Orange Marmalade: Episode 10
We re-enter the present-day portion of our story, armed with a better understanding of our characters and the world they live in. In fact you may not even recognize Ma-ri, who seems to have undergone a complete one-eighty and faced her fears, suddenly this beautifully strong and confident young vampire. And the best part is, she’s not afraid who knows it. No matter what happens, Ma-ri will be who she is, making no apologies and feeling no shame, and if Jae-min is too mired in his prejudice to see her for the wonderful person she is, then it’s entirely his loss.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
After a short reminder of previous present-day events, where we left Jae-min suffering from a four-month bout of amnesia, we discover that one day his memories of his accident partially returned. He recalls someone joining him where he’d fallen into the ocean, then something had flashed before his eyes. He’d seen his entire previous-life experience in an instant, but he’s not entirely sure what it means.
He tells a therapist that it seemed to have happened a very long time ago, and that it left him feeling sad. He denies feeling that sadness at other times, but admits that sometimes he sees strange things. Back at school, Jae-min’s fangirl trio bring him gifts, and all seems back to normal. Until he glances at the stump, and it transforms into a tree right before his eyes. Seems that “seeing things” is quite literal.
Jae-min’s mother had told Teacher Han that he suffered from dissociative amnesia, to protect himself from painful memories. She thinks maybe it’s better he doesn’t remember, but she’s concerned about his seeing things. She wonders, if he remembers those four months, will the delusions stop?
For using her powers to save Jae-min from the water, Ma-ri is locked in a bare room to suffer the Ahn-chi punishment, the ultimate punishment a vampire can receive. She spends her time thinking of Jae-min and missing him.
We finally see the VCS (Vampire Control System), who are discussing the fact that the peace pact between humans and vampires will terminate in 2017. They are concerned about the second half of the peace pact, which will begin at that time, and the fact that the vampire control laws will be amended at that time.
One member brings up public opinion regarding conferring vampires the same rights as humans enjoy, concerned that the public won’t accept it. He compares it to pouring water when there’s no bowl to catch it, and the director assures him that they’ll create that bowl in time. He proposes a plan that will be implemented in phases before the time comes in 2017, called the “Coexistence Project,” and geared towards preparing humans to accept vampires as equals.
Later he talks to Ma-ri in her cell, and we find out that she’s been pardoned from the maximum punishment as an amnesty case under the new vampire control laws, due to mitigating circumstances in saving Jae-min’s life. She agrees to go along with a proposal they’ve made to her, and the director reminds her that she’s not being forced to comply, but Ma-ri wants to support the new Coexistence Project. He tells her there’s no way to tell what will happen, but she says she has a good reason to endure it.
She’s allowed to go back to the same school under the same name, and she’s happy to see Jae-min on the train on the way to school. She sits next to him and calls his name, and as he looks at her, her clothing suddenly switches to a simple hanbok, then back to her school uniform.
They walk together, and he apologizes for not recognizing her. He tells her of his accident, though strangely his memory loss starts from the time she first went to their school. She tells him that she transferred back to this school to help him remember.
The other students aren’t so happy to see Ma-ri, calling her “the girl from the news” and avoiding her. When Jae-min asks why everyone is acting so strange, she boldly tells him, “It’s because of me. I’m a vampire.” Jae-min frowns a bit, and stares at Ma-ri for a long minute.
Apparently it’s big news that ten vampires have decided to reveal their identities, and Ma-ri is re-introduced to the class as one of these vampires. The students seem nervous about accepting her, and once the teacher leaves the room, the entire class explodes with objections. Ma-ri just takes it all in stride.
Even the teacher tells her colleagues that it’s going to be hard for her to treat Ma-ri without bias, but they all seem on board with accepting a vampire at the school openly. Teacher Han joins them, and says that she’s still just a student.
He goes to class and tells the students to put their desks back in place from where they scooted away from Ma-ri. Just like before, Jae-min quietly challenges Han about being okay with vampires, but says that having a vampire in class, sitting right behind them, is horrifying for the students.
So Ma-ri suggests she move to the front of the class so they can all see her. Seriously, when did she get so awesome? It mollifies the students and seems to sadden Teacher Han, but Ma-ri handles it like a boss. But Jae-min gets a sudden headache and ringing in his ears when he looks at Ma-ri.
Later Ma-ri visits the band room, and finds Jae-min in there already. He throws up walls and says he’ll quit the band if she joins, yammering that there’s no way they could have been close when she went to this school before. He’s definitely nervous and protesting too much, but Ma-ri tells him not to worry — they weren’t close.
That seems to calm him a bit, though he warns her not to come near him in class. But Ma-ri won’t make that promise, and says she refuses to live her life in hiding anymore. He’s free to avoid her, but she won’t avoid him.
Ma-ri goes to the restroom to drink her synth-blood, though you get the feeling that now, it’s more to avoid unnerving her classmates than to hide. She tells herself, “It’s okay, you’re doing well.” Yes, yes you are.
In a dark room at VCS headquarters, a young vampire is hooked up to multiple blood transfusions. It’s Shi-hoo, and as many of us hoped, the VCS got to him just before he burned up on that cliff. He was taken here to recover, and the VCS director marvels at the healing power of vampires.
He’s clearly human, and he seems like a good person who does care about the vampires. He’s worried that they’ve been forced to infuse Shi-hoo with human blood out of necessity, but for now he’s doing well with the treatment. Either way, they can use him to gather data about the vampires.
It’s difficult for Ma-ri to hold her head up when the students avoid her like she’s a monster, and she can hear every word they say about their fear with her vampire hearing. She starts to put in her earbuds to block their words, and Jae-min sees her stop and put them away, determined to be strong.
Ma-ri’s dad is so cute, waiting nervously for her to come home after her first day. She assures him that it’s just like she remembered, and he offers buy her a present. She does admit to Dad that school was hard, but says that it’s good not to have to pretend. She picks out a hairpin for her mom instead, who’s been having a difficult time lately, and Dad actually does the aegyo-shoulder-wiggle to get her to get something for herself. So cute.
The VCS director goes on television to discuss the Coexistence Project, which consists of several phases. The first phase is that vampires have the freedom to reveal their identities — until now, if a vampire was discovered, they were forced to move and take on new identities. But from now on, it’s up to the vampires whether to reveal themselves or not.
Ten vampires have chosen to reveal themselves, and the VCS will be concentrating on the effects this has on them and society, and potential problems such as rights violations related to their identities. If this goes well, more vampires will be disclosed in three months.
Ma-ri is more of a target the next day, finding her picture plastered on school bulletin boards covered in hateful writing, and her desk vandalized. She smiles and tells the class that she’s not a danger to them, and that it’s okay if they don’t like her, but not to be scared of her. Jae-min watches, reluctantly impressed with her acceptance of it all. As he watches her clean her desk, Jae-min’s ears ring and his head pounds again.
Worried for his baby girl, Ma-ri’s dad goes to the school and sees the hurtful pictures of her, and a janitor throwing them away. The janitor tells him the kids are worried about the vampire that transferred to the school, and gripes that her parents must not be thinking straight letting her do this. Dad mutters that she’s suffering for having bad parents.
In cooking class Jae-min sneaks glances at Ma-ri, while Ah-ra simpers at him. When Ah-ra nearly drops a hot tray of cookies on Soo-ri’s head, Ma-ri hurries over and catches it with her bare hands, yowch. Soo-ri follows her out of class to thank her — but she quails to see Ma-ri’s burns heal almost instantly.
Teacher Han pulls Ma-ri aside to talk, saying he was surprised by her decision to reveal herself as a vampire. He reminds her that the VCS can put protections in place for her, but she says the other kids don’t really come near her. She doesn’t want to stand out — in fact, she did this because she wanted to be ordinary.
Back in cooking class, Ah-ra chides her friends (including Soo-ri, who at least looks uncomfortable) for a plan to humiliate Ma-ri that they’re giggling over, but they want to see how much Ma-ri is willing to put up with with her new sunny disposition. When Ma-ri gets back to class, Jae-min inexplicably cuts her purse strap and barks at her to stay away from him.
But when Ma-ri looks down to pick up her purse, she sees that it had been attached to a string rigged to dump sauce on her. He was actually showing her the trap, which is sweet. Ma-ri realizes that he was looking out for her despite all of his cold words, and it lifts her heavy heart a bit.
Jae-min walks in the school courtyard, and suddenly hears a haunting flute and sees a vision of a young girl in a wooded clearing. Just before he sees her face, his friend Bum-sung comes to tell him that the other kids are talking about his interference with the prank. Jae-min says he just thought the prank was stupid, griping that they should be more creative.
Jae-min seems to be softening towards his mother, who smiles that she goes with him to his appointments in order to have a date with him. Sweet. He asks her for help picking out a purse, and he’s so adorably shy about it, hee.
Ma-ri’s mom brings home chicken and beer for Dad to cheer him up, though she previously had fussed at him for spending money on things they can’t eat. But even fried chicken can’t cheer him up, as worried as he is about his little girl.
After checking on a sleeping Ma-ri, Mom goes back downstairs where Dad suggests they reveal their identities, too. She’s worried they’ll lose their jobs, but Dad can’t stand that Ma-ri is going through this alone. Mom urges him to trust Ma-ri’s decision, but to also be realistic.
In an office building somewhere, a man who appears to work for a music company watches a video of Orange Marmalade’s one concert. He’s impressed and tasks his assistant with finding the kids from the video.
Ma-ri overhears the mean girls in the restroom wondering what vampires eat for lunch, and Ah-ra says she kind of feels sorry for Ma-ri for having to hide her meals. Ma-ri quickly leaves and looks for another place to eat, settling for a deserted courtyard. But she senses something strange, and realizes that nearly the whole school is watching her drink her synth-blood. Her instinct is to flee, but she bravely stays.
One of the mean girls starts to video Ma-ri to put online, but Jae-min roughly grabs her, and Bum-sung backs him up — it’s illegal to video a vampire under the new rights laws. Suddenly a student that nobody recognizes approaches Ma-ri… it’s Shi-hoo! He takes her away while she’s still in shock, and Ah-ra remembers him from before.
Shi-hoo is back to his old grumpy self, and chastises Ma-ri for being so open with her vampire-ness. She’s happy to see him, having assumed he was dead, and his griping at her for revealing her vampire status falls flat when Ma-ri realizes he’s also been offered a deal from the VCS.
He’s not here to reveal himself, but to support and help her as she adapts. He’s not going to go easy on her though, and he gets on her case for drinking blood in front of the whole school. Ma-ri notices that he seems lighter now, and Shi-hoo just ruffles her hair and smiles.
After Shi-hoo rejoins the class with his usual, “Don’t get too excited to see me” attitude, Ma-ri finds a note in her backpack asking her to meet someone in the band room. It’s Jae-min, and he gives her the new purse, reluctantly apologizing for losing his temper and cutting her old one.
She says she knows he was helping her, but he insists it’s just that he didn’t like the kids picking on a person. Oh wait, she’s not a person… ouch. But Ma-ri just smiles and says the only person who could make her leave this school, is him. She’s content that he doesn’t mind being in the same class as her, even if he doesn’t want her near him specifically.
When she turns to go, Jae-min asks why she chose to reveal her vampire status. He knows the Coexistence Project is a volunteer thing, so she knew she would suffer and chose it anyway… why?
Shi-hoo find them and interrupts to say he should know why, calling Jae-min a disloyal bastard. He’s shocked when Jae-min doesn’t seem to know him, but Ma-ri stops Shi-hoo before he can blurt out the reason she’s back here. Jae-min just says to Ma-ri, “That Coexistence Project — just try continuing with it,” and storms out.
He’s stopped in the hall by the music manager’s assistant, but he’s never heard of Orange Marmalade. Later he sits on his tree stump watching the video of their performance, scoffing at the idea that he was ever in a band with Ma-ri and Shi-hoo.
He stands and suddenly the air shimmers, he hears a flute, and sees the ghost of a forest all around him. The girl plays the flute and this time he sees her face — Baek Ma-ri. He asks why she’s in his illusions, but she doesn’t answer.
Shi-hoo gets frustrated following Ma-ri home, and finally knocks the purse from Jae-min out of her hands. He can’t even remember her, so why is she treating the purse like a treasure? Ma-ri says that even if he doesn’t remember her, she remembers him.
She says she’s doing this because its her fault he lost his memory. She hurt him so badly that he erased all recollection of her, to protect himself from the pain of remembering. Hiding her vampire status is what caused his wound, and she just wants to be herself in front of him. Even if he never remembers her.
Shi-hoo can’t understand why she would endure all the hatred from humans just for a boy who thinks she’s a monster, and asks if she really likes him that much. Ma-ri admits that she does.
Jae-min turns the corner in time to see the two of them standing there, the purse he gave Ma-ri on the ground at their feet. Shi-hoo sees him and pulls Ma-ri into a hug, glaring right at Jae-min.
Okay, so not that much has changed. Jae-min is still a stuffy prejudiced little prig, and Shi-hoo is still angry at him (though this time he has better reason), and they’re still at odds with each other though I hope that changes. And I don’t actually mind that Jae-min has had a personality reset, because I didn’t like that he only changed his attitude about vampires before because of a pretty girl. I want him to examine his prejudice because it’s the right thing to do, not because he likes a girl, and his amnesia gives him a chance to do that. But Ma-ri, what a change! She’s a whole new person, and it’s wonderful. Her fear and refusal to take any action whatsoever in the first section of the story was understandable, but frustrating to watch. I’m glad she’s found a reason to grow and find her spine.
I really like where this section of the story is going, because unlike the first four episodes, it feels like there’s a sort of hope and strength in Ma-ri that she didn’t have before. I was nearly in tears seeing her be so strong and confident, after the way she lived in abject fear in the first section of the story. Her pain and anguish, just from the fear of rejection, was so much worse than any actual rejection and very hard to watch. But now Ma-ri is refusing to live that way anymore, and it’s wonderful.
I adore how she’s not angry, or defiant, or confrontational. She’s just quietly, confidently herself. When she said that humans could avoid her if they wished but she wouldn’t avoid them any longer, I wanted to cheer. That’s such a mature way to be — she can’t control others’ reactions to what she is. But she also can’t change what she is, so she accepts herself, and how others feel about it is their problem. I also respect her attitude about Jae-min. She’s not here to get him back, or to have any hope that they will even become friends. But she feels that her lack of courage harmed him in their past, and she wants to rectify that now however she can. By being her true self in front of him, she can hold her head up with pride in who she is, both as a vampire and as a good person. And again, his reaction to her being herself is entirely his own responsibility.
But best of all, Shi-hoo is back! I’m so happy — I know it was conjectured by many viewers that he was saved by the VCS at the last second before his death, but I honestly didn’t believe it. While I did think his supposed-suicide was quite tragically romantic, and admired that he chose his own ending, I’m selfishly glad that he’s alive (he’s easily my favorite character in this story and yeah, I’ll admit to some Second Lead Syndrome, but it’s mostly just that I want him to be happy, not necessarily to get Ma-ri. It also has to do with how impressed I am with Lee Jong-hyun’s portrayal of Shi-hoo). I’m happy he’s back to be Ma-ri’s white knight and support, because he really doesn’t care what people think of him. He can deflect the whispers and sneers, and take some of the pressure off her. I’m happy for his own sake that he has a purpose, because I think that was a lot of his problem before. He felt adrift and alone, with nobody on his side. Now he has a mission, which also seems to be his larger cosmic purpose — help and protect Ma-ri. It won’t be easy for him, since he’s clearly still desperately in love with her. But I hope he finds peace that he can help her in this way, much like he did in his previous life.
I do want to briefly say how much I love the parallels the show is drawing between real life and fantasy, and using the vampire versus human debate to comment on distressing social issues. In any society, what’s seen as different is usually treated as suspect, and either shunned or deified. Neither is fair towards those who are different, and being different should not automatically equal “wrong.” I won’t get into a long discussion about it here, it’s not the place, but I wanted to comment that I appreciate a drama that points out the unfairness of this. It shows that, if society is willing to change and accept, things will get better for everyone.