Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 5
While our gumiho hero recuperates, our couple uses their rare break from life-threatening danger to get to know each other a little better and try to right some wrongs. Of course, that doesn’t mean doom isn’t impending. During their romantic interlude, our foxy antagonist continues his evil plotting. But apparently, even he has his limits when it comes to abuse, suggesting his heart may be closer to the surface than he lets on.
EPISODE 5: “I waited for you too”
Jia treats Yeon’s wounds at his place since he probably shouldn’t go to a hospital. She pops a strawberry candy in his mouth like her mom used to do for her when she’d get a shot. He asks her to keep talking, so she tells him about the time she spent in the pediatric mental health ward after saying her parents’ abductors were non-human.
Her doctor wouldn’t discharge her, so when she caught him pilfering medicine, she blackmailed him into letting her out. Pfft. Her uncle drove her home, but she didn’t want to go inside the empty home. (Wait, so her uncle sent her back to live alone as child? That can’t be legal.)
She sat on the stoop, taking comfort in the two fireflies that hovered around her. They felt like her parents. Yeon listens in silence, and we see in flashback that he’d watched little Jia playing with the fireflies from across the street.
After Jia dresses his wounds, she sits by his bedside as he sleeps. Yeon wakes in the morning and smiles lovingly at Jia’s sleeping form in the chair next to him.
We cut to a room plastered in talismans. The “baby” is now an elementary school aged boy studying advanced mathematics for some reason. We only see him from behind, but it looks like there are scales on his face… like a snake. It looks like we found the imoogi.
Yeon’s peaceful morning is brought to an abrupt halt when a hysterical Shin-joo arrives. He’s too tired to do more than wave dismissively and nod in response to Shin-joo and Jia’s questions as they both realize who the other is. Shin-joo is ecstatic (and emotional) that Yeon finally found Ah-eum’s reincarnation.
Jia reminds him she’s there, so he formally introduces himself as Yeon’s loyal servant since his guardian mountain spirit days. Now he’s Yeon’s bodyguard, doctor, and housekeeper. Jia marvels that he’s actually a gumiho and deceived her all this time.
Meanwhile, Rang shops and despondently overshares with the salesman about how nothing makes him happy. He seems to momentarily find his fun, though, when the salesman says his cheap watch is a keepsake from his dead father. Rang offers him a trade, interested to see his choice: his family keepsake for Rang’s incredibly expensive watch.
Shin-joo hovers and babies Yeon, blowing on his hot food. Yeon self-consciously looks over at Jia and insists he can do things himself … and proceeds to burns himself on his food. Ha. Shin-joo compliments Jia’s first aid skills and asks her to look after Yeon while he recovers over the next month.
Jia is incredulous as the vet says “the power of love” is the best medicine. Shin-joo is that family member that embarrasses and infantilizes you in front of your crush, making you as uncool as possible. Yeon tries to shoo him out, but the damage is done as Shin-joo manages to slip in that Jia shouldn’t forget Yeon’s favorite rubber duckies when he takes a bath. HA.
In Yoo-ri’s car, Rang is feeling broody and melancholic. He drops the salesman’s cheap watch out the window. Like him, that man now has lost what’s most precious to him.
At home, Yeon eats his beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream and looks like he’s even more smitten when Jia likes it too. Jia asks about Ah-eum, so Yeon explains how they met. In a flashback, Ah-eum pets his head and persistently asks questions in the face of Yeon’s grumpiness.
He’d displayed his awesome power by summoning thunder, telling her to get lost. Instead, she’d offered him a life of luxury if he’d serve her. HA! She’d left crying but came back later that day. Yeon totes his generous nature, claiming he let Ah-eum win in the end.
He’d had no idea what to do with the precocious, unintimidated child who pretty much did whatever she wanted. For years, he’d helped her learn archery at her insistence. Finally, she told him why: she was going to kill her father, the king. Oh, so that explains the entitlement.
Yeon tells Jia that there was an evil being masquerading as the king. The people called him the “earth dragon.” Jia realizes he’s talking about the imoogi.
Rang’s associate hires a nanny for the child and sends her up to give the kid his meal. I’m thinking she’s the meal. She enters the child’s room and freaks out when she sees the scales on his face and hand. The creepy child grabs her arm, and it seems to wither and die as she screams.
At Yeon’s, no matter how much Jia pesters him to tell her how Ah-eum died, he remains silent. He thinks of Taluipa’s warning that Jia could get hurt because of his obsession.
In the car, Yoo-ri self-consciously covers her scars – Shin-joo’s sympathy still bothers her. She tells Rang he looks at her with pity instead of lust. He advises her that Shin-joo can’t look at her like that without his eyes. (Because why be subtle when you can be extra.)
Rang hears yelping and urgently instructs Yoo-ri to stop. Three disgusting humans are using a dog as target practice for their pitching. The poor thing is in bad shape by the time Rang and Yoo-ri get there to put the humans in their place.
Yoo-ri takes out two of the men with some vicious hair comb clip action, while Rang painfully twists the other’s arm. They cover his head with a bag, indicating that they’re not nearly finished.
Yeon isn’t thrilled that Jia took him for a stroll to the morgue. Ha. But she needs to finish things with the ghosts, so he calls the girls out. They’re excited to see a fox, and he beckons them over. He raps them each on the head and tells the errant children not to bother humans, especially Jia.
Jia kneels down to ask their names and pulls up an article. Isn’t this them? In the funeral hall, their father reads the article that calls the girls neglected and says they fell off the balcony of their home which their father had been absent from for days.
Back at the junkyard with the animal abusers, Rang and Yoo-ri line the bound men up in front of the car crusher. Rang makes them pick a card to determine their fate. Yoo-ri claps excitedly when the first victim picks a “talent donation” card.
Rang is happy to hear their talent is baseball since he likes the sport. From now on, they’ll be donating that talent to him and will no longer be able to play. Rang instructs Yoo-ri to break each of the victims’ hands. She laughs delightedly as they beg for mercy.
At the funeral hall, Jia visits the girls’ father and says she’s a neighborhood friend. He shares that his brother usually looked after the kids while he was driving his truck, but on the day they died, his brother had an interview.
He’s stunned Jia knows he bought the girls cherries. They wouldn’t eat them because he was the one who bought them. Jia asks him to step out with her for a minute. Elsewhere, Yeon holds the uncle over the incinerator and asks if he molested the girls. The man cries that he drank too much and the girls fell while running from him.
He turns to see his brother who heard it all. Jia holds him back as he screams his brother is a beast and assures him the police are on their way. She consoles the distraught father, saying the girls didn’t eat the cherries because they treasured them. Yeon and Jia watch with tears in their eyes while the girls cry and hug their sobbing father who can’t see them.
At the junkyard, the rescued dog follows Rang out, wagging its tail. Yoo-ri observes it likes Rang and suggests taking it with them. We flash back to when a little Rang held his dying dog and cried in the ashes of the burnt mountain. He couldn’t bring himself to end its suffering and cried for Yeon, but there was no answer.
Yeon had entrusted him with that dog, and it had been his constant companion. Rang now thinks he never should’ve bonded with it. After Yeon left, he lost everything he held dear.
Rang remarks a dog’s lifespan is too short and leaves the injured dog behind. But Yoo-ri doesn’t agree and tells the dog to come along.
Yeon and Jia send the ghost girls off and turn to find the rest of the horde of children staring solemnly at them. Aw. Yeon sends them shuffling away and tells Jia they’re children who died long ago with no chance of righting wrongs against them.
To keep parents from holding onto their dead child, they used to bury kids in unmarked graves. He sighs that no matter the time period, a parent’s pain upon losing a child is the same. Jia smiles at him and says he seems different. She thanks him for everything.
It begins raining, so Yeon makes use of his sword umbrella to cover them and asks Jia whether she’s buying him food or alcohol to show her appreciation. He walks away, and Jia uses the “I lost my umbrella” trick to share his.
We get the romantic walk in the rain with shy smiles and giddiness. When Jia asks why he always carries the red umbrella around, Yeon shares that getting wet messes up his “fur.” Jia laughs that it’s like dogs who dislike baths. Jia notes that she caught him because of that umbrella, although he argues he let her.
Yoo-ri takes the injured dog to Shin-joo’s clinic and begrudgingly returns his necklace so he can ask the dog what happened. Shin-joo praises Yoo-ri for her dog thieving and begins treating the poor thing. Yoo-ri interestedly watches him as he works.
Elsewhere, Yeon is indignant that Jia hasn’t seen Toy Story 3 and calls it a kids’ movie. She prefers action and horror, like Mad Max and zombie movies. Although their tastes in entertainment differ, they share a love for Korean food and toast to having few friends. Pfft.
After some drinks, Jia asks what his dreams are. Yeon already has a luxurious life with access to all he wants. But, he admits, his unattainable dream is to be human. Jia thinks he’s lucky and goes on a rant about the difficulties of average people’s lives. He offers to eliminate her broadcasting station if it’s giving her a hard time. Heh.
Jia’s only dream is to be with her parents. Yeon stares at her for a minute and then asks her to send a photo of them to him.
On the walk home, Jia blames her drunken stumbling on how dark it is and asks Yeon to magically turn on the streetlights. He tells her to submit a request with the district. Heh.
At her gate, they’re reluctant to part. As Jia heads inside, two fireflies hover around her, and she realizes the fireflies when she was little were Yeon’s doing. Yeon watches her from a distance with a smile.
At Jia’s office, Jae-hwan notices an interesting write-in about a missing mother who recently took on a babysitting job. Ah, is that the nanny that might’ve been eaten?
Over at the Afterlife Immigration Office, Hyun Eui-ong is giving a presentation to the little girl ghosts about how they’ll be building a stone pile (that might get pushed over by goblins) in children’s hell. They can be reincarnated if they succeed in building the stone pile.
The girls are scared to go to hell, but he assures them it’ll be just like building with toy blocks. Pfft. When the younger one wants to bring her toys, Hyun Eui-ong looks to Taluipa in silent supplication, but she denies the request.
Their little faces light up to see Yeon walk in. He chides Taluipa for being too inflexible and secretly slips the toy into the older girl’s hand, telling her to take care of her little sister.
Yeon finds Taluipa’s upholding of a “children’s hell” too much; they already died young. She claims it’s to help them reincarnate faster, but Yeon thinks the whole system needs to change, starting with King Yeomra. She threatens to rip out Yeon’s tongue for his disrespect which he finds unnecessarily primitive.
Yeon tries to butter her up with some coffee and works to convince her to use her seeing power to find Jia’s parents. The problem is she can’t see them, meaning they’re neither in the human nor spirit world. Taluipa advises him to ask the ones who took them.
At work, Jia’s team heads out and runs into the station’s CEO. It’s Rang’s associate who’s raising the imoogi! He greets Jia warmly and compliments her on her show’s high ratings.
Elsewhere, Yeon approaches the seemingly drunk, homeless man who Jia piggybacked that time. He’s the village guardian spirit Old Man Jangseung who guards Fox Ridge. Yeon smacks him around a bit until he divulges that someone called “the Magistrate” knows about Jia’s parents. Yeon doesn’t look pleased at that news.
Over lunch, Team Leader Choi questions Jia about why the CEO is so friendly with her. Her secret? Don’t be intimidated. Team Leader Choi sputters about how it’s not his fault he cowers.
Sae-rom gasps at the handsomeness when she spots Yeon through the café window. Jia stares in shock and tries to look inconspicuous. Yeon doesn’t and strides right up to her, telling her to come with him. He drags her off while her colleagues gape.
As they listen to the special playlist Yeon made to suit Jia’s tastes, they head to get info on her parents. Meanwhile, Rang dangles Old Man Jangseung over a building. He asks about a mythical object: a tiger’s eyebrow. Old Man Jangseung first claims he hasn’t seen it but seems to change his tune after some coercion.
Jia and Yeon walk through a living history museum – Bukchon Hanok Village, perhaps? – and he goes off to check things out. (Are they looking for “the Magistrate?”) When Yeon comes back, Jia is nowhere to be seen. He wanders around and spots her up ahead wearing a hanbok. He follows her onto a bridge and makes his way toward her.
He stares intently at Jia in the hanbok, struck by memories of Ah-eum. Jia smiles and says she’s been looking for him. Overcome with emotion, Yeon rushes forward and kisses her.
So much for just watching her live a full life. I’m guessing this will cause some complications. Taluipa has repeatedly warned that both Yeon and Jia will suffer if their fates are intertwined again. I feel like that’s something Jia should know before starting anything with Yeon. It’s not fair to her if she has no idea what she’s risking. I suspect Yeon just got caught up in the moment and may try to walk it back later, but they’ve already become too emotionally dependent on each other to keep their distance.
Something about this romance isn’t fully working for me. It still feels oddly paced. I’d have preferred for Yeon to figure out who Jia is later in the game and for them to have taken more time to build trust and comradery first. Having them start out as almost enemies was an interesting premise, and I wish that had been utilized more. I’m hoping it’ll convince me more as we go along, but as it stands, I’m just not feeling it. Part of the problem might be that, although we saw a little more this episode, I don’t know Ah-eum enough to connect with that past love story. Yeon’s eternal love is based on his relationship with Ah-eum, but I really only know they were in love because of some montages and the fact that everyone keeps saying so. If they’re going to lean into the reincarnation angle for the romance, I need to feel invested in the backstory to buy the current story. Also, was it really necessary to have Ah-eum be a child when they met? I can’t help but be a little creeped out that a thousand-year-old mystical creature fell for a girl he’d watched grow up.
We got to see a softer side of both brothers this hour thanks to the little ghost girls and the abused dog. From what we’ve seen, Yeon has a soft spot for kids in general. He was definitely more affected by the girls’ suffering than he has been for the suffering of others (besides Jia). As for Rang, seeing him rescue and avenge the dog was the one time his cruelty was pretty cathartic and warranted. I think the brothers are more similar than they’d admit. They’re both sensitive when it comes to the abuse of the powerless and are disillusioned with people, but Rang is so extra about it. He’s ridiculously dramatic about everything, which could be endearing were he not expressing it through violence and mayhem. He just has so many feelings. I didn’t realize he was that young when everything went down with Yeon. It’s impossible to know exactly how young since we haven’t been told at what rate gumihos age, but he was clearly a child by gumiho standards. No wonder all of that messed him up so badly.
This episode was more character driven, so we didn’t get a whole lot of plot movement. We did learn some important details like that the no-longer-a-baby is the imoogi and that it masqueraded as the king in the past. Does that mean imoogis in this universe typically take on the guise of a human? He’s aging super fast, so it should only be a matter of time before Rang’s plan to recreate the past is put into action. I’m guessing he’s put Yoo-ri and the CEO of Jia’s station in their orbit to ensure Yeon and Jia are positioned where he wants them. Rang has been a busy little schemer. I wonder if he had anything to do with whatever is going on with Jia’s parents. Someone went to a lot of effort with them, keeping them somewhere outside the lands of the dead and living for 20-odd years. Where could they have been taken, and why not just kill them? If they’re not dead, I’m assuming it’s because someone has a use for them.
Shin-joo and Yoo-ri seem to be getting their own little romance side plot. I’m glad we’re developing them more, but I’m not yet sure how I feel about them together. She’s pretty unhinged, but I do think Rang plays into that and draws it out. Shin-joo, on the other hand, could be a stabilizing force for her. She seems moved by his compassion, and the fact that she took the dog to get treated made me like her a bit more. With Shin-joo’s help, maybe she could even find something other than torture to be gleeful about.
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