Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 11
Now that the imoogi and his loyal servant have made their offers, our leads each have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to protect what they hold dear. It looks like Team Serpent has everyone where they want them, but things might not go as smoothly as they anticipated. Unfortunately for them, our team has proven quite resourceful when their backs are against the wall.
EPISODE 11: “Chinese Lantern Plant”
Yeon pulls the imoogi to a secluded spot and says his follower gave him up easily. The imoogi clarifies that was on his orders. Yeon runs him through with his sword, but it does nothing; he’s no longer borrowing a body.
Their fight takes them to a rooftop where the imoogi claims to be older than Yeon imagines. Yeon recites that he was born during a plague and spent 1,000 years underwater to become a god. The imoogi laments it all went wrong when he was spotted by a human during his ascension. Yeon observes it’s a pity, but that’s life.
While the imoogi offers to spare Yeon’s loved ones if he relinquishes his body, the CEO reveals himself to Jia. He taunts that she’s already seen her parents but didn’t recognize them. He knew they’d come in handy one day since Jia would do anything to save them. The CEO looks alarmed as Jia grabs her chest in pain.
The imoogi is still fine with their old deal of taking Yeon’s heart, although he’d rather possess his body whole. Yeon flat out rejects the deal, saying he doesn’t trust him to honor it. Yeon’s playful demeaner drops when the imoogi says he wants Jia. “I like her.” Yeon responds to that with his fist.
They end up back on the street where Yeon begins wielding the elements, but the imoogi has powers of his own. “I want to die right now,” he proclaims. Someone jumps off a building. Yeon watches in horror as people begin committing suicide one by one. He manages to save a few but screams echo all around him.
Jia gasps in pain, and the CEO notes with glee that she truly is connected to the imoogi as his vessel. She scathingly asks if being a traitor wasn’t enough for him. The CEO rants that he was called a traitor for being born poor and dreaming of a better world.
His face lights up as he says it’s then that he met the imoogi. He had to sacrifice his wife, children, and mother, but he got to live. Wow. He puts a sleeping draught in Jia’s hand. All she needs to do is put Yeon to sleep.
At the Afterlife Immigration Office, Hyun Eui-ong massages Taluipa’s shoulders and reminisces about their son. “Don’t say that unfilial child’s name in front of me,” Taliupa warns. Hyun Eui-ong angrily accuses Taluipa of causing his death; he wouldn’t have committed suicide had she not killed his wife. Whoa.
Taluipa counters that the girl was possessed by a yeokgwui (plague ghost) – should she have let her spread a plague instead? He sighs that he’s the crazy one for trying to understand her when she’s always just been the god of the border.
They’re interrupted by an alert on their phones informing them 132 people just committed suicide. On the street, Rang watches the ambulances whoosh by and wonders what the imoogi is up to.
At the station, “Terry” returns as the team is trying to make sense of the bizarre mass suicide. He pretends to be shocked by the news. He hands over the mummy footage and assures Team Leader Choi that Jia was nice to him. Meanwhile, Jia ignores a call from the worried Yeon as she contemplates the CEO’s offer.
Shin-joo brings Yoo-ri to his and Yeon’s place (although she thinks it’s just his) and cooks her a Russian meal to remind her of home. She takes a bite and smiles – the scent takes her back.
Outside, Rang hears a child wailing. Puppy Boy (with a bruised face) runs smack into him and hides behind him as his stepdad chases after him. Rang pushes the man away and offers Puppy Boy a choice: ask for his help and never see his stepdad again or say nothing and Rang walks away.
Intimidated by his stepdad, Puppy Boy (whose name is Soo-ho) squeezes his eyes shut and says he should go home, but he holds onto Rang’s jacket all the while. Rang says okay and walks away but immediately turns back when Puppy Boy begins crying.
Shin-joo bravely tells Yoo-ri he wants to be her family. Like Rang and Yeon, family are people you can’t throw away even if you want to. He encourages her to stop living a dead girl’s life and become true family with him.
This romantic interlude comes to a screeching halt when Yeon pops in to ask if Shin-joo has seen Jia. Yoo-ri is appalled to learn Yeon lives there too. She takes a call from Rang and whatever he says confounds her.
At home, Jia considers the sleeping draught and heads out. She’s startled to find Yeon waiting outside her gate. He presents her with a new pair of sneakers, remembering it’s one her favorite things.
He puts the shoes on her and wonders why she looks so sad. Jia says she’s just realized how warm the word “shoes” can be. “I like you,” Yeon confesses, to the point of giving his life for her. Jia looks down self-consciously before smiling and suggesting a walk.
Rang dumps Puppy Boy’s unconscious stepdad at the mansion for the CEO to turn into a Chinese lantern. The CEO takes out a seed, created by the imoogi, and puts it into the man’s mouth. The seed absorbs his vaporous form and turns into a lantern. The CEO ingests him and, seeing his memories, notes with surprise that Rang saved a kid.
Puppy Boy happily drinks Yoo-ri’s milk as Yoo-ri and Shin-joo babysit him at Rang’s. Yoo-ri is not a fan and picks petty fights with the kid. Ha. Shin-joo intervenes and asks about the kid’s mom. Puppy Boy states his mom got tired of being hit and ran off with some guy. That’s why his stepdad is mad at him. Aw.
As they walk, Jia brings up the book The Little Mermaid. She was so sure she’d kill the prince to live, if it were her. Now that she has “a prince” she likes so much, she’s unsure. Yeon thinks it’d be better to kill the witch that cursed her.
Jia pulls out the sleeping draught and tells him about the CEO’s deal. He holds it and asks what she wants. Jia asks for his help catching the witch.
At the mansion, the CEO wonders if Rang is going to throw his life away over the brother he hated so much. He informs Rang that Yeon met the imoogi and was told Jia, her parents, and Rang were at his mercy. Did Rang even get a concerned phone call?
The CEO hits him where it hurts when he laughs that Rang was abandoned again. Rang sounds like he’s convincing himself as he says Yeon told him he never abandoned him. When the CEO scoffs that “saving” Rang was merely a part of Yeon’s ultimate plan to save Jia, Rang screams at him to shut up.
Rang blinks back tears as he thinks of Yeon threatening to kill him if he hurt Jia. The CEO continues coaxing like a devil on his shoulder. Is that who he’s going to throw his life away for?
Yoo-ri watches disgustedly as Shin-joo wipes Puppy Boy’s nose with his hand. She holds the phone up to Shin-joo’s ear when Rang calls demanding to know where Yeon is.
Yeon goes to see Taluipa with Jia in tow. She is mighty displeased and orders the human out. Jia holds her own and presses on, announcing she plans to rebel against her fate. Taluipa complains her and Yeon are the same – he playfully bumps Jia’s shoulder and says they’re soulmates, ha – but likes her gutsiness.
Jia wants to borrow Taluipa’s sight to find her parents. In exchange, “we’ll catch the imoogi, Lee Yeon and I, together.” He nods his assent, making Taliupa sigh and roll her eyes.
Outside, Jia almost collapses from nerves, but Hyun Eui-ong laughs that her nervousness wasn’t obvious. Hyun Eui-ong preens when she says it’s a relief to know that someone warm-hearted like him is the one to greet the recently deceased.
Inside, Yeon can’t understand why Taluipa isn’t destroying the imoogi. She reminds him Jia carries a piece of the imoogi inside her, and it can’t be extracted. The imoogi has already awakened, and Jia’s fate as a sacrifice is sealed.
Yeon now understands why Taluipa warned him against meeting Jia again. He thanks her, “but I still choose her.” Taluipa shares that Jia’s parents are held in the Chinese lanterns. Yeon blows her a kiss and excitedly rushes out to retrieve Jia.
Hyun Eui-ong kindly tells Jia to return here and say his name three times if she needs him. In the car, Yeon tells Jia about her parents. The tree has been moved, so they’ll have to locate it. Rang watches them drive away and recalls the CEO’s reminder that he has 24 hours left to bring Yeon.
The CEO calls the imoogi to tell him his discord sowing with Rang went well. He thinks Rang’s “obsessive” and twisted feelings regarding Yeon will work in their favor. The imoogi warns him against underestimating Yeon, but the CEO thinks the imoogi’s three traps are enough to ensure their victory.
As Rang obsesses over the CEO’s words, he smiles to get a call from Yeon. But all he asks is if Rang knows about the tree Jia’s parents are trapped in. Rang says he’ll try to find it and tells Yeon to meet him the next day.
Sae-rom and Jae-hwan invite themselves to Yeon’s place, and Yeon is less than thrilled that they’re staying for dinner. Meanwhile, Rang drinks and broods while he stares at the azalea from Yeon and ruminates over Taluipa’s assertion that dying is the only way out of a contract.
Over dinner, Jia’s colleagues keep unintentionally offending Yeon with their questions and ideas about gumiho. At the mansion, Rang dejectedly agrees to do it. He can’t kill Yeon himself, but he’ll lure him. The CEO gives Rang the sleeping draught and tells him to stay the night at the mansion.
The following day, the CEO watches Yeon arrive at the meeting spot. At the station, “Terry” gets along swimmingly with his new colleagues, impressing them with his breadth of knowledge. Team Leader Choi proclaims that they’ll have a welcome party for him that night.
Yeon finds the garden café a weird meeting choice, but he pokes around when Rang suggests he pick some flowers for Jia. Rang uses the opportunity to slip the drug into a cup of coffee while the CEO watches the security footage from his car.
At the table, Yeon goes to grab the coffee, but Rang stops him. What is he to Yeon? Yeon sighs at this frustratingly familiar conversational turn. He’s family – annoying family that likes to make him miserable. He yells that he’s sick of Rang’s whining.
Rang notes that he treats Jia much better, and Yeon agrees. Jia is stronger and doesn’t whine, even though she has a tragic family history. Rang finds it funny that he’s always looked up to Yeon as perfect, although he’s never treated him kindly.
He tells Yeon to drink. Yeon scoffs. Does he think he doesn’t know Rang put something in his coffee? He tells the startled Rang he’s kidding and gulps it down.
Rang sidesteps Yeon’s question about the lanterns and muses that after Yeon saved him in the forest, he thought he should die for him. But now he wants to live. “Will you die, hyung?” Rang asks and hits him with a vase.
Rang knows he can’t take Yeon in a fair fight and tosses the drug bottle to a fading Yeon. As he drops to the ground, Rang seethes that he wouldn’t have done this had Yeon cared about him half as much as he does about Jia. Yeon calls him an idiot and passes out.
Rang sits despondently as the CEO makes sure Yeon is out and calls the imoogi who’s at his welcome dinner. Jia watches him and follows when he gets up. Ah, she knows, doesn’t she? She scolds him for rudely leaving without a word.
He gets nervous when she says she has questions, but she just asks about his favorite book. It’s “A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments” by Roland Barthes. He likes a narcissistic quote about praising yourself for choosing a person lauded as perfect. Jia drags him back inside to the dinner.
At the café, Rang wants the CEO to officially end their contract since he did his part, but the CEO says it’s not over until he has Yeon’s heart. Rang manages to get under his skin by remarking he must be unable act on his own, seeing as he was born a slave. He laughs and asks how he felt hearing his family’s screams as the imoogi killed them.
Angered, the CEO agrees to end his contract and goes to cut out Yeon’s heart. Rang stops the blade and sends him flying. Unlike some, he doesn’t hand over his family like property.
The CEO orders him to die for breaching the contract. “I won’t die,” he says and shifts back into himself: Yeon. Ha! Rang wakes up with a headache, and the CEO is shocked to hear this switcheroo happened the night before.
Yeon had met Rang at the bar and apologized for not knowing he was in danger. Rang blinked back tears, saying he couldn’t see a way out of the contract. Yeon suggested switching places and giving the CEO what he wants.
Now, the CEO rages at their audacity. He goes to stab Yeon, but Yeon easily twists his arm and makes the CEO stab himself. When the CEO orders Rang to kill Yeon, Yeon grabs him by the throat and threatens to really kill him if he keeps bothering his little brother.
Yeon offers him a choice: change the contract or die by his hand. The CEO gasps out for Rang to save him and thereby fulfill his contract. He leads Rang to the lantern tree.
Jia continues to stall the imoogi, insisting he should share a ride with her. He’s itching to leave but won’t say no to her. While they wait, he asks what her boyfriend is like. When she deems him like a fairy tale, the imoogi advises her to break up with him. Fairy tales don’t end well.
After the CEO literally runs away, Rang watches the fiery band on his finger dissipate with relief. The brothers lightheartedly joke that Rang should become an actor with that kind of skill.
As soon as Jia receives a picture of the tree, she drops the act. She calls “Terry” out for pretending to be human when he’s truly just her parents’ enemy.
The imoogi laughs to realize she knows his identity. We see that Yeon clued her in the previous night and assured her the imoogi can’t kill her. Jia resists as the imoogi grabs her arm and agrees that he likes her too much to kill her. Ewww, he creepily kisses her hand before walking away.
Jia runs home in tears and is relieved to see a smiling Yeon outside her place. She runs into his arms, and they go inside together. Jia stares at the two pairs of shoes at the door. Her parents stand in the living room, staring at family photos. Yeon watches with a smile as Jia runs and throws her arms around them.
Yay for communication this hour! I love that Jia told Yeon about the choice the CEO gave her that very day, Yeon told her what he knew about the imoogi, and they immediately started working together on a plan. Even Taluipa finally gave up the location of Jia’s parents when they approached her as a unified force. She also confirmed that Jia and the imoogi are in a live-together-or-die together type of situation, so I wonder how they’ll kill the imoogi without Jia dying too.
Then we had that awesome teamwork by the brothers. I figured Rang wasn’t going to go back to the dark side, but he did have me nervous there for a bit since he’s so volatile. I have to say, Yeon does a mean Rang impression and vice versa. It’s hilarious that they basically had a self-roasting session as they fought from each other’s perspective. I particularly loved that Rang yelled about how annoyingly whiny he is and that Jia is way stronger in dealing with her tragedy. That’s one way to come to terms with your faults. I was really glad they used Jia’s unique position with the imoogi in their plan. Yeon’s earlier behavior made me worry he’d constantly try to exclude her in the name of protecting her, but thankfully, he’s gotten over that.
For the first time, the imoogi seemed legitimately threatening this hour. He’s been pretty tame since he took human form, but that mass suicide was a terrible display of his capabilities. Not only can he read thoughts but he’s able to entirely control behavior, and it seems like Jia is the only human immune. I wonder if that’s because of their link or if it’s something about her personally. And then there’s his creepy stalker behavior. The way he constantly watches her has been unsettling, but that hand kiss upped the creep factor. I feel bad for Jia having to endure his unwanted attentions, but she’s the only one with any sort of power over the imoogi right now, so her role might be critical.
At least she got her parents back. I’m glad they’ve reunited, even though I expected popping them out of their lanterns would be more difficult and take longer. I imagine being trapped for over 20 years does a number on you mentally, and we don’t know what it feels like in there. Did time pass normally for them or was it like being frozen in time? Being back will be an adjustment, but I’m hoping they’ll have some useful information either about the imoogi or about Jia. They’ve known something was unique about her since she was little, and that kind of information could be helpful in this fight.
Families were being brought together left and right this episode. Rang even took in Puppy Boy! I knew he’d end up saving that kid sooner or later. I didn’t even think of the potential hilarity of having Yoo-ri as a babysitter. Thank goodness for Shin-joo because things would’ve devolved quickly had Yoo-ri been in charge. She’s so petty but it somehow makes her more endearing. Shin-joo sure took things up a notch by straightforwardly saying he wants them to be a family. Now that he and Yoo-ri are more involved and Rang is definitively on Yeon’s team, I’m looking forward to all of Yoo-ri’s sniping as she’s forced to work alongside Yeon.
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