Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 2
Fate keeps throwing our protagonists together, even if our gumiho would rather our heroine stay in her own human world. It doesn’t help that our gutsy PD is dead set on learning everything she can about the supernatural. Their separate searches for their loved ones lead them both to an island plagued by mysterious happenings. Whether they like it or not, they’re stuck together as they investigate in the hope of finding answers.
EPISODE 2: “I waited for you”
Yeon stands atop the gorgeous Baekdu Mountain, his domain as a god of wind and rain. He awakes one day to find a little girl – the spitting image of Jia – petting his head as she does her dog’s. Unperturbed by his grumpiness, she introduces herself with a smile: Ah-reum.
He narrates that he wishes he could go back in time and stop her from finding him. She’d visited regularly from then on and gifted him his original red umbrella. They blissfully spend time together and kiss in the rain.
But it all ended in tragedy when she was murdered. Unwilling to lose her forever, he’d abused his powers and frozen the lake on which Taluipa was guiding her to the afterlife. He’d asked Ah-reum to reincarnate, promising he’d find her again. He breathed a golden bead into her and kissed her one last time.
Over the centuries, he’d seen several women with Ah-reum’s face, but none possessed the fox bead he gave her. Just like Jia hadn’t. And now we’re back to the present when Jia jabs the needle in his neck, making him regret letting her live back then.
Yeon wakes up on his own couch with a massive headache and Jia offering him tea like it’s her place. He agrees to hear her out, but if he’s unhappy with her explanation, she’ll pay a price. Yeon menacingly says he’ll take her eye since it’s seen forbidden things. Jia smiles and says, “Deal.”
Elsewhere, in case their villainy was too subtle, Rang and Yoo-ri giddily make a trip to a funeral parlor to watch Rang’s victims’ families grieve.
Yeon is unsettled by Jia’s excited response to hearing he’s a gumiho. She started her TV program just to catch them. Jia asks what happened that night on Fox Ridge. She’s surprised to hear Yeon intentionally saved her because she looked like someone he knew. He guesses her parents died and isn’t particularly keen to help her find out more.
In turn, she holds over his head that she plans to air the footage of him this week. He’s not happy with her explanation, and true to his word, he blinds her in one eye with a wave of his hand. Yeon says threats only work from the powerful.
Jia corrects that she was gambling, not threatening. She drops the USB in her tea. Foxes must repay debts, right? She’ll get rid of everything she has on him after she finds out about her parents. Yeon scoffs, but it looks like she’s won for now.
Back at the funeral, Rang grins as Yoo-ri “pays her respects” to the grieving family. One of the mourners recognizes Rang from Moze, the department store where Yoo-ri is a director. Rang had shared some coins with him at a wishing fountain where Rang had wished for Yeon’s life to fall apart.
With a smile, he says that he plans to stick around until one of them dies since staying away didn’t ease his mind. The mourner had wished to marry his girlfriend, lamenting that his parents disapprove. Rang offers to help him. Yikes. At the funeral, Rang congratulates him on being able to get married now.
Meanwhile, Yeon meets with Shin-joo who is up in arms over Jia’s “attempted murder.” He promises to keep his stock safe. Ah, that’s how she got the sedative.
Yeon explains to Shin-joo that Jia must be one of the rare people like shamans who are immune to his powers. Shin-joo is frustrated he just let Jia go and restored her sight, but Yeon asserts rules are rules. Despite Shin-joo’s concerns, Yeon assures him he’s accustomed to seeing those with Ah-eum’s face by now.
At home, Jia watches an old home video of her with her parents. She goes to turn off the TV after it finishes, but her parents are suddenly staring straight at the camera. Her mother holds something out, dropping it through the TV. It lands at Jia’s feet. She picks it up and screams to find a skull in her hands. Jia wakes with a jolt.
At the Afterlife Immigration Office, Hyun Eui-ong briefs the newest deceased souls on afterlife procedure through a powerpoint presentation. Pfft. He explains that his wife is the sister of King Yeomra (ruler of the underworld) and goes on to detail Hell.
Yeon visits Taluipa, suspecting that Ah-eum has already been reincarnated. Her silence is answer enough. He wants to find her, but Taluipa reminds him she could look like anyone. Yeon doesn’t care what Ah-eum looks like or even what her gender is now. He only hopes she’s young enough they’ll have many years together.
While Jia commiserates with her colleagues over their unpleasant dreams the previous night, Taluipa warns Yeon that meeting Ah-eum again will mess up his destiny, but he doesn’t care. He tells Taluipa he won’t be back for a while and asks for her help resolving something.
Jia gets a text from Yeon asking for her parents’ info, and she goes to meet him that afternoon at his regular haunt Snail Bride. He drops a bomb: her parents aren’t registered as dead. Jia sits stunned with tears in her eyes and takes him by surprise when she thanks him.
She’s determined to find them. No one believed her before that they could be alive. Jia apologizes sincerely for injecting him with an anesthetic, surprising him again. Yeon regards her carefully as she says she won’t ask him to understand. “I do understand,” he replies.
At his clinic, Shin-joo has a conversation with a sick dog to diagnose its stomach problem. Meanwhile, Jia can’t hold herself back from asking Yeon questions over their meal. Are there other gumiho disguised as humans? He says they’re all over the city living their lives.
She’s steady asking questions as they walk out. What about historical figures rumored to be gumiho? Are there other creatures too? Yeon responds there are creatures she can’t even imagine. The owner smiles listening to their conversation as they pay.
At Jia’s office, TEAM LEADER CHOI (Joo Seok-tae) tries to convince his team to eat at Snail Bride, and writer KIM SAE-ROM (Jung Yi-seo) teases him about having feelings for the owner. As they head out, Sae-rom gets a call. Her mom just died. Jae-hwan stares in shock as he recalls his dream with Sae-rom wearing black and crying.
Outside, Yeon tells Jia their relationship is finished. They live in different worlds, and he doesn’t have the time to go traipsing around with her. He cautions her that most who chase the supernatural end up crazy or dead. Jia grabs his sleeve desperately, promising not to bother him. “Just don’t disappear on me.”
A phone call interrupts their long stare. It’s Jae-wan informing her about Sae-rom’s mom. After Jia explains the situation, Yeon concludes her and her colleagues are dealing with an infectious nightmare. “Do you really want to see the world I live in?”
We cut to Jia getting her office’s security guard to help her look for some equipment in one of the locked studios. Once inside, Jia drops a fistful of coins on the ground. The guard’s eyes turn golden and his skin looks like it’s burning from the inside.
In pain, he drops to the ground and begins eating the coins. Huh. He advances on the horrified Jia, but Yeon appears out of nowhere and slams into him.
As they fight, it’s clear that Yeon has the upper hand. He moves so quickly he’s a blur, his attacks sharp and precise. After Yeon knocks him around a bit, he transforms his umbrella into a sword.
This isn’t the first time Yeon has had to deal with him. The man pleads with Yeon, swearing he hasn’t done anything wrong. He changes his tune when Yeon raises the sword to strike and admits Rang told him to come there and eat his fill.
Jia has been watching in fascination and asks what the man is. Yeon replies he’s a bulgasari, a creature that feeds on nightmares. Eating metal reveals their identity. The bulgasari takes advantage of Yeon’s distraction and scuttles up the wall like a demented crab.
He scurries around the scaffolding and drops behind Jia, holding her hostage. Yeon calmly asks Jia what she can possibly do right now other than get in his way. She grasps for an answer, but he replies for her: she can do nothing.
Yeon knocks the bulgasari out with some coin missiles. He walks up to the shaken Jia and tells her to stay in her world. She’s just a human.
Out on a fishing boat, a group of fishermen discover a skull. They recognize the deceased from one of the teeth which is outlined in metal.
Jia rushes to meet Detective Baek about the remains, making him worry she’s still looking for her parents. He admits they’ve identified the skull. By the water, the fishermen watch a woman cry for her father. And it can’t be a good sign that Rang is there to offer her comfort.
At home, Yeon ruminates on Rang’s taunts about the rumor and how Jia will die if Yeon can’t find Ah-eum by the following month. He opens his freezer to reveal the shivering bulsagari. Where is Rang? The bulgasari is terrified to give Rang up, but he decides he’s more scared of Yeon.
Yeon shows up at the meeting the bulgasari arranged with Rang, and the brothers exchange unpleasantries. Rang supposes he’s there about Ah-eum and invites Yeon to guess if she’s alive. Yeon surmises Rang is having too much fun with his little bet to kill her. Rang excitedly wonders what will happen if he hurts her.
Yeon attributes Rang’s disposition to a lack of affection, accusing him of having a brother complex. That wipes the smile of Rang’s face as he spits that it’s all Yeon’s fault for choosing some girl and abandoning the mountain and— Yeon completes his thought. “You’re right. I abandoned you.” Rang looks on the verge of tears.
Yeon smirks. Isn’t that what he wants to hear? Rang tells him get lost, overturning the table and grabbing Yeon by the lapels. Yeon removes his hand and acts like a big brother, advising Rang not to drink too much. He isn’t interested in whether Rang knows where Ah-eum is and leaves as Rang smiles sinisterly.
The following day, Jia and Yeon meet coincidentally on the same boat. She asks who he’s looking for and wants to help, but he’s not in a sharing mood. He’s concerned that she’s putting too much stock in the dream planted by the bulgasari. They mix truth and lies, so her parents might be unrelated to the skull.
The fact that Yeon happened to run into Jia, a woman sharing Ah-eum’s face, while they’re both on the way to the same island seems too coincidental to Yeon. They reach land and Yeon stumbles off the boat as he heaves. I guess his motion sickness patch wasn’t too effective.
Yeon tags along with Jia, pretending to be a staff member at her station, while she meets with the victim’s daughter Pyeong-hee. Her father’s boat capsized during a storm, and the police assume he was decapitated by a propeller but can’t be sure.
The night prior to his death, Pyeong-hee’s father dreamed her dead mother was holding Pyeong-hee’s hands. Yeon insensitively states that her mother was probably coming to “pick her up,” but her father went instead. Jia shoots him a look, and he halfheartedly attempts to walk it back.
The fishermen badmouth Pyeong-hee for talking to a TV producer and worry about the fisherman who has been missing since finding the skull. We see him a shaking mess in his apartment, rambling about how it wasn’t his fault.
Pyeong-hee lends Jia and Yeon a room, which is too shabby for Yeon’s taste. Jia tells him to go to the mountain then; she saw in a documentary that his kind specializes in burrowing. HA. He refuses to eschew modern conveniences and insists on staying in the shabby room too.
Jia goes to talk to the fisherman who downplay how well they knew the victim. One of the men lecherously asks Jia to pour a drink for him if she wants him to talk. She pours until it overflows onto his lap. When the man goes to hit her, Jia politely asks if he can shift over a bit so she can catch it on camera.
Yeon is impressed by her gutsiness and follows her (but totally isn’t following her) as she investigates. The elders won’t speak to her, so now it’s her turn to follow Yeon as he investigates. He communes with the forest and declares it “dead.” The spirits have all left due to being forgotten.
A girl steps out and kneels to Yeon, the former master of the mountain. She’s the spirit bound to the shrine tree. A “corruptive” force came and changed the island, leaving her alone since the Korean War.
At Yeon’s behest, Jia cuts the rope binding the spirit to the tree. The spirit thanks Jia and notes she has a connection with the forest. Yeon cocks his head at that. She tells Jia she’ll find her first answer on the north side.
Meanwhile, Pyeong-hee and a shaman petition the sea gods to help locate the rest of her father’s body. The shaman stops and says her father’s body isn’t in the sea. It came to shore before his skull.
Heading north, Jia and Yeon arrive at a cave which exactly matches the cave in a photo of her parents. Her mom was pregnant with her at the time.
That night, Yeon stays in the “shabby” room but complains about the smelly blanket. Jia suddenly informs him she has fatty liver. You know, in case he gets hungry. Ha! She cracks up at his indignant response, and he goes still. He sees Ah-eum in her laugh and tells Jia not to laugh with that face.
Back in the city, Snail Bride’s owner BOK HYE-JA (Kim Soo-jin) gushes over how romantic Yeon is, but Shin-joo doesn’t think the price Yeon has paid is so romantic. He vows not to risk his life for love and to protect Yeon instead. Hye-ja calls that love too.
That night, Yeon watches Jia sleep and tests again if she’s Ah-eum. It fails. He sighs and drapes his blanket over her before he goes outside. Rang’s threats and Taluipa’s warnings consume his thoughts.
Jia wakes to find Yeon tempting the elders with some fresh wild ginseng. All they have to do is talk to Jia. They cave and disclose that it’s not the first beheading they’ve seen on the island.
Jae-hwan does some digging and finds four female victims since 1954, all unidentified. That coincides with when the tree spirit said things changed. Jia hangs up and sees that fisherman running through the woods with a hammer. So, naturally, she chases him.
He falls, and when Jia tries to help him up, he hits her shoulder with the hammer. He thinks she’s a ghost and attacks again, but Yeon takes the blow. He wrenches the hammer and goes to strike, but Jia tells him not to kill the man, so he lets him run off.
Rang calls Yoo-ri and says he’s at the “ghost house.” We hear screams and see one man drown in a toilet bowl while another seems to choke himself. It looks like Rang is on the island.
In the woods, Yeon treats Jia’s wound with some herbs. She complains his hands are too hot, and her skin looks like it’s burning from the inside. A scaly pattern runs up her neck.
Jia grabs him by the throat. “It’s me. The one you’ve been waiting for.” She touches his face and asks, “Why did you kill me?”
Are we going to end each episode with Jia threatening Yeon’s life in a different way? Although, it doesn’t seem like it’s actually Jia this time. Maybe Rang is taking her form to mess with his beloved elder brother. That’s assuming they can shapeshift into anyone’s form, living or dead. Or maybe Jia is possessed by something looking for revenge. Whoever it is, I doubt it’s Ah-eum since nothing we saw indicated she blamed Yeon for her death. Even if it’s not Rang himself, I imagine he’s behind it. At this point, I’m starting to assume he’s behind everything shady.
Rang is like an angry child lashing out because he’s been hurt. Of course, most children don’t eat people when they can’t deal with their emotions. From how he blames everything on Yeon, I’m guessing he’s suffered some consequences for his brother’s decision. But I think Yeon hit it on the head with his acknowledgment that he abandoned Rang. If that’s truly it, I don’t know why Yeon thought goading him about it was a good idea. His little brother is murdering people and scheming left and right, so maybe try to mitigate that rather than pushing him further toward the edge. All this brother angst is giving me I Remember You flashbacks. Maybe Rang just needs his big brother’s love to curb his murderous ways!
Not that I blame Yeon for his brother’s behavioral issues, but his pettiness is not helping anything. Well, I guess that’s true in general, even if it can occasionally be amusing. Why is it that supernatural beings are always petty? You’d think you’d grow out of that after a few centuries or so. Maybe he just needs more friends. Right now, his only friend seems to be Shin-joo who confuses me. I thought he was human, but then he started Doctor Doolittle-ing his animal patients, and he speaks as though he’s been around a while. He’s also awfully attached to (and protective of) Yeon who says he doesn’t like having human friends. There’s clearly a story here.
Jia has her work cut out for her with finding her parents, not getting eaten by supernatural creatures or murdered by hammer-wielding fiends, and managing a petty gumiho. Now that she has real hope that her parents are still alive, she’s even more determined to follow this path no matter the cost. We haven’t heard her talk of any other family, so it seems like she’s been alone all this time. I guess she feels like she has nothing to lose. Jia is like a storm chaser, running toward every sign of danger with a camera in hand. She’ll probably find her information that way, but like Yeon said, most humans can’t survive continued contact with his world. Jia is reckless in her desperation, and it’s a good thing Yeon is a trustworthy guide.
Jia clearly gets under Yeon’s skin, and I don’t know that it’s all because of her resemblance to Ah-eum. He seems intrigued by her courage and unwavering resolve. We’ve seen so little of Ah-eum, it’s hard to judge if their similarities extend past their appearance. Regardless, Yeon seems to begrudgingly like Jia. His threats and scare tactics ring hollower by the day since it’s obvious he doesn’t want to hurt her. In general, I get the idea that he’s more bluster than not. He’ll do what’s necessary, but I think he chooses mercy when possible. Yeon may play apathetic, but he obviously cares more than he wants to admit.
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