A cute episode, though not my particular favorite. We get some of the standard machinations of the supporting cast, and a few more wrenches thrown into the plot. Thankfully there are, as usual, a number of cute coupley moments to buoy us through these waters of Necessary Plot Complications.

Ratings: No big shakeups, so the numbers are as expected. All three dipped slightly, but I suspect Thursday will bring them back up: Baker King was still far in front with a 43.3%, while Gumiho stayed firmly in second with 10.8%. Playful Kiss (ouchhh) stayed at its low of 3.5%.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Gun-mo – “울랄라” (Ooh la la) from the My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST
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EPISODE 9 RECAP

Angry Grandpa bursts in at a conveniently inconvenient moment, which is when Dae-woong is about to answer Mi-ho’s request to like her back. Thanks to the wily maneuverings of Bug-Eyed Bitter Betty, aka Hateful Hye-in, Grandpa and Min-sook are under the impression that Mi-ho is a crafty gold-digger who is pushing Dae-woong to endanger his health by doing the movie.

Grandpa orders them to break up and for Dae-woong to pack his bags. Dae-woong protests that he’s perfectly fine, and that “If I stay here with Mi-ho, absolutely nothing will be wrong!” Which, to them, sounds like he’s making excuses because he’s been blinded by twoo wuv. Or at least post-adolescent infatuation.

Waiting below, Mi-ho hears the dictate to separate with distress and rushes out to speak up, but her heart starts to act up. These pangs are part of her de-gumiho-ifying process, and she stops her in her tracks, frozen with pain.

Dae-woong stands up to the adults, saying that his grandfather was always telling him to “be a human” and a man, so how can he tell him to just quit? “I’m going to take responsibility through the end as you wished and not give up.”

The adults sputter in outrage, but they’ve come prepared with a contingency plan. After Dae-woong heads back to the loft, Grandpa shoots Min-sook a wink to signal the beginning of their planned bit.

Inside, Dae-woong finds Mi-ho slumped on the ground and asks what’s wrong. Just at that moment, a groan sounds from outside and Min-sook screams for Dae-woong. (Oh, I love that they’re playing off the overused scenario of a supposedly tough elderly man collapsing at the first sign of the hero’s opposition! How like these writers to make Grandpa a faker, subverting yet another familiar cliche.)

Dae-woong tells Mi-ho he’ll be back soon, then races outside to take Grandpa to the hospital, ironically leaving the real sick person behind while the healthy one feigns illness.

Mi-ho sits in pain, her blue eyes indicating that she’s losing control of her shape-shifting properties like she did on the boat, as a result of a prolonged separation from her fox bead.

As Mi-ho stumbles to her bed, she knocks the camcorder on the ground — which turns on and starts recording. She collapses and moans, “It hurts so much.”

In his Emo Lair, Emo Hair observes his slowly emptying sandglass and predicts that tonight marks “the first death.” Just as one of Mi-ho’s tails disappears. (Hm, interesting. It’s like a cat with nine lives…)

Mi-ho sees her tail fade and says, “I must really be dying.”

In the car, Grandpa reveals that he hadn’t truly collapsed, but uses that as emotional blackmail: if Dae-woong doesn’t want him to truly collapse, he’ll follow quietly.

Remembering Mi-ho, Dae-woong asks his aunt to pull over, and threatens to jump out to force her to stop. He tells them he’ll only confirm that she’s fine and then head home.

He runs all the way there, but when he gets to the loft he finds her looking much better, though her forehead is alarmingly cold. Mi-ho makes a few weak excuses that she’s better, and that it’s just because she worked too hard cleaning grills.

Now that he’s checked that she’s okay, Dae-woong has to go back home until he can be assured that his grandfather won’t fall ill again. Mi-ho tells him not to worry, and to come back “to our home” when Grandpa is better. It isn’t until Dae-woong turns his back that she lets herself grimace; she’d been hiding her pain for his benefit.

The words “our home” have a sobering effect on Dae-woong, who feels a jolt of surprise for letting himself feel so comfortable with her. Therefore he is conflicted when she asks if he’ll be able to return before her flowers wilt, because he doesn’t want to feel this attachment to this “home” they’ve cultivated together.

This also makes him remember the petal that fell from the bouquet, which I suppose can be interpreted in a few ways. In this scenario it serves as a reminder that there’s a time limit to how long he can hesitate, and that she can’t wait forever before she starts to wilt, too.

Then the lights start to flicker, which mirror Dae-woong’s indecision. His grandfather calls, and he interprets that as a warning to come back to his senses. After he leaves, Mi-ho finds that the light is out entirely — indicating that he has made his decision (for now).

Once back at his family mansion, Dae-woong reminds himself that this is his real home, where the lights are bright. He tries to convince himself that it’s better this way, with distance between himself and Mi-ho.

On the other hand, Mi-ho announces happily to Dong-joo that she lost her tail, so now she’s not a gumiho but a palmiho (gu = 9, pal = 8).

Dong-joo says it must have been incredibly painful. She agrees that it was, but has since forgotten the pain. Yet some of her cheer fades when he cautions that she’ll have to go through that pain eight more times, each time more severe than the last.

Mi-ho is reluctant to show her pain to Dae-woong because she can’t reveal her plan to become human yet. She is optimistic that she’ll be able to tell him soon, though, because Dae-woong is warming to her.

Dong-joo considers the flowers a good sign, but calls her request for Dae-woong to like her a mistake — it drove him to run away from her. (On one hand, I’m glad that the second lead isn’t clinging to her with lies, but on the other hand — dude, killjoy much? Let the girl bask in her flowers!)

Mi-ho has also had enough of this buzzkill, so she bursts out, “Teacher Dong-joo is bad! You’re a crap teacher!” The word she uses is literally “dog teacher” and he notes that she’s picked up on the Korean slang of adding “dog” to turn words into swears, and she puns right back that he’s a dog teacher literally (i.e., vet), which makes him a crap teacher as well.

As she visits with the chicken shop ajumma, Mi-ho plucks the petals off a flower, alternating between “He’ll return” and “He won’t return.” Unfortunately the flower predicts it is not to be, so she pouts in frustration… and then chews up the petal. LOL.

Chicken shop ajumma tells Mi-ho she’s done for if the in-laws have taken a stance against her. A similar scene unfolds on the drama playing on the TV, where a woman pleads with her future in-laws to accept her. Mi-ho watches in dismay, as all of those objections apply to her as well. For instance, she’s older than Dae-woong, and by at least six hundred and some years. Brings new meaning to the term noona-killer, huh?

Dae-woong has been unusually quiet over the past few days, which perplexes his grandfather and aunt. He’s trying to remind himself of Mi-ho’s true nature, because forgetting means he’s seeing her as a woman, which indicates growing attachment.

To this end, he loads a photo of a fox on his phone and tells himself that she’s a scary fox. But then he notes that the fox isn’t really scary after all. He thinks, “Its eyes are round and it’s cute… It kind of looks like Mi-ho.” (It might’ve worked if he actually picked an ugly photo, but he uses a damn cute one — he’s not even trying that hard to resist, is he?)

And then he suggests to the dog, Ddoong-ja, that he’ll take her to see Mi-ho. Excuses, excuses.

The block of ice that passes for Hye-in’s heart warms to hear that Grandpa heard about Dae-woong’s injury and insisted he return home. This gives her the opportunity to check out some of her suspicions, and she heads to the action school roof to see the spot where she thinks Mi-ho jumped. Noting how high it is, she decides it’s impossible.

She runs into Dae-woong, who arrives with the dog, and is put out to hear that he’s here to visit Mi-ho. He evades her questions about Mi-ho’s background, and this piques Hye-in’s curiosity even more.

Dae-woong retrieves the camcorder she gave him and returns it, which puts her in a mighty snit as she drives off angrily. She almost hits a pedestrian, but somehow avoids making contact, and looks up in shock to see Mi-ho standing there, perfectly safe.

I love that Mi-ho has taken to calling Hye-in “ahk-pul,” completely without irony and based on one of Dae-woong’s earlier explanations. The word means malicious internet comments, and Mi-ho figures it applies to Hye-in, since she’s a force who makes other people feel bad. (This is also why she calls chicken ajumma a fashionista, after one of Dae-woong’s wry remarks.)

Hye-in checks the camcorder to make sure it wasn’t broken, and therefore comes across the footage of Mi-ho with all of her tails out.

Not quite sure of the entire story but certain she’s on to something big, Hye-in beelines for the director’s office to ask about the woman he’s been looking for. She hears about the girl who can jump high and run superfast, then starts piecing the various facts together.

As luck would have it, her father happens to be a doctor, and she asks him to pull strings to get Dae-woong’s test results.

At the empty loft, Dae-woong finds Mi-ho’s phone, which she has left behind to charge. His mood turns annoyed to see that she’d called Dong-joo in the morning, and he leaves feeling rather miffed.

But not so miffed that he doesn’t indulge his curiosity — he heads for Dong-joo’s clinic. Not to see Mi-ho, oh of course not, but to get the dog checked out. Oh, you transparent boy. Your jealousy is showing.

After a brief checkup, Dae-woong leaves the clinic feeling better than when he arrived, because Mi-ho wasn’t here after all.

Dong-joo, on the other hand, wonders if this is indication that Dae-woong is starting to care more for Mi-ho. He’s not particularly pleased with the prospect and muses, “Will that human not betray her in the end, and die?”

Taking the reverse route, Mi-ho makes her way to Dae-woong’s mansion to see him. She waits on the front steps of his house for a while, but finally decides that she’d better not get caught by Grandpa and rises to leave.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Dae-woong trudges home, disappointed that he didn’t get to see Mi-ho and passing it off on the dog yet again. (He apologizes that Ddoong-ja didn’t get to see her, because apparently it would totally kill his pride and sense of equilibrium to just admit that he missed her, already.)

And, of course, they just avoid seeing each other as they turn adjacent corners. Argalkdhg;askdg. (Most hated cliche ever.)

But thankfully Ddoong-ja barks, and Dae-woong catches sight of something on the ground. Looking closely, the flower petals spell “Woong” — and not only that, they’ve been GLUED onto the ground. (I crack up at the thought of Mi-ho carrying around her tube of superglue, along with her flower bouquet, “groundskeeper” badge, tube of moisturizer, and other random personal effects.)

Dae-woong catches up to Mi-ho while she’s still in the neighborhood, and her face lights up at the sight of him. She launches herself at his chest, hugging him tightly. He doesn’t even protest much this time, smiling as she clings to him.


Dae-woong makes a half-hearted attempt to get her to stop hugging him, saying that there are a lot of “watching eyes” in this neighborhood. Adorably, Mi-ho jokingly covers his eyes in response.

When Mi-ho asks about his grandfather’s health, Dae-woong explains that he’d grown more fearful after his parents died in an accident. He’d been hurt as well and everyone thought he’d die too, and it was a miracle that he lived. Apparently Grandpa stayed by his side for 100 days holding his hand. Mi-ho smiles, “Then your grandfather was your fox bead.”

Commence cute date walk sequence!

Dae-woong shows Mi-ho how to play badminton — which she knocks out of the park, literally — and buys her a burger after seeing her drooling after another couple’s lunch. He even gives her his meat, making the excuse that he’s full — again I say, YOU BIG SOFTIE — and this time, she even shares it with the dog.


As their afternoon winds down, Dae-woong lets slip that he dropped by home, which excites her because it’s proof that he missed her. She wants to hear him say it out loud, though, and prods him to admit it.

Dae-woong blusters and denies it, but she can tell that she’s right. Enthusiastically, she declares that she missed him “so so so so soooo much!” and that she likes him “so so so so sooo much!” She caps this off with her awkward finger-guns.

Still, he’s not ready to admit his feelings, and he overreacts when his grandfather asks if he went to see Mi-ho because he missed her. Dae-woong bursts out, “I didn’t miss her at all! Seriously, what’s with everyone?” Smooooooth, dude.

Mi-ho sings to herself while skipping along, “Dae-woong said he missed me, because he likes me. Then I should tell him too, that I’m going to be a person.”

Dong-joo shows up, thinking she could use some company, not expecting to find her in such a great mood. His smile fades when she announces she’s going to tell Dae-woong that she’s going to become human.

Min-sook voices her worries to Doo-hong, asking if he can persuade Dae-woong to drop out. He’s disappointed, but agrees to help. (I laugh at the movie poster behind him, titled “Slave.” A nod to Sung’s previous role in Chuno, perhaps?)

Now that the awkward and bumbling phase of this courtship is over, frankly I don’t find the adult romance very interesting. Perhaps that’s why they hit a rough patch to spice things up; their flirting is interrupted by Min-sook tripping yet again, spilling coffee all over his autographed DVD set — of (what else?) A Better Tomorrow. Hehe.

This pushes him over the edge, and he loses his temper, scolding that she should have been more careful. His outburst is so over-the-top that Min-sook feels affronted and storms out in a huff.

Over a dinner of fancy steak, Mi-ho confidently asserts that Dae-woong won’t run away if she tells him about the whole humanizing process, eager to get everything out in the open.

Dong-joo feels somewhat reassured that Dae-woong won’t betray Mi-ho, but that just addresses only one of the obstacles. He asks what she’d do if she didn’t have Dae-woong with her once she’s human. (Because of the whole death and all, although Mi-ho remains ignorant of that bit.)

Mi-ho answers, “I can’t be without him. I’m not staying with him because I need him, I’m staying because I like him. And my biggest reason for wanting to be human is because of our Dae-woong, too.”

Dong-joo tries to reason with her, saying that it’s better not to be with someone who knows her true identity; she’s better off leaving him after the 100 days.

She balks at that, which introduces a hard edge to Dong-joo’s voice as he says that if she doesn’t agree with him, he can’t help her any further. On top of that, he reminds her that he didn’t tell her the full truth yet. “In order to become a human safely, you absolutely need my help. I hope that you get what you want safely, without dying.”

Mi-ho refuses to agree to blindly follow Dong-joo’s orders, and insists that she’ll stay with Dae-woong as long as he doesn’t object. After she leaves, Dong-joo says, “It’s because I don’t think you could handle his death.”

Grandpa wants Dae-woong to get himself checked out by a doctor tomorrow, and Dae-woong agrees. This has all been cleverly laid out by Hye-in to serve her own ends, but she’s managed to fool Min-sook into thinking she’s sweet and kind, and much better than that Mi-ho. Thankfully, Grandpa remembers that he’d initially liked Mi-ho, showing that perhaps there’s hope for her yet.

Hye-in also tells Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo to bring Mi-ho to the hospital, but to make sure Dae-woong doesn’t know about it. She makes it sound like this is for Mi-ho’s benefit, though we know better.

And what is her sly, secret plan? Hye-in intends to force Mi-ho into a physical checkup as well, to get to the bottom of her identity.

Dae-woong calls to check with Mi-ho that his body is healed now, wanting to make sure that his physical returns normal results.

Mi-ho tries to suss out Dae-woong’s feelings by asking how he’d feel if she wasn’t with him after 100 days. He’s not prepared to answer, and hastily hangs up, unnerved at the idea.

The reason for his reaction is because he’s once again been thrown into “confusion” — his way of wording his growing attachment to Mi-ho. He keeps “forgetting” her identity, and to reiterate an earlier motif, he plays with the light — on, off, on, off — indicating his indecisive mind.

Mi-ho doesn’t find his reaction very reassuring, and glumly sighs that in order for her to insist to Dong-joo that she will stay, he’s got to miss her.

The next day, Dae-woong checks into the hospital for his full-body physical, while his two sidekicks collect Mi-ho and bring her there as well.

Hye-in leads Mi-ho to Dae-woong — or so she says — while Mi-ho looks around anxiously, uncomfortable. Hospitals smell strange to her, and mask her ability to find Dae-woong, so she has to trust that Hye-in is taking her in the right direction.

Which, of course, she’s not. Hye-in leads Mi-ho to an exam room and says with false concern that she wants Mi-ho to get an exam, to make sure that nothing is amiss from the almost-car-crash.

Not giving Mi-ho a chance to react, she locks her in the room to await a doctor, and asks, “What are you? Are you a monster?”

She’s rather proud at herself for orchestrating this whole scenario, but she didn’t anticipate one thing: Mi-ho’s super-strength. The door bursts open and Mi-ho runs away, knowing that she can’t undergo testing and bring more trouble to Dae-woong.

Chasing her through the hallway, Hye-in calls out her demand for Mi-ho to present herself, threatening to tell everybody about her.

Mi-ho shows herself to ask confusedly, “What does it matter what I am? Why are you acting like this to me?” She hasn’t done anything wrong, and she’s not a bad person.

Hye-in jumps to conclusions, accusing her of feeding Dae-woong some strange hoo-doo medicine or doing otherwise sketchy things to him to bring about his miraculous recovery.

Mi-ho insists that she’s not bad, and asks, “Can’t you just leave me alone?” And that gives Hye-in an opening to state what she really wants: If Mi-ho disappears, she will keep her mouth shut.

The test results declare Dae-woong perfectly fit, to everyone’s relief and bewilderment, given his previous dire diagnosis. Dae-woong, on the other hand, reminds them that he’d said he was fine, and rushes off to return home.

He arrives at the loft in fantastic spirits, bearing meat for a celebratory dinner with Mi-ho, only to find that she’s not there.

Instead, she exits from the hospital after making her deal with Hye-in, telling herself that she’ll have to disappear. She has no choice.

Dae-woong answers her phone call with a smile, teasing her when she asks if he can come home early tonight. He jokes that he didn’t miss her very much and therefore hadn’t intended to come home soon, which she accepts at face value. She sighs, “You didn’t miss me much at all. That’s a relief.”

Dae-woong starts to correct her and admit that he’s kidding, but she interrupts with something important to tell him:

Mi-ho: “Even if I don’t scare you, you’ll take care of my bead, won’t you?”
Dae-woong: “Yeah.”
Mi-ho: “Even if you don’t need it, you’ll take care of it, right?”
Dae-woong: “Yes. Do you still not trust me?”
Mi-ho: “I trust you. So even if I’m not with you, take good care of it.”

His eyes widen — the meaning sinks in — and she tells him, “Dae-woong, I think I’m going to have to disappear from your side.”

 
COMMENTS

Out of nine episodes, this was the first to sort of feel a little flat for me, but it’s not really a complaint so much as it’s an observation. Every drama has to find a lull and we need a tone shift to correspond to the growing conflicts. So rather than feeling disappointed with this episode, I’m more impressed at how well this drama has been able to carry its zippy, energetic sense of fun for eight episodes straight.

On the upside, I enjoy how Dae-woong stands up to the adults all episode, but particular in the first scene. As Grandpa sensed, Mi-ho is the catalyst by which Dae-woong will become a man, and we’re starting to see that maturation in the way he respectfully but firmly tells his family how he will act. And for once, he’s not acting out of selfish desire, but by what he believes is the right thing to do. It’s a big change from the guy who used to run every time he was faced with the consequences of his irresponsibility.

As for Dong-joo, he’s not my favorite character, but I do like that he’s breaking from the mold of the standard second lead for once. This drama has the expected love triangle, but I like that Dong-joo isn’t being set up as a romantic rival. He has a reason to keep the couple apart and he’s being devious and manipulative, but it’s for a reason other than “But I really, really want her.” It’s refreshing to have a major romantic obstacle be something that’s not romantic at all.

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