Bride of the Water God 2017: Episode 8
Finally, some answers! Of course they only lead to more questions, but at least we’re learning more about our characters and why they do the things they do. Ha-baek is getting answers too, which lead him to a discovery that could change the very nature of his quest to become king. It all depends on how he handles the situation, especially without his godly powers to help him.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
In a dank, dark cave, a young child in filthy rags picks up a dead leaf. He takes a bite out of it, then shoves the whole thing in his mouth. He scoops up a whole pile of leaves and runs back into the safety of the cave.
In the Realm of the Gods, 2,600 years ago, Ha-baek has been studying how the humans make more humans. He asks the high priest how gods are made, since they don’t have babies even when they do all that fun human baby-making stuff.
Coughing, the high priest says that gods just come into existence, but nobody knows who created them. Ha-baek complains that that’s too ambiguous, but the high priest says that it’s the humans’ place to try to make sense of gods and the world around them, but “gods are just gods.”
Ha-baek follows the high priest through a waterfall portal, where they find Bi-ryum and Mura waiting for them. The high priest continues that some gods have borne children by borrowing the bodies of humans, which results in a being that is both human and godlike, and has eternal life.
Bi-ryum and Mura find the idea abhorrent, but the high priest tells them that such a creature does exist, the child of a human woman and a male god. He says that such children aren’t gods because they grow and change like humans, but that they aren’t human because they have godlike powers. They are an existence “that is not welcomed by either gods or humans.”
Ha-baek perks up when the high priest says that those powers aren’t beneficial like the gods’ powers are. Gods’ powers help them protect nature, but half-gods’ powers are destructive, since their divine element is fire.
Bi-ryum asks if that makes them stronger than Ha-baek, looking excited by the idea, but Mura protests that it’s not possible. The high priest says he doesn’t know, and Mura and Bi-ryum storm off, bickering as usual.
The high priest reassures Ha-baek that it can’t be true, since he’s fated to be king. But Ha-baek doesn’t look convinced.
Ha-baek asks the high priest if half-gods are good or evil, and the high priest had said that it depends on how they use their powers. If they use them for good, they’re good, and if they use them for evil, they’re evil. Or if they use them for strange purposes, it means they’re strange.
Later, the three young gods discuss the matter. Bi-ryum thinks that when the high priest said he didn’t know whether half-gods were stronger than Ha-baek, it was as good as admitting that it’s true. Mura reminds him that it means they’d be stronger than him, too. She tells Ha-baek to avoid them if he ever runs into one.
Ha-baek denies being scared, since as a god, he has eternal life. But the high priest says that a god can be forgotten by humans, and once that happens, they are no longer a god. He tells Ha-baek not to worry too much about half-gods, since they live in hiding, and he would recognize one the moment he saw it.
Back in the present, Ha-baek whispers in Hu-ye’s ear, “I caught on to you.” Ha-baek says that Hu-ye’s mother lived and died as a human, while he father has eternal life. He shows Hu-ye the bloody rock from the divine gate, snarling, “This is your blood, isn’t it?”
Unable to hide his reaction anymore, Hu-ye begins to shake, but So-ah interrupts and tries to pull Ha-baek away. He asks if she knew about Hu-ye’s true identity, but she just thinks he’s the CEO of the hotel. Mura arrives to apologize for Ha-baek’s behavior, giving Hu-ye a chance to escape.
Ha-baek orders Mura to stay near Bi-ryum while he clarifies something. He stares angrily at So-ah, who truly has no idea what’s going on.
Hu-ye goes to his office and looks at all of his photos and awards, signifying years of trying to pass as human. He realizes that when So-ah said she knew people with powers, she wasn’t just joking around, and he starts to sweat nervously as he realizes that she was talking about Ha-baek. He looks angry as he thinks to himself, “Yoon So-ah…”
As So-ah drives away, she wonders what Ha-baek meant about Hu-ye’s true identity. Meanwhile the gods get together at Bi-ryum’s penthouse, and Ha-baek says that the high priest was right — he knew that Hu-ye was a half-god a single glance.
Mura yells at Ha-baek for confronting Hu-ye when he doesn’t have his own powers. Ha-baek says that he needed Hu-ye to give himself away, because he’s sure he has something to do with Joo-dong’s disappearance.
Bi-ryum has been silent, but as he drives Ha-baek home, he reminds him that he has no evidence. Ha-baek accuses him of being too human after all his time in this world, but Bi-ryum smirks that since Ha-baek and Mura make him an outcast, he has to keep up using human methods.
He says they need to confirm Hu-ye’s identity, then sighs at the coincidence that he’s close to So-ah. He offers to find out how they met and what their relationship is, but Ha-baek orders him to leave So-ah out of this. Bi-ryum argues that the gods’ servant belongs to all of them, so he needs to protect what’s theirs.
Ha-baek snarls that Bi-ryum has no right to think such things and asks if he feels entitled “because it was the Sky Kingdom that made Nak-bin forget human foolishness.” He says that the Water Kingdom forgave Bi-ryum’s king, but they didn’t forget what that king did.
When he drops Ha-baek off, Bi-ryum calls after him that it was Ha-baek who dragged humans back into all of this. He says that even if So-ah is a loyal servant who doesn’t go to Hu-ye’s side, Hu-ye is probably curious about So-ah’s relationship to Ha-baek.
Bi-ryum says that Hu-ye may even feel entitled to use the gods’ servant, too. But he adds in a snarky tone that his senses have dulled from being in the human world, so he’ll let Ha-baek handle it alone.
Still worried about Ha-baek’s reaction when he finds out she’s selling the land, So-ah tries to tell herself that it’s her land to do with as she pleases. But she can’t stop thinking about Ha-baek saying that he’ll be thought of as the king who couldn’t protect his land.
A sudden clap of thunder startles her, and we see that it’s Bi-ryum, snapping his fingers and creating lightening in a fit of temper. Mura calls to yell at him to knock it off, but he says it’s his warning to that half-god. He’s still angry that Ha-baek brought up whatever his king did, and he snaps his fingers again.
Ha-baek waits for So-ah at her office and tries to ignore Sang-yoo’s whining about him being here. He warns Sang-yoo that he’s making a mistake if he thinks Ha-baek won’t lose his patience, which does nothing to stop Sang-yoo’s yapping as he claims that So-ah has a boyfriend.
Finally So-ah arrives and they go to her office. Ha-baek says he’s here because he wants to go home together, which nearly makes her spit out her coffee. But as they walk home, he explains that he just meant he wanted to drive Mura’s car. So-ah points out that it’s not very godlike of him to pout just because she already promised the car to Sang-yoo.
Ha-baek asks if she really has a “boyfriend,” having looked it up online and discovered that it would mean So-ah is dating someone. He segues into asking if So-ah has such a relationship with Hu-ye, and she stammers that of course it’s not like that.
She says she’s sorry for not taking better care of Ha-baek, and promises to take him fun places and feed him good food, and even buy him clothes. She calls it her early farewell gift to him, admitting that she’s doing it to make herself feel better.
She takes Ha-baek to an amusement park, where hilariously, everything terrifies him. He screams so loudly in the haunted house that he frightens the actors playing ghosts, then insists on riding the roller coaster over and over to conquer his fear.
So-ah ends up dragging him off the ride, literally, and when he mutters that it’s not right for a servant to push her king around, she fires back that it’s not right for a king to put his life in danger for silly things. Ha-baek calls her cute, which flusters her, though she definitely likes it.
So-ah wants to ride the banana boats, which she’s heard are relaxing, and Ha-baek asks if shes stressed over money again. She says it’s that, and because of her father, which reminds Ha-baek that she asked him to help her meet her father just once.
So-ah says for the millionth time that she hates Korea and wants to reset her life. Ha-baek notes that she seems much better than when they met, but she says that doesn’t matter since he’s leaving. Awww, did she just admit that he’s the reason she’s happier?
She quickly changes the subject to ask what Ha-baek said to Hu-ye earlier. Ha-baek says that he told Hu-ye not to make moves on his woman, but the way he says it is a bit vague, so So-ah is unsure if he’s being romantic or just possessive of his servant.
Neither of them notices Hu-ye watching them from a short distance away. He recalls So-ah saying that she made the mistake of relying on someone she shouldn’t have, because they’re going to leave. She’d added that that “person” isn’t really a person, and now Hu-ye connects the dots.
Ha-baek wakes the following morning just in time to see So-ah leaving for work. He thinks about So-ah saying that he’s someone with important things to do, so it doesn’t matter to him if lesser beings disappear. He calls her to invite her to go home together again when she’s off work, then hangs up on her, heh.
Chairman Shin rejects yet another of Jaya’s get-famous-quick schemes when he realizes it means she’d be modeling skimpy bikinis. He orders her to forget becoming a Hallyu star and go to work for Hu-ye’s Block World shopping mall. Suddenly Jaya realizes that Hu-ye is the one trying to buy Chairman Shin’s land, and she shocks her grandfather by agreeing to handle the sale.
It’s mostly an excuse to talk to Hu-ye, who’s distracted and completely ignores her when she goes to see him. She touches his arm and he jerks away violently, saying he’s too busy to talk.
She turns to Secretary Min, who pretends he didn’t see her, and chases him down to ask what’s wrong with Hu-ye. Jaya says she’s here because she’s in charge of the land sale now, but Secretary Min says that the hard part is done and all they have to do is sign the contract.
Jaya starts wheedling again about Hu-ye’s strange behavior, insisting that she’s not asking because she likes him or anything. But Secretary Min says that she does like Hu-ye, because she acts exactly like the grade-school girls at his church who ask him for advice.
Sang-yoo spots the amusement park tickets sticking out of So-ah’s wallet and asks who she went with. She refuses to discuss it, so he snaps that it better not be Ha-baek. After he leaves, So-ah moons over the tickets, remembering Ha-baek calling her his woman.
She tries to escape Sang-yoo’s pestering and ends up running into Hu-ye in her lobby. He asks for a psychiatric evaluation, citing a sleep disorder that he blames on his personal past.
With difficulty, he admits that he never knew his mother, and that his father treated him as if he were a monster. He’d named him Soo-chi, which means “disgrace,” and kept him locked up for fear others would find out about his existence. Hu-ye’s voice hitches as he says that one cold winter night, his father cast him out.
In flashback, we see a teenage boy fly through the divine portal to land on the human side. Oh how sad, Hu-ye was the boy we saw surviving on dead leaves. Young Hu-ye bleeds from the mouth, and some of the blood drips onto a stone just outside the portal.
Hu-ye tells So-ah that the darkness was familiar, but that the air was not — it smelled different than where he’d been locked up his whole life. He says that he doesn’t know where that place is, nor does he want to.
The boy flees the divine gate, as Hu-ye narrates that he was so scared, he could only think of getting away. He’d seen a ray of light and followed it.
Hu-ye stops and stares at So-ah, analyzing her expression, which doesn’t show sympathy, contempt, or fear. He determines that she’s not “one of them,” but he wonders how she can know who they are if she isn’t one of their kind.
So-ah snaps Hu-ye out of his daze, and he smiles and says his story has a happy ending. He tells her that someone saved him that night, and so he was able to become a good human being. He tells So-ah that they even gave him his surname, Shin.
After his session, So-ah reminds Hu-ye that he once said he wants to be a good person, and that he contributes to society for that reason. She says that she understands what he meant now, and apologizes for mocking his sincerity when he said it. She means every word, but something makes Hu-ye freeze up.
As he walks away stiffly, So-ah thinks about the person Hu-ye said saved him. Something about it bothers her, but she waves off her suspicions.
The minor god who never speaks, Jin-geon, reports to Bi-ryum (whose hair is blue again) on Hu-ye. Mura tells Bi-ryum that his associating with minor gods is why Ha-baek hates him. Bi-ryum notes that Ha-baek hates him for numerous reasons and starts up the car, saying that they have to see one’s true feelings in order to understand them.
Hu-ye is still shaking from So-ah’s apology when Secretary Min calls him about an upcoming appointment. He heads to his meeting, unaware that Bi-ryum and Mura are watching him.
Bi-ryum says that they need to see if Ha-baek is right about Hu-ye. Mura is against the idea in case Hu-ye is human, but Bi-ryum questions her faith in Ha-baek and snaps his fingers.
A nearby car starts and aims itself at Hu-ye. Another snap causes the car to accelerate, and Hu-ye sees it bearing down on him. Bi-ryum eagerly awaits the results of his experience, but an instant before the car slams into Hu-ye, Mura throws out a hand and the car spins away.
Hu-ye never moves a muscle, but he finally sees Bi-ryum watching him. Bi-ryum gives him a smirk before following Mura to ask why she interfered — does she have feelings for Hu-ye? Mura snaps, “It’s because of you, you jerk!” She asks him what he’d do if Hu-ye is human, reminding him that their job as protector gods prohibits harming humans. Breaking that rule would get him banned from the Realm of the Gods.
She asks angrily why Bi-ryum is so out of control, and he actually looks chastened for once. Mura calls Ha-baek to tell him that Hu-ye will be on the alert, so Ha-baek calls Bi-ryum and tells him to set up a meeting.
So-ah is busy over-analyzing Ha-baek’s invitation to go home together, alternately swooning and telling herself that he just wants to go for a drive. Yeom-mi bursts into her office, dying of curiosity to know why she can’t read Ha-baek’s fate.
So-ah explains to her friend that he’s a real live god, but Yeom-mi looks at her like she’s lost her marbles. However, she does angle for a meeting — only she doesn’t mean Ha-baek. Cut to: Yeom-mi making moony-eyes at Namsuri as he clumsily paddles a boat to shore. HAHA, someone has a crush.
Ha-baek lets himself onto Hu-ye’s land, and Hu-ye soon finds him. Ha-baek says that he’s surprised that Hu-ye didn’t contact him first, and Hu-ye replies that if Ha-baek recognized what he is, then he’s either the owner or the future owner of “that place,” though he refuses to show Ha-baek respect. He says that he doesn’t care what they think of him in Ha-baek’s world, but that he doesn’t want to fight.
Ha-baek replies that he doesn’t care either, but that he needs to check something, and that if he’s right, then Hu-ye must prove he’s not a monster. He lunges at Hu-ye and rips open his shirt, revealing a glowing mark on Hu-ye’s collarbone.
His suspicions confirmed, Ha-baek asks why Hu-ye is wearing Joo-dong’s mark, screaming, “Where is Joo-dong?!” But Hu-ye yells right back that he doesn’t know him, asking why he has to explain anything to Ha-baek.
Ha-baek says that this is the mark of Joo-dong and the Earth Kingdom, which Hu-ye can’t possess. Hu-ye snarls that Ha-baek must not have heard about his power, and Ha-baek yells that he doesn’t know if that power even works on him.
Mura calls out and Ha-baek suddenly flies backward, though it’s unclear if it was Mura or Hu-ye who did it. Mura tells Ha-baek to go before he’s humiliated further.
The tension is broken by a small voice calling out to Hu-ye — it’s the little blind girl (who I just realized is the same girl who asked about the gods in the first episode. Strange.). She asks Hu-ye if someone is here and he tells her no, glaring at Ha-baek and Mura until they leave.
Once alone, Mura tells Ha-baek that he has nothing to prove to them. She apologizes for losing the god stone, asking him to wait and let her and Bi-ryum solve the problem.
When it’s time to head home, So-ah fidgets, thinking about Ha-baek. Sang-yoo pokes his head in to remind her that it’s her mother’s memorial day, so So-ah rushes home alone to cook up some ceremonial offerings. She’s so unsettled that she knocks a hot skillet onto the floor.
Ha-baek hears the crash as he’s arriving home, and he goes inside to find So-ah curled into a ball crying her heart out. Gently, he asks what happened, and So-ah sobs that nothing is going right because of the gods.
He accompanies her to her mother’s grave, where she jokes darkly for him to be careful because sometimes her mom tries to come out. Ha-baek rolls his eyes, then waits while she bows and greets her mother. She apologizes for coming empty-handed, blaming it on being possessed by a water ghost (and earning another eyeroll from Ha-baek, lol).
They sit in the grass together, and So-ah tells Ha-baek that when her father abandoned them, her mother was so full of rage that she drank every day, then she died of liver cancer. So-ah admits that she despises her dad, but she also despises her mom, and that she thinks they were both selfish people who put themselves first.
She asks Ha-baek if he’s ever done anything that made him embarrassed. He quickly says he hasn’t, but So-ah admits that she’s regretted a lot of things. She says she was embarrassed once, but that it was so embarrassing that nothing since has embarrassed her.
She tells Ha-baek that she blamed her father for her mother’s death. She jumped into the river to get revenge, but it was so cold that all she wanted was to get out. She saved herself, but she says that she hasn’t been able to swim since then.
She cringes in embarrassment, then says that she’s glad it’s dark (so Ha-baek can’t see her crying). Ha-baek says she should be relieved he lost his powers or it wouldn’t be this dark. He makes a gesture that usually summons bright water fireflies, and So-ah teases him when nothing happens.
He tries again, telling So-ah to look with her heart. This time a tiny blue light appears, then several more. So-ah is enchanted by the twinkly water fireflies, and Ha-baek watches her as she smiles.
Later when they arrive back home, So-ah asks what Ha-baek meant when he asked her to go home together. He says he meant he’d pick her up, but that she was gone when he got to her clinic. He waves her inside imperiously, then she listens as he goes to the roof.
So-ah knocks on the interior door to his apartment and asks if he wants to go home together tomorrow, since they couldn’t today. She repeats her promise to take him nice places and feed him good food, and Ha-baek smiles the tiniest little smile as he agrees.
The next morning she brings up the land sale to Namsuri, asking if selling it will interfere with Ha-baek becoming king. He says it probably won’t, and she tells him that Ha-baek said that there are those in his world who are always on alert for an opportunity. Namsuri tells So-ah that the king of the Sky Kingdom once tried to steal Ha-baek’s position by committing an evil act. But then he nervously says to forget he said anything and runs off.
At the clinic, Sang-yoo complains that they’ve had no calls at all today. But instead of her usual pessimistic acceptance, So-ah tells him to pass out business cards and update their blog.
She instructs him to make another loan request of Bong-yeol’s father (the patient who tried to drown himself and was saved by Ha-baek — his father is a banker), then asks if they’ve gotten any calls about Korean leopards. When he says they haven’t, she grumbles that even leopard poop disappears when you need it.
She goes to tell Hu-ye that she’s changed her mind about selling her land. He asks why, and after a long pause, she blurts out, “Because of leopard poop.” HA! So-ah makes a big speech about being a loyal Korean citizen who cares about conservation, and Hu-ye says he’ll hold a meeting to discuss it.
As So-ah leaves, muttering about having been possessed by a water ghost, the water ghost in question calls her. They confirm their meeting place in a few minutes, and So-ah gets on her way. From a balcony over her head, Hu-ye looks down darkly.
So-ah uncharacteristically helps passers-by as she waits for Ha-baek on a busy corner. She opens her map to Vanuatu and tells it that it will have to wait, because she has things she has to do first.
Eventually Ha-baek gets out of a taxi across the street, and his eyes light up when he spots So-ah. But then he seems to see something that alarms him, and he breaks into a run.
As So-ah watches, Ha-baek races across the street and towards her, a look of fury on his face.
What? What did he see?? This show and its cliffhangers are going to be the death of me. I’m guessing that So-ah is in danger once again and that Ha-baek is determined not to be too late to save her this time, but with this show, who knows? It’s probably just some kid about to drop his ice cream cone. Or certain doom, same difference.
Just when I was starting to become convinced that Hu-ye is a bad dude, he goes and tells So-ah about his nightmarish upbringing and I can’t help but feel sorry for him. It’s not his fault how he was born, or that legend caused his father to treat him like a monster. Anyone growing up under those circumstances, then being thrown into a strange world to fend for themselves, is going to be more than a little messed up. And it’s no wonder Hu-ye wants so badly to be human considering how his father, a god, treated him. I wonder though, who does So-ah think saved him? And why did So-ah’s apology shake him so badly?
I’ve said it before, but I’m still loving how naturally Ha-baek and So-ah are growing closer, and how they both just flow with it instead of going the usual route of denying their feelings. They haven’t admitted it to the other yet, but they both seem to accept their growing relationship pretty gracefully. I particularly like how they influence each other in positive ways, bring out the best in each other without altering the other too much. Ha-baek is really changing for the better, softening and becoming more understanding, but without losing that godly arrogance that makes him so essentially Ha-baek. And his imperious ways are still funny, though as he acclimates to the human world, it’s more endearing than annoying like it was at the beginning.
And So-ah is changing too — she’s also still herself, but as Ha-baek has noticed, she’s a happier, more relaxed version of herself. She has all of her same worries and concerns, but something about having Ha-baek around to rely on is helping her to let go of some of her anxiety and become more engaged with the world around her. Even as she tells herself not to get too attached because he’s leaving, she can’t help but swoon when he calls her “my woman,” and his promises to protect and help her are hard to dismiss. Even Mura said that once Ha-baek says a thing, you can trust that it’s true, and I think that So-ah senses that.
I can’t help but obsess about Joo-dong and why he called Mura and Bi-ryum to the divine gate all those years ago. Could it be that he found the rock with Hu-ye’s blood on it and knew that it meant a half-god was in the human realm? But then Mura’s stone was lost and everything went wrong. So how does Hu-ye wear Joo-dong’s mark when he claims he doesn’t even know the guy? I do love when a show manages to keep its secrets without projecting them too soon, but this show sometimes feels like it’s all secrets and very few answers.
So once again, we’ve been left with hints and clues that open up even more questions as to Ha-baek’s past. I like that the Realm of the Gods has a rich backstory, but I do wish that the drama would show us instead of telling us what happened in disjointed drips and drabs. My favorite part of this episode was when we got to see Ha-baek, Mura, and Bi-ryum in their own world, learning something new about those who populate it. Can we have more of that please, and fewer conversations with confusing references to people and events we’ve never heard of before?
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