Orange Marmalade: Episode 4
Well, the cute was short-lived, as we’re thrown right into the deep end of the human-vampire conflict. Jae-min learns some terrible truths about Shi-hoo and Ma-ri, and both vampires take matters into their own hands, with varying tragic results. But while it may feel like the end, it’s still only the beginning of this story, and there’s plenty of time to rectify mistakes of the past.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Jae-min and Ma-ri walk back from the lighthouse, and Jae-min takes Ma-ri’s hand shyly then grins like a big doofus when she lets him. He drops her off at the school where the kids are camping, and says he’s going for a walk. He can’t stop turning back and doof-grinning, even laughing at his own silliness.
He turns serious when he’s alone, thinking how Ma-ri had seen a blessing written on the lighthouse, assuming it was for another Jae-min. But he’d known it was his own mother who’d written it, and he wanders past the house where she lives. He can’t bring himself to go to the door, loitering outside the gate.
Inside, Mom serves Han a drink of synth-blood, and he says he wishes he could visit here more often. Mom asks about Shi-hoo and says she wishes they could all sit down as a family for dinner. But Jae-min still doesn’t know that Shi-hoo is Han’s nephew (and by extension, a vampire).
Han exposits that Shi-hoo is on his last chance and will face the Ahn-chi punishment if he steps out of line again, and tells Mom that Shi-hoo is more troubled lately because he found out his parents will be staked. Mom says it’s got to be hard, knowing his parents were punished because of him, but Han says he doesn’t know that part yet.
Except, he does now, because Shi-hoo was standing outside the door and heard everything with his sensitive vampire-hearing. Shi-hoo storms out, but rounds on Teacher Han to ask if some new information has been found out that changes the punishment.
He’s beside himself with fury and grief that his parents have been suffering because of him, and just snarls when Han says he was too young to know what he was doing. Oh no, he attacked a human when he was little, didn’t he? He figures that his parents must have used their vampire abilities when it happened, and his lost expression is just tragic.
Shi-hoo isn’t in any mood to be placated when Han insists it was just an accident. They discuss vampires, their abilities, and the VCS at top volume not realizing that Jae-min is right on the other side of the wall, listening to every word.
As Shi-hoo is walking away, Jae-min confronts him about being a vampire, and both boys are clearly just itching for a fight. They punch and kick each other, and they appear evenly-matched, but Shi-hoo has the advantage with his quick vampire healing.
Shi-hoo pokes Jae-min’s sore spot about having a vampire stepfather, earning a few more hard punches which heal instantly. He jokes that he’s actually at a disadvantage in this fight because he won’t show bruises, and it will look like he unfairly assaulted Jae-min.
Jae-min taunts him to hit him with his full vampire strength, scoffing when Shi-hoo says it would kill him. Jae-min snarls that Shi-hoo is only a blood-sucker and will never be human, but Shi-hoo counters that being a human isn’t all that desirable.
Jae-min cruelly says that vampires like Shi-hoo should be separated from society, and Shi-hoo tries to throw another punch but is blocked this time. Jae-min warns him not to come near Ma-ri again, and Shi-hoo just laughs, but doesn’t reveal Ma-ri’s secret.
He goes a bit too far and says that Ma-ri’s blood might be tasty, and Jae-min knocks him to the ground. Shi-hoo bounces up and says that vampires may not drink human blood these days, but they’re still attracted to humans with sweet blood. And to him, Ma-ri is the sweetest.
Realizing that in a physical fight he’s outmatched, Jae-min backs off, but calls Shi-hoo dirty before he walks away. This, more than anything, seems to hurt Shi-hoo, and he just stands there looking stricken. He calls after Jae-min that he’s not the only one with scars, and that someday he’ll be unable to forgive himself, too.
Unaware of the boys’ fight, Ma-ri sits in her tent and thinks of Jae-min, and smiles. She says out loud that if this is a dream, she never wants it to end. Jae-min goes back to the lighthouse and sits as Shi-hoo’s last words echo in his head. And Shi-hoo in turn thinks of Jae-min’s warning to leave Ma-ri alone, as silent tears stream down his face.
Teacher Han searches in vain for Shi-hoo the next day, and tells Ma-ri that he found out why his parents were punished. We see the events in flashback, when Shi-hoo’s parents had lost their son at the age when young vampires can’t control their blood-lust. They found him latched onto a man and trying to bite him, and had used their powers to get to him quickly and save the man.
Shi-hoo’s father had tried to apologize, but the terrified man had run from him, straight into the path of a car. Shi-hoo’s father used his powers again to stop the car, but in saving one person, the driver of the car had been killed. Immediately, a tracker in both of Shi-hoo’s parents’ necks had started glowing, calling them to their punishment. Oh, that’s horrific.
Ma-ri goes looking for Shi-hoo, but finds a beaten and bruised Jae-min instead. He downplays his injuries, tensing when she asks if he’s seen Shi-hoo. She lies that she’s only worried because they have to perform soon, and Jae-min offers to help look. When Ma-ri says she’ll go with him, Jae-min grabs her roughly and orders her never to be alone with Shi-hoo.
A pair of young brothers lose a balloon near a piece of construction equipment, and the older brother climbs up after it. He steps on a knotted rope and loosens it, then freezes in fear once he gets to the balloon.
Jae-min and Ma-ri come across the boys while looking for Shi-hoo, and Jae-min doesn’t even hesitate, climbing up to save the young boy. The knotted rope loosens further, and when Jae-min gets the boy down, the heavy crate that was being held by the rope crashes to the ground. Nobody is hurt, but the rope tangles around Jae-min’s foot, and soon he’s swinging above the concrete.
High on a cliff over the sea, Shi-hoo hears the boys’ cry for help and Ma-ri screaming Jae-min’s name, and his eyes flash vampire-purple. Desperate to save a bleeding and unconscious Jae-min, Ma-ri calls upon her own never-used vampire powers, and just as her feet begin to lift off the pavement, a blur pushes her aside.
It’s Shi-hoo, and he orders the boys to go find someone to get them out of the way, then turns on Ma-ri to yell at her for what she almost did. She runs back towards Jae-min and Shi-hoo again sweeps her off her feet, actually depositing her on the other side of the bay.
Wait, can vampires FLY? Apparently they can at least jump really far and fast, and Shi-hoo whooshes back to catch Jae-min just as the rope lets go of his leg.
With Jae-min injured but safe on the ground, Ma-ri leans over him and Shi-hoo steps away. On Shi-hoo’s neck, his tracker starts to glow. Oh no. He hides it from Ma-ri with his collar, and says he’s going to report the accident.
Ma-ri tries to wipe up the blood, but when she touches it, her vampire senses take over and she starts to lean close to Jae-min. Her eyes glow and her fangs come out, but suddenly a voice calls her name, and she jerks around to see Ah-ra standing there, looking horrified. Oh dear.
Jae-min is taken to the hospital, and Ma-ri sits in the hall in tears, feeling like a monster. Meanwhile Ah-ra goes through Ma-ri’s things back at the camp, dismissing her packets of “tomato juice” and wondering if she saw Ma-ri wrong. She checks Ma-ri’s makeup bag and opens a tube of hand cream — but instead of cream, it’s synth-blood.
Jae-min’s mom and Teacher Han arrive at the hospital, and Han and Ma-ri talk while Mom goes in to see her son. Han apologizes for not telling Ma-ri he was married to Jae-min’s mother, saying that Jae-min wanted it kept a secret. Ma-ri realizes that this is the rift between Jae-min and his mother — that he hates vampires that badly.
Mom gently tends to her unconscious son, and Jae-min slowly comes awake. He looks at his mother, but doesn’t speak a word. Out in the hall Ah-ra confronts Ma-ri with the tube of disguised synth-blood, and Ma-ri knows her secret is out. Ah-ra asks if Jae-min knows, but Ma-ri can only stand speechless.
Shi-hoo is back on the cliff, ignoring both the multiple calls from the VCS and the tracker insistently glowing in his neck. He does answer when Ma-ri calls, and tells her that he’s been targeted by the VCS. They probably already know where he is, and are on their way.
Ma-ri argues that maybe it will make a difference, that he used his powers to save someone, but Shi-hoo has already made a decision. He tells Ma-ri to graduate as she wanted, and never to get caught. Ma-ri promises, and Shi-hoo hangs up. Oh please don’t let him be planning what I think he’s planning…
Ma-ri sits by the road with all of her possessions, preparing to leave. In her head she apologizes to Jae-min again for liking him, and says that she has to be an invisible person now. In a taxi with his mother, Jae-min calls her over and over, but Ma-ri never answers. As he stares at his phone and Ma-ri deletes his number from hers, neither of them notices that Jae-min’s taxi passes within a few feet of Ma-ri.
Back at the school, Jae-min confronts the other kids and demands to know where Ma-ri is. They’re startled by his bruised face, but everyone looks a little guilty – all except for Ah-ra, who does a bad job at hiding her triumphant eyes. Jae-min drags his friend into the hall and forces him to confess that Ma-ri left.
Jae-min walks all the way to the bus station in the dark, but Ma-ri is long gone. Shi-hoo’s words that Jae-min and Ma-ri aren’t suited for each other echo in his head as he searches in vain. Even as he suspects her secret, he thinks to himself that a truth that can’t be confirmed, isn’t the truth.
Shi-hoo sits all night on his cliff, looking at a locket with a picture of his parents and himself as a child, and crying that he should never have been born. As dawn creeps up, his tracker becomes more and more insistent, but Shi-hoo doesn’t budge.
Shi-hoo takes out his Sun Protection Ampule, but instead of taking the injection, he smiles ruefully and throws it into the sea. Oh no, please no. He stands and, with resignation on his face, holds out his arms to welcome the sunrise. Shi-hoo’s skin starts to smoke and burn, and a sort of peace comes over him as his final thoughts linger on Ma-ri, and he disappears.
Back home, Jae-min runs to Ma-ri’s house, but it’s closed up and her entire family seems to be gone along with her. Realizing that it’s over, Jae-min thinks of their few happy moments, and cries for the loss of the girl he loves.
Two weeks later.
Jae-min finally goes to the music room again, and finds Ma-ri’s music composition book where she left it for him. Hands shaking, he finds a note inside from Ma-ri: “Jae-min-ah, I’m sorry.” He gasps in pain, and for just a moment he sees her in front of him, playing her guitar and smiling. He thinks of her apologizing for that time on the train, and her explanation of their band name.
His phone rings from an unidentified number, and it turns out to be Ma-ri’s mother calling, saying that Ma-ri is missing. Despite there being a typhoon moving in, Jae-min catches a bus and runs to their lighthouse as lightning flashes all around him.
Scared, he slowly climbs the lighthouse steps, but Ma-ri is there and safe for now. She doesn’t even seen surprised to see him, as he cries again in relief. Jae-min asks if she came to make a wish, but Ma-ri says in a dead voice that her wish will never come true.
He asks what her dream is: “To live as a normal person.” With this confirmation of his worst fears, Jae-min’s face crumples and he asks if it’s true that she’s a vampire. He wants to hear it directly from her.
Ma-ri apologizes, saying that she had to lie to him to hide her secret, and Jae-min complains that she apologizes too easily. Can she just say she’s sorry, and it’s over just like that? He begs her to just say it’s not true, and he’ll believe her.
But she can’t lie anymore, and she confirms that it’s true — she’s a vampire, the one thing he hates the most. Jae-min screams that it can’t be, but Ma-ri continues, saying that she knows he wouldn’t respect her for lying but she just wanted to be happy once. Like a lighthouse, she wanted to be someone’s light, even if only for a moment.
Jae-min tries to say something further but Ma-ri tells him to go, and backs away when he tries to come closer. One final time she tells him, “For liking you… Jung Jae-min… I’m sorry.” She takes another step back and puts a hand on the railing chain, but it gives way and she starts to fall backwards.
Without thinking Jae-min lunges, catching Ma-ri and swinging her to safety. But his momentum has him falling over the railing instead, and he barely manages to grab hold of the chain in time. Ma-ri tries to pull him up but she can’t reach his hand, and Jae-min locks eyes with her just before lightning strikes the chain. He’s knocked unconscious and falls into the sea.
As he sinks slowly under the waves, Jae-min says in voice-over that he has something he needs to say to Ma-ri. “Vampire or not — it doesn’t matter. It has to be you. For me, it has to be you.” Before he sinks too deep, Ma-ri comes gliding through the water… she’s not even swimming, but propelled by some mysterious force.
She gently carries him to the surface, and on the beach, Jae-min coughs out a lungful of water and gasps for air. Ma-ri cries his name gratefully, but when he looks her in the eye, he asks, “Who are you?” Oh no.
As if that’s not bad enough, while Ma-ri processes the act that Jae-min has lost his memory of her, the tracker in her neck begins to flash.
Two months later.
Jae-min rides the train home, and a smiling Ma-ri sits next to him. He looks at her blankly, and she echoes his first words to her: “Jung Jae-min, you go to our school, right?” The words trigger a faint memory of his own voice saying those same words. And as he looks at her in surprise, her clothes shift from the school uniform, to a plain hanbok, and back again.
A girl who looks like Ma-ri, wearing that same plain hanbok, washes clothes in a river. A young boy with Jae-min’s face, also wearing hanbok (though his seem to be of higher quality than hers) helps her with the washing. When their hands touch, a shiver of awareness passes through both of them, and they sit staring for a long moment.
I have so many feelings, I don’t know where to start! First of all: Shi-hoo. I had a horrible feeling that he blamed himself for his parents’ punishment, but finding out that what actually happened was truly not his fault, and a terrible accident that happened while his father was actually trying to save someone, was just tragic. Shi-hoo’s face when he discovered that his fear that his parents were being punished because of him, and that their punishment was being changed from Ahn-chi to staking (which I can only assume is exactly what it sounds like – an execution), was just too awful to see. It’s bad enough to know that his parents have been isolated and starved for years, but to find out that they will now die, and to believe it’s all his fault — it’s no wonder that Shi-hoo felt he had no choice but suicide.
It’s such a telling thing though, that he didn’t just give up on life — he made a choice, to sacrifice himself for Ma-ri. On the surface it looks like he did it for Jae-min, but in actuality it was for Ma-ri. Shi-hoo stopped Ma-ri from making herself a target of the VCS by using her vampire powers, and used his own to save Jae-min, therefore losing his own life. Once he chose to use his abilities, he was dead one way or another, whether by staking by the VCS or by his own choice. While my heart just broke for Shi-hoo as he stood on that cliff, I respect that he went out on his own terms. And if he had to die, at least it was a beautiful and meaningful death.
But Shi-hoo wasn’t the only one forced to make a terrible choice this episode, and for once I didn’t mind the “noble idiot” flavor of Ma-ri’s leaving Jae-min. She didn’t do it for Jae-min’s own good and against his wishes, nor did she feel sorry for herself afterward. She did it for an actual good reason — she knew that Jae-min would hate her when he found out she was a vampire, so she never expected their romance to last. She simply enjoyed their moment for what it was, then once she was outed by Ah-ra it was over, and she accepted that. Rather than drag it out and put Jae-min through a painful confrontation, she simply bowed out gracefully.
I wasn’t too happy with Jae-min’s behavior in this episode, and his fight with Shi-hoo is a prime example. Jae-min acted as if he had a right to be angry with Shi-hoo for being a vampire. But I think, since they were never friends, he wasn’t entitled to have any opinions on Shi-hoo’s vampire status whatsoever. Starting a fight and saying such hateful things to a boy who had just gotten terrible news about his parents was pretty low and immature on Jae-min’s part. Not that Shi-hoo was ever very kind to Jae-min, but he didn’t deserve to learn that his parents are going to die, then have Jae-min spit in his face that they deserve what they get.
And I know that, in the end, Jae-min decided that his love for Ma-ri was more important than whether or not she’s a vampire. That’s all well and good, and very romantic, but I would have liked to see Jae-min learn that lesson in a better way than I want something, therefore I’ll justify it for myself. But we’re only four episodes in, and hopefully as we go into the noseon phase of our story, there will be time for Jae-min (or his historical doppelganger) to learn that vampires are, as Teacher Han put it, just people with different eating habits. They feel and they love, and they have made a good-faith effort to get along with humans for hundreds of years. It’s time for the humans to stop treating them like animals and start treating them humanely.