Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter: Episode 14
Our fairy and her suitors have spend hundreds of years being tortured by their inability to remember exactly what happened to them so long ago. As their memories slowly return, they realize that they’ve been wrong about their situation all along. But unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will be easy to repair the damage that’s been done, not without one or more of them paying a hefty cosmic price.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Geum makes his way to the fairy spring, and when a towel materializes and falls at his feet, he decides that a bath sounds nice. A while later, Ok-nam arrives at the spring for her own bath, and she sees Geum bathing. He gets out of the water and their eyes lock, then they throw themselves into each other’s arms.
They surprise Jeom-soon by showing up at the cafe together. It’s hard to tell who she’s more excited to see, Geum or the brand spanking new laptop be brought her, but Geum doesn’t seem to mind as he enjoys her delighted reaction to his gift.
Jeom-soon runs off to play with her new toy, leaving Geum and Ok-nam alone together. They suddenly feel awkward, so Ok-nam does what she knows best — makes coffee. She tells Geum that his intense gaze is overwhelming, so he picks up some wooden bowls. Ok-nam tells him they belonged to her husband, who was very clumsy.
Right on cue, Geum fumbles and drops the bowls, hee. Ok-nam says that in the fairy realm, her Bausae seemed perfect, but in his human form he was a klutz, smiling fondly at the memory.
She gives Geum his coffee and he says shyly that he’s missed her . She heads outside to get more coffee beans, and they nearly collide as Geum rushes to help her, causing another round of awkwardness.
It’s Yi-hyun’s turn to do the driving in circles thing, but when he stops to check for a cell signal, he notices the rocks that lead to the fairy spring. They were stacked by Geum (which nullifies the cloaking spell), but now they lay in a heap again, and Yi-hyun runs up the path without stacking them.
In showing off how much he can carry, Geum drops a sack of coffee beans that bursts all over the cafe floor. Ok-nam goes for a broom, and out of nowhere, Geum blurts out, “I think it’s me. I’m the one you’re looking for.”
Now that he has her full attention, he continues, “Ever since the moment I met you, I miss you all the time, and I can’t stand it. My heart aches when I turn away from you, and it seems like I’ve felt this way for a very long time. I’m incompetent in every way, but I know one thing for certain — that you’re most precious to me. I won’t ever part from you, Ms. Fairy.”
He apologizes for confusing Ok-nam further, but she thinks to herself that she longs for him, too, and wonders what to do. Jeom-soon interrupts the moment to rave some more about her laptop, and Geum’s stomach growls, so Ok-nam goes to make him something to eat.
Before the immortals leave Seoul, Shin-seon insists on stopping for sandwiches, just so that they can prove to the village head (who brags that he once ate spaghetti) that they’re sophisticated enough to eat Western food, too. Master Gu points out that Shin-seon’s clothes and manner still scream “country bumpkin,” lol.
Fairy Oh deliberately sips her coffee and leaves a foam mustache on her lip, and she puckers up at Shin-seon, hoping for a foam kiss. Instead, he just snaps at her until she storms away from the table, and Shin-seon earns a lecture from Master Gu about being sensitive to others’ feelings.
Shin-seon argues that Fairy Oh is so clingy it makes his heart race, which Master Gu finds odd. Shin-seon complains that Fairy Oh is the youngest woman in their village, but she’s still not young like the fairies with the beautiful flowing hair that he used to date in the fairy realm.
Fairy Oh returns from the restroom furious, having heard their whole conversation. She threatens to make Shin-seon pay once they’re no longer in a public place.
While they wait for their train at the station (and for Fairy Oh to return from a mysterious errand), Shin-seon declares that he’s not one bit scared of Fairy Oh or her grudge. He swears that he actually prefers when she’s not around, but Master Gu notices that he doesn’t seem very happy.
As Yi-hyun wanders through the woods, he spots a deer bounding away. It reminds him of the deer that he saw the last time he was here, the one that spoke and told him that it was him, and he chases it through the trees.
When Fairy Oh returns from her errand, Shin-seon gapes at her new hairstyle, which looks exactly like his. She flips her head around, reminding Shin-seon that he said he liked flowing hair. He just stares until she whines that unrequited love sucks.
Shin-seon suddenly grabs her hand and puts it on his chest, where she can feel his heart thumping wildly. He whispers that it’s not unrequited, and Master Gu can hear sparks jumping between the two bizarre lovebirds.
Despite her vow never to speak to Yi-hyun again, Dr. Lee is saddened when he doesn’t answer her calls. She says to her empty office that even though he wants to be with Ok-nam, she left him. She realizes that she’s doing the exact same thing, and sighs that they’re both fools who can’t give up on someone who doesn’t want them.
Yi-hyun loses track of the deer, and when he stops to rest, he hears several arrows shooting past his head. He crouches in fear, suddenly seeing himself as the deer fleeing in desperation from a hunter. The deer stops to look back at the hunter, who tells her that she’s not welcome after she set a fire in the human realm, killing trees and deities alike.
Ok-nam brings out some food, and although Jeom-soon gets excited at the sight of the meat, she pouts that she can’t have it because she’s in training to be more human. Geum sweetly passes on the meat himself, unable to eat it in the face of Jeom-soon’s disappointment. In the corner, unnoticed, the cracks in Jeom-dol’s egg widen even further.
Yi-hyun is still cringing in the shadows when a voice asks, “Did you think we wouldn’t find you?” He freaks out to see the three spectres that haunt his dreams, the same ones that shut him into a shed as a child in another lifetime.
Yi-hyun screams that he doesn’t remember burning anything, but the spectres growl that he still has to be punished, no matter how hard he tries to forget. They tell him that even though he’s been reborn, they still can’t forgive him, and that this is happening because of his hatred and resentment.
They disappear, leaving Yi-hyun gasping for breath and yelling over and over again, “It wasn’t me, It wasn’t me.” He runs back to his car and drives away, but he can’t escape the voice in his head telling him that he’s the deer.
He tries to answer a call from Dr. Lee, but he’s shaking so badly that he drops the phone. He reaches for it, then looks up to see a deer standing in the road. He swerves and drives off the road.
After lunch, Ok-nam declines Geum’s offer to do the dishes, pointedly reminding him that these dishes aren’t wooden, hee. While she cleans up, Geum picks up Jeom-dol’s egg, but he puts it back down to take a call from Dr. Lee.
He doesn’t hear Dr. Lee’s frantic voice as he watches Jeom-dol peek a small, white head from his egg. Jeom-dol bows respectfully and says, “Father, is that you? It’s Jeom-dol! Are you well, Father? I’ve been waiting for you to hatch me.”
Geum is mesmerized by his tiny son, but he soon remembers Dr. Lee, who says worriedly that she thinks something happened to Yi-hyun. She’s practically in tears, so Geum runs out to look for Yi-hyun.
After he’s gone, Jeom-soon and Ok-nam find Jeom-dol, who apologizes in very formal speech for taking so long to be reborn. He proudly tells a very disappointed Jeom-soon that he’s not a spoonworm like she thinks, he’s actually a blue dragon — he just hasn’t grown his scales yet.
Ok-nam asks when he hatched, and he tells her that it was his father’s touch that finally allowed him to break his shell. She reels in shock at this indisputable proof that Geum is the same Bausae she’s been looking for all these centuries.
Geum runs barefoot on the road, calling the local police to ask if any accidents have been reported. He learns that there has been an accident, and he heads in that direction.
In the past, we see a woman locking a young girl inside a shed. She’s joined by a man and a woman, who say that the child must be sacrificed to end the drought. The old woman feels bad for the girl who grew up without parents, but the others call it a blessing that they have an orphan to sacrifice instead of one of their own beloved children.
Back in the present, Yi-hyun lies beside his flipped car, bloody and injured and begging to be spared. He mutters weakly, “It hurts… it hurts… this man I’m living in hurts so much…” Flames erupt from his hands, setting the surrounding grass on fire.
By the time Geum and the police arrive, the car is engulfed in flames and Yi-hyun is gone. A local drunk tells them that the driver went into the woods, and the police don’t believe them, but Geum runs off on his own to look for Yi-hyun.
Ok-nam is still trying to figure out how she wasn’t able to recognize Geum as her husband, when he’s done everything he could to get her to see him. She also wonders how Yi-hyun seemed to remember things that her husband would know, like Jeom-soon’s name, and the way her husband died.
Jeom-dol has to remind her that he just hatched, though he says that he’s not used to his new, slightly embarrassing form, either. He tells his mother that when he hatched, his father was talking to a rectangle, saying something about looking for Professor Jung.
Back in the city, Kyung-seul sneaks to the roof of the coffee kiosk to check out Bong-dae’s laptop, where she’s saved the file of his creepy behavior that he was forced to send to her. He deletes the file, and beside the laptop he finds a business card for Ok-nam’s cafe.
Bong-dae, who’s standing right there, tells him that she’s used up so much of her power monitoring him that she needs a ride to Ok-nam’s cafe, ha. He runs to his car, but Bong-dae is already sitting in the passenger seat, making Kyung-seul scream like a little girl.
Ok-nam gets a visit from the immortal trio, who express sorrow that she was unable to find her husband. They tell her about the accident they saw on their way here, and she connects the dots with Geum’s search for Yi-hyun — it must have been Yi-hyun who was in the accident.
The odd part is that the drunk witness described the driver as a woman with long hair and flames coming from her hands. Master Gu mentions the man matching Geum’s description who went after the injured driver, and Ok-nam runs off in a panic. After she’s gone, the immortals notice Jeom-dol still sitting half out of his egg. He introduces himself, explaining that he hatched due to his father’s touch.
Ok-nam arrives at the accident site, thinking about the long-haired woman with flaming hands. She remembers when she heard that Izy was kicked out of the fairy realm for setting fires in the human realm, and that Bausae had disappeared around that same time.
The fairies had wondered if Bausae and Izy left together because they were in love, but one fairy said that she heard he loved someone else. Ok-nam had guessed that this was about the fire Izy set to punish a wealthy family for mistreating their servants.
Ok-nam had been so happy to see Bausae in his reincarnated form at the fairy spring that she’d forgotten all about Izy and what happened to her. Now it occurs to her to wonder why they left the fairy realm together, and what’s happened to them since then. Looking for answers, she follows Geum and Yi-hyun into the woods.
Geum sees a deer in the forest, and he follows it all the way to the fairy spring. When it hears him, it looks up in alarm, and for a moment it’s not a deer, but Izy.
In a home somewhere nearby, Yi-hyun dreams about a fire. Izy watches, shaking, as villagers fight the fire and die horribly for their efforts. Bausae joins her and asks what happened, and Izy tells him that they offered an orphan child as a sacrifice in exchange for filling their food storage.
Bausae notices that Izy’s hands have turned black, which happens to fairies who break the rules too often. Izy swears that she’s fine, and she tries to convince Bausae to go to the human world with her and use their powers to punish those who deserve it.
Bausae begs her to get over what happened to her in her human life, because anything that comes from hatred isn’t good for the world. He warns Izy that she could be banished, but she begs him again to come with her.
Deer Izy sees Geum watching her at the fairy spring and approaches, but she fades away when he reaches out to her. Geum remembers watching Izy being banished from the fairy realm, then later when she’s the deer and he’s the woodcutter, and she’d seemed angry about his inability to remember what happened.
Yi-hyun wakes up, shocked to find himself uninjured with clean hands. There’s a monk sitting nearby, who calls him familiarly by name and asks him to come help crack acorns. He asks the monk where he is, but the monk just says they’ll talk once the acorns are cracked.
Kyung-seul and Bong-dae arrive at the cafe to find the immortals still there, but it’s Jeom-dol who really interests her. He’s out of his egg now, so she wraps up the shell and takes it with her, ordering Kyung-seul to stay put and behave.
Kyung-seul literally falls over in surprise when he sees Jeom-soon, and he lands on his butt next to Jeom-dol, who politely says hello. The poor kid passes out — he’s probably broken forever, ha.
While Yi-hyun works on the acorns, the monk tells him, “Yi-hyun-ah, keep your wits about you. Don’t let them manipulate you. The past is an illusion and a dream. You are you, and not one of them.” Yi-hyun asks what he means, but with the acorns finished, the monk simply says that it’s time to return.
This time when Yi-hyun wakes, he’s in the forest, bruised and bleeding. He sits up, and nearby he sees Izy, watching him with a sad expression on her face. Suddenly, he’s the child shut in the shed to die, who cries so loudly that his captors return to tie him up. His name was Izy.
At the same time, Geum remembers being Bausae, but he still doesn’t know why he was forced to leave the fairy realm or why he lost all of his memories. He does recall having to leave Ok-nam behind, and all of a sudden, he feels an urgent need to return to her.
But when he looks up from the fairy spring, Yi-hyun is standing in front of him. Yi-hyun summons fire into his hand and sets a tree ablaze, then he accuses Geum of taking everything that means the most to him, leaving Yi-hyun/Izy to suffer in pain while he (Geum/Bausae) remembered nothing.
The fire spreads, trapping Geum beside the spring. Ok-nam finds them and calls out that it’s dangerous, urging them both to get to safety. Yi-hyun tells her that it’s useless, since he’s the one who started the fire.
He lights up another tree, saying calmly that the entire world will be covered in flames. Ok-nam calls him “Professor,” but he moves closer to her to tell her, “It’s me.” His face morphs into Izy’s for a moment, and Yi-hyun tells her that it’s time she learned the truth after so many years.
He reaches up to touch her face as the forest erupts in flames.
Izy is such a great example of what happens when good intentions go bad. It’s not entirely clear, but it seems that Izy was the child locked in the shed to die, and that she became a fairy after her death (possibly as a reward for her terrible life?). But instead of moving on, she used her powers to punish humans who did terrible things to the poor and orphaned that she identified with. I believe that Izy intended to do good by punishing bad people, but her motivations weren’t pure and eventually she started a fire that killed innocent people. We still don’t know why Bausae also left the fairy realm, since he’s the one who alerted the Master of the Northern Star to Izy’s misdeeds, but my guess is that it’s related to his memory loss. I also think that it’s probably the reason why he and Ok-nam haven’t been able to find each other for so long, and why Ok-nam didn’t recognize him even when he was telling her that he thought he was the one she’s been looking for.
I actually don’t hate Izy, because I can see how her experiences led her to believe she was right to punish humans for their wrongdoing. The problem is that when she was sacrificed, she was just a child when she died, so her feelings were formed with that sense of self-centered “but it’s so unfair!” attitude of a child. She was made a fairy, and one with quite destructive powers, but she didn’t have the emotional maturity to know how to handle those powers (or her feelings of anger and betrayal) in a healthy way, so she just lashed out whenever she saw a child being treated the same way she was. She wasn’t wrong to be angry and to want vengeance, but she was unable to manage her feelings in a positive way. She feels more like a victim than a villain, and as much as it’s her default to lash out, I don’t think she actually wants to hurt her friends – I think she just wants them to understand her.
The interesting thing is that there’s a part of Izy that knows all this. and I still think that over the many hundreds of years since this all happened, Izy’s spirit has fractured. There’s the part of her that’s still very angry and frustrated that both Bausae and Ok-nam forgot what happened to her, the part that wants them to pay for (what she perceives as) turning their backs on her pain. But there’s also the good, generous, loving part of her that lives in Yi-hyun, that’s managed to become a good – if grumpy – person who would take a stray student into his home and befriend him. Yi-hyun is the part of Izy that still loves Bausae, that somehow recognized him in Geum and rekindled their friendship, and it’s that part that I believe will save Yi-hyun, and Izy, from continuing down this destructive path.
Now that we’re getting answers to all the crazy stuff that’s happened in this drama, I can see the reasoning behind the way it withheld so much information at the beginning. But it’s still frustrating, because something about the way the information has been doled out to the audience just feels incomplete and confusing, instead of creating dramatic tension as I’m sure was intended (I point you to Memories of the Alhambra for an example of how this exact same thing is done to much better effect). I’m not a scriptwriter so I don’t know how this story could have been told in a way that would have made its revelations land with more oomph and less frustration… I can only point out that somehow, even though the story it tells is an interesting one, the method of storytelling hasn’t quite worked out the way it was likely intended. It’s a shame, because it’s actually a very good story that expands the traditional tale of the fairy and the woodcutter in an interesting way, not to mention the novelty of the second lead getting the girl. I’ve quite enjoyed the drama since I stopped fighting the storytelling style, I just can’t help but feel it could have been executed so much more smoothly.
- Premiere Watch: Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter, Happy to Die
- Accepting the unexplainable in tvN’s Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter
- The coffee-brewing Fairy in search of her reincarnated Woodcutter
- Moon Chae-won sparkles in teaser for Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter
- Yoon Hyun-min up to romance fairy barista Kang So-ra