Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 10
The imoogi begins the next phase of his plan and further integrates himself into our heroine’s life. Thanks to recent adventures, our prodigal brother’s allegiances shift, but he finds himself less in control of the situation than he imagined. Meanwhile, our leads continue to put the pieces together and make some important discoveries as to the identities of their adversaries.
EPISODE 10: “Déjà vu”
Yeon takes Jia to his old forest and unearths a box containing ginko nuts, a gift lovers used to exchange. Ah-eum had given them to him with a promise to protect him. Yeon had aggressively asked with what power could a mere human protect him. Her eyes had filled with tears as he told her to stop visiting him. Ah-eum left without a word.
He admits to Jia he was scared to love a short-lived human. Jia wonders if he went after Ah-eum, but he shares a mountain god can’t leave their forest or they weaken. The one time he’d accidentally crossed the boundary, he was so weak that he’d almost been caught by villagers. Ah-eum had saved him.
It was awkward after their breakup, but he’d thanked her and vowed to repay the favor. A fiery band briefly appeared on both their fingers.
At the mansion, the imoogi is pleased that preparations are almost complete. Thanks to the eodookshini, he discovered Yeon will never kill Jia this time around. The CEO asks why he’s fixated on them. The imoogi claims Yeon stole his position both as a mountain god and by Jia’s side, so now he’ll use the mountain god’s body to become a god himself and make Jia his bride.
As they stand by a waterfall, Yeon wonders why Jia isn’t asking about why he killed Ah-eum. She believes there must be more to the story than she knows. We flash back to that night when Yeon stared in shock as Jia shoots him with arrows. Two villagers lay dead at her feet.
The imoogi reveals that Ah-eum gave up her body to save her father. The arrows were laced with primrose from a burial ground which hurts Yeon, but he still manages to fight back. He puts his sword to Ah-eum’s throat, and they begin to spar.
Suddenly, Ah-eum cries that she doesn’t want to die. He promised his feelings wouldn’t change. Yeon is affected and steps toward her. The imoogi uses the opportunity to gain the upper hand and poises the sword over Yeon’s heart.
Ah-eum seems to take control as she stares in horror and drops the sword. She tells Yeon to stay back and cries at the villagers’ blood on her hands. Yeon comfortingly says it’s not her fault, but she sinks to the ground in grief.
“Help me, Lee Yeon. So I don’t hurt more people, so I don’t hurt you, kill me.” He tells her it’ll be okay, and that’s when the imoogi regains control, putting a sword through Yeon’s abdomen.
Yeon offers his body to the imoogi in exchange for Ah-eum being set free. The imoogi agrees to free Ah-eum, but in exchange, it wants Yeon’s heart which is the source of a mountain god’s power.
Yeon addresses his final words to Ah-eum. Forget him and live long. “There’s nothing to be sorry or grateful to me for. My life is yours anyway.”
Ah-eum takes over again and stops him from running himself through with his blade. His eyes fill with confusion when she tells him she doesn’t want him to forget her. She warns him she’ll haunt him if he finds another woman.
His eyes widen in horrified understanding when she tells him to repay his debt. The fiery bands on their fingers appear, and she orders him to kill her. His hand turns into a claw and acts of its own accord to reach into her chest.
Yeon catches her as she falls to the ground. “I told you that I would protect you,” she says with a smile. Yeon sobs as Ah-eum dies in his arms.
Now, Jia takes Yeon’s hand that slayed Ah-eum and thanks him for keeping his promise and never forgetting her. She apologizes for making him wait so long. Yeon vaporizes the ginko nuts from Ah-eum and vows to see Jia as herself and not Ah-eum’s reincarnation. He smiles like a weight has been lifted and hugs her.
Rang answers a call from Yeon and casually says he thought he died in the agwui forest. Yeon asks to meet, so Rang says now would be fine he guesses. Whatever. Ha. He smiles after Yeon hangs up, but he’s immediately hit with a bout of pain.
Yoo-ri is ready to call Shin-joo over, but Rang says it’s no big deal. She guesses it’s not the poison. Rang confirms he’s already lived quite long for a half-gumiho. Nooo. Yoo-ri begs him to consume human souls from the Chinese lantern tree.
Rang just tells her Yeon is coming over, and he plans to share what he knows about the imoogi. Yoo-ri is frustrated he’s so concerned about Yeon instead of himself. Rang instructs Yoo-ri to keep his health a secret from Yeon.
Yoo-ri begins crying as she begs him to ask the imoogi to spare him or let her bring him the Chinese lantern fruit. Rang gently chides her for crying over him, reminding her not to cry for others. Yoo-ri points out his hypocrisy since he’s always said to take from others and not be taken from. He gets her a tissue and asks her to go buy him some noodles instead of crying.
Yeon drives to Rang’s place with a sprig of azalea on the seat beside him. Aww, he brought it from the mountain since Rang said he couldn’t remember the taste.
At the station, Jia comes in as Sae-rom is trying to help Jae-hwan figure out where he saw Yeon before. Jia shows them the red umbrella photo and admits the man is Yeon.
Rang smiles to hear a knock on his door, but his smile drops when he opens it to find the CEO. When Yeon shows up, Rang is nowhere to be found. Yeon makes himself at home and, to Yoo-ri’s consternation, eats the bowl of noodles she bought for Rang.
The CEO giddily comments on Rang’s fading health at the mansion and offers him a lantern from his tree, but Rang declines. Is Rang going to betray “their master?” The CEO calls the eodookshini incident a misunderstanding. They took things too far trying to catch Yeon, but they wouldn’t have left Rang there.
Rang is over the CEO’s games and tosses an ax into the wall by the CEO’s head. Since the imoogi isn’t stepping in as usual, Rang surmises he must not be home.
At Rang’s, Yeon continues annoying Yoo-ri by hanging around. She tells him to leave Rang alone or she’ll kill him. Yeon finds her threats amusing and observes she’s not the brightest, so she can probably communicate well with Rang. Pfft. Yoo-ri boasts she knows Rang best and details his food preferences. She almost spills Rang’s secret about his health but holds her tongue.
At the mansion, the CEO laughs in Rang’s face. He can’t kill him because of their outstanding debt. We flash back to when the CEO found Rang after Yeon slashed him. He’d revived Rang with one of his lanterns and told him to repay the favor one day. The fiery bands had appeared, just as they are doing now.
The CEO takes credit for raising the imoogi, saying Rang just “put on a little show.” Rang realizes the CEO approached him knowing Yeon was his brother from the start. The CEO tells him to consume a lantern – he needs Rang healthy to fulfill his task – and gives him two days to hand over Yeon.
Meanwhile, Yeon smiles at Yoo-ri’s petulance and finally gets up to leave. He notes that Rang’s life hasn’t been all bad and tells her to keep on protecting Rang. He leaves the azalea with Yoo-ri to pass along to Rang. As Rang walks out of the mansion, someone watches from nearby.
Jia takes her colleagues to the Snail Bride and is surprisingly honest with them. Understandably, they have trouble buying Jia’s claim that Yeon is her first love from her past life. Jia is worried they could be in danger since they’ve been her closest companions in this and her previous life.
She hands Jae-hwan the tiger’s brow, and he sees himself carrying little Ah-eum. Sae-rom accompanies them out of the palace to their new home. The three of them live happily as a little family.
Jae-hwan and Sae-rom sit in a daze, struggling to believe what they just saw. Jia speculates the person targeting her is close by and wants to protect them this time. Jae-hwan asks who Yeon is, so Jia calls him in. Yeon guesses it’s their first time meeting a gumiho.
In the car, Jia asks if Yeon met with Rang. Yeon thinks the imoogi’s people got to him first. Through the eodookshini, they must realize Rang is a ticking time bomb now that he’s wavering. Yeon isn’t worried, though, since he saw this coming and took out “insurance.” We see Shin-joo lurking outside of the mansion.
Rang returns home looking morose but much healthier. He tells Yoo-ri he wants to be alone, so she leaves after showing him the azalea Yeon left. Rang plucks one of the petals and puts in his mouth, fighting his sobs.
Elsewhere, Detective Baek and his team find remains plastered into a wall at a construction site. At the mansion, the CEO calls the eager Team Leader Choi to ask for a favor.
They’ve decided to make Yeon’s apartment their “base camp,” so Jia is staying there for the time being. Shin-joo reports that he didn’t see the imoogi, but he did see the man who’s likely the one with the sinner’s mark.
Over fried chicken, Yeon thanks Shin-joo for all his help and worries about what kind of contract he signed with Taluipa. Shin-joo casually says he agreed to help sail the boat to transport souls to the underworld after he dies.
Yeon is worried because Shin-joo gets motion sickness and suggests bribing officials to get him a desk job. Heh. To Shin-joo’s delight, Yeon gives his blessing to his and Yoo-ri’s relationship.
The next morning, Yeon scares the bejesus out of the CEO who finds him lounging on his sofa. He wants to know where “it” is and is prepared to torture the CEO to find out.
At the station, Team Leader Choi introduces their new intern: the imoogi who introduces himself as Terry. Jia panics Team Leader Choi when she straight up calls “Terry” a parachute hire and asks who his connection is. He responds just as bluntly that his guardian is a big name in the industry.
Jia likes his honesty and offers her hand as she introduces herself. She has the feeling they’ve met before, but he says he’s not sure. He watches her closely and wonders why he can’t read her thoughts like he can everyone else’s. Nifty little skill there.
Taluipa laments that the imoogi has made its move and the only way to stop it might be “sacrificing that child’s life.” Hyun Eui-ong arrives with flowers for their anniversary, but before he can give them to her, Taluipa angrily punches him in the stomach for leaving during work hours.
Hyun Eui-ong thinks of the challenging favor Yeon asked of him – to get Taluipa to “open her heart.” Yeon suspects she knows how to defeat the imoogi but isn’t saying because it breaks the rules.
At the station, Team Leader Choi overhears Sae-rom asking Jia how she can be so calm. He presses to know what they’re talking about, and the imoogi jumps in to divert attention to a news article about a mummified corpse found on a construction site.
Jia volunteers to check it out and takes the imoogi with her. She’s not about to give him special treatment, and he agrees she can fire him if he gets in the way. He’s comfortable with a camera, but he’s hesitant to film a corpse. He thinks that would sadden the dead. Jia likes his answer and okays him to help. The imoogi smiles happily at her approval.
While Yoo-ri thrills Shin-joo by dropping by his clinic with beer, Yeon pays Taliupa a visit. His eyes linger on Rang’s wanted poster for a moment. Taluipa suddenly asks what he thinks of her. He gives a rote answer about her title, which confirms Taluipa’s suspicions. “Reveal yourself.”
Rang shifts back to himself. She wonders what could possibly make a criminal like him to come voluntarily. He scoffs he’s not afraid of hell, and Taluipa agrees – so long as he goes hand in hand with his brother. Isn’t that what he’s wanted?
Rang thinks of the CEO’s demand and says he wants to break a contract. Taluipa laughs humorlessly. The gods used the debt contract to instill fear into gumihos as a check to their power. The only way around it is death. Hyun Eui-ong catches Rang on the way out to offer some advice: contracts are all about equivalence, so find another way to satisfy the debt.
Yoo-ri confides to Shin-joo that she’s scared Rang will die and leave her alone. Shin-joo shyly says she has him and their dog Anastasia. Yoo-ri starts talking about her mistreatment at the zoo and is startled by how worked up Shin-joo gets.
She likes this assertive side of him, so he shares how he went crazy after losing his sisters to humans. He hypnotized the trappers out of their minds and many died. He ran from his mountain god to Yeon’s realm. Yeon refused to hand him over, and so began his lifelong allegiance.
Yoo-ri interrupts, “Wanna sleep with me?” She’s quite taken with his backstory. Pfft. Shin-joo nervously observes they’d be skipping some steps, but Yoo-ri couldn’t care less.
Jia and the imoogi check out the body at the morgue. She’s shocked by its mummified appearance, but she remains professional. The imoogi tries to hide his smile at his handiwork as Detective Baek shares that the body was displayed, not hidden.
The imoogi chimes in that there was a similar case in 2002 that was determined to be a natural death. Jia doesn’t think it could be natural given the temperature at the construction site. She takes a closer look and recognizes the fake nails on the mummy’s hand – they match the nail she found at the CEO’s.
Jia immediately goes to confront the CEO. He makes no effort to deny knowing the mummy woman and even gets excited talking about it. In the mirror, Jia sees the “Seokyung” mark on his forehead. “You took my mom and dad, didn’t you?!” Jia accuses.
He presents Jia with the origami carnation she made her parents when she was little. “Jia, why aren’t you coming to save us?” is written on the back. The CEO offers to free her parents if she sacrifices Yeon.
Outside, the imoogi senses someone following him and finds Yeon standing behind him. Yeon pulls him up to a rooftop. The imoogi finds him as arrogant as ever and offers Yeon a deal. He’ll let Rang, Jia, and Jia’s parents go if Yeon gives up his body.
The imoogi and the CEO are working from the same playbook as 600 years ago, it seems. Jia is presented with the same choice Ah-was to save her parents by sacrificing Yeon, and Yeon is once again faced with the choice of saving her (and Rang this time) by sacrificing himself. Yeon was willing to make that choice before, and I would imagine he still is. While it’s understandable, it’s also concerning given that he’s so powerful. If the imoogi gets ahold of his body and becomes a god, I’m guessing things will go bad fast. Hopefully, they can avoid all that. They’re in a better position this time since they have a heads up and already know how the imoogi operates. If they’re smart about it, they can use this to their advantage and outwit him. Not only do they have more information this time, but they also have more people in the know who can potentially help.
If Rang can figure out how to circumvent this contract, he could be an asset seeing as he knows the CEO and imoogi both. And I’m sure Yoo-ri and Shin-joo will give it their all for Rang and Yeon. I love how Yoo-ri and Shin-joo are basically strays the brothers rescued who just never left and became their loyal guards. It hadn’t hit me that Yeon and Yoo-ri had yet to meet, but their dynamic is fun. I loved watching her be all fiercely protective while Yeon smiles indulgently and finds her adorable. I hope we get to see them all begrudgingly on the same side because that team dynamic could be very entertaining.
Also, I’m sure Taluipa knows something that could be useful if they can get her to stop yelling for five minutes and help out. Seriously, what does she do besides yell at people? I can’t quite figure out what they’re trying to do with her character. I think she’s intended to be amusing, but she just comes off as abusive and incompetent. Rang is literally on a wanted poster in the office, and he was able to just waltz in and waltz out. Why didn’t Taluipa arrest him on the spot? Either their criminal justice system is incredibly lax or she’s terrible at her job.
Things really aren’t going Rang’s way lately. He’s finally made up with Yeon and decided to help and now he’s got this contract the CEO is trying to enforce. They’ve mentioned that gumihos have to repay debts, but I didn’t realize it was a binding contract in the strictest sense. It’s an interesting idea, that the debt repayment is a check on their power and a deterrent to mistreating humans. Although, it’s pretty horrifying that it can be activated to essentially enslave the gumiho as happened to Yeon when Ah-eum forced him to kill her. And now Rang is going to be in a similar situation if he can’t figure out a way around it. From the tip Hyun Eui-ong gave, it’s possible to satisfy the debt repayment in other ways, so hopefully Rang can come up with something.
On top of that, we find out he’s dying! *Sigh* I had a feeling he wasn’t going to make it, but I hoped I was wrong. Before he ingested the soul from the lantern, he was looking pretty rough, so I can’t imagine he’s long for this world. The dynamic between him and the CEO has certainly changed. Rang seemed completely in control at first, but it looks like the CEO has been playing the long game from the start. He’s the one who brought Ah-eum to the “king” back then, so I’m assuming he worked for the imoogi at that time too. He’s certainly devoted to his “master,” and he has a more central role than I thought. We already knew that he was involved in Jia’s parents’ kidnapping, but I wasn’t sure if he was the mastermind or the errand boy. It’s becoming clear that he’s devious in his own right and has been the imoogi’s right-hand man for some time. Rang was just a pawn they used to move the pieces into place.
The imoogi may have his sights set on Jia, but thankfully Jia is sharp and isn’t one to be pushed around at everyone else’s whim. The imoogi looked surprised when she recognized the mummy woman from the fake nails, so I’m guessing that wasn’t part of the plan. He obviously wanted her to find the mummy – he wouldn’t have announced that article at the office otherwise – but I don’t think he intended for her to put things together so quickly. He seemed to be gauging her reaction the whole time, getting a feel for who she is and her capabilities. I want to know why he’s so obsessed with her, though. In the past, the imoogi told Ah-eum that she was meant to be a sacrifice to him since her birth, but why? I’m hoping we get a solid reason because right now he comes off like your standard issue stalker … who also happens to be an evil, magic serpent.
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