of souls entering the afterlife. But more than anything else, I’m beginning to feel the pain and frustration that she’s probably feeling as I find out things about her. Poor Arang…My only lingering hope is that the two kings will somehow allow her and Eun Oh a happy ending. Yes?