Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 16
It’s hard not to find this episode frustrating, when an entire group of your leading characters are operating under false information and magically only encountering others who are equally misinformed. Everyone has the best intentions, of course, but I could do with fewer good intentions and more communication, especially when lives are on the line. I guess it’s a good thing our hero happens to specialize in saving damsels in distress. Hurry, scholar-nim!
SONG OF THE DAY
Dia Tree – “그녀를 찾아주세요” (Please Find Her) [ Download ]
EPISODE 16 RECAP
While Yang-sun is well on her way to sacrificing herself to Gwi, Sung-yeol learns that her mother died at Gwi’s hands—it means that their blood won’t kill him.
Meanwhile, Hunter Baek is followed by the local loan sharks, who keep calling him hyungnim and beg to be taken in. They say they know he’s part of the black hanbok brigade, which is funny since Hunter Baek has never heard of such a thing. It must be what the townspeople are calling anyone who rebels, since the latest royal decree was about arresting anyone wearing a black hanbok.
King Yoon is told that someone is wandering around in a black hanbok and taking the girls who are meant for sacrifice, and that it must be Sung-yeol. Yoon orders an immediate arrest, even though he knows full well that he’s the one wearing the black hanbok under his dragon robes. Hye-ryung helps him undress, and he wonders to himself where Sung-yeol is.
Sung-yeol sets out to rescue Yang-sun against Ho-jin’s protests, and someone cloaked in black watches him leave.
Hye-ryung asks if Yoon isn’t afraid of Gwi, and Yoon says he’s been afraid of him all this time, and was even willing to sacrifice his oldest friend to kill him. But it was seeing Hak-young turned into a vampire that woke him up. He shakes as he thinks of Hak-young, and Hye-ryung comes close to take his hand.
Yoon says that he will no longer sacrifice any of his people to kill Gwi, and he doesn’t need secret plans that involve letting anyone else die. He asks Hye-ryung not to sacrifice herself either, because he couldn’t handle losing her too. What a difference from her father; how could she not be moved?
Gwi decides that it’s time to poke at the king’s advisor to see what they’re up to, and calls him down to the underground lair for the first time. The advisor warily approaches, and Gwi taunts him with his grandson Hak-young, who’s now a rabid feral vampire and Gwi’s pet.
The advisor is horrified to see his grandson in this state, and begs for Gwi to just let him die in peace. Gwi is more than willing to comply, just as long as the advisor promises to pay him regular visits down here to tell him about what the king is planning.
Hunter Baek’s new minions tell him that there’s actually a black hanbok brigade, moving in stealth to free the girls who are being sacrificed to Gwi. Hunter Baek doesn’t know who they are but he agrees with what they’re doing, and learns from his minions that there’s suspicious activity happening at the gibang.
It’s where the girls are being taken to be dressed up before entering the palace. In the scene that closed the last episode, Su-hyang takes extra care with Yang-sun, sympathetic to the fact that she had no choice to be born into Gwi’s bloodline. Yang-sun says that it wasn’t her choice to be born, but it is her choice to die this way, and wishes Sung-yeol well.
Sung-yeol, meanwhile, is looking for a way into the heavily guarded palace before dawn breaks. He’s noticed by some guards who chase after him, and he’s almost cornered until a man in black leaps into the fray to distract them. He gives Sung-yeol a message that someone wants to meet him.
He’s taken to a house where all the men are dressed in black and their leader is shrouded behind a screen, also cloaked in head-to-toe black. Gonna guess you guys are the black hanbok brigade?
It feels a little bit like Eumlan Seosaeng’s style, and their leader asks Sung-yeol what side he’s on. Sung-yeol says he’s simply on the side of the people, and if he did anything wrong, it was to test the king’s loyalty.
The leader asks if there’s anything left to hope for in the king, and Sung-yeol counters that there is, just as he’s a vampire and there’s hope left for him. Sung-yeol pulls the screen aside and is met with multiple swords to the throat, but the leader tells them to withdraw. He stands up and reveals his face, and sure enough, it’s Yoon, back to his secret rebel ways.
Yoon asks for Sung-yeol to give him his trust, and asks if he’s really going to give up fighting Gwi because of his love for a woman. Sung-yeol answers, “The reason I have been able to fight Gwi as a vampire is because I have not lost my human heart.”
Sung-yeol says that he hasn’t given up control to his beastly nature because he still remembers Prince Jeonghyeon’s wishes for the future of his nation and his people, and adds, “It’s also because I loved one woman more than my life.”
He refuses to give up one or the other, and at that, Yoon asks if he’ll fight alongside him. Sung-yeol asks in turn if Yoon is willing to sacrifice his people to fight Gwi, and if what he really wants is to reclaim the throne for himself.
Sung-yeol wants to know if he’s willing to give up the throne for his people, and Yoon says of course—he’s even ready to give up his life. Are we finally on the same side, guys?
There’s no secret handshake or anything, but Yoon hands over Sung-yeol’s sunlight-blocking black hanbok, with apologies for Hye-ryung’s theft. It’s only now that Sung-yeol fills Yoon in on Yang-sun’s mother dying at Gwi’s hands, and the fact that Yang-sun is on her way to sacrifice herself.
Yoon tells him that the girls are being kept at the gibang, though he warns that it might be a trap for Sung-yeol. It doesn’t matter to Sung-yeol, who dons his protective hanbok and a mask to blend in with Yoon’s men. They look more like the reaper brigade, but in any case, it’s pretty hot.
Yang-sun waits nervously with the other girls and gives Su-hyang a letter, asking for her to give it to Sung-yeol later. The other girls are terrified and one of them starts weeping when she hears that they’ll enter the palace tonight, so Yang-sun tells her calmly that they’ll be okay.
Hunter Baek and his minions scope out the gibang looking for a way in, but find it too heavily guarded for the three of them to handle. At the same time, Sung-yeol arrives with Yoon’s men and tells them to provide a distraction so that he can slip in quietly.
Yang-sun keeps the girls distracted with stories about the night scholar, and promises that he’ll rescue them all. The prime minister arrives to survey the girls, and stops when he sees Yang-sun. He can’t quite figure out where he’s seen her before, but tells her to follow him to a separate room. Ew, please don’t.
Sung-yeol’s men charge the front gate, giving Sung-yeol a chance to hop the wall. Hunter Baek is pleased to help the black hanbok brigade, and tasks his minions with getting the girls to safety once they’ve been rescued.
Hunter Baek jumps into the fray, and meanwhile Sung-yeol takes down an officer and drags him away.
The prime minister stares intently at Yang-sun, trying to figure out how he knows her. He lifts her chin up to face him, and she nervously insists that she has no idea who he is. Thankfully they’re interrupted when the fighting comes indoors, and the prime minister tries to slip away.
He’s caught by Sung-yeol, who’s now dressed as a guard. Sung-yeol demands to know where Yang-sun is, but the prime minister doesn’t recognize the name. Screams from the other girls come from down the hall, and Sung-yeol runs toward the sound.
Hunter Baek is the first to find Yang-sun, and he tells her to run while he fights off the guard. He manages to catch the prime minister as he’s trying to sneak away, and angrily holds a sword to his throat, thinking of all his friends who died because of this man’s treachery.
Yang-sun and Su-hyang find each other outside, and when Yang-sun hears that the rebels have come to free the girls, she says that she can’t be rescued. Nooooooo. They decide to hide and enter the palace quietly.
Sung-yeol puts down the last two guards who are with the young girls, but Yang-sun isn’t with them. When one of the girls asks if he’s the night scholar who’s come to rescue them, he realizes that she was here just moments ago.
Hunter Baek uses the prime minister as a hostage to force the guards to back off, giving the others a chance to flee with the girls. Sung-yeol continues to search the rooms for Yang-sun, and discovers the letter she left behind.
She writes that she’ll take back her words now, from when she asked him to remember her for as long as he remembered his last love—she says it’s impossible now, because the blood of the enemy who took that love away from him flows through her veins.
She says that she’ll use the life he saved to repay him: “I love you. I’ll take all of this love with me, so please don’t remember me when I’m gone.” He opens the second parchment, and inside is the hawthorn necklace he gave her.
He heads outside, where the other officers are closing in on Hunter Baek. It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to get out of this alive, even if he kills the prime minister. When they see an opening, one guard charges and gets Hunter Baek alone—it’s Sung-yeol, which shocks him.
Sung-yeol quickly tells him that he needs to find Yang-sun inside the palace, and asks him to hand off the prime minister. With a quick nod, they push each other and Sung-yeol orders the other men to chase after Baek, leaving him alone to defend the prime minister and escort him into the palace. Nicely played.
Yoon stops in to see his mother, which is his cover story for being outside the palace today. Mom asks after Hye-ryung and admits that she wondered if Hye-ryung had approached them intentionally. She’s decided that Hye-ryung isn’t a bad person though, and thinks that she seems sad, like she’s been searching for her place all her life.
Gwi commends Hye-ryung on getting Yoon to trust her completely, and wonders if she isn’t afraid of being abandoned when he discovers that she belongs to Gwi.
He admits that he doesn’t have human emotions, but he always thought he and Hye-ryung were most alike. He’s curious about the love that moves people to sacrifice themselves for each other, and tells her to go ahead and try growing a human heart for the king, confident that she’ll discover it’s a mistake.
Sung-yeol leads the prime minister back to the palace, easily gaining entry to his room. When he lingers behind, the prime minister assumes he wants a reward for saving his life and opens a chest of silver. That’s when Sung-yeol charges and grabs him by the throat, getting close enough that the cut on the prime minister’s neck makes him vamp out.
His eyes go red and he growls, “You’re bleeding…” He gets ready to bite down and the screen goes black…
But when we return, the prime minister is alive and tied up in the corner. Sung-yeol changes out of uniform and growls one last time in the prime minister’s direction before heading out.
The king’s advisor finds out that one of the girls intended for sacrifice has arrived in the palace, which goes against the king’s wishes. He tries to stop them, but Yang-sun reveals herself and says that she’s here willingly, knowing that her one sacrifice will save many. So of course the king’s advisor leads the way. Aaaack.
Hye-ryung discovers them on her way out of Gwi’s lair, and when she learns what Yang-sun is about to do, she actually tries to stop her. The advisor wonders why, even accusing her of trying to protect Gwi, but Hye-ryung says that Yoon wouldn’t want this.
She admits that she’d like nothing more than to sacrifice Yang-sun and kill Gwi, but Yoon has made his decision to fight without sacrificing another of his people, and she wants to honor his wishes. Wow, I’m shocked.
But Yang-sun is fully committed to being the sacrificial lamb, and makes a break for Gwi’s lair on her own. The only one who goes after her is Su-hyang, who is supportive in her own way and insists on going with her, to help ease Gwi’s suspicions.
She leads Yang-sun in by the hand, and they’re taken aback when Hak-young jumps out at them. Gwi sends him outside to go feed, knowing that the king’s advisor is nearby. Hak-young happily goes above ground and attacks. Please don’t eat your own grandfather. Please don’t eat your own grandfather.
Gwi is suspicious when he recognizes Yang-sun, and wonders how she came to be one of the sacrifices, and happened to be the only one who wasn’t rescued. He asks about her relationship with Sung-yeol, excited by the thought that her death will enrage him.
He asks repeatedly if she loves Sung-yeol, so she finally answers that she does, and that she doesn’t care if he’s vampire. Gwi goads her, musing that Sung-yeol will stay young and beautiful and live for centuries, while she’ll grow old and be forgotten.
She angers him with her resolute answer: “It doesn’t matter. Even if I die right here, my heart will never change. You could live thousands of years, but you will never know that heart.” Gwi seethes, and in an effort to calm him, Su-hyang says that he loved someone once too.
Up above, Hak-young gets ready to bite his own grandfather, when Sung-yeol flies in just in time to knock him against a wall. They bare their fangs and charge at each other.
Gwi reminisces about the woman he loved, calling it the first and last mistake he ever made while living amongst humans. He says that she found out what he was and ran away, and when he found out she had his child, he killed her.
He went after the child too, since he’d heard that his descendant could kill him, but he couldn’t trace the lineage until after a hundred years, when he found and killed everyone in that bloodline.
Su-hyang asks if he drank their blood, which he confirms, and she realizes what this means: Yang-sun’s blood won’t kill him. It dawns on her just seconds before Gwi leans in towards Yang-sun’s neck…
Hak-young starts to overpower Sung-yeol, so his grandfather starts to join in the fight, and Hak-young retaliates with a bite. At his grandfather’s pleading that they die together, he seems to come to his senses for a moment and looks horrified at what he’s done.
Grandfather falls dead, and at that moment, an arrow comes flying at him from above, where Yoon has just arrived. Seeing his chance, Sung-yeol takes out his dagger.
Down below, Su-hyang stops Gwi by suggesting that Yang-sun will make good bait to lure Sung-yeol here. She puts herself between them and asks to become a vampire, and for Gwi to keep her by his side for a long time.
He tells her that it takes enormous self-control to live as a vampire with her will intact—she’d have to withstand the enormous hunger, which would kill most people. He points out that Hak-young couldn’t do it, and ignores her pleas, pushing her aside.
He’s about to bite Yang-sun, but seems to sense that she’s been bitten once before. He reveals the scar in her shoulder, and asks how it is she survived a vampire bite without turning into one herself: “Do you have vampire blood in you?”
Hak-young is too strong for Sung-yeol to overpower himself, so he drops the hawthorn dagger instead so that Yoon can pick it up. Sung-yeol urges him to hurry, but Yoon hesitates, unable to do the final deed.
But in that last second, Hak-young comes to his senses. He runs over to Yoon and clutches the hand holding the dagger, pleading, “Kill me, kill me.” He pulls the dagger into his own heart, and breathes his last in Yoon’s arms.
Yoon trembles with rage at what Gwi has done, and Sung-yeol tells him to stay up here.
Gwi has Yang-sun by the throat, and she can only spill silent tears as she fights to breathe. She calls out to Sung-yeol in her head, and just like that, he appears. Gwi senses his arrival and turns around with a smile, dropping Yang-sun to the ground.
Guh. I find these kinds of episodes to be the most aggravating—the ones where the entire conflict could be done away with if people could just have one conversation that clears up all the misunderstandings. You can’t even be mad at anyone in this situation (or okay, I can be mad at the writer), because everyone is doing what they think is the right thing at the time, and you can’t exactly fault Yang-sun for being willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Again.
But it’s so deflating when we’re told that the sacrifice is totally moot at the start, after which we continue to watch her avoid rescue (bah) and walk right into the lion’s den. I hate that it was a pointless act of sacrifice that didn’t need to be made, and because of that, I spent the whole episode either yelling at Sung-yeol to hurry or yelling at Yang-sun to slow down, when I don’t want to be yelling at either of them. It might be different if the story had advanced somehow because of her sacrifice, but overall this week’s episodes amount to mostly plot filler, to pad out the episodes before the final conflict.
The only real development was Sung-yeol and Yoon getting back together on the same side, and Yoon showing that he still has a bit of the old Eumlan Seosaeng left in him. I did feel bad for Yoon when he had to kill Hak-young, but by then I pitied Hak-young more, because seriously, how many times do you need to sacrifice your life for your best friend before you’re allowed to die in peace? It was a nice moment between the two devoted friends, and I’m glad for his sake that he was freed from an afterlife spent as Gwi’s pet, though I worry about Su-hyang following in his footsteps. And it was nice to see Hye-ryung honoring Yoon’s decision not to sacrifice his people, which made me think that loyalty might’ve turned into love the moment he asked her not to sacrifice herself for him.
At least I find Gwi’s obsession with Sung-yeol interesting (did he not look positively ecstatic to see him at the end?), especially his jealousy over Sung-yeol’s ability to find love. He insists that he doesn’t feel human emotions, but Gwi seems entirely driven by very base human needs, and what he struggles with is why he can have endless power and wealth, but never love. He seems slighted by Hye-ryung’s disgust, hurt that the one woman he loved abandoned him for being a vampire, and jealous that Yang-sun (and Myung-hee before her) could be so devoted to Sung-yeol when he should be exactly like him.
He’ll never see it, of course—Gwi will never be loved because he thinks he’s better than human, while Sung-yeol believes he doesn’t deserve love because he’s less than human. So he will always be throwing his life on the line for the one he loves, and she’ll always do the same in return. It’s no big secret, but I like that Gwi is stumped by this, having only experienced betrayal. I guess living a thousand years doesn’t grant you much wisdom when you’re still just hung up over the pain caused by your first love. Is that really all there is to eternal youth? Because a hundred lifetimes of teen angst is not my idea of a good time. But seriously, can they fight already and make me forget that the last two episodes were spent putting our heroine in danger by mistake because information travels like molasses in this town? No more secret plan-before-the-plan! It’s go time!
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 15
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 14
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 13
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 12
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 11
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 10
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 9
- Dramabeans Podcast #29
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 8
- Scholar Who Walks the Night: Episode 7
- 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