Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 7
We’ve got a couple great hero characters in play here, working their way toward a grand fight to do the right thing and defeat evil, and I count it fortunate that I love both our male lead characters, for different reasons. They both marshal their forces together and prepare to charge forward, but you can’t help itching for the day they put their trust in each other (and live out the epic bromance we know they’d be so awesome at). I mean, with Gwi already bro-obsessed with Sung-yeol, what would be better than one of his foes stealing away his obsession AND defeating him forever and ever?
SONG OF THE DAY
Young Man – “젊은 이” (Young man) [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
After his fight with Gwi, a badly injured Sung-yeol is helped by Yang-sun to a hut. He won’t let her call for a doctor, saying that his people will be arriving, then falls unconscious.
His sidekicks don’t know where he is, however, and are especially worried because his powers are weakest on the eve of the full moon—if he encountered Gwi last night… they shudder to think. Worse yet, Sung-yeol must feed on blood before the moon rises tonight.
Su-hyang tries to hold onto hope, saying that in the many years she’s known him, Sung-yeol has never forgotten about feeding. I think that, English lit majors, is what we call foreshadowing.
Yang-sun does her best to dress Sung-yeol’s wounds, trying to stanch the bleeding in his side. She heads out hunting for a medicinal plant to treat him, her efforts sending her tumbling down a hill and scraping up her face. But she gets the plant, and applies a paste made with it to the stab wound.
She runs out of clothing to rip into bandages, so she pulls off her chest binding, using that as a fresh bandage. Noticing an older-looking scar on Sung-yeol’s shoulder, she wonders, “Who are you? What have you endured?”
Night falls and the full moon emerges, and while Yang-sun is out of sight Sung-yeol starts to twitch as his bloodlust stirs. His body seizes in convulsions, and then he falls limp.
Elsewhere in the woods, a mourner pays his respects at his father’s fresh grave. But he notices something odd and inspects the coffin, and when he pulls off the lid (oh god why would you do that), he finds not his father but Gwi lying there. The mourner becomes an easy dinner. Glug glug.
By now, both Su-hyang and Ho-jin are practically beside themselves in worry—the full moon is out and Sung-yeol is still gone. Su-hyang is in tears, fearing the worst.
Yang-sun also fears the worst, noticing that Sung-yeol’s body seems colder. With trembling hand she checks for a breath and a heartbeat, not picking up much. She grows increasingly scared, urging him to wake up with desperate pleas, and her tears mix with her bloody scrape and drip down onto his face.
The blood-mixed tears trickle into Sung-yeol’s mouth, and that revives his senses. Seeing him stir, Yang-sun swoops down to hug him in relief—putting her bared neck right in front of his eyes. His eyes flare red… his fangs grow… he starts to lurch for her neck…
Sung-yeol tamps down the bloodlust at the last second, and shoves her aside. He orders her to follow him outside and leads her along the mountain path, staggering badly but refusing her help, keeping her at arm’s length.
His sidekicks come across them as they walk, greatly relieved that he’s still alive, and Su-hyang tells them that “the preparations” have been made. He orders Ho-jin to escort Yang-sun home, and despite her protests, she reluctantly goes.
Feeding is the most pressing concern, and Su-hyang leads him to a room where a man has been bound and gagged. Uh, can we hope he’s a criminal or evil mastermind or something? Sung-yeol feeds, and the man’s screams echo through the forest. It’s enough to get Yang-sun to stop in her tracks, although Ho-jin nervously writes it off as a wild animal.
Gwi finds the hut Sung-yeol had been using and tastes the traces of blood there, realizing that Sung-yeol is still alive. For someone who sayyyys he hates Sung-yeol so much, he never seems to hate hearing that he’s still alive, does he?
Now that we’ve discovered that Yang-sun’s father has had the prince’s secret diary all along, we see how he came by it: A flashback to ten years ago places us in a house being raided.
Little Jin is hidden away in a nook of the house by his (her?) father, who doesn’t seem to expect to survive tonight’s tumult. The man asks Yang-sun’s (current) father to take care of the child, and asks him to carry out the rest of Crown Prince Sadong’s plan. He hands him a bundle.
Now, Yang-sun’s father prepares to burn the bundle—it contains the diary as well as Jin’s half of the box pair, given to him by Prince Yoon—saying that Yang-sun is more important. But his wife walks in, and he hastily hides the stash and barks at her to get out.
Sung-yeol is revived by his blood meal, and the deep stab wound in his gut has now healed over, leaving only a thin scar. But despite the recovery to his health, he’s overcome with a fresh wave of rage, directed at himself.
In the underground vampire lair, Hye-ryung treats Gwi’s injuries and informs him that with the flyers being spread, people are talking more and more about Gwi. He isn’t too worried, saying that knowing of his existence doesn’t mean they can do anything about it, and when Hye-ryung says that support is growing for Eumlan Seosaeng amongst the scholars at Sungkyunkwan University, he just drawls that he’ll kill them all. That’ll show Eumlan Seosang what happens to people who follow him.
In the morning, Sung-yeol hears that royal soldiers are arresting scholars left and right for being associated with Eumlan Seosaeng. He intercepts the officers who are rounding up the men, identifying himself as Eumlan Seosaeng. The officers rush at him, and Sung-yeol coolly leaps into the fight, dispatching them efficiently without even breaking a sweat. I mean, it’s almost anticlimactic how easy that is.
He leaves the rest to sidekick Ho-jin, who leads the group to take a boat that’ll carry them to safety.
Then he goes around delivering piles of silver to the starving families of those recently murdered booksellers, marked with a note that simply bears the name Eumlan Seosaeng. Is he the Iljimae Who Walks the Night now?
Prince Yoon had sent men to those families’ homes as well, but hears that Eumlan Seosaeng (or at least, his impostor) beat him to the punch. Ha, can you steal the thunder from yourself? Yoon also hears of the scholars’ disappearance on the way to the palace, aided by the surprise intervention of the fake Eumlan Seosaeng.
For now, things are going in Sung-yeol’s favor, with Eumlan Seosaeng’s recent deeds turning public sentiment on the side of our good guys—though he speculates that Gwi will be working to turn it back against him. Ho-jin comments on the unfamiliar rag he found in the wash, which looks like a wrap used by a woman. That starts the wheels turning in his head, but as those wheels are rusty and slow, he puzzles it over with Su-hyang, who immediately understands where it came from and sours at the thought.
Ho-jin asks her to hit him in the head once to knock some sense into him, since he can’t help thinking that Sung-yeol gets an odd look in his eye whenever Yang-sun is mentioned, like a man worrying about a woman he loves. Su-hyang snaps, “I don’t think one blow will be enough.”
Meanwhile, Sung-yeol broods over Yang-sun’s bandage and contemplates a small pouch, his mind flashing back to how worried she had been over his health and how she cried in relief when he didn’t die.
Yang-sun tries to head out to check on Sung-yeol, but finds her way blocked by her sister Dam, who refuses to let her go when there are arrest orders out for booksellers—does she care so little for her family that she’d risk putting herself and them in danger? Yang-sun tells Dam that her nickname is Flying Squirrel, and that she’s legendary for never being caught. All she wants to do is give the scholar medicine and see his face to make sure he’s okay. Dam clocks how earnest unni is and asks if she’s in love with him.
The one-armed merchant, aka former bookseller Choi Do-gab who sold out Prince Sadong, remains tucked away in a hut watched by guards. He’s overcome with guilt as he’s confronted with his past actions, and he hallucinates that Sadong sits nearby, looking upon him with a kindly smile.
Sadong tells him gently that it wasn’t his fault, and that he didn’t die because of Choi’s actions. But One Arm breaks down in tears, begging for the prince to take his unworthy life, saying that he will confess what he knows to Prince Yoon and then join Sadong in the afterlife.
But when he looks up, the seat is empty—instead, it’s Sung-yeol who stands next to him. He takes One Arm away with him, and Yoon soon hears that the man has vanished. Ha, the prince really isn’t having a very good day, is he? I mean, I’m sure it’s physically impossible to outrace a supernatural being, but maybe you’d have better luck if you actually left the house instead of sitting around hearing reports of how you’re being scooped left and right. Just sayin’.
One Arm is taken to Sung-yeol’s extensive library, and Sung-yeol asks him about that secret diary. One display of his superhuman speed clues the man in on his vampire nature, and he eyes Sung-yeol with suspicion. But Sung-yeol explains that he used to serve Prince Jeonghyeon, who told him before dying that he’d written Sung-yeol’s name in his diary.
One Arm doesn’t know where the book is now, to Sung-yeol’s disappointment, but he does recall that the diary contained five names. One of them was Sung-yeol’s, and there was a message to him containing the prince’s last will.
As he’s shown to his room, One Arm gives Ho-jin a wary look and asks if he’s also a vampire. Ho-jin says he’s just a person, and scholar-nim is “just like a person” too, saying proudly that Sung-yeol is the complete opposite of Gwi. He looks after the people who are hurt by Gwi, in fact.
Sung-yeol tries to make sense of those five names, wondering if they’re clues. Do they have something to do with Sadong’s dying words that the way to defeat Gwi was people? It’s a tantalizing but frustratingly vague clue—what about people is so important?
Little Sis Dam lands on a way for Yang-sun to meet her scholar without exposing herself, and dresses her as a woman. Yang-sun fidgets uncomfortably in the clothing, thinking she must look like a boy in girl’s clothing, but her sister assures her she’s pretty.
Yang-sun adds that Dam’s idea that she’s in love with the scholar is wrong, and that it’s totally just gratefulness she’s feeling. Dam dismisses that, calling it love, and talks dreamily of a scenario ripped out of a romance novel, where a couple with their bond would have already “gone all the way.” Yang-sun gets adorably embarrassed and shushes her sister before the fantasy gets too racy.
Yang-sun heads out, surprised when she’s not recognizable by people she’s very familiar with. In the town square, she sees a notice being pinned to the board, which offers a reward to help capture Eumlan Seosaeng.
A few citizens wonder if all this effort to arrest the man in fact suggests that he’s telling the truth, since there’s such a rush to silence him. Yang-sun pipes up that it’s true, and Sung-yeol, who’s watching from a distance, widens his eyes to see her in her getup.
He looks further dismayed when the men comment about Eumlan Seosaeng’s silver deliveries and Yang-sun says that sounds a lot more like the Night Scholar’s M.O. Ha, you can tell he wants to swoop in there to shush her, but he resists the urge.
Yang-sun spots him walking away and hurries up to catch him, just as he stops in his tracks at the sight of Hye-ryung. She thinks of the deal she made with Gwi—to bring him Sung-yeol if he would make her the king’s woman—and sends Sung-yeol a mysterious smile.
He’s reminded of Myung-hee, and starts to go after her. Yang-sun calls out to him to deliver her packets of medicine, but Sung-yeol tells her coldly to go back and heads off without waiting to hear her out.
Prince Yoon sees the notice and wonders again at the impostor Eumlan Seosaeng’s recent actions—he believes the impostor is helping him, but can’t figure out why. That’s when he sees Yang-sun walking by in her women’s clothing, and calls out to her. She doesn’t react to being called lady, but calling her young man gets her to stop and she calls out to him, “Hyungnim!”
She seems to think he believes her act as the male bookseller dressing as a woman, which, ha. I guess she has proven to be pretty dense, though that’s pushing it. Yoon doesn’t contradict her, and just teases that if she were a woman, he’d make her his sweetheart.
He’s surprised to see her around since she was supposed to leave for Tamra yesterday, and Yang-sun explains that the departure was just pushed a couple days. She notices that he seems to be in a heavier mood today, and he admits that he’s on the cusp of making a big decision, and he’s a little afraid of defeat. Yang-sun playfully reads his face (as he once did with her) and assures him that it’ll work out—and that as long as he keeps trying, he won’t be defeated.
Their attention is diverted by a crowd of scholars being rounded up by more officers, and she sighs that if only Sadong were alive—or better yet, if Eumlan Seosaeng ruled this country—the people wouldn’t suffer as much. He points out that people are suffering because of Eumlan Seosaeng right now, but she replies that they suffered before him, too. At least now they have hope for a better world.
Her words cheer him up vastly, and Yoon tells her that Eumlan Seosaeng would be bolstered to hear her words.
Hye-ryung is keenly aware of Sung-yeol following her through the streets, and isn’t surprised when he confronts her. He tells himself that she isn’t Myung-hee, but asks why she smiled at him just now—what did it mean? Hye-ryung says coldly that it came out because the look he was giving her was so absurd—like he would call her Myung-hee again and burst into tears.
She declares, “I am not the woman you are thinking of. Do not look at me that way, or follow me anymore.” With that, she heads into her home—and when Sung-yeol looks up at it, he seems to recognize something.
Yoon hadn’t shown it to Yang-sun, but he’s upset that her departure for Tamra didn’t happen, and orders his man to have her protected until she leaves.
Yang-sun makes her way to the gibang, still nettled at being ditched for another woman. Buy as she approaches Sung-yeol’s room, she overhears voices from inside—Su-hyang confirms the Tamra departure with her contact. The door slides open, and Yang-sun recognizes the familiar ajusshi, and realizes that there was more to the Tamra plan than she’d known.
So Su-hyang lays it out for her in cold detail, that she’s being sent away because they don’t trust her, and that it works out because she’s in danger of arrest (as a bookseller who dealt in Eumlan Seosaeng books). Yang-sun tells her not to decide what her feelings are, and starts to argue about what’s best for Sung-yeol’s sake.
But Su-hyang sneers at that, pointing out that he almost died saving her life yesterday, and that if she’s truly interested in doing things for his sake, she should leave quietly for Tamra.
Yoon gathers a meeting with his supporters to deliver his decision to reveal his identity as Eumlan Seosaeng. His supporters protest loudly, arguing to stay with their long-established plan of revealing Gwi’s existence to the world, and how the king and the Noron party serve him.
But Yoon argues that things are escalating, and that many lives are being lost because Gwi is out to capture Eumlan Seosaeng. If he doesn’t do something now, more innocent lives will die. He must step up as the heir and son of Sadong, and convince the citizens to trust and follow them. And then, perhaps the person in possession of that diary will bring it to them.
He’s aware of the danger this plan would put him in, but declares that if he can destroy Gwi, he doesn’t want for more. Even if he dies in the process.
Sung-yeol watches the proceedings stealthily and vows to his team to protect Yoon. They’re alarmed at his plan to prove that vampires exist by exposing himself, but he argues that Yoon is following both Jeonghyeon and Sadong in fighting against Gwi, and he can’t just let him die. He says that he’s only lived this miserable existence to eliminate Gwi—so if Eumlan Seosaeng can make it happen, he’d willingly give up his life.
In his underground lair, Gwi licks his chops, having feasted on a pile of soldiers who lay dead at his feet. He tells the king once more to bring him Eumlan Seosaeng, because the man responsible for thwarting Gwi is quite impressive, and the thought of him helping Eumlan Seosaeng makes him extremely comfortable. This one task is the only reason the king is still king, he warns.
In the privacy of his own chambers, the king tells his advisor that he must get to Eumlan Seosaeng before Gwi does. Well duh. Everybody has to get to him first!
Ah, Sung-yeol has recognized Hye-ryung’s home as the prime minister’s, and now he puts his team to the task of finding out about the daughter. That’s when they spot Yang-sun reappearing in the yard, having initially headed out dejectedly, now turning back to see him after all.
Su-hyang starts to step in to send her off, but Sung-yeol dismisses her curtly, to her dismay. Before he can say anything to Yang-sun, a drunk reveler accosts her, thinking her a gisaeng, and refuses to be put off.
So Sung-yeol steps in and shoves him back, and the man pulls the imperious “Do you know who I am?” line before registering Sung-yeol’s glare and backing off.
Yang-sun stammers that she’s okay, but Sung-yeol grabs her wrist and orders, “Don’t say a word.”
That’s when her father, having worried for her extended absence, arrives and witnesses the scene, recognizing Sung-yeol. When Sung-yeol pulls her away, Dad follows quietly behind.
Sung-yeol lets go of her wrist when she says it hurts, and asks about her scraped-up face. She says it’s not much, and says she heard why he’s sending her to Tamra. She starts to explain her real feelings, but he cuts her off, saying he’s got more important things than to hear about her feelings.
As he walks away, she asks, “Is it… simply because of that reason? That if I’m captured by officers, I would pose harm to you? I want to know your true feelings.”
This show is so interesting, in that half the time I feel like it’s written by a giddy 13-year-old who just wants to get the two leads within kissing, hugging, or groping distance at every opportunity, logic be dammed—and the other half of the time I feel like the show manages a good share of touching character moments bolstered by good acting. It’s probably that the show feels like its parts are there, but they’re being slapped together haphazardly—good materials, but no seams to speak of. The scenes are linked only in the crudest of ways, the transitions are jarring, and the music makes me cringe. (That one cheesy dramatic-romance track! How I wish I could burn it out of existence.) I’m not sure if it’s an overall directing issue or specifically an editing one, but in any case won’t somebody else hijack the editing bay and give this show the polish it deserves?
I mean, not that Scholar was ever going to be a piece of high art, but it’s too bad that the editing is so obviously clumsy, because the story itself is flying along, and I always appreciate how much ground each episode covers. The four primary characters are all interesting in their own ways, and even annoying side characters like snappish Su-hyang are drawn with some amount of complexity. (I find her eye-rolling and bitchy, but I can understand where she’s coming from, at least.)
Every glimpse we get of Hye-ryung intrigues me, and I do think the show is playing her aura of mystery well (even though I think they could have milked it a little more by not giving away so early that she isn’t a vampire or Myung-hee). I found her deal with Gwi fascinating, when she requested to be made the king’s woman, because in this world isn’t that just tantamount to suicide? If she’s working against Eumlan Seosaeng and helping Gwi keep his dominion over the royal house, then she expects the next king to be the vampire’s patsy, which means she’d be first to go the next time Gwi wanted to force the king to do his bidding. Is she willing to take down Sung-yeol for her own aims, or is she working some kind of long game against Gwi? I don’t know, but I like that the show allows us to wonder these things.
As for Yoon, it was poignant how he and Sung-yeol essentially echoed each other this episode, pledging their lives in the fight to defeat Gwi and vowing to put everything into Eumlan Seosaeng. I can’t wait for Yoon to find out who his impostor helper is, because I foresee great moments of bonding (and some moments of clashing, but in narratively meaningful ways). They’re both noble and aligned with purpose, and they represent to each other the holes in each other’s past lives—one prince lost his childhood friend, and one friend lost his prince.
I like that Yang-sun is becoming something of an ideological partner for Yoon, without even knowing it, and that her idealism is just the push he needed to go forward with his bolder, riskier, but potentially more effective plan. And while his heart is in the right place, I also have to appreciate that Sung-yeol kind of went around showing him up by outdoing him at his own game. Where Yoon must sit and contemplate, Sung-yeol can just swoop in and act—it’s not an indictment of Yoon, who has different liabilities and burdens because of his station in life, but it does show how much more effective they could be when aligned.
Last but not least, I’m really liking how tortured and burdened Sung-yeol is, even though I think I might feel otherwise with another actor in the role. I was surprised that the show had him feeding on a seemingly random stranger—not that we don’t forgive him the necessity, but because I would have thought a K-drama would bend over backwards to justify the case, lest we think badly of a hero. I get the sense that Sung-yeol would hate himself just as virulently if he only fed on murderers, for instance, but I kind of like that it was a moot point. A guy died because he needed his blood, and as a result, Sung-yeol feels wretched and cursed. He’s able to walk in actual sunlight thanks to his extra powers, but I’m curious to see how the show will reconcile his emotional baggage and bring him into the metaphorical light.
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 6
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 5
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 4
- 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