Mystic Pop-up Bar: Episode 10
As our favorite otherworldly bar owner gets closer to her goal, those around her start to worry about what will happen to her when this is all over. A terrible pact has been made, but her companions aren’t willing to sit back and let her be punished for doing a good deed. Unfortunately, they have no idea that darkness is looming over them, just waiting for the chance to get the revenge it’s waited for for centuries.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
When Wol-joo was alive, the queen had accused her of letting her gratitude for saving the royal family go to her head, and had said that if she ever saw Wol-joo again, Wol-joo wouldn’t survive the encounter.
She had been all sweetness and light when she spoke to Crown Prince Yi Heon later, to tell him that she’d chosen a bride for him. She was the daughter of Lord Kim Jin, a childhood friend of his, and she had obviously expected Yi Heon to be happy about her choice.
He’d told her that he loved someone else, but the queen had ordered him to erase that girl from his heart and marry for the strength of the royal line. She’d dropped the smile and added, “If you will not, I will do it for you.”
The woman who called out to the crown prince on the street sits down with the prince himself… Manager Gwi. I knew it! She explains that she was in a coma after an accident, and that when she woke up, she remembered every detail of her past life as his mother, the queen. She asks Manager Gwi to forgive her for not realizing the extent of his feelings for Wol-joo.
Manager Gwi tells her not to apologize for things that happened hundreds of years ago, and he blames himself for breaking his parents’ hearts. The queen, whose name in this life is Ji-hye, asks why Manager Gwi chose not to be reborn, so he says that he’s trying to keep a promise he wasn’t able to keep in life.
At Mystic Pop-up Bar, Wol-joo teases Kang-bae for the way he would bring anyone to her at first, and even stole her ssanggapju. He suggests they keep helping souls, knowing that she’s signed a contract to go to the Hell of Extinction when she meets her quota. Wol-joo tells him gently that she didn’t agree to her punishment to avoid Hell, but because finishing her task will end the suffering of someone precious to her.
Manager Gwi thinks about what happened after he died — he had gone before Queen Yeomra and asked to be with Wol-joo, but she had bellowed that he had no right to make requests after beheading his childhood friend and taking his own life. She’d threatened to send him to the Hell of Repetition, but she’d admitted that if Won-hyung had lived, many more people would have died.
Because he’d eliminated a threat, and because he was a skilled warrior willing to fight injustice, Queen Yeomra had agreed to assign Yi Heon to the Afterlife Police Agency. If he served the agency well, she’d promised to send him to Wol-joo in time.
Meanwhile, Wol-joo’s main focus is to make sure Kang-bae and the reincarnation of the Cinnabar fall in love. Manager Gwi hears her giving Kang-bae dating advice and calls her a wildcat, and she insists that she’s just an innocent girl who’s in this mess because she believed a man who said he’d protect her.
Manager Gwi has a coughing fit and jumps up to get to work, and a necklace falls from around his neck. Kang-bae picks it up and Wol-joo notices that it’s a jade ring, and she teases Manager Gwi for being old-fashioned. Ji-hye watches them through the doorway and seems glad that her son is finally with Wol-joo like he’d always wanted.
Yeo-rin is happy to see Kang-bae back at work, and Wol-joo catches her smiling at him and calls her out for liking him. She says that Kang-bae likes Yeo-rin too, and that they can start dating today, as if it’s all sewn up. Yeo-rin sets her jaw stubbornly and grumbles that Wol-joo is weird.
Sure enough, Wol-joo already knows — from her contract with Samshin — that Yeo-rin is the reincarnation of the Cinnabar. It explains why Kang-bae’s ability doesn’t work on her, and even Chief Yeom couldn’t over power her… because she’s basically a walking talisman. Samshin had told Wol-joo that Yeo-rin and Kang-bae have to share a real, passionate kiss of love, not just a peck on the lips, for their abilities to cancel each other out.
Manager Gwi overhears Wol-joo muttering that it’s no wonder Yeo-rin is so stiff, being the reincarnation of a rock, and he figures out that Yeo-rin is the Cinnabar. Wol-joo says she’s sure that Yeo-rin already likes Kang-bae, so all they have to do is get them together.
They set out to make Yeo-rin fall for Kang-bae. Step one is for Kang-bae to show off his biceps, but he utterly fails to open a bottle for Wol-joo, while Yeo-rin pops it open easily. Their next idea is to have him reverse a car while Yeo-rin is watching, but the car is in the shop.
Revealing Kang-bae’s abs only results in the discovery that he wears teddybear undershirts, and pinning them together in the corner of the elevator is equally embarrassing. Manager Gwi tries to teach Kang-bae to be funny, which might have worked if Manager Gwi knew any actually funny jokes.
Ji-hye visits Mystic Pop-up Bar while Manager Gwi is away, but Wol-joo is rude to Ji-hye and says she reminds her of the woman who betrayed her and killed her mother. Ji-hye stands to leave as Manager Gwi comes in with Chief Yeom/Won-hyung, and Won-hyung seems to recognize her.
Manager Gwi pulls Ji-hye outside to tell her that Wol-joo doesn’t know he’s the crown prince. Ji-hye offers to help get them back together, but Manager Gwi says that Wol-joo is almost finished atoning for her sins, so he doesn’t want to distract her by opening up old wounds. He says that right now, his job isn’t to love her, but to help her.
At work, Yeo-rin runs into the old boyfriend who told her that being around her creeped him out. Kang-bae overhears him asking if her presence still scares people, and telling his girlfriend that this is the “creepy girl” who gave him a fear of being touched.
Kang-bae walks over and takes Yeo-rin by the hand, and he tells the guy that he’s her boyfriend. He holds up their entwined hands and orders the ex to apologize for speaking to Yeo-rin that way. Kang-bae says it creeps him out that there are people who make fun of others’ vulnerabilities, and you can practically see Yeo-rin swoon on the spot.
Won-hyung goes by Mystic Pop-up Bar while Wol-joo is out scouting a new location for the pojangmacha to avoid seeing Ji-hye again. He says with double meaning, “The grudge one harbors as they die stays vivid as if it happened yesterday.”
A customer comes in and starts pounding a bottle of soju, but Kang-bae ignores Manager Gwi’s hints to go touch him, reluctant to help Wol-joo finish her quota. Manager Gwi assumes he’s scared to risk his ability getting stronger, and he reassures Kang-bae that Wol-joo will fix him up.
Won-hyung digs in deeper and says that it’s hard to restore broken trust. Kang-bae blurts out that he’s trying not to send Wol-joo to Hell, and Manager Gwi asks what he means. Kang-bae reveals that she signed a contract to go to the Hell of Extinction when she meets her quota in exchange for helping Kang-bae cancel out his ability.
Manager Gwi storms out, and Won-hyung smirks at the counter sign, noting that there are only two more grudges to go before he gets his revenge.
In flashback, we see that when Chief Yeom had confronted him and Won-hyung begged him to love him as a father loves his son, he’d only been trying to get close to Chief Yeom. When he took Chief Yeom’s hand, Won-hyung had done something to him and had taken over his body.
As he leaves Mystic Pop-up Bar, Won-hyung wonders out loud if Wol-joo will be able to leave behind the person she’s been longing for. He says he can’t wait to watch the heart-rending sight, then laughs uproariously.
Meanwhile, Manager Gwi confronts Wol-joo about the contract she signed. Wol-joo counters that she’s responsible for what happened to Kang-bae and the Sacred Tree, but Manager Gwi yells that he doesn’t care about the damn tree. Wol-joo says that someone might be suffering because of what she did, but Manager Gwi just orders her not to settle any grudges until he finds a way to nullify the contract.
Wol-joo asks who he thinks he is, and for a moment he almost tells her, but in the end he just says he’s the manager of the bar. She jokes that he must like her, but Manager Gwi asks if she has any idea why he was a detective for five hundred years, and what he went through to be here, and says he’s not giving up.
Won-hyung visits Ji-hye as Chief Yeom, and she relates to him as her old friend, Lord Kim Jin (Won-hyung’s father… in other words Chief Yeom, and the father of the girl Yi Heon was to marry). He tells her about Wol-joo’s punishment, but he lies that when she finishes, both Wol-joo and Manager Gwi will be reincarnated and will never see each other again. He suggests that they help them clear up their misunderstanding by letting Wol-joo see Yi Heon’s innocence in Ji-hye’s memories.
Manager Gwi ransacks Samshin’s room in search of the contract, but Samshin says that Queen Yeomra has already approved it. She tries to get his attention by bellowing his real name, but he wails that he can’t let Wol-joo go without telling her the truth. Grief written all over his face, Manager Gwi asks how Samshin could do this to Wol-joo.
Samshin says she didn’t want Wol-joo to sign the contract either, but she had to let her because she knows Wol-joo better than anyone. She tells him that it’s time to stop, that he’s done enough, but he says that he may as well have done nothing if he can’t save Wol-joo.
Kang-bae finds Yeo-rin skipping lunch and invites her to a cake shop nearby. She tells him that everyone used to call her “Yeo-rin the Date Bully” because guys got scared of her whenever she asked them out. She says she gave up on dating altogether, and that’s why she turned him down.
Kang-bae confesses that his nickname was “Cursed Boy” so he’s always avoided people, but that he decided not to do that anymore. He tells Yeo-rin that she’s the first person he’s wanted to get close to.
She reminds him that he said he felt nothing when he touched her, and he clarifies that he meant nothing bad happened when they touched. Yeo-rin looks relieved, and she returns his honesty with her own. She tells Kang-bae that she likes him and asks if it’s okay, and he just grins. Awww, these two.
Kang-bae can’t wait to tell Wol-joo, who gives him the night off to take Yeo-rin on a real date. Ji-hye comes to Mystic Pop-up Bar again, but this time she doesn’t let Wol-joo scare her away. She helps herself to a soju and invites Wol-joo to join her, and Wol-joo declines, but she can’t help but be curious when Ji-hye asks her to listen to her sad story.
Ji-hye tells Wol-joo that she was in love with a man, but that his parents disapproved of her, from her career to her looks and even her parents’ jobs. Wol-joo finds herself drawn into the familiar-sounding story as Ji-hye continues that the man she loved promised to protect her, but then announced that he was marrying someone else, and that was the last she heard from him.
Ji-hye says that she wants to know why the man left her, so Wol-joo gives her a drink of ssanggapju. In Ji-hye’s dream, she’s shocked to see the queen threatening her mother, and she realizes that Ji-hye really is the reincarnation of her old nemesis.
As the dream continues, Wol-joo watches as Yi Heon is dressed for his wedding. He tells the queen that he’s doing this for the country and the royal family, and Wol-joo mutters, “So you lived well even after I died. Why did you do that to me?” She’s about to storm over and ask Yi Heon himself when Manager Gwi bursts into the dream and drags her away.
Back in reality, Wol-joo throws water on Ji-hye to wake her up. She asks Ji-hye what she wants from her, and Ji-hye says that there’s something else in her memory that Wol-joo needs to know. Manager Gwi separates them, and when Wol-joo asks Ji-hye for the truth, he roars at Ji-hye to leave.
They speak privately again, and Ji-hye explains that Chief Yeom/Lord Kim Jin (who is actually Won-hyung — this is getting confusing!) told her about Wol-joo’s dreamwalking ability, so she wanted her to know the truth about him for both their sakes. She says that if they reconcile, then her own grudge will be settled and Wol-joo will be closer to meeting her quota.
Manager Gwi screams that if Wol-joo finishes her task, she’ll be sent to Hell. He tells Ji-hye that she’s neither his mother nor the queen any longer, and he begs her to go back to her life and leave them alone.
He forces his way into Queen Yeomra’s office and brings up the fact that one year ago, she’d offered him a reward for having the highest arrest rate for five hundred years. He’d chosen to be sent to Mystic Pop-up Bar and Queen Yeomra had agreed because Wol-joo was taking too long to complete her task and she was worried about her.
Manager Gwi asks if Wol-joo’s sin is so terrible to deserve being sent to Hell after five hundred years of punishment. Queen Yeomra says that someone has to take responsibility for the secret that was revealed to Wol-joo, so Manager Gwi says that he’ll take the responsibility.
Queen Yeomra is incredulous that he would make such an offer, but Manager Gwi says firmly, “I may have paid for killing my childhood friend and taking my life, but not for making Wol-joo die alone.” He kneels in front of Queen Yeomra, looking every inch the royalty that he is, and asks her, “Please let me do this. Let me go to Hell for her.” (Oh, swoon!)
Won-hyung asks Wol-joo if Ji-hye ever came back to Mystic Pop-up Bar, so she tells him about going into Ji-hye’s dream and seeing that she was the queen. He wants to know what else she saw, but she says that Manager Gwi interfered.
Manager Gwi returns, crowing that Wol-joo’s contract has been nullified, and Won-hyung has to pretend that his upset reaction is just excitement. Wol-joo asks how he managed it, so Manager Gwi fibs that as a detective, he learned a lot of secrets that he leveraged to get his way.
Wol-joo tells Manager Gwi that she’s going to talk to Ji-hye, since something doesn’t feel right. But Manager Gwi lies that Ji-hye left the country for a while, and he asks Wol-joo to focus on her quota so that she doesn’t end up in Hell after everything they’ve been through.
Ji-hye is also feeling unsettled, since (who she thinks is) Chief Yeom and Manager Gwi told her two different stories about what will happen when Wol-joo completes her punishment. Her instinct is to believe Manager Gwi, since he was her son and she knows he has no reason to lie. She gets up to go see him, but she’s stopped by Won-hyung.
She tells him that she’s going to see Wol-joo and clear up a misunderstanding, but he says that his plans have changed. He says ominously that she won’t be fixing the misunderstanding, “Because I’m going to get rid of you.”
He laughs, his face transforming back into his own form, and Ji-hye says that after all this time, he’s still only good at lying and deceiving. Won-hyung says with dark glee that her last words are a compliment, then he advances on her as his eyes go black.
Wol-joo goes shopping, and watches as Kang-bae awkwardly flirts with Yeo-rin. He uses cheesy lines on her, like Was this just work for you? Because it was love for me, and I want to take you everywhere and give you all the nice things in the world, but I can’t bring you home. Having heard those same lines from Yi Heon, Wol-joo is shocked when Kang-bae says that he learned them from Manager Gwi.
She heads back to Mystic Pop-up Bar, and as she walks, so many things that Manager Gwi has to her said flood back, each seeming to reinforce the idea that he’s her prince. Wol-joo breaks into a run, and she bursts into Mystic Pop-up Bar to find him trying to call her. Breathless, she asks him, “You… who are you? Who are you?!”
I was definitely worried when the queen showed up with her memories fully intact, but I do believe that she was telling the truth when she said she felt guilty and wanted to help Manager Gwi and Wol-joo be together. But now she’s gone, and I’m scared that Won-hyung did to her whatever he did to Chief Yeom, and that now he’ll impersonate her, as well. Since Ji-hye has regained Wol-joo’s and Manager Gwi’s trust, and the bond between her and Manager Gwi is stronger than his bond with Chief Yeom, I’m scared of what damage he can do as Ji-hye before Manager Gwi and Wol-joo even realize what’s going on.
I feel like there’s still a lot we don’t know about Won-hyung, such as why he ultimately turned on Yi Heon and Wol-joo. It was his sister who was supposed to marry Yi Heon, so I’m guessing he was just power-hungry? At first I thought that he let himself be used by the queen to get rid of Wol-joo, but by her horrified reaction to seeing him, he must have acted on his own. Now I’m thinking that he was always a bad guy, since Queen Yeomra was lenient with Yi Heon for killing him because it saved many lives down the line. I just want to know for sure what happened that finally made Won-hyung drop the pretense of friendship with Yi Heon and Wol-joo and go bad.
I suspect we still haven’t seen Wol-joo and Yi Heon’s whole story, either, because even Ji-hye was upset when her dream was cut short, saying that there was something more Wol-joo needed to see. What I think probably happened is that Won-hyung (for whatever reason) killed Wol-joo’s mother, Wol-joo died, then Yi Heon found out and beheaded Won-hyung, then killed himself. But Wol-joo doesn’t know the second part of all that, and she’s spent hundreds of years believing that Yi Heon married some other girl and lived a fine life. I guess that’s what Ji-hye wanted Wol-joo to know — that Yi Heon didn’t betray her and live a happy life after she died, but that he died for her and has spent as many years as she has being punished.
I have to give it up to Choi Won-young, who absolutely slayed his role as manager Gwi/Crown Prince Yi Heon in this episode. Until now, I’ve hoped that he would turn out to be Yi Heon because he’s just so lovable, but this was the first time I really saw him as the prince. When he was asking Samshin why she let Wol-joo sign the contract, you could feel all five hundred years of his anguish and longing in his voice and expression. Then later when he kneeled in front of Queen Yeomra and offered himself in Wol-joo’s place, he was absolutely a prince willingly giving up everything for the woman he loves.
But now, instead of Wol-joo, we have to save Manager Gwi from the Hell of Extinction. He’s the only one who’s been truly and consistently selfless in all this — he never betrayed Wol-joo as she thinks, in fact, he worked for five hundred years to be reunited with her even though he can’t tell her who he is. Now he’s willingly given up his own eternity to save her from oblivion (no wonder Kang-bae — almost certainly his son — is such a decent guy). Thankfully, Wol-joo is about to find out who he is and everything he’s done for her, and if there’s one person in the universe who can make even the gods change their rules to get what she wants, it’s Wol-joo. They’ve suffered enough, and our trio deserve to finally be a real family.
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