Gu Family Book: Episode 16
Tuesday’s episodes tend to have the goods—plot movement, life lessons learned, stakes raised. This time we get a dash of humor and a little romance too, but more importantly, our new Big Bad reveals a little motivation, and it does wonders for the conflict ahead.
Time to check back in with ratings now that there’s a new show in the picture. Gu Family Book is still on the rise with a new high of 18.2% today, and in the absence of God of Workplace, Jang Ok-jung scored double digits this week with 10.5%, and KBS’s new show Shark brought in the rear with 6.7%.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Wol-ryung introduces himself by name to Kang-chi, just as Seo-hwa unveils herself in front of Tae-seo. Wol-ryung: “You are Seo-hwa’s son?” Kang-chi: “That’s what the monk says.” To Kang-chi’s alarm, Wol-ryung asks if he’s looking for the Gu Family Book… because of Dam Yeo-wool. Gulp.
He tells Kang-chi to give it up if that’s the case, and tells him that if he just continues to live as he is, Wol-ryung will spare his life. Interesting. So he does have a flicker of humanity in there, as far as love for his son might go. He doesn’t want him to end up the same way.
Kang-chi: “What right do you have to tell me whether or not to be human, to give up or not? What are you?!” Wol-ryung: “Don’t you know better than me, who I am?” Kang-chi doesn’t much care to know him, and tells him to get the hell out.
At that, Wol-ryung super-speeds over to him and knocks him back into a wall with one hand. Ack! Kang-chi struggles against his hold, but he can’t do anything as Wol-ryung chokes the breath out of him.
Wol-ryung: “Trust me. If you trust humans, the only thing you’ll get in return is betrayal. They will never accept you. They will never trust you. For the sole reason that you are different, they will ostracize you and cause you pain. This is my last warning. Leave the human world at once.”
This is great. Phew, Wol-ryung is so much more interesting now.
Kang-chi: “Go hide away in the mountains as a monster like you? Never die, never get sick, all that time with no end in sight, without being able to see the person I love? Alone?!” He refuses to live a life so lonely, and sheds a tear: “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. Living as a human is my dream.”
Suddenly Teacher Gong shows up behind them to defend Kang-chi. Aw, tiny man, that’s adorable, but I’m not sure it’s the best idea. I love that he even talks to a thousand-year old gumiho-demon like he’s a child, and orders him to let Kang-chi go.
Kang-chi screams no, but Wol-ryung complies, and though Teacher Gong puts up a good fight with his broom, Wol-ryung has him by the throat in no time. Kang-chi screams so loud that everyone inside hears him, but this time Yeo-wool is trapped by her watchdog teacher.
Kang-chi panics and does the only thing he can—he takes off his bracelet. Wol-ryung warns him to give up living as human, or else everyone around him will die. Kang-chi runs up to attack, and Wol-ryung swooshes away, leaving Teacher Gong lying on the ground. Please don’t die!
Kang-chi pleads with him to wake up, but he doesn’t stir, so he grabs the nearest rock and slices open his hand to drop some blood into Teacher’s neck wound.
But then, of course, this is the exact moment Master Dam and crew show up at the scene—when there is no bad guy, and Kang-chi’s wolfing out, and Teacher Gong is lying there unconscious or dead. GAH. This looks bad.
Master Dam raises a sword to Kang-chi’s throat. He just looks up with the saddest puppy eyes, and doesn’t budge until he sees the blue lights heal over Teacher’s wound.
Meanwhile Wol-ryung returns to the Moonlight Garden and looks down at his scraped arm. So we knew Kang-chi could hurt him, but does this mean he no longer heals? It would make sense, if the whole blue-light power over living things is sourced in gumiho regenerative blood. Huh.
Seo-hwa and Tae-seo take turns asking each other questions, and she answers honestly that she is a Joseon person, and that her connection to Jo Gwan-woong is for mutual financial gain.
Tae-seo tells her he’s aligning with Jo Gwan-woong only to save his sister, and then she asks him the question she really called him here for: “Do you want to reclaim the Hundred Year Inn?” She says if so, she can make it happen. Now we’re talkin’.
In the morning, Gon finally comes by to tell Yeo-wool what happened, and she of course finds it ridiculous that Kang-chi would attack Teacher Gong. Gon says that maybe he’s finding it harder and harder to control his beast side, and despite Yeo-wool’s pleas, doesn’t let her leave.
Teacher Gong still hasn’t woken up, and Kang-chi is kept under guard by a circle of classmates with giant spears. He nearly starts a fight just to get rid of them, but remembers Yeo-wool’s request for him to try and get along with people, and calms down.
Lee Soon-shin arrives to survey the damage and meets with Kang-chi alone. He demands to know what happened, and Kang-chi looks at him with a stricken expression: “Do you not trust me either?”
Now Wol-ryung’s warnings about humans doesn’t feel like someone else’s story, and he asks if he’s being suspected just because he isn’t human. But Lee Soon-shin teaches him that trust doesn’t come out of nowhere, and has to be earned day by day, through relationships—so if Kang-chi doesn’t have the trust of the people around him, he hasn’t done enough to earn it.
Kang-chi whines, “So it’s my fault?” Lee Soon-shin doesn’t ease up on his tough love lessons: “Everything that happens in your life IS your fault!” And then Kang-chi just breaks down in tears, like a little kid, all quivering lip: “It wasn’t me who did that Teacher Gong-dal.”
Lee Soon-shin softens a little and tells him that trust is the relationships between people, and if he wants to be trusted, he has to learn how to get along with people first. It immediately makes him remember Teacher Gong telling him the same thing.
He comes out to ask Master Dam for one more chance. He says the other students are afraid of him, but Kang-chi says he still has two days and five bells left, and he’ll think of it as his last chance. If he fails that challenge, he’ll walk away.
Yeo-wool’s sewing teacher makes the mistake of dozing off in class, and Yeo-wool smiles mischievously at her window of opportunity. When the teacher wakes up, she’s gagged and hog-tied, and Yeo-wool is back in her regular clothes staring down at her. Hee.
She apologizes and tells her to take a long nap and hops out her window cheerily. She finds Kang-chi brooding over Teacher Gong’s broom, and he lights up to see her. She grabs him and they take off running.
They don’t have much time though, because her teacher wriggles over to the door and alerts the guard.
Yeo-wool and Kang-chi run into the kitchen, and she tells him she sneaked away because Gon was being so frustrating and not telling her everything. She rattles off a litany of questions: is he okay, what happened to Teacher Gong, did everyone think he looked guilty, and did Dad hit him a lot?
Aw, it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes, the way he looks at her while she’s rambling—with her it’s trust first, worry first, and there’s no doubt in her mind that he might be a killer monster.
He just asks if her ankle is okay and tells her to be careful, and she asks him cutely, “Did you know that you’re nagging me a lot lately?” He laughs, so she keeps going, “Did you also know that you’re kind of like a man lately?”
He leans in close, “So, do you like it?” Rawr? They inch closer and closer as they tease each other, and then Kang-chi backs away first when it starts to get awkward. He tells her that Teacher Gong will be okay and updates her on the bell test, and she gapes that he’s already down to five with two days left to go.
As if on cue, Gon comes out of nowhere to slice another bell off. He tells Yeo-wool to hurry back and he’ll pretend he didn’t see her, but her teacher stomps in, fuming, to haul her ass back to Sewing 101.
Lee Soon-shin decides to face Jo Gwan-woong himself over Kang-chi and the rumors, and makes plans to go to the Hundred Year Inn. Teacher Gong finally stirs awake and whispers something into Sung’s ear (the little guy who’s the one nice kid at school).
Sung finds Kang-chi sitting in the kitchen on Teacher Gong’s stool, holding his broom and trying to figure out the damned riddle. He’s also imagining Teacher Gong sitting next to him like a ghost, but don’t you get any bright ideas, Show. Kang-chi tells Sung to try and grab the broom, which he does in one try.
Kang-chi is hilariously impressed and pleads to know how he did it, and Sung just repeats Teacher Gong’s mantra about the intrinsic nature of things. He explains that while the broom is moving, it’s Kang-chi who’s controlling it, hence he’s looking at Kang-chi, not the broom.
The even funnier part is that Kang-chi still can’t grab the broom after learning the trick, and Sung out-maneuvers him swiftly. He looks up, “You’re not… one of the Men of Honor, are you?” Haha.
Sung says he can’t even step on their shadows with his skills, and Kang-chi asks if Gon is really that good, still refusing to believe it. Sung tells him to buck up—if Lee Soon-shin is going to face an inquisition on his behalf, he has to be strong. Kang-chi looks up in surprise. Who’s doing what for whom?
He runs out to ask Gon if it’s true, and argues that he should’ve been told. Gon tells him not to make trouble and to stay put, but Kang-chi says he has a plan to quell the rumors and help Lee Soon-shin.
He asks for their help, but the students get all fired up, saying that he can’t be trusted. So Kang-chi yanks the belt of bells off his waist and offers it up in exchange—if he makes things worse, then he’ll walk away and never go near anyone from this school again.
Gon: “Including Yeo-wool?” He agrees, which is enough to get Gon onboard. So while Gon distracts Yeo-wool’s teacher, Sung sneaks in to give her a message from Teacher Gong.
Master Dam hears about the jailbreak (er, Kang-chi’s, not Yeo-wool’s) and is just about head out when Teacher Gong hobbles in to say he’ll explain everything. Good timing.
Gon is terrible at distracting Yeo-wool’s teacher, but he’s so awkward that she mistakes his questions as interest in her, which is hilarious. Once Yeo-wool sneaks out, she heads back in to find… is that Sung dressed as Yeo-wool? Hahaha.
Meanwhile, Kang-chi heads into town and shouts in the middle of the street: “Anyone curious whether or not I’m the child of a gumiho?” (He actually says gumiho baby, which is so cute I kinda squeed.)
Chung-jo is there, but Kang-chi doesn’t seem to notice her. Ma Bong-chul runs to Kang-chi’s side and asks what he’s doing, but Kang-chi just keeps asking until hands go up. He tells them to gather in front of the Hundred Year Inn where he’ll show everyone once and for all.
Lee Soon-shin arrives to meet with Jo Gwan-woong, and they exchange heated barbs, with Lee Soon-shin wondering why Jo Gwan-woong is so afraid of Kang-chi that he won’t rest until he’s locked away, while Jo Gwan-woong wonders why Lee Soon-shin is harboring a monster.
(This is random, but Jo Gwan-woong adds this EH? at the end of his questions that Cracks. Me. Up. I think I hit rewind five times.)
Lee Soon-shin declares his wild accusations baseless, and threatens him in kind, which makes Jo Gwan-woong blow up and ask if all of it—the turtle ships, the secret funds, and Kang-chi—are all in preparation for a war.
Lee Soon-shin just uses the opportunity to ask how he knows such things. Does he have a spy working for him?
Suddenly Kang-chi’s voice rings out, calling everyone to come out and see. The servants come running out of the inn, and Kang-chi’s father worries that he’s come at a bad time. But he says he’s here to squash all those rumors, “because I’m your son, not a gumiho baby!”
Jo Gwan-woong comes out, and Lee Soon-shin tells Kang-chi to go back home and not make any more trouble. But he bows and says that keeping the person who protected him from harm, and not disappointing him—that’s the best he can do to show his trust.
He asks Jo Gwan-woong what he needs to do to prove that he isn’t a gumiho, and Jo Gwan-woong orders him to take off his bracelet since that’s what keeps his beast half at bay. He looks down at it, and then out into the crowd. Looking for Yeo-wool, perhaps?
But she isn’t there, and Chung-jo and Bong-chul start to get antsy. Jo Gwan-woong demands he take off the bracelet, and Chung-jo finally takes a step forward. But Yeo-wool runs past her and calls out to Kang-chi. Yay.
He beams to see her, and she nods reassuringly. He takes a deep breath, raises his arm… and yanks the bracelet off.
A gust of wind blows through, but Kang-chi doesn’t change. Everyone, even Yeo-wool, is shocked. They look at each other with adoring smiles, as Jo Gwan-woong asks his minion what the hell is going on.
Minion figures he’ll stab first and ask questions later, and swings his sword. Eep. But Gon swoops in out of nowhere to block it. Woot! Kang-chi’s caught off-guard and looks over at Gon gratefully. Okay, that got the biggest awwwww out of me today.
And THEN, even Master Dam joins in on the lovefest, and pops out to declare that Kang-chi is his student, and anyone who attacks him will get his master’s wrath in return. Of course as soon as the big threat is out of the way, he’s back to being Disapproving Dad, and tells the kids they’re in big trouble.
He asks how Kang-chi took the gamble that he’d let Yeo-wool come, and he says he trusted in Master Dam’s trust in Lee Soon-shin. Nicely played.
As the crowd thins out, Kang-chi and Yeo-wool stand there grinning at each other like fools, while Chung-jo and Tae-seo each watch from a distance.
Back at school, Gon holds up Kang-chi’s bells and asks for a show of hands of anyone who still wants Kang-chi out. He’ll cut one bell per person who vetoes him. Two guys raise their hands, so two bells go, and then Sung pipes up to defend Kang-chi.
He says that Kang-chi was only defending Teacher Gong, and that many of them came to this school because they were outcasts somewhere else—so why are they doing the same to Kang-chi now?
Gon asks for a final count and no one else raises a hand, so Kang-chi asks for his bells back. Gon pulls one more off before giving it back, for his own vote. But! You heroically rescued him and everything. He tells Kang-chi to guard his one last bell until sunset tonight if he wants to remain here.
Kang-chi stays behind to thank the students for letting him stay because he doesn’t really have anywhere else to go, and bows respectfully. One by one they come around with a tap on the shoulder to say that they’re sorry too.
He thanks Sung sincerely, who smiles and says, “Now you’ve finally become one bean in the sack.” Lightbulb. Kang-chi runs to the kitchen armed with his bag o’ beans and declares to Teacher Gong that he has the answer.
“One sack! No matter if there are thousands or tens of thousands of beans, if they are in one sack, it’s one sackful.”
Teacher Gong remains cryptic and says that may or may not be the answer, and orders Kang-chi to do the dishes. He hobbles over to Sung and pinches him, nagging that he told him to help Kang-chi, not give him the answers. Hee.
But Sung swears he never gave answers, just hinted, and that Kang-chi is just quick on the uptake. Uh, you mean the guy standing there scratching his head and recounting the beans on his fingers? The more adorable part is that Teacher Gong looks over at Kang-chi proudly, believing it.
Soo-ryun has a spy over at the Hundred Year Inn because she’s awesome like that, and asks the servant if she’s found out anything about the mystery woman. She tended to the woman as she was bathing, and tells Soo-ryun that she has the tattoo of one of her gisaengs, and a scar on the other shoulder, a claw-mark.
That’s enough to make Soo-ryun think of Seo-hwa right away, and she gasps at the possibility that the girl could still be alive.
Tae-seo comes to see Seo-hwa to ask what her conditions are for returning the inn to him. Seo-hwa: “Become my son. That will be enough.” Whaaaa? Curious. I wonder if she thinks he’s her son, or if this is her way to Kang-chi. Hm.
Yeo-wool’s teacher nods off again, which means she ends up hog-tied with Yeo-wool apologizing profusely about two seconds later. She heads out to meet Kang-chi, who apparently asked to meet.
He proudly presents her with his last bell. Aw, he passed the test and gets to stay. He says it was really because of the other students who accepted him.
Someone comes by, so they run behind a bush to hide out of view, landing them huddled close with Kang-chi’s arm wrapped around her. This time he doesn’t chicken out and holds her hand, and starts to inch closer…
Yeo-wool closes her eyes anticipating the kiss, and then when he gets about an inch away, Sung comes running over, screaming Kang-chi’s name.
They freeze, and she gestures at him to answer, which he doesn’t want to do for obvious reasons, so she pushes him out. Ha. Sung says Master Dam is calling for him, and runs off. Damn, does Dad have supersonic boyfriend-dar or something?
She tells him to go, so he finally starts to trudge away, but then he stops to turn back. Eee, kiss her anyway! He marches back and grabs her by the shoulders, starts to lean in… and says, “Sleep well.” Pffffft. Goddamn it, I don’t think you deserve kisses anymore.
She stammers back, “You too…” and he walks away hanging his head. She smiles to herself as she watches him go, and then suddenly a hand darts in to cover her mouth and yank her away. Oh no.
Master Dam says Teacher Gong told him about the other beast, and asks if Kang-chi knows who it is. He answers hesitantly, “I do, but…” He thinks back to Wol-ryung’s warning to give up trying to be human.
Before he can answer, Yeo-wool’s teacher comes bursting in to say that she’s missing, and Kang-chi says she should be back in her room by now. Way to out your nighttime rendezvous with her father.
He runs out to the spot where he left her, and finds the bell lying on the ground. We cut to Wol-ryung pacing in his cave, as Kang-chi remembers his warning: “Give up trying to become human. Or I will destroy everything connected to you.”
Kang-chi tightens his fist. “Wol-ryung…”
Okay, now this I can get behind. If Wol-ryung isn’t just a smash-and-grab villain with demon for brains, then there’s so much more going on that we can explore. He seems interested in looking out for Kang-chi, which is (a) terribly misguided at the moment, but (b) potentially a place for paternal love to take root. The point isn’t really for them to make up and be a happy gumiho family, but I like that he’s coming from a place of concern and hurt because he’s walked this same path and ended up a true monster. The warring motivation is both logical and the perfect opposite of everything Kang-chi thinks about humanity, and I’m digging the dark side version that’s worming its way into Kang-chi’s thoughts. Because it’s rooted in truth, and that’s why it’s dangerous.
The test of faith in this episode was similar to ones Kang-chi has faced before, but in light of Wol-ryung’s warnings about betrayal, it felt a little more desperate, like Kang-chi was one suspicious accusation away from exploding and giving up. But it’s always nice to be reminded of why Yeo-wool is special and different from everyone else, who jumps to the bad conclusion first without giving Kang-chi the benefit of the doubt. When everyone else reacts that way, she jumps into the fray concerned about him, and it really does feel like if he just has her, he can endure anything.
The public de-accessorizing was a nice payoff of Kang-chi’s newfound power to control his gumiho side (around Yeo-wool that is), especially because it coincides with the build-up of rumors and fear, and well, I always enjoy any time he can get Jo Gwan-woong’s panties in a twist. Seo-hwa’s motivations are still a mystery but I prefer her that way, in small doses with cryptic questions. I doubt that she really thinks Tae-seo is her son, but it does seem like she came to the Hundred Year Inn knowing that it has some connection to Gumiho Baby (which by the way is my new favorite thing).
It’s just great to see Kang-chi learning bit by bit what it means to get along with other people and earn their trust instead of feeling entitled to it. Now if he could just get his lips to be faster on the draw. I mean, who’s ever even heard of a gumiho with so much self-restraint? Piffle.
- Gu Family Book: Episode 15
- Gu Family Book: Episode 14
- Gu Family Book: Episode 13
- Gu Family Book: Episode 12
- Gu Family Book: Episode 11
- Gu Family Book: Episode 10
- Gu Family Book: Episode 9
- Gu Family Book: Episode 8
- Gu Family Book: Episode 7
- Gu Family Book: Episode 6
- Gu Family Book: Episode 5
- Gu Family Book: Episode 4
- Gu Family Book: Episode 3
- Gu Family Book: Episode 2
- Gu Family Book: Episode 1