Arang and the Magistrate: Episode 9
This pair is just so cute and crackling with chemistry. You could do anything with them and I’m laughing and swooning and grinning from ear to ear. We finally get at some feelings in this episode, though the denial is strong with these two. But when danger and fear and worry start to strip away their defenses, there are just some things even these two can’t ignore.
With Gaksital out of the way, Arang moved up to the number one spot with 14.1% ratings today, while Nice Guy premiered at 10.5% and To the Beautiful You came in at 5.4%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Arang and the Magistrate OST – “A Butterfly’s Secret Dream ” by Yoon Do-hyun [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Eun-oh wears his spiffy new I’m-the-boss magistrate’s robes to receive Lord Choi. He gets straight to the questions—he’s the magistrate, so why is Lord Choi running around covering up graves and destroying evidence in a murder investigation?
Lord Choi says with surprise that it’s not a murder scene but a public mass grave that everyone in the town knows about. Dude, now you’re just making things up? He says that this town has a painful history of a massacre and digging up that grave is a reminder of that scar. He challenges Eun-oh to ask anyone, and the Bangs all nod their heads like obedient little liars.
Lord Choi insists that all he wants is peace in this town. Eun-oh wonders out loud whose peace he really means. He uses an adage to call him a fox playing the tiger while the tiger’s away, leaving Lord Choi fuming.
He turns the metaphor around on Eun-oh to ask if he’s not a fox using a tiger’s power to display some swagger, and laughs that he didn’t expect Lord Kim to have an illegitimate son like him. Damn. That strikes a nerve.
Joo-wal arrives to overhear that last bit, and so does Arang. Lord Choi chuckles gleefully as he goes on, calling him the son of a concubine, who was the daughter of insurgents at that. Eun-oh balls up his fists, and Lord Choi laughs and laughs, wondering what’s become of this world that such a person could become a magistrate.
Eun-oh can barely contain himself, and then turns to see Arang and Joo-wal watching. Ow, that’s a blow to his ego. Lord Choi laughs that nowhere in Joseon can a man of such birth wield any influence, saying to his face that he can play all he wants but it won’t do any good.
Arang hurries Joo-wal out of there, but all Eun-oh sees is them running off on their date. He is having the worst day.
Joo-wal talks about places in Miryang that he wants to show her, but Arang doesn’t respond, finally blurting defiantly, “Whether a person is of legitimate or illegitimate birth, they’re all the same people. Do you know what it means that they’re all the same people? When you die, you and I all end up the same.”
She turns back, but her words leave Joo-wal curious. Does the death talk poke at your conscience, or are we past that point?
Lord Choi asks Eun-oh if he’ll continue playing magistrate, and suggests that a true nobleman would step down to save his father’s face. He walks out, but then Arang storms in and gets right up in his face.
She speaks to him in banmal, demanding to know who made such ridiculous rules about illegitimate birth. “I know the Jade Emperor old fogey personally, and he doesn’t make such childish rules!” I. Love. Her.
He gets all huffy, but she just spits back, “Where do they birth such precious old fogeys like you? You look down on illegitimate birth (suh-chul) so it can’t be the west (suh). Where? East, north, south? Where do you have to be born so that you can stand above others and be more precious than all other people?!”
That is such a satisfying smackdown. And punny too! Lord Choi sputters, literally rendered speechless, and Arang even points out that he doesn’t have a comeback because he has no leg to stand on.
He threatens to kill her, and she happily tells him to try since it’ll just make him angry. He finally screams, “You bitch!” and raises his fist…
And Eun-oh steps up to grab him, while Joo-wal swoops in to pull Arang out of the way. Now they’re standing there eyeing each other in the center of the already tense moment, all Hey I’m being the hero here and No, I got this.
Joo-wal suggests he let go of his father’s arm and he’ll take him home. He turns to Arang to say he’ll come back another time, just making Eun-oh crazier. Lord Choi starts to complain as soon as they step outside, but Joo-wal hilariously just walks past him without a second glance. Ha.
Eun-oh has nothing to say of course, so he just nags in his usual way that Arang causes trouble wherever she goes. He says she needlessly butted in, making fun of her nonsense puns.
She counters that unlike someone, she’s not the type to just let injustices pass by her, and whatever, you can’t use logic with a dumb person—you have to be equally nonsensical and counter stupidity with stupidity. Ha. I like that rule.
He finally asks the thing that’s really bugging him: where was she going with Joo-wal? She doesn’t know since she didn’t get to go because of Eun-oh, and asks if she should go ask. He snaps at her not to go anywhere, nagging her about being a grown woman and running about after a man. Doesn’t she know the rules of conduct between a man and a woman?
She sneers that he sure does care a lot about propriety for a man who’s not of noble birth, and totally patronizes him, “You should just live comfortably according to your station in life. There are plenty of smart people of illegitimate birth!” Hahaha. I’m dying. Rushing to his defense one minute, then picking at his open wounds the next?
He stomps away like an angry child. She calls out after him that he did look really handsome in the magistrate’s uniform though, and walks off with a sigh.
Lord Choi complains to Mom about Joo-wal’s inexcusable behavior, not knowing that she’s the one who told him to get close to Arang. She just listens to his rant and says nothing, choosing to keep Project Immortality under wraps.
He sends his servant to gather up some strong men, wanting to take care of Eun-oh quietly.
Eun-oh sits in the same position for hours lost in thought, and Arang finally comes back out to check on him, annoyed that she can’t stop being concerned. She pokes a hole in the paper wall to check (handy, that), and finds him sitting with his head in his hand.
But then we get to see him closer up, and he’s snoring, having fallen asleep that way. Pffft.
Dol-swe can’t find Bang-wool at the marketplace, so he seeks her out at home and brings her back with him, to either exorcise the ghost or un-enchant the gumiho or whatever it is that Arang is.
He leaves her in the courtyard while he looks for Arang, and she finds Bang-wool first. Arang walks up with a big smile, but Bang-wool assumes that she’s the other woman in Dol-swe’s life, still never having seen Arang’s face.
So it’s extra confusing when Bang-wool starts saying things that make sense, only they sound surprisingly brash coming from her: are you still hanging around, haven’t you taken enough, batting those pretty eyes won’t work because he called me here to get rid of you.
But there’s no chance to clear the air because the Bangs recognize Bang-wool as the quack shaman and chase her out. Dol-swe follows out in a panic and manages to secure her escape.
Up in the bridge between heaven and hell, the mood is still somber after the loss of a reaper. Jade Emperor sighs that their badook game is no fun when Hades is wearing such a scowl on his face, but his brother asks how he’d feel if he lost one of his fairies.
Jade quickly revises and tells him to scowl all he wants. Hades complains that it’s all his fault, and then asks how long he’s going to keep Mu-young in the dark. Oh noes.
Down below, Mu-young is hard at work reaping souls, while Mom goes down into her lair to take out her reaper-killing sword.
Arang comes by to peep on Eun-oh again, and he scares her off her feet when he slams the door and comes out. She suggests they go look at flowers to lift their spirits, and gets him to agree by doing exactly what Bang-wool said—batting her eyelashes and making him smile.
He finally notices her bloodstained clothes, so she gets a wardrobe change before they head out. She asks on the way if this is all he had, and he points out she wore the same clothes for three years as a ghost, so quit complaning.
He isn’t happy to find out they’re here to see the flowers because it’s what Joo-wal wanted to do on their date, and even more miffed when she says he has such good taste.
But he smiles to see her light up at the pretty flowers. She says she wants to be reborn as a flower when she dies, and then amends that—she’d rather be a butterfly. He wonders how she spent three years as a ghost in this town without seeing these flowers, and she says she has seen them before, lots, enough to be sick of them.
Arang: “But it’s the first time with you. Being with you makes the same landscape look different.”
He’s so taken aback that he accuses her of messing with him. She takes a step forward. He takes a step back. *blink blink* She leans in…
And asks for a peach. Heh. She says she didn’t get to eat all day because he didn’t eat either, and he asks if that’s why she was pacing around his room all day. She says of course, what other reason would there be?
On their way back home, she asks why he’s looking for his mother. She says she has no memory of family, so she doesn’t get it. Eun-oh says that she disappeared because of him.
He says that she spent her whole life swearing revenge on the ones who turned her father into a traitor, and never once looked at her son. There was no room for his father or him in her world. Arang asks if he didn’t hate her, and he says he hated the world that made her that way and felt bad for her.
But he says he hated her, just once… and then realized then that he had been hating her for a long time. Arang asks confused, “If someone you hate disappears, isn’t that a good thing?” He laughs at himself for thinking that he could talk about such things with her.
Suddenly a group of thugs stand in their path, and demand his purse. Eun-oh drops a coin at their feet thinking them petty criminals, but clearly they’re here for a bit more than that. I love the way Arang smirks at them, like you don’t know what you just got into.
Eun-oh takes off his hat and tells Arang to sit back, and she just perches on a rock. You almost want to hand her a bucket of popcorn.
Eun-oh fights them off handily with his quick moves, using his fan against daggers. I think maybe it’s time you start carrying a sword or something sharper? Though it is cool to see him take down so many guys with just a fan.
He deflects a dagger headed towards him and it lands in another guy’s chest, and he dies instantly. Oh no!
Arang shakes her head that the reapers will be here any second now. But Mu-young is there, and not doing anything. He just watches from the sidelines as Eun-oh keeps fighting.
Arang begins to worry that the reapers are taking too long and they’ll lose another ghost, just as Mom’s two demon-reapers show up and take the soul away. She does a double take, realizing that there’s something off about them. They’re not reapers.
She takes off after them. Mu-young watches all this unfold, perhaps having waited for the same opportunity to follow them? But now he’s chasing after Arang.
She follows them into a spooky alley and actually calls out to them. Eep! Are you crazy?
They stop and turn around to face her, and she just bravely walks right up, “What are you guys?” She says they can’t drag a soul off like that—that’s not how it works. You have to choose to remain in this world and be a ghost, not get carted off to be one.
She asks the hostage soul if he wants to be a ghost, and he shakes his head, but the demon reaper just knocks Arang aside. Mu-young! Do something!
Eun-oh polishes off the rest of the attackers, and sends them limping away. Lord Choi’s servant fumes at the failed mission. Eun-oh darts around and screams, “Araaaaaaaaaaaaang!” Woot! He used her name, though of course she’s not around to hear it.
The demon-reaper points his sword at Arang, and she shakily says it won’t do any good. I’m not so sure about that, given that it can kill a grim reaper, but I’d rather not test it. He moves to strike…
But Mu-young flies into action and blocks his sword. Phew. It’s two against one, but then Eun-oh catches up, and fights the other one. Mu-young slices his opponent with his sword and then turns to Eun-oh, who’s fighting his with just his fan.
But then he flings the fan open, and swings… and it slices the demon-reaper right across the throat, and he vaporizes.
WUT. Okay, not just a fan then.
Mu-young is shocked even further when he sees the symbols in Eun-oh’s fan. Arang runs up to ask Mu-young what those guys were, acting like they just won a fight on the same side. But he snaps that she ruined everything.
Aw, it’s not her fault that you didn’t tell her about your super secret plan! Grim reapers. So cranky.
He swooshes away and then Eun-oh lays into her too, screaming that he told her to stay put. She stammers that he only told her to sit over there.
Eun-oh: “Don’t make me go looking for you!” Oof. His biggest fear. His voice softens a little and he pleads again not to make him go looking for her, not to make him concerned. Aw.
Mom senses the death of her demon minions, as the jars that held them break. The scarier part is how many rows and rows of jars she’s got down there.
She names Mu-young (ruh-roh) and says he’s getting in her way. She leers at an creepy-looking mirror.
Tiny souls climb the steps leading up to Hades’ throne, and I really love the strangeness of the visual—they look so teeny and he looks so large. His voice booms as he calls out their crime of telling lies and pretending to believe them, and speaking false as if it’s truth.
He knocks his scepter and condemns them to the Hell of Disclosure. Haha. I think I’m going to like these creative hells.
Eun-oh and Arang arrive home and separate awkwardly. Can we send them to the hell of disclosure? Not for eternity, but just like on a field trip?
Arang goes to her room and thinks over Eun-oh’s outburst and wonders, “But I’m the one who’s concerned. Why did he say that? It doesn’t seem like anything but…” she covers her flushed cheeks, “now I see him as a man.”
She buries her head under the covers and tries to wiggle the image out of her brain. Yeah good luck with that.
Mu-young reports to the Jade Emperor that he caught more demons, and he tells him to hurry and give them to Hades so he has something to calm his temper. Hades joins him for some fishing instead, and wonders why Mu-young is acting outside of orders.
Oh, interesting. So following them was his own idea? Hades wonders if maybe he knows something about the big bad, and Jade says it’s likely more of an instinct, and a fear that he might be right.
Hades wonders why it all matters to him anyway when he can just sit here and watch and know everything. But Jade counters, “I don’t know that one crucial thing. The human heart.”
How fascinating. Do the gods know everything except the human heart? Jade says it’s got so many layers that it’s hard to find a path. Hades scoffs that if he were in a seat of judgment like him, he’d know right away.
He says there are two kinds of human hearts, plain and simple: good and bad. Oh, and
“the weird ones.” HA. He just called all of humanity a movie title: The Good, The Bad, The Weird.
He says to think of it in simple terms like that—is Mu-young good or bad? But then he realizes his own question is moot because Mu-young isn’t human anyway. The Jade Emperor just nods and takes it all in.
Arang comes out in the morning to find Eun-oh pacing outside her door, dark circles down to there. They both jump. He runs up and starts to explain nervously, “That thing I said last night…”
She says she thought about it all night, and his eyes widen. He panics internally, “Why did you think about it all night?” Hee.
She says it’s because of his mom, right? He’s surprised that she’s giving him his excuse before he can, and quickly agrees. Well it’s no fun if you’re helping each other stay aboard the denial train.
He declares that he’s thought of a solution for how to stop being so worried about her. Does it involve always being together? ‘Cause I like that plan. He takes her to a grassy spot and says he’s going to teach her self-defense.
She’d rather have a knife or a fancy fan like him, but he just ignores her and starts in on the lesson: “When a man grabs you like this…” Is this just an excuse for skinship?
But the second he reaches to hug her, she head-butts, knees him in the groin, elbows him, and kicks him when he’s down. HA. Dol-swe watches curiously, and then decides that at least if they’re fighting, it’s a good thing.
Eun-oh winces and writhes, as Arang checks on him and insists she knows all this stuff. But he tells her they’re just getting started. He has her turn around and makes another move to grab her from behind.
She whirls around at the last second to say something, and they end up face to face, with his arms around her. Gulp.
She just blinks up at him, while he freaks out from the tension and finally runs away, yelling that they’re done for today. Hee. She runs after him, and Dol-swe frowns from the bushes.
Arang thinks on her own and realizes that Eun-oh’s dealing with all this now partly because of her, because she scared all the past magistrates to death. She looks up at the sky and apologizes to the past magistrates, saying that now that she’s experienced death she knows how painful it is, and how much they must’ve hurt when she scared them. She promises to make up for it in the afterlife.
Lord Choi’s minion follows up on another rising problem in town—people who keep gathering in front of the magistrate’s office, seeking his help rather than Lord Choi’s. He beats a man half to death trying to find out why.
The man’s son comes crying to Lord Choi to save his father, and he just shoos the little boy away coldly.
Meanwhile, Joo-wal thinks back to Arang’s defiant outburst at his father, smiling to himself. Uh-oh, feelings? Dad watches him, wondering why he’s still alive. He begins to suspect that there might be an alliance of evil forming against him. Well yunno, an alliance of other evil.
Joo-wal goes to see Mom, who’s in a bad mood trying to figure out this Mu-young problem. He asks about Arang—she said that Arang was immortal, but what is she? Is she not human?
Mom says it’s unimportant what she is, and she only cares about the immortality part. Joo-wal interjects and gets reamed for asking so many questions. Her eyes narrow. Hm, finally a rift? He’s starting to question her.
She throws him out and talks aloud to herself, saying that such a being can’t exist. “Not unless they made her.” Oh chills. She turns her eyes upward, “A being made to try and catch me?” She cackles at the foolish attempt. Augh. She’s evil AND smart?
Arang sits in her room and talks to Seo-rim in the mirror, saying that she accepts it now that Seo-rim must’ve been in a one-sided love with Joo-wal. It’s not her cup of tea (the unrequited-ness) but she figures at least her life had some color to it.
The reflection that smiles back at her is so sad. She decides that Eun-oh was right, and that Joo-wal is the only one. The only one for what?
Eun-oh decides something and storms over to Arang’s room, only to find Joo-wal standing outside yet again. They get into a round of passive-aggressive arguments over why he’s here and whose concern it is or isn’t, when Arang arrives behind them.
Joo-wal is quick to walk up and ask her for another date, and she agrees, saying that she was actually going to go look for him. That is not the answer Eun-oh wanted to hear, and he stomps up to grab her by the wrist and drag her away.
He says there’s no need to go, so don’t go. She reminds him that she’s going to do whatever she wants whenever she wants, and he can’t tell her what to do. He growls that he told her not to make him concerned, and he can’t rest if she’s out with that guy.
He calls Joo-wal suspicious for always circling around her, but she doesn’t see it of course. Eun-oh: “Don’t go!” Arang: “I’m going.” Ha. She wants to ask Joo-wal why he was betrothed to a girl whose face he didn’t even know, and if he really knows nothing about Seo-rim… or is just pretending to.
Hm, smart girl. I like that she’s not totally hoodwinked and is agreeing to meet him for her own murder investigation.
Eun-oh is left reeling, and chases after them. Dol-swe joins him to jab him some more, wondering when Arang became so chummy with Joo-wal and how come they left together all happiness and sunshine.
Eun-oh runs after them, determined to either be a stalker or a full-on killjoy, when the little boy comes crying at his feet, asking the magistrate to save his father. Eun-oh doesn’t give much heed to the weeping child until he says that his father has been captured by Lord Choi and will die if the magistrate doesn’t save him.
Is he… actually going to care? Step in to help someone? Annoyed, he tells Dol-swe to deal with the problem, but Dol-swe correctly argues that he has no clout here to stop whatever’s going on.
The child clamps onto Eun-oh’s leg, crying as he pleads for his father’s life. Eun-oh pauses, but then shakes the boy away and says it’s none of his concern. Oh, you cold bastard.
He stalks off after Arang… but then stops a few feet away. He looks back…
You had better turn around, magistrate! You can’t just be puttin’ on the fancy duds and strut around like you own the joint and then ignore actual cries for help. And from a little boy who’s crying for his parent’s life? How can you not relate to that? What would Arang think?
I like that we’re getting some good cracks in Eun-oh’s armor the more and more he lets Arang in. The confession about his mom—that he’s looking for her not because they had a loving mother-son relationship but because of his overwhelming guilt at hating her his whole life—is the first true thing he’s really ever said about himself. It fits better with the flashbacks that we’ve been given of her strange life, locked away and gnashing her teeth over her wronged family. She seemed (if she was indeed just human at that point, ’cause who knows) like she had checked out of life, and was never there for him, despite his constant cries for her. So in fact Eun-oh and Joo-wal are more alike the more we get to know them, both having longed for a mother’s love their entire lives. And of course the fact that Mom is a twisted demon mother who’s feeding on that need in Joo-wal is the extra wiggy thing about it.
I’m really intrigued by the idea that the human heart eludes the kings of heaven and hell—they can pass judgment and they can create life where there’s death, but they can’t know the human heart. It’s great for them to finally have a puzzle too, because so far they’ve just been withholding information and being puppet masters, but I like that there’s something they can’t know, and something they’re curious about. Mu-young acting on his own agenda is a great development as well, because he’s the head soldier who never falls out of line… but he’s starting to make decisions on his own. It seems a dangerous thing to have a grim reaper going rogue, but I love what that might mean for the story. I actually hope he goes a little off the reservation, because that guy needs to let his hair down (figuratively—I don’t think I could handle the scary if he had the creepy hair to go with).
How much do I love Arang? A sassy ex-ghost who cuts pompous asses down to size with scathing wit and nonsense puns? She just speaks to my heart. I love that she’s contrary by nature, which means she always says no first, just because. She also gets to question everything because she’s not tied to the rules of this world, whether it’s strict social rules of Joseon aristocracy or the laws of life and death. It cracks me up that she invokes the name of the Jade Emperor to argue that if that old fogey didn’t make such rules, then why does any old fogey get to? I really hope that it’s an aspect of her character that will rub off on Eun-oh as he starts to take some social responsibility, because really, I think she should be the one making the rules around here.
And Eun-oh’s got quite the tricks up his sleeve, if even Mu-young is stunned by his demon-killin’ fan o’ doom. I want more details on where he learned this stuff—who is this teacher in the mountains who taught him how to fight? Because I think you learned a little more than fancy martial arts up there. I’d love some flashbacks to the days when he first discovered his powers, and I’m dying to know the full extent of them.
The love triangle is progressing swimmingly, namely driving Eun-oh crazy (love) and making Joo-wal a little braver, a little more defiant. He’s still evil and has evil intentions of course, but it’s great to have him start to feel something, and simultaneously break away bit by bit from Mom’s influence. That’s exactly the conflict I want to see for him. I just hope that the jealousy on Eun-oh’s part forces him to confess his feelings before Joo-wal does something evil and he gets to say I-told-you-so and blame it all on his suspicions. Because yes, your evil-dar is pinging, but it’s your heart I want you to answer.