Tale of the Nine Tailed: Episode 9
It’s all about family this hour as our main trio find themselves trapped in their own minds, forced to confront their greatest fears. The brothers fight for their lives together in the agwui forest while our heroine reunites with her long-lost parents. All our gumiho lead can do is provide support, but it’s ultimately up to his brother and our heroine to find the strength of mind to conquer their fears. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck in their respective dreamworlds forever.
EPISODE 9: “Eodookshini (Ghost of Darkness)”
We open on Yeon heroically rushing in to save his little brother. Rang literally can’t believe it’s Yeon and demands proof. Yeon obliges by reciting an embarrassing story from Rang’s childhood where he peed his pants. Ha.
The brothers work together for once – although Rang does make sure to say he’s still going to kill Yeon – and hold off the agwui long enough to run.
Meanwhile, Jia finds herself transported to her parents’ car. They talk about little Jia’s hypnosis session and how the psychiatrist has never seen a case like hers. Jia’s mother cries in fear that she won’t be able to protect her.
Her parents notice little Jia waking up and give Jia her birthday gift: the carousel. Jia realizes they’re all headed to their doom and begs them to stop the car, but they can’t hear her.
In the forest, Yeon and Rang can barely hold back the agwui – Yeon’s powers aren’t working at all here. They cut some more agwui down and keep running.
Jia yells and cries for her dad to stop the car, but it’s useless. The car crashes just as in her memory. The imoogi and fake saleswoman watch from the sidelines. She expected Yeon to come for Jia, but the imoogi supposes Yeon figured out the game.
At the station, Team Leader Choi is trying to figure out how the fake saleswoman guessed his greatest fear. Jae-hwan and Sae-rom realize it’s just like an urban myth they’ve seen online about a “green juice ajumma” who asks about your greatest fear. You get hypnotized and hear a creepy ancient folk tune.
They haven’t been able to confirm the story since no one who hears the song wakes. Right then, the security guard runs in and takes them to Jia lying unconscious in the hallway. We hear the children singing.
Simultaneously, Shin-joo finds Yeon unconscious in front of the two doors, and Yoo-ri finds Rang whose face is scratched from battling the agwui. Inside the dreamworld, Yeon and Rang find a tunnel and temporarily escape the agwui.
Yeon guesses Jia is at Fox Ridge and hopes he made the right choice that will save her and Rang. Now that they’re safe, Rang grabs Yeon aggressively and asks what he’s trying to do. There’s no way he came to save him rather than Jia.
Yeon claims he accidently went through the wrong door. Rang knows he’s lying and just rolls his eyes when Yeon calls him a bedwetter again. Pfft. Rang tries to walk and falls in pain. Alarmed at Rang’s bite from the agwui, Yeon checks his forehead and finds he has a fever. Rang casually says the poison must be spreading. Uh-oh.
They hear the agwui, and Yeon realizes he only has an hour to get Rang out before the poison spreads completely. He ties a handkerchief around Rang’s wound and admonishes him for “playing with the imoogi.” They take off running again.
At the Snail Bride, Hye-ja recognizes Yeon’s state from what happened to her husband. At first, she thought her husband was hallucinating, but she saw the tiger bite that shattered his bones. Yoo-ri cries in helplessness and fear as she sees Rang’s wounds and can’t wake him. Hye-ja calls the being an eodookshini, a creature that feeds off the darkness within.
Jia wakes to her mother’s voice. Her mom says it’s time for breakfast and asks if she worked late. Huh? Guess we’re out of her memory. Just like when she was little, Jia guesses this isn’t her mother.
After a tense moment, her “mom” tells her to knock it off. She doesn’t want to be reminded of the accident that left Jia in a coma for years. Alarmed, Jia jumps up and examines her room, staring at the graduation photo of her with her parents.
Still skeptical, Jia hides a box cutter behind her back and asks her mom for walnut cookies. Ah, that old trick. Her mom steps closer and reminds her of her nut allergy. Jia drops the blade and begins to cry.
Outside, the imoogi likes the reunion but is surprised they’re not “fake” parents. The eodookshini supposes that’s not what she’s truly afraid of. Since they’re intruders in Jia’s dreamworld, they can’t stay long, and the eodookshini returns them to the mansion.
The CEO is worried because things didn’t go to plan, but the eodookshini assures him Yeon won’t escape. The mind is weak. When the eodookshini grabs the CEO threateningly, the imoogi warns her not to touch “his property.” His seriousness truly frightens her, so she hits and prostrates herself while begging for forgiveness.
Jia hugs her mom and cries. It’s fine if this is dream, she just doesn’t want her mom to leave. Her mom wipes her tears, guessing she had a nightmare. Jia apologizes for surviving alone. She’s been scared and lonely and even resented them for leaving. Jia sobs that she’s missed her mom and hugs her again.
It’s nighttime in the forest, and Rang isn’t doing so hot. But he won’t let Yeon help him as he struggles to stand. The imoogi likens the situation to phantom pain – when you start to feel that pain, “the door disappears.”
Rang can no longer stand and tells Yeon to go save Jia since it’s too late for him. Yeon frustratedly asks why Rang gives up so easily. “Because I don’t have anything I cherish.” He doesn’t have a first love to protect or a family he longs for. Yeon stares at him for a long moment before stating he came for nothing, then and now.
As he leaves, Rang declares he wants to be buried in their mountains. Yeon angrily kicks some foliage and keeps walking while Rang softly says he wants to go back to those days. He reminisces about the azaleas, unable to remember their taste.
Yeon marches back and yells at him to live to go pick some then. Rang wants to know the real reason he came, and Yeon finally answers honestly that he wants to save him and Jia. Rang doesn’t get why someone who tried to kill him would want to save him now.
Yeon sighs and crouches down to look him in the eye as he reveals, “My sword never misses. I never miss a target.” Rang’s eyes widen at the implication, and he blinks back tears. When Yeon says he’s leaving for good, Rang finally stands and goes to join his brother. He lets Yeon support him as they walk forward together.
Shin-joo meets with Taluipa for help saving Yeon and Jia, but Taluipa basically says it is what it is. Jia is with her parents, and Yeon is with Rang in the agwui forest. Taluipa is surprised Yeon still cares about Rang and worries he’s overburdening himself. Hyun Eui-ong reminds her that’s what it means to be a mountain god.
Taluipa is speechless when Shin-joo drops to his knees crying and begs for a way to save Yeon, even if he has to give his life. He promises to do anything. Taliupa smiles. That’s concerning.
He walks out with a (magic?) ribbon, and Hyun Eui-ong sighs at his eagerness to sacrifice himself. Shin-joo is confused about Yeon going after Rang instead of Jia, but Hyun Eui-ong observes that it’s family. There’s no place for Yeon in Jia’s dreamworld with her family, which Yeon must’ve realized.
Rang and Yeon can’t find an exit, so he has Rang start from the beginning. He explains about coming through his wardrobe into his old house, and Yeon puts the pieces together. Rang barely has time to process that they’re dealing with the eodookshini before the agwui find them, and they take off running again.
In her not-room, Jia wonders where exactly she is. She hears the thud-thud-thud of water droplets falling. In the real world, she’s lying in a hospital bed with an IV drip. Her team members are worried sick since the doctors can’t find the cause.
Jia takes notes, trying to piece together what’s happening. She remembers the fake saleswoman and how she asked if Jia’s greatest fear was Fox Ridge. Her dad pops in, and Jia jumps up to hug him. She goes to eat breakfast, seemingly forgetting about her predicament.
The forest is now covered in fog. Yeon guesses they have to cross the chasm to find the door. Rang is hesitant, making Yeon snap at him to pull it together and think. What’s his greatest fear? Rang admits his biggest fear is being abandoned since both Yeon and his mom abandoned him.
Yeon sighs and grabs him by the shirt. “I never abandoned you.” (Couldn’t have said that 600 YEARS AGO?!) Rang’s eyes fill with emotion. Yeon grips his shoulder supportively, and Rang sees a door appear. Yeon affectionately tousles his hair, and they prepare to jump across the chasm.
Only, Yeon doesn’t jump. Rang barely makes it, clinging to the ledge. From the other side, Yeon encourages Rang to survive and begins fighting the agwui. He’s bitten as he single-handedly holds them back from Rang.
A single agwui gets through and jumps onto Rang. It’s his mother. Yeon yells at him not to look – it’s not really his mom. Too late. Yeon breaks away and leaps onto the cliff face, grabbing the agwui. He wrenches her off Rang, and they plunge down together.
Rang screams and reaches for Yeon, but it’s no use. All he can do is climb toward the door. Rang wakes and struggles to crawl over to the wardrobe as he frantically says he needs to get to Yeon. But he collapses before he can go anywhere.
Eating breakfast with her family, Jia is so happy she hopes to never wake up if this is a dream. Her notes begin to disappear off the page. In the real world, her blood pressure spikes and doctors are called.
Watching her parents eat, Jia has a memory flash of Yeon at that same table, but she can’t remember who he is. In the real world, Shin-joo rushes into the hospital and steals Jia away. He takes her to Yeon at the Snail Bride and ties their wrists together with the magic ribbon.
Jia is pouring over a photo album with her parents when the phone rings. Oddly, her parents don’t seem to hear it. She follows the ringing upstairs to a phone (so weird to see a landline) in her room.
It’s Yeon, and he apologizes for not going to her. Jia feels she knows him but can’t remember. He urges her to figure out what’s going on so she can return to the real world. He’ll be waiting for her. We see Yeon looking worse for wear in some savanna with a charm written in blood on his palm.
Jia can’t shake the feeling she’s left something important behind. Her eye lands on the now dried mug wort Yeon brought her that day. Jia grabs a pen and freaking stabs herself in the hand because, apparently, pinching yourself is for wusses. She’s flooded with memories of Yeon, and finally remembers who he is to her.
Meanwhile, it looks like Yoo-ri called Shin-joo over to help Rang. He tells her it’s agwui poison. Yoo-ri sobs and begs him to save Rang – she’ll die if he dies. One look at her desperate face and Shin-joo kneels beside Rang’s bed to do what he can.
Jia rejoins her parents downstairs and watches them with a much more critical eye. She asks what her parents would do if they lost her. They vow they’d go to the ends of the earth to find her, and Jia promises to do the same for them. She realizes her greatest fear is parting from her parents.
With tears in her eyes, she apologizes and says she needs to go. They stop her at the door; she could lose them forever if she leaves. “Why are you abandoning us?” her mom asks through tears. They cry and beg her to stay with them – who cares if this is real or not? She doesn’t have to be alone. Jia argues she’s not alone because she has Yeon. Believe in Yeon, she walks out the door. Jia wakes up.
The eodookshini is livid they both woke and calls it cheating, but the imoogi thinks they won fair and square. Anyway, he achieved his goal: seeing Jia’s fears. As a bonus, they caught Yeon.
Jia holds Yeon as he lies unconscious, still stuck in that weird savanna. He narrates that this is his hell, a place wherein he’s alone and dying in a world without Jia.
Shin-joo finishes treating Rang and assures Yoo-ri he’ll be okay after a few days. Yoo-ri wonders why Shin-joo isn’t reacting to learning she’s working with Rang, and it dawns on her that he already knew. She’s surprised to hear he was beaten up by Rang yet still treated him. Shin-joo shocks her into silence: “I didn’t want you to cry.”
Rang wakes and immediately asks Shin-joo if Yeon has returned. At the hospital, Jia greets her worried teammates. Over the coming days, Yeon remains unresponsive. Jia, Shin-joo, and Hye-ja take turns staying by his side.
Yeon trudges on until he can no longer stand. He worries about Jia and thinks of the things he didn’t get to say and do with her. Yeon collapses and resigns himself to the fact he won’t be able to return.
The eodookshini enters Yeon’s dreamworld and scoffs at the supposed great mountain god. She laughs that his body will go to the imoogi and “make the world a chaotic place.” Yeon wakes up and asks if Jia made it back. The eodookshini only tells him after he kneels and begs.
She says Jia lost her parents and now will have to lose Yeon, so it would’ve been better if she hadn’t made it back. Yeon smiles and stands up no problem. Ah, it was all an act to draw her out from the moment he “accidentally” dropped from the cliff.
He turns her question on her, “What is your greatest fear?” She bluffs that she has none, but Yeon knows she’s dying because people have forgotten her. He taunts that his little brother didn’t even remember her name.
Enraged, the eodookshini grits out that Yeon will be stuck here forever. But she’s the one who can’t seem to move. Yeon gloats that she appears to have forgotten she’s in the mind of a mountain god. In the real world, the imoogi can no longer see them despite his connection with the eodookshini.
Yeon somehow reaches into the real world and grabs the imoogi, ripping a button off his shirt. He smiles, and the imoogi quakes with rage as Yeon promises to come for him soon.
When the eodookshini tries to escape, Yeon runs her through with his sword. She ekes out that Yeon “will be killing that woman with your own hands again. That is your destiny.” Yeon rolls his eyes and tells her to worry about her own destiny. In the real world, the imoogi watches the eodookshini disintegrate and smiles sardonically.
Later, Jia gets caught in the rain and looks up to see Yeon under his iconic red umbrella across the street. They smile at each other, and Yeon starts to cross the street. Jia shakes her head, vowing to go to him now instead.
She runs across the street into his arms. “I waited for you,” she says. Yeon drops the umbrella and kisses her (like a real kiss this time).
I thought it’d take a bit longer, but it looks like Rang is back on Team Yeon now. All it took was Yeon being honest for once. I knew Yeon missed on purpose, but it’s about time those two had a real conversation about it after SIX CENTURIES. Why the crap couldn’t Yeon have said all this from the start? It literally took a situation where they would both die if he weren’t honest to get him to tell Rang his actual feelings and intentions. He let this fester for seemingly no good reason. I’m not blaming him for the whole situation – Rang reacted to everything in the worst way possible and has been terrible – but Yeon’s inexplicable refusal to clear up misunderstandings started the ball rolling.
I really wish we had better insight into Yeon and his odd decisions because his intentions often remain elusive. I think they’re trying to lend him an air of mystery, but it just makes him confusing. I have no idea why he withheld the fact that he didn’t want his brother dead and thought it was better to let Rang spiral. He’s often said cruel things to Rang like when he said he shouldn’t have saved him as a child. I mean, that’s essentially saying it’d be better if Rang were dead, but this episode showed that’s very much not how he feels. There must be a reason he’s behaved that way toward Rang for so long, and I’d have really appreciated the drama telling me what that reason is.
The same goes for some of Yeon’s decisions regarding Jia. This episode he did a sudden 180 and decided to end his charade about using Ah-eum/Jia and not loving them. I mean, thank goodness, but that changed quickly and with no explanation. What’s his plan now? He’s obviously realized the stupidity of his original plan, but per usual, we have no idea what he’s thinking. I think the eodookshini was a missed opportunity for Yeon’s character. I wanted to get insight into his psyche like we did with Jia and Rang, but instead he exerted his god-like powers to perfectly ensnare his opponents. Speaking of that, I’m confused as to what his abilities are. He’s no longer a god, so are his powers just due to how old he is? I would think he’d be stripped of his god powers when he was kicked out. Also, does it have no effect on a gumiho to give away their fox bead? All they’ve said is that the bead protected Jia, but we haven’t heard anything about how losing it affects Yeon.
I thought it was interesting that Jia and Rang’s fears were so similar. They’re both most afraid of being left by their family and having to endure alone. Of course, this plays out differently for them since Rang was willingly abandoned while Jia’s parents were forcibly taken. The lack of stability for Rang during childhood led to him feeling unloved and insecure, but Jia had the security of her parents’ love. She’s been able to hope and fight to find them all this time knowing they’ll be happy to be reunited with her. This episode really belonged to Jia and Rang as they each found the strength to fight their fears with Yeon’s support. From the beginning, I’ve been worried about Jia turning into a damsel in distress, and there have been a couple of situations like with the ghost girls where she seemed to lose her gutsiness. But this episode we got to see Jia figure things out on her own and find the strength to leave her perfect dreamworld.
Now that they’re all safe, I’m curious to see what Rang is going to do. He clearly doesn’t want Yeon to die, but what about Jia? I can see him being jealous and wanting her out of the picture, so that might mean working with the imoogi for a while longer. But if it puts his brother in danger, I’m pretty sure he’ll switch sides. Let’s just hope knowing his brother cares about him is enough to quell his fears and put a stop to his malevolent plans.
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