THE SHORT VERDICT:
The great thing about My Roommate is a Gumiho, is how fresh it manages to feel, despite it appearing, at first glance, to be like just about any other romcom dotting Dramaland. Yes, there are tropes, but most of the time, they’re there to be turned on their heads. In particular, I love our female lead, who’s anything but a Candy. She might appear rather goofy on the surface, but she’s gracious and classy, and has such a good head on her shoulders, that it’s hard not to love her.
I feel that Hye Ri and Jang Ki Yong are well-cast and well-directed in this; I enjoyed them both very much, and I feel that their chemistry works really well. As a bonus, Kang Han Na is wonderful in this, as a ditzy ex-gumiho. This is literally my favorite role of Kang Han Na’s, to date.
I found the ending a touch underwhelming, especially when compared to how solidly the rest of the show stacks up, but overall, it’s still a very enjoyable drama that I’d recommend!
THE LONG VERDICT:
Y’know what, I honestly hadn’t been planning to check out this show, because I hadn’t found the premise all that interesting, and also.. I don’t think of Hye Ri as a strong actress, so that was a factor too. The positive reactions to this show finally got to me, however, and whaddya know, I found that after just one episode, I was already having a good time. What a happy surprise!
Not only that, it really wasn’t long (just a few episodes in) before I realized that this was one show (among the various ones that I had on my drama plate) that I actively looked forward to watching more episodes of. Show consistently served up a light, engaging sort of time, with a whole lotta heart squirreled into some of the most unexpected corners.
In short, I’m SO glad I didn’t miss out on this one, after all.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review. In general, I found all the tracks very pleasant and atmospheric, in that they definitely added a layer of enjoyment and lift to my watch experience. I didn’t find any single track especially earwormy, but I do like the airy, laidback, borderline ethereal vibe of Track 1, Your Moon.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your watch of this show.
1. There are occasions when it feels like Show is employing logic leaps in telling its story. Sometimes, these get explained later, and sometimes, they aren’t. I find that giving Show the benefit of the doubt (for the chance of things being explained later) is helpful, as is putting on a manhwa sort of lens, because when the logic leaps aren’t explained, a manhwa lens helps everything land better.
2. Show can sometimes feel like it’s leaning into the comedy quite a bit, but I appreciate that, at the same time, Show manages to also weave a lot of heartfelt, poignant elements into our story. It gives the silliness an emotional heft that I appreciate.
3. Show does a decent job of creating its mythology, but it’s not perfect. To be fair, it’s not terrible. It’s just that there are times when the information feels rather piecemeal and even a little haphazard. It’s best to keep your lens with regards to this, on a blurrier setting.
STUFF I LIKED
General writing and handling
I’ve got the writing up top here, because it really is one of Show’s bright spots. It’s true that now that I’ve finished my watch, there are some things in the writing that I don’t prefer, but by and large, I count the writing as one of Show’s positives.
I love that Show isn’t predictable. It feels like writer-nim received the brief to write this story, but has never seen a kdrama before and therefore isn’t familiar with the tropes we’re so used to, and as a result, just wrote what came to mind. This story often manages to feel fresh and original, where it could have totally gone with the convenient and the tropey, and I love that.
Better yet, Show has a way of serving up narrative turns that feel original and fresh, while also feeling quite matter-of-fact and low-key. What I mean to say is, Show doesn’t have that “Ta-da~! Look at me! I’m so creative!” sort of vibe about it that some shows do (like The Devil Judge (review is here!), for instance). Instead, it’s original and fresh, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, and it doesn’t know any other way to be, and stop being a dork by gawking at it, heh.
Here’s a sampling of various writing decisions that I really enjoyed, followed by a sampling of those that I didn’t like so much.
Stuff I liked more
E1. I’d originally felt perplexed at the apparent logic leaps in this episode, which lead to Dam (Hye Ri) having Woo Yeo’s (Jang Ki Yong) marble stuck in her. At the time, I’d felt perplexed at the apparent weak writing, but Show explains this nicely, in episode 2. I’d just needed to be patient, is all.
E2. I was pleasantly surprised by the scene in the storeroom, because when they got locked in there together, I’d thought that it would be a scene playing with the idea of hyperawareness, since they’re stuck in the dark together (because that’s what 99% of other dramas would do).
However, Show doesn’t do that, and instead, turns the scene into an opportunity for Dam to understand Woo Yeo better. I love how she’s so delighted by his personal collection of relics, and can’t stop herself from asking him more about his life and experiences. For the first time, it feels like she’s relating to him as a friend, rather than as a scary gumiho whose marble she needs to protect.
E8. With the memory wipe having been established as such a sure thing, I’d assumed that we were going for an amnesia sort of thing, where Dam would forget Woo Yeo, but would fall for him all over again. It’s a romantic idea, and one that I’ve seen play out in other kdramas. In fact, I loved it when it was served up in my second ever kdrama, Save Your Last Dance For Me. I thought it was such a romantic idea, that even when the memories are erased, that the person who has lost their memory, would still fall for the same person, all over again. That ups the “meant to be” sort of feels, which are classic to kdrama, and which I’m not opposed to, at all.
Because of this, I’d actually been kind of looking forward to seeing how Dam would fall for Woo Yeo all over again, even with a fresh memory slate. Instead, we find that Dam hasn’t lost her memories at all, and this isn’t something that Woo Yeo’s done for her, on purpose. I must say, though, this works out to be a different, and rather fun, kind of twist.
E10. Most of the time, when a drama splits up its OTP (One True Pairing), it’s due to some form of noble idiocy, but in this show, there’s a legit reason that Woo Yeo and Dam need to spend time apart. Being too close to Woo Yeo would literally put Dam in danger, to the extent that it could be a life and death situation. This feels much more organic to our story than a sudden onset of noble idiocy.
E11. This episode’s focus on the red thread of fate really got me thinking about how, traditionally, kdramas have been built on the idea of Fated Love. I mean, that’s why we have so many childhood connections between the various OTPs in Dramaland, isn’t it? It’s because, traditionally, one of Dramaland’s Big Ideas, is that our OTP is Meant To Be. And in this story, that whole thing is being turned on its head.
Instead of our OTP being destined to be together, they’re up against a Fated Love that a deity’s given Dam with someone else. That’s fresh and different, as far as Dramaland goes, isn’t it? I feel like Show deserves points just for challenging the notion of a Fated Love, because that notion’s been entrenched into Dramaland’s collective consciousness for such a long time.
I also like how Show executes the red thread of fate. The red thread simply gives Dam and Sun Woo (Bae In Hyuk) opportunities to interact; it doesn’t actually interfere with either of their feelings. In that sense, they have full personal agency. Dam can – and does – choose not to like Sun Woo. I like this much more than the idea that you can’t help but like someone, because they have been decreed by a deity to be your Fated Love.
Stuff I liked less
E7. This episode felt distinctly angstier and darker than average, compared to everything else this show has been serving up, but thankfully, this feels more like a milestone marker, than an actual change in story tone. Phew. It feels like this episode wraps up Act I, so that we can go on to Act II.
Although we didn’t spend much time with Editor Hwang (Han Ji Eun) at all, I’m still stunned that we lose her the way we do. That’s.. dark, for this show. And even though Show plays with the use of shadows to mask the scene a little, it’s still graphic enough that I feel a touch of narrative whiplash. Not because I feel that Show’s not being true to its story, but because I’ve come to associate this show with wholesome earnestness, and not, well, bloody death and grisly murder. 😝
E14. In this episode, I have to admit that I got all sorts of disgruntled at what had felt like inconsistent treatment of Woo Yeo’s powers. In short, I’d felt like Show was ignoring Woo Yeo’s ability to magic his way out of certain situations, in favor of driving the plot forward.
Happily, Ren pointed out to me, on Patreon, that Woo Yeo had probably abstained from using his magic, because Dam had expressed in an earlier episode, that she didn’t like it when he did that.
Point very well taken (thank you Ren!). At the same time, I do think that Show could have done a better job in showing us why Woo Yeo had abstained from using his magic.
Hye Ri as Dam
I have to say, I really, really enjoyed Hye Ri in this, as Dam. It’s true that your mileage may vary, but hear me out. I don’t think of Hye Ri as a particularly strong actress, and while I enjoyed her a lot in 2016’s Reply 1988, I wouldn’t watch a drama just because she’s in it. Case in point: 2016’s Entertainer, which I backed away from hurriedly.
However, I do think that she has improved, and I do see that she’s working hard. Her efforts are paying off, because I feel like her comic timing is on point in this show, and I find myself laughing at her reaction faces on a regular basis. On top of that, I find her likable in this show, which is important, because if she’s not a strong actress (at the moment?), I need to be able to like her quite naturally, I think. I also think that PD-nim is doing a good job directing her, because there’s nothing that I’d point out to say, “Y’know, that doesn’t work; she shouldn’t have done that.”
A good PD can make a world of difference with less experienced actors (as evidenced by how well I thought Hye Ri’s casting worked in Reply 1988, which I loved), and this PD did a good job directing Nam Joo Hyuk, back when he was still a little green, in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, and I loved Nam Joo Hyuk in that show, too.
All in all, I think Hye Ri does a very solid job of portraying Dam, and I came to love Dam a lot, which is no small deal, and Hye Ri does deserve a sizable chunk of credit for that.
E2. I commend Hye Ri for really leaning into the physical comedy. I found myself laughing out loud, at the scenes of her hard-dodging Sun Woo, particularly during the time when she’s already mid-fall, when she realizes he’s about to catch her, and she twists away from him and ends up rolling on the ground, to finish. Ahaha. It tickles me just to remember it.
I was also amused at her very pronounced avoidance of him, when he sits down next to her at the gathering; her exaggerated actions and his bemused reactions make a pretty great combination, and I was nicely entertained.
E3. I kinda love how Dam is so confident that Sun Woo can’t be genuinely interested in her, because she’s not all that attractive, that she comes up with a plan to gross him out good and proper, so that he’ll leave her alone for good. Ha! It’s bizarre from anyone else’s point-of-view, but from where she’s standing, with her need to protect the marble from being hurt by his Tiger energy, I suppose it makes sense. 😂
E3. Dam is really endearing herself to me, I find. I mean, she’s so earnest about finding ways to gross Sun Woo out, and then, when her confidence gets inadvertently deflated by Woo Yeo’s sincere feedback and suggestions, which all point to the fact that her being herself would be more effective at the grossing out, than an actual plan of action, she only wilts momentarily, before perking up again. Gotta love how she’s not all that precious about her image and self-esteem.
E3. I enjoy the idea that Dam is at her most charming, when she’s just being herself. She gets too self-conscious when she likes someone, and too weird when she’s trying to gross someone out. But, when she’s just being herself, that’s when both Sun Woo and Woo Yeo find themselves being drawn to her.
E4. I felt really bad for Dam this episode, with so many people trash talking her, behind her back and to her face. It’s just too much. These people are so rude. Ugh. 🙄 I’m proud of Dam for taking the higher road, and not stooping to their level to, say, insult them back, for instance.
She stays classy through it all, even though it’s clear to see that it’s really getting her down, I’m equal parts impressed and sympathetic. In particular, I love that she calmly tells Sun Woo that he doesn’t need to apologize, but also, that she doesn’t think he should have just stood there and listened to the trash talk. She’s got such a good head on her shoulders, and I love her for it. I also just really want to give her a hug; she’s having such a downer of a day.
E4. I am extremely tickled that Woo Yeo uses his shapeshifting powers to go on that date with Sun Woo, because Dam’s incapacitated by period cramps. Tee hee hee. I was extremely tickled by this date, and I love how Hye Ri channels Woo Yeo; it’s quite pitch perfect, honestly. I kinda love how this gives “Dam” an aloof sort of vibe, which confuses and discombobulates Sun Woo; it’s like he literally doesn’t know what to make of her.
E5. I didn’t much care for Jae Jin’s sulky fit over Dam not telling him about Woo Yeo, and I also didn’t much care for Sun Woo trying to figure out what it means to be a guy with a “nice personality.” But, I did like how, when everything explodes and Jae Jin starts getting on his case for having bet money on Dam, Dam handles it all with so much class. It’s like it’s not even worth her getting upset about, because Sun Woo doesn’t mean a thing to her. Yes, girl. You’re doing great!
E6. I continue to love how classy Dam keeps it, especially when it comes to Sun Woo. He’s still trying to talk to her, and she continues to keep him at a polite distance. I love how she tells him that she has no interest in him, but more than that, I love how she’s able to tell him that without a trace of malice in her voice. She’s amazing that way.
E8. The way that Dam chooses to pretend that she really has forgotten it all, and everything’s ok, instead of, say, seeking out Woo Yeo and confronting him, is also evidence of her emotional resilience. She is upset and heartbroken for sure, but she understands what Woo Yeo had said to her before taking the marble back, and she gets the idea, that she’s not supposed to remember him.
She sees no point in clinging to him, because she sees him as completely out of her league anyway. Plus, from her point of view, although they had grown friendly and familial, Woo Yeo really doesn’t owe her anything beyond what they’d agree to, in their contract.
For these reasons, Dam chooses the only path that makes sense to her, which is to deal with her own feelings, and move on. This reaction from Dam does remind me of how she had moved on from the whole debacle of Sun Woo having bet money on her. It would have crushed most other people in her shoes, but Dam is so resilient, and keeps it classy while moving on.
E8. Originally, I’d imagined that with the memory wipe (if Show had gone that route), Sun Woo would perhaps have a better chance at winning Dam’s heart, and thus prove to be a more worthy romantic rival to Woo Yeo. Again, this isn’t where Show is going; Dam remains firm, that she has no interest in Sun Woo.
Which, when I think about it, is wonderfully consistent of her. I love that she’s not at all swayed by the fact that Sun Woo is the most popular guy in school, and yet only has eyes for her. The more I think about it, the more I think that the reason Dam has retained her memories, is because she’s mentally and emotionally strong, like her mother. I love that.
Jang Ki Yong as Woo Yeo
Kinda-sorta like how I feel about Hye Ri as an actress, I also tend to think of Jang Ki Yong as not an especially strong actor (yet?). Maybe all I really need, is a role that showcases more of his range? I do think he’s perfectly decent though, with snippets of awesome, and I do feel that this role works well with his strengths.
Aside from being handsome (which Jang Ki Yong does quite effortlessly, heh), our gumiho is jaded and distant, showing varying degrees of warmth, depending on the situation, and depending on the person, and I feel that Jang Ki Yong fulfills the needs of the role very decently. All in all, he makes Woo Yeo come across as measured and gentle, which I did enjoy very well.
I also wanted to mention that Woo Yeo’s name seems to be a bit of a play on the word fox, because fox in Korean is 여우, ie, “yeowoo.” I thought that was a fun little tidbit!
Because Woo Yeo’s character development mostly happens in relation to Dam, I will talk more about his growth in our OTP section. That said, I also wanted to mention that there were times when I felt that Woo Yeo’s characterization felt a little patchy, because Show keeps him opaque for pretty long stretches, and sometimes, I felt that that opacity got in the way.
For now, here’s a small handful of Woo Yeo highlights that jumped out at me, during my watch.
E2. I appreciate the idea that Woo Yeo felt compassion for Dam, after seeing her crying alone in the room, and therefore wants to set her free from this marble prison that he’s essentially put her in.
E6. I love that Woo Yeo thinks to offer to drive Dam to the airport, and it’s sweet and poignant how he watches the family group hug from a distance, and ponders that this must be what family is like.
That flashback to Woo Yeo’s past, where he’d been too late in removing the marble from the woman he’d loved, and she’d died (what a great cameo by Jung So Min), is so sad. It might seem like such a logical thing, that he ought to have removed the marble before it had become dangerous for her, but that’s just how important it was to him, that she remembered him.
The shared memories and the shared connection is so precious, that it’s hard to give up. And he’d hesitated for too long, only to be haunted by that mistake, for hundreds of years.
I can see why Woo Yeo would decide that he has to let Dam go, right away, so that he won’t risk her life. (What an ironic statement on Dam’s sweater, though: forget me not.)
The fact that Woo Yeo’s come to this conclusion, tells me that he loves her in a more selfless manner, than he’d managed to love Jung So Min’s character. Then, he’d been unable to give her up, because of the loss it would mean to him, but now, he’s unwilling that Dam would lose anything, because of him. That’s pretty moving, honestly.
E7. I thought Jang Ki Yong did a great job of the scene where the evil spirit interacts with Dam, having taken on Woo Yeo’s appearance. He totally looks and feels like Woo Yeo, until he opens his mouth and starts to speak, thereupon revealing ticks in speech and body language that are absolutely not Woo Yeo. Really nicely done, I thought.
E10. I did enjoy the mini mukbang we then get, with Woo Yeo digging into that feast of delivery foods. I know that wasn’t the point, but it all really looked delicious. Maybe Jang Ki Yong should try his hand at mukbangs, ha. 😋
The growing connection between Woo Yeo and Dam
I have to say, I really enjoyed Hye Ri and Jang Ki Yong as our OTP.
For one thing, I enjoyed the chemistry that they share. Whether it was in executing the funny moments with good comic timing, or sparking off each other in a more romantic fashion, it all worked really well, for me. I do think that their chemistry improves over the course of the show, in that, in the beginning, I’d felt that their chemistry was being helped along by mood-lifting music, but by the end of the show, I felt that their chemistry was strong enough, all on its own. In fact, I found myself feeling a bit like a voyeur, almost, at some of our OTP’s more cozy scenes.
The other thing I really enjoy about this OTP, is how they are written to grow closer on a platonic level first, before they grow a romantic interest in each other. I enjoyed this very much, and I felt that this made their connection feel all the more robust and believable.
Last but not least, I also very much enjoyed the candid conversations that our OTP tends to have. It just feels refreshing to know that our OTP is more likely to tell each other honestly how they feel, rather than hedge and be secretive, while angsting themselves into a tizzy.
Here’s the sprawling breakdown of this OTP journey. Judging from how long this section is, it’s clear that this was definitely a highlight of my watch. ❤️
E2. I actually really like the emphasis on empathy that we get, this episode. I like that when Dam challenges Woo Yeo to quit smoking, since she has to quit drinking and eating chicken, he actually does it. And, when he realizes that it’s a lot harder than he’d expected, he actually starts to do nice things for her, to make her feel better. I thought it was sweet of him to cook spicy stir fried duck for her, since she couldn’t eat chicken. It’s too bad that after more than 900 years, he still can’t cook well, ha.
E2. Like I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised by the scene in the storeroom, for how Show uses it to build an actual connection between Dam and Woo Yeo, and it feels like Woo Yeo is touched by the odd sensation of someone actually showing interest in him, for himself.
As a matter of interest, in the scene where Dam talks with Woo Yeo to establish a way for her to address him, the term 어르신 (“Eoreushin”) that they agree on, is actually a respectful term that’s used to address the elderly. My subtitles translate it as “senior” but that’ doesn’t quite bring out the flavor of the term. It’s more like she’s addressing him like a grandfather, except that he’s not related to her, and she’s choosing a formal term of address to demonstrate appropriate respect and decorum.
I like the pause for thought that it gives Woo Yeo, when he realizes that Dam has his interests at heart too, when it comes to the marble. For all of the comedy that Show serves up around her misadventures with the marble, there’s a lot of heart in the idea that she wouldn’t want to get rid of the marble if it meant losing it, because of the repercussions that it would have on Woo Yeo. Again, this feels like a first for him, that someone cares about him.
On that note, I think it’s significant that Dam wants to establish a term of address with Woo Yeo, because this means that she is starting to see their connection as a relationship. If you don’t have a relationship with someone, you don’t really need to establish a term of address, after all. And, I think it’s significant that it’s after these scenes of them getting to understand each other better, where she feels connected enough to him, to think of establishing a term of address.
E3. I’d expected that the reason Woo Yeo had moved so quickly to keep Dam near him, was because of some existing personal connection that we weren’t privy to, like so many other kdramas have done, but instead, this episode, we learn that Woo Yeo’s decision was purely because he’d been intrigued by the fact that the marble had turned blue when it went into Dam. That was the thing that had driven his spontaneous decision, because the marble only ever turns blue, at the point when a gumiho becomes human.
And, at the moment when Woo Yeo was about to take it back from her, the marble shone blue again. No wonder Woo Yeo decided that it wasn’t quite time to say goodbye to Dam.
I very much enjoy the fact that Dam only puzzles over Woo Yeo’s hug fairly briefly, and decides that the best course of action, is to just straight-up ask him what he meant by it. How refreshingly frank! I love this. Instead of Dam being the one who’s flustered by the hug, it’s Woo Yeo who’s flustered by her perturbed questioning, complete with the “Are you a weirdo?” look that Dam keeps trained on him the whole time. This is pretty great.
I also have to say, I love Show’s surprising turns into empathy, when I don’t quite expect it. I like how honest Woo Yeo is about how he feels, even though he doesn’t tell Dam about the marble turning blue. “At first, I was really going to let you go. But then it hit me that I had to stay behind all by myself to figure this out, and it made me feel hopeless.”
The way this changes the entire vibe of the conversation, because Dam suddenly feels empathy for Woo Yeo, is something that I enjoy very much.
Again, what a pleasant surprise, that even when Woo Yeo asks Dam if she’d date him, which is what Hye Sun had urged him to do, Dam’s the one to flatly decline, saying he’s not her type. Ahaha. I find it endearing that Dam isn’t swayed by Woo Yeo’s very handsome face the way I am. 😆
It’s quite poignant that by the time Dam and Woo Yeo reconcile, they’ve come to a better understanding of each other. She’s become more cognizant of how he really doesn’t have anyone in the world to call his friend or family, and this increases her compassion and sympathy for him, while he becomes more aware of how he needs to learn to be more empathetic and understanding.
That’s a good reminder for me too, I realize. Because Woo Yeo’s lived as a human in a human world for so long, I’d assumed that he’d become pretty good at understanding human things like care, worry and loneliness. Now that he’s said that he’s still not good at these things and is still learning, that helps me to adjust my expectations of him as well.
I do also like that Woo Yeo comes to the realization that even though he doesn’t like being around humans, he doesn’t mind being around Dam at all. I also very much like that he tells her so, once he comes to the realization, via that post-it note that he leaves for her on the wall. And, how perfect, that Dam leaves him a note in reply, telling him that she’s more than okay with staying with him as well. What a nice conciliatory note on which to end their little spot of friction.
E4. I really enjoy the parts where Woo Yeo and Dam are getting along. At this point, I don’t even need any romantic developments, really; I just really, really like the idea of them connecting as friends. Woo Yeo has been so isolated for so long, and it’s just refreshing, to have him start to enjoy connecting with someone else. In fact, the more platonic shades of their interactions feel purer, somehow, because it feels like they sincerely only enjoy and appreciate the other person’s company. There isn’t any of that “I want you to be mine” stuff that comes with romance.
E4. After Dam’s had such a hard day, with those people trash talking her, I’m so happy to see Woo Yeo come to meet her at school. She really needs a friend at this time, and it’s perfect that he shows up for her. Of course, part of this is thanks to Hye Sun’s (Kang Han Na) intel, because I do think that without it, Woo Yeo might not have gone to check on Dam. Good on Hye Sun, attagirl!
It’s really heartwarming to see Dam have a bit of a cry, and then work out her frustration and bad feelings, with Woo Yeo by her side. Sure, the singing at the noraebang was a little too vehement for my taste, but it really did feel like Dam was pouring all her bad feelings into the songs, so it feels organic to the moment. And how cute, that Woo Yeo shows his old man tendencies, both in song and ice cream choice, and inadvertently makes Dam smile.
It was quite a downer, though, to see Woo Yeo actively put distance between himself and Dam. It feels like a sudden, unexplained cold shoulder to Dam, so even though I get that Woo Yeo feels it would be better for them not to be too involved with each other, I still feel bad for Dam, who’s puzzled and hurt by the sudden detachment.
The way Dam eventually confronts Woo Yeo about it, kinda reminds me of when she’d asked him before, why he’d suddenly hugged her. She might puzzle over something for a while on her own, but she’s refreshingly frank, when it comes to dealing with a confusing relational situation.
I kind of love that she basically tells Woo Yeo that it’s not ok for him to change his mind just because he’s not human, and then orchestrates a reset. And, I really appreciate that Woo Yeo gives in so quickly and so amiably.
For a gumiho who claims not to understand much in the way of human emotion, Woo Yeo is startlingly on point, when he quotes that passage on Fermina Daza, a character from the book “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
“To him, she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He could not understand why anyone wouldn’t fall in love with her.”
Faint. That’s just so poetic, and so beautiful.
E5. I absolutely can’t blame Dam for getting all hot and bothered after hearing Woo Yeo quote that amazing passage on Fermina Daza to her, in his beautifully gentle, sensuous voice. I mean, is it even possible to be in Dam’s shoes, and not be affected by that? I don’t think so. 🤩
What I love, though, is how Dam (almost) always manages to rationalize everything, with the assumption that, 1, she’s not that attractive, and 2, it’s impossible that Woo Yeo would like her. It’s really cute and endearing how she always assumes that she’s the one who’s misunderstood &/or overreacted. There’s just something very charming about someone who examines themselves first, before even thinking about pointing the finger at someone else. Of course, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, but that’s another story, and I don’t think that’s the case with Dam.
I have to love Dam’s conclusion the next morning, that she simply is a huge fan for great lines, and has a weak spot for hot guys. Ahaha. Can’t argue that both elements were true in her experience the night before! 😆
On the other side of things, I am quite amused by how Woo Yeo keeps telling himself that everything he does for Dam doesn’t mean anything, at all. Not even when he lies that he’s near her school and it’d only take a second for him to turn back to pick her up – when he’s actually at home. And not when he carefully puts that blanket down on the passenger seat, while waiting for her to show up, either. And most certainly not when he magicks Hye Sun out of his car, so that Dam won’t see Hye Sun in his car. Tee hee. Sure, Woo Yeo, all of that absolutely means nothing special whatsoever. Not. That look of happy anticipation on your face says everything, heh.
The spontaneous not-a-date that Woo Yeo and Dam have at the Han River, is light and breezy, and I do enjoy just watching them hang out together. It’s cute when Woo Yeo says old-man things like how the last portrait he’d had taken was during the Joseon period, and it’s endearing when Dam decides that she’s going to make up for all those hundreds of years of him not ever taking any photos, by taking them all now, with his phone. Cute.
Woo Yeo’s gaze, as he drinks in the sight of Dam happily taking photos as well as posing for photos, is just.. precious. He’s so hyperaware of her, just like in the passage about Fermina Daza, and she’s so oblivious of her own appeal, in this moment. I love it. And, how cute, that Dam hurriedly rationalizes that one time that she becomes dazed by Woo Yeo’s beauty. “The sunset. It’s because of the sunset.” Tee hee.
The tipsy confession from Dam, which Woo Yeo misunderstands as her expressing her love for steamed egg, is quite funny. It’s the kind of rationalization that Dam’s been using, come to think of it. Because her confession omits the object in the sentence, the meaning of her words is ambiguous, and therefore, the fact that Woo Yeo assumes that Dam is talking about something else other than him, feels similar to the way Dam keeps rationalizing that there’s just no way that she is attractive, whether to Woo Yeo or to Sun Woo.
I do find it poignant that underneath all the amusing stuff, both Dam and Woo Yeo feel bad, for what they’re putting the other person through. Dam thinks that Woo Yeo might see her as a source of inconvenience and misfortune, because if not for her accidentally swallowing his marble and getting it stuck inside her (or so she believes), his life would have been trouble-free and smooth-sailing. On the other hand, Woo Yeo feels bad, because he’s lying to Dam, and keeping her inconvenienced on the pretext that his marble is stuck in her, when really, he could let her go at any time.
I do love the mutual confessions that we get, as we end off the episode. There’s so much to love about these confessions, I feel. 1, it’s initiated by Dam, which is refreshing. 2, It’s presented so candidly, and almost apologetically. It feels so everyday and normal, even though it’s technically a love confession. I find that very refreshing too. 3, Woo Yeo is cognizant that Dam’s being honest, and that dishonesty cannot beat honesty, ever. 4, And therefore, he matches her honesty with a confession that feels just as candid. Ahhh. After all this pent-up pathos, this feels like sweet, life-giving release.
“You said I seemed true to myself every moment and you liked my honesty. So I’ll be honest. You have met many people and experienced many things, so I’m sure nothing is hard for you. But I’m not like you. I’m the opposite of cool. We’re supposed to be just two people living together by contract, but I can’t keep my private and public life separate because I’m not as cool as you. What I’m saying is, no matter how you think of me, you are special and significant to me. So special that I can give up beef tripe and soju.”
“Me too. Miss Dam, you are special to me too.”
Ahhh! I love it!
E6. Honestly, I was a little disappointed (kinda like how Dam herself was disappointed) when Woo Yeo’s confession takes a platonic-sounding turn, and he tells her that he kind of thinks of her as his niece. What a letdown, after what had felt like such a momentous, romantic sort of moment.
However, I am suitably amused by how Show then builds on this. I love how passive-aggressive Dam becomes, as she pronounces the next day, that she will henceforth address him as “UNCLE.” Ahaha. I love how she bites out the syllables with that deadpan expression on her face. It’s so great. Poor Woo Yeo’s sincere confusion at why Dam’s upset, is sad-cute too.
I do appreciate that Dam herself is pretty confused, in terms of what to make of the whole situation. The way she regularly swings between indignation that he’d only see her as a niece, and deflated concession that he’s way out of her league and she should be thankful that he doesn’t see her as a granddaughter, is so relatable, and so endearing.
There’s enough girlfriend instinct about Dam to feel indignant at Woo Yeo, but there’s also enough self-awareness of her own failings, that she would sigh in resignation, and think of how to deal with her feelings on her own.
E6. The entire blind date thing turns out to be such a fiasco, I can’t help but groan in sympathy for poor Dam. Jae Jin (Kim Do Wan) means well, but the way he’s revealed to have announced to an entire chatroom that he has a friend who really needs to be set up with a more mature guy, is so embarrassing. And while he tries to be helpful by having Hye Sun give Dam tips on how to navigate a blind date, nothing comes out of the crash course. Also, I think the crash course would do more harm than good, given that the more self-conscious Dam is, the more unnatural and stilted she tends to be.
Honestly, the only upside to Dam getting dressed up for the blind date, is that she takes Woo Yeo’s breath away, with how lovely she looks.
I do hafta say, Dam’s a good sport for going along with the blind date crash course, even though it’s mildly insulting that Jae Jin would suggest that she needs the help. And she’s an extremely good sport, for trying to be nice to her very condescending blind date. Oh my. Where on earth did Jae Jin find this dude? He’s so full of himself he couldn’t be any worse if he tried. I do find the blind date rather sad-funny to watch, but I also wish, for Dam’s sake, that this blind date would hurry up and be over. The gall, of Blind Date Dude, to assume that Dam had delayed stepping into the cafe, so that she’d be able to avoid paying for coffee. Ugh. 🙄
Poor Dam. It’s just so, so much worse, that Woo Yeo’s there at the cafe to witness just how badly her blind date is going, when she’s literally just told him that it’s going swimmingly well. And while Woo Yeo does take some petty revenge on Terrible Blind Date Dude for Dam, by magicking a chair into his way to trip him up, it’s cold comfort to Dam, who’s already had such a miserable, humiliating time.
I really appreciate that Show doesn’t drag this out too much, and we soon get a candid conversation between Woo Yeo and Dam, where Woo Yeo finally clarifies, in his signature gentle, sincere way, that what he’d been trying to say, when he’d mentioned that Dam is like a niece to him, is that she’s special. Aw. The way Woo Yeo says it all with such wide-eyed earnestness, makes him hard to resist indeed. No wonder Dam starts floundering internally, right away.
Guh. I love how good-natured Dam is, seriously. Even though Blind Date Dude was supremely condescending and rude to her, she examines his words without prejudice, and concludes that even though he hadn’t been very nice about it, he’d said things that were true, and she feels that she ought to reflect on those things. Gosh, I love her. She’s so refreshingly devoid of airs or any type of self-pride, and yet, she manages not to be pathetic about it either. Just, matter-of-fact and sincerely earnest.
I love how Woo Yeo decides to encourage Dam in her love for history, by taking her on a spontaneous trip to the museum. It’s really heartwarming to see Dam light up, as she looks at all the various historical relics, and talks with Woo Yeo about them. It really brings her to life, and I like how Woo Yeo tells her not to give up what she loves.
Of course, it’s very cute that Dam immediately thinks of whom she loves, rather than history, and the tentative, wide-eyed way she asks, “Is it really okay that I don’t give up?” is so heart-tugging. If only Woo Yeo realized that she’s talking about him.
It’s so meaningful that Dam tells Woo Yeo that he has her – not just now, but even after they’ve removed the marble from her. She’s telling him that she’d like to be in his life even beyond the contract, and it’s clear to see that this is something that Woo Yeo wants too. What an inconvenient thing, that taking the marble back from Dam, come with a memory wipe.
E7. Although I generally don’t care so much for a character keeping another character in the dark about something for their own good, I understand why Woo Yeo wouldn’t tell Dam about the danger that he perceives she’s in.
It’s a supernatural, scary sort of thing where she wouldn’t be able to defend herself anyway; the ball’s basically in his court, to protect her at all costs. And, given how Dam would likely be freaked out by the knowledge that there’s an evil spirit out there that might harm her, I can see why Woo Yeo decides that it’s just safer to stay close to Dam as much as possible, and have Hye Sun help keep an eye on her during school hours.
I also liked how Woo Yeo’s determination to protect Dam gives us a good number of interactions between them, as he takes her to school, and picks her up to take her home. It’s all very cozy, but for the fact that there’s danger lurking around the corner. And then there’s how he even stays up through the night to study with her, which really is all very distracting to Dam, as she grapples with her feelings for him.
I found it very human and relatable for Dam to get hung up on Woo Yeo’s first love, and then feel frustrated at herself for being hung up on it. That conflict between head and heart is so universal, I feel. Jae Jin is so right; this really is what happens, when you like someone.
I’m glad that Dam eventually makes the choice to try to understand the pathos of Woo Yeo’s isolation, rather than obsess over the idea of Woo Yeo having had a first love. This thing, of putting his needs over her own, echoes Woo Yeo’s position as well, in his recent decision to let Dam go, because it would be better for her.
The goodbye date that Woo Yeo takes Dam on, is heartachingly poignant, because we know that for him, this is the road to goodbye. There is such a sense of sadness in Woo Yeo’s face, as he readies himself to take the marble back.
I’m glad that he chooses to tell Dam the truth – that he’d lied to her, and had always known how to take the marble back from her – even though her memory is about to be wiped.
Even though it’s shortlived, I’m glad that Dam gets to hear the truth from him. She doesn’t say anything, but as she drinks in what he’s telling her, there is a distinct sense of sadness about her too, as her eyes well with tears.
As the music swells, and Woo Yeo takes the marble back, I can’t help but feel wistful for the memories that Dam loses, of all the time that they’ve spent together, and all the mutual understanding and ease that they’ve gained.
E8. I do love the irony of Dam and Woo Yeo angsting on their own, over how the other person appears completely fine, even though they themselves are suffering so much heartache. It’s a sort of sweet irony, because they miss each other so much, and yet, are putting up a show that nothing ever happened between them, because that is the way they’ve understood the returning of the marble to have worked.
Does it make me sadistic, for enjoying the angst that Dam and Woo Yeo feel, as they spend time in each other’s presence, all while feeling the acute heartache of not being able to acknowledge the other person as important to them?
The fact that Woo Yeo (I assume) made it rain, so that he would have an excuse to offer to share his umbrella with Dam, feels gratifying to me. And, the wistful longing that is written in his eyes, as he holds the umbrella over her, and drinks in the sight of her in front of him, and the feeling of her being nearby, is such sweet heartache.
And then there’s how Dam tamps down her wistfulness at how this must be the end, before steeling herself to leave the shelter of his umbrella. It hurts, yes, but somehow, this hurts so good. I think it’s because I have the assurance that this is temporary, and these two will eventually come to be able to be upfront about their feelings for each other.
YESS, that Woo Yeo’s finally realizing that he likes Dam as more than just family. What a poignant, dreamy moment, when Woo Yeo finally admits to himself – and says out loud! – that he isn’t confident (of watching Dam live her life without him).
E9. I really like that Woo Yeo’s realization that Dam still has her memories of him, stems from her accidental reference to something that she’d experienced while they’d been together. She doesn’t have to tell him that she remembers; the memories have become so much a part of her, that she doesn’t even realize it, when a bit of that memory leaks out during her presentation.
I’d interpreted Dam’s actions as a decision to make the best of things, since she was supposed to forget anyway, and there would have been no point for her to seek out Woo Yeo, since their contract had ended. However, this now makes me wonder if part of the reason she’d kept her retained memories a secret, was because she was afraid that if she brought them up to him, she might really lose them.
Going by kdrama norms, Woo Yeo and Dam would have continued to skirt around each other for quite a while longer, before Something happened, to trigger a reveal. But here, Woo Yeo comes right out and asks Dam, “Your memories aren’t erased, are they?” If this were a tropier story, Dam would have denied it, and then avoided Woo Yeo even more studiously, for up to several more episodes.
Instead, it really isn’t long at all, before Dam blurts out everything to Woo Yeo, all her feelings out in the open. I love that Dam being upset with Woo Yeo isn’t about her feeling angry with him; it feels more like she’s exasperated with him, and hurt that he’d acted without consulting her. And, I love that this isn’t even the main thing that she wants to say to him.
I love that her struggle is because everything he does makes her heart race, and in the end, all she wants is to like him, and have him like her back. Aw. She’s so honest and endearing, seriously.
I love the stunned, moved look in Woo Yeo’s eyes, as he processes everything that Dam says to him, and I do really like that we hear him process it in voiceover, as he thinks back to other things that Dam has said and done in the past, and realizes that this reckless and bold confession is completely in line with Dam’s honest and bold nature. That definitely reinforces for us, how this blurted-out-loud confession is just so Dam.
I love Woo Yeo’s voiceover. It’s dreamy and lyrical, yet, with those scenes of everyday life with Dam interwoven with his words, it also feels earthy and everyday.
“Living a thousand years, I have seen, heard, and touched many things, but I have never felt anything. Just like the sceneries out the window, everything in my life passed by so fast and hazily. Then I met her, and for the first time, I felt like I fell from clouds and bumped into reality. I became a significant being to someone. I was no longer a dream that vanishes after a night. I became a part of someone’s everyday life. I had someone to wait for, so time stopped passing by meaninglessly. What has possibly made this girl so bold, clumsy, and true to herself? I found it very silly, yet at the same time very lovely.”
I have to admit, it’s really quite swoony to me, that once Woo Yeo gets past his hesitations, he goes all in, in his relationship with Dam. The way he murmurs, “I definitely warned you that you’re too good for me,” as he holds her close, feels so intent and so.. hungry, like he’s going to never let her go now. Flail. Melt. Meltmeltmelt.
Woo Yeo and Dam make a ridiculously cute couple, and I love that when he walks her back to the dorm, he kisses her hand – and then she reciprocates the gesture, by kissing his hand right back. Ahhh! I love her. I love that she doesn’t do the princessy thing and simply receive his kiss on her hand, like that’s what’s expected, now that they’re dating. No, our girl kisses his hand right back, for no other reason than because she wants to. Can I love Dam any more? Apparently I can. 😍
The way Show is steadily amping up the crackly tension between them feels quite exhilarating, mostly because it’s happening quite fast – but not so fast that it doesn’t feel believable. After all, these burgeoning feelings have been tamped down for so long.
When Woo Yeo pulls Dam to himself in his office, after she asks to hold his hand, I thought I definitely felt a bit of a crackle. Show doesn’t follow through in this scene, but I definitely felt the potential for sexy kisses between our newly dating lovebirds.
I’m intrigued by the idea that Show is introducing, that Woo Yeo’s unable to overcome his hunger for human energy, and how that hunger is all mixed up in his feelings of missing Dam, and wanting to be with her.
First, there’s how that hunger appears to be triggered by watching Dam dig into that fried chicken, and then, there’s how he reacts when Dam surprises him in his office, just when he’s missing her a lot. I have to admit, the whole kiss scene was all kinds of hot – until it wasn’t.
The way Woo Yeo strides over to Dam in what feels like a superhuman split second (those legs are so long!), and plants his lips on hers, is so intent and so hungry. I definitely went weak in the knees – until the entire tone of the moment shifted from sexy to dangerous.
Narratively, I love the conundrum that this creates for Woo Yeo. His natural instincts are basically charging towards the same target. His love for Dam makes him want her, but his base desire for human energy makes him want her too – in order to suck the life out of her and destroy her. And, it seems that it all pretty much meshes into this one big deluge of feels, for Woo Yeo, making it hard for him to differentiate between the two.
E10. I thought it was a pretty fun and apt conclusion for Dam to arrive at, though, that Woo Yeo’s sudden distancing, was because she’d put the brakes on the very ardent kiss in his office. It’s a reasonable conclusion, and it definitely helps to dampen the secondhand embarrassment, because now she can think that his sudden resolute avoidance of skinship is because he’s being considerate of her, and not because he suddenly doesn’t want to touch her.
Even though Woo Yeo and Dam are apart, I like that they clearly still care very much for each other; they might be apart physically, but emotionally, they are pretty much as strong as before, even taking into account the little spots of wistfulness &/or misunderstandings. I like that.
Also, I was wondering, a little bit, why Dam was giving Woo Yeo with such a wide berth, after they’d agreed to stay apart for some time, but when Show eventually does the reveal later in the episode, it does makes sense. I love how Dam is able to be honest with herself about it too; that even though she’s never liked anyone as much as she likes Woo Yeo, she’s not confident of risking her life and everything and everyone that she loves in it, for Woo Yeo. That’s very human and very relatable.
I’m glad that the thing that helps Dam put everything into perspective and gain new courage, is as simple as a heartfelt conversation with Woo Yeo – even if Woo Yeo had to disguise himself as Jae Jin, in order to sit down with Dam. (The way Kim Do Wan channeled Woo Yeo as Jae Jin is so spot on, seriously. I thought that was really well done.)
I love that, again, Dam is simply being true to her heart. Woo Yeo’s sincere, gentle declaration of love, and his earnest promise, to figure out a solution, just.. moves her, such that she overcomes her fears, and feels bold enough to grasp his hands. The way she figures out a compromise on the spot, where she’ll hold his hands once in three days, and eat more to mitigate the weight loss, is really endearing. She’s demonstrating trust, not only in him, but in their relationship as well.
E11. Even though there’s a bit of hedging by both Dam and Woo Yeo, I like that they are ultimately honest with each other. She tells him that she happens to be working with Sun Woo at her part-time job (it’s been a while since Subway appeared as PPL, I realize!), and he tells Dam about the red thread of fate.
Again, I like the honesty that marks this OTP relationship, and I like that idea that they choose to put everything on the table and discuss things. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: how refreshing!
I mean, in most other kdramas, I’d guess that the gumiho would keep the red thread thing to himself, because it’s a supernatural phenomenon, and therefore, it’s implied that he as the supernatural being should take care of it without involving his human love interest. But there’s no such thinking here. Woo Yeo grapples with it alone for a time, but it’s not very long, all things considered, before we see it all coming out into the open. I like that.
E12. I do appreciate the flashback from Woo Yeo’s point of view, when we hear Dam talk about Woo Yeo continuing to look the same, even as she will continue to grow older and change. I’d kind of expected her to perhaps feel a sense of insecurity at the thought that she would lose her youth, while he would remain the same, but instead, she worries about how Woo Yeo would be left alone. Dam really is precious. I love how selfless her train of thought is, even when she’s kind of tipsy. ❤️
As before, I still very much enjoy the honest tone of our OTP relationship (except for that omission about Professor Seo (Son Sung Yoon)). I like that Woo Yeo’s able to tell Dam how he doesn’t want her getting involved with Sun Woo, and I like that Dam’s able to later tell him, after the trip, that Sun Woo did confess his feelings for her. Typically, these are things that drama couples tend not to say to each other, so it feels good, to know that Dam and Woo Yeo feel able to tell each other things (quite) freely.
As for the OTP angst, I find it pretty acceptable. It feels organic to our story, in that the conundrum of Woo Yeo needing more human energy in order to become human, has long been built into the premise of our story.
However, I will admit that I found it unsettling, to see the more animalistic flashes of expression cross Woo Yeo’s face. It makes sense within our premise, particularly since Woo Yeo’s stated before, that he’s not all that good with human emotions, but I do find it an uncomfortable thought, that at this late stage of our story, we might not really know our male lead as well as we’d thought, after all.
I appreciate that Dam’s main concern – never mind the details – is whether Woo Yeo put someone else in danger so that she wouldn’t be put in danger. I love that about her, really. She doesn’t need the details; she just needs to know, in principle, whether someone else had to suffer on her account, and knowing that someone else did, is enough for her to make her decision, that it would be better for her to stop seeing Woo Yeo.
In this moment, it’s clear to me that there’s a lot going on in Dam’s head and heart. She does love Woo Yeo and she’s also overwhelmed by the recent reveal of what’s been going on, without her knowledge.
But the thing that guides her decision, isn’t her own feelings, or whether Woo Yeo lied to her; it all becomes secondary to the knowledge that someone else was put in danger on her account. And that’s why she decides to pull the plug on the relationship. That strong sense of morals and principles is something that I do admire about Dam, and I can fully understand why she’d feel this is the right thing to do.
E13. Bonus points to Show, for having done a good enough job of creating a conflict that feels warranted, that our OTP’s angst at being apart feels almost necessary, at this point. In many dramas, the OTP separation in Show’s late stage can feel manufactured, with noble idiocy often playing a part, but in this case, I completely understand why Dam would struggle with the idea of Woo Yeo putting other people in harm’s way, on her account, and even break up with him, because of it.
Also, because Dam and Woo Yeo absolutely do still love each other, their heartbreak, angst and moping still very much comes into play. And, I like the idea that both of them have people to support them, even in the midst of their heartbreak. Woo Yeo has Hye Sun, who is as endearingly earnest as ever, in trying to help Woo Yeo figure out his situation, and Dam has Soo Kyung and Jae Jin, who are wholeheartedly there for her, even though Dam can’t tell either of them the specifics of her problems.
I do love that Woo Yeo appears at the nightclub literally within seconds, after receiving the text that he thinks is from Soo Kyung. Even though I was a little disappointed that he leaves the minute he understands that the text isn’t actually from Dam, but I do appreciate that he’s being mindful of the boundaries that Dam has set. And, how poignant, that he continues to watch over Dam to make sure that she’s ok – while shapeshifted into a different appearance, so that Dam won’t be uncomfortable because of him.
That scene outside Dam’s house, where she despairs at having to break up with him, and he apologizes for liking her, and she cries into his arms, is so heartachingly poignant. I’m glad that they had this moment together, even though Dam is drunk and pretty much believes, the next morning, that it had been a dream. It felt like a much needed moment of expression and catharsis.
I love that when Dam seeks out Woo Yeo at his home, the first thing he does, is to apologize. The fact that he considers it his fault, because he’d made her cry, no other justification needed, is really quite touching. Aw. He manages to be really considerate, for a gumiho who doesn’t really understand feelings.
What I do appreciate, is in that moment when Jae Jin falls down the stairs, Dam actually gives Woo Yeo more of the benefit of the doubt, than Hye Sun does – and Hye Sun’s known him for 700 years. It seems like in some ways, Dam knows Woo Yeo better than Hye Sun does.
E14. I do love the conversation in the living room, on her first night back at Woo Yeo’s house, for how casually matter-of-fact Dam is, in telling Woo Yeo that she knows that he’s not the one who made Jae Jin fall down the stairs, and how this makes Woo Yeo feel so happy and content. It feels like the first time he’s had someone believe in him and trust him so unequivocally. That sense of fulfillment is part of the spectrum of human emotion he experiences this episode, I believe.
On a slight tangent, the whole thing of Woo Yeo having to work really hard to control his, uh, instincts, as Dam sprawls over him through the night, is quite amusing. It gives me some Goong vibes, since that’s where I first watched a similar dynamic. And, I also think that this experience is part of him gaining experience on the spectrum of human emotion.
I also appreciate the idea, that even though Woo Yeo’s usually so emotionally detached, he can’t stay calm when Soo Kyung (Park Kyung Hye) talks trash about Dam’s boyfriend, because being Dam’s boyfriend means that much to him. This is definitely one area in which he can’t be emotionally detached, because he’s very much emotionally invested. Another check mark, on his list of human emotions, heh.
For me, though, the episode really takes off in its last third, when the photograph of Dam and Woo Yeo starts circulating among the student population. This is when Dam really shows her mettle, and I love it.
I love that Dam is presented as the wiser, more assuring one, in our OTP. In some scenes, it feels like she’s the sunbae, while Woo Yeo is the more uncertain, less experienced one. And in a manner of speaking, it is true; Dam has more experience in the thing that matters most to Woo Yeo – being human.
In a typical drama, this event would be a Huge Deal, and would probably leading to several episodes of angst, likely fed by bullying and ostracism by the general student population. And, we get none of that here. Wow.
I love that Dam faces up to it like it’s no big deal, sets the record straight, volunteers to drop the class to avoid speculation of favoritism, and then goes on living her life. Not only does she not give the grapevine power, she even finds the whole coming out liberating. I mean. She is just awesome, isn’t she? I love her. 🤩
It’s Woo Yeo who looks at her with uncertainty, when she catches hold of his arm, and prevents him from walking away from her because they are in a public place. In this moment, she comes across as reassuring and confident, and her rock-solid steadiness is what gives Woo Yeo relief. And I do think it’s her example, that gives Woo Yeo the stimulus and inspiration to set the record straight with Professor Seo, which in turn also gives him a sense of liberation and relief. It’s great.
I’m glad that Dam chooses to tell Woo Yeo about the secret that she’d learned from the mountain spirit (Go Kyung Pyo). This feels consistent with the approach they’ve generally taken with each other, in being open and honest in their communication.
Also, how refreshing is it, that it’s Dam who initiates that kiss with Woo Yeo, in the kitchen. I’m glad that she tells him – and us! – about her deal with the mountain spirit, because that not only sets my mind free to enjoy the OTP skinship, it also sets Woo Yeo free from, uh, holding himself back.
Our OTP deciding to take things to the next level, is handled with a really nice amount of burgeoning intensity, mixed with spots of awkward tentativeness, all wrapped up with a whole lotta gentleness. It’s quite lovely, even as Woo Yeo inadvertently checks off another item on the list of what it means to be human.
Kang Han Na as Hye Sun
I was already having a good time with this show in episode 1, when Kang Ha Na showed up on my screen as a vain, rather airheaded bombshell of an ex-gumiho, and in one second flat, I decided that I needed to see more of her on my screen, heh.
Kang Ha Na is so often cast as someone either really serious or really conniving (or both), so this feels like a very refreshing change. The fact that she does so well in this airhead bombshell space, just makes me feel like someone’s noticed a secret talent of hers or something. Could this be Kang Ha Na’s big breakaway from everything else that she’s done before? I hope so, because I love her in this.
Hye Sun is so many things. She’s breathily sexy, more than a little ditzy, and yet, surprisingly wise. Plus, she’s got a surprising amount of heart, for all her vanity. She’s also hilarious, and that has a lot to do with Kang Han Na’s comic timing, which is excellent. It totally feels like the casting director struck gold, by unearthing a hidden talent that I would’ve never guessed was there.
I literally LUFF Kang Han Na as Hye Sun, and I’d be willing to watch a whole drama, with Hye Sun as our female lead. 🤩😍
E3. I love that we get to see more of Hye Sun and her breathy ditzy awesomeness this episode, because Woo Yeo has no one to discuss his situation with. I feel like the more screen time she gets, the more potential for awesome she tends to reach, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in coming episodes.
This episode, I was all confused about her delighted reference to a “clam gem,” until Woo Yeo informs her that it’s called a pearl. Ahaha. That’s when I couldn’t help giggling out loud at my screen. 😆
E4. I enjoy the fact that Hye Sun seems to be able to read Woo Yeo pretty well. Even though he himself isn’t cognizant of it, Hye Sun’s already picking up on the fact that Woo Yeo’s grown quite attached to Dam. And, because of this, she’s able to push his buttons as she pleases, which is pretty fun to witness, I hafta admit.
I also loved the fact that Hye Sun is able to recognize Woo Yeo, even while he’s cosplaying Dam. Her amused delight at seeing Woo Yeo having to put up with Jae Jin’s habit of grabbing Dam in a headlock, was delightful in itself, and I got a kick out of it.
E6. I love how Woo Yeo immediately calls Hye Sun, when he hears from Dam that Hye Sun had been involved in her blind date shenanigans, and I’m highly amused by the fact that Woo Yeo is saved on Hye Sun’s phone as “POX.” HAHA. I know this is the Korean approximation of “fox,” but to have that spelled out in English is just hilarious to me. 😂
E7. Hye Sun playing bodyguard to Dam is really quite amusing. After nonchalantly telling Woo Yeo that she’ll think about doing him the favor that he asks, it’s just very cute how she takes the task so seriously, that she literally won’t take her eyes off Dam for a second – thus creeping Dam out good and proper. Ha. I got a bit of a kick out of that.
E8. Hye Sun is hands-down our MVP this episode. Not only does she save Jae Jin from his clingy ex-girlfriend (Kang Mi Na), she’s the one who nudges Woo Yeo into checking on Dam for himself. If she had agreed to Woo Yeo’s request to watch over Dam and make sure she’s ok, Woo Yeo would never have appeared on campus, and as Dam’s lecturer, no less.
Plus, Hye Sun’s also the one to tell Woo Yeo not to lie to himself, which proves to be the genesis of his Aha! moment, at the end of our episode.
E9. This episode, I was surprised to learn that Hye Sun really had been in love, each time she’d gotten involved with a human. That.. changes everything, honestly.
Before, she had made it sound like she’d gamed the system, and had placed her marble with human after human, without ever being emotionally involved. What a narrative-tilting piece of information, that she had actually invested her feelings in each of those relationships, and, after each heartbreak, had gone on to invest her heart again, unlike Woo Yeo, who’d become completely closed off, after losing his loved one.
Now, I feel a sense of.. sympathy and compassion, towards Hye Sun, because it must have been tough going through heartbreak after heartbreak like this. I mean, it’s not like she was getting over a breakup each time; she had to get over her loved one dying, every time. Dang. That simplicity of heart, to keep on loving, even though she’s been hurt so many times before, endears her to me, and makes my heart ache, at the same time.
E9. Hye Sun is our MVP yet again this episode, with her sharing her thoughts on love with Woo Yeo, and then luring him to join the history trip, with that photo of Dam being stuck between two guys. Ha. I love how she knows exactly how to push Woo Yeo’s buttons.
I also like that Hye Sun helps Woo Yeo to confirm his suspicions, by observing Dam too, and sharing her findings.
Hye Sun’s very helpful towards Woo Yeo, even though she generally doesn’t like to admit it. Plus, there’s how she shares how she had felt, when she’d lost her lover and had been in so much pain that she’d wanted to forget everything. That internal struggle between wanting to forget, and not wanting to forget, is very real, and I’m glad that Hye Sun’s able to explain it to Woo Yeo, so that he can understand Dam’s position a little better.
E10. I love Hye Sun. I love that Woo Yeo’s struggles are so top of mind for her, that when she has a new experience with food, one of the first thoughts she has, is in terms of how this new discovery might apply to Woo Yeo, and help him with his hunger situation. That’s really good of her, isn’t it? Plus, she really does look excited to share her new insight with Woo Yeo, even though there’s literally no benefit to her personally. She’s such a natural sharer, in that sense.
E12. OMIGOSH, Hye Sun had me giggling uncontrollably at my screen, when she innocently puts her hands on Soo Kyung’s chest, because she thinks that what Soo Kyung means, when she dares Hye Sun to swear with her hand on her chest. PWAHAHAHA. That was too funny. I literally had to pause the video, because I was laughing too hard. 😂😂
I thought I should mention that because there is an omission of both Subject and Object in the Korean sentence, while it’s easy for Hye Sun to deduce that the Subject is herself (ie, she’s the one whose hands need to go on someone’s chest), it’s hard for her to guess whose chest Soo Kyung is referring to, without any prior understanding of the phrase and related action.
Honestly, trust Hye Sun to bring the most unexpected laughs in this show.
E13. Hye Sun could have just not gotten involved, but she takes Dam out to lunch, and says two things which I find really important. The first thing is, she tells Dam that it’s not her fault. I feel like that’s such an important, liberating thing for Dam to hear. And the second thing is, she tells Dam that as a fox, Woo Yeo could have easily done a much better job of deceiving her, but he didn’t. That’s an interesting insight; that Woo Yeo has basically chosen to be more open and transparent with Dam, than she’d realized. That’s so helpful, honestly.
Ahaha. I love how Hye Sun ends up holding Woo Yeo’s hand to give him energy because he’s so run down, and how they basically are like a pair of siblings being forced to hold hands, all, “I hate you, this is so embarrassing, ugh” about it. 😆
Hye Sun’s connection with Jae Jin
I didn’t exactly see this coming, but I ended up really enjoying Hye Sun’s loveline with Jae Jin.
Show could have gone fully comedic with this loveline, given how different Hye Sun and Jae Jin are, and how out of Jae Jin’s league Hye Sun is considered to be. Instead, Show takes the funny, and infuses it with so much heart, that I ended up feeling like these two are perfect for each other, in all their dorky, quirky glory.
E8. I got a lot of satisfaction from watching Hye Sun put Manipulative Ex in her place, by beating her at her own game. Beyond that, though, I really like that Jae Jin gives Hye Sun food for thought. Hye Sun’s always been so focused on how to win the game, that she’s rather taken aback by Jae Jin’s statement, that he’d never played any game; he just.. liked his ex a lot.
That guilelessness and uncalculatedness seems new to Hye Sun, and now I hope that Jae Jin will help Hye Sun to grow in this respect.
E8. I wanted to mention that the reason Hye Sun misunderstood Jae Jin’s suggestion that they match their stories, is because the phrase he uses literally translates as “match our lips.”
I’m not entirely sure, but I feel like the traditional way of referring to a kiss, say, in Joseon times, is the same. If I’m mistaken and it’s not the same, then it’s something very similar to it, which explains why Hye Sun would have misunderstood Jae Jin’s modern slang as him saying that they needed to kiss, in order for them to get good grades and therefore get good jobs. I do love how endearingly clueless Hye Sun can be; those lashings of naiveté make her seem so innocent and cute.
It’s actually really sweet how Jae Jin doesn’t make fun of Hye Sun for misunderstanding his words, and instead explains it to her in a way that would help her understand.
E9. I am having so much fun with Jae Jin’s interactions with Hye Sun. They really make a cute pair. Hye Sun’s completely innocent, completely serious statement, that she got rid of the car, and Jae Jin’s twitchy discombobulated disbelief, is quite funny, and I like that this gives Jae Jin a reason to tell Hye Sun that he’ll treat her well until he stops feeling sorry towards her. Tee hee.
I love how this gives him the perfect avenue to do all the caring, boyfriendy things for her, like giving her the best morsels of food, and generally looking out for her and making sure she’s safe and comfortable.
E9. I do love that little moment later in the episode, after Jae Jin’s told Hye Sun that he’s sold all the stuff he can, in order to pay her back, and Hye Sun mentions that she’s feeling cold, Jae Jin takes off his own jacket and bundles Hye Sun up in it. He does it so naturally, like of course he should do this, and I love that when Hye Sun protests that he doesn’t have to be nice to her anymore, he replies that he just doesn’t her to be cold. Aw. Jae Jin really is a sweet guy, and I’m glad that Hye Sun tells him that she’s beginning to see why his ex had been so clingy. She’s beginning to see his appeal (as am I), yay!
E10. Yay for Jae Jin stepping in and saving Hye Sun from those leery jerks. Who knew, that our affable Jae Jin would have judo moves up his dorky sleeves? Ahaha. I can just feel Hye Sun swooning a bit, from seeing him take out both jerks, with a few moves.
E11. The whole thing with Jae Jin misunderstanding that he and Hye Sun had had a one night stand, is exactly the sort of thing that makes me chuckle and makes me groan with secondhand embarrassment, at the same time.
It is a misunderstanding that’s believable within the context of our characters, though. Hye Sun is not quite fully informed of the various nuances of modern speech, plus, she also tends to be rather clueless about enough things, to make her literal interpretation of Jae Jin’s question, believable.
The subsequent conversations that they have, where he thinks he’s talking about a one night stand, and she thinks he’s talking about their date project, is stretching it a little, since they end up actually dating because of it, but it’s still amusing enough to make me chuckle, at least a little bit.
Mostly, I appreciate how Hye Sun realizes, in degrees, that Jae Jin’s different from other guys that she’s dated. In the end, I like how they end up having a heartfelt, honest conversation about how he feels about his relationship with his ex, and I like that Hye Sun tells him that he’s not the problem. This feels like a healthy, genuine sort of connection, which is quite nicely contrasted with the silly misunderstanding that started it all, come to think of it.
E12. How gallant is Jae Jin, to hesitate only for a moment, before choosing to trash his own reputation with his friends, rather than risk his friends thinking poorly of Hye Sun? I love how satisfied with himself he looks, after making that decision, even as he gets thoroughly pummeled for his supposed bad behavior. This whole scene is oddly sweet.
The various scenes of Hye Sun and Jae Jin making an effort to act like a couple, when other people are around, are a little awkward, but I do like how it eventually comes out, that Jae Jin genuinely likes Hye Sun, and that’s why he’s dating her, and that Hye Sun sincerely thinks that Jae Jin’s a good person, and therefore too good for her. Aw, these two. They’re both so sincere, underneath all the fake-dating.
E13. It’s too bad for Jae Jin, that he completely misunderstands the handhold between Hye Sun and Woo Yeo, and concludes that Hye Sun must be looking forward to breaking up with him, because she actually likes Woo Yeo. Pfft.
Poor Jae Jin, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and his misunderstanding, while understandable, is quite funny.
Dam and Jae Jin’s entire scheme to make Hye Sun and Woo Yeo jealous by acting like a lovey-dovey couple is so out there, that I’m surprised either of them buy the ruse. But I suppose that’s the thing about being in love; you often can’t think straight, especially if jealousy is involved.
I’m glad that Jae Jin and Hye Sun get over their misunderstanding, with a suitable amount of tearful, earnest blubbering on Jae Jin’s part. Aw.
Bae In Hyuk as Sun Woo
I hadn’t expected to have Sun Woo in this section, for a good chunk of my watch, and yet, here we are. I did like him after all, as a character.
Kudos to Show, for managing to turn Sun Woo from quite the scummy character, into someone who’s really quite decent. I shocked myself by growing rather fond of him, even, in the last stretch of my watch.
Credit to Bae In Hyuk, for making Sun Woo believable at both ends of the personality spectrum, and the various stages in-between. It’s because of his delivery, that I found Sun Woo’s evolution as believable as I did.
On a tangent, I’m quite tickled by the fact that Bae In Hyuk, plays the epitome of the uber popular dude in college here, while playing the complete opposite – a guy who actively disdains the popular kids – in At A Distance, Spring Is Green. I wonder if he ever felt whiplashy about that? 😆
E2. With Sun Woo, I’m pretty sure that his entire thing with Dam, is a curiosity aroused by the fact that she’s actively avoiding him, while every other person – girl or boy – is falling over their feet to get close to him. I guess it was basically a challenge to him, to break down Dam’s defenses, and get her to stop avoiding him. I’m supposing that it hurt his pride at least a little, to realize that not every single person thought of him as a demigod of sorts.
With the toilet incident, however, I do think that Sun Woo’s genuinely amused by Dam, and perhaps this is where real interest takes the place of his reflex desire to win her over.
E3. I’d thought that Sun Woo had been genuinely intrigued by Dam, and that’s why he’s been trying to get near her and engage her in conversation, but this episode, I have to admit that I’m rather disappointed that there’s a bet involved. I guess this does give him a greater impetus to work harder at it, so that he doesn’t lose the bet, but it just doesn’t feel as fun to my eyes, that there’s money involved. I want him to be curious about Dam all on his own, is what I want!
E4. Because Sun Woo is so used to other people falling over themselves to be in his company, I find a particular enjoyment, in him feeling perplexed because Dam just isn’t treating him the way that he’s used to being treated. Most girls would be falling over themselves to accept his movie invitation; I love that Dam promptly turns him down, and doesn’t even bother to give him a reason. Muahaha. This pleases me.
E8. I’d noticed that Sun Woo had been relegated to the sidelines, narrative-wise, for a good stretch. Now, with the supposed memory wipe, it makes sense that he’d be brought to the forefront a little more. And, in coming to the forefront of our story, I do appreciate that Sun Woo is apologetic and remorseful for how he’d treated Dam in the past.
I am really liking the honest tone that’s developing between Dam and Sun Woo. Even though they don’t spend much time together, I appreciate that during the dinner, Dam is honest that the sweet text had been sent by her brother, and I like that Sun Woo is honest that he’d known that it wasn’t her, and that’s why he’d been afraid to call her like he’d said he would – because he’d been afraid that she’d cancel on him.
With Dam’s confirmation to Sun Woo in the lecture hall, that she likes someone else, I’m not entirely sure where Show is going with this connection between Dam and Sun Woo, but now that they’ve reached this honest state of truce, I’d actually like to see them be friends.
E9. I realize that I like how Sun Woo’s feelings for Dam are allowed to be a Thing on their own, without it having to be situation where he’s an actual romantic rival for Woo Yeo. I guess technically it still kinda qualifies as a love triangle sort of situation, but it doesn’t feel like it, in the watching. Dam’s and Woo Yeo’s feelings for each other are so strong, that Sun Woo’s feelings for Dam feel like a separate little blip on their own.
I do like that Sun Woo’s starting to come across as a more decent person all-around, compared to when we first met him.
He’s sincerely sorry towards Dam, and genuinely wants to mend bridges with her, even after she’s made it clear to him that she likes someone else. Plus, there’s the beat where he asks his sister’s opinion, and then gives her pocket money, when all we’ve seen before, is the two of them bickering incessantly.
It just feels like Sun Woo is mellowing out quite nicely, and it does feel like it has a lot to do with Dam’s influence. Sun Woo becoming a better person, even though he doesn’t get the girl? That’s quite nice, thank you.
E10. Sun Woo really is showing up as a more decent guy, now. It was clear that he didn’t want to do the free hug thing for the festival, but the moment the rest of the committee started to gang up on Dam to make her do it, he immediately volunteered.
That’s a rather gallant thing to do, especially since he seems to absolutely dislike this kind of casual hugging. I honestly wouldn’t mind him having a bit more of an opportunity, to express his feelings for Dam, even though I know that he doesn’t actually stand a chance.
E12. I have to confess that I’m finding Sun Woo a lot more sympathetic now, compared to earlier in the show. He really does seem to have matured and become a more genuine, sincere sort of person, and I appreciate that. And, I do feel that the various attempts he makes to get closer to Dam, over the course of the trip, are respectful enough, to not come across as rude.
I mean, Sun Woo really does look genuinely torn up on the inside, when he makes that tipsy confession to Dam, and asks if it’s too late, or if he’d never had a chance at all. I’m growing a soft spot for the tragic second male lead, is what I’m doing. 😅
In the scene where Sun Woo encounters Dam, and Woo Yeo steps in, I do think that Sun Woo is genuinely concerned for Dam, that she’s seeing someone who’s rumored to be involved with someone else. That didn’t sound like a convenient sort of pushback; I believed the look in Sun Woo’s eyes.
E13. We don’t realize until after, but even when Dam’s reeking of alcohol, he doesn’t say a thing about it, and instead, offers her a drink, and then, when she asks that he not say anything about her and Woo Yeo, he tells her that he wasn’t planning to say anything anyway. Aw. I’m really beginning to have a soft spot for him, he’s so different now, compared to when we first met him.
E14. I really like how grounded Sun Woo’s coming across, in the midst of his angst over Dam. He knows that he likes her, but he’s also clear that she’s not going to accept his feelings. To my eyes, his decision to go abroad to study, is his way of putting his one-sided love to rest.
I like how Sun Woo navigates his final conversation with Dam this episode, where he states clearly that he likes her, not because he expects anything from her in return, but because he wants to be clear that he really does like her, and isn’t confused about it anymore. There’s a somber plaintiveness about him as he tells her this, which I find very poignant.
I love that Dam gives him the space to do that, by being firm but respectful. She doesn’t respond to the love confession, because he doesn’t expect a response. Instead, she holds out her hand for him to shake; on top of it functioning as a formal goodbye, it also feels like a token of acknowledgment, and I appreciate that.
Dam’s friendship with Soo Kyung and Jae Jin
I know I’m not dedicating much space to Dam’s friendship with Soo Kyung and Jae Jin in this review, but I did sincerely enjoy this little trio of friends.
I love how the three of them are so different from one another, and yet, have no problems hanging out together, and sharing their struggles with one another. There’s a good amount of bickering that goes on, but time and again, we see that when push comes to shove, these friends really care about one another, and would stick out their necks for one another, any time.
Oh Hyun Kyung as Dam’s Mom
Mom only makes a quick appearance once, fairly early in our story, but I wanted to give her a shout-out, because she turns out to be pretty awesome, even with her fleeting visit.
E6. I am so, so surprised by how that arc with Mom goes. With Mom showing up, I’d assumed that we would have lots of misunderstandings and related hijinks, but Mom turns out to be calmer, cooler and more collected than I’d have ever imagined. What a surprising turn of events, that Mom would even turn around and tell Dam that she approves of Woo Yeo, and is even rooting for them to start dating. Woah. Mom’s so chill and so full of composure. This is very likely where Dam gets her classiness from.
I love that instead of hijinks, we get coolness, acceptance and support, and Show even throws in a heartwarming send-off at the airport, to top it off.
Han Ji Eun as Editor Hwang
Even though it’s a very minor role, I was happy to see Han Ji Eun as a publisher who’s keen to gain Woo Yeo’s attentions.
After having seen Han Ji Eun in Be Melodramatic as the sweet, goody-two-shoes cute friend, and then as a hyper-sexy character in Lovestruck in the City, I’ve come to the conclusion that she is really versatile and in possession of excellent comic timing. And, that comic timing is out in full force, as her character Yoo Jin tries all manner of angles and tricks, to get Woo Yeo to close the distance between them.
Somehow, in Han Ji Eun’s hands, I don’t find Yoo Jin pathetic; I just find her amusing.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
The love triangle angle
Show doesn’t lean into the love triangle plot device much at all, but it is introduced, which is why I thought I’d give it a mention.
[SPOILER] While I generally don’t like it when dramas lean into the petty rivalry between male leads for the female lead’s attentions, there were some moments involving this love triangle that I genuinely liked. Like in episode 3, when Woo Yeo pulls Dam out of Sun Woo’s way, so that she won’t be harmed by Sun Woo’s Tiger Touch. That was somewhat gratifying to watch.
And in the same episode, there’s also how Dam isn’t trying to solve this thing with Sun Woo on her own, but is having regular discussions with Woo Yeo about it. There’s something very mutually respectful about that, that I like. She asks him if it’s ok that she goes on that movie date with Sun Woo, and he trusts that she’ll handle herself (and the marble) well, on her own. I like it. I thought that was nicely done. [END SPOILER]
Show’s handling of its mythology
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, I have mixed feelings about how Show handles its mythology. There were times when I felt the mythology was quite cleverly set up and used, and at other times, I felt the mythology felt convenient and almost random, in spots.
All in all, this isn’t a dealbreaker, especially if you keep reminding yourself that Show is more interested in being a romance story than a fantasy story. Of course, it would’ve been great if Show could have done a more robust job with its mythology.
Here are my highlights and lowlights, for the record.
When the mythology was reasonable / clear / clever
E6. This is when Show introduces the fact that the removal of the marble comes with a memory wipe. While I would have preferred more information earlier, I’m not entirely opposed to the late reveal, because, with this piece of information in hand, I suddenly understand a lot better, why Woo Yeo is so reluctant to form a connection, and also, why he’s so reluctant to take the marble back from Dam. I wouldn’t want Dam to forget me either, if I were in his shoes.
E7. This is when Show introduces the idea that a gumiho who doesn’t become human after 1000 years, becomes a maegu, which our mountain spirit specifies is a wicked creature. And, if a maegu doesn’t get eliminated, it becomes an evil spirit.
Again, a piece of information that I would have preferred earlier than later, but it does give us some clarity on why gumihos want to become human – because, if they don’t become human, a destructive fate awaits them.
E7. The thing where the evil spirit appears to its victims using a familiar face as an avatar is a pretty clever narrative device. Not only does it explain why all the victims have been connected to Woo Yeo, it also taps on the shape-shifting abilities that Show has already established as part of a gumiho’s repertoire. It is very chilling, though, to think that all the victims thought that their attacker was Woo Yeo, and now, it’s possible that Woo Yeo might be implicated in Editor Hwang’s murder case.
E7. I’m glad the evil spirit gets eliminated this episode. I was kind of afraid that we would have the evil spirit hanging around and being a big part of the narrative for Show’s second half. As it stands, it seems more like the evil spirit was a catalyst for Show to finish up Act I, and bring on Act II.
E10. I hadn’t expected that Creepy Dude who keeps staring at Dam, was the mountain spirit in shapeshifting disguise. That’s a clever twist, plus it makes narrative sense, since we’ve already seen that shapeshifting is a pretty common power in our drama world.
I am intrigued that Mountain Spirit magicks a red thread of fate between Dam and Sun Woo, because this presents a whole new set of possibilities for dramatic tension. Which, again, I think is clever and original of Show. I like the idea of exploring those possibilities, and allowing Sun Woo’s feelings for Dam a little more breathing room.
E10. I actually like how the red thread makes it presence felt, by tugging at Dam to respond to Sun Woo’s drunken rambling, even though she’d actually already started to walk away.
That’s such an everyday sort of thing, for us to have second thoughts about something, that it’s a little trippy to now have it framed as something more supernatural. Dam wasn’t actually having second thoughts, even though that’s what she’d probably thought. Dam was being pulled back to Sun Woo, by the red thread. Very nicely done, I thought.
E11. That’s an interesting turn of phrase that the mountain spirit uses, telling Woo Yeo that whatever destiny Dam chooses, he will have to accept it. So.. Dam can choose her destiny, then? Destiny doesn’t choose you, but what you choose is your destiny? That’s another rather refreshing nugget.
E12. I find it interesting, the way Show demonstrates that while Dam is in full control of her senses and her free will to reject Sun Woo, all the nudging from the red thread does result in a situation that causes Dam’s heart to flutter inadvertently. I appreciate this interpretation of Destiny, because it explains why someone given a destiny might fall for the person they’re destined to be with, while preserving the idea that people have the freedom to choose. I thought this was nicely done.
I also appreciate how Hye Sun articulates so clearly, the answer to the question that some of us had had, earlier in the show, on why a gumiho would want to become human: because humans are the only ones who get to choose their destiny.
E13. We learn that we’ve only understood our gumiho mythology in part; there’s a whole other dimension that we – and our characters – had no idea about. How interesting, that the thing that causes the marble to turn blue, and therefore turn our foxes into humans, isn’t human energy, but the experiencing of humanity (which I understand to mean the spectrum of human emotion, if I understand the mountain spirit correctly).
This means that the reason Hye Sun had become human, wasn’t because she’d repeatedly given her marble to her human lovers; it was because, despite the heartbreak, she’d continued to open her heart to love, which had exposed her to experiencing the whole gamut of human emotion. That’s.. honestly quite clever, in terms of playing with the rules of the mythology, while keeping our characters’ experiences in line with the those rules.
I do find it odd that a rule like this could remain opaque to our gumihos, but I’m willing to roll with it.
And, how convenient, that as a result of this revelation, Dam’s determined to help Woo Yeo experience a full range of humanity, and thus moves back into his house. More cohabitation hijinks! This makes me feel like we’re returning to the heart of this show, because not only is it in the title, it’s also the entire foundation of our OTP relationship, since this is how they ended up falling in love. It feels like we’re coming full circle in our final stretch, in a really promising way.
When the mythology was unclear / felt fragmented
E6. That epilogue, where Editor Hwang gets chased down and presumably attacked by a supernatural being, is pretty scary. Tonally, I found it quite jarring, when compared with the rest of the fantasy elements in this show.
E7. I do think that the detail about the evil spirit simply being misguided, in wanting Woo Yeo’s marble, feels a little flimsy, but I get the purpose of this plot point; it puts Woo Yeo on high alert regarding Dam’s safety, and also makes him think hard about the consequences to Dam, of keeping her in his life.
E8. Show never does give us an explanation for why Dam didn’t lose her memories with the return of the marble to Woo Yeo. Our best guess is that Dam is resistant to Woo Yeo’s magic, the way Mom is resistant to Woo Yeo’s magic. It would have been nice if Show had provided some kind of explanation, at some point.
E9. Woo Yeo’s supernatural hunger makes for great dramatic conflict, however, I do feel like this hunger is treated in a pretty haphazard and uneven manner, overall. By later episodes, it’s easy to forget that this hunger was ever an issue, and I found that a little disappointing.
E10. Dam turning pale and losing weight, because of losing energy to Woo Yeo, is also treated with inconsistency. It shows up here, in episode 10, but conveniently fades away, even before Dam makes that deal with the mountain spirit.
E11. We’re not told why Dam becomes able to see the red thread.
E12. Woo Yeo starts talking about how he will disappear without a trace after his 1000 years is up, and this is carried through to the end of the show. There’s no further mention of the possibility of turning into a maegu. The only hint is in the mountain spirit’s voiceover at the end of the show, where he mentions Woo Yeo not growing more than 9 tails. I wish Show would have been clearer about how the disappearing without a trace connects with turning into a maegu, because the way it’s set up, it feels like 2 different fates.
Show’s brand of funny
There have been so many occasions when I haven’t jived with k-humor, that I count it a small win, that I found Show’s humor funny, a chunk of the time. Were there times when the intended funny didn’t work for me? Absolutely. But were there times when I felt genuinely amused by Show? Yes, definitely.
..Which is why this section sits here.
Here’s a rundown of some of the humor highlights and lowlights, for me.
When I appreciated Show’s humor more
E2. For the record, I am not a fan of toilet humor, but I do think that Show reins it in just enough, so that it gets the intended effect, without getting too difficult to stomach. For example, I appreciated the “mute” that was applied, when Dam was on the toilet; other dramas would have probably leaned into it and reveled in the sounds. This show having the consideration of giving it to us on “mute” earned it brownie points in my book.
Plus, I just found it a nice touch, that Show would use this incident, to break the ice between Dam and Sun Woo. I’m amused that he’d thought that her response to his text, that she was busy unclogging the toilet, was another one of her efforts to avoid him, and I’m somehow rather gratified, that he realizes that she was telling the truth. Of course, trust Dam to be so relieved that she’s successfully avoided ToiletGate, that she’d readily agree to buy him a meal, even though he’s born in the year of the Tiger, and therefore should be on her Total Avoid list.
E3. Even though Dan and Jae Jin jumping to the wrong conclusion about Dam’s situation with Woo Yeo is rather predictable, I found it amusing in its execution, and I also like how quick and decisive Woo Yeo is, in nipping the situation in the bud.
I enjoy the fact that he’s powerful enough to just make Dan and Jae Jin vanish from his house, and go back to their regular lives, with their memories cleaned for the day. I mean, what’s the use of being a 900 year old gumiho, if you can’t have some useful powers, eh?
E13. The whole thing of Dam trying to get Woo Yeo to give her the marble again, because she hears from Hye Sun that it’s started to turn blue, is quite silly, but it’s all in good fun and I found myself half giggling and half groaning at the silliness of it all. How useful though, that Woo Yeo can basically poof himself out of Dam’s reach, no matter how creative she gets in trying to corner him.
When I appreciated Show’s humor less
E10. I have to admit, I found the initial stretch of this episode a little bit tough-going, because the secondhand embarrassment hit me, when Dam was trying to create skinship opportunities with Woo Yeo, and Woo Yeo kept ducking out of the way. That felt awkward and embarrassing, and I felt the secondhand discomfort quite keenly. 😅
However, on hindsight, I do think it’s a fun callback to when Sun Woo had tried to get close to Dam, and she’d hard-ducked him repeatedly. I’d found that absolutely hilarious. And I suppose this should be hilarious too, except that I tend to instinctively identify with most female leads, and therefore the secondhand embarrassment got in my way.
E11. The breaking of the fourth wall, near the top of the episode, where the lighting turns reddish and sexy music begins to play, as Dam suddenly becomes hyperaware of the idea of her and Woo Yeo being alone together in his house, was a bit out there, for my taste.
Show hasn’t shown this kind of quirk thus far, in its storytelling, so this sudden breaking of the fourth wall, where Woo Yeo questions the lighting and the music, and fans it all away with his hand, feels like a late and quite random introduction.
E12. I liked the idea of Woo Yeo doing the kimjang with Dam because this basically represents the kind of everyday happiness that Woo Yeo had felt envious of, when he’d seen the dream that the mountain spirit had given Dam. However, I have to confess that I was just ok with the execution of the idea. I don’t know what it is; it just felt a little perfunctory, to my eyes. 😅
I don’t know if it was intended to be funny, but I was a little disappointed that Woo Yeo didn’t enjoy the kimjang process more, even though it was admittedly hard work. And, he doesn’t look he’s having a good time either, when Dam feeds him the freshly made kimchi, with suyuk. I’d imagined that he would have mustered up more enthusiasm from the start, just for the concept of sharing an experience that Dam clearly looks forward to each year.
I was pretty underwhelmed by him looking underwhelmed, honestly. I think Show means it for comedy, but it had the unfortunate effect of making Woo Yeo look like his desire to be a part of Dam’s everyday happiness, is more shallow and cheap than he – or we – would like it to be.
I liked the cozy scene of them looking at Dam’s kiddie pictures together, but I wasn’t too taken with how Dam ends up looking like a rubbish-talking drunk who’s introducing a poster of Admiral Yi as her boyfriend. I think I might have found this funnier, if I hadn’t felt bemused by the kimjang scenes leading up to this one, honestly.
STUFF I LIKED LESS
The gossipy students in school
I don’t have much to say here, except that Bang Eun Jung and Kang Na Ru do such a great job of being the catty, petty and spiteful pair of girls in school, that I could feel myself stiffening with dislike, every time they appeared on my screen. Good for them?
Logic / narrative inconsistencies
I think Show generally does a decent enough job of keeping its internal logic straight(ish), but here are a couple of times when the lack of consistency bugged me enough, to taint my watch experience a bit.
E11. I didn’t quite like how we get our OTP kiss later in the episode, during the blackout. I usually don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth, but to be honest, the first thought I had, when they started stumbling around in the dark, is, “What about Woo Yeo’s magic??”
I mean, he could easily have magicked the lights back on, or magicked some romantic candlelight, if that’s what he preferred, but no, instead, we have them stumbling about in the dark, so that we get skinship where we wouldn’t otherwise, and we get marble transferring where we wouldn’t otherwise, and we get that kiss to transfer the marble back, where we wouldn’t otherwise.
I.. it’s a bit much, in my opinion. I’m rationalizing that Show wanted to give us some OTP closeness, despite them having promised each other to keep the skinship as minimal as possible, but this felt like a bit of a cheap shot, to my eyes, because Woo Yeo’s used his magic so many other times before, so it’s not like he – or we – could actually forget, right?
Also, it isn’t much later, that Woo Yeo freezes time in the lecture, just so that he can say a few private words to Dam. It’s melty stuff, as it always is, but I just want Show to stay consistent with Woo Yeo and his magic. If he can use it frivolously for romantic purposes, he can certainly use it during a blackout.
E12. I felt a little disappointed, this episode, because it feels like Show’s treatment of the skinship issues has become a little slipshod. It almost feels like it’s conveniently dropped the skinship issue, in favor of the red thread issue, except that we see at the end of the episode, that Woo Yeo is still in need of energy.
With the reveal at the end of the episode, that Woo Yeo’s been secretly getting energy from Professor Seo so as not to harm Dam, it only resolves half of my perplexity around this issue. Yes, it explains how Woo Yeo is able to be pretty normal around Dam, without going crazy with hunger.
However, it doesn’t make sense that Dam would have been so lax on the skinship front, since she hadn’t been aware that Woo Yeo was getting his energy elsewhere. (This is definitely before she made that deal with the mountain spirit.)
She’d made that agreement with Woo Yeo, detailing how she would only hold his hand once in three days, but there is a lot more handholding and general touching that goes on in this episode. With Dam being a pretty smart cookie, I find it hard to believe that she didn’t notice this.
While one might argue that it’s probably easy for Dam to overlook this because she’s just so in love and so caught up in the time that she spends with Woo Yeo, I tend to think that this is a failure on the writing front; a convenient decision to bring the red thread issue to the fore, while chucking the skinship issue aside, for a while.
THEMES / IDEAS
Here are a couple of themes and ideas that stood out for me, during my watch. Feel free to bring up others that I might have missed!
1. You can only really empathize with someone, if you’ve experienced the same thing.
2. Age and maturity can totally be two different things.
3. Sometimes the one you need, isn’t the one whom you think.
4. You don’t have to pay attention to what people say and let it ruin your life; stay true to yourself. You don’t need everyone’s approval, in order to be awesome.
5. You can make your own destiny.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
Show really had me going there, for a bit, in that, up until the last minutes of this episode, I’d sincerely thought that we were in for a smooth, breezy ride to the end, with lots of cuteness, cuddles, and just lots of scenes of our characters navigating the joys and foibles of human relationships.
Looks like I was wrong about Show, since Show serves up a big ol’ conflict right at the end of this penultimate episode. I guess, in a manner of speaking, Show front-loaded the fan-service here, in order to clear the way for angst in our finale? That’s the opposite of what other dramas tend to do, where we sometimes get all the angst in the penultimate episode, and then lots of cuteness and epilogue-esque fan-service in the final hour. I guess this is.. different?
I thought it was cute, the way Dam and Woo Yeo individually struggle with the feelings of awkwardness following their first night together. That feels down-to-earth and relatable, and is just the perfect sort of low-grade dramatic tension, that’s interesting enough to keep me invested in the story, and yet gentle enough, so that it still feels like an easy-breezy sort of watch.
Dam trying to get the word “Oppa” out of her mouth in front of Woo Yeo, without cringing in embarrassment, was amusing too. I love how, in the end, Woo Yeo’s the one who breaks the ice by speaking casually to her first, thus giving her an opening to talk to him about how he feels about her addressing him as “Oppa.”
I love the idea that Woo Yeo’s able to take the lead on these small-but-important things that bother Dam, even though he’s technically still a gumiho and therefore not all that well attuned to human emotions.
It’s kind of amusing that Dam’s big plan of having Woo Yeo practice not having mean thoughts or saying mean things completely backfires, but I’m too busy scraping my jaw off the floor, with the reveal that the person Soo Kyung had had a crush on, is none other than Jae Jin. I hadn’t seen that coming, that’s for sure! Girl’s hidden it very well, all this time!
I admit, I did have to pause the episode because of secondhand embarrassment, during the flashback to when Seok had mistaken her for the lecturer, and photocopied her papers – including her confession letter to Jae Jin – for the entire class. Eep. That was awful. It’s no wonder she can’t forgive Seok, after all this time. I’d still be cringing in embarrassment too, in Soo Kyung’s shoes. 😝
This episode, I find myself very enamored of Hye Sun, mainly for how genuinely excited she is, at the thought that Woo Yeo just might be on the cusp of becoming human. I mean, she has absolutely nothing to gain from this, personally, and yet, when she digests the idea that Woo Yeo could become human at any time now, she’s sincerely thrilled. That’s really pure. ❤️
I’m also amused by the progress of Hye Sun’s relationship with Jae Jin. From being perplexed at how carefully Jae Jin’s avoiding any skinship with her, to getting jealous of the photograph of Jae Jin with his clingy ex, to that fit of pique, where she demands to know why Jae Jin’s comfortable to have skinship with other girls, but not her.
I love that Hye Sun and Jae Jin finally clear up that misunderstanding about the night they “slept” together, and finally admit to each other, that they really do like each other. It’s cute how Hye Sun then decides that Jae Jin’s taking too long in moving in for the kiss, and then takes matters into her own hands, to bring on the smooches. Woot! (Also, what a random yet quite perfect cameo by Oh Jung Se, as Jae Jin’s older brother!)
As for our OTP, on the upside, I love Woo Yeo’s love confession to Dam. She’s been growing antsy at the idea that he hasn’t told her that he loves her, and yet, when he does make his love confession, it’s so much more swoony than simply saying, “I love you.”
“I thought I wouldn’t mind quietly disappearing from this world. But you made me want to live. I have always found it uncomfortable being with someone, but I like having you around. Seeing you hurt makes me angry, and going to pick you up when you get drunk doesn’t bother me at all. That’s right. This is me saying I love you.”
That’s so lovely. It’s so grounded, and so specific, in terms of how she’s made a difference to his life, and that makes his love confession feel so much more real and heartfelt. I love it.
And so, what a shock it is, at the end of the episode, to see that instead of becoming human, Woo Yeo appears to be disappearing..? Argh! Why is Woo Yeo disappearing?? Especially since the marble’s been steadily turning blue? Is he really going to disappear into nothingness, after all that he and Dam and gone through? 😩
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Imma be honest, you guys. I did feel a touch underwhelmed by this finale. I mean, I have enough goodwill for this show, to just roll with what it serves up, but at the same time, I realize that I had pretty positive expectations for how Show would wrap up its story, based on how deft and fresh Show had shown itself to be, up to this point.
And.. this finale just didn’t feel deft nor fresh to my eyes, I’m afraid.
I’ll just get the elephant in the room out of the way; I’m not too impressed with the way Show made it possible for Woo Yeo to become human in the end.
I feel that the whole disappearing thing was to inject some last minute dramatic tension in our final stretch, and in principle, dramatic tension is a good thing. But.. not when the non-explanation and eventual resolution leans so convenient and flimsy.
We’re not explicitly told why Woo Yeo disappeared, but I hypothesize that it’s because he hadn’t fulfilled the various conditions that are revealed to us, after his disappearance. The thing is, the list of conditions feels so arbitrary, like the mountain spirit had made a secret deal with writer-nim, after the fact, and just listed everything that fit our narrative arc for the finale.
“I take pity on you and will make your wish come true. Before 1,000 years is up, before you grow more than nine tails, if you manage to learn to be patient, to love, to sacrifice, and to eventually find a reason to live.. If someone who desperately wishes you to live is waiting.” This totally feels like a case of reverse engineering to me, y’all. 😏
Also, there’s no explanation for why Woo Yeo is given all these conditions, when Hye Sun wasn’t. And what is this Matrix-like dentist chair space where Woo Yeo lies unconscious? It looks like some kind of gumiho purgatory, which Show conveniently doesn’t explain. It just feels like one too many new fantasy elements being introduced in this finale, to me.
Ah, and I wasn’t too thrilled at the use of the Truck of Doom, either. Maybe it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek (though I doubt it, from the tone of the scene). It’s just.. I’ve seen that Truck o’ Doom a little too often in Dramaland of late, and so I wished that Show could’ve found a different, less tropey way to put Dam in danger.
All that said, in principle, I’m glad that Woo Yeo becomes human, of course, and I’m glad that Dam, when faced with the option to forget Woo Yeo and thus overcome her pain, chooses to remember him, even if it means being brokenhearted her whole life. That is touching; our Dam is just so loving and loyal, isn’t she?
I’m glad that Hye Sun’s there to provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. And, isn’t Hye Sun so generous, to be willing to use her single wish, to help Dam move on from her misery?
I’m glad that Hye Sun and Jae Jin get their happy ever after, with honesty front and center for them both, even at the risk of being rejected by the other person. This makes their relationship feel so much more solid and grounded afterwards, because now Hye Sun knows that Jae Jin doesn’t even care if she’s a gumiho now, and would offer up his liver to her now, if she wanted it, and Jae Jin knows that Hye Sun isn’t going to break up with him just because he’s going to the military.
We even get a snippet of a loveline between Dan and Seo Woo, after he demonstrates some archery badassery, in helping her get her stolen bag back, and Seo Woo gets hearts in her eyes, heh.
And, we even get a hint of a maybe-loveline between Soo Kyung and Seok, with a very human-made red string between them, as her ring catches onto the sleeve of his red sweater, ha. I found this inordinately amusing, I have to admit. 😆
It’s also rather comforting to see Sun Woo doing well while studying abroad, and being so grounded and sensible. I love that he turns down an offer to bet money on his dating game, without batting an eyelid. He’s definitely become more mature.
I felt strangely less invested in the happy times that we get to see Dam and Woo Yeo sharing, but that might have a bit to do with how Show amps up the PPL in such an obvious fashion. I find it hard to believe that Woo Yeo would choose sandwiches as one of his foods of choice, to satisfy his earlier craving for stir-fried octopus, but I guess we needed some Subway PPL – followed immediately by that multivitamin gummy PPL – to pay the bills.
However, in principle, I like the thought that Dam and Woo Yeo are now doing regular people things together, and that Woo Yeo’s enjoying his new human experience very much. Finally, he and Dam are sharing the ordinary happiness that they’d once both dreamed of, and that’s an idea that I very much enjoy.
Plus, that glimpse of a red thread between them now, not only reinforces the fact that Woo Yeo is now human and therefore can have a destiny with another human, it also gives us the assurance that these two, with their love and dedication, have turned an impossibility into.. well, destiny.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Fun and heartfelt, with a nice dash of freshness.
FINAL GRADE: B++
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of My Roommate is a Gumiho, is Lovers of the Red Sky. I’ve taken an initial peek, and I’m cautiously optimistic. Show feels quite interesting, with its strong (so far) fantasy bent! 😄
If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️