The Lonely Shining Goblin: Episode 3
We’re only on Episode 3, but wow are we in for massive developments. I wouldn’t say that the story is moving quickly, exactly—it likes to linger and draw out its moments—but it does feel quite packed and keeps us on the edge of our seats to know more, and the show upholds the moody, sentimental fantasy without betraying any breaks in the world, which I appreciate. But despite that fantasy shell and the centuries-old gods and spirits at the center of the story, it’s the very human emotions and sorrows that make the drama feel present and gripping.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Abducted by her aunt’s loan sharks, Eun-tak squeezes her eyes shut and sends up a frantic, silent prayer. We hear Samshin Grandma’s advice to her mother all those years ago, about praying earnestly in a moment of life or death, in case a weak-hearted god is listening. Ah, so it wasn’t the lighter flame that calls the goblin, but the prayer? (Gong Yoo conjuring spell duly noted.)
As Eun-tak prays, the birthmark on her neck flashes, and across town, somehow Shin senses it. He’s in the middle of his own mealtime cutlery war with Reaper, but upon sensing this, he lets his floating dinnerware crash to the table.
The loan shark screeches the car to a halt, seeing something peculiar in the distance. One by one, the street lamps explode, sending everything into blackness except the car’s headlights.
Off in the distance, two tall figures appear in the haze, gloriously backlit as they slooow-motion hero-walk toward the car. Seriously, it goes on a while. Goblin and Reaper, wonder twin powers activate!
The loan sharks wonder, “What are those guys? Men in black or what?” Then the headlight bulbs explode too, darkening the scene further. Goblin and Reaper seem to vanish, and one scared loan shark urges the other to punch the accelerator.
The car squeals forward, and as it does, a bluish-green light cuts through it, right down the middle. They try to make sense of the things when one half of the car goes one way, carrying the loan sharks, and the other half of the car goes the other, carrying Eun-tak. Sarah Brightman scores the moment: Time to say goodbyyyyye….
Eun-tak sobs in fear, but her half of the car slows safely to a stop. Shin reappears in the road carrying his flaming goblin sword (wait, so he could pull it out? Or are we just conveniently ignoring his curse right now?), and he tosses it away to retrieve Eun-tak’s scarf.
When Eun-tak looks up, she sees Reaper standing by, and then Shin opens her car door to help her out. That seems unnecessary considering the whole open-air situation going on, but far be it from me to deny the hero his chivalry.
She takes his hand and stumbles into his arms, and looks a little moony-eyed when he asks if she’s okay. I swear the Reaper half-rolls his eyes as he moves away from the car, and the lopsided thing crashes onto its open side, which makes Eun-tak jump and turn into Shin’s arms again.
When she finally recovers her words, she asks incredulously, “Am I okay? That’s what you ask? After you split a car like that?”
Shin just tells her to wait here, but she chases after him to ask if he means to kill those loan sharks. She doesn’t believe his denial and points out that Reaper came along, and surely he wouldn’t have come to save her. Reaper agrees that her logic makes more sense.
Shin assures her that he won’t kill them—he’ll just show him his anger, so that they’d wish they’d died instead. Okay, that plan has its appeal, too.
He finds the loan sharks begging for help, trapped in the car that has tipped over. Shin delivers their fate: For two days, this road will disappear from the map, making it impossible for anyone to help. “You’ll hurt like death but you won’t die,” he states. “In two days, fortunately, you’ll be found by the police. You can pay for your crimes at the police station. Be thankful you won’t have to pay for them with me.”
Then it’s Reaper’s turn to step up, and he informs them of the story they will now believe: The two loan sharks fought, saw nothing else, and will never make up.
Afterward, as the three walk down the road, Eun-tak’s comments are snippy, as she’s still ticked off at everything that’s happened. She asks pointedly if they don’t have a car, and whether she’s dead and on her way to the afterlife, and whether they’ll be killing her now.
Heh, her passive-aggressive barbs amuse me, mostly for the way they annoy Reaper, who beams a glare at Shin and telepathically asks when they’ll be getting their gratitude for saving her life. He keeps complaining until Shin finally yells at him to be quiet—and Eun-tak whirls around with hurt eyes, thinking he’d just told her to shut it. I notice Reaper wags a finger at Shin, enjoying his discomfort.
Then Eun-tak gripes about how there aren’t even any passing cars on this road, and stomps off. Reaper gleefully reminds Shin whose idea it was to make this road invisible for two days.
As they sit at a restaurant afterward, Eun-tak asks why Shin hasn’t left yet, and he replies that he will soon. She asks how he came tonight when she didn’t blow out a flame, and he says, “It’s like I just heard you. Save me, something like that.” She says she thought it to herself, and he says she must be the type to think very loudly. Ha.
She says he didn’t have to show up, and he says, “I didn’t have a reason not to come.” She concedes an earlier point he made about her living her life like it’s a freebie, and explains that he saved her mother’s life and her own, so she’s been okay to live that way—she got to be born, and meet her mother.
“So I’ve decided not to hate you now,” she announces. “If we met again, I wanted to say that. Although you probably hoped we wouldn’t meet.”
Shin just lets her have her say, though he notes that it seems she still hates him. She snaps that she doesn’t, and tells him that she won’t make wishes or think of him in the future, so he can leave peacefully. She tacks on, “And I hope you meet a nice person. Someone who helps you discover the true you. Someone pretty. Pretty in heart, not face, since you say you don’t look at faces.”
She gets up to leave him with the food, and Shin stops her to ask, “I didn’t eat this, but I’m supposed to pay?” Eun-tak protests that she didn’t eat either, and moreover, she doesn’t have money.
Shin says he’ll pay if she stays and eats. That mollifies her a bit, but she’s still a little snappish and says she doesn’t want to eat with him, and requests her dinner wrapped to go. “See, you do hate me,” Shin notes.
Back at his goblin mansion, nephew Deok-hwa gives Shin the skinny on Eun-tak and her horrible family. Her mother’s death left her with a hefty 150 million won (about $150 grand), but being a minor, Eun-tak can’t access the money on her own, which is why Aunt is keeping her.
Hearing that Deok-hwa did the legwork to collect this info, Shin tells him, “I’m shocked to see you have uses.” Deok-hwa asks why he’s interested in these people, Shin and replies, “I mean to punish them.” Deok-hwa can’t see why punishment would involve two gold bars and whines to be given some too (“Haven’t I committed a lot of sins? Don’t I deserve a thousand punishments?”).
Shortly thereafter, those two gold bars appear in Eun-tak’s room, and Aunt finds them and just about has puppies. The cousins make greedy grabs for the bars, assuming that Eun-tak converted her hidden stash of cash into gold, and a three-way squabble breaks out.
Ah, I love that this nobody in this hateful family can trust each other, so they end up sitting up late into the night, determined to outlast the others to claim it for themselves. Eyelids droop and heads nod off… and in the morning, Aunt and Oppa Cousin wake up to find Girl Cousin and the bars long gone.
Aunt and Oppa tear out of the house to track her down, and from a nearby restaurant, Shin and Deok-hwa watch them run by. Deok-hwa notices Shin’s eyes glued to the TV, which is turned to a K-pop performance. Shin explains that the king he served was about the age of that idol—seventeen.
In a serious, faraway voice, he describes lying on the ground at the hottest hour of day, in the blinding light, endlessly resenting somebody: “Whether it was the king, or god, or me—I’ve forgotten that.”
Later, Shin makes Reaper and Deok-hwa watch that idol perform, calling him the reincarnation of his thousand-year wrath. Reaper advises him to let go of his anger and vengeance, which will bring him unhappiness. Shin cuts him off, asking, “So does not remembering make you happy?” Reaper shuts his mouth.
Shin isn’t sure the idol is the reincarnated king—it seems like he just has a passing feeling—and wants Reaper to confirm whether it is, but Reaper can’t tell just by looking; he needs to touch him.
Then Reaper asks, “Why do you only think he’s been reincarnated as a man?” and indicates the girl group now onstage.
“Is it her?” Shin asks, transfixed at the dance. “Say it is! I think I’m ready to forgive.” Reaper reminds him that he’s been angry for a thousand years, but Shin stares at the pretty girl, saying, “I’m sure he had his reasons.”
Reaper arrives at the hospital, where he joins several of his fellow reapers, which includes a few newbies. One reaper hoobae reminds our Reaper about those souls that are unaccounted for and tells him to turn in his roster by the end of year.
Another reaper brightens when a new reaper approaches them, because she’s pretty and young and makes him grin like a doofus.
Reaper steps aside when his charge arrives, an ER doctor who literally died of overwork while tending to a patient. The doctor, like all newly dead souls, needs a moment to take it in, but when he hears that his patient lived, he says he’s glad.
Afterward, Reaper eats at Subway (et tu, Goblin?!) and looks over the forms he has yet to fill out regarding the two souls that went unaccounted for.
As Eun-tak bikes through the city, she notices every instance of the word “goblin” popping up in ads and signs. She bikes faster and faster, as if to get away.
In the days that follow, she keeps thinking of Shin and their encounters, and the memories put her in a funk. That funk seems to extend to Shin, too, as he thinks of all their encounters as well. There’s a lovely extended moment where their images overlap, as though sharing their gloom, separate but together.
Finally, she sighs to herself, “I don’t know. Leave or don’t, whatever.”
Eun-tak returns to the bookstore and searches for the goblin book where she’d stuck her maple leaf from Quebec. She overhears a man trying to make a return, and sees Deok-hwa with the very book in question. She offers to buy the book from him, claiming the maple leaf inside it, and he says there’s no way to prove it’s hers. He challenges her to identify its origin, and Eun-tak replies that even if she answered, he wouldn’t know whether it’s true.
Deok-hwa declares that the correct answer and gives her the book. When she asks why he was interested in it in the first place, he replies matter-of-factly, “Ah, there’s this goblin I know.” He plays it off like it’s no big deal and everybody knows a goblin or two.
Eyes wide, Eun-tak asks, “Really?” He tsk-tsks her naivety and gives her a quick primer on not falling for the things strangers say. Although when she tries to discount the book price by calling it technically used, Deok-hwa won’t let her get away with it.
Deok-hwa heads home to report to Shin, but stops short to see his grandfather standing there with Reaper. Gulp. He breathes a sigh of relief when he realizes Grandpa doesn’t know anything yet, then totally throws Reaper under the bus by asking who he is and why he’s here.
As Shin comes out of his room, Reaper points a finger at him and mumbles, “I’m his… friend. I came to play.”
Deok-hwa seizes this excuse and runs with it, exclaiming that Reaper must be very close with Uncle, and came to say goodbye. Stone-faced Reaper lifts a hand and waves wanly: “Go well. Be healthy. Never come back.”
But Shin contradicts both of them, happy to tell Reaper to leave his house and never return, since they’re not friends. Deok-hwa protests, and Shin kicks him out too.
So Reaper and Deok-hwa end up huddled on the front stoop, grumbling about Shin’s high-handedness. Reaper turns the stoop icy and warns Deok-hwa that he’d better be right about his grandfather leaving soon: “He’d better, or you’ll be going soon, somewhere.”
Shin pops his head outside to tell Deok-hwa to go to his house to receive his scolding, and crows to Reaper that their score is 1:0. Reaper seethes, then walks right through the door.
Deok-hwa can’t believe Shin would tattle on him to his grandfather and asks to know what Shin said, so he can match their stories. Shin retorts, “Did you match stories with me when you rented out the house?”
Deok-hwa hunkers down on the step rather than going in for his punishment, vowing to stay here and haunt the house as a ghost.
Shin’s in a pretty great mood that night, humming and dancing in the bathroom, but freaks out when he almost steps on a white towel in the hall. Written in blood is “good night” and their new score, 1:1. Muahaha.
Shin literally jumps back, muttering about horse blood. He yells for Reaper to take it away, even apologizing for his earlier comment. Aw, is the war god squeamish?
Chicken shop owner Sunny confronts Eun-tak at work, asking if she’s sleeping in the restaurant. Immediately contrite, Eun-tak apologizes and asks how she knew. Sunny shows her the toothbrush she found, as well as the crumpled confession notes that Eun-tak had written and discarded.
Sunny asks if it’s because of Aunt, then lets the matter go entirely, saying that she should only act if it’s to help. She hands Eun-tak her weekly pay and instructs her to take trips to the sauna to shower.
Eun-tak thanks Sunny, who tells her not to be so grateful over things that are rightfully hers (i.e., her pay). Eun-tak replies that she’s grateful for Sunny’s awesomeness, and Sunny corrects, “That’s money being awesome.”
Shin visits an old bookstore while Eun-tak grills up a batch of squid per Sunny’s request. Lost in her thoughts about Shin, she doesn’t notice the squid catching fire and blows out the flame, then panics and tries to cancel the summons.
On the other hand, Shin smiles to see the smoke around his hands, happy to be transported. He even hurries to strike a cool pose when he appears behind Eun-tak, holding a book and commenting on how much he likes books and art. Ha, I love vain goblin. Your instagram account must be killer.
He can’t even hide that he’s pleased about her summons, so when she informs him that it was only a squid-induced mistake, he gets pissy and huffs that he has to go and pack his bags.
She stops him to ask a question, wanting to know exactly what kind of thing she’s supposed to see “if I’m going to be of use to you.” He supposes she’d lie that she can see it, and she retorts the exact opposite—she’ll say she doesn’t see it even if she does, because he might be nice to her and buy her things and that would be a problem because she reaaaally doesn’t care for him at all. Hmph.
So Shin asks if she doesn’t see anything unusual, maybe something painful. Eun-tak gives him the once-over and says, “Ah, that.” That captures his interest, so when tries to head off, he jumps to do her bidding: “Do you want to eat meat? Is there anything you want?”
She leads him to a meat restaurant, where he grills every last bit of meat for her, asking at every opportunity about the thing she sees. She purposely answers in roundabout ways, and when he gets annoyed, she milks it, asking wide-eyed, “Are you getting testy with me?” He backs down to appease her, that minx.
On to a cafe next, where Eun-tak orders a big fancy juice drink—and then Reaper shows up to ask for the same. Eun-tak hides behind Shin just in case Reaper means to try anything, and watches as the boys bicker. Shin asks if Reaper’s here to kill anybody, and Reaper says defensively, “I’m a regular here!”
Eun-tak asks if she’s the one who’s dying today, acting hurt at the possibility that they ganged up to lure her with meat and ambush her with juice. Lol, she certainly has a flair for the dramatic.
Reaper says he’s actually on her side, and attempts to telepathically tell her, “You see the sword… you see the sword… You will pull out that sword…” But she doesn’t hear his thoughts, and when she asks what it means that he’s on her side, Shin tells her it’s just god talk that she doesn’t need to understand.
After Reaper’s gone, Eun-tak gushes about Reaper’s handsomeness, asking if reapers are picked based on looks, to prompt dead souls to follow readily. Annoyed at her giddiness, Shin asks if he’s also good-looking, and she hesitates before replying, “You’re… just looking.” Haha. Shin snatches away her juice.
Eun-tak points at another customer to distract Shin, and sneaks back her juice while he’s looking away. But something about the ordinary-looking ajusshi catches Shin’s interest, who’s busy texting lovey-dovey messages to his girlfriend.
With a wave of the hand, Shin causes a run-in between the ajusshi and another customer, tangling the woman’s earphone cord in the man’s bag. Eun-tak asks what he’s doing, and Shin says that it’s something that should happen. He refers to his actions as “magic,” just as the man and woman register attraction.
They detangle the cord, at which point Shin flicks his finger to catch the woman’s hair in the man’s shirt button. As the finishing touch, he trips an employee and sends the woman literally falling into the man’s arms. They gaze into each other’s eyes, and when they ask about each other’s relationship statuses, both lie that they’re single.
From across the cafe, Eun-tak cheers along silently, mouthing the words, “Kiss! Kiss!” She asks if Shin is a Cupid, and he explains that every hundred years or so, a few people are reborn with the same faces as their previous lives. He’d recognized the man from his past life; that was a woman he couldn’t let get away.
Eun-tak asks if the man was heroic in the past, and is offended hearing that he was the worst kind of person, arguing that Shin should only help good people. Shin replies that he’s not the guardian spirit for those two—he was acting for the two people who just lost their partners. The man from the cafe is cowardly and the woman is ungrateful, and they’ll become each other’s hell.
Then Eun-tak asks if her life is terrible because she’d sinned in a past life: “Is being born as the goblin’s wife my punishment?”
Shin replies that he doesn’t know about her past life, and reiterates that she’s not the goblin’s wife. She adopts a chipper tone to say her life isn’t actually that bad, since she was loved by her mother, she found an umbrella, and she likes that she met Shin. Then she corrects herself: she liked it, past tense.
Shin reminds her that she hasn’t answered his question yet: Does she see it or not?
She replies, “My mother used to say that a person had to see where they’re lying down in order to stretch out their legs, and know where they’re going when they leave. You understand what I’m saying, right?”
He doesn’t, so she tells him that it means this is where they end. She tells him goodbye and walks away. When she turns back after a few steps, Shin is still there, looking at her.
Later at home, Deok-hwa mentions the possibility of becoming a reaper after he dies, and Shin replies, “You have to have committed a big sin in a past life to become a reaper.” Then he stops himself, realizing that Deok-hwa knows Reaper’s nature.
Deok-hwa points out how his surprise is rather unwarranted, given all the clues and careless talk that tipped him off ages ago, like how Reaper was unfazed when Shin turned the living room humid and foggy, and how both gods tossed around mention of the grim reaper all the time.
That’s when Reaper shows up—just as Deok-hwa is insulting his appearance, heh. Deok-hwa tries to flee, but Reaper blocks his path and asks how he knew he was a reaper. Deok-hwa exclaims, “How can I not know, when you do things like this? You were right over there, and suddenly you’re here.” He makes a good point.
Reaper blames Goblin-who-talks-behind-my-back for outing the truth. Goblin blames him right back, calling him “Reaper-who-doesn’t-even-know-if-he-was-a-murderer-in-a-past-life!” Aw, and then Reaper’s face falls, like someone just killed his hopes and dreams, and then his puppy.
Reaper mumbles that it’s not like Shin’s punishment is because he was innocent. He storms off, and Deok-hwa suggests that Shin really did hurt his feelings. So he drops by a bit later as Reaper’s writing down all the potential sins he could have committed in a past life, though the list just makes Reaper feel worse.
Shin offers his apology and tells him his past life doesn’t matter. “Really?” Reaper asks with interest. “Yes,” Shin answers. “Whatever you were, I dislike you as ever.” At least Reaper laughs?
Deok-hwa tries to downplay his misdeeds to Grandfather by saying that Shin and Reaper got on pretty well, actually. Grandfather says that one is haunted by being unable to recall his past, and the other is haunted by a past he can’t forget, and that they humans are just two passing specks in their long lives.
The next day, Deok-hwa pulls up outside Sunny’s chicken shop and explains to his secretary that he received the building on his eighth birthday. Ha, the secretary is pretty sassy, contradicting Deok-hwa and reminding him that he’s reporting to Grandpa. So while Deok-hwa wants to use the building for cash flow and empty the stores, it looks like the secretary won’t just let him sneak that one by. Deok-hwa tries to get Secretary Kim to lie for him, then pleads for one credit card.
Reaper tries to sneak past Shin to leave the house, but Shin insists on following him, sure that Reaper meant to find Eun-tak rather than come to the supermarket. Reaper insists, “I’m not going to take her away! I’m totally rooting for her right now!”
He explains that if she pulls the sword, Shin dies, and he likes that better than Shin merely leaving the country. So he’s hoping that even if she doesn’t see it now, the miraculous day will come when she will be able to see the sword.
That stokes Shin’s temper, and Shin burns with blue-green flames until Reaper reminds him that they’re in public. Shin calms down, then asks for a promise: “When I leave, you won’t touch her.” Reaper practically gets emotional at the thought of Shin truly leaving, and Shin warns that the moment Reaper tries anything, he’ll be back in a flash.
On his way out of the store, Shin suddenly disappears, leaving Reaper wondering where he went. He ends up outside Aunt’s house, almost like he didn’t expect it himself.
When Eun-tak steps inside the front gate, she hurriedly yanks him around the corner, warning him that he could have been seen. She asks why he came, and he answers that he must have thought of her, and that’s why he must have come to see her. And now that he’s seen her, he’ll be going.
He wonders why she came back when Aunt’s family has disappeared, and she merely says that she had something to retrieve, not divulging that it’s the dried buckwheat flowers he gave her.
Shin finally packs to leave (I was wondering if he’d ever get to it), but pauses to open an old wooden box containing what looks like a scroll.
Reaper walks across a bridge, and is stopped by (young) Samshin Grandma, who urges him to buy a trinket for his girlfriend. He says he doesn’t have one, so she tells him to buy one anyway and make one, holding up a mirror that blinds his eyes for a moment.
When he looks down, it’s the jade ring that catches his eye, glowing extra brightly. (Which, as we know, was the Goryeo queen’s ring.)
He reaches for it as if in a trance, but a hand darts in front and grabs it first. One look at Sunny has Reaper struck dumb, although it seems the reaction is instinctual (rather than because she’s pretty), triggering a tear to fall down his face.
She, on the other hand, clocks the serious look on his face and the tear rolling from his eye, and exclaims in disbelief, “Are you crying?”
Reaper’s shocked at his own reaction, but when she asks if he wants the ring, he nods eagerly. Sunny looks him up and down and thinks about it, then declares that she won’t give it up for free, asking for his phone number in exchange.
He says he doesn’t have one, and she wonders if he’s just avoiding giving it to her. Miffed, Sunny takes back her offer and starts to slide the ring on her finger. Reaper hurriedly asks for her number, in order to claim the ring.
Sunny decides introductions are in order, and offers her name and a handshake, accompanied by an expert hair flip. A bit dumbly, Reaper stares at the hand and tucks his own hand safely into his coat, and gets her name wrong.
Left hanging, Sunny turns her handshake into a finger gun and plays it off, and as they stare at each other, Samshin Grandma asks for payment. In the mirror reflection, we see that her true appearance is the elderly grandma from the first episode. Samshin Grandma figures, “It doesn’t matter who pays. You’ll both end up paying a very high fee anyway.” Well that’s ominous. I thought you were a nice fairy godmother!
Shin’s scroll turns out to be an old painting of the Goryeo queen who died just before he did. We flash back to the aftermath of his resurrection, as he’d approached that royal bed containing a wrapped body. Shin had said, “I am too late.”
He had found that painting of the queen among several others, and had broken down in tears. As he had left the palace burning in his wake, he’d walked out clutching only that one scroll.
Now, in the present, Shin sheds a tear looking at her painting. (It’s worth noting that the show has never specified the queen’s relationship to the goblin, but she has been identified as Shin’s sister in promotional material.)
At the chicken shop, Sunny sits lost in thought while Eun-tak cleans, dutifully ignoring the ghost who keeps pestering her. The ghost threatens to kill Eun-tak’s friends if she keeps it up, and turns to start with Sunny.
But Sunny’s fuming over her encounter with Reaper, and breaks into a string of curses, scaring the ghost away. Sunny asks Eun-tak if her looks aren’t up to par lately, anxious because she hasn’t had a call from Reaper yet.
Eun-tak advises her to forget about him, but Sunny can’t, exclaiming that he’s the best-looking man she’s ever seen. Moreover, she’s further upset about the pretty ring she gave up.
Meanwhile, Reaper looks at the number Sunny had scrawled, and the lipstick kiss she’d marked next to it.
Eun-tak arrives at her aunt’s house that night to find movers emptying the furniture. The landlady informs her that Aunt moved out and left all her things behind, and Eun-tak asks plaintively what will happen to her. The landlady tells her to take it up with Aunt.
Eun-tak manages to take back her buckwheat flowers, although a sudden gust of wind blows off most of the dried blooms. Eun-tak plucks a few sprigs to put between the pages of a book, then stores most of her belongings in a public locker.
At school, Eun-tak’s bitchy teacher orders her to empty her pockets and bag, having heard (from a malicious classmate, no doubt) that Eun-tak is sneaking smokes. When she finds no cigarettes and smells nothing on her fingers, she just snaps at her for being so devious as to cover her tracks so well. Orrrrrr…
The teacher says she finds it scary that “kids like you” are good students, having judged her as someone who acts sweet and is secretly conniving, and says it’s people like her who become problems in society. I shudder to think of a society of people this teacher thinks are good.
Reaper joins Shin for a spot of daytime drinking, and when asked why, Shin replies that he was faithful enough when he was a general. That’s news to Reaper, and Shin adds that Reaper wouldn’t have even been able to talk to him in the olden days. Reaper retorts, “You don’t even know what I was.” Of course, neither does Reaper.
Reaper asks if Shin’s all packed and tells him bye. Shin offers, “I’ll call.” Reaper points out, “I don’t have a phone.” Shin: “That’s why I said it.” Oh you two.
They sit there in silence for a while, two lonely gods drinking alone. A bit of time passes, and then suddenly Shin is storming in and out of his front door, over and over, looking dissatisfied. Reaper finally asks what he’s doing, and Shin admits, “I don’t know where she is.” Ah, is he trying to teleport himself everywhere, looking for Eun-tak?
Shin adds, “She isn’t calling me. Because she isn’t calling me, I can’t find her.” He looks weary and sad, and says that nothing he has is good for anything. Reaper figures that’s true, and asks what he’d done in past instances.
“I found her,” he says. “Every time, like this.” Oh, you romantic. So every time we’ve seen you magically show up, you’ve really been trying a dozen times?
Reaper tells him to just call her, but Shin doesn’t know her number. He grabs an umbrella and leaves again, and as thunder crashes in the distance, Reaper figures he’s found her.
Eun-tak sits on the rocks overlooking the sea, talking to her mother to ask how she’s doing, and how heaven is. She starts to cry and admits that she’s not doing so well, and nobody asks how she’s doing. Rain starts to fall in earnest, and she says bitterly that she’s tired of this life that always gets rained on.
Then she senses something and whirls around. There Shin is, holding an umbrella over her head, like magic. He tells her, “It’s because I’m depressed.” He explains that it rains when he’s gloomy, but that it’ll stop soon. She notices the rain stopping, and he says, “It’s because I just now started feeling better.”
It seems she gets his meaning, and she almost smiles. Then Eun-tak says she didn’t summon him here. Shin replies, “I was busy too. Here and there. I had things to do.” Very convincing.
“I’m in trouble,” she says. “Every time it rains, I’m going to be sad thinking that you’re depressed.”
He asks why she’s out here like this, and she answers simply, “Because I’m unhappy.” She likens her unhappiness to a cold that goes away for a time, then comes back to afflict her. She adds that she didn’t say this purposely to “stab” at his conscience, and he tells her not to use that word, since he hates it. Which, of course makes her grin that she chose well.
Shin prods her to continue talking, and she thinks for a moment, then explains how humans have four lives: a life of sowing seeds, a life watering planted seeds, a life harvesting those plants, and a life using those harvested plants.
Shin’s surprised she knows those words, since it’s something only a reaper tells the dead. She reminds him that she’s been the goblin’s bride for 19 years, and has heard a lot from ghosts. She says this is why she feels life is unfair, because her life is stuck in the first two phases.
“Condolences,” is all Shin says. Eun-tak pouts, saying that he could pat her shoulder or stroke her hair. She pulls out her laminated maple leaf and offers it to Shin, who reaches out to pat her hair. He tells her to be well, because he leaves tomorrow.
That hits her, and it looks like she’s holding in her tears. The rain starts to pour again.
That night, Shin and Reaper sit like depressed bumps on a log. A bell rings, and Reaper thinks it’s a text message, only to have Shin correct, “That was the doorbell.”
Simultaneously, they realize how strange it is for the doorbell to ring, and stare at each other in mounting alarm. Shin tells Reaper to check on it and points out the ridiculousness of the grim reaper being afraid, which Reaper says right back to him.
Then the door swings open—and there stands Eun-tak. Reaper is puzzled to see her at his house and asks if she’s sought him out. Note how he’s doing his menacing act again, as though he hadn’t just been cowering to himself on the sofa.
Spooked to see Reaper, Eun-tak says she came to the wrong house and hurries away, only to walk right into Shin. “You told her where you live too?” Reaper asks dryly. Shin waves him away.
Eun-tak explains asking ghosts for the goblin’s address, because she has more to say, and asks about the thing she’s supposed to see. What happens if she sees it? Shin replies, “Why ask? You can’t see it anyway.”
“Who says I can’t?” she returns. “One: If I see it, do we have to marry right away? Two: If I see it, will you give me that 5 million won? Three: If I see it… will you not leave? Don’t go. Just stay here, in Korea.” He doesn’t respond for long moments, then asks, “Do you really see it?”
He asks for proof, and she asks for his answer first. He decides she doesn’t see it, and she says indignantly that she does. Pointing straight at his chest, she declares, “This sword.”
Suddenly, there in front of her pointing finger, the sword materializes, sticking right through Shin’s chest.
So the big question has been answered: She sees the sword! That certainly leads one to wonder why she wouldn’t have mentioned it before, since it hardly seems like the thing to ignore (or to need clarification on being able to see), but I’ll assume she had her reasons for not making a fuss over it and bask for a moment in the realization.
I am super curious as to the mechanics of the whole sword-impalement and sword-pulling scenario, because it sure looked like Shin was in pain in some earlier flashbacks, when he’d tried to remove the sword himself. Are we to assume that this whole time, he’s had the sword stuck in him and the show just chose not to show it? Does he see the sword at all times, and it’s only that everybody else can’t? If so, shouldn’t he be in constant pain? Are there only specific times when the pain happens? And if he’s unable to remove the sword, how was he able to wield it earlier in order to split the car? I reaaaally hope these are all issues that are meant to be mysterious now and answered later, because I’m banking a lot on the mythology making sense and fitting together logically, and it’ll frustrate me if the rules go all willy-nilly.
I thought this episode was rather long, not just in running time but in the lingering, meandering atmosphere, and there was a lot of heel-dragging in the plot department. Don’t get me wrong: All the character stuff was great, and I for sure wanted to see Shin stick around. But I got awfully tired of hearing him talk about leaving a gazillion times and never actually doing it, and as I don’t quite understand why it is that he must leave—other than that it’s his tradition, which is just a fancy way to say habit—his moping seemed a bit unnecessary.
But it was beautiful moping, and it’s the show’s melancholy mood that draws me in so effectively—and not just regarding Shin, but with Eun-tak and Reaper as well. I do think this director is a bit overly fond of lingering on every moment—like every single beat is meant to be polished to perfection—but there are times when that care for tone and mood is very much appreciated, because it’s something that you can’t quite create purely in writing or performance. I’m thinking of the heads-resting-on-arms mutual moping segment, or the scenes with quiet, morose brooding.
I loved watching Shin feeling his affections grow for Eun-tak and having him react as though it were a sad thing, rather than anything to enjoy or celebrate, because either she’s not his bride and deserves to live a normal human life, or she is his bride and he’ll be dying now, see ya, buh-bye. It’s the latter conflict that has me on tenterhooks to watch the next episode, because it’s a gripping dilemma, but today it was mostly about him feeling like this whole Eun-tak thing was pointless and better left alone, and it was a lovely way to demonstrate that with the rain.
I also really dug Eun-tak’s response to Shin’s treatment of her, because without knowing what’s driving him, she only knows that he kind of runs warm and cool, and that he’s never given her real reason to hope or expect anything. It makes sense that a lonely 19-year-old who hasn’t been loved in years would need to protect her feelings and try to keep her crush contained, because it’s far more likely that it’s only in her mind than that it’s returned. And I enjoyed that her inner conflict came out as teenage snarkiness, because her passive-aggressive sniping was adorable in a really familiar and immature way.
But far and away, I’m really loving the Reaper-Goblin duo, because no matter how much they bicker and say they hate each other, they’re clearly growing on each other, and it soothes my heart to know that both poor, sad souls have a friend(frenemy) who understands a bit of what it feels like to be tragic and immortal. I mean, sure Reaper wishes Goblin would die, and Goblin says he hates Reaper in every lifetime, but it took about two minutes after actually hurting his feelings to go and make up. Their dry, deadpan interplay is my favorite new thing, and I never want it to end.
- The Lonely Shining Goblin: Episode 2
- The Lonely Shining Goblin: Episode 1
- Love in the time of immortality in the Goblin
- Food fights and cuddling in posters for The Lonely Shining Goblin
- The otherworldly couples of The Lonely Shining Goblin
- The Lonely, Shining Goblin goes from ancient warrior to modern man
- The odd roommates and seductive chicken shop owner of The Goblin
- The fateful rainy day when the Goblin meets his bride