Orange Marmalade: Episode 8
This episode is all about the conflict between the vampires, the other vampires, and the humans, and our leads are swept up in the conflict either by choice or by Fate. Either way they’re trapped, and must find a way to survive regardless of social status or humanity. It could be argued that humanity has nothing to do with whether or not you’re human, as compassion and hatred seem pretty universal.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Shi-hoo fights off Jae-hee, and cradles up the unconscious Ma-ri just as Jae-min arrives on the scene. Shi-hoo basically gives him the “I told you so” regarding his big words about loving Ma-ri and pushing aside his social status to be with her, and Jae-min suddenly realizes that she’s the same girl Shi-hoo admitted to having feelings for.
Shi-hoo doesn’t answer but just picks up Ma-ri to carry her home, but when Jae-min demands a response, he just tells Jae-min that if he can’t protect her, to leave her alone — like he’s doing.
Ma-ri’s vampire family discuss who could have incapacitated her, since it had to have been someone who knew of their vulnerable spot in the neck. They realize it must have been a Wonsangu vampire, and Ma-ri’s father remembers Lady Won’s threats that he could lose what’s most precious to him.
The blind vampire warns the clan that the energy from the red moon will soon combine with an evil energy that’s been hanging over Lady Won’s establishment, Hwasawon. It has the potential to give vampires a sort of immunity to their weaknesses, and make them very powerful, including giving them the ability to withstand silver.
What’s worse, those abilities will last for one hundred days. We see Lady Won soaking in this red moon power, then picking up a silver weapon without being burned.
Jae-min trails after Shi-hoo, who finally turns and gives him his dagger, the one that was used to lure Ma-ri. He thinks this proves that her death was ordered by the Minister of Defense, Jae-min’s father. He asks if this is why Jae-min wanted to take the military exam, but sneers that he could pass the exam, but never survive an actual battle. Ouch.
Jae-min confesses that he wants to take the exam to get on his father’s good side, but denies Shi-hoo’s assumption that he plans to marry Ah-ra and then take Ma-ri as a concubine — he promised to marry Ma-ri. Shi-hoo scoffs that he’s welcome to try, if he even thinks he can keep her safe long enough to marry her.
He yells again that if Jae-min can’t protect her, he should let her go for her own safety. Showing his heart to everyone is what’s putting her in danger. Jae-min asks if that’s what Shi-hoo plans to do, since he can’t seem to stay away from her, either. If he loves her that much, why didn’t he try harder to push Jae-min aside?
Shi-hoo screams in his face, “Because it was you!” But before either can say anything else, an arrow thwacks into a tree next to them, with a note tied to the shaft. Shi-hoo unties the note and, calmer now, he says that it’s not that he stepped aside in favor of Jae-min, it’s that he couldn’t approach Ma-ri. He adds cryptically that he’s already taken one step towards death, so how could he protect anyone?
The note calls Shi-hoo to the Soldiers of Silver Blood, and they’re sent after a gisaeng house owner that’s been discovered to be a vampire. There’s another fierce battle, but before they subdue the vampires, a problem arises.
Jae-min’s father’s informant brings him the news that the blacksmith who’s been making the Silver Blood’s weapons has found dead, and the supply of silver for more weapons, as well as their defense manual, are gone. If they send reinforcements to the fight that’s happening now, they’ll only get more men killed by being unprepared.
The Silver Blood manage to capture the three vampires, but are ambushed by several more, including Lady Won. She’s fortified by the red moon’s power and their silver weapons are useless, and the Silver Blood are quickly overcome.
Jae-min had overheard his father and his informant talking, where they’d decided not to send the reinforcements. He rushes to the battle site, but he’s too late, and Shi-hoo faces Lady Won head-on. He stabs her with his sword but, immune to the silver now, she simply walks up the sword towards him, and sinks her fangs into his neck.
But there’s one caveat to receiving the power of the moon, and it’s that for that one hundred days, the vampires cannot drink blood. She lets Shi-hoo go and leaves him to her vampires to drink from, and Shi-hoo tells them that he’ll never let them drink his blood. He’ll shed his last drop of blood in battle, as he’s always wanted.
Jae-min arrives just in time, and they face the vampires the same way they faced those men when they were children, as a single fighting unit. Shi-hoo tells Jae-min to leave since he can’t stand the sight of blood, but Jae-min counters that it’s a lunar eclipse — he can’t see the blood anyway.
Jae-min remembers Ma-ri’s words that she leaves fear alone, and doesn’t try to erase it. He vows to do the same, and get through this together with his friend. He fights with his sword while Shi-hoo uses his bow, and they manage to fend off the vampires just before Shi-hoo collapses. The blood on Shi-hoo makes Jae-min sick, but he tamps down his reaction to carry his friend to safety.
Jae-hee reports back to Lady Won that Ma-ri got away from him, but right now she’s more concerned about their bribery being found out, since the vampires that were caught tonight were on her payroll. She decides to shut down Hwasawon for the time being, and rely on more covert actions for her big war plans. Jae-min is instructed to lure the Minister of Defense’s investigation towards the Banchon vampires, Ma-ri’s clan.
Jae-min looks after Shi-hoo’s injuries, and he finds Shi-hoo’s books detailing the vampires’ secrets, and settles in to read them. He finds information that says that if someone is bitten by a vampire but doesn’t die, they will develop a thirst for blood. Neither human nor vampire, they will die. The only way to survive a vampire bite is to drink a vampire’s blood. Notably, the book does not mention that the person will then become a vampire themselves.
Jae-min knows there must be vampires hiding nearby, and vows to find them. He finds the young Soldier of the Silver Blood that he saw clearly that night, and asks him to keep Shi-hoo’s vampire bite to himself. Further, he asks the young man to convey to his leaders that he wants to join the Silver Blood in Shi-hoo’s place. When asked why, he simply says that he needs a vampire’s blood.
As he watches over Shi-hoo, Jae-min remembers the time they met and fought together as children. Shi-hoo had watched over him after he passed out from seeing blood, and had declared them no longer friends but brothers, and they’d squabbled over who got to be the hyung. Cute. Back in the present, Jae-min swears to do whatever it takes to save Shi-hoo’s life.
The next day Jae-min goes to his and Ma-ri’s rock, and he thinks over their entire relationship, from meeting to their kiss and declaration of love. He also remembers Shi-hoo’s pleas to leave her alone if he can’t protect her. She comes to meet him and plays her flute for him, but he tells her resolutely that he can’t keep his promise to protect her and marry her.
Ma-ri takes the news with grace, and Jae-min gives her a small package (a tiny dagger, possibly) and tells her to keep it near her at all times. They say their goodbyes, and Jae-min leaves her there, crying. She holds the dagger tightly in her fist, unaware that it’s burning her skin.
Jae-min goes looking for the author of the books on vampires, and he’s overheard by one of Ma-ri’s clan. She runs to the author, another Banchon vampire, and Ma-ri’s mother hears them talking about the young nobleman who’s looking for him. He gets in trouble for writing the books and revealing their secrets, and Ma-ri’s father is particularly worried, since today his knife went missing.
Lady Won just now discovers that the man she and her vampires ate was the Queen’s brother, and admits that it was a grave mistake. But she has an epiphany, that they can use this to make the Royals their allies. The Queen is pregnant, and they could turn the unborn child into a vampire. The vampires will rule Joseon, and all the people will be their cattle.
Jae-hee seems disturbed by this prospect, and anyway they have no way to approach the Queen. Lady Won only says that if they can’t get in, they must lure the Queen out.
Ah-ra confronts Lady Won about her failure to kill Ma-ri, and even goes so far as to threaten Lady Won if she doesn’t keep her promise. Lady Won lifts her by the throat, letting Ah-ra know who’s in charge here. Later, she informs a now-very-contrite Ah-ra that Hwasawon will be taking care of her from now on. She’ll gain great political power, but she has to do something for Hwasawon in return.
Ah-ra goes to see the young pregnant queen, who apparently is just now hearing of her brother’s death. She hopes that her brother may be reborn through her child, and Ah-ra says that a monk has already told her a way to ensure that happens. After she leaves the Queen with this information, Ah-ra collapses crying over the terrible thing she’s done.
Ma-ri’s mother sees the burns on her hands and recognizes them as silver burns, and Ma-ri fibs that she got rid of the silver dagger. Meanwhile Shi-hoo gets sicker and sicker, as Jae-min waits for the decision regarding whether he can join the Silver Blood.
He’s delivered a package late that night, which contains a set of the Silver Blood’s neck armor. He realizes that Shi-hoo wasn’t wearing this when he fought the vampires since he has scratches on his neck, and remembers that even the young soldier he saw on the scene wasn’t wearing it. He goes back to the man, furious, and asks why all the dead soldiers, and Shi-hoo, had identical scratches on their necks after fighting the vampires but he has none.
He realizes that the scratches were made by the vampires ripping off their neck armor, which means that this soldier wasn’t wearing any. He loudly accuses the young man of being the one who betrayed the Silver Blood to the vampires, but he vehemently denies it.
Ah-ra has further orders from Lady Won, to deliver a letter to Ma-ri’s father in Banchon that they have his missing knife. If he wants it back, he’s to come to a particular cave that night. She writes the letter, and sends her maid to deliver it.
Shi-hoo finally wakes alone in his room, and immediately goes to see Ma-ri. He looks terribly sick and weak, and he cries that he just wanted to see her once before he dies. He collapses, and Ma-ri sees his bite marks and instantly understands what’s wrong with him.
She runs to get a knife, slices open her hand, and feeds her blood to Shi-hoo. She also feeds him the sun antidote, and he wakes later to find his senses and reflexes greatly enhanced. His wounds are healed also, but he’s not happy to find himself alive in this condition, and he reacts in horror to discover what he’s become.
Ma-ri brings him blood to drink, but he flings it out of her hands. He realizes that this means she’s a vampire too. Understanding that she’s not welcome, she stoically turns and leaves him alone.
Jae-min’s father’s informant brings him news, and tells him that it was one of the Silver Blood who betrayed them to the vampires. But he also knows of the plan to lure the Banchon vampires to the cave tonight, and since they’ve been able to recover the stolen weapons, Jae-min’s father mobilizes the Silver Blood to go there and fight.
Jae-min arrives at Ah-ra’s house to find her just about to hang herself, in grief over betraying her Queen. He stops her just in time, and she cries that he pushed her to this by turning away from her. In order to win his heart, she was forced to do something unforgivable.
She admits to having given the neck armor to the Hwasawon leader, who is the head of the vampires. As Jae-min leaves her home, an arrow lands in the ground at his feet with a note attached, and he meets the Silver Blood soldiers at the cave.
When someone finally approaches, they can’t see who it is in the dark, and they throw a flare and ready their weapons. The flare reveals that it’s Ma-ri, and before Jae-min can move, an arrow is shot directly at her heart.
Well, now I’m confused. More confused? Anyway, it’s confusing. I was under the impression that this was the final episode of the Joseon part of our story, but this seems an odd place to leave our players. Aside from abandoning poor Ma-ri with an arrow coming right at her, we haven’t resolved anything like the treaty between the vampires and the humans, or Shi-hoo’s reaction to becoming a vampire against his will, or Jae-min’s struggle to live his life how he wishes.
I’m of two minds about Orange Marmalade right now, and I accept that my personal opinion may be unpopular, but remember I’m just a viewer like you guys! I understand the show has gone completely off the source material at this point, and that the manhwa never goes into the past lives of the main characters. I personally am not familiar with the manhwa yet (by choice, because I wanted to be able to evaluate the show without any previous influences — I’m looking forward to amending that when the show is over). So I’m confused as to what, exactly, the writer is going for with all this, and I worry that it’s in danger of jumping the shark, if it hasn’t already. But I’m suspending my judgment on that until the show is over, because I’m still enjoying the show for what it is, and not comparing it to what it could have been. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and you fans of the manhwa have every reason to be disappointed that you didn’t get what you hoped for.
But on the other hand, because I’m not in a position of having anything to compare it to, it’s still an interesting story and the Joseon era adds a layer of history that I find really illuminates the present-day events and gives them purpose. I understand Jae-min and Shi-hoo a lot more now, in their attitudes towards vampires and Ma-ri and each other. I never understood why the two boys hated each other on sight so badly in the present day, even taking into account that they both like the same girl, because that’s just a part of growing up and the hostility towards a stranger seemed out of place.
But knowing now that they were once best friends, and each other’s only supporter, only to find themselves on opposite sides of a deadly conflict and in love with the same woman? Now it makes sense why, in the present, they had such an immediate negative reaction towards each other. I still want more explanation as to why Jae-min hates vampires so badly in the current timeline, because in the Joseon period the thing that kept him away from Ma-ri was the class divide, not her being a vampire. So why now does he despise vampires so much? I hope, as we transition back into the present day, that we find out.
At least this explains why Shi-hoo, in the present day, is still not resigned to his life as a vampire. In his past life he never wanted to become one, in fact fought against the vampires, and was turned against his will. I know that Ma-ri was trying to save the life of the man who was so kind to her, but she had no right to do it without his consent. So it also makes sense why, in the present, they have such conflicted feelings towards each other. They’re friends in a basic sense that they look out for each other, but Ma-ri doesn’t care for Shi-hoo the way he cares for her. And I see now why he loves her, but never really treats her in a loving way. The first time he tried that, his love was betrayed when she turned him into the thing he hated. He’s never come to terms, in his subsequent lifetimes, with his conflicted feelings regarding being a vampire, or loving Ma-ri. I see now how he could be so willing to die by his own choice, since being a vampire was never meant to be his destiny and was not his choice. At least his death was his choice.
So, while I’m confused and wondering how they’re going to resolve everything in the Joseon period, I’m still hanging in there. As a stand-alone drama, the story is good, and though it could stand for some improvements in editing and execution, I’m not ready to declare it a dud. I still love the characters and care what happens to them, and I cling to hope that the writer has a plan and a reason for telling the story in such an unusual way. I may eat those words a few weeks from now, but at this moment, I’m still here.
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 7
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 6
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 5
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 4
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 3
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 2
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 1
- Yeo Jin-gu sound bites from the Orange Marmalade press conference
- Bashful high school crushes in Orange Marmalade
- Vampire kisses and Yeo Jin-gu tears in Orange Marmalade’s first teaser