Bride of the Water God 2017: Episode 9
Our water god is having a harder and harder time denying his feelings the longer he stays in the human world, even when he has every reason to know better. He has a lot of friends and people to help him, but his quest on Earth is one he’ll ultimately have to complete alone. Ha-baek still has a lot to learn about the hearts of humans and gods, and until he understands both, he’ll never be ready to be king.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After meeting with Hu-ye to discuss canceling the sale of her land, So-ah heads out to meet Ha-baek. Hu-ye watches her go, and he takes a call from Bi-ryum, who’s at his land. Bi-ryum sneers that he wants to get to know Hu-ye better, referring to Hu-ye’s earth god mark as “that thing on your body that doesn’t suit you.”
A small voice pipes up, and Hu-ye looks stricken when Bi-ryum hands the phone to the little blind girl, whose name we learn is Min. Furious, Hu-ye bellows that Min has nothing to do with this. Bi-ryum tells him to come quickly and sends Min away with Jin-geon, the silent minor god.
When Hu-ye arrives, Bi-ryum officially introduces himself and Mura. Bi-ryum notes that Hu-ye doesn’t act like a god, with the way he’s so nice to the blind girl. He says that when they were younger, Mura thought of Hu-ye as a disgrace to the gods, but that now she’s giving him a chance.
Bi-ryum adds that Ha-baek’s feelings are clear, and as for himself, “I just hate you. I always will.” Mura tells Hu-ye to explain why he carries the earth god’s mark. Hu-ye says that he met the owner of the mark when he first arrived in this world.
We see the younger Hu-ye running through the forest after his father shoved him through the portal to the human world. Someone had flown at him out of nowhere, and they’d gone crashing to the ground. Hu-ye says that a bolt of lightning hit the person in the back and that’s when he got the mark.
Bi-ryum says that he’s heard Hu-ye has killed gods, accusing him of killing Joo-dong too, but Hu-ye hotly denies it. Mura orders Bi-ryum to stop, and Hu-ye looks like he’s barely keeping it together.
Ha-baek arrives to see So-ah, but when he spots her, something seems to alarm him. He runs across the street and grabs her Vanuatu pen map from her hands. On the map are three glowing marks — his lost coordinates. Heaving a sigh of relief, Ha-baek realizes that at the moment he fell to earth and knocked So-ah unconscious, her map must have caught the coordinates.
Hu-ye tells Bi-ryum that the person who fell on him didn’t move after being hit by lightning, so Hu-ye just left. Mura is furious, but Hu-ye argues that he wasn’t yet the person he is now, explaining that he was frightened so he ran. But Bi-ryum says that his lightning doesn’t harm gods, convinced that Hu-ye must have done something to Joo-dong.
So-ah can’t see the coordinates on her map, but Ha-baek studies them closely. Eventually So-ah asks if this means Ha-baek is leaving, and he sends her this look and quietly says yes. So-ah forces a smile and congratulates him.
As they follow the map, So-ah expresses confusion that the coordinates don’t locate the actual stones — they just give Ha-baek a sense of where he wants to look. But Ha-baek wants to talk about Hu-ye, and he tells So-ah not to get too close to him.
So-ah assures Ha-baek that in her professional opinion, Hu-ye is an almost perfect human being. She admonishes Ha-baek not to be prejudiced, so Ha-baek asks how much she knows about Hu-ye. He snaps that she seems easy to fool, and starts to stalk off.
Trying to follow him, So-ah trips and grabs the back of Ha-baek’s jacket. Ha-baek turns back to her and offers his hand. So-ah considers, then she says she can walk just fine on her own.
When they get to the spot the coordinates indicated, they find themselves in a park, where someone is industriously digging holes in the ground. Ha-baek yells, “What are you doing?!” The person turns and faces them, and hey, it’s the monk that told the little girl the story about the gods.
He and Ha-baek study each other for a long moment, then he asks, “Who are you?” Ha-baek looks stunned, and the monk asks if Ha-baek knows him, then if he knows why he’s so drawn to the earth.
Ha-baek recognizes him as JOO-DONG (Yang Dong-geun again), the earth god who’s been missing since the night Mura lost her sacred stone. He takes Joo-dong to Bi-ryum’s place, where Bi-ryum shows his happiness by grabbing Joo-dong in a headlock and manhandling him.
They deduce that Joo-dong lost both his memory and his powers when he lost his earth mark to Hu-ye, and has been living as a monk ever since. Joo-dong starts praying when Mura demands to know where her stone is, so Bi-ryum knocks him out with a shock of power.
Mura demands that So-ah leave, since this is no place for a servant. So-ah jumps up and says she’ll go home alone, assuming that Ha-baek won’t be back tonight. It’s sweet how Ha-baek watches her go, and when Bi-ryum offers her a ride, he earns a death glare from Mura.
Before leaving, So-ah requests that Mura not speak to her in banmal. Mura informs So-ah in her best god-voice that she’s a mighty water god, sounding hilariously like Ha-baek when he first came to the human world. To Bi-ryum’s great amusement, So-ah cuts off Mura with a bored, “Yeah, yeah…” LOL, even Ha-baek tries not to laugh.
Mura tattles to Ha-baek, saying that Bi-ryum accused Hu-ye of killing Joo-dong. She fusses at Bi-ryum and Ha-baek for ignoring her advice to leave Hu-ye alone. Bi-ryum asks why they have to fear him, so Mura tells him to grow up. Ha-baek backs her up and tells Bi-ryum not to provoke Hu-ye anymore. Bi-ryum seethes, and Mura tells Ha-baek to go back to the Realm of the Gods once he gets the third stone from Joo-dong.
She follows Ha-baek to the roof, where they marvel at the view of the city at night. Ha-baek says that obviously Bi-ryum likes it here, but Mura admits that other than the clothes, she doesn’t like it and wants to go home.
She asks why Ha-baek isn’t happy now that they’ve found Joo-dong. He says he is, and wants to go home as soon as possible, but his expression says otherwise. Mura starts to ask about So-ah, but he interrupts to say that the high priest told him to find out why the sacred stones are kept in the human world.
Mura complains that the high priest only says such things because he doesn’t know the answer, either. She tells Ha-baek that the stones are here because the future king needs to learn about humans, and why the human and divine realms must stay separate.
He doesn’t say a word, and she adds, “But you learned twelve hundred years ago what humans are like. We didn’t want a human sacrifice, but they buried a woman alive at sea so they could live.”
She reminds Ha-baek that the gods looked after the woman, who got greedy for eternal life and betrayed them. She says that humans are cruel and selfish and that there’s no more to learn about them.
Mura tells him to go home, and that when he’s king, So-ah won’t be someone he needs to watch over — but even if she were, she’s still as insignificant as dust. Mura warns that this time, she won’t just stand by and watch.
So-ah visits her friend Yeom-mi, who fusses at her for choosing the wrong profession because she’s too sensitive. So-ah whines that she only has two friends and both of them are nags. Yeom-mi says that Sang-yoo is only trying to repay her father for taking him in by taking care of So-ah.
But So-ah says that when she sees Sang-yoo, it just reminds her that her father abandoned her to take care of other children. When Yeom-mi asks if So-ah would be happier if Sang-yoo were gone, So-ah freezes like the thought horrifies her. Not wanting to go home yet, So-ah invites Yeom-mi to a noraebang, but Yeom-mi declines.
So-ah stops at a park to sit on the swings and calls Sang-yoo to invite him to the noraebang, but he has plans. So she heads home alone, and even though she knows better, she still hopes that Ha-baek will be waiting under the streetlight.
Of course he isn’t, and So-ah sighs heavily, telling herself that she always walked alone before. She stops to look at the spot where Ha-baek drew their names on the brick wall with a rock, then her phone rings.
It’s Ha-baek, and So-ah answers just as she gets inside her gate. She stops when she sees Ha-baek there waiting for her. Awww.
She asks if Joo-dong got his memories back, but Ha-baek says it will take a few days. So-ah asks why he’s here, and he says it’s to turn on the lights.
Heart pounding, So-ah plucks at Ha-baek’s jacket, and he turns to see her crying. He asks why, but she just says, “I’m smiling.”
Giving in to an impulse, So-ah wraps her arms around Ha-baek in a back-hug. He turns in her arms then takes a step closer, leaning in as if to kiss her. Eeee! But So-ah steps back and says she’s sorry, and Ha-baek drops her hand to let her go inside.
The following day, Hu-ye sits in the garden outside his office, looking pained at the memory of Bi-ryum saying that he can kill with just a touch. He crouches next to the flowerbed and reaches out, and the patch of flowers wither on the spot.
On a nearby balcony, Jaya happens to see, and the sight strikes her with confused fear. She confronts Hu-ye in his office, and he tenses as she gets at what he was doing — but then she guesses that it was a magic trick and he relaxes.
But his face hardens as she goes on about how he shouldn’t do such creepy magic, and when she turns away nervously, he grabs her in a back-hug. It’s far from romantic — black smoke seeps from his hands as he struggles to keep control. After a few seconds the smoke recedes back into his hands and he lets Jaya go, apologizing and telling her to leave.
Jaya walks away in a daze, not even noticing Secretary Min on the stairs. He looks concerned and asks if she’s sick, but she just stares at him then keeps walking.
Minor god Geol-rin pops up in Hu-ye’s office to continue the conversation they were having before Jaya interrupted. When asked, Hu-ye answers Geol-rin robotically that he’s been here for ten years, and that he didn’t escape from his cave, but was abandoned.
Geol-rin asks why Hu-ye’s father abandoned him, and Hu-ye says, “I didn’t know you were here. You hadn’t come to the cave in a while. I assumed you didn’t want to come anymore.” Wait wait wait… is Geol-rin Hu-ye’s father? Surely not.
Geol-rin explains that he came to the human world five hundred years ago after some trouble with the water gods. He says that Ha-baek brought him that blood-covered stone, which worried him, but that Hu-ye was lucky to find nice people to care for him.
Praising Hu-ye for his control over his powers, Geol-rin reminds him that he once said that thorns needed to be removed for flowers to grow. But he admits that he regrets it, because after three thousand years locked in that cave, he feels like what he said stole Hu-ye’s hope.
He tells Hu-ye that he won’t see him again now that he’s confirmed that it’s really him. Hu-ye stops him to ask about So-ah, and why she seemed to know who Ha-baek and the other gods are.
So-ah invites Ha-baek to have breakfast with her, and he eyes the mess on his plate and the worse mess in the kitchen, quipping that the rice omelette doesn’t look like something that required two hours’ preparation. He tries it, then declares it absolutely… tasteless. HA.
So-ah whines that it wouldn’t kill him to lie to save her feelings, but he says that he only tells the truth. So-ah scoffs, recalling his lie about the reason the gods punished her family, accusing him of being afraid to face the truth.
Laughing wryly, So-ah says that the gods must have been very afraid of her family. Ha-baek just asks her if they should go home together, but it’s her day off, so she suggests they do something else.
They deep-clean the entire house, and to his credit, Ha-baek applies himself enthusiastically. He’s still grumpy with So-ah, and some of his techniques are hilarious (he changes a light bulb by holding it with both hands and spinning in circles, ha).
At one point, Ha-baek sees So-ah teetering on a stool trying to reach some books. He steps onto the stool behind her and gets the books down, leaning in just a bit closer than necessary, flustering her. Okay, he totally did that on purpose.
After a cute water fight, So-ah flops onto the floor, inviting Ha-baek to join her and stretch his back. He refuses, grumpy again, snapping, “I’m still a man!” when she challenges him.
So-ah huffs, so Ha-baek lies down right next to her. She pushes at him and he says blandly, “You told me to lie down.” So-ah tries to scoot away but Ha-baek scoots closer, repeating, “You told me to lie down.”
Ha-baek rolls towards So-ah until she’s trapped against the table and their faces are inches apart, whispering in a sexy voice, “You told me to lie down.” So-ah stammers that she didn’t mean this, and Ha-baek slams a hand on the table, trapping her in his arms. RAWR.
Then he says, “How dare you try to seduce me.” So-ah denies it, but Ha-baek says that newspapers and TV have taught him that men are all animals. He orders So-ah not to tell men to lie down next to her, or hug them from behind and cry like she did to him yesterday. He leans verrry close, and So-ah closes her eyes and braces herself for a kiss. But Ha-baek just gets up and leaves her there, HAHA.
They visit a sauna after their hard work, and it’s dark by the time they walk home. So-ah sees some kids at the park and shows them how to spin the swing, but she spins herself right into the sand. Embarrassed, she holds up a hand to refuse Ha-baek’s help getting up — but HA, he’s already gone, more embarrassed than she is.
Hu-ye and Geol-rin watch from nearby. Geol-rin figures So-ah is a gods’ servant, and when Hu-ye asks how she became one, Geol-rin starts to say something about Hu-ye. But he stops and just says that her ancestors committed a grave sin twelve hundred years ago.
Geol-rin adds that it’s Hu-ye who needs a gods’ servant most, because she would understand and accept him as he is, and that the cycle of being born, growing up, then dying over and over for eternity is too vicious for Hu-ye to handle alone.
So-ah and Ha-baek bicker over his leaving her lying in the sand, and Ha-baek tries to use his healing magic on a scrape on So-ah’s arm, sighing in frustration when it doesn’t work.
So-ah sees their names still written on the wall and starts to scratch them out, but Ha-baek tells her to leave it. So-ah argues that there’s no reason to leave his name when he’s going home soon, but he snaps that he’s not leaving tonight.
He resorts to stealing her rocks and peevishly throwing them away. LOL, So-ah distracts Ha-baek for a second by pointing and yelling, “Look, fried chicken!” They go right back to wrestling for rocks, and it’s a bizarre excuse for skinship, but I’ll take it.
Ha-baek follows So-ah into her house like he belongs there, heading for the door connecting to his room. So-ah insists he use the outside door, and he actually pouts as he leaves. So cute.
Mura goes back to the movie set where they try to film the kiss scene again, but her co-star passes out again. She threatens to quit, and Bi-ryum tells her to just make movies that aren’t romances.
When Hu-ye approaches, Bi-ryum tells him that they found Joo-dong thanks to him. He seems like he’s trying to be nice, but then he sneers that Hu-ye ruins things and the gods fix them, which is the crucial difference between them.
Bi-ryum catches up to Mura, who asks angrily if he has a personal problem with Hu-ye. In an odd change of subject, Bi-ryum asks why she doesn’t practice her kissing scene ahead of time. Is he hoping to be her practice partner? Bi-ryum gets a call from Jin-geon and leaves, telling Mura to take care of Joo-dong.
With the final plans looming, his secretary reminds Hu-ye to settle the land sale with So-ah soon. Hu-ye suddenly realizes something, and he flips through a portfolio to find photos of So-ah’s land. He sees the divine gate, and only now realizes where he entered this world.
He visits the spot, remembering the night he tumbled into the human realm. Looking around, Hu-ye compares the landscape to his memory of the spot, and finds it to be a match. He climbs to the top of the gate and laughs like a crazy man.
Bi-ryum’s voice calls out, asking what Hu-ye plans to do. He punches Hu-ye, accusing him of approaching So-ah for the land. Hu-ye reminds Bi-ryum that he said Hu-ye ruins things, and he says that that’s what he plans to do with the land.
Before he leaves, he tells Bi-ryum that he did make Joo-dong the way he is. He screams that the gods think of themselves as saviors, and asks if they plan to kill him. With bared teeth, he asks, “But can you do that better than I can?” (Shiver.)
Bi-ryum reports to Ha-baek that So-ah already sold the land to Hu-ye. Ha-baek is confident that the divine gate won’t change just because the owner changes, but Bi-ryum says that Hu-ye can make the gate unusable in other ways, such as filling the land with people. He reminds Ha-baek that if the gods can’t visit the human realm, it will cease to exist.
Bi-ryum scoffs that as irresponsible as he can be, he’s never forgotten his identity because he fell for a human. He says contemptuously that it’s not even Ha-baek’s first time, then adds that what annoys him most is that Ha-baek played the victim and made him feel guilty.
Just as it looks as if things may come to blows, Bi-ryum’s phone rings. He answers it, then tells Ha-baek to go see what his servant — no, his woman — is up to.
So-ah meet with Hu-ye in a restaurant, where he asks for the real reason she doesn’t want to sell her land, and whether it’s because of the person she once said opposed the sale. So-ah confirms it, though she clarifies that the decision is entirely hers.
She says with difficulty that her father taught her that the person who has more should help those who have less. Hu-ye says that Ha-baek doesn’t seem like he has less, and asks if she thinks she’s stronger than him.
So-ah argues that her losing the money will do less harm than Ha-baek losing the divine gate. Hu-ye asks if Ha-baek is “the wind,” the one she said had stopped blowing. So-ah says that has nothing to do with this, and Hu-ye says that he forgot she cares too much about others. He adds that he’d forgotten why he was interested in her too, but agrees to talk to his shareholders about canceling the land sale. He says that he also believes that the strong should help the weak, but he disagrees that the person she’s trying to help is weaker than her.
He leaves, and outside the restaurant, he sees that Ha-baek was watching them through the window. Hu-ye tells him that he’s the only person whose emotions he can’t read, but that it’s obvious that Ha-baek is feeling anger, contempt, and confusion.
Hu-ye tells Ha-baek that he wants So-ah, not the divine gate, calling her his first and largest desire since coming to this world. Ha-baek growls that she’s the gods’ servant, but Hu-ye retorts that this is the human world, his turf.
He tells Ha-baek that So-ah called him a passing wind, which has stopped blowing. He orders Ha-baek to tell Bi-ryum that he has no interest in the gods or their realm, so they should go home and leave this world to him.
As he leaves, So-ah leaves the restaurant and heads off, not seeing Ha-baek. She calls him and he almost doesn’t answer, and when he does, he just answers in monosyllables.
She invites him to go to eat since he’s out, and waits for him at their tree. Ha-baek still looks thunderous as he approaches her, and he just glares furiously at her when she greets him. Finally he asks if she sold her land to Hu-ye, and So-ah nods that she did.
Ha-baek rescinds what he said about selling being her choice. But So-ah says that she’s already canceling the sale, growing angry herself as she admits that she felt guilty for selling what was hers to sell.
Ha-baek says that what she does with Hu-ye is none of his business — soon he’s leaving, so they shouldn’t waste time with things like happiness, “…or mistake fake wings for wings that can fly.” Oh, ouch.
He turns to leave, but So-ah says softly, “In times of hardship, those who smile are first-rate. Those who endure are second-rate. And those who cry are third-rate.” Ha-baek turns to see So-ah crying, and she says he’s made her third-rate.
She sobs that she tried to harden her heart, trying her best to keep tears at bay so she could survive. She’d thought she was first-rate after meeting him, but now she sees that she isn’t.
Ha-baek lets out a sigh, as if letting go of a burden. He walks back to So-ah, looking at her sadly as he says, “I’m going to leave. I have to leave.” He reaches out to grasp her hand, pulls her in, and kisses her.
So-ah stands frozen, and Ha-baek pulls back just enough to look her in the eyes. He repeats, “I said I’m going to leave,” then pulls her close again.
So-ah closes her eyes, and this time when Ha-baek kisses her, she kisses him back.
While the story may be disjointed and a bit confusing, I’ll admit that as far as the romance goes, I’m all in. Ha-baek and So-ah are obviously falling hard, yet they couldn’t possibly be any more star-crossed. He has to go back to the Realm of the Gods and be king, and because the last human who was allowed to live among them betrayed them horribly, there’s very little chance So-ah would be welcomed even if she wanted to go with him. Ha-baek looked so sad when he found his coordinates and realized that going home meant leaving So-ah, then again at the end when he kept saying he has to go, while kissing her like leaving is the last thing he wants to do. And as beautiful as that kiss was, it breaks my heart, because Ha-baek has been through this before and he knows falling for a human again will only bring heartache, but he can’t help falling in love with So-ah.
I just love Ha-baek’s character development to this point, because he hasn’t changed who he is in any significant way — he’s just becoming a more aware, more sensitive version of himself. He’s still an arrogant ass, but now he’s an arrogant ass who actually cares, and I love that. I’m also glad that he seems to be more consciously aware of his feelings for So-ah, because she’s definitely been having feelings for a while now, so it’s cute to see them dancing around it (especially when they’re angry!). Watching Ha-baek get all cranky about So-ah avoiding his kiss, then get jealous in advance that she might hug another man after he’s gone, was so much fun. I love nothing more than a couple who shows their attraction through petty bickering, and Ha-baek is nothing if not petty. For a god who’s nearly three thousand years old, he can be such an obnoxious child, and it’s hilarious.
The character development in this episode wasn’t all positive – Hu-ye is definitely struggling to hold onto his resolve to be a good human being. What’s ironic and frustrating is that if Ha-baek and Bi-ryum were treating him with the slightest bit of kindness, he probably wouldn’t be going dark. I really believe that he wants to just live a quiet human life, and that it’s his fear of discovery and his traumatic past that are causing his so-far-controlled destructive powers to reawaken. So I still have sympathy for him, even though he’s on the verge of losing control and hurting someone, because it’s really not his fault he’s in this situation. He’s not to blame for being raised in isolation by a father who despised him, or for the fact that Ha-baek and Bi-ryum can’t get over their prejudice to give him the benefit of the doubt and at least give him a chance to prove he’s done nothing wrong.
But I think that So-ah is going to be a big factor in Hu-ye’s going to the bad side, because now he has a reason for why eh’s so drawn to her and wants to possess her. I still don’t fully understand how it works, but it sounds as though, as a half-god, Hu-ye cycles through lives for eternity, and that the difficulty of that is what causes half-gods to turn evil. He probably lived many lives in his three thousand years in that cave, and I wonder what happened twelve hundred years ago that Geol-rin almost mentioned (that seems tied up in Ha-baek’s trauma too, since that also happened twelve hundred years ago). But as a gods’ servant, So-ah could be made to bond to him, and take away his loneliness. Ironically, it could be Hu-ye’s quest to be happy that finally pushes him to embrace the darkness inside.
I think that a big part of the reason I’ve felt like the conflict in this show is so watered-down (no pun intended) is because the stakes in the primary conflict just aren’t that high. Ha-baek wants to become king, so he needs the stones, but the worst thing that we’ve been told will happen if he doesn’t find them is that he doesn’t get to go back to the Realm of the Gods and be king. There’s no real consequences for anyone but him, and we don’t know what being king means to him, so it just doesn’t feel like it would be a huge tragedy if he doesn’t find the stones and become king. But the conflict of Hu-ye trying to steal So-ah for himself or he’ll turn evil, yet turning evil in the attempt, is a lot more compelling because it actually carries serious consequences. Ha-baek could lose So-ah, So-ah could lose her freedom, Hu-ye could lose his humanity, and the human realm could disappear altogether if Hu-ye controls the divine gate and the gods can no longer visit. Now those are stakes that mean something.
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