Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter: Episode 8
The acceptance of a little magic in his life seems to be good for our grumpy professor. The more time he spends with his fairy, the happier and more relaxed he becomes. But their swiftly growing friendship isn’t good news for everyone, and if the professor isn’t careful, he may gain one friend at the expense of another.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Early in the morning, Yi-hyun shows up at Ok-nam’s door unexpectedly, looking upset. He asks her if it’s important whether he used to be her husband, because the only thing he’s sure about is that he’s starting to like her.
The romantic tension is broken by Jeom-soon, who staggers over half-asleep, with tiger whiskers sprouting on her face. Yi-hyun valiantly tries to shield Ok-nam from her own child, but when Jeom-soon glares at him, he faints, hee.
When everyone is calmer (and Jeom-soon has gotten rid of her whiskers), Ok-nam starts to introduce Yi-hyun to Jeom-soon as her father, but she stops herself. After some wary hellos, Ok-nam explains to Yi-hyun that Jeom-soon has been reincarnated five times, and that this fifth time, she’s sometimes a tiger.
Yi-hyun scurries off to the restroom, and Ok-nam scolds Jeom-soon for having racy dreams that make her wake up mid-transformation. Jeom-soon says grumpily that she’s staying home today to finish her web novel, so if Ok-nam wants to talk to Yi-hyun, they should be the ones to go out.
As they walk together, Yi-hyun admits that he’s having trouble coming up with a scientific explanation for Jeom-soon’s whiskers. He says it’s his motto to doubt everything, but Ok-nam gets distracted by his grumbling tummy. He argues that he never eats breakfast, but his belly complains again, so they decide to get some food.
Ok-nam wants to go to a restaurant that’s always too busy during the day and order two bowls of samgyetang. Ok-nam marvels at the sight of a whole chicken for each of them, remembering her family sharing one tiny chicken among the four of them. Woodcutter Bausae used to claim the neck was his favorite part so that his wife and children could eat the better parts of the chicken.
Now Ok-nam notices that Yi-hyun eats the neck of his chicken first. He says that when he shares a chicken with Geum, Geum says the neck is his favorite part and tries to give Yi-hyun the drumsticks, so Yi-hyun also claims to prefer the neck so that Geum can get some good parts sometimes. (Can I just ship Yi-hyun and Geum, please? They’re so sweet.)
Geum carefully chooses just the right outfit for the day, but when he shows up at Ok-nam’s place, only Jeom-soon is there. He goes on to work, running into the professor that his mother fought with over the vending machine. He asks to borrow the professor’s phone, but he says he doesn’t use his phone on weekends… then Geum notices that it’s sticking out of his pocket, ha.
Ok-nam wishes that they’d invited Geum to eat with them, and at the thought of sharing her, Yi-hyun tries to confiscate her phone. But it rings while he’s holding it, and soon Geum is eating with him. He goes for the chicken neck first, and both Yi-hyun and Ok-nam wonder if he actually does like the neck best.
The guys bicker a bit about who drank the most last night and who’s the least hung over. When Ok-nam excuses herself to the restroom, Yi-hyun brags that he’s hanging out with Ok-nam today since Geum got to go shopping with her… and oh by the way, he likes her.
After breakfast the guys flank Ok-nam as they walk, neither of them willing to give up his place by her side even when they end up bottlenecked in an alley. Geum is more accommodating of Ok-nam’s wishes, so Yi-hyun steps up and asks what she wants to do. She’s curious about a nearby “escape room” (where you’re locked in a room and have to complete missions to escape), so they head over with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Speaking of escape… our immortal trio are still stuck on the shrimp boat, so Master Gu tells Shin-seon to use one of his magic beans to get them out of this nightmare. Shin-seon humble-brags that the Master of the Northern Star must be punishing him for being a thief and a playboy in the fairy realm.
Master Gu grabs Shin-seon’s beans, saying that he deserves them more. But he can’t see the tiny writing on them that says what they do, and Shin-seon can’t read it since it’s in Chinese.
The escape room involves a hallway criss-crossed by lasers. Yi-hyun goes first and almost immediately touches a laser, so Geum goes next, confident that he can make it. He gets a little further before hitting a laser… with his crotch, eek. Ok-nam gives it a shot, and in her flowing hanbok, she looks like she’s dancing as she gracefully weaves between the lasers.
The next room has writing all over the walls, which Geum thinks are a sort of code, and a letter which says that a great scholar died in this room. It tells them that the code to escape the room is the answer to his question, and that if they can’t figure it out, they have to stay here with his ghost.
There’s also a warning not to be loud, because the slightest noise will wake the patient next door. Yi-hyun complains that this is dumb, but Geum says he’s just scared. Suddenly they hear a woman yelling for help, and all three of them jump. Geum even reflexively grabs Ok-nam’s shoulders, but he quickly lets her go.
Yi-hyun is confident that he can solve the problem if he knows the question. He starts pontificating, which makes the woman call for help again. Geum notices some writing on an IV bag that says “Your servant still has twelve ships,” which reminds the guys of a famous battle.
They ask Ok-nam if she remembers the year it happened, but she can’t recall and snaps at Yi-hyun nervously, triggering the neighbor a third time. She notices a half dead plant, and she has a little conversation with it under her breath before quickly entering the code into the lock and freeing them.
The next room is dark, with only a few candles, a Bible, and a cross on the wall. Yi-hyun looks ill at the blatantly religious imagery, which reminds him of his nun mother’s abuse when he was young. He clutches his head and falls to the floor, so Geum tries to call the staff with the emergency phone they were given, but it’s not working.
Ok-nam gets on the floor to cradle Yi-hyun’s head in her arms, and she croons to him over and over, “It’s okay. I’ll stay by your side. I’ll never leave you.” Geum injures his hand pounding on the door, but seeing Ok-nam and Yi-hyun’s distress, he hides his own pain.
Eventually they get free and take Yi-hyun home, where they put him to bed and tell him to rest. Geum walks Ok-nam out, and she asks what happened to Yi-hyun to make him react that way. Geum tells her vaguely that Yi-hyun had a difficult upbringing and still has nightmares about it.
On noticed Geum’s injured hand, but he hides it and says he’s fine. He offers to walk Ok-nam home, but she says that Yi-hyun needs him more and sets off alone. Geum goes back in to check on Yi-hyun, then he heads upstairs to stare sadly at Lotus Ok-nam.
Shin-seon shows Fairy Oh the writing on his magic beans, but she refuses to tell them what it says for fear that they’ll leave her behind on the boat. They accuse her of flirting with her thief husband, but she protests that she’s only doing it to find her winged dress.
She hasn’t been successful, and she says that she’s decided to just stay on Earth. They ask why, since she’s always wanted to go back to the fairy realm, so she drops a bomb on them — she’s in love with someone. They jump away like they’re scared it’s one of them, but she tells them to stop being idiots and just meet her on the deck in the morning to make their escape.
In the morning, while Geum’s mom is making breakfast, Yi-hyun notices his damaged hand. Geum grabs Yi-hyun in a headlock and drags him away so Mom doesn’t hear them talking. While Yi-hyun doctors his hand, Geum lies about how it happened.
They run into Ok-nam on their way into work, and she delivers some coffee to Yi-hyun since he said it prevents his nightmares. Feeling like a third wheel, Geum leaves them alone and goes up to the roof. He hears Ok-nam’s voice calling to him, but she’s not there, and he can’t help but remember how she promised Yi-hyun she’d never leave him.
While Yi-hyun drinks his coffee, Ok-nam asks if he has some bad memories. He denies it, but she says that he can’t fool a fairy, making him smile. He asks her how she solved that code yesterday, so she offers to trade truths.
She confesses that she asked the plant for the answer, and he accuses her of cheating. Ok-nam takes that as proof that he believes she can talk to plants, so he reminds her that she’s the one who said he should just accept things as they are.
He seems pretty happy to be sitting with Ok-nam, drinking her coffee. He tells her that his nightmare is always the same – he’s locked in a small, dark room, weak and starving. He can see through a small crack to the outside, where crows are gathering waiting for him to die.
Ok-nam suggests that the nightmare may be a memory from a past life. Yi-hyun sighs that they aren’t necessarily, since he knows all about being abandoned. On asks if that’s why he hates his birthday, but he ends the conversation there.
He says that he’s more than paid her back for her cheating confession, so she tells him that he can come to her if he ever needs to talk about everything. She says she’ll be waiting, but Yi-hyun looks at her and says wistfully, “I wish I was the one you’ve been waiting for.”
To lighten the moment, he rips open his dress shirt to show Ok-nam that he’s wearing the shirt she embroidered for him underneath. Ok-nam is thrilled to see it, though she promises to do a better job next time. Yi-hyun says that what he really wants is a lotus plant of his own, telling her that it will make him feel like he’s with her and missing her expression when she realizes that Geum’s lotus must have bloomed.
Geum slumps into the lab, looking depressed, and Kyung-shik and Jung-min immediately know it’s woman problems. They think he’s involved with Dr. Lee, since they overheard her cursing about him being rude, and they tell Geum that they’re against the relationship.
Their misunderstanding is reinforced when Geum gets a call from his mom and tells her that he spoke to Dr. Lee and she can go right to her office. Mom is there on the pretense that her knees are sore, so Dr. Lee tells her that she’s the wrong kind of doctor.
Mom confesses that after they met, she decided that Dr. Lee is the right woman for Yi-hyun. She’d heard Dr. Lee in the restroom cursing about a man and knew it was Yi-hyun, and she assures Dr. Lee that her secret crush is safe with her. She says that Yi-hyun must be feeling sad that he never got seaweed soup on his birthday, and she tells Dr. Lee to bring some to the house tonight, and she’ll make sure they get some alone time.
When Ok-nam gets home, she tells Jeom-soon that Yi-hyun invited them to dinner tonight. Jeom-soon lies that she’s busy writing for a movie, then runs out before her mother can ask any more questions. She races past Bong-dae at the kiosk, who brightens when Kyung-seul shows up asking for coffee.
Flirting wildly, she invites him to play some online games with her, but he says he has a girlfriend so he doesn’t have time. He leaves, and Bong-dae vows dramatically that she’ll never give up on him.
Kyung-seul finds Jeom-soon waiting for him, and he flatters her with compliments and offers to share his coffee. She spits it out when he tells her where he got it, complaining that he never sees the coffee halmoni everyone raves about, only some weirdo.
He tries to hold Jeom-soon’s right hand, but she jerks it back, shy about her missing finger. Kyung-seul just takes her other hand and says he knows, and to tell him when she’s comfortable around him about it.
At home, Ok-nam takes out the incense talisman that she found hanging on a tree after her husband left on his final trip. The deer had approached her and asked if she lost her winged dress, and had warned her to be wary of the man she married.
Dr. Lee heads to Yi-hyun’s house with the food she made, and she calls Geum’s mom (who’s gone to stay at a sauna) for encouragement. Dr. Lee admits that she’s not much of a cook, and Mom makes her even more nervous by joking that this seduction plan won’t work if the food is bad.
Dr. Lee runs into Geum outside the house and asks for his help. She blurts out all of her pent-up feelings for Yi-hyun, saying that she plans to lock this up tonight and asking Geum to sleep at the lab.
At the appointed time, Master Gu shows up to meet Fairy Oh first, and he nervously confirms that he’s not the one she loves. She complains that she’s always felt like the only one of them without a special gift, like Master Gu’s pigeons or Shin-seon’s magic beans, but she recently remembered that she has something, too.
She says it’s time for her to disappear, since nothing lasts forever. Before she can clarify, Shin-seon arrives and is immediately grabbed by Fairy Oh’s husband, who demands his magic beans. Fairy Oh fearlessly smacks him in the face and bellows that he was the worst husband ever.
He calls her crazy, and she agrees that yes, she’s insane for falling in love with Shin-seon. Whaaaat? As Shin-seon gasps that her love is one-sided (lol), Fairy Oh announces that she’s the fairy of love, which means her power is unlimited when she’s protecting those she loves.
Her voice changes into a loud roar, and she smacks her husband again and again until he lets go of Shin-seon. She reaches into Shin-seon’s pocket (HA, he misunderstands what she’s grabbing for), and takes out the magic beans.
She takes each of the guys’ hands in hers and announces that they’re going straight to Ok-nam, then hurls one of the beans into the ocean. When her husband peels himself off the floor, he’s alone on the boat’s deck.
Ok-nam talks to another lotus bud that she’s planning to give to Yi-hyun, telling it that there will be a friend for it to see there that already blossomed. The lotus bud offers to let her know if it hears anything interesting there (isn’t that Jung Yumi‘s voice?), but Ok-nam tells it that its only job is to take care of Yi-hyun.
Geum runs into Ok-nam outside the house, where she invites him to have dinner with her and Yi-hyun. He grabs her arm and tells her not to go, asking if it’s really Yi-hyun that she’s been waiting for. He says she might be wrong, and he pulls her closer, begging her with his eyes to stay with him.
Epilogue: “One day two years ago, I met him for the first time”
Kyung-seul has an appointment with Dr. Lee, where he confesses that he’s only pretended to be friends with someone because he was jealous of their good grades. He says that his mother always pressured him to be more like the other guy, but it went too far until he was actually impersonating him.
He continues sadly that his story makes his mother uncomfortable, and his voice wobbles as he admits that it makes him feel like his life is over. He starts to cry, but as Dr. Lee turns away to get him a tissue, he breaks into a nasty little smile.
I just cannot get a handle on this Kyung-seul guy. He looks so sweet and innocent, but then he does the creepiest things, and I just find his fixation on Jeom-soon really upsetting. She’s a tough cookie (she’s a tiger, after all), but she’s also very innocent, having lived all of her lives in a remote mountain village protected by her mother. She believes that anyone being nice to her must be a nice person, and for now, Kyung-seul is being very nice and making her feel like she’s finally found a friend. I don’t know yet what his ulterior motive is in chatting her up, but I do know that his secret filming of her (and everyone else) makes me very uncomfortable, and I’m scared of what he may be capable of.
This show really is charming now that it’s not trying so hard to be mysterious — there are still mysteries, but at least we have enough information to come up with some really fun theories. One thing it’s doing pretty effectively is to make the audience unsure of who is Ok-nam’s reincarnated husband (I know who it was in the webtoon, but that doesn’t mean the show couldn’t change it up), and whether she’ll even end up with him in this incarnation. I’m interested in Geum and Yi-hyun’s past lives, and I do want to know who they each were at any given point in the timeline, but I honestly don’t think that Ok-nam should choose whichever of them was her husband just because he was her husband, if that makes sense. Of course it will be good to know so that Ok-nam can have closure, but I hope that the show makes the point that it’s not who they used to be, but who they are now, that matters. I want Ok-nam to fall in love with the man she’s meant to be with now, seven hundred years later, regardless of who he was back then.
As for Yi-hyun and Geum, clearly their souls are linked in some way, since they seem to end up in each other’s orbits one way or another in multiple reincarnations. If they truly were Fairy Bausae and Izy, something bad happened between them in the fairy realm and caused a lot of negative feelings, but now they’re good friends and coworkers. I love how much they obviously care for each other and I hope that their surfacing memories of their past don’t come between them, but I’m scared that it will at some point. They’re my favorite “couple” in this show, and I don’t want them to hate each other, whether over the past, or over Ok-nam now.
Yi-hyun seems so much happier lately, smiling and relaxed, especially when he’s with Ok-nam. He doesn’t get mad at her anymore, and even when he draws a boundary (like refusing to talk about his birthday) he does it in a friendly manner. He’s even accepting that Ok-nam may really be a fairy who talks to plants, and he even uses her own arguments to explain why he’s letting go of his “if it ain’t science, it ain’t real” mindset. I love Ok-nam’s influence on him, but I’m worried about how Geum is reacting to Yi-hyun and Ok-nam’s growing closeness. He seems to be backing down respectfully, but he doesn’t appear to be in a good headspace, and his blatantly asking Ok-nam not to go to Yi-hyun is a violation of their friendship that I don’t think he would have even considered before. I have a feeling that if he really is Fairy Bausae’s reincarnation, and Fairy Bausae truly did somehow turn on Izy and betray her, that Geum may go dark, and I do not want to see sweet cinnamon roll Geum go dark.
- 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