Bride of the Water God 2017: Episode 15
Time is growing short for Ha-baek and So-ah, who struggle to face their eventual separation in very different ways. One broods while the other chooses denial, and neither option seems very desirable. They’re trying to make the best of the time they have left, but there are still a few mysteries to solve before Ha-baek leaves for good this time.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
We see So-ah sinking underwater, as she repeats her words to Ha-baek in voiceover: “When something fades in the sun it becomes history, and if it’s bathed in moonlight, it becomes a myth. That means our story will become a myth.”
As they sit on the car watching the sun go down, So-ah laughs at herself, explaining that even though it’s a very romantic atmosphere, she keeps thinking about noodles. The last time she was here and her parents had a fight, she’d counted the clams in her noodles over and over to distract herself. She remembers that there were twelve clams, but not what her parents were fighting about.
This reminds Ha-baek of So-ah’s impassioned demand that he find her father, and he asks if she’s tried looking for him. She says she hasn’t, because she feared discovering that he’s been in Korea all this time and never came for her. Ha-baek asks if her wish is still to see her father and say what she needs to say, but So-ah just says uncertainly that she thinks so.
They head home hand in hand, and So-ah muses that it’s nice that they live together and don’t have to part ways after a date, which is the main reason people get married. She asks if there’s a marriage system in the Realm of the Gods, and Ha-baek says vaguely that there is, but there isn’t; you can get married, but it’s not binding or exclusive.
So-ah asks if that means married people can cheat whenever they want, and Ha-baek nods and smiles. So-ah huffs that that’s why nobody knows who Lady Yuhwa’s mother is, and when Ha-baek asks who that is, she says breezily, “Your daughter!”
She explains that Lady Yuhwa is Jumong’s mother, and King Yuri’s grandmother, which makes Ha-baek King Yuri’s great-grandfather. But just like the last time it came up, Ha-baek insists that he’s single.
Irritated at the gods’ freewheeling attitude towards marriage, So-ah sulks, which Ha-baek finds adorable. So-ah asks if the gods also practice polygamy and he goes all wide-eyed with innocence, asking how she knew that. He tells her that it’s silly to expect immortal beings to remain faithful to one person for eternity when they stay young and beautiful forever, enjoying So-ah’s aghast expression.
She asks how many times he’s been married. He repeats that he’s never been married, then asks for a cup of water. When she brings it, he downs it in one gulp and asks for more, repeating the performance over and over for hours. Eventually So-ah asks what he’s up to, and he says that obviously he’s delaying bedtime.
Reduced to stammering for the second time tonight, So-ah asks what he wants to do instead. Ha-baek says that Namsuri is working all night long, then he leeeeans in close to So-ah and whispers, “So… I’d like to… watch TV.” ARGH, you tease!
So-ah sits primly across the couch, but Ha-baek pats his knee and insists that she lay her head in his lap. She does, asking what made him think of this, and he says he read her diary and saw this in a poem she wrote as a child. It pretty much went, “Daddy’s lap is mine. Go away, Sang-yoo,” over and over, hee.
After shooting Ha-baek a quick glare, So-ah settles in and finds a cooking show. She comments that he should cook for the rest of the time he’s here, but the mention of Ha-baek leaving has them both going silent. So-ah asks when he’ll go, so Ha-baek says that a message will be delivered when it’s time.
So-ah ponders that their relationship has a time limit, comparing it to terminal patients she met when she was an intern. She tells Ha-baek that she didn’t know how they felt, but now she knows how to prepare for goodbyes, and what happens afterwards.
She asks Ha-baek how he copes with the knowledge that he’s leaving, since he has all of eternity to remember this time together. She requests that he remember her as long as he can. Ha-baek just sighs, then leans down to kiss her cheek.
In the morning, So-ah wakes up on the living room floor, where it’s obvious they both spent the night. She wanders to the kitchen and finds Ha-baek cooking breakfast, though he blusters that he was just hungry. So-ah jokes that she’ll go back to sleep, then, grinning when Ha-baek orders her to sit and eat.
She goes to the bathroom to brush her teeth, thinking it’s a shame that he’d only get angry if she told him how cute he is. She gets back to the table to find Ha-baek laying out a huge feast, and she grows overwhelmed, having never had anyone cook for her before.
Someone rings the gate bell before they get a chance to eat—it’s Hu-ye, returning the office keys. He and Ha-baek glower at each other, then Ha-baek inexplicably invites Hu-ye to join them for breakfast. So-ah is alarmed, especially when Ha-baek starts insulting her cooking and listing her bad qualities to Hu-ye, heh.
Ha-baek says pointedly that he always has to carry So-ah to bed, trying to make Hu-ye jealous. He adds that he takes a bath every morning but it makes So-ah shy to see him naked, hilariously making the innocent truth sound dirty. Unruffled, Hu-ye manages to shock So-ah even further by informing her that he’s the new owner of her office building. She’s thrilled, and Ha-baek grows jealous at the mention of Hu-ye’s money.
Hu-ye makes a big deal about being a gracious and generous landlord, and Ha-baek can’t stand it anymore. He roars a loud, “I AM A KING!!” and sticks his nose as high in the air as it will go. Hu-ye’s unimpressed How very interesting expression is hilarious.
After breakfast Hu-ye looks around and finds a photo of So-ah and Yeom-mi from school. He remembers So-ah’s backhug and the familiar words she said, and asks again if they’ve never met before.
Ha-baek orders Hu-ye to sit and So-ah to make tea, and she sighs at the sight of a water god and a half-god sitting in her living room. Ha-baek demands his tea in his coffee mug, imperiously informing Hu-ye that he has his own mug, which depicts the harmonious relationship between master and servant. Oh, and it’s named Yong Yong. PFFT.
Ha-baek asks Hu-ye why he’s really here, so Hu-ye says that you can make an opponent reveal his shortcomings if you poke him. He reminds Ha-baek that he’s good at waiting, but Ha-baek quips that he’ll waste his life waiting needlessly.
On his way out, Hu-ye reminds So-ah that she’s due to work on his farm in two days. Ha-baek refuses to allow it, but Hu-ye says that it’s to pay him back for breaking the land sale contract.
Ha-baek goes begging to Mura for money again to pay off So-ah’s debt to Hu-ye, but she just hangs up on him. She tells Bi-ryum smugly that Hu-ye is doing exactly as instructed, but Bi-ryum grimaces at the sound of that name.
He’s brought Mura breakfast in bed, telling her that it’s a fantasy of human women to have the man they love do this. She quips, “Shouldn’t it be with a man I love though?” Ouch. Bi-ryum asks how much more he has to do, but she just kicks him out.
Outside her room, Bi-ryum sighs that she’s the most difficult woman in the world, but then he smiles and says he knew that already. He gets a call from Ha-baek but turns down his request to meet today, and on his end, Ha-baek threatens that once he gets his powers back, he’s turning one of them into a fish and the other into a bird.
Namsuri tells Ha-baek that Joo-dong called and said he’ll be back soon. Ha-baek wonders why he called Namsuri instead of calling him directly, and Namsuri informs him that Mura warned Joo-dong not to call him because he keeps asking for money. LOL.
Yeom-mi is still trying to interpret her dream involving So-ah, and how she hears So-ah saying, “That person saved me. But…” But everything after that is inaudible, and again So-ah turns to look at someone, but all Yeom-mi can see is a pair of wet shoes.
When Namsuri arrives to work, Yeom-mi starts to ask for his advice. But she gets distracted by his luscious lips (ha) and loses her train of thought, until he covers his mouth and she snaps back to reality. She calls So-ah to fuss at her for going about her relationship with Ha-baek all backwards. So-ah corrects her that they’re not loving to break up, but loving to break up properly.
Bi-ryum eventually agrees to see Ha-baek and meets him in a coffee shop, where Ha-baek asks about borrowing money, offering a high rate of interest to be paid back in favors when they’re home in the Water Realm. Bi-ryum doesn’t miss a beat and asks, “Will you give up the throne for me?”
At Ha-baek’s stony silence, Bi-ryum laughs and says that’s not what he wants anyway. He says that he’d happily give Ha-baek whatever he wants, but Mura forbids it. Ha-baek calls Bi-ryum whipped and starts to leave, but Bi-ryum stops him, asking nervously, “What kind of woman is Mura?”
Mura is currently checking in on Hu-ye’s progress, reminding him to show Ha-baek his superiority. She says that she wants Ha-baek wrecked before he goes back, which Hu-ye finds pretty extreme.
At the same time, Ha-baek tells Bi-ryum that once Mura turns on someone it’s all over. Of course he thinks he’s the exception, and Bi-ryum shakes his head in disgust and sighs that he came to the wrong person. Oblivious, Ha-baek offers to give Bi-ryum romance tips in return for money, HA.
Ha-baek stomps home fuming, having been refused yet again. He runs into So-ah on her way to Hu-ye’s place and barks that he forbids her to go. Cut to: Hu-ye and So-ah watching as Ha-baek digs holes, ha.
So-ah apologizes to Hu-ye, but Hu-ye is actually impressed with how hard Ha-baek is working. So-ah warns Hu-ye that Ha-baek thinks his day’s work is worth about fifty billion won, which he expects to be paid minus the land sale cancellation fees. PFFT.
Hu-ye joins Ha-baek and tells him that his idea was good, but the execution was clumsy. He asks if Ha-baek believes that money is all So-ah would want him for, and Ha-baek retorts that Hu-ye knows nothing about So-ah and hasn’t got a chance with her.
Hu-ye informs Ha-baek that as a deity, there’s something he doesn’t know about So-ah: “Humans are lonely from the moment they’re born.”
Jin-geon finds Mura to tell her that he has something for her. She holds out her hand and he clasps it, and a white mist envelops their hands. Mura smiles smugly and thanks Jin-geon.
Heading off to plant a tree, Hu-ye tells So-ah to join Ha-baek. She asks if Ha-baek is really that big of a deal in the Realm of the Gods, so Hu-ye reveals that based on all the stories that Geol-rin told him about the gods, Ha-baek was always at the center of them.
He even admits that he thought of Ha-baek as the “god of gods,” because while most gods have limited powers, Ha-baek’s powers are unlimited. But he says there are two things Ha-baek can’t do—he can’t revive the dead, and he doesn’t have Hu-ye’s power.
So-ah brings Ha-baek a drink of water, but he grabs the kettle before she can pour a cup and drinks directly from the spout. She stammers that that’s unlike him, so just to prove how little she knows him, he holds the kettle high in the air. With an impish grin, he warns So-ah to hold onto her heart, then pours the water over his head.
It’s hilarious how So-ah completely ignores Ha-baek’s attempt to be sexy, instead just laughing at him then getting a towel to dry his hair. He submits like a good puppy, frowning when she says that her heart is just fine after his performance, then lets her lead him to a chair.
He’s genuinely disappointed at So-ah’s reaction to seeing him all wet, and he asks why she didn’t react like she did the first time she saw him bathing. He says sadly that if she only has forty or fifty years to live, then she should have more memories of him so that she never runs out. Awww, he’s so sweet.
So-ah chides him for saying such things easily, and he wraps his arms around her waist and holds her close, looking like a lost little boy. He reminds So-ah that he’s selfish, then asks her to try not to be lonely for as long as she can. Hugging him back, So-ah promises to remember him for a long time.
At the end of the day Ha-baek pouts that Hu-ye wouldn’t pay him what he thought he was worth, but So-ah says that the offer Hu-ye did make was very generous. She thinks they should go back every day and work, taking Ha-baek’s hand and saying, “Let’s stay together.”
Their happiness is short-lived, as they find Mura waiting at So-ah’s gate looking like the cat that ate the cream. She holds out a red envelope to Ha-baek, and he and So-ah both know what it means—it’s his summons back to the Realm of the Gods.
Mura gives Ha-baek the envelope and tells him that his instructions are inside, then turns to go after a contemptuous glance at So-ah. She turns back just long enough to remind Ha-baek that he knows what will happen if he decides not to go back. After she leaves, he opens the envelope to find a large number seven engraved inside.
At first So-ah looks shaken, but she manages to smile for Ha-baek’s benefit and say that she’s hungry. She makes a simple meal and they sit, but Ha-baek just picks at his food. So-ah says that it’s not like he has to leave immediately, but Ha-baek looks at her with the saddest eyes.
He asks why she never asks him not to leave, even if she doesn’t mean it. So-ah asks if he would stay, and he says wearily, “No. I can’t do that.” So-ah says cheerfully that she’s not a woman who holds men back in life, but Ha-baek just keeps staring at her sadly.
She says that she’s not stopping him because if he weren’t the king, he wouldn’t be nearly as cool as he is. She tells him that without that, he’s just an unemployed bum who likes taking baths and driving cars. With every word, the light goes out of his eyes, until finally he gets up and walks away.
As he goes, So-ah sighs that he’s much too sensitive to be a king. But once she’s alone, she can’t hold back her tears any longer, and she spends the night crying alone.
Mura is all smiles the next morning, happy at how destroyed Ha-baek looked when she gave him the summons. She tells Bi-ryum that she almost didn’t tell Ha-baek and let him stay here forever, but even Bi-ryum thinks that’s a bit harsh, since Ha-baek will die if he doesn’t become king. Wait, he’ll die? Why are we just now learning this?
Bi-ryum asks Mura who she likes more, him or Ha-baek. She stammers, “You… you…” which has Bi-ryum thinking she’s saying she likes him better. But she’s staring at his socks, which feature a photo of herself as Hera, her stage persona.
Bi-ryum says that her fans keep sending her gifts even though she told them not to, so her manager has been giving the gifts to him. Mura runs to her room to check a box she’s kept stuffed under her dressing table that’s full of gifts, and when Bi-ryum asks why she’s keeping them, she fibs that her manager forgot to get rid of them.
HA, she was worried that Bi-ryum stole her gifts. Bi-ryum teases her further by helpfully taking the box off her hands.
So-ah takes Ha-baek to the bridge where she jumped into the river thirteen years ago. She remembers the exact day and time, and she tells Ha-baek that after her father left, she focused on studying and only believed what she wanted to believe.
She says that she did a good job of seeming okay even after her mother died, but something suddenly came over her that day. She’d asked herself why, with all the love in the world, none had been saved for her. She’d tried to call her father while standing on this spot, thinking that if he picked up, then it would mean that God loved her.
But her father hadn’t answered, so she decided to take revenge, and she’d jumped into the river. She says that it became her most embarrassing memory. Now, So-ah says that she has to say goodbye to a loved one again, so she came here to discover how she really feels—whether she would feel like she did back when she jumped, or if she’d become an adult. She thanks Ha-baek for loving her, and he hugs her tightly.
At Hu-ye’s hotel, Jaya bursts in and storms up to Secretary Min, ignoring Hu-ye completely. She snaps that she doesn’t know his intentions and that she’s even studying because he told her to become human, and she doesn’t understand what he meant by it. Hu-ye asks what’s wrong, so she points an accusing finger at Secretary Min and wails, “He’s looking down on me!”
Secretary Min yanks her outside, leaving Hu-ye utterly confused. He tells Jaya to quit her job because it requires intelligence and a big heart. But of course she misunderstands and thinks he’s saying she needs a big chest, leaving her even more confused.
Mura finds Bi-ryum with a fan-made embroidered towel this time, so she goes to her dressing room to find a better hiding place for her other box of gifts, ha. She stashes it behind her huge blowup kissing partner, but she soon finds Bi-ryum using a sheet mask from a fan.
She can’t admit that she’s upset that he’s using her fan gifts, because she’s not supposed to want them. Bi-ryum tells her to just admit that she likes the gifts, but she just snarls at him and leaves the room. Having learned what he needed to know, Bi-ryum snaps a massive diamond ring into existence and decides to test Mura’s feelings. He and his ring are soundly rejected.
Yeom-mi shows up at So-ah’s place late that night, having finally discovered the meaning of her dream. She tells So-ah that since she was saying that “that person” saved her, she naturally assumed she was talking about Ha-baek. But that “but” kept bothering her since she couldn’t hear anything after that—until a few minutes ago.
She tells So-ah that what she said was, “That person is the one who saved me. But… the person who saved me will be my death god.” Yeom-mi tells So-ah that it means she’s going to die.
Ha-baek walks into the room, and So-ah stares at him, horrified.
Okay, so that sounds bad, but maybe it’s a good thing? Maybe taking So-ah’s soul means that she gets to go to the Realm of the Gods? And there’s no indication that she doesn’t want her soul taken, so I’m keeping my mind open that this is a clue to the solution that will allow So-ah and Ha-baek to stay together.
For a penultimate episode, I’m surprised at how much didn’t happen. I was expecting a lot of buildup of tension to lead us into the finale, but I should know by now that this show doesn’t really do what we expect. It’s strange—last week I felt like so much happened that should have happened earlier, and now I’m wishing that some of it had held off a bit longer and given this episode a bit of oomph. And I just think it’s strange to suddenly tell us now, at this late date, that Ha-baek is going to die if he doesn’t return and become king. That would have been a fantastic way to create urgency regarding Ha-baek’s need to go back if we’d known it oh, say, ten episodes ago.
I complained previously that I’ve never felt any real tension over whether Ha-baek goes back and becomes king or not, because there were never any consequences given to make it important that he goes back. So the whole revelation that he’ll die just feels flat, and emphasizes the main problem this drama has faced since practically the beginning—pacing. Information is withheld for so long (I suppose in an effort to build tension) that by the time we finally learn why a character is acting a certain way, or what will happen if a certain event doesn’t go well, it feels like too little, too late. It’s like pulling back a rubber band to fire it into the air, but waiting too long and instead, the rubber just goes slack. There’s a fine art to knowing when to hold back information and when to reveal it, but for this show, sadly, the timing has just been all off.
It’s also been difficult to tell when something is intentional, or if it’s just that the show is not explaining something very well. So I could be way off, but I’ve never gotten the feeling that what Hu-ye wants is necessarily So-ah herself, so much as it’s what she represents (and I do think that if he loved her, Im Joo-hwan would make us feel that). I don’t feel that Hu-ye is really in love with her, just that he’s drawn to her because he knows instinctively that her identity as the gods’ servant makes her uniquely qualified to give him what he needs—acceptance, companionship, belonging, understanding. He never had those things when he lived in the Realm of the Gods because he was hidden away, reviled and abused by his father, and he didn’t have them in the human realm because he’s so fundamentally different from humans. I feel like his early quest to be more human was Hu-ye’s way of searching for that belonging and understanding, but that when he met So-ah, he realized that he could be himself and she would still accept him. I think that’s why he’s willing to step back and wait for her to get over Ha-baek, because he doesn’t want or expect her love… he’s happy to wait for her friendship and acceptance.
On the other hand, this was the first episode where I really felt Ha-baek’s love for So-ah, and his anguish over having to leave her. He seemed so sad when he asked her to resist loneliness for as long as possible, knowing that as soon as she gets lonely, Hu-ye will be there trying to take his place. And the way Ha-baek looked at So-ah over breakfast just killed me, like he couldn’t believe that she was treating their parting so flippantly when he was going to pieces on the inside. I’d never thought about what So-ah said to him—that while she only has to pine for him for another fifty years or so, Ha-baek has eternity to remember So-ah and miss her, which has got to be the most painful thing I can imagine. I really can’t see a way for them to be together, because even if Ha-baek was somehow allowed to stay, So-ah will still grow old and die. If she is somehow allowed to go to the Realm of the Gods with him, she’ll still die. The only way to resolve it would be for So-ah to accept immortality or Ha-baek to choose to become mortal (neither of which I’m even sure are possible), but I can’t see So-ah agreeing to either of those options.
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