Tomorrow: Episodes 9-10
As our reapers try to save more souls, we get two very different cases this week — one that breaks what we thought we knew about the reapers’ missions, and one that’s positively brutal and brings a reaper to the brink. Show, I’m going to need a little more hope and happiness if you’re going to continue to hit this hard.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
There’s a lot of rough content coming — mixed with some (literal) fluffiness — but let’s get right to the fun parts first, shall we? The fun, of course, is the wider story, and what we’re slowly learning about Ryeon and Joong-gil’s past. After Joong-gil says he saw Ryeon in his nightmare, she assures him they couldn’t have known each other in the past: it was just a dream.
But yeah, no. Ryeon heads straight to the Jade Emperor, clearly shaken, and says cryptically that, “You said he only looked the same but was a different person.” We’ve been told that reapers remember their most recent lives, and we’ve seen Ryeon doing just that, but is Joong-gil experiencing the same? The fight scene we’ve seen snippets of now reveals that it was indeed Ryeon and Joong-gil who were fighting, and the Jade Emperor also says something ominous (and quite possibly brimming with double-meaning): that Ryeon killed the person he loved.
Where exactly are we going with this? Were they lovers, enemies, or both, at some point in their past? We (still) don’t know a lot, but the case our reapers take on in Episode 10 sheds a little more light on Ryeon’s past (and Ryong-koo’s as well) — but first, let’s take a break from the sins of the past and enjoy a fluffy interlude. Because that’s what Episode 9 is.
Our reaper team goes on a wild
goose dog chase, quite literally. While searching for the location of the next soul they must save, Jun-woong and the team actually wind up saving his little sister. She’s not suicidal — in fact, the opposite — she’s being strong for her mother while they deal with Jun-woong’s coma and the expenses and stress that result from it. But she’s also just saved a runaway dog who darted into the street and almost got hit by the Truck of Doom.
Trucks of Doom are usually strokes of ill fate, but here, we learn that this little dog darted in front of the ToD on purpose. Indeed, Ryeon confirms that the fluffy little guy is the suicidal soul they must save next. Come again? This doesn’t really work for me, but as I’ve been trying to do all along, I’ll take the drama at its intention. And that intention, here, is to show us that all beings are hurting, that none are too insignificant to escape the notice of our higher power, and also that animals are amazing (but we knew that).
The team eventually pieces the dog’s story together — Jun-woong even watches the memory reel from the dog’s lifespan (it’s prepped and ready to go since the dog is soon set to die). Turns out the dog wasn’t abandoned because he was terminally ill, as the team first guessed. On the contrary, the dog ran away from his long-term owner (a boy who had owned him since he was a puppy) because he saw the sadness of his owner, and felt the loneliness of his master growing up and spending more time being an adult than paying attention to the dog.
The dog’s owner is revealed to be a very sweet and distraught guy named KIM HOON (a very weepy cameo by Cha Hak-yeon a.k.a. N). Thanks to our reapers he is able to be reunited with his doggy and they make their peace and have a tearful goodbye before the dog concludes his natural lifespan and is collected by a reaper.
I’m not going to dig into all the reasons this is kind of strange and silly, and instead I’ll just appreciate the drama trying to do something different, and enjoy Ryeon’s line that there’s no purer heart than that of an animal.
The fluffy dog case seems to signal the drama is taking a lighter touch, but once we hit Episode 10 it’s clear the drama was just giving us a mental break for the brutality to come. The next case is truly an awful one — hard to watch, hard to stomach, hard to deal with altogether.
The case is a double one — two twins in their 20s are both suicidal, and as the team digs in, we soon learn why. The female twin Cha Yun-hui endured a horrible rape, and has been unable to live a normal life in the aftermath of the assault. The drama makes it more than clear why — from the way the perpetrator got off easy, to the blame she was saddled with, to the self-hatred she feels, and the PTSD she’s suffering from. It’s all awful and like I said, hard to watch.
But our reapers are amazing, and if there’s anything the drama has shown us it’s that — at least in the world of this drama — well-chosen words and some real-life empathy can help people survive their darkest moments. And the team does it again, Ryeon coming to the aid of the young woman, and Ryong-koo and Jun-woong her twin brother. (Also, Joong-gil sweeps onto the scene to take care of the disgusting rapist as well, and he meets both a fiery grave and a fiery future.)
I won’t linger on the story because I don’t think my heart can take it, so instead we’ll focus on what this case revealed to us about Ryeon and Ryong-koo. Early on, Ryeon warns Jun-woong that this case hits a personal note for Ryong-koo, and sure enough we see him go into vigilante justice mode, which makes sense when we hear from Ryeon that his mother endured an even worse assault and subsequently committed suicide.
Ryong-koo might act detached, but we see a bit more into his character and the hurt from his past life that he’s holding onto. He even weeps in the street over a woman that looks like (or is a reincarnation of) his mother.
The case also tells us more about Ryeon, confirming the darker details of her past. While she’s trying to talk Yun-hui down, they compare scars — both physical and emotional — and the drama confirms that Ryeon did indeed commit suicide in her past life. Whether because of guilt or political pressure or God knows what, we don’t have all the details yet, but it makes sense for her character. Why she’s so passionate about saving people from the mistake she made. Why her fate (and that red thread that was once tied to a certain someone, maybe?) was broken. And why there’s a whole heap of tragic secrets in her past.
That tragic past is a Joseon epic that I wish they’d give a spin-off to, because at this point I’d rather watch Lee Soo-hyuk in warrior garb in a tense relationship with Kim Hee-sun instead of this quick succession of suicide stories. It’s a lot to take in, whether you buy the drama’s premise or not, and a tragic Joseon romance sounds like the perfect counter to that. Can wishing make it so?