Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 4
Lordy, I know vampires are a tease, but I don’t know how our heroine is going to keep surviving encounters like this with her heart intact. Scholar Who Walks the Night continues to zoom by at a brisk pace with dense plot and plenty of romance to keep us on our toes, and today we meet the major complication (yunno, other than the immortal bloodsucker thing): They say first loves never die, but in a vampire story, that takes on a whole new meaning and then some.
SONG OF THE DAY
Jang Jae-in – “비밀낙원” (Secret Paradise) for the Scholar Who Walks the Night OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
It’s a tear-filled, heartbreaking reunion of first loves… for Sung-yeol, that is. After discovering his beloved, believed-to-be-dead fiancée Myung-hee in the street, he clutches her close, crying out her name. But she coldly demands to be let go, without an ounce of recognition in her eyes.
Sung-yeol is overtaken with emotion that she’s still alive, and from a distance, Yang-sun realizes that the gisaeng’s rumors were true, and he’s talking about the first love who died that he can’t forget.
Not-Myung-hee tells Sung-yeol that he’s mistaken her for someone else, and when he doesn’t let go, she slaps him across the face. Ouch. Her servant comes running over, calling her Hye-ryung, and threatens to get the police involved.
Yang-sun offers up apologies that Sung-yeol must be mistaken, and Hye-ryung decides not to make a fuss about it. But when she turns to leave, Sung-yeol grabs her wrist, still crying, and refuses to let go. He’s a bit startled when he looks down at her neck and doesn’t see a bite mark there, though it doesn’t stop him.
Her servants show up and start beating him with giant planks, but he still just stands there pleading, “Myung-hee-ya, is it really not you?” He clutches her hand even as he falls to his knees, thinking to himself, “Myung-hee-ya, I wanted to call out your name so much. Just once. If I could see you just once, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do. I would give my life.”
He falls to the ground in a heap and loses consciousness as Hye-ryung walks away, and Yang-sun calls out for help.
We flash back 120 years to the moment after Myung-hee has just died in Sung-yeol’s arms, after he drank her blood. Gwi saunters over and smirks, “How was it—the taste of your lover’s blood?” He wipes a tear from Sung-yeol’s eye and pats him on the head: “Welcome to the world of beasts, Kim Sung-yeol.”
Sung-yeol staggers back and reaches out for Myung-hee, only to see his beastly hand covered in her blood. He’s so distraught over what he’s done that he goes stark raving mad and runs through the woods in broad daylight, covered in blood and screaming Myung-hee’s name.
He’s horrified at what he’s become and begins to burn under a ray of direct sunlight before remembering Hae-seo’s instructions about clothing himself in black.
Under cover of night, Sung-yeol gathers himself enough to return for Myung-hee, only to find Gwi placing her body on a pyre to burn. Gwi senses him near and cajoles him to come get his beloved’s corpse, but Sung-yeol is too frightened to move.
He can only watch as Gwi lights the wood, and Myung-hee’s body burns before his eyes. Huh, so she definitely burned. So Not-Myung-hee really isn’t Myung-hee?
In the present, Yang-sun sits by Sung-yeol’s bedside as he sleeps fitfully, dreaming about Myung-hee and calling out her name. He cries, “You died because of me. I killed you,” and Yang-sun begins to cry too, thinking of how much pain he must’ve been in.
She holds his hand and notices the scar on his palm (from when he cut himself with the hawthorn dagger to heal her). She caresses his face, and as she hovers over him, her tears fall directly onto his cheek.
That stirs him awake, and he suddenly flips her over until he’s lying on top of her. I can’t tell if he’s angry or lusty or hungry, but I guess that’s the thing about vampires—you never really know.
Her hawthorn necklace gets tossed aside in the tussle, and Sung-yeol can’t control his bloodlust, eyes gleaming red as he hovers dangerously close to her exposed neck. Yang-sun turns away and just misses seeing his eyes that way, and he starts to lower his lips closer and closer. If he didn’t have his fangs out, I’d swear he was about to make out with her.
Just seconds before he bites down, Yang-sun blurts, “I’m Jo Yang-sun! …I’m not her.” That snaps Sung-yeol out of it and he struggles to tamp down the bloodlust, barely managing to do so. Is it hot in here?
He realizes what’s happened and reties the hawthorn necklace around Yang-sun’s neck, and storms out before she can finish saying that it’s a relief he wasn’t badly injured.
A hunter walks through the woods late at night, and is startled by a shadowy figure approaching. Omo, it’s Sung-yeol, looking bloodthirsty and on the hunt. He leaps up and the man screams in terror…
But then when he opens his eyes, a dead boar falls at his feet and Sung-yeol appears, mouth dripping red with blood. Oh, phew. He drank a boar. The hunter promptly faints from shock.
Yang-sun thinks back to what she found out earlier that day, when she was at the dock sending someone else in search of Prince Jeonghyeon’s diary. The one-armed merchant had come by to quip that she should entrust such things to him, but balked when she mentioned the diary again, scoffing that no one would be able to find such a dangerous book.
He quickly denied knowing anything about the book and walked away, but it left Yang-sun with the niggling suspicion that the one-armed merchant knew more about it than he was letting on.
She goes in search of the merchant to ask him more about it, and follows him when she sees him disappear down a dark alley. She hears him tell someone that Yang-sun was asking about Prince Jeongyeon’s diary, and that he did as instructed and told her nothing.
They’re nervous about Eumlan Seosaeng’s connection to Prince Sadong, and the other man says he did the right thing because Yang-sun can never know the truth. That’s when Yang-sun rounds the corner to discover… her father with the one-armed merchant.
Yang-sun is startled and asks if Dad is the one copying and distributing Prince Sadong’s books, and why they’re hiding Prince Jeonghyeon’s diary. Dad slaps her across the face and tells her never to speak of that book again, because the day that he’s discovered, their entire family will be put to death.
Yang-sun walks back in a daze, her cheek still red from Dad’s slap, and finds Sung-yeol standing in the merchant’s library with every book overturned like a tornado blew through it. He gives her money to employ her as his personal bookseller, and tasks her with finding the diary.
She feels a pang but bites her tongue remembering Dad’s warning about their family, and tries to talk her way out of the job. But Sung-yeol says he can’t entrust this to anyone else, and asks as a favor to him.
Yang-sun asks if Eumlan Seosaeng and Prince Jeonghyeon are the same person (which Ho-jin let slip out the other day), but Sung-yeol says that Ho-jin must be mistaken. She agrees to the deal but asks that he stay quiet about the one-armed merchant having the diary, because there’s probably a good reason it’s kept secret.
Prince Yoon asks the king to delay the construction of the new palace because the tax burden on the people is too high when there are still starving peasants, but the king refuses his request.
He instead tasks Yoon with capturing Eumlan Seosaeng to make it clear to everyone that he isn’t conspiring with traitors to clear his father’s name, and even tells Yoon to hold a celebration on the anniversary of his father’s death.
The one-armed merchant gets attacked in the street by a black-clad henchman, and taken to the mysterious man who’s behind the rebellion that’s distributing flyers about Prince Sadong’s wrongful death. He claims to be Eumlan Seosaeng and asks after Prince Jeonghyeon’s diary, and the merchant warily keeps his mouth shut.
The rebel leader gets word that Prince Yoon is holding a celebration on the anniversary of Sadong’s death, and they set out to put a stop to it. A henchman shoots an arrow down into the palace courtyard to send Yoon a message from Eumlan Seosaeng, that if you sin against heaven, there is no place to repent.
Gwi is amused to hear of the celebration in place of the memorial rites, though after the threat, the king has backed off on the order. Minister Mole offers to capture Eumlan Seosaeng himself, but Gwi doesn’t look all that confident in his promise.
Meanwhile, Sung-yeol hatches a plan to smoke out Eumlan Seosaeng by distributing false copies of one of Eumlan Seosaeng’s novels at Prince Sadong’s memorial. He tasks Ho-jin with spreading the word with all the local booksellers to be there to pick up their copies.
Su-hyang reports that there have been no movements from the one-armed merchant or Yang-sun, and Sung-yeol says that there’s definitely something that Yang-sun is hiding from him. Su-hyang is still insistent that they send Yang-sun far away, but Sung-yeol says that finding the diary comes first.
Yang-sun waits and waits at the one-armed merchant’s store for him to return, and absently starts writing Myung-hee’s name as she thinks back to Sung-yeol’s emotional reaction in the street the other day. She wonders if his love was so ardent that he becomes that distraught just by seeing someone who looks like his first love.
Then her thoughts float to Sung-yeol lying on top of her and writes out “Scholar-nim,” crosses out Myung-hee’s name and writes her own. Hee, she’s like a teenager with a schoolgirl crush.
Gwi stalks the woods at night, stopping young scholars who look like Yang-sun to ask if they dropped their book bag. He sniffs one out and decides he isn’t the right man, but of course kills him anyway, because he’s evil like that.
The young man’s body is discovered with fang marks in his neck, and the public is told that it was an animal attack, but the king sighs that the people have eyes and ears and won’t be fooled forever.
At the same time, Yang-sun is in the marketplace eagerly jotting down the details of the hunter’s encounter with the night scholar, complete with dead boar as evidence. She prods for the hunter to recall if the night scholar did anything heroic to save him, but others in the crowd start to speculate that maybe her night scholar vampire was responsible for the murder last night—after all, didn’t the young man die the same way as this boar, drained of blood?
Yang-sun wants to believe that the night scholar is a good vampire who doesn’t kill people, but no one else seems convinced. The hunter recalls seeing bodies drained of blood before, ten years ago when he discovered a horrific pile of corpses in a cave and alerted the palace guards, who took them all away. Yang-sun argues that that was long before the night scholar appeared.
A fellow bookseller finds Yang-sun in the crowd and warns her of the official order to arrest anyone who buys or sells Eumlan Seosaeng’s works, and his worry that they’ll all be put out of business. He tells her about the distribution of the illegal book at Prince Sadong’s memorial, while at the same time Ho-jin spreads the word to other booksellers, and Prince Yoon hears about it too.
Yoon is surprised, given that Eumlan Seosaeng is the name used by his father’s supporters, which makes his memorial a conspicuously risky place to distribute illegal books. Yoon decides to go catch Eumlan Seosaeng himself, ignoring the fact that he’d be called a Sadong supporter himself if he attended the ceremony. The king stops him before he can go, and has royal guards sent instead.
Gwi talks to Prince Sadong (er, his creepy mummified corpse that lives inside Gwi’s walls) like an old friend, and says that today is his memorial and Eumlan Seosaeng will be there. He muses that it’ll be a fun day.
Sung-yeol hides in the woods with his posse as the memorial service begins, and he’s startled when he sees Yang-sun in the crowd of mourners. She starts to move along the crowd to look for signs of Eumlan Seosaeng, and catches a glimpse of Sung-yeol’s hand and recognizes the scar immediately, though she loses him in the crowd.
Ho-jin runs back with the warning that royal guards are on their way, and Sung-yeol sends Su-hyang ahead to complete her mission, and begins distributing copies of the book. Prince Sadong’s mourners cry that the book lies about Sadong being a madman, and Yang-sun is the one who recognizes that the handwriting is different and that this is a fake.
Guards close in on the mourners, and Yang-sun grabs hold of Sung-yeol to ensure that he can flee to safety. He ignores her and drops her hand, and willingly leaves her behind to be arrested with the others. (Huh? Why?) He does seem to notice that she drops her hawthorn necklace in the struggle. Can we get that thing on a chain and welded on or something?
Back at the palace, the king and Prince Yoon are confused when an officer returns to report that the mourners must’ve up and vanished, because no one was there when they arrived.
He says that it wasn’t his men who arrested them, and then we cut to the woods where Sung-yeol and his people are watching as their fake royal guards lead the crowd safely away. Ah, so it was a sting operation. Sung-yeol tells them to get a good look at Eumlan Seosaeng’s face and then return everyone home safely.
Yang-sun heads back into the mountainside to look for Sung-yeol the first chance she gets, and she’s so sick with worry that she doesn’t notice that she loses a shoe or that she’s running deeper into the forest in the dark.
She trips over a rock and her foot starts to bleed, which has got to be like a homing beacon for Gwi…
Someone approaches while she’s on the ground, but phew, it’s Sung-yeol. You sure took your sweet time to find her. She smiles with relief that he’s okay, but he responds coldly, “What is it to you if I’m well? What are you?”
She deflates and says that she was just worried about him, and he snaps at her for worrying about someone else when she can’t even take care of herself. He stoops down to tend to her foot and struggles to keep his thirst at bay, and she shrinks back as embarrassed tears start to pool in her eyes.
He ignores her and tears his clothing to wrap her foot in a bandage, then picks her up to carry her the rest of the way. She asks to be put down, insisting that she’ll walk the rest of the way. She throws his comment right back at him and asks what concern it is of his whether she’s well, and what she is to him.
He simply says that he would’ve helped anyone who was found bleeding in the woods late at night, and she says stubbornly that she doesn’t want his help. She argues that she was sincerely worried about him, and asks if she needs the right to have those feelings.
He stops in exasperation and says, “Well I can’t leave you here, and if you won’t accept my help, then the only thing we can do is spend the night here together. Is that what you want?” Wait, is this a trick question? This is a trick question, right?
She starts to stammer, and he warns that if she says another word, that’s what he’ll do. So she gets quiet wraps her arms around his neck instead, and he smiles to himself when she gives in.
He carries her through the woods as cherry blossoms shower down around them, and Yang-sun wonders to herself, “Why does someone who doesn’t even want me worrying about him always save me and help me whenever I’m in danger? Why is he so good to me?”
The one-armed merchant is still being held captive by the mysterious rebel group, but he refuses to give up what he knows or join them. Suddenly Yoon and his friend Hak-young bust into the room.
Yoon says it’s been a long time, and asks if he doesn’t recognize him: “I am Crown Prince Sadong’s son, Eumlan Seosaeng.” Dun dun! A quick montage shows that Yoon was behind the books, the flyers, and the messages that were designed to appear like threats to himself.
Back in town, Sung-yeol sends Yang-sun home and tells her to check on the one-armed merchant in the morning. He says that she can report to his underlings and needn’t seek him out directly anymore, and she deflates.
He’s about to walk away when a new round of flyers starts raining down from the rooftops, and his eyes widen as he reads it. It’s a message from Eumlan Seosaeng that decrees that there’s a king above the king in the palace—a vampire who feeds off of the living.
It says that Sadong was framed because of his attempt to kill this vampire, and that 120 years before him, Prince Jeonghyeon met the same fate. Yang-sun recognizes this as the vampire tale that she acquired for Sung-yeol and asks if Prince Jeonghyeon is real, not that he answers her.
Prince Yoon sits down with the one-armed merchant, who swears that he isn’t this Choi Do-gab person that Yoon is looking for. Yoon says that Choi Do-gab worked in the royal library ten years ago, but when his child grew sick, he began to steal books from the royal collection to pay for medicine, and lost his arm as punishment.
The one-armed merchant begins to shake nervously, as Yoon adds that it was his father Sadong who saved Choi Do-gab, healed his child, and even opened a bookshop for him, not knowing that Choi Do-gab would fall into Noron hands and betray Sadong in the end.
Hak-young says that because of Choi Do-gab’s false testimony, his father was executed as a traitor along with Prince Sadong. Yoon says that it’s really because of Gwi, which is why he’s here—to find Prince Jeonghyeon’s diary. At that, the merchant attempts to bite down on his own tongue.
Eumlan Seosaeng’s messengers distribute the latest flyer all over the city, sending the royal guard after them. Sung-yeol follows their trail as well, and manages to corner one of them. He observes the man’s skilled sword use as they fight, and says that he wants to convey a message to Eumlan Seosaeng, that he has Prince Jeonghyeon’s diary and wants to meet. Oh, smart.
But as soon as he says the words, the messenger takes out a dagger and slits his own throat right there in the street. What? Aack!
Gwi reads the fake version of Eumlan Seosaeng’s novel and realizes that Sung-yeol is pretending to be the fake Eumlan Seosaeng to protect the real one, and gripes that he’s really starting to grate on his nerves. He turns his head and says, “It’s time for you to step up,” and Myung-hee’s doppelganger Hye-ryung steps out from the shadows to bring him a bowl of blood.
Is she under a spell? Undead? What’s her deal? Gwi leans in close and muses, “You look like her. No… you’re the same.” She asks if this other woman who looks like her was named Myung-hee, and he asks if she’s already met someone who calls her that. Curiously, she lies that she hasn’t.
Gwi believes her since she’s only been in this city for a few days, and asks after her health. She says that she’s much better thanks to him, and he gazes at her intently before noting that she’s returned a woman. *skincrawl*
His eyes turn red as he leans into her neck and she balls up her fists, but in the end he resists and pulls away. He reminds her that the only reason he kept her alive was so that she could bring him the man who calls her Myung-hee.
Sung-yeol returns to the one-armed merchant’s bookshop and finds Yang-sun asleep at the desk. He picks up a page that she’s been absently scrawling on, and reads his last words to her written down: “Don’t come looking for me again,” after which she’s added, “Bad scholar-nim. Bad man.” Ha.
She wakes up sometime later and is confused when she doesn’t feel pain in her injured foot, and takes off her socks to find that she’s completely healed.
At home Sung-yeol unwraps his hand, which now has two big scars across the palm. He dusts a bit of powder on the wound, which makes it sizzle and burn shut. He winces through the pain and picks up Yang-sun’s paper and rereads her words.
Aw, their budding romance is so cute. He’s giving himself permanent scars just to heal her! Sung-yeol’s brand of outward aloofness mixed with hidden tenderness is just so swoony in a hero, not that Sung-yeol needs a whole lot of extra points in the swoon department. He’d probably be more frustrating if Yang-sun weren’t already so direct and obvious about her feelings, but she’s so blunt that it puts him off-kilter when he’s trying to be all growly with the I’m-bad-for-you act, and I kind of love that he’s then just as flustered as she is because she isn’t reacting the way she should. Maybe he ought to know that she spends her days dreaming of a vampire hero and would only swoon harder if she knew the truth.
The Myung-hee/Hye-ryung reveal was a little underwhelming, mostly because she appeared and then disappeared, and Sung-yeol dropped it just as quickly. I dunno, I was expecting him to be stalking her and totally obsessed with figuring out who she is, so it didn’t sit right with me that he just then went on to do other things, like a man who’s not still obsessed over a 120-year-old first love. Don’t get me wrong—I’d like for him to move past that pain, but I think this is just a case of the writer plopping down a scene and then bringing her back at the end of the episode without much thought about how Sung-yeol should be feeling in between.
Part of me wishes that Hye-ryung had remained more of a mystery, because I wanted the tension of not knowing whether she’s Vampire Myung-hee to be drawn out for a while. There’s more potential romantic tension that way too, though I suppose that will remain as long as Sung-yeol is led to believe that she could be Myung-hee. If Hye-ryung really is just a random doppelganger (but what are the chances that it’s really pure coincidence?), I’d like for her to develop as a standalone character who’s interesting on her own, rather than just a pawn used by Gwi to entrap Sung-yeol. She’s showing signs of resistance by keeping her first encounter with Sung-yeol a secret, so perhaps she’ll prove to be stronger than she appears.
I’m really liking the new turn with Prince Yoon outing himself as Eumlan Seosaeng, because up until now he’s been solely a reactionary character, always on the fringes reacting to things going on but never allowed to act on any of his impulses. It’s nice to know that he has a mind of his own and has learned from his father’s mistakes enough to have acted as Eumlan Seosaeng in secret while creating an image of Prince Yoon as a good-for-nothing entitled slacker. I’d much rather root for two heroes to find each other and join forces, though after today’s suicide ninja, I get the feeling it’ll be quite the challenge to get them in a room together. Naturally Yang-sun is the key, but I fully expect both of them to fall in love with her first before ever figuring out how they’re all connected.
And in the meantime, I’m enjoying the balance of light and dark that we get in every episode, where the thick conspiracy/rebellion/kill-Gwi plot is given its due, but balanced with the light, sweet romance every chance we get. It was heartbreaking all over again to see Sung-yeol in the past after losing his beloved Myung-hee (his exchange with Gwi was a nice bloodcurdling guilt-trip), but I think present Sung-yeol’s gruff-but-caring attitude towards Yang-sun has won me over today. He’s drawn to help her against his better judgment, and the permanence of those scars on his hand makes me think that his heart’s already halfway there.
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 3
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 2
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 1
- From the press conference for Scholar Who Walks the Night
- Lee Jun-ki the scholar walks nights, breaks hearts
- Character stills for Scholar Who Walks the Night
- Red-eyed and book-hunting Scholar Who Walks the Night
- The bloodlust is awakened in Scholar Who Walks the Night
- Lee Hyun-woo sets the stage for Lee Jun-ki’s vampire transformation
- Characters in costume for Scholar Who Walks the Night
- Scholar Who Walks the Night sends both leads to the hospital
- First script read for Scholar Who Walks the Night