The beans are a-spillin’. It’s an episode full of reveals, as each character learns a monumental secret, from the source of family tragedies, to long-lost gumiho babies, to first love obsessions that literally will not die. They say your past always catches up to you, but damn, can’t we get an handle on that mess before it infects a whole new generation?
SONG OF THE DAY
4Men – “Only You” for the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 18 RECAP
After running off with the Super Secret Spy Maps, Kang-chi chooses his mother’s room of all places to hide. But they know nothing of each other, so Seo-hwa inches closer armed with a knife, thinking he’s a killer or a thief.
Meanwhile at the party, the decoy Seo-hwa unveils herself and gets ready to leave. Soo-ryun isn’t satisfied and signals her gisaengs to pull a Plan B maneuver, so they spill a drink on her and fawn over her in apology, yanking the corner of her gown off her shoulder.
Soo-ryun takes a look, but there’s no tattoo. She tells Jo Gwan-woong that that woman was a fake, and wonders how he’s done business with her for twenty years but never seen her face. It clearly bothers him now, because it’s gone from mere curiosity to injured pride.
Kang-chi swears that he’s not a bad person, and Seo-hwa chooses to believe him, even sending her sentry away with the lie that everything inside is fine. He thanks her sincerely for believing him, and leans in close to whisper the three best dishes at the Hundred Year Inn that she has to try while she’s staying here.
She notes that he talks about the place like he knows it well, and he smiles sadly. He says he did once, while Lord Park was still alive. She asks his name, and he gives it, even with the explanation that he was named for being abandoned in a river.
But judging from her non-reaction, she knows nothing of how So-jung gave her child away. She just smiles as he leaves, thinking him sweet and amusing. But once he’s gone she notices one map fragment left behind, and calls for her assistant in a panic.
Yeo-wool worries while waiting, but Kang-chi sneaks up behind her and takes her by the hand for the getaway. They turn around and run right into Tae-seo and Gon, and everyone stands there awkwardly noticing the handhold but not talking about it.
They don’t let go, even as they argue about the best getaway, and Gon has this great moment where he just looks at Tae-seo, and then back at the couple, and lets out this are you kidding me laugh.
Tae-seo barks at them to follow before they’re all discovered.
Jo Gwan-woong finds out belatedly that there was a theft tonight, and he stops Soo-ryun at the gate, now finding her timing extremely suspicious. He orders a search of all her girls, and I don’t like how nervous Tae-seo looks right now.
She complies, and thankfully the search turns up nothing and they’re free to go. Soo-ryun leads them out, and around the corner, the three stooges are waiting to join the entourage, dressed in skirts and covering their faces. Ha.
They slip into the crowd unnoticed, and follow Soo-ryun to the gisaeng house. They get ushered into Chung-jo’s room, where the maid asks her to house them for the night so that Jo Gwan-woong’s spies don’t see them.
They just stand there awkwardly until Chung-jo laughs, and then they realize how ridiculous they look.
Soo-ryun takes the boys to meet Lee Soon-shin and Master Dam who have just arrived, and when Master Dam asks what Kang-chi is doing here, Gon totally steps up to say it was his idea. Aw, can you be besties now?
Kang-chi shows them the map, and they note immediately that it must have taken months of planning to make these. They coincide with the string of murders across the province that they’ve so far been attributing to Jo Gwan-woong—oh right, that old plot point.
But the map itself isn’t proof, and Lee Soon-shin worries that it’s another sign that war is imminent, despite the state refusing to believe it and prepare.
As they’re saying all this, Kang-chi just keeps digging around in his shirt like it’s a Mary Poppins bag, and finally confesses that there were eight pieces, but he doesn’t know where one of them went. I love that all the adults look back at him like, You did what, now?
He thinks about it and realizes he must’ve dropped it in that woman’s room. At the same time, Seo-hwa addresses her men with scorn, reminding them that it took months of painstaking planning to get this far. She orders them to find Choi Kang-chi and get those maps back, even if they have to kill him to do it.
Kang-chi tries to explain what happened to Gon and Yeo-wool, and the conversation is pretty hilarious. “You didn’t show your face, right?” “Well…”
“As long as she doesn’t know your name.” “Um, about that…” They roll their eyes in unison, and Gon guesses that the woman was pretty. Yeo-wool gets adorably huffy: “Was she pretty?” Cute. Kang-chi tries his damnedest to backpedal, but he just keeps shoving his foot in his mouth. Hee.
Soo-ryun shares her suspicions with Master Dam about Seo-hwa being alive. She hasn’t been able to confirm it, but the timing fits with Wol-ryung’s return.
They wonder what it all means, and Soo-ryun is even more curious what on earth she’d be doing taking Jo Gwan-woong’s side. Right? That’d be my first question too.
Chung-jo happens to overhear their conversation as she’s bringing them tea, and runs back to Soo-ryun’s maid to ask who Seo-hwa is and what she has to do with Kang-chi.
At the inn, Seo-hwa admits to Jo Gwan-woong that the maps were stolen, and asks for his help in recovering them. He’s had enough of these games, and demands that she show him her face first.
She finally relents and tells them to lift the curtain, and Jo Gwan-woong only needs one look to recognize the woman he loved (in a creepy obsessive way, naturally). “Yoon… Seo-hwa…?” She denies it, insisting that her name is Ja Hong-myung, but he leaves completely shaken. “How can this be?”
Soo-ryun sits Kang-chi down and he asks cautiously if Master Dam was really angry. She says he’s just worried, and then notes that his eyes are like his mother’s. He’s surprised to hear that she knew his mother, but she doesn’t say any more.
She writes down a character (for a tree) and hands it to him as homework, and reveals herself as one of the four Men of Honor. His jaw drops and she asks if his surprise is because she’s a woman or because she’s a gisaeng.
She tells him that there is no such thing as status in the group, whether nobleman or slave, man or woman. She tells him his homework is to cut that tree and bring her a house made from it. Kang-chi stares at the paper blankly. Guess we have another riddle on our hands.
Yeo-wool paces anxiously in Chung-jo’s room, and Chung-jo finally asks if she knew that Kang-chi’s mother’s name was Seo-hwa. And then she asks if she knows who killed Kang-chi’s father. Yeo-wool freezes.
Chung-jo guesses that Yeo-wool has known all this time that her father killed his, and accuses her of hiding the truth from Kang-chi and smiling in front of him, betraying him with lies.
Yeo-wool swears that’s not what it is, and says this isn’t something she wants to discuss with Chung-jo. She opens the door to leave… and Kang-chi is standing right there. Oh no. He looks at her with pleading eyes, “What did she mean, Yeo-wool-ah?”
She can’t answer, and just runs past him. Gon finds her crying outside and asks what’s wrong, and she just bawls, “It’s all over! Kang-chi will never want to see me again!”
Kang-chi stands there numbly, and Chung-jo says she’s sorry he found out this way—it wasn’t her intention. He asks her to tell him what she knows, so she tells him that Master Dam killed his father, his mother had him alone, and then died soon after.
He sheds a tear.
Wol-ryung writhes in pain and So-jung rushes downstairs with some medicine. But he growls, “Where is this? Who are you?” and attacks, as if the demon has taken over and erased his memories.
So-jung ekes out, “It’s me, So-jung. Your one human friend.” Wol-ryung finally gets it together long enough to remember him, but warns him to stay away. Urg, he’s losing control, and fast.
Worried, So-jung decides to head down the mountain and goes to see Master Dam.
Yeo-wool and Gon return to find Kang-chi gone, and Chung-jo guesses he went to go see the man who killed his father. They run out, and Chung-jo completes the blue bird (for her name) that she’s been sewing into what looks like Kang-chi’s shirt.
Master Dam is waiting with a sword on his desk when Kang-chi storms in, and then he tosses it to him. “This is the sword. Twenty years ago I stabbed your father with that sword.”
Kang-chi asks why, and Master Dam says he lost fifteen of his men to Wol-ryung, and in the end he attacked Seo-hwa. He had no choice. Kang-chi asks if his father was really such a monster that he even attacked the wife he loved.
But Master Dam surprises him: “It was your father who was betrayed.” He explains that Wol-ryung was looking for the Gu Family Book and trying to become human, but Seo-hwa saw his gumiho face and fled in fear.
Kang-chi asks with tears in his eyes if that’s his excuse—that he killed his father to save his mother. He draws the sword and screams, “So the tragedy of my family began with the edge of this sword!”
Yeo-wool and Gon race back, but by the time they get there, Kang-chi is already walking out. Eep, his hands are covered in blood. Gon races inside, and she stands there looking up at Kang-chi and then back down at his hands.
He calls her name, and she walks closer… and then goes right past him without a word. Oof. I know it looks bad with the blood on his hands, but man that hurt.
Kang-chi stands there is utter shock, as Wol-ryung’s words ring in his ears: “If you trust humans, the only thing you’ll get in return is betrayal.”
Yeo-wool and Gon race in, but Dad is perfectly fine. He’s standing behind his desk, staring down at his sword, broken in two.
A flashback to the rest of that scene shows Kang-chi breaking the sword in half with his bare hands. He cries, “Whatever happened twenty years ago, it happened between adults before we were even born. So please don’t connect that past to us! Whatever happened between you adults, you figure it out yourselves!” Bravo. Slow clap.
The instant Yeo-wool sees the sword she realizes her mistake and runs out of there calling Kang-chi’s name. She finds him outside healing his hands with his blue lights, and carefully walks closer, not knowing what to say.
She finally squeaks out his name and he turns to face her, and then walks right past her like she did to him. Ouuuch.
She’s about to burst into tears, when suddenly he wraps his arms around her in a back-hug. Aw, you came back. Kang-chi: “Don’t do that again. Don’t make secrets. Don’t walk past me like you don’t know who I am.”
She says it was because she was so sorry and didn’t know how to tell him. He turns her around and tells her to look at his face, and just says, “I like you. I like you a lot.”
It seems like a weirdly timed confession, given where the conversation was going, but I’ll just take it as a …And nothing else matters. See, it’s like a participatory script, where we fill in the blanks together as we watch. Interactive! Fun for the whole family!
As he holds her, Wol-ryung’s warning comes back in his head, but this time so does his answer: “I want to trust people. I want to be with them till the end.”
A dark cloud descends on So-jung’s library, and a thick black fog comes closer and closer to Wol-ryung, until his veins grow black and stretch across his face. He opens his eyes…
It’s as if there’s no trace of humanity left. Is it all gone? Did the demon take over?
And in her room, Seo-hwa senses something that frightens her to her core. It would be interesting if they have a psychic connection, but he should sense her too if that’s the case.
Jo Gwan-woong isn’t convinced that she isn’t Seo-hwa, but for now he just accepts the cover story, and hands over Tae-seo’s slave papers. He confirms that it was Kang-chi who stole the maps, and that he spent the night in Chung-jo’s room at the gisaeng house.
Chung-jo’s maidservant comes to get Kang-chi, saying that Chung-jo asked him to stop by. But then as he arrives to meet her, Gon is told that Chung-jo came to the martial arts school to see Yeo-wool. What.
Both Kang-chi and Yeo-wool are in two separate places, looking back at Chung-jo. But the one with Kang-chi has a familiar incense burning…
The real Chung-jo tells Yeo-wool that she came here to say something about Kang-chi, but Gon interrupts to ask why she isn’t at the gisaeng house to meet Kang-chi. She has no idea what he’s talking about, which raises red flags.
Fake Chung-jo pours Kang-chi a drink, which he finds weird, but she feigns offense that he won’t accept a drink from a gisaeng and it works—he downs the glass. She pours another, and another, and I’m just hoping that gumiho constitution is roofie-proof.
Thankfully Soo-ryun comes by to see Chung-jo, and notices her maid acting squirrelly. She opens the door to find Kang-chi drunk, and asks what he’s doing here… with Wol-sun. He turns around, and there’s Wol-sun, smiling back at him.
Before Soo-ryun can intervene though, Jo Gwan-woong storms in with his men to capture him, and warns Soo-ryun to stay out of it unless she wants to be taken as an accessory.
Wol-sun says she had to feed him five glasses of the drugged liquor before he got drunk, and Soo-ryun gasps. That just convinces Jo Gwan-woong all the more that Kang-chi isn’t human.
He gets hauled away to the inn, where Jo Gwan-woong brings Seo-hwa in to confirm the thief’s identity. She wants her maps, but he says Kang-chi is too out of sorts to be interrogated at the moment, and she’s shocked to see him drugged out of his mind and chained up.
She wonders if all this was necessary, and Jo Gwan-woong explains that it is, because Kang-chi isn’t a person. OH. He’s gonna tell her? He says pointedly that Kang-chi is half-beast, and half-human… on his mother’s side.
Seo-hwa stands there in shock, trying not to betray a reaction. Jo Gwan-woong orders his minion to take Kang-chi’s bracelet off. He begs them not to, but he’s too out of sorts to stop them, and they pull it off. Eep. He writhes in pain and struggles to stay in control…
He screams, and Seo-hwa’s eyes start to fill with tears. When he looks up at her, his eyes glow green.
Jo Gwan-woong waits for her reaction, relishing every second of it. He asks, “Is that monster the person you’re looking for?” Crap, if she defends Kang-chi, she confirms Jo Gwan-woong’s suspicions, but if she plays dumb, what happens to her son?
Before she can answer, Kang-chi screams out in pain and collapses in a heap, unconscious.
Strangely, it was an episode in which a lot happened, and in which nothing happened. In the realm of secret-revealing and information-exchanging, there was actually quite a lot going on, but in the grand scheme of things, we already knew every single secret that got spilled today, so plotwise it was rather uneventful until the last scene. It was basically an entire episode where everyone finds out what everyone else knows, though obviously some were big reactions that we’ve been waiting to see—Kang-chi finding out about how his father died, Jo Gwan-woong discovering that Seo-hwa might still be alive, and Seo-hwa finding her son.
But I only really care about Kang-chi’s reactions among them (the other stuff has to happen, but it’s not gripping, emotional stuff), so it only mattered to me that he did what I expected, and chose Yeo-wool over revenge. It wasn’t a surprise, because nothing about Kang-chi suggests he’d murder her father over a father he hardly knows, but the moment of distrust between them was played nicely. It feeds into his worst fears about feeling different and being distrusted by default because he’s a monster, and we already know how important it is to him that Yeo-wool of all people chooses to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I really do appreciate how the typical your-father-killed-my-father (-prepare-to-die) angst of every other drama was nipped in the bud. It drives me bonkers when the sins of the father start to outweigh actual conflicts between the people in the relationship, so I’m glad that this story has been consistent on that one front. It’s an important one, since Kang-chi’s major throughline is really to do the opposite of what his father did in every way, and why the repeated setups work. Because he always chooses the better thing—to trust one more time, to forgive the past.
Hopefully now that secrets are out, we can move forward with more eventful episodes. Kang-chi has yet to find out that his mother is even alive, let alone staring right at him, not to mention that Wol-ryung may have lost his humanity for good, which is freaking me out. Also, at some point, I would like for Kang-chi to—I dunno—BEGIN his quest to find the goddamn book? Or was that the one thing in this drama that wasn’t literal? Tick tock, baby. Not everyone lives a thousand years you know.
- Gu Family Book: Episode 17
- 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