Sell Your Haunted House: Episode 4
Possession starts to change our conman, causing him to question which he values more: money or people? Lingering effects haunt our new partners as they finish their first official case and tie up loose ends. It turns out possession brings with it a big dose of empathy.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
In-bum, scared, refuses to take off his necklace and let the spirit possess him and it reminds Ji-ah of when she was a child, pleading with her mother not to make her do something. Mi-jin, seemingly possessed, suddenly crawled towards her and then Ji-ah woke up in the hospital with her aunt standing over her, telling her that Mi-jin was dead. Ji-ah blamed herself for not being able to stab the ghost like her mother told her to.
In-bum is afraid of waking up with blood on his hands again, but Ji-ah reassures him that she won’t let that happen. She asks him to trust her to take responsibility for what he does when he’s possessed, but he still hesitates. Ji-ah, knowing time’s rapidly running out, takes the decision out of In-bum’s hands, ripping the necklace off him and then plunging her hairpin into his chest in one quick movement.
In-bum gets a vision of Byung-ho visiting his sick wife in hospital, outwardly comforting her about her upcoming surgery but inwardly thinking that he can’t die first and leave her alone. As Byung-ho’s spirit departs, he gasps out that he needs to go home, causing Ji-ah to remember her confusion about how someone who died in their own apartment ended up becoming a wandering spirit. Ji-ah catches In-bum as he collapses to the floor and holds him as he recovers, looking a little regretful.
They stop by a convenience store on the way home, where In-bum is angry with Ji-ah for taking his necklace off before he was ready, insisting that he was just about to do it himself. As he argues with her he starts to cry, seemingly involuntarily, which Ji-ah says is an aftereffect of possession — once the spirit that inhabited his body leaves, he’ll temporarily retain some of their emotions, and permanently retain their memories. If In-bum had bothered to read the contract, he’d know that.
In-bum is appalled that she was inflicting this on her mediums, but Ji-ah tells him that the exorcist is normally the one to absorb the ghost’s memories — this reversal is part of what makes In-bum such a special medium. He feels taken advantage of, but she points out that he was the one who proposed their partnership in the first place.
Ji-ah tells In-bum to be careful for the next week until Byung-ho’s emotions fade away, and he stalks away in a huff. She calls for him to stop and walks right up to him as he watches her wide-eyed, stopping very close and reaching up to his face… to put the necklace back on him. That takes the wind out of In-bum’s sails and he stares at Ji-ah as she tells him that he should relax and enjoy himself because he worked hard today. As she walks away In-bum says that this one exorcism was difficult for him, so he can’t imagine how she’s been doing this alone for ten years. He tells Ji-ah that she’s worked hard too, leaving her staring after him thoughtfully as he leaves.
Ji-chul is still wary of In-bum when he gets back, and In-bum remarks that he used to see the same scared expression on the faces of the neighbourhood kids who bullied and ostracized him when he was young. He used to think it was nonsense but it turns out his grandmother was right, there is something wrong with him. Ji-chul apologises but things are still awkward between them. In-bum is determined not to quit yet though, still wanting answers about what happened to his uncle.
Ji-ah finds Hwa-jung has left food for her when she gets in and she balances it all carefully in her over-loaded arms as she goes upstairs, where Mi-jin gets in her way as much as possible to communicate her displeasure with Ji-ah for being too lazy to make two trips. Making her way steadily through a six-pack of beer as her mother watches disapprovingly, Ji-ah thinks about In-bum telling her that she’s worked hard and decides that maybe he’s alright after all.
While reaching for another can Ji-ah trips and falls into Mi-jin, who possesses her, and is forced to relive her mother’s last moments. She pleads fruitlessly with her younger self to stay in the apartment like she was supposed to do rather than following Mi-jin downstairs. On the office floor, Mi-jin wails before crawling at speed towards young Ji-ah, and then appears before adult Ji-ah clutching a hairpin that’s buried in her chest, staring into her eyes as she falls to the floor dead. Sobbing, Ji-ah begs her for forgiveness.
The next morning In-bum bangs desperately on the door of Daebak Realty, and Ji-ah looks rough as she answers, telling him it better be urgent. He’s being plagued by Byung-ho’s emotions and reminds Ji-ah that she promised to take responsibility for the consequences of his possession. She invites him in to hit the punching bag — that’s how she deals with it.
In-bum grabs Ji-ah’s hand to stop her leaving and she remembers about his special ability, using him to recharge after her possession. He demands she repay him by helping him deal with his aftereffects — he ended up at the hospital last night crying over Byung-ho’s wife’s bed with no memory of how he got there. A nurse told him that she needs surgery but can’t afford it, and he wants to find a way to help her.
His plan — which Ji-ah doesn’t agree with — is to blackmail the gallery into giving them one of Byung-ho’s paintings, so they can use the profit from the sale to fund his wife’s medical costs. Ji-ah tells him that Byung-ho’s dead and gone and there’s nothing more they can do for him now, but In-bum argues that his wife is alive and they can still help her — and Ji-ah remembers Mi-jin telling her that exorcism was as much for the people left behind as the person who died.
Now that the ghost has been taken care of, Ji-ah and Hwa-jung go to the museum to broker the sale. Ji-ah hands the only remaining copies of the videos Byung-ho took over to Eun-hye, who explains that her husband had always dreamed of being an artist and his last wish was to expand the gallery, but he died before he saw his plans come to fruition. She was secretly hoping that her husband was the ghost haunting the museum so that she could see him one last time. Ji-ah tells Eun-hye that she should be glad, because spirits linger on earth because of grudges and regrets so if he moved on peacefully it means he must have led a happy life.
Thinking about In-bum’s words, Ji-ah asks Eun-hye to return the self-portrait to Byung-ho’s widow since it was intended for her originally. Eun-hye doesn’t respond to the request, merely thanking her for her help, and Ji-ah curses In-bum for making her embarrass herself as she leaves. Exiting the museum, Ji-ah crosses paths with Director Do, who’s unhappy to hear from Eun-hye that the building’s already been sold to someone else.
Ji-chul wakes up to discover In-bum in a trance, hunched in the corner of the room with red on his hands and mouth. He snaps to and they both freak out about the “blood” before realising that it’s actually red paint. In-bum spent the night finger-painting, and he realises that this means they’re now in possession of an original painting by “Jo Hyun-seo,” a famous artist whose work sells for a lot of money.
In-bum’s excited to be able to pay for Byung-ho’s wife’s surgery, but Ji-chul doesn’t understand why he wants to donate the money to a stranger. Ji-chul despairs as In-bum starts crying again and says that he feels like he has to help her to keep living — but there’s nothing to stop him from doing another painting and keeping the proceeds from that!
Hwa-jung and Ji-ah have been invited to the opening of the gallery’s new exhibition of Jo Hyun-seo’s paintings. Ji-ah had planned to skip it, but when she hears from the cafe owner that In-bum’s gone there to sell a painting she heads over to stop him. Eun-hye gives a surprise presentation — featuring the videos she got from Ji-ah — revealing that Kim Byung-ho was the ghost painter behind Jo Hyun-seo’s work.
Eun-hye explains that Byung-ho had little success in the art world because he lacked money and connections so he had to resort to producing paintings for Hyun-seo instead. A painting that won an award for Hyun-seo hadn’t even passed the qualifying round with his own name on it. Eun-hye says that the gallery’s integrity couldn’t allow them to cover up this deception once it had come to light, and extends an apology to both the artist and the audience for unknowingly perpetuating the fraud — winning the respect of everyone watching.
Meanwhile Hyun-seo fled the gallery when he realised he was about to be exposed and is ordering a plane ticket over the phone when he runs into In-bum, lying in wait for him in the parking lot. In-bum delays him enough for the police to catch up and arrest Hyun-seo — not for fraud but for murder.
Byung-ho had asked Hyun-seo for money, explaining that he was dying and wanted to live out his last days with his wife in his hometown. He hadn’t even tried to blackmail Hyun-seo, just asked him to pay a fair price for a single painting. Hyun-seo panicked when he realised this would mean no new paintings for him to pass off as his own, and the two men got into an altercation over the self-portrait Byung-ho had intended for his wife. Hyun-seo pushed Byung-ho into a wall, where he hit his head and died instantly.
Hyun-seo wiped his fingerprints, staged the scene to look like an accident, and took the remaining paintings with him when he left — including the self-portrait. He had noticed that Byung-ho’s phone was recording but thought he’d destroyed it, not realising that it was saving to the cloud. Eun-hye found the footage amongst the videos Ji-ah gave her and reported him to the police.
Ji-ah asks Eun-hye why she changed her mind, and she explains that her husband had always felt that Byung-ho’s paintings were meant for someone special, so it seemed right to return them to his wife as a tribute to him. Eun-hye announces her intentions to the cameras, and In-bum’s ecstatic to realise that Byung-ho’s wife will be rich and easily able to pay her medical bills — which means he’s free to keep the proceeds from his painting.
The prospective buyer has had the painting appraised and declared genuine, and has just handed the money over when In-bum notices that Byung-ho has written a dedication to his wife on the edge of the canvas. Rushing to stop the transaction, Ji-ah finds the buyer sitting alone, angry because In-bum changed his mind and refused to sell to him. Byung-ho’s wife dreams of sitting with him in the garden of their home, and wakes up to find a painting of the same scene next to her hospital bed.
Byung-ho’s studio is cleaned up and sold by Daebak Realty, and Ji-ah files the case away. In-bum tries and fails to create a new Kim Byung-ho painting to sell and interrupts Ji-ah ordering from the home shopping channel again to beg her to help him get Byung-ho’s spirit back — causing her to miss out on a new coat she wanted.
Ji-chul and In-bum are happy to discover that as employees of Daebak Realty, they’ve received part of the commission from the building sales, and Hwa-jung invites them for a company dinner to celebrate. Things don’t go too smoothly as Ji-ah is suspicious of the interest In-bum is showing in the company record-room and the pair bicker constantly, and Ji-chul is offended by how shocked Hwa-jung is when she finds out he has a girlfriend. At Hwa-jung’s request, Ji-ah gives an untraditional opening speech hoping that none of them become vengeful spirits when they die.
In-bum takes the opportunity to ask Ji-ah if her mediums often get injured, and she doesn’t sugar-coat it for him, telling him that it’s a dangerous job and something could easily go badly wrong — and not just for the medium. Ji-ah says that In-bum doesn’t haven’t worry about that now anyway, because she’s repaid the money she owed him so their partnership is now over — Ji-chul realises that this isn’t a welcoming dinner but a farewell party.
In-bum asks how she’ll manage without her special medium but Ji-ah points out that she’s been doing this alone for years. He switches tack, trying to guilt her by saying that he and Ji-chul have enjoyed doing legitimate work they can be proud of, but they’ll have to go back to conning people without Daebak Realty. Hwa-jung encourages Ji-ah to give In-bum another month’s trial, since their back-up medium will be out of action until then anyway, and she relents.
A new client walks into Daebak Realty looking to sell his haunted house. He can’t explain why, but his apartment seems to be haunted and it’s scaring his wife — we see appliances turn on by themselves and muddy footprints appear on the floor, while a woman curls up in a ball, terrified. Ji-ah and In-bum go out to investigate, but she immediately leaves after meeting the woman who lives there, remarking to In-bum that sometimes ghosts don’t even realise they’re dead.
Hwa-jung briefs the Daebak team on the history of the apartments, which were constructed recently by Director Do’s company Dohak Construction. The realtors had discounted some of the units because they weren’t selling well, but when Director Do got wind of it he had all those tenants forcefully evicted — which included the woman who owned Daebak’s client’s apartment before him. The victims still haven’t received their money back, because the realtors say they sent it to Dohak Construction who claim they never received it and everything’s legally in limbo after the director of the realtor company disappeared. Hwa-jung charges Ji-chul with tracking him down, since he bragged about his digital investigative skills last time.
Director Do’s henchmen turn up at Daebak again full of bravado but quickly lose their courage and decide to go to the restaurant first instead, where they run into Ji-chul and In-bum. Apparently they conned the lead henchman KIM TAE-JIN (Heo Dong-won) in the past with their ghost scam and he’s been looking for them ever since to get revenge. In-bum offers to return the money they took but Tae-jin demands an extortionate amount of interest as well, telling his men to beat them until they agree. In-bum calls out for Ji-ah who’s passing by on her way to the restaurant, and the boys hide behind her.
Director Do arrives and he berates his men for messing around when they’re supposed to be going to the realty office. Next to him is a man Ji-ah recognises as the person who rushed in clutching a bag and pleading for her mother’s help when she was young. Her breath is visible as a cloud of vapor, and she realises that this man is another ghost who doesn’t know he’s dead.
Our second case has concluded, and overall I think it was a pretty good one — I particularly liked the “ghost” painter pun! Once the spirit had been dealt with it shifted focus to the people left behind and pushed both Ji-ah and In-bum outside their comfort zones a little bit. Ji-ah has spent years taking on people’s most painful memories and emotions, and it’s no surprise that she’s become jaded by it, but In-bum’s determination to help Byung-ho’s wife reminded her that her role is not just about pain and grief, there can be hope and justice in it too.
I was expecting In-bum’s character arc to be about gradually learning some empathy through possession and experiencing the emotions of others, but it looks like he was actually always a big softie underneath that materialistic exterior. Helping a woman who needs surgery is one thing, but Byung-ho’s wife was already set financially when the gallery returned her husband’s artwork, so In-bum gave up on that last painting for purely sentimental reasons. Although he was obviously still being affected by Byung-ho’s emotions In-bum really didn’t seem to experience as much of an internal conflict over it as I was expecting — Ji-chul actually seemed much more torn about the money than he did.
There were a couple of loose ends I wish had been tied up. In particular, why was one self-portrait hidden under the other? I had assumed that Byung-ho had either intended to use it to reveal that he was the real painter or just done it because he enjoyed the idea of hiding his secret in plain sight and perhaps having someone discover it one day in the future, but that all falls apart if it was meant for his wife. Hyun-seo’s arrest was also a little vague — I assume Eun-hye found the video of the murder among the files Ji-ah gave her and handed it over to the police, but that was never actually explicitly stated. I’m not sure if this is a case of the writers having enough faith in the audience to allow us to piece it together ourselves, or whether some scenes were cut out. Personally I think it’s a better explanation for Eun-hye’s sudden change of heart than the one she gives about her husband liking Byung-ho’s paintings — that’s a lovely sentiment but Eun-hye is a pragmatic businesswomen and I think she makes business decisions with her head rather than her heart. There’s a big difference between fraud and murder, and a much bigger risk for her covering the latter up, so instead she managed to turn a potential scandal into a PR coup.
This episode introduced us to a new type of ghost: those who don’t realise they’re dead. It’s an interesting concept, with all sorts of chilling implications. So far we’ve seen that ghosts can manipulate things physically — like Mi-jin knocking Ji-ah’s shoes over — but it’s beginning to look like they can also influence the minds of the living. Byung-ho appeared in his wife’s dream and the way the bloody handprints on Jo Hyun-seo’s car just disappeared makes me think they were a ghost-induced hallucination and didn’t actually exist. Now we’ve been introduced to two spirits who seem to be manifesting a presence in the material world somehow — so either their denial is so powerful it gives them physical form, or they’re projecting themselves into the minds of everyone present. Daebak’s client actually referred to the female ghost as his wife, despite the fact that he moved into the apartment alone – did he actually know her when they were alive or is their marriage a shared delusion she subconsciously created to explain why they’re both living there together? I predict a massive fallout when that truth is revealed.
It’s worth noting that In-bum didn’t actually make the decision to trust Ji-ah with his possession, she took the choice out of his hands. I’m actually happy with that at this point, because I feel as though it’s too early for them to make that leap in their relationship yet. For In-bum, possession means allowing himself to be vulnerable and completely reliant on Ji-ah to keep him safe, and when he does choose to take that step I want it to feel properly earned. I’m interested to see whether our new ghosts need a medium to be exorcised or whether their corporeal form will allow Ji-ah to cut out the middle-man, buying our leads some more time to get to know and trust each other before the next possession.