Gu Family Book: Episode 17
The romance takes a big swing upward, because there’s nothing like a brush with death and mayhem to make you cut through the crap and tell a girl how you feel. Kang-chi’s family drama gets more complicated—and more interesting—when Wol-ryung starts to show signs of vulnerability, in more ways than one.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
As we parade through the highlight reel of Kang-chi’s Moments of Stupidity when it comes to Yeo-wool—and she asks if Chung-jo is the most important person in his life—he narrates: “Why couldn’t I say anything then? Why couldn’t I tell you in that moment? The truth is… the truth is, Yeo-wool-ah…”
Back to where we left off last week, when Kang-chi finds out that Yeo-wool has gone missing. He assumes it’s Wol-ryung’s doing, but when we catch up to her, it’s two henchmen dressed in black who carry Yeo-wool through the woods.
Kang-chi tells Master Dam and Teacher Gong the truth about Wol-ryung. You’d think Master Dam would be a little more surprised that the gumiho he killed isn’t so much dead, but maybe he needs a moment. He asks why Kang-chi kept this to himself all this time.
He hangs his head, and Teacher Gong guesses that he still wanted to protect his father in some small way. Kang-chi takes off his bracelet and looks up with his green eyes to promise that he’ll bring Yeo-wool back here safely, or he won’t return.
When Yeo-wool gets brought to a clearing in the woods, it’s Jo Gwan-woong’s trusty sidekick who steps out. He asks if she’s Dam Pyung-joon’s daughter, and then we see that it was her father stepping in repeatedly that drove Jo Gwan-woong over the edge.
He rails at his minion to kill the thing Dam Pyung-joon holds most dear, to teach him that he can’t mess with Jo Gwan-woong. The minion now orders his men to cut Yeo-wool’s head off, and take it back to the martial arts school, and leave her body in the woods to be eaten by animals.
Three assassins come at her with swords, but even blindfolded and hands tied, Yeo-wool fights them off for a while. But they overtake her eventually and one raises his sword to strike… and then we hear a squelch noise offscreen, and he falls to the ground, dead. It seems wrong, but I’m happy and horrified at the same time.
The other two go down the same way, and then the mystery rescuer, also dressed in black, unties Yeo-wool. It’s Wol-ryung. Whew. Wait, is this worse, or better? I can’t decide.
Head Minion is the one who’s really scared, because he recognizes Wol-ryung immediately. He tells his men not to engage, and they start to run… only when they turn around he’s standing in their path. More offscreen squelching noises! I just have that image ingrained in my head, from that one time he ripped a guy’s heart out of his chest. Remember that?
Anyway, it gives Yeo-wool her chance to flee, and she runs for her life. Kang-chi is running as fast as his gumiho baby legs can go, and they both run run run towards each other. Er, hopefully it’s towards each other…
But it’s Wol-ryung who catches up to her first, and he asks with a hint of disbelief: “Are you running away from me?” She tells him to get away, but he tells her that if he makes up his mind, she’ll never be able to get away from him. Said the creepy stalker.
She backs away in fear, and then suddenly Wol-ryung can feel Kang-chi coming nearer. He shows up growling, and Wol-ryung quickly grabs Yeo-wool by the throat. Aw man, I was so close to feeling bad that you’d be misunderstood as the kidnapper, but now you’re just the second kidnapper of the evening.
Kang-chi growls at him to get away from Yeo-wool, but Wol-ryung tells him that there’s only one way to save her—give up on his quest to become human. She whirls around to look at Wol-ryung, and he stops for a casual side note: “Oh, did I not tell you who I am? I’m Kang-chi’s father.”
Kang-chi starts to waver, but it’s Yeo-wool who shouts, “No, Kang-chi! You can’t give up!” Wol-ryung spins her around to face him, and she cries at him not to bother Kang-chi anymore because he’s had plenty of pain his whole life without him adding to it. Are you telling off his deadbeat dad?
“If you’re really his father, then don’t cause him any more pain!” It moves him for a split second, but he gets ready to attack anyway. Kang-chi attacks first and they fight, but he’s no match for Dad, who hardly breaks a sweat while beating Kang-chi to a limping bloody mess.
Wol-ryung says he’ll never win, and turns to walk towards Yeo-wool. But Kang-chi gathers all his strength to stand between them, and tells Wol-ryung not to go near her. Wol-ryung hits him, but he stands up and says it again. He hits again, and Kang-chi, now bleeding AND crying, says it again.
Wol-ryung raises his hand one more time, and Kang-chi cries, “Yeo-wool is my person!” Omo. His hand stops in mid-air.
Kang-chi: “Don’t lay a hand on my person!” Wol-ryung hears his own voice echoing those same words, and suddenly he’s flooded with memories of Seo-hwa. He stands there stunned, watching Kang-chi cry and plead the exact same way he did when Seo-hwa was ripped from his arms.
His eyes start to well up with tears, and then suddenly a familiar blue light starts to circle around him. A tear falls as he looks over at Kang-chi, surrounded by blue lights, still guarding Yeo-wool.
He slowly lowers his hand, and at the same time, a huge gust of wind blows through. Kang-chi turns around to hold Yeo-wool, and as Wol-ryung watches them, we fade to black, and he’s gone. Did he… disappear?
Kang-chi clasps Yeo-wool’s face in his hands and says through tears, “I thought I lost you. I was so scared.” She hugs him, and then we hear him finish his thought from the opening narration in voiceover: “The truth is, Yeo-wool-ah, you are the one who’s most precious to me. Without you, I have no meaning.”
And then he pulls her in for a kiss. Whooo!
See, even the blue lights are happy when you kiss her. They swirl around and then when Kang-chi pulls away, his eyes are back to normal.
And THEN, you guys, she goes in for more kisses. I knew I loved her.
So-jung heads down to his library and finds Wol-ryung crouched on the floor, bleeding. He asks why he’s not healing, and Wol-ryung says he doesn’t have the power to heal anymore—all he has is hate and anger and death.
He says almost to himself, “When was it? I said those words once. I don’t remember why, or because of whom.” He muses that once he loses all fragments of his memories, he really will become nothing but a demon. “I wanted to die before then.”
He says with a tear that Kang-chi is the only one who can kill him, and murmurs, “If I could just die and go to where Seo-hwa is…” Awwww.
What he doesn’t know of course is that Seo-hwa is still alive and currently making an offer to buy something from Jo Gwan-woong. He asks what, and her assistant ushers in Tae-seo. She wants to buy Tae-seo?
She tells Jo Gwan-woong that she plans to restore the Hundred Year Inn to working order since he ran it into the ground, which only doubles his annoyance. He reminds her that the inn is his, but she in turn reminds him that he bought it with her money. Ooh. Interesting.
Jo Gwan-woong fumes and pulls the curtain back, and she quickly turns her face away. He warns her that threatening him is a bad idea, and she just says the same to him. He asks after his favorite minion, who just now wakes up in the woods, bloodied but alive.
Kang-chi and Yeo-wool report to Dad and Gon, and they don’t reveal that Wol-ryung was there, and she says she doesn’t know who kidnapped her, since she was blindfolded. She asks Dad to lift her house arrest, arguing that if she’d had her sword on her last night, it wouldn’t have gone that far.
But Kang-chi pipes up that he disagrees, and Dad should keep her locked away, because the girl doesn’t listen. WHAT. Does kissing make you stupid if you’re a gumiho? It would explain a lot.
They start to bicker right then and there, leaving Dad and Gon totally confused, and then storm out in a huff. They stand outside glaring at each other, and then suddenly Yeo-wool breaks into a huge grin: “It seemed real, right?” Ha.
Kang-chi beams, “It seemed totally real!” They giggle at each other, and then start to get self-conscious staring at each other’s lips.
But then Gon comes out, so it’s back to their bickering show. Flashback to last night, as they walk home holding hands. Yeo-wool asks Kang-chi to act like they’re fighting, at least until Dad lets her out of the house and gives her back her sword.
She adds that they should keep the encounter with Wol-ryung a secret for now, which he doesn’t understand, but she thinks to herself: “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you yet—that the person who made your father that way was my father.”
Kang-chi smiles to himself in the kitchen, and Teacher Gong sneaks up behind him to ask if he’s thinking about a girl. He stammers that he was NOT at all thinking about Yeo-wool. “Who said anything about Yeo-wool?” Ha.
Teacher is still weak from Wol-ryung’s attack, and Kang-chi apologizes because he feels responsible. Teacher Gong tells him not to burden himself with things that aren’t his fault, and asks what he plans to do next. “Now that you can control your beast half, aren’t you going to look for the Gu Family Book?” Oh, that. Right.
Jo Gwan-woong gets offered twice the cost of a regular servant for Tae-seo, but he just snarls that he won’t even accept ten times the normal cost. Seo-hwa’s assistant warns Jo Gwan-woong not to lose sight of the bigger picture over a matter so small—doesn’t he want the southern province? Servant Choi overhears the conversation and relays it to Tae-seo, who realizes that Jo Gwan-woong has bigger aspirations than just selling state secrets—he’s planning on selling off the country.
Kang-chi joins in on sword-fighting class today, much to Gon’s annoyance. He orders Kang-chi to run off and look for the Gu Family Book, but Kang-chi says there’s something more urgent he has to do first (thinking of his fight with Wol-ryung), and he has to become stronger to do it.
He asks about the other two masters because he wants to hurry up and learn stuff, but Gon refuses to tell him who they are. Kang-chi: “I don’t think you know!” He still finds it hard to believe that Gon is one of them.
They start getting into a pissing contest, which is always a good time. Gon: “Wanna die?” Kang-chi: “I don’t really die, so…”
But before it comes to blows, Tae-seo arrives for a visit and Kang-chi lights up to see him. Tae-seo reports what he found out, and Master Dam plans a reconnaissance mission at the inn to dig around.
Gon comes by to tell Yeo-wool, who pouts about being left out. Her teacher becomes hilariously shy when she sees Gon, and he just looks at her strangely as she smiles. She announces that Tae-seo is here to see her.
Yeo-wool goes out to see him and says brightly that he’ll do well on his mission. She’s still miffed about not being able to join in on the spying, but he says he wouldn’t want her to. She sighs, all Not you too. “Is it because I’m a woman?”
Tae-seo: “Because you are my betrothed.” That’s not the answer she expected. He says he knows it was her father’s one-sided wish, and that he’s still not good enough, but he says that it may have been her father’s way of giving him a moral duty—something to live and fight for. Aw, how’s a girl to reject you when you say she’s the reason you’re fighting?
Kang-chi watches them with a long face, and when he turns around, he runs right into Gon doing the same thing. Ha. Like a rake gag, but sadder, and with puppies.
As Kang-chi brushes past him, Gon says, “It’s just to there—that’s how close you can get to Yeo-wool. It’s best not to go any closer.” Why does that break my heart? It’s clearly spoken from experience, too.
Kang-chi doesn’t turn around and just keeps the ruse going that it doesn’t concern him. Didn’t he see them fighting earlier? Gon asks if he seems like enough of an idiot to fall for an act like that.
He warns Kang-chi that he and Yeo-wool will both be left with nothing but scars, so it’s better to give up now. Kang-chi: “Give up before starting? Don’t you know that Yeo-wool hates that the most? I’m never going to do anything that Yeo-wool doesn’t like.” I’m gonna hold you to that, buddy. No letting her go for her own good in the eleventh hour!
He broods alone in the kitchen, mindlessly sweeping the floor with a broom, when Yeo-wool sneaks by to pout that they’re all going on a super secret mission and leaving the two of them out.
Kang-chi just asks what Tae-seo said without looking at her, and she asks, “Are you…jealous?” He gets all flustered with the denials, naturally, but she just says, “Isn’t jealousy for someone who can’t have something?” Cute.
He says he honestly doesn’t know. “I’ve never in my whole life had something of my own. I’ve belonged to other people, but I’ve never had a person who was mine.” He finishes the thought in his own head: “So I don’t know what I should do. Can I really have these feelings for you?”
Yeo-wool tells him he’s not the only one—it’s the first time she’s ever felt this way too. “So, what do you want to do tonight?” Kang-chi’s mind goes straight to the gutter: “Huh? Tonight?”
Yeo-wool: *blink blink* “What are you imagining?! The reconnaissance mission!” He laughs sheepishly. And then he fondles his broom. No really! I don’t make this stuff up!
So while Kang-chi spies on Gon, Yeo-wool asks her teacher to take her into town, or be tied up again. Heh. Teacher chooses to take her into town and tries to teach her about different fabrics, which Yeo-wool finds about as exciting as watching snails crawl.
She knocks the vendor’s table over for a quick distraction and scurries off. She peels off her dress, already prepared with her spy outfit on underneath. She’s about to go when Chung-jo, who spotted her in the marketplace, stops her.
Yeo-wool greets her with a big smile, and Chung-jo notes that she seems happy, and that Kang-chi has a way of making people feel that way. But then she adds that the thing about Kang-chi is, once he gives his heart to someone, it’s absolute. She says if she calls him to her now, Kang-chi wouldn’t be able to turn her down.
Aw, Chung-jo, why? I can see her saying something like that in a jealous outburst, but I really hope this isn’t the only place we’re going with her character. Yeo-wool asks what she means, and Chung-jo just lets her wonder, leaving her feeling nervous.
Meanwhile, Kang-chi heads into town, and Gon discovers their not-so-sneaky plan.
Soo-ryun comes to the inn and offers to throw a party here to make up for the last one, and Jo Gwan-woong agrees, but says he has a request.
Seo-hwa asks her assistant about his search for the monk So-jung, but he still hasn’t found him, and he assures her that they’ll find her son. Ah, so she IS looking for Kang-chi, and her interest in Tae-seo must be purely because of the inn and Jo Gwan-woong, not realizing how closely Kang-chi is tied to that family.
Soo-ryun arrives with her gisaengs in tow and exchanges a furtive glance with Tae-seo. One of Seo-hwa’s men keeps watching Tae-seo closely, but so far he just seems to be keeping tabs on him.
Kang-chi and Yeo-wool get ready to sneak in, when Gon finds them. They’re all prepared with arguments about how Kang-chi knows the place like the back of his hand, and basically they just aren’t going to take no for an answer. They’re so cute when they’re ganging up on Gon. Team mission it is.
At the party, Jo Gwan-woong asks the veiled mystery lady to show her face, and offers to sell Tae-seo to her in exchange.
Kang-chi starts poking around, and suddenly a group of men stop him to ask something in Japanese. It turns out they dressed as ninjas for the mission to purposely blend in with Seo-hwa’s men, but it also requires Kang-chi to pass as one of them now.
He just repeats the one phrase Yeo-wool taught him, and manages to blend in with the group that’s gathered for the secret meeting. There, the leader asks if they completed their mission, and a few of them present pieces of a map.
Suddenly one man speaks up to say that there’s a spy here, because they only have twenty men, but there are twenty-one standing in here right now. Whoops. The leader orders them to un-mask, which leaves Kang-chi looking mighty guilty.
He turns around, slips his bracelet off, and faces them with green eyes. Next thing we know, he’s walking out with a room full of injured ninjas in his wake. He tucks the maps into his shirt and starts running.
At the party, Seo-hwa agrees to take off her hat, and Soo-ryun watches warily. But when she unveils, it’s a decoy, and Seo-hwa’s sitting in her dark room, smiling.
Kang-chi slips into a dark room to avoid being seen, but it’s not empty… He’s walked right into his mother’s room.
Seo-hwa lights a candle and comes closer to Kang-chi with a knife in her hand. She asks (in Japanese), “Who are you?”
He turns around slowly to face her.
The first half of the episode was much stronger than the rest, given that the other conflicts don’t really hold a candle to Wol-ryung vs. Kang-chi. I don’t really care about Jo Gwan-woong, so the setting of the pieces for the next battle was just more of the same, plotwise. I’m glad Seo-hwa is starting to DO something, because I’ve had enough of her hat shenanigans, and I’d like to know what she wants. At least we know she’s looking for Kang-chi, though if she’s actively been searching for twenty years, she ought to look into better minions.
I love that Wol-ryung is starting to show signs of humanity, or what tiny fragments are left. This was a good use of the repeated setup, like father like son, which works twofold to make us appreciate the happy version of the love story (because we know how badly it turned out the first time), and also to get through to Wol-ryung and remind him that he once felt the same way. The idea that his former self is just a hazy memory and that he’s holding on until the hate completely consumes him is a great place to be with his character, and it gives us hope that there’s something to recover in him. That moment in the forest was great, when Kang-chi’s fear and love and desperation made him see himself in his son.
Now that Kang-chi and Yeo-wool have confirmed their feelings, the love square is rearing its ugly head, which feels a little late. Or maybe I just dislike it when this couple’s main obstacle is anything other than their own foot-in-mouth disease (because that’s cute) or life-threatening path-altering stuff, like gumihos becoming human, or demon fathers back from the dead. At least Tae-seo is part and parcel of Master Dam’s plan to marry her off, which is a conflict that I like for her because Yeo-wool has a chance to assert herself as a woman who makes her own choices.
But I really wish they’d let Chung-jo move on, because I like her, and I don’t want to dislike her because she hangs on and starts meddling in their relationship. Her still being in love with Kang-chi, or saying harsh things to him to push him away while secretly pining for him—that’s all great. But turning her into a convenient meddlesome second lead is just wasting her character, which makes me sad. Good thing Gumiho Baby Smoochies are an instant pick-me-up.
- Gu Family Book: Episode 16
- 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