The tension mounts on the island as events also begin to escalate back in civilization as the two timelines grow closer to merging. Those who are supposed to help seem more interested in what’s most convenient, making the truth difficult to discover. Bong-hee is learning that having gotten off the island in no way guarantees that she’s safe — in fact, she may be in more danger than ever.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
As we relive Tae-ho and Joon-oh’s fight on the cliff, we see scenes from their Dreamers days, in which they looked happy and friendly with each other. Tae-ho goes off the cliff and lets go of Joon-oh’s hand, and in the present, Ho-hang says on camera that it was Joon-oh who killed So-hee.
On the island, Joon-oh speaks privately with the reporter, Ki-won, who had something to tell him about his drunk driving case (the incident that broke up Dreamers). We go back to that night, when Tae-ho had picked up Joon-oh at a pojangmacha after Jae-hyun’s death.
Drinking heavily, Joon-oh had poured Tae-ho a drink, but he’d dumped it out when Joon-oh wasn’t looking. Tae-ho had bundled Joon-oh in his car after he passed out and had disconnected the CCTV camera. He’d left the car sitting in the middle of the street, Joon-oh unconscious behind the wheel, then called the police.
Ki-won knows this because Jae-hyun’s case had been reopened, and the information about Tae-ho reporting Joon-oh was in the file. Joon-oh is stunned to hear that Tae-ho actually set him up — he was telling the truth when he said he’d been drinking, but hadn’t been driving.
Joon-oh asks why Ki-won is telling him this now, and Ki-won says that Joon-oh has the right to get his career back. Joon-oh sighs that he’s not sure whether to believe him or not and heads inside to sleep. Ki-won also stands to go to bed, but he stops to investigate a sound nearby.
In the present, Bong-hee tells Chairwoman Jo that she wants to speak with Ho-hang about his accusations. She says that he knows that Joon-oh isn’t the murderer, so there must be a reason he’s saying these things. Chairwoman Jo counters that it’s two against one, which would indicate that it’s Bong-hee who’s lying, and she asks how she plans to prove otherwise.
She tells Bong-hee to watch it or she’ll find herself facing charges, but Bong-hee says that Chairwoman Jo doesn’t think Joon-oh and Bong-hee are guilty because of the others’ testimonies. She says that she thinks it’s because she believes Joon-oh is dead, and it’s easier to blame the person who can’t defend themselves.
She goes out to where Tae-young is waiting for her, and he can tell immediately that things went badly. He tells her to stay strong or else they’ll win, and she says that she’ll never lose strength until she finds Joon-oh. She smiles, saying that he’s probably struggling to come back, so she has to stay strong.
Chairwoman Jo goes to speak to Ho-hang, and says that he seems better after seeing his “friend” (his excuse for why he was missing when Tae-ho threatened him). She tells him that he can’t change his testimony from this moment forward, and he snaps that he already knows that.
Investigator Oh asks what’s wrong, and Chairwoman Jo asks if they’ve received any information on Joon-oh. They haven’t, and she barks that they at least need to find his body.
The next morning on the island, Bong-hee wakes to find their food stores have been thrown about. Joon-oh chalks it up to the wind, but a trail of items leads Bong-hee to conclude that someone came through camp while they were sleeping. Joon-oh hears a noise and perks up, then goes to check it out (but not before trying to get Bong-hee to go first, ha).
A noise wakes Ki-joon, and he starts hollering when he realizes that the radio Ho-hang has been trying to repair is getting a signal. He can even hear voices, and he and Ji-ah wake the whole camp with their celebratory screaming. The commotion brings Joon-oh back as well, though he seems unsettled.
He pulls Ki-won aside to ask him about what he heard the night before, and Ki-won asks if Joon-oh actually saw Tae-ho’s body after he fell from the cliff. Joon-oh’s silence is enough answer to worry them both, and he says they should try to find Tae-ho’s body (or Tae-ho himself) before they tell anyone else.
CEO Hwang, Ki-joon, and Ho-hang take the radio to the ocean, where CEO Hwang speaks Chinese into the receiver, hoping that someone will hear them. Ho-hang barks at him to let the other people talk, and the three end up fighting. Luckily, a Chinese fishing boat catches their signal.
Joon-oh and Ki-won tell Ji-ah and Bong-hee that they’re going to look for something, and Joon-oh ties the girls’ wrists together to keep them from leaving each other alone. Ji-ah is confused, wondering what they need to find when they’ll probably be rescued soon.
The three guys sit calmly on the rocks, wondering if they should split up to look for an approaching boat. It doesn’t seem to register at first when a boat crests the horizon, but then it turns toward them, and they start jumping and hollering.
Ji-ah and Bong-hee untie themselves and set to roasting mushrooms. Bong-hee steps inside to get some water, and Ji-ah hears footsteps behind her. She looks up to see Tae-ho, battered, bloody, and glaring down at her.
When Bong-hee comes back out, Ji-ah is gone. Ki-joon runs back to tell them there’s a boat, but Bong-hee is frantic about Ji-ah. She tells him that she’s gone, and she thinks Tae-ho took her.
Ki-joon’s priority immediately switches to finding Ji-ah, though he tells Bong-hee that the fishing boat may not stay due to bad weather conditions. They spot Joon-oh, and Ki-joon sends Bong-hee to him, asking her not to let the boat leave until everyone is on it.
CEO Hwang and Ho-hang meet the boat and explain to the fishermen that they’ve been stranded on this island. They’re told to hurry and board since there’s a high seas warning, so CEO Hwang sends Ho-hang to get the others and begs the fishermen not to leave.
Bong-hee frantically tells Joon-oh and Ki-won about the boat, and that Ki-joon is looking for Ji-ah. Ho-hang finds them and screams at them to get to the boat before it leaves, and Ki-won offers to stay and look for Ji-ah while the others head to the shore.
Ki-joon finds Tae-ho with Ji-ah and tries to talk him into letting her go. Tae-ho calmly agrees she hasn’t done anything wrong and drops her, but he says there’s something he wants — to live happily, and to do that, they all have to die. With that, he grabs Ji-ah’s wrist and slices it wide open.
Ki-joon lands a strong punch on Tae-ho, but Tae-ho is stronger and soon gains the upper hand. Ji-ah helps by kicking Tae-ho in the face, but Tae-ho jumps up, grabs her arm, and starts to drag her away. Suddenly Ki-won shows up, and he knocks Tae-ho unconscious with a rock.
He and Ji-ah help Ki-joon sit up, and Ki-joon jokes that Ki-won should have come sooner. Ki-joon wants to leave Tae-ho and head for the boat, but Ki-won stays back, saying that they need to do something with Tae-ho so he can’t come after them again.
Joon-oh, Bong-hee, and Ho-hang find the boat and begin to board. The fishermen are anxious to leave, but Joon-oh refuses to board until Ji-ah and Ki-joon arrive, and Bong-hee hangs back with him.
Ki-won drags Tae-ho to the pit where he first met Joon-oh and Bong-hee and prepares to bash Tae-ho’s skull in with a rock. At the last moment he stops, unable to do it, and instead starts to roll Tae-ho into the hole. But Tae-ho opens his eyes and grabs Ki-won, and they both tumble into the pit.
The fishermen prepare to pull away from the island while Joon-oh yanks on the ropes, screaming that they’ve been stuck on the island for four months. CEO Hwang begs the captain to wait, but the boat drives away from the island, leaving Joon-oh and Bong-hee stranded again.
Luckily, Ji-ah and Ki-joon show up, and CEO Hwang says that that’s everyone, convincing the captain to go back. He throttles back and Ji-ah and Ki-joon board. As they jump in the boat, Ki-joon tells Joon-oh that Ki-won saved them from Tae-ho.
Joon-oh struggles to leave Ki-won behind, knowing that he’s still out there with Tae-ho. He runs off to find Ki-won, and Bong-hee, who was still in the process of boarding, lets go and chases after him.
By the time Joon-oh arrives at the pit, Tae-ho is gone again and Ki-won is at the bottom of the hole, covered in blood. Joon-oh jumps in, and Ki-won gasps that he was going to testify (to his innocence in the drunk driving case) when they got back. He’s bleeding badly from a stomach wound, and Joon-oh sees a bloody stick lying nearby.
Ki-won apologizes and tells Joon-oh that the person who tipped him off that Joon-oh was innocent was So-hee (ah, that must be what she meant when she told Tae-ho that she knew what else he did), and that she’d decided to hold a press conference and tell the truth. But she’d kept changing her mind, so Ki-won was on the plane to convince her.
Weakening fast, Ki-won says that he thinks So-hee changed her mind because of Legend Entertainment’s vice president, and Joon-oh remembers her on the phone before the plane took off. She’d called him by name, Mr. Jang (the sleazy man now acting as CEO) and said she’d give him her decision when she got back.
Ki-won begs Joon-oh to tell the truth on his behalf, and apologizes again. They are the last words he ever speaks, and Bong-hee finds Joon-oh crying over Ki-won’s body and screaming in frustration.
CEO Hwang talks the boat captain into waiting just a bit longer, and Bong-hee brings Joon-oh back just in time. Everyone boards the boat, but Joon-oh hesitates yet again. He knows that Tae-ho is out there somewhere, and despite everyone’s begging, he’s uncomfortable with the idea of leaving him.
Still, when the boat finally leaves the island, Joon-oh is there with the rest of them. They all sit watching the island recede into the distance, each reflecting on their time on the island and how much everything has changed between them all.
Joon-oh sits with Bong-hee, looking a bit seasick but swearing that he’s fine. He lets out a huge belch, then another, grossing out Bong-hee. He keeps burping, obviously a reaction to his nerves and his first time on a boat, and loyal Bong-hee stays right next to him the entire time.
In the present, Chairwoman Jo wraps up a business dinner before finding Tae-young waiting outside the dining room to speak with her. He makes a snarky comment that the Special Investigation Committee seems happy lately, and implies that they’re intentionally overlooking facts.
Chairwoman Jo asks what she’s overlooking, and Tae-young tells her that when he went to China to identify So-hee’s body, he saw CEO Jang in the hospital. He says that CEO Jang was there seeing Tae-ho, and suddenly, Chairwoman Jo looks nervous. Tae-young can tell by her reaction that this is new information.
Chairwoman Jo recovers and acts like it’s no big deal that CEO Jang would be with Tae-ho. Tae-young advises her to speak with CEO Jang himself to see whose side he’s on.
Meanwhile, CEO Jang holds a meeting to announce that Ho-hang is the new vice president of Legend Entertainment. Ho-hang doesn’t look as though this makes him happy at all.
Later, in the CEO’s office, Tae-ho congratulates Ho-hang before acting as if he has no idea what he means when Ho-hang says it’s all because of him. CEO Jang is upset because two more survivors have been found, and he asks Tae-ho if he’s sure there’s no way either can be Joon-oh. CEO Jang says he’ll need to go to China to “take care of things,” and Tae-ho has an excuse to join him since he has a fan meeting planned near there.
Bong-hee’s mother goes downstairs to the store for some soy sauce, and she overhears some nosy ajummas discussing Bong-hee. They say she’s losing her mind, and that her testimony can’t be trusted.
Bong-hee’s mom loses her temper and pours the entire bottle of soy sauce over the loudest ajumma’s head. She yells at them for gossiping behind people’s backs and tells them to go home if they have nothing better to do than yap about her daughter. Go Mom!
Tae-young finds Bong-hee on the roof of her building and refuses to listen to her apology. He informs her that there are more survivors, though nobody knows their identities since they’ve asked to remain anonymous. He suggests they go see them in person and secure their testimonies before CEO Jang gets his hooks in them.
Hope lights in Bong-hee’s eyes when Tae-young tells her that one of the survivors in particular wants to see her. She smiles, sure it must be Joon-oh, and Tae-young agrees that would be the best situation to turn the tables in their favor.
All of the castaways go below deck when the bad weather hits, where Ki-joon bandages Ji-ah’s slashed arm. The first mate finds a rope hanging loose over the side of the boat and pulls it on-board, then notices something strange poking out of a nearby tarp. He pulls back the tarp, but we don’t see what he finds.
Ho-hang cheerily asks what everyone wants to do once they get home, food being first on his list. He mentions his mother, which reminds Bong-hee that Joon-oh told her his parents have passed away. But he’d said he has many brothers, listing Yeol, Tae-ho, Ki-joon, and even Ji-ah, hee.
CEO Hwang sighs that instead of thinking of home, he keeps thinking about the island. They all seem a bit sad to be leaving the island, particularly when he mentions Yeol and So-hee. He says that he didn’t even get to thank Ki-won, who proved Joon-oh’s innocence and whose radio made their rescue possible.
The bad weather makes the boat lurch, and the captain wonders where his first mate ran off to. He calls over the loudspeakers for him to return to the cabin, and we’re shown the tarp, with a pair of galoshes sticking out and the deck underneath covered in blood.
Seasick, Ho-hang rushes out to throw up over the side of the boat. A wave knocks him over and near to the tarp, and a pair of shoes steps calmly over his unconscious form.
Joon-oh goes out looking for Ho-hang, and another wave nearly washes him over the side and into the ocean. He pulls himself back on-board, and Bong-hee gets worried and goes after him. She walks right past a dark, ominous form hiding behind a door.
When Joon-oh finds Ho-hang, he’s knocked off balance by the lurching boat, and lands with his hand on the galoshes under the tarp. He sees the blood and pulls back the tarp to find the first mate, dead. Ho-hang starts to freak out, and Joon-oh has his hands full keeping him calm.
The mysterious person makes their way into the room where Ki-joon sits with Ji-ah, and Ki-joon stares in horror for a second before the person pulls him close and stabs him in the belly. Ji-ah screams, and looks up to see Tae-ho standing over her, holding a wicked knife.
In the present, Tae-young and Bong-hee go to the Chinese hospital where they’re told that one of the survivors is still recovering, and the other is delaying their return to Korea, but really wants to see Bong-hee.
When they approach the room, Bong-hee is rushed by a patient — Ji-ah, alive and well. She’s nervous but okay, and seems happy to be reunited with Bong-hee. Bong-hee asks if she’s the one who wanted to see her, and Ji-ah says that it was the other survivor.
He comes out and embraces Bong-hee, and though she’s happy to see Ki-joon, she can’t hide her disappointment that it isn’t Joon-oh. She asks if they know what happened to Joon-oh, and both of their faces change to expressions of pity.
Ki-joon asks if she forgot what happened, and more of Bong-hee’s memory returns. She enters the cabin just after Tae-ho stabs Ki-joon and sees the knife, and she bravely tells him to put it down. Joon-oh sees this scene and cries out, and the distraction allows Tae-ho time to spin Bong-hee around and hold the knife to her throat.
Joon-oh says that Tae-ho really wants him, but Tae-ho whispers that he plans to kill everyone. The boat lurches again and Bong-hee stumbles out of Tae-ho’s grip, and Joon-oh leaps forward to try and wrestle the knife from Tae-ho’s grasp.
He slams Tae-ho’s arm against a crate and makes him drop the knife, which lands at Ji-ah’s feet. Tae-ho punches Joon-oh and goes for the knife, but Ji-ah thinks fast and pushes it toward Bong-hee. Bong-hee picks it up and levels it at Tae-ho, warning him not to come close.
He arrogantly leans in toward her and she lashes out, slashing him across the face. He comes close again and grips the blade, and Bong-hee lets go out of fear. He screams and lunges forward to stab Bong-hee, but Joon-oh throws himself between them and takes the knife in the back.
Blood wells in Joon-oh’s mouth, but his first concern is to make sure Bong-hee is okay. Sobbing, she says she’s fine, and Joon-oh reaches back to pull the knife out. He hovers over Tae-ho and throws the knife away, then grabs Tae-ho and punches him over and over again until Joon-oh loses consciousness.
Bong-hee finally remembers it all, and she sinks to the floor and wails. Ji-ah tries to comfort her, but she’s beyond comforting as she relives Joon-oh’s fate.
While Bong-hee had stared grieved over Joon-oh lying on the floor of the cabin, a rogue wave had completely engulfed the boat.
Some time later, Bong-hee calls Tae-young from the airport, and says that she’s sorry, but she has to go now. She says that she wants to put her faith in Joon-oh one last time, telling Tae-young that someone called, and that his voice sounded just like Joon-oh’s voice.
Well, that’s everyone from the island confirmed either dead or rescued, except for Joon-oh. I suspected that he would be the last whose fate we would learn, but I’m surprised that we know all of this just halfway through the run of the drama. Of course there’s always a small chance that Yeol may have survived (what, I’m an optimist), though I’m finally accepting that he’s most likely dead (a realistic optimist), so I’m going with that assumption for now. But despite the fact that their time on the island seems to be over, I still find myself eager to know more, and to see who, if anyone, will side with Bong-hee against Tae-ho. The show still has a lot of story to tell, and I have a feeling that we won’t know the true, complete story of how things unfolded on the island until we find Joon-oh.
It stinks that the one person who knew the truth is now dead, but I’m glad that he got a chance to tell Joon-oh before he died. Once Joon-oh gets over the shock of Ki-won’s death, he’ll realize that not only did someone believe him in the drunk driving incident, but that So-hee had forgiven him for his part in Jae-hyun’s death. I think — I hope — that that knowledge will give Joon-oh the strength to try getting his life and career back. It feels as though he just gave up because he thought nobody believed in him, but now he knows that Ki-won knew the truth, that So-hee forgave him and was on his side, and he’ll have Bong-hee with him now to bolster him. That is, if Joon-oh is still alive…
And I do believe he is, because as much as the show is an ensemble piece, it’s really the story of Joon-oh’s fall and possible redemption. Originally he came across as an arrogant ass who was too entitled to take responsibility for his actions, but now that we know him better, we know that Joon-oh is really very sensitive and caring. He took the blame for the drunk driving probably to assuage his guilt over Jae-hyun’s death, and he developed a diva persona to mask his deep hurt at being abandoned by everyone he cared about. But his time on the island has brought forward the part of him that feels responsible for those he loves, and is willing to put their well-being before his own.
And then there’s Tae-ho, the other side of the coin, who will cheerfully kill anyone who gets in the way of his own happiness and success. We’ve learned a lot about him through his months on the island as well, though instead of bringing out his better side as it did with Joon-oh, it only made Tae-ho’s dark natural tendencies even worse. We know now that he was always willing to harm others to get his own way — we don’t know why he orchestrated Joon-oh’s “accident,” but I’m sure he felt that he was being held back by being part of a group and wanted to go out on his own. But rather than just do that, he threw Joon-oh under the metaphorical bus. The stakes got higher on the island, literal life or death, so Tae-ho chose to just eliminate anyone who stood in the way of what he wanted. And now that they know the truth about him, he’s determined to kill them all to keep them from talking. I don’t believe that being back in civilization has changed his mindset one bit, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Tae-ho’s murderous side.
As much as I’m enjoying the story, I do have to admit that there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense, or that seems manufactured just to create suspense. I can’t imagine fishermen finding an island full of people and being so willing to just leave them there like that. I also have a hard time believing the way the survivors are handled in the present time by the investigators. Given their differing stories, it seems as though they should be individually sequestered until all of their statements are made, then the stories compared for similarities and differences. Allowing them to interact and actually deciding which story to put forth as truth regardless of any actual resemblance to facts, before everyone has even given their testimony, just seems irresponsible at best, and criminal at worst. But the rest of the story is so good, and moves along so quickly with so many twists and turns that I find myself willing to overlook the inconsistencies to just enjoy the ride. Maybe that means I’m not as objective as I could be, but hey, I’m having a blast, and that’s the most important thing.