Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 5
Get ready folks, because this episode’s ghost story is both terrifying and tear-jerking. Not every ghost is evil, and some need protecting just as much, if not more, than the living they’ve been inadvertently scaring. Luckily they have an awesome ghost-fighting team on their side, ready to do battle with the true monsters, protecting both the living and dead alike.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
On a playground somewhere, a swing moves by itself, while a deep gravelly voice calls out a low invitation. The seesaws rock, the carousel turns, and a child’s voice laughs, and all the while that deep frightening voice chants, calling someone out to play. A door to a nearby apartment slams shut all on its own, and we see a child-sized bloody hand print and hear a small voice scream in terror.
Bong-pal makes hangover soup for Hyun-ji the morning after her drunken adventures, complaining but not really seeming that upset about it. He goes to wake her and stops when he sees how pretty she looks, sleeping in the morning light. He shakes it off and pokes her awake, and wonders how ghosts can even get drunk.
Hyun-ji is pleased when she hears that Bong-pal piggybacked her home last night, and even more pleased to see that he made her hangover soup. He grumpily claims he just had a lot of bean sprouts to use up, but he grins when the taste makes her so obviously happy.
On the way to school. Bong-pal recieves a hilariously dorky video from Chun-sang and In-rang, and a notification that they’ve paid him for last night’s ghost hunt just as promised. Hyun-ji gapes at the size of Bong-pal’s savings, and asks why he’s so stingy when in reality, he’s pretty loaded. Bong-pal says he’s saving the money for something, but he’s disinclined to tell her why.
The two share a seat on the bus, and at one point a pretty woman asks Bong-pal to move over so she can sit. He tells her the (seemingly empty) seat is taken, and Hyun-ji smiles to herself at his chivalry.
Chun-sang and In-rang are happily counting their take from the night before, figuring they can make a lot more this way. The problem is Bong-pal — they need him, but he’s not interested in their club, or in them as friends.
Bong-pal’s professor (cameo by Shim Hyung-tak) complains about the quality of most students’ group reports – all except Bong-pal, who aced his all by himself. Unfortunately the professor singles out Bong-pal publicly, so after class there’s a lot of grumbling about Bong-pal. Hyun-ji overhears the students speaking badly of her friend, and grows indignant on his behalf.
But she notices that what they’re saying is true — he doesn’t socialize with any of the students, always walking and sitting alone. Hyun-ji asks if he’s not bored being alone all the time, but he claims the other students only talk about stupid things anyway.
Hye-sung arrives at the vet clinic with muddy shoes, and wearing the same clothes he was wearing the night before. He changes in his office, with that same blank, creepy expression on his face that he wears when alone, and throws his filthy clothes away.
Chun-sang and In-rang grab Bong-pal to give him a presentation (ha, they’re so serious about it), introducing their new school club, called for some inexplicable reason Soondae Soup. When Bong-pal threatens to walk out, Chun-sang breaks it down — they’ll procure new exorcism jobs, Bong-pal fights the ghosts, and everyone profits.
Bong-pal just gives them serious side-eye, until they mention that they’ve already started receiving offers. He agrees to fight the ghosts, but balks at joining their club — but still, the boys are ridiculously excited.
Seo-yeon finds Bong-pal (and he shields her from a biker that comes too close, who she doesn’t seem to see) and asks if he’s found a partner for their final class project, and starstruck Bong-pal agrees to work on the project with her. Hyun-ji grumbles at his easy acceptance of Seo-yeon’s offer, and from a distance, Chun-sang and In-rang watch and get an idea.
Hye-sung is on his best charming behavior as he takes attendance, and innocently calls out the name of the student he killed the night before. We see that he (or whatever is possessing him) has left her body under a pile of leaves in a wooded area, but he gives no indication that he knows why she’s not in class.
After class, Hye-sung invites Bong-pal and Seo-yeon to lunch to thank them for their help as his assistants. At the restaurant, Hyun-ji belligerently plunks herself down next to Bong-pal, and he reflexively stops Seo-yeon from sitting there. He pretends the chair is dirty and shoves Hyun-ji out, and Hyun-ji gives him a good whack on the head before poofing away.
Hye-sung seems very interested in Bong-pal’s living situation, asking where he lives and where his parents are. He asks if Bong-pal has spoken to his father lately, which puts Bong-pal’s hackles up, and Hye-sung quickly changes the subject to school-related matters.
Kyung-ja finds Hyun-ji pouting at the school campus, and complains that she can’t find her new lover boy anywhere. Hyun-ji is also upset, wondering how Bong-pal could be so nice about saving her seat on the bus but then shove her out of one for Seo-yeon.
When Hyun-ji heads back to the restaurant, she trips on a stair and out of nowhere, Bong-pal rushes up to catch her. Hyun-ji is stunned by his closeness, until he lets her go and complains that he’s been looking for her. He asks why she’s been so spacey today, but Hyun-ji hotly denies it, and they head home.
Hyun-ji can’t help but mention how much Seo-yeon seemed to like Hye-sung, pointing out that he’s handsome, kind, and popular, unlike some people. She pulls the “There’s Seo-yeon over there!” trick on him, so he counters by saying there’s something on her shoes, and HAHAHA I love when they get petty with each other.
Chun-sang and In-rang approach Seo-yeon when she’s alone, claiming to be close friends of Bong-pal’s. They feed her a sob story about their club closing, and ask for her help by joining the club. She seems pretty weirded out by them, but she joins, possibly just to get them to stop leering at her.
Hyun-ji nods off while studying again, and Bong-pal wakes her with a cold drink to the face. He takes her by the shoulders and tells her to focus and study passionately, but all Hyun-ji sees is Bong-pal’s face close to hers. She’s more interested in watching him talk, than actually listening.
Hye-sung has somehow gotten ahold of a photo album from Bong-pal’s childhood, and he shows particular interest in a picture of young Bong-pal with both his mother and father. It’s the same one he has framed in his room.
Hyun-ji looks at the picture now and comments on how beautiful Bong-pal’s mother was, and she recognizes the shoes she’s wearing in one picture as the same ones Bong-pal has in his storage room. She apologizes for asking for them, and for a moment Bong-pal seems like he’s going to say something, but he just tells her to turn out the light.
Outside, Hye-sung stands in the building parking lot, staring at Bong-pal’s window.
In another building, a child’s laughter can be heard, waking up a man and his daughter as they try to sleep. The man bangs on the door of the apartment where the sounds seem to be originating — it opens, so he angrily lets himself inside, and the door slams shut behind him. He sees the ghostly face of a small child and hears a scream, and runs back to his own home.
Chun-sang and In-rang borrow a car and find Bong-pal’s apartment building, but Bong-pal isn’t exactly impressed with the clunker. He opens a window when Hyun-ji complains about the lack of air conditioning, making her swoon a little. The boys explain that they’ve gotten an emergency exorcism request, and are heading there now.
When they arrive at the apartment building, Bong-pal wants to go up with Hyun-ji to check out the haunted unit. But Hyun-ji sees the playground and runs over to play, and Bong-pal notices a grubby young woman sitting on the jungle gym steps. She doesn’t respond when a cop comes over to shoo her away, and an older woman brings her her shoes and leads her home.
Monk Myung-chul goes to a shaman, looking for a talisman to scare off a ghost that he thinks is following him around. The shaman grumbles that he really has lost his touch if he needs such a thing, mentioning that she heard that he ran away from the haunted inn recently.
She says that the kid who took over the job is making quite a name for himself, and Myung-chul yelps to hear that Bong-pal is still doing exorcisms after promising he would stop.
Bong-pal and Hyun-ji make their way up to the haunted apartment, and it looks like any abandoned apartment until Bong-pal enters the child’s room. There are frightening crayon drawings all over the walls, depicting people holding knives and bleeding from their eyes. The word “dad” is also scrawled in one corner, and a noise from the closet scares Bong-pal.
But it’s just Hyun-ji being silly, and Bong-pal warns her to be serious when they’re working. They hear a child’s laughter, which goes from cheerful to creepy in an instant, and Bong-pal opens a door to find himself face-to-face with a laughing, gap-toothed young ghost.
The boy poofs away, and he leads the duo on a chase through the apartment halls until Bong-pal finally catches him. He tells the boy it’s time to go, then notices a strange set of marks around the boy’s neck. An odd rattling sound chimes nearby, and the boy bites Bong-pal and runs away again.
The rattling sound, and a black mist, seem to be coming from a nearby apartment doorway. Bong-pal winds up and throws a punch, nearly decking Chun-sang, who actually catches his fist in midair (then whines about how much it huuuurts, hee). They head back to Bong-pal’s place, and present him with Seo-yeon’s completed application to their club and a blank one for Bong-pal. Of course Bong-pal joins, and Hyun-ji complains that he only did it because of Seo-yeon.
That night Bong-pal is preoccupied by thoughts of the marks on the ghost boy’s neck, and the fear he saw in his eyes when he heard the rattling noise. He does some research and catches a cab back to the apartment building, ignoring Hyun-ji’s questions.
At the building, the little boy ghost is hiding while that creepy voice calls to him to come out and play. The ghost chasing him is broken and bloody, and carrying a set of keys which rattle as he lurches down the halls, looking for the boy.
Once they’re alone, Bong-pal tells Hyun-ji that the young ghost isn’t waking people up playing games — his research showed that the boy was beaten to death by his stepfather. Now, even in death, he’s still running away from his killer.
The killer ghost finds the little boy, and breathes a cloud of black mist at him. We’re shown that when they were alive, the little boy had woken his stepfather by turning on the television while he was napping, and the man had dragged him into his room and beaten him to death.
Neighbors heard the noise but didn’t call the police, even when the boy’s mother, the same woman Bong-pal saw at the playground, had found her child dead. Now, half insane, she sits in the playground night after night apologizing to her baby.
Bong-pal and Hyun-ji hear the little boy’s ghost screaming as his stepfather’s ghost drags him to their old apartment, and takes off his belt to beat the boy (ah, so that’s the banging noise the neighbors are hearing every night). Just as the stepfather raises the belt, Bong-pal bursts in and grabs his hand, punching him into the wall and kneeling next to the boy.
He crouches over the boy to protect him as the stepfather starts to whip them with his belt, then he wraps it around Bong-pal’s throat to strangle him. It’s Hyun-ji’s turn to rescue Bong-pal, and she gives the stepfather a roundhouse kick right in the stomach. She seems to be winning, but then the stepfather gets her on the ground, and luckily Bong-pal has recovered enough to re-enter the fight.
He smashes the stepfather to the floor, and the ghost’s breathing becomes hollow and wheezy. We see his own death, how the boy’s mother had attacked him and pushed him into a glass case. The broken glass had pierced his neck, slicing open his windpipe.
Now he regains his strength and attacks Bong-pal again, and Bong-pal punches him right in the throat. He winds up and punches again and again, thinking of his own childhood trauma, seeing his mother pushed in front of a speeding car by a ghost. Hyun-ji can see that Bong-pal is out of control, but she just shields the boy while Bong-pal hits the evil ghost’s weak spot, and he dissipates.
Bong-pal, Hyun-ji, and the boy go to the playground, where the boy’s mother is still sitting. Somehow she sees him, and they both smile and cry as she hugs her baby close and apologizes for not being able to save him. The little boy wipes his mother’s tears away, and they hug again as the boy smiles at Bong-pal and Hyun-ji.
Hyun-ji thinks the boy must have stayed for his mother, but Bong-pal can’t speak. He remembers seeing his own mother’s spirit in a playground soon after her death — she’d hugged him and apologized, much like this boy’s mother is doing now. Little Bong-pal had cried for his mother not to leave him, but she’d floated away.
Now Bong-pal turns away, and with one last smile, the little boy fades from his mother’s arms. Hyun-ji follows at a short distance, and Bong-pal doesn’t seem to hear as she calls his name.
Monk Myung-chul is doing his best to drown himself in soju, and Bong-pal joins him for a drink. Myung-chul tells him that he knows he’s still doing exorcisms, and asks how he can face Bong-pal’s mother when he dies if he allows this. He sighs that it’s his fault, if only he hadn’t made that mistake…
But Bong-pal tells Myung-chul not to worry about him — he doesn’t blame him, and he’s thankful that Myung-chul saved him. Myung-chul declines an invitation to stay at Bong-pal’s place, calling him arrogant, “just like your father.”
Hyun-ji overhears all this, and that night she watches over Bong-pal while he sleeps. She sighs at his bloody knuckles and leans over to blow on them gently, while Bong-pal dreams of the kids on the playground shunning him. They’d called him a ghost, but in his innocence he’d pointed out the real ghosts, making him even more of an outcast.
He’d been plagued at night by scarier ghosts, and now as he dreams about them, he mutters in his sleep for them to go away. Hyun-ji watches sadly as a tear tracks down Bong-pal’s face, and she reaches out to smooth his worried forehead.
Aw, I really liked this episode’s ghost story. Violence against children is difficult to watch, but I loved seeing Bong-pal and Hyun-ji fighting for someone small and weak who needed their help. And it was sweet that the boy could have gone on at any time, but he stayed, trying to get to see his mother one last time. The ghost-fighting duo protected him, allowing him to fulfill his final wish and help his mother move on with her life. It was a simple story, but touching, and interesting how it triggered Bong-pal’s memories of seeing his own mother one last time.
It’s mostly guesswork at this point, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that Hye-sung (or more specifically, the thing that’s possessing him) knows all about Bong-pal. I’m guessing he’s whatever killed Bong-pal’s mother, and he knows that Bong-pal’s father is tracking him. Those questions about Bong-pal’s family seemed awfully intrusive and suspicious, and I’m glad that Bong-pal didn’t answer them. We still don’t know why Bong-pal doesn’t speak to his father, but we do know that his father is looking for the thing that killed his mother, and at this point it’s probably a good thing that Bong-pal hasn’t had any contact with his dad lately. If he doesn’t know where Dad is, Hye-sung can’t find out from him. And I find myself wondering as well — is Hye-sung a man who’s been possessed, or is he simply the Thing itself, taking human form? If he’s possessed, does the real Hye-sung ever have control, or is it all Thing, all the time? I’m very curious about the character, what he is and what his motivations are.
I can see how Chun-sang and In-rang aren’t for everyone, because they’re awfully silly and overblown, but as for me, they’re cracking me right up. I love their exaggerated expressions, their over-the-top emotional outbursts, and the funny sound effects that enhance everything they do. These two go a long way towards keeping the drama’s manhwa-like feel, and I love it. I love their scheme for getting Bong-pal into the club by hooking in Seo-yeon, and their plan for procuring jobs for Bong-pal seems pretty ingenious. Bong-pal was doing fine by himself, but by making the operation seem bigger and more professional, the two loons are able to command much higher payments, which will bring Bong-pal to his needed savings amount that much sooner.
Speaking of which, the show has barely mentioned why Bong-pal needs the money, but those who are familiar with the source material already know why he’s saving up. The show has only said he wants to “fix” his eyes, but the truth is much more dramatic than that. I won’t spoil it here (for the two of you who don’t know yet), but suffice it to say that he has a plan to stop himself seeing ghosts, and it’s pretty drastic. I’m worried about Hyun-ji’s response when she learns why he needs so much money, and I’m curious how Bong-pal’s relationship with Hyun-ji could possibly change his mind.
Bong-pal is hard to read when it comes to Hyun-ji — he clearly finds her both frustrating and adorable, and at least he no longer objects to her presence and even looks for her when she’s not around. But he’s still carrying that torch for Seo-yeon, so until he can see past the pretty coed, I don’t think he’s recognizing much in the way of romantic feelings for Hyun-ji. Oh he feels them, but I don’t think he’s consciously registering them. Our favorite ghost, however, is feeling some pretty intense jealousy whenever Bong-pal pays attention to Seo-yeon, and I’m sure she’s more than half in love with him already. She visibly swoons whenever he does something thoughtful, and bows right up whenever he pushes her aside for Seo-yeon. Her crush is pretty cute, and I love seeing her flip-flop between emotions like the young girl she was before she became a ghost.
The show is doing a very good job of being entertaining with each episode, while still giving us plenty of teasers and hints of more to come. There are still so many unanswered questions, and mysteries surrounding Bong-pal, Hyun-ji, and Hye-sung, it keeps the show feeling fresh and intriguing. We can guess all day long, but we really don’t know much about the characters’ backgrounds and motivations, but somehow it doesn’t feel frustrating. I honestly didn’t go into Bring It On, Ghost expecting much, other than some fun ghost-fighting hijinks, but even five episodes in, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much story there is to tell. The show isn’t hitting us with everything at once, but teasing us with just enough that it keeps me coming back — not just because it’s my job and I have to, but because I truly want to. So far so good!