Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 12
Our team’s recent success puts them in a good mood, and no one more so than our heroine whose years of searching have finally paid off. Everyone gets some family time and a taste of blissful normalcy. Of course, their imoogi antagonist doesn’t let them revel in their happiness for too long. He’s got some nasty tricks up his sleeve this time that make our leads more determined than ever to put an end to him once and for all.
EPISODE 12: “Catch the tail”
Jia hugs her parents and cries with joy, but she pulls back when her parents don’t respond. They stare at her blankly, not seeming to recognize her. Finally, her mom says haltingly that she’s all grown up. Her dad says through tears that Jia is still a crier. Now they’re all sobbing and go in for a family hug.
Yeon quietly leaves and meets Shin-joo outside. Yeon revels in his accomplishments and orders Shin-joo, “Praise me some more!” Pfft. Shin-joo obliges, going over the top as he jokes that Yeon’s brilliance is blinding.
In the car, Yoo-ri is disappointed to hear Rang is now on good terms with Yeon. Rang happier than we’ve ever seen him as Yoo-ri complains about how Yeon has “tormented” him for so long. She threatens to bite Rang if he forgets about her now that he has Yeon back, making Rang laugh that he’s raised her poorly.
We flash back to five years ago. A dirty, almost feral Yoo-ri literally bites the hand that feeds when Rang places meat in front of her. He bites her back and tells her to do it right if she’s going to protect herself. He orders her to get out once she finishes eating.
Of course, that doesn’t work, and she ends up following him around. Just as Yeon had done for him, he teaches her how to fight. After her first successful fight, she excitedly hugs Rang and kisses him on the cheek. He laughs and pets her head. Now, they joke around and argue about where to eat.
At home, Jia gets her parents settled in. She explains the news articles and posters of her “missing parents” adorning the walls and how she became a PD to find them. They share that they feel they’ve woken up from a long sleep.
Jia pulls out that carnation and hands it to her dad. Isn’t that his handwriting? He remembers waking briefly and some man with fair skin told him he’d see Jia again if he wrote those words. Jia clarifies that Yeon is the one who saved them, not that man (the imoogi, I’m assuming).
She glowingly describes Yeon as someone who waited a long time for her and is willing to risk his life for her. Her mom is excited to hear she has a boyfriend, but her dad jokes he’s disappointed he didn’t get to nag her about it.
Yeon and Jia have a lovey-dovey phone call, and she thanks him for keeping his promise to bring her parents back. Elsewhere, the CEO has a tense phone call with the imoogi after so spectacularly botching the plan. He disobeys the imoogi’s summons and runs away.
While Jia sleeps between her parents, she dreams she’s at the mansion. She looks down and sees a fake nail. Nanny 2 grabs her ankle and drags herself along the floor. Frightened, Jia extricates herself and scrambles up the stairs into the imoogi’s room.
She turns to find the imoogi at his desk, although he prefers the name “Terry” since it’s what she first called him. He says that she called him here – it’s her dream after all. She shouts at him to get lost when he claims they’re connected by fate.
A mirror cracks. The imoogi tells her to see for herself: “I’m you.” Jia stares at the scales on her skin in horror. After she wakes, Jia checks herself for scales, but they’ve disappeared.
Meanwhile, Yeon paces in front of the Chinese lantern tree in his living room and tries to think of how to kill the imoogi without harming Jia. He calls the CEO and dangles the promise of the Chinese lantern tree, saying they should meet. At his wit’s end, the CEO is willing to do just about anything to survive.
Jia shows her mom how to use the new cell phone she got her and is surprised when her dad suggests they have a meal with Yeon. Later, Jia speculates to Yeon that her dream wasn’t an ordinary dream. Yeon promises to catch the imoogi and takes her hand.
She asks Yeon over for dinner so her parents can meet “my boyfriend.” It seems to just hit him that he’s her boyfriend as he notes with surprise, “That’s me!”
At the clinic, the imoogi rushes in with an adorable kitten who he says was caught in a trap. Shin-joo, clueless of his identity, examines the kitten. But Shin-joo looks at him startled when the kitten communicates that he’s the one who hurt her. Then, Anastasia starts whining. Shin-joo realizes he’s the imoogi.
Over a meal at the Snail Bride, Yeon offers Sae-rom and Jae-hwan a very well-paid part-time gig: investigating the imoogi. He wants anything, however trivial, they can find. It might reveal his weakness.
Shin-joo struggles to control his nerves while the imoogi watches him treat the kitten. When Shin-joo tries to covertly grab a scalpel, the imoogi stops him and drops the act. He grabs Shin-joo by the throat and wonders if Yeon’s right-hand man would make a good hostage.
Shin-joo would rather die than be used against Yeon. The imoogi has other plans and commands, “When the imoogi inside her calls, you’ll … ” we don’t hear the rest of the order he whispers in Shin-joo’s ear. Uh-oh, can he control gumiho too? Shin-joo startles out of a trance-like state, and the imoogi is gone.
At the Snail Bride, Jia’s colleagues are shocked to hear the imoogi who killed them in their past lives is now their intern. Jia leaves early to get home to her parents, but Yeon detains the uncomfortable Jae-hwan and Sae-rom. He needs advice.
While Jia cooks dinner with her father, Yeon models several suits for Jae-hwan and Sae-rom until he finds one that they declare fit for meeting the parents. He nervously arrives for dinner and formally introduces himself to Jia’s parents.
Per Jia’s colleagues’ instructions, he politely presents them with a token of his appreciation … and hands over a car key. Pfft, they should’ve been clearer on scale. Poor Jia is going to have a long night.
Yeon attempts to follow Sae-rom’s advice to respond concisely and honestly, but he ends up being too blunt. Jia has to do damage control and barely stops him from telling her parents his real age. (Guess they don’t know he’s a gumiho.) He’s confused at her parents’ displeasure upon hearing he’s had no formal education and doesn’t work, although he’s rich. Pfft.
Meanwhile, the imoogi shows up at the Snail Bride and puts everyone but Hye-ja to sleep. She’s terrified as he tells her to bring him whatever Yeon usually eats.
Jia looks frightened as Yeon starts to talk again. He knows that her parents are highly educated and that Jia went to the best university in the nation. Although he doesn’t have qualifications, he really likes Jia. He’s been through so many hardships, but just having a meal with Jia warms him and makes him feel like family.
Jia smiles and says she feels the same. She struggled after losing her parents, but Yeon showed her that people survive by leaning on each other. Her parents soften, and they all eat more comfortably.
At the Snail Bride, Hye-ja asks why the imoogi has to go after Yeon when he’s finally happy. The imoogi notes that just as all versions of her story as the Snail Bride are tragedies, his and Yeon’s story will end only when one of them dies. He whispers a command to her that we don’t hear.
As Yeon is treated to baby photos of Jia and some fun family time, Yoo-ri bumps into the imoogi. “I want to kill,” he says. Yoo-ri shows up at Rang’s with a blank look in her eyes. With no warning, she stabs him in the chest with her bladed hairpin. She proceeds to stab him over and over until he drops to the floor. Nooo!
In a café, Yeon happily tells Jia that today made him imagine marrying her, having kids, and aging together like a normal couple. If only he were human. Seeing his sadness at not being human, Jia brightens the mood by slipping a couple ring on his finger.
We cut from their bliss to Rang’s nightmare. He touches Yoo-ri’s face with a bloody hand, wondering why she’d do this. Her face remains blank as he drops to the ground. She comes to and stares in disbelief at the bloody hairpin in her hand and Rang’s body on the floor.
Shin-joo treats his wounds with Yeon and Yoo-ri by Rang’s side. He turns and shakes his head at Yeon. What does that mean?! Yoo-ri is shaken but remembers that she bumped into a man who said something about killing. Yeon puts his head in his hand and says it was the imoogi.
Yeon surmises this was a warning to him. Yoo-ri is the only person Rang completely trusts, so the imoogi used her. Yoo-ri asks Shin-joo what’ll happen to Rang. He says they’ll have to wait and see, but he doesn’t look hopeful.
Shin-joo asks Yeon about the Chinese lanterns, and Yoo-ri jumps at that idea. Yeon wavers, hesitant to sacrifice people’s lives but wanting to save Rang. The imoogi smiles as he thinks of Yeon’s dilemma. Will he cross that line?
Yeon admits the tree is at his house, but he finds it suspect that only Jia’s parents were released. It’s as if the imoogi wants him to use the plant. If Yeon kills, he’ll be dragged to hell, and the imoogi gets him away from Jia’s side.
Yeon declares they’ll catch the imoogi rather than use the lanterns. “I’ll save my brother my way.” On his way out, he bumps into Puppy Boy. They recognize each other from the park.
At a pojangmacha, a drunk Hye-ja asks Team Leader Choi if he thinks she’s easy. When men buy a widow like her flowers and alcohol, it’s clear what they want. He disagrees – buying her things was an excuse to see her. She’s confused but seems flattered by how much he likes her.
Yoo-ri begs Shin-joo to talk Yeon into using the lanterns, but he thinks they should trust him and wait. When Yoo-ri claims this is all Yeon’s fault, Shin-joo stands up for his friend and notes that Yeon cautioned Rang against getting involved with the imoogi.
Puppy Boy comes in as Yoo-ri sobs by Rang’s bedside. He asks if Rang is sick and wonders if he’s a gumiho too. Shin-joo is startled, and Puppy Boy stage whispers that Rang’s older brother is a gumiho.
The following morning, Yoo-ri stares at the first aid box, unsure of how to clean and bandage Rang’s wounds. Puppy Boy pops in and takes over, explaining that he used to do this for his mom when his stepdad would hit her. Well, that’s sad.
Yoo-ri leaves him in charge and sneaks over to Yeon’s to steal some of the lanterns. They dissipate quickly, and only one is left by the time she gets back to Rang’s. She’s devastated as she watches it dissipate right when she reaches his bedside.
Shin-joo apologizes in Yoo-ri’s stead, and Yeon asks him to keep his eye on her. The disheveled CEO arrives and begs Yeon on his knees to save him. He agrees to help Yeon catch the imoogi in exchange for his precious lanterns.
He cries that he only joined hands with him to live and says he wants a second chance to be better. Yeon rolls his eyes at the CEO’s nonsense and literally slaps some sense into him. He swipes the gun from the CEO’s pocket, observing that it’s laced with primrose.
The CEO smiles and remarks that Yeon is smarter than he looks. The gun is empty – he just wanted to see if Yeon was stupid enough to buy his tears.
Sae-rom and Jae-hwan discover that imoogi stories all play out the same. A beautiful woman is offered as a sacrifice, and some warrior appears and surmounts all obstacles to defeat the imoogi. There’s never a happy ending. In one story, the warrior slays the imoogi only for it to return and kill him. Jae-hwan proposes there could’ve been two imoogis, then.
The CEO tells Yeon that the imoogi never dies, only sleeps. He specifies that water, the body of a living human, sacrificial blood, and god-like power are the necessary ingredients. Yeon killing the shaman was the final step in waking the imoogi.
Jae-hwan shares with Sae-rom a story wherein the imoogi is averse to horse blood. Their excitement turns to dread when they look up to find the imoogi staring at them.
Yeon receives a text from Jae-hwan with the story he found. He grabs the CEO and says threateningly that he needs the body of a living human, then.
Hyun Eui-ong readies to pick up the Chinese lantern plant, excited that Yeon found a way to catch the imoogi. Taluipa rains on his parade by sighing that Yeon won’t be able to do it.
That night, Yeon sits by Rang’s bedside and strokes his hair. “I will never abandon you. I’ll save you. I’ll catch the imoogi,” he vows.
The next day, the imoogi video calls Jia to show her Sae-rom and Jae-hwan standing on the ledge of a building. He promises to save them if she goes on a date with him and wears the outfit he chose. EEEWWW.
Jia goes to meet the imoogi wearing the outfit he sent her, while Yeon and Shin-joo work on locating Sae-rom and Jae-hwan. The imoogi smiles and pulls out her chair like he’s not coercing her to dine with him. Jia doesn’t pretend to want to be there, but he says she should be nicer since her friends’ lives are in his hands.
Jia asks why it’s her. He thinks she can find something he really wants that was “stolen” from him. He tells a story about a son born to a noble family. The baby was a “monster,” resembling a snake. The midwife stopped his father from murdering him, and he was locked up instead.
Jia comments that he was a person, not a monster. He continues that the baby was abandoned in a cave for plague patients, “and he was eaten.” Elsewhere, Yeon soaks his hands in horse blood.
The imoogi says a white snake crawled out of the cave. People called it imoogi, saying it was bad luck. Jia understands now that what he wants is to have a “person’s heart.” He smiles and asks if she’ll find it for him. If not, he’ll kill everyone she loves, and then he’ll kill her. Next, he’ll spread a plague. Geez.
Shin-joo literally sniffs Sae-rom out using her slipper (ew). After dinner, the imoogi asks for Jia’s answer. She unequivocally states she gave all her feelings to Yeon and has none left for him.
Getting angry at her for the first time, he grabs her roughly by the shoulder and demands to know what Yeon means to her. Speak of the devil, Yeon appears and shoves him off Jia. The imoogi glares at Jia, commenting that he doesn’t like when people break their word.
The imoogi says into his phone, “I want to fly.” Shin-joo arrives just in time to pull them back. Yeon forces the imoogi to stand in a puddle and drops the CEO’s hair into it. Jia cuts her palm, droplets of blood falling into the water. Yeon calls lightning down.
In her office, Taluipa bolts up, “That’s not it, Yeon! It’s not that one.” OH. Yeon is confused when the imoogi is totally fine. “I’m not the main body of the imoogi,” he taunts, cutting his eyes toward Jia. She clutches her heart and gasps that it’s too hot.
Yeon holds her as she gasps in pain. She suddenly stops and pushes him away. Jia flashes a smile, and there are scales along her neck and face. “It’s been a while, Lee Yeon.” Yeon steps back in shock and screams, “Get out of that body!”
Whoa. Okay, so I did not expect that Jia is the main host of the imoogi. This drama is deceptively unpredictable – you think you know where things are going, but something will be thrown in that surprises you. Even last episode, while I expected that Rang would do a double-cross, I didn’t see the switch coming. Same with Jia. Even though I knew Jia has the imoogi in her, I did not predict that she’d be the primary vessel. I also enjoy the small ways they flip gender roles like when Jia was the one to buy the couple rings and surprise Yeon with them. I’m so happy her character has stayed consistent and proactive.
Rang is just going through it lately. Why is he always getting stabbed by people he loves?! At this point, the only being he’s loved who hasn’t hurt him is his puppy. Rang was so happy after his and Yeon’s successful teamwork, and he’s finally getting the family he’s always wanted. It’s like a rule that whenever everyone is happy, something awful is coming. Rang had better not go out like this because that would just be too depressing for both him and Yoo-ri. It was particularly cruel to use her, the one person who is the most protective of Rang, to do the deed.
All of this mayhem because the imoogi wants to be a real boy. I was surprised he was born human and became the imoogi after tragedy (which kind of seems like an understatement for getting EATEN). I’m still not entirely clear on why he thinks Jia can help him find his “heart.” Is it because she’s managed to live with the imoogi inside of her yet still maintained her empathy and human identity? I’d imagine the imoogi could’ve taken her over if she were weaker, but maybe that’s not how it works. This episode brought up a lot of questions. I had thought the imoogi only could control humans, but he proved that isn’t the case. I’m assuming this is the third trap the CEO mentioned last episode, and it’s a solid one. The way he’s been getting to everyone around Yeon and Jia is worrying, and he hasn’t even used Shin-joo or Hye-ja yet. I’m thinking Shin-joo is up next since the imoogi ordered him to act “when the imoogi inside her calls,” which seems like it might be now.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to take out the imoogi, this new discovery about Jia makes things a lot worse. Not only will Jia be affected by whatever they do to the imoogi, she has to be the one killed to get rid of it. But why didn’t Taluipa just say that? She clearly knew, but for some reason she kept quiet and let them run around trying to take down the wrong vessel. Not only did they fail to hurt the imoogi with their ritual, but they accidently brought out the imoogi in Jia. So that’s not great. I’d thought the imoogi within Jia was a fragment of the imoogi “Terry,” but from the way Jia’s imoogi greeted Yeon, maybe not. Jae-hwan did suggest that there were two imoogi from the start, and it looks like he might be onto something. Maybe it’s not two entirely different imoogi but rather one that has been fractured into separate identities, if that’s possible. Who knows at this point?
Another thing that confused me was what Yeon said about freeing Jia’s parents. If he found it odd that only they were released, does that mean he tried and failed to release everyone from the lanterns? If the imoogi allowed him to release her parents, then they could be a part of his plan too. I might be reading too much into it, but something did feel off to me after they came back. Maybe I’m just overly wary of any nice, normal family time in this drama.
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