I was looking forward to solving the puzzles from the mysterious island, but abruptly, the story has already moved on. There were questions in my mind—such as where the villagers went, what happened to the spirit inside the well, and the role it played in the gumiho brothers’ long feud. While I do appreciate the fast-paced plot, it bothers me when an episode skips events without explanations, so I hope they give us answers soon.
This episode had me sympathizing with Lee Rang and recognizing the soft spot he has for his brother Lee Yeon. In the beginning, it was said that Lee Rang even had affection for an injured dog. But after Lee Yeon descended from the mountains, the people set fire to the mountain, driving Lee Rang away and killing many of his foxes. Under the impression that Lee Yeon died, Lee Rang went on a killing spree in the nearby villages. Lee Yeon, at the service of the higher gods, was tasked with eliminating his brother, who had caused harm among the living. Although full of hesitations, Lee Yeon had carried out his order and delivered a striking blow to Lee Rang.
That, of course, did not completely kill Lee Rang, although it did leave him at death’s door. Lee Rang explains later that the only reason he survived is because Lee Yeon missed a vital point, but the scar on his stomach is big enough to remind him what his brother did to him. He was saved by Um Hyo-seop‘s character, who turns out to be in service of the spirit in the well, who grants him eternal life as long as he serves him. I think the whole island murder mystery is just a facade for the reincarnation of the spirit inside the well. At the end of the second episode, we see Lee Rang handing a baby to Hyo-seop’s character, who in turn takes care of the infant and nurtures him until he wakes up, which he did in the last part of episode 4. This baby, of course, is suspected to be the spirit inside the well.
Going back, I think Lee Rang survived not because of Lee Yeon’s accidental mistake but his deliberate one. Just as Lee Rang adores his older half-brother, Lee Yeon does, too. When Ji-ah tells Lee Rang, “I bet you really liked your brother, that’s why you are like this,” the latter looks at her with a pained expression, as if Ji-ah hit a sensitive spot. But the more I watch this show, the more I understand Lee Rang’s feelings. He was driven out of his home and forced to watch his foxes die. On top of that, he desperately searched for his brother, only to find that he had been abandoned because of a girl his brother fell in love with. Although Lee Rang’s actions are definitely unforgivable, he is driven out of spite for the people who destroyed his home, killed his foxes, and the reason he lost his brother.
Any human in a similar situation would have garnered everyone’s sympathy. But Lee Rang was a mountain spirit supposed to bring harmony to everyone, who has decided to dedicate his life to hating his brother and toying with humans. More than revenge, his actions stem from jealousy that his brother is fond of another beside him. He seems to be doing everything to get Lee Yeon’s attention. He does not want to kill his older brother, but harms those around Lee Yeon, so that he can make Lee Yeon feel what he felt when he lost everything. Overall, Lee Rang is just a lost child.
In fantasy shows, the higher gods usually don’t look at the motive behind every action—they only care about bringing balance to the mortal realm. One guardian, though, seems to be different. Taluipa, Hades’ older sister, seems to have a soft side for Lee Yeon. And although she acts tough and reprimands Lee Yeon, she cares for him deep inside, like a stern mother with a reckless child. And Lee Yeon is aware of it. Meanwhile, Ji-ah’s fox bead seems to have awakened after Lee Yeon saved her from danger. I have always suspected that the past reincarnations of A-eum are actually all her, but I could not figure out why Lee Yeon does not sense the fox bead.
This may or may not be true, but this episode seemed to indicate that there are conditions that need to be met before the fox bead inside A-eum’s reincarnations awakens. The fox bead may have stayed dormant because the reincarnation needs to open their heart to Lee Yeon first. In the past, Lee Yeon has always appeared as a mysterious stranger to A-eum’s reincarnations, and they have had no reason to trust him, thus the fox bead remained undisturbed. But now that Ji-ah has been saved by Lee Yeon countless of times, she has unconsciously lowered her guard around him, thus awakening the fox bead.
If this ends up being true, Lee Yeon would be quite sad that he passed by so many A-eum reincarnations in the past without realizing how the fox bead works. Nonetheless, after centuries of searching and waiting, he has finally found A-eum, and although she does not recognize him, he seems happy to have her with him, as Ji-ah. Now, I am pretty excited for the release of the next episodes, because not only will Lee Yeon be following Ji-ah often, but he will now be doing everything to win her over. Plus, the spirit inside the well is already awake, and I wonder who is going to play the character. In any case, I will surely be tuning up to next week’s episodes.