Bride of the Water God 2017: Episode 4
The mood is a little breezier today, a little lighter and sutbler, which I found to be a lovely interlude that feels appropriate for where we are in the relationships: a little tentative, but easing into comfortable rapport. It’s all about trust and faith today, and interesting to see even gods questioning and challenged by their beliefs. Gods: They’re just like us!
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Ha-baek rescues So-ah, and as soon as he tells her he’s a god, she passes out in his arms.
Namsuri squeals in excitement to see that Ha-baek’s powers have finally returned. Later that evening by the river, while they wait for So-ah to wake up, Namsuri urges him to try out his powers on a rock… yet when Ha-baek tries to do something with it, nothing happens. Huh.
So-ah fidgets in her sleep, reliving the encounter from the rooftop in her dreams. We see how the masked man had dragged her toward the ledge, accusing, “It’s all your fault! Because of you, do you know how I lived? Die!”
He’d shoved her off the ledge, and she’d fallen headfirst over the side, plummeting toward the ground. As she’d locked eyes with Ha-baek inside, she’d begged, “Save me!” And so he had.
When Ha-baek tells her he’s god, So-ah wakes with a scream. She sees Ha-baek hovering over her and decides she’s still in a dream, and closes and opens her eyes again, deciding each time that it’s still a dream.
Then she finally comes to her senses, and goes running out of the park in disbelief. She recalls the incredible sight of Ha-baek catching her in swirl of water, but tells herself that it’s just her guilty conscience acting up again.
But then, she remembers her attacker’s accusations and freezes in her tracks, looking around fearfully as though expecting him to pop up at any second. Fending off a panic attack, she runs to her car and crouches there to gather her breath.
A figure in black comes up behind her and grabs her, and So-ah tenses and screams, struggling until she hears Ha-baek’s voice. He has her car keys, and he hands them over, watching as she fumbles the lock with shaking hands. But she’s so rattled that she drives in reverse by accident, then shifts gears and tries to drive while in park
Ha-baek ends up driving, and advises her to think carefully about who might have attacked her, and who may have a grudge against her. Namsuri adds that it’s too bad she can’t report the incident, given that she can’t exactly explain how she was saved by a water god.
Arriving at her house, Ha-baek and Namsuri walk So-ah to her gate, and you can literally see Namsuri shaking with the urge to ask her to let them stay. So-ah asks if he’s truly a god, noting, “You’re so different from the god I know…”
Ha-baek turns to go, at which point Namsuri can’t hold back anymore and shoves him inside the gate and blocks the entrance. He declares that So-ah has brought the god into her home, and must allow him to stay. Namsuri blocks Ha-baek from leaving and presses So-ah to answer whether she believes Ha-baek is a water god.
Flustered, she says she does, and Namsuri warns that turning away a god would anger him and bring misfortune on her family for generations. Ha, judging from Ha-baek’s smile, it seems Namsuri’s laying it on a little thick.
Head hanging, So-ah leads them to her small rooftop. Pfff, not going to show him the main house, are you? Ha-baek takes in the cluttered surroundings and shakes his head at the sad place with its creaky old storage shed.
Ha-baek recalls the high priest informing him to enjoy the interesting human world, and curses him now. He looks up at the sky shaking his head… and then glances down to see a man in black skulking in the alley.
So-ah looks up the name Ha-baek, and mostly turns up results of the drama Jumong, heh. That, at least, confirms to her that Ha-baek is a legendary water god, and she calls her friend Yeom-mi immediately for more advice, only to have Yeom-mi unavailable because she’s on yet another hobby outing.
In the morning, So-ah is struck with a thought, recalling Ha-baek telling her he could make anything with a flick of his fingers. She heads up to the rooftop, but stops short when she also remembers that he said that certain circumstances prevented him from doing that now.
She wonders aloud what circumstances they could be, and Namsuri chimes in from above to explain. So-ah cuts him off, saying that she hates hearing about other people’s circumstances, just as Namsuri’s stomach growls loudly.
She gives him cup ramyun to eat inside the house, and Namsuri explains how they’re looking for divine stones, but that they’ve run into problems. He adds that Ha-baek has not encountered such troubles in all his 2,800 years, and So-ah gasps to hear that number. But she sticks to her line about hating to listen to other people’s circumstances and refuses to ask more. Namsuri asks how she can be in her line of work when she hates listening to people, and So-ah doesn’t have a ready answer.
When So-ah arrives at the rooftop a bit later, she freaks out to see Ha-baek bathing in the large tub. She insists he get out, but when he starts to rise, she screams and orders him to stay put, handing him a towel to cover up. Indicating the houses around them, she warns that people will call the police on him if they see him like this.
He gets annoyed at her nagging, and reminds her that he’s a god. Pointing out his powers, she wonders, “Are gods who lose their powers still god?”
Ha-baek admits that his powers are touch and go, but says that he’s still a god anyway, turning around the question on her: “If you lost your sense of humanity, would that make you not a human?”
He points to the flowers nearby, telling her that he’ll jog her memory so that she can know why they keep chattering at her. Grabbing So-ah around the waist, he yanks her close (rawr) and looms over her, warning in a low voice, “Don’t you dare test me.”
Then he lets go, adding that the voices have stopped because she helped him, and that they’d start again if she stops. He says that he won’t need much time or expect much help from her in solving his problem—all she has to do is take care of him while he’s here. And if she still can’t accept her duty, he tells her to repay him for saving her life.
So-ah accepts that deal, preferring to think of herself as returning a favor than being a servant. She issues a few instructions of her own for getting around in the human world, stating that people aren’t possessions and telling him to cut all the “master” and “owner” talk. And if he kisses her again, she’ll report him.
After she leaves, Ha-baek notices that lurker in the street again.
Mura works another fashion shoot, and afterward, she seethes to recall her encounter with So-ah and wonders who she is.
Hu-ye finds her and apologizes for the trouble the other day, saying that the doctor went too far trying to help her patient. Mura is surprised to hear that he knows her, though she isn’t inclined to change her mind about So-ah.
Hu-ye makes a bad attempt at a joke, which gets no reaction out of Mura, and then makes another to his secretary while receiving updates on his projects. He explains being a fan of a certain TV gag program, though he admits that he doesn’t actually find it funny or know why people laugh: “What I envy about humans the most is their sense of humor. No matter how much I study it, I don’t understand it.” Hm, another god?
Looking at some paperwork, Hu-ye sees So-ah listed as a landowner in the area he’s developing, finding it curious how he keeps crossing paths with her.
So-ah debates whether to report her mysterious attacker, hesitating because of Namsuri’s remark about not being able to tell police that a god saved her. So-ah confides in Nurse Sang-yoo about her near-death experience, and describes how she felt: “As I fell, I thought, ‘I’m going to die now.’ But suddenly, the king of the Water Kingdom appeared and saved me! He wasn’t good-looking.” Just had to get that last part in there, hm?
So-ah figures they don’t know anyone who hates her or blames her enough to try to kill her, but Sang-yoo readily list off a whole bunch of names. Haha, they’re his friends. So-ah asks why they’d hate her, and he asks if she doesn’t remember.
Flashback to childhood, when Young So-ah had interrupted Sang-yoo’s birthday party to take forkfuls of the cake while they were still singing to him, and had declared “the beggars’ cake” to taste bad. On another occasion at school, she’d yanked the jacket off Sang-yoo’s back, saying it was hers. And another time, So-ah had stuffed an entire plate of sausages into her mouth while the orphan kids were eating dinner, leaving none for them.
Sang-yoo says that they still talk about how terrible So-ah was as a kid. But So-ah remembers the occasion differently—she’d written in her diary about how she didn’t have birthday cake on her birthday, but got some today. She’d vomited all the sausages, too, and cried resentfully over being ignored when she’d asked for sausages but was only ever was given kimchi to eat.
Now in the present, So-ah tells herself she feels justified—that she was the victim.
Even so, she leaves the house key for Namsuri and Ha-baek and gives them access to her fridge (even though that turns out to be only packaged rice and cup ramyun). Ha-baek is dressed less snazzily today, since a green tracksuit was the only thing available in the recycler, and grudgingly wears it.
At the clinic, Sang-yoo nags So-ah into going out for lunch, even though she’s still on edge after her attack. She’s so tense that she mistakes a passerby for a threat, offending him by treating him like some criminal. Then she spots Ha-baek and Namsuri pulling up in a taxi, and is unsuccessful in running away before being spotted.
Ha-baek demands new clothes, saying that Mura will find his tracksuit insulting. Sang-yoo arrives just then and protests his treatment of her, which turns into a four-way tug-of-war before So-ah yanks free and puts a stop to it.
She and Ha-baek end up at a department store looking for new clothes, and So-ah vetoes outfit after outfit. She ends up picking a plain suit at a simple neighborhood shop, and Ha-baek stands huffily outside, miffed that they’re not shopping designer.
The shopowner says he should know the adage about the luxury coming from the wearer, and that he’s got such a great body that he doesn’t need to smother it in money. Well, that’s one way to appeal to his pride.
After buying the suit, So-ah suggests grabbing a bite to eat, and Ha-baek says loftily that gods don’t feel trifling feelings like hunger. So-ah has heard of his encounter with that other god that brought him hunger pangs, though, and even makes a mocking kissyface at him, heh. Then Ha-baek’s stomach betrays a growl, contradicting his words.
He refuses to eat the noodles she buys him, even when his stomach continues to rumble, so So-ah literally shoves a mouthful into his mouth. He protests, but does end up picking up his utensils to eat, however grudgingly.
So-ah asks if Mura will really help this time, and he replies yes without hesitation, having full confidence that she’ll come through. So-ah seems the teeniest bothered by his faith in Mura, but Ha-baek asks why she doesn’t have someone like that in her life—someone to trust and depend on no matter what. She replies that he’d understand how pointless that is once you’ve been betrayed by someone you trusted.
Ha-baek notices how So-ah warms up her cold water with hot, and she explains that she dislikes cold water. He asks if it was winter when she threw herself into the water, and why she tried to die. Startled, she denies it, but he’s pretty insightful and guesses it was because of the one who betrayed her.
As they leave the restaurant, Ha-baek spots a businessman lingering outside who hastily turns away upon being spotted. Hm.
Ha-baek comments that it’s problematic for his servant to be afraid of the water, and So-ah balks again at being called servant. She proposes a deal where they exchange favors, with hers being that he stop calling her that. Ha-baek doesn’t have a favor to ask, but does offer a warning.
“Don’t fall for me,” he says, leaning in close. “If you fall for me, there’s no cure.” So-ah stares at him with exasperation, thinking that there’s no cure for him.
Sang-yoon calls her with good news that sends her hurrying back to the clinic: There’s interest in buying her pile of rocks. Hu-ye is building a resort in the area, and needs her land.
So when she gets a call from Hu-ye’s secretary, she catches herself before seeming too eager and forces an airy tone, telling the secretary to have Hu-ye call her directly. She figures this is her chance to play the upper hand, and although she betrays a tiniest bit of anxiousness while waiting for the phone to ring, luckily for her, it does.
Ha-baek and Namsuri head over to find Mura, who spots them first across from a distance and looks displeased about it. Namsuri complains that Ha-baek is too easy on Mura, which is why she gets away with her behavior, adding that if she were to learn he’d lost his powers, she’d look down on him even more.
Ha-baek informs Namsuri to keep that part a secret from her—but unfortunately, she’s right there and has already overheard. Whoops.
Ha-baek assures Mura that he’ll get his powers back soon, and Namsuri plaintively lists all the struggles they’ve endured. Ha-baek says that his human servant is quite dim and that he’ll need to move in with Mura instead, and asks her to prepare the divine stone that was entrusted to her. She looks a little uneasy at that.
To Ha-baek’s shock, Mura refuses to comply: She won’t hand over the stone, she denies knowing where sky god Bi-ryum is, and refuses to house him. She says that it’s up to the protector gods to decide whether to hand over the stones, and Namsuri protests that she’s violating precedent—none of the previous protector gods have ever refused.
Mura snaps that Ha-baek has lost his powers, so she can’t trust him. If he had the right to be king, he’d have Bi-ryum standing before him, instead of being clueless about his whereabouts.
Hu-ye meets So-ah at a cafe, and she’s in her loftiest mode. She announces that she won’t sell for anything but five times the price… only to have Hu-ye reply that he’d been ready to sell for seven times the price. But, since she insists on five, he’ll oblige her by honoring her terms. Ha!
Shocked and dismayed, So-ah says numbly that she won’t sell and walks away in a daze. Hu-ye notes wryly that this time he was joking. He’s right; he really is bad at this humor thing.
Mura’s voice wavers a little when she says that Ha-baek doesn’t have the right to be king—she’s definitely overcompensating for something, right? Ha-baek asks what he will have to earn Mura’s approval and get the stone, pressing her with increasing insistence until she blurts, “Report all the hateful comments about me on the internet!” Pfffft, really, that’s what you ask a god to do for you?
So-ah leaves her meeting kicking herself over missing out on a seven-fold payday, and runs into Ha-baek and Namsuri outside. He asks her point-blank: “What’s a hate comment?” LOL.
Meanwhile, Mura whines to Bi-ryum over the phone about her encounter, embarrassed at her own request, blaming it on her surprise. Bi-ryum guesses she was flustered to have Ha-baek ask to do something for her, which she hotly denies.
It turns out that Mura also demanded that he be her bodyguard at her fan signing, and Ha-baek asks next, “What’s a bodyguard?” So-ah notes that Mura’s acting a lot more like a pissy middle-schooler than a goddess.
Hu-ye catches up to So-ah to ask for another chance to negotiate terms. She tells Ha-baek to go on without her, and as she leaves with Hu-ye, there’s something odd about Hu-ye that seems to strike Ha-baek.
Hu-ye explains that he was joking earlier, and when she says they’re not quite close enough to be cracking jokes, he replies that he wants to be on good terms with anyone. He adds that he’d like to be a good person, helping those in need and being useful to the world. So-ah sighs that while it’s not impossible, she knew someone like that, and it’s not quite so nice in reality.
Hu-ye gets called away to meet Chairman Shin, and leaves the contract with So-ah to consider.
Chairman Shin is currently dealing with a tantruming granddaughter, because Jaya feels belittled by the program she just shot where she had to eat jajangmyun while riding a roller coaster. She whines for Grandpa to set up her own agency, and he retorts that he already spent a fortune making a doctor of her.
Jaya leaves in a huff (storming past Hu-ye, who’s just arriving) and cries on the rooftop, wailing that she knows it’s a good thing to be a doctor, but that she can’t help that she’s terrible at it. Lol, at least she’s realistic about her limits?
Jaya runs into Hu-ye again in the elevator, and he offers her his handkerchief. She starts to refuse, but he just places it in her hand and walks away.
So-ah’s elated at the prospect of selling that land, and gets busy counting her proverbial chickens, listing all the tasks she’ll have to do to prepare to move to Vanuatu. She insists on going out for celebratory drinks with Sang-yoo, who asks why she hates Korea so much.
She clarifies that he’s the strange one for not wanting to escape “Hell Joseon,” the country that hates him. Sang-yoo is content with his country, but she argues that the country likes a different kind of person, two of whom she met today: Born with “sparkly things in their mouths,” they’re people of privilege who view living itself as a hobby.
Sang-yoo listens to her cynical spiel and says he understands why they had no patients, and says that when the big boss (I presume her father) returns, he’ll be in trouble. He’d asked Sang-yoo to look after So-ah, but clearly her mental state is a mess.
On their rooftop, Namsuri reads Mura’s articles and shows Ha-baek what a malicious comment looks like. But since Ha-baek can’t read Hangul, he gets a kiddie workbook to start teaching him letters.
Ha-baek flips through the book and wonders irritably why So-ah isn’t home yet. When sounds of arguing fill the air, Namsuri explains that it’s just drunk fighting, and that all sorts of things happen in the human world at night.
So-ah and Sang-yoo end up at a noraebang next, where Sang-yoo sings (ha, what else?) patriotic anthems praising his country. So-ah sings angry rap songs, and they alternate turns singing (and cutting each other off). It’s kind of amazing that they lasted this long as friends. Er, frenemies.
Ha-baek uses his super-speedy learning abilities to figure out how to read, and is reporting internet comments in no time. But as he reads, he can’t shake the nagging feeling of unease, recalling the lurkers he spotted in the alley and at the store.
On her way home, So-ah drops by a chicken shop for takeout, and when she heads down her street, the streetlight flickers. Suddenly nervous, she picks up a large rock just in case.
A figure outside makes her clutch the rock more tightly, but as she approaches, she realizes that it’s Ha-baek, which eases her tension. He gives the excuse that he was just thinking of how to get his powers back, but as they walk together, she points back up the street and tells him to try waiting there next time.
Ha-baek turns his nose up at her offer of chicken, insisting that he doesn’t need food… just as his stomach grumbles. So-ah tests out a theory, saying the word “food” over and over, and hearing his stomach growl in response each time.
She urges him to accept that he’s a god who can sense hunger, and then she pranks him by jumping at him from around the corner. He wonders at her good mood, and she explains, “I met a real god. A real god who will save me from this ant’s hell.”
Ha-baek’s mind flashes to Hu-ye and he asks, “Who are you being deceived by now? Being good-looking doesn’t make everyone a god.”
So-ah replies that a god is “a superior being that makes humans’ desperate wishes come true. That is a real god.”
Ha-baek says he’s the real deal, and she just agrees dismissively and asks how his comment-hunt is going, then recalls that he can’t read. Huffily, Ha-baek takes the rock from her hand and uses it to scratch out her name on the brick wall, followed by his own name. Ha, he misses a stroke and spells “Ha-bak,” so So-ah adds in the missing piece.
Up on the rooftop, Ha-baek resists the chicken again, so So-ah puts a piece in his hand and starts to relate the story of his reaction to the dropped drumstick at the river. Ha-baek stuffs the leg into his mouth before she can finish the story.
She notes that he has now felt betrayal and hunger, and that he’s learning how to be a better king. She asks if he’s figured out what a bodyguard is, and Namsuri pipes up that they found a movie that told them all about it. Ha-baek says it’s quite impressive work, looking forward to trying it out.
That’s, of course, before he gets attacked by a horde of fans clamoring to get closer to Mura, yanking his hair and shoving him to the ground.
So-ah meets with a long-term patient (cameo by Jeon So-min) who spends the session pointing out So-ah’s weaknesses. So-ah remarks that the patient spends most of her time talking about So-ah and doesn’t address her own issues, and the patient gets suddenly peevish and storms out. What a random cameo.
Ha-baek confronts Mura about her continued resistance, and she apologizes but says she can’t trust a god who has lost his powers. Afterward, she calls Bi-ryum and barks, “I can’t do this anymore. You handle it!”
In a bad mood from his day, Ha-baek demands the car from So-ah, wanting to relieve stress with a drive. She refuses, but when he threatens to find another car on the internet—heaven only knows how that would end up—she ends up bringing the car out, reluctantly.
She doesn’t let him drive, though, and asks pointedly if there are any instructions online on how to kill a god. She agrees to go on the drive since she could use the relief too, but firmly ignores Ha-baek’s insistence on taking the wheel.
So off she drives, heading toward the beach for a walk out in the fresh air.
Next, they end up at a grassy field, where Namsuri runs around like a child and Ha-baek lies down for a rest. Thinking of her internet search about the water god, she asks who Lady Yuhwa’s mother is. Lady Yuhwa was Ha-baek’s daughter and Jumong’s mother, but there’s no information on who her mother was—in other words, Ha-baek’s wife. But none of that registers with Ha-baek, who says he’s single.
So-ah stretches out and lies down next to Ha-baek, sighing that she had a rough day and that it would be nice if he had his powers. She asks if he’d be able to make coral, and sand, and sunlight, saying sleepily, “I’d like to go into the ocean. I see… the ocean.”
In So-ah’s mind, she sees herself swimming in the sea, and says that she’s not scared of the water, nor is she lonely even though she’s alone.
Suddenly Ha-baek pops up next to her in the water, saying that it’s no good for her to be alone. “Darn,” she replies. “I wanted to be alone.”
In her dream, they swim together underwater, and he places his hand on her back to guide her along. She asks what he’s doing, and he replies that she doesn’t know how to swim.
“I’m doing it right now,” she points out, so he lets go—and she protests, suddenly feeling like she can’t swim anymore.
“Leave it to me,” he thinks at her, smiling. “At least in the water, I’ll keep you safe.” They continue swimming, and So-ah keeps dreaming.
Back in the real world, Ha-baek watches her, propped up on one arm. He tells her, “I’m sorry.”
So-ah opens her eyes, turning to look at him, and asks, “For what?”
That last sequence was a really lovely moment, I thought, and shot beautifully to enhance that wistful, thoughtful feeling that enhances their connection and tinges it with a hint of sadness. It’s sort of like he’s entering her dream, and sort of like she’s drawing him into her thoughts—or maybe it’s that they’re finding themselves on the same wavelength and therefore dreaming the same wistful fantasy. In any case, it was nicely done, and very effective in mirroring the emotions of the moment.
I’m curious as to why Ha-baek didn’t fully receive his powers, though it seems clear that it’s linked to So-ah, and perhaps has something to do with that droplet of blood that flew out of her wound, since the drama took care to show that moment closely. I don’t mind not knowing the reason yet, though, because plotwise we still have so much material we can mine out of him being at a disadvantage—not just as comic relief, but now that I feel the sentimental line deepening, also on a deeper emotional level.
There’s obviously something shady going on between Mura and Bi-ryum, and I’m guessing they either don’t have the divine stones or they’ve somehow cheated the system and are trying to blame other reasons to cover up for their actions. I’m intrigued about the relationship between the three gods, because Ha-baek’s expectations of Mura (and his descriptions of her from before) were so different from how they played out, and I’m curious to see this version of her that he remembers. It can only be an improvement (I just can’t like her; she’s coming off quite flat). And if this complicates the lore surrounding his quest and path to kinghood, all the better, especially if that leaves room for interpretation about So-ah’s fate as well. I can see how in the planned versions of events, she’d either have her memory wiped or die (per her fate), but if we’re letting gods find loopholes, by all means let’s find one to keep this OTP ship afloat, shall we?
Speaking of which, I’m warming up to the OTP more and more, and today was a nice step forward as So-ah accepted her role (ish) and believed Ha-baek’s story of his identity, which led to less bickery encounters. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some foreplay-bickering, but those are deflective encounters, where words bounce around and mean other things and we’re dealing in roundabout conversations and subtext. It was nice to have Ha-baek see through So-ah’s crusty facade, though, and ask insightful questions, and for her to feel disarmed enough to open up to him even a little. She’s such a prideful person with a thick shield to protect her feelings that it’s nice to see her let that down a bit with anyone, and when he’s not being so haughty, he really does seem quite drawn to her, in a quiet and meaningful way. It’s really quite sweet.
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