Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter: Episode 9
Our lovely fairy is no closer to discovering which man is her husband, though both of them would like to think he’s the one, and do their best to convince her to choose him. But the professor has more serious things to worry about as his visions grow stranger and scarier, until it seems he may be haunted by a memory from the past. But whether it’s his memory or something else is still unclear… let’s hope he finds out before it’s too late.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
As she walks to Yi-hyun’s house, Ok-nam tells the trees happily that he’s making her dinner. She runs into Geum outside, and he stops her before she goes inside, asking her if she’s sure that it’s Yi-hyun she’s been waiting for.
Yi-hyun was in the process of making dinner for Ok-nam when Dr. Lee showed up with a belated birthday dinner. She whips off her coat to reveal a… well, a very revealing dress (damn, girl), and Yi-hyun reacts like she’s just set off a bomb in his living room.
Even the houseplants are shocked, so they decide to alert Ok-nam. The plants on Yi-hyun’s balcony call out to Ok-nam, urging her to hurry inside.
Yi-hyun tells Dr. Lee that she’s shown up at the absolute worst possible time, and he’s in the process of physically shoving Dr. Lee out the door when Geum and Ok-nam walk in. Dr. Lee notices with frustration how Yi-hyun’s expression goes all mooshy when he sees Ok-nam.
All four of them end up sitting down to dinner, a mashup of Dr. Lee’s traditional Korean food and Yi-hyun’s attempt at Italian. Ok-nam tries Dr. Lee’s seaweed soup first and gasps, but she says it’s good. Yi-hyun tastes it and has to add water to cut the saltiness, and Geum reminds Ok-nam that lying will make her sick, lol.
Both Yi-hyun and Dr. Lee hint broadly to Geum that it’s time for him to leave, but instead he suggests they have some drinks. Yi-hyun grumbles that Ok-nam might not even be a drinker, but she says she’s okay, so Geum jumps up to grab the alcohol.
In a flashback to the fairy realm, we see Bausae and Izy sharing a drink under a full moon. Izy lets the moon shine on the alcohol then sets it on fire, creating “moon fire wine.” As they drink, Izy apologizes for reading Bausae’s love letter, and she asks why he always carries it when he doesn’t have the courage to deliver it.
He just says that she knows why, since she does the same thing, and he plucks a similar letter from a fold in her clothing. Izy snatches it back, but Bausae already knows that it’s lines from a popular fairy song about “tending a flower that won’t bloom” (HA, those are lyrics from Fake Love by BTS, and an instrumental version of the song is playing in the background).
Back in the present, everyone gets a little testy after a few drinks. During a question game, Dr. Lee asks when Ok-nam plans to go home, and Ok-nam inquires sweetly whether Dr. Lee’s dress feels a little tight. Yi-hyun declares Dr. Lee the loser and makes her drink, ha.
Ok-nam grows maudlin, saying sadly that the man she knew never used petty tricks, and faced problems squarely. Dr. Lee asks who it is that Ok-nam is looking for, and both Yi-hyun and Geum fidget while waiting for Ok-nam to answer. Ok-nam blurts out, “My husband,” and Dr. Lee crows that it’s ridiculous that she can’t recognize her own husband.
Her harsh words remind Ok-nam of a time in the late Joseon period, when Master Gu had found her crying. She’d sobbed that she suddenly can’t remember her husband’s face, when she recalled it vividly yesterday. Master Gu had guessed that the deities were punishing her for being gone from the fairy realm for so long, saying that he was also forgetting how to fly.
Yi-hyun defends Ok-nam, saying that it’s been almost seven hundred years so of course Ok-nam can’t remember. Ok-nam says that she thinks she’s being punished, but Geum counters that he thinks it’s worse to be the forgotten husband, so he believes the husband is the one being punished.
He and Ok-nam share a long, emotionally charged moment before Yi-hyun pours him another drink. It’s Yi-hyun’s turn to stare longingly at Ok-nam, until Dr. Lee growls in frustration. She orders the guys to go buy some soda for her upset stomach, and after they’re gone, Ok-nam says warily that Dr. Lee seems close with Yi-hyun.
Dr. Lee admits that she has a crush on Yi-hyun and orders Ok-nam to stay away from him. She tells Ok-nam that she’s going to try confessing to him again soon, and with a mischievous glint in her eye, Ok-nam says that Yi-hyun likes butterfly hairstyles, which Dr. Lee’s hair is much too short for. She also suggests that instead of wearing a revealing dress, Dr. Lee just go naked, ha.
On their way back from the store, Yi-hyun taunts Geum with a rap about how he has a lotus flower now, too, but Geum just asks for a heads-up if Yi-hyun invites Ok-nam over again. When Yi-hyun gets a text from Dr. Lee that the ladies are leaving, Geum runs all the way to Ok-nam’s place to find her.
Yi-hyun follows him and stops him from knocking. He says honestly that he likes Ok-nam, and that he could be the man she’s looking for. He asks Geum not to like her, too, leaving unspoken that he’s worried this will come between them as friends.
Ok-nam can’t sleep that night, partly because she can’t stop thinking about Geum asking her if he might be the man she’s looking for, and partly because Jeom-soon keeps stealing the blankets. She dreams that her husband shows up at the door, but Dr. Lee, in Joseon garb and a butterfly hairdo, latches onto him and declares that he’s her husband now.
The women fight over him while Yi-hyun/Bausae just groans in annoyance. Finally he throws them both off, and he tells Ok-nam that he’s fallen for Dr. Lee’s feminine wiles. He hauls off and kisses Dr. Lee passionately, and Ok-nam wakes up with a start.
Jeom-soon brings in breakfast and asks if something happened last night to cause Ok-nam’s pale face. Ok-nam starts to tell her, but instead just compliments Jeom-soon on being all grown up.
After throwing one of Shin-seon’s beans into the ocean in desperation, the immortal trio wake up on the Yiwon campus lawn. They sob with relief at having finally reached their destination… except for Shin-seon, who sobs because Fairy Oh has a death grip on his hand.
In a desperate attempt to keep Yi-hyun from seeing Ok-nam, Dr. Lee buys a boatload of coffee and a fancy drip setup to keep in her office. Ok-nam grows worried when Yi-hyun doesn’t show up at the kiosk for coffee like usual, though he does wear the flowered tie she gave him to work again today.
Yi-hyun starts his lecture, but a quick vision of Izy asking, “Are you living as if you’ve forgotten?” passes in front of his eyes. She appears again, her hands wrapping around his neck as she whispers that he must complete his revenge. Izy leaves Yi-hyun alone until after class, when she appears again and causes Yi-hyun to clutch at his throat.
The immortal trio circle the campus looking for Ok-nam, Shin-seon wishing that Master Gu could just fly around and look for her. He complains that even the pigeons that have been warming them at night don’t come anymore, and he’s disappointed when Master Gu doesn’t even argue.
They’re so hungry that all the can do is talk about food, but all they have is a few dried anchovies that Master Gu pilfered from the shrimp boat. They look up to see a student filming them… it’s Kyung-seul, who gives them his card (which says he’s a film director, oh dear) and asks them to let him know if they’re interested in being in a movie.
Shin-seon and Master Gu bicker over which of them Kyung-seul was interested in, but Fairy Oh snaps that they’re not here to become actors. They decide to go find Ok-nam before they run out of anchovies.
From the broody way Geum is acting today, Jung-min and Kyung-shik figure that he got dumped by Dr. Lee (they think she’s the one he likes). Kyung-shik decides to confront Dr. Lee regarding her supposed breaking of Geum’s heart. At the same time, Yi-hyun calls Dr. Lee to invite her to lunch since he has something to say to her.
Jeom-soon finds her mother moping in the coffee kiosk and notes that Yi-hyun and Geum haven’t been by. She advises Ok-nam to call Yi-hyun since Geum doesn’t have a phone, and she tells Ok-nam that she’s off to work on a movie.
Ok-nam starts to take Jeom-soon’s advice and call Yi-hyun, but instead she calls Dr. Lee. Thinking that it’s Geum, Dr. Lee says that Yi-hyun is on his way over and hangs up. Panicking, Ok-nam abandons the kiosk and runs all the way to Dr. Lee’s office, but there’s no answer when she knocks.
She sobs through the door for Dr. Lee to let her husband go, and the door slowly swings opens, but instead of Dr. Lee or Yi-hyun, it’s Kyung-shik. He says sheepishly that Dr. Lee isn’t here, then makes a quick escape. He calls Jung-min to tell her that the barista halmoni apparently likes Geum, too.
Yi-hyun and Dr. Lee have sandwiches on a bench, which remind Yi-hyun of the lotus-wrapped rice that Ok-nam made for him. He tells her about being attacked by an apparition today, and how the apparition seemed to have come from inside him. Dr. Lee grabs him in a dramatic hug and says he’s sick, but that she’ll protect him while he’s being treated.
A sudden breeze whips through the trees, sending a chestnut flying down to whack Dr. Lee in the face. When Yi-hyun leans close to examine the bump, another breeze tosses leaves at them. Yi-hyun tries to shield Dr. Lee with his coat, but another chestnut smacks his hand, so he grabs Dr. Lee’s hand and runs, to her delight.
As Geum morosely eats his lunch, Kyung-shik starts talking about a friend of his who’s in a love triangle with two older women. He asks Geum if he would pick the older one or the way older one, but Geum just leaves without answering.
Everything reminds Geum of Ok-nam — all the students he passes seem to be talking about coffee, and even the flowers on someone’s desk make him think of his dream that she bloomed like a lotus flower.
Yi-hyun and Dr. Lee end up at a restaurant for lunch since their sandwiches got blown away. Yi-hyun notes that it’s awfully dark, and Dr. Lee says guiltily that it’s fine. She stares at his hands as he eats, unable to stop thinking about how Yi-hyun held her hand and led her away from the attack trees. She scoots closer and closer until she’s almost sitting in his lap, but he reels back, holding his nose from the stink of the gingko nuts Dr. Lee stepped in, hee.
Jeom-soon spends the day with Kyung-seul, helping him with what he says is a documentary. He shows her what he’s filmed, and she recognizes the immortal trio and rushes out to find them. Kyung-seul follows her to the hall, but all he sees is a cat wearing a backpack.
Expecting to die of starvation, Fairy Oh wails to Shin-seon that she loves him, and he screams at her not to say it. They’re all overjoyed to see Jeom-soon, who takes them home so Ok-nam can feed them. She tells them that she thinks she’s found her husband, but Jeom-soon snaps that he doesn’t even know who Ok-nam is.
Fairy Oh tells Ok-nam that they came to find her because they got worried when her coffee bean bush started to wither. Bong-dae sighs that it’s the will of the gods, then they all file outside to make another house. She stacks the bricks and draws a line on them with her finger, but her magic fails and the shed remains a shed.
Everyone sleeps in Ok-nam’s place for tonight, wondering if something is bothering Bong-dae enough to make her magic falter. She spends the night on top of the coffee kiosk, humiliated to have made such a mistake in front of minor deities.
Yi-hyun hasn’t seen Ok-nam all day, and he wonders if she might be waiting for him. He wants to go see her, but Professor Park, his nemesis, calls to tell him that the TV show producers are still interested in interviewing him. Yi-hyun turns him down flat, saying that there’s something more important that he needs to do.
A knock on the door gets Ok-nam out of bed… it’s Geum, who recognizes Fairy Oh, Master Gu, and Shin-seon from the Chuseok festival. They all go outside to talk, and Geum worries that Ok-nam’s room is too small for all of them. He invites them to stay with him instead, overriding Ok-nam’s objections that it will be crowded with Yi-hyun there.
He promises Ok-nam that he’ll call Yi-hyun to give him a heads-up about the houseguests, and when he calls, Yi-hyun grins thinking that it’s Ok-nam calling him. Before he can answer, a deer slowly approaches him, and something holds him so that he’s unable to move. The deer says softly, “You must atone for your sins.”
Yi-hyun sees a vision of the deer as it makes its way through the forest, its body language displaying trepidation. It comes to the edge of a cliff and looks down to see the body of Ok-nam’s husband, and it jumps back in shock and surprise.
With a great effort, Yi-hyun breaks the hold the deer has on him. When he can move again, the deer is gone.
Ok-nam walks with her friends to Geum’s place, and on the way, Geum asks why she left their house early last night. She says it was nothing and asks him why he didn’t come for coffee today. He brightens to hear that she waited for him, and they have a simple little conversation about what they ate today.
Just as they’re relaxing around each other, their hands brush, and Ok-nam pulls away. Geum says awkwardly that his lotus flower blossomed, and Ok-nam replies that she heard, looking up at him with eyes filled with emotion. Geum breathes, “You’re pretty…” but they’re interrupted by Yi-hyun, who’s standing nearby watching them and looking betrayed.
Epilogue: “Cast your votes! Who do you think is more handsome?”
Master Gu is still bothered by something Shin-seon said earlier, that his height and body don’t automatically make him handsome. He tells Shin-seon that he’s not in a position to criticize his looks, since he looks more like a frog than a human. Incredulous, Shin-seon snaps that Master Gu looks like a depressed camel, and they continue fighting while Fairy Oh cries from laughter.
I knew that deer had something to do with all this! In the original folk tale, the deer is simply a messenger, telling the woodcutter where to find the fairy as she bathes and how to steal her winged dress, then later it helps him reunite with her and their children in the fairy realm. But in this adaptation, the deer always seemed to have some sort of ulterior motive, and it (she?) even warned Ok-nam to be wary of her husband. We still haven’t seen Woodcutter Bausae actually stealing Ok-nam’s winged dress, and I still feel like he was innocent of that.
It’s possible that the deer was Izy reincarnated, that Woodcutter Bausae was Fairy Bausae reincarnated, and that Izy wanted some sort of revenge on Fairy Bausae and Ok-nam. Something clearly went wrong between Fairy Bausae and Izy, and we’ve seen that (whether she’s right or not) she blamed him for getting her kicked out of the fairy realm. I’m positive that the problem was some configuration of a love triangle between the two of them and Ok-nam. My guess is that Ok-nam and Fairy Bausae keep trying to find each other, and Izy keeps trying to keep them apart. It’s just not clear, still, which guy in the present is the reincarnation of Fairy Bausae and which was Izy… the show seems to be saying that Yi-hyun was Izy, but for some reason, I’m not fully convinced.
I’m glad to see Ok-nam starting to take some action, because she’s spent most of this drama being a passive spectator, and nothing more than a catalyst for Yi-hyun’s and Geum’s character arcs. She even said at one point that her whole plan was to sit back and let her husband come to her. But now that she’s experiencing conflicting emotions regarding both men, and jealousy over Dr. Lee’s interest in Yi-hyun, Ok-nam’s confusion is spurring her to actually do something for once. She’s not doing much yet, but she’s fought back against Dr. Lee trying to seduce Yi-hyun, and was even ready to confront her face-to-face to beg her not to take her man. It’s more than she’s done in the past, and I hope to see more.
It’s so sad how much Geum identifies with the husband that Ok-nam can’t remember. He broke my heart when he said that it’s worse to be the husband who was forgotten than the wife who forgot him, and that he thinks it’s the husband who’s being punished by the gods. If he does turn out to be Ok-nam’s husband reincarnated, then he’s certainly living out that punishment again now as he watches her mistakenly pursue another man. He’s so pitiful, but I also appreciate that he doesn’t give up, and he keeps asking Ok-nam to really think about whether she’s found the right man without coming across as pushy or intrusive. I don’t think he’s trying to come between Ok-nam and her true husband, and I believe that if Yi-hyun did turn out to be her husband, Geum would step aside — he just wants her to give real consideration to the idea that he might actually be the right man.
This show keeps flipping things so that I have no idea what’s happening, the way that it treats Yi-hyun like he’s the man who will end up with Ok-nam, while Geum gets all the familiar swoony leading-man moments with her, like the backhug, the almost-handhold, and the longing looks they share. But as I said before, now I’m the good kind of confused, because I don’t know who Ok-nam will end up with and I can see her falling for either of the guys. She really can’t choose wrong — they’re both good men who would love her deeply and treat her well. My concern is still that she’s so hung up on which of them is the reincarnation of her husband that she won’t listen to her heart and choose the man she falls for in this incarnation. I know that she loved her husband, but whoever he is now, he’s a different person. There’s no reason she has to choose him again (especially if he doesn’t even have her winged dress), and I just want her to let herself fall for the man who’s right for her now.
- 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