I think we can all agree that episode 5 is dedicated to all the hopeless romantics. Although Lee Dong-wok and Jo Bo-ah don’t have a particularly overwhelming onscreen chemistry, it is just the right amount of warm and delightful, which is exactly my type of romance. This episode tried to highlight their dynamics and I believe they pulled it off perfectly. The focus was on building their romance by having them spending time together. They go out on drinks, talk about each other’s likes and dislikes, and even help each other out with work.
I kinda expected this development, considering that in the previous episode, Lee Yeon (Lee Dong-wook) found the fox bead that he gave to A-eum inside Nam Ji-ah (Jo Bo-ah), which indicates that she is who he has been looking for all these 600 years. Lee Yeon has sustained injuries from his punishment in the Underworld, so Ji-ah takes him home and treats his wounds while she tells him of her childhood after she lost her parents. In exchange, Lee Yeon tells Ji-ah about A-eum – how she was not an ordinary girl but the seventh princess of the nation, as her father was the King. A-eum had also told Lee Yeon of her plan to kill her father, because he was “the King but not really the King.”
Although not much else is explained, the writers have left some hints – the earth dragon that both Lee Yeon and Ji-ah encountered in the mystery island a few episodes back is the same spirit residing in the palace where A-eum lived, something that they call the Imoogi, a serpent who has not yet transformed into a celestial dragon. I am going ahead and assuming that this spirit from the well was controlling A-eum’s father, and that A-eum might have been planning to kill him to free him from the spirit.
Meanwhile, Lee Rang (Kim Bum) acted out for the majority of this episode – throwing tantrums, opening up past wounds, and getting depressed. I believe that deep inside, he’s just a child craving love and attention, and wants to be consoled for his past heartbreaks. Beneath the cold and menacing facade, he can’t hide that he still cares. This is evident when he stops his car to teach a lesson to three teenagers for beating up a dog. But when Yu-ri (Kim Yong-ji) suggests that they keep the dog, Lee Rang refuses, not because he doesn’t want to, but because of his heartbreaking experience with a puppy that Lee Yeon had given him as a child.
In the present, as Lee Yeon and Ji-ah grow closer. Lee Yeon helps her communicate with spirits so that she can help them resolve their resentments and finally cross over to the next life. At work, Ji-ah continues to run her TV program about urban myths, and ends up bumping into the earth dragon or Imoogi‘s assistant, who turns out to be the President of the broadcasting company she works at. Lee Yeon, on the other hand, attempts to look for Ji-ah’s parents, who are still alive somewhere by the way, because they are neither in the Afterlife nor the Living Realm. Even Taluipa (Kim Jung-nam), the gatekeeper of the Underworld who monitors both realms, admits to Lee Yeon that she cannot see where they are.
Finally reunited with his first love after centuries of searching, Lee Yeon is doing everything to make Ji-ah happy and grant her wishes one by one. He tries to “kidnap” her from work and takes her to a Korean folk village to see someone who can tell her where her parents are. You know you are watching a K-drama when the male protagonist forcefully drags the female protagonist to their cars “playfully” to take them somewhere to “surprise” them, all without consent. For some reason, this uncomfortable trope never gets old and still works its romantic charm on viewers.
Something surprising happens when they arrive at the village – Lee Yeon leaves Ji-ah for a while to take care of something. When he gets back, he finds her dressed in a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. In the moment, he feels that A-eum has come back to life and is standing in front of him. Without hesitation, he rushes over to kiss her. I am not gonna lie, this part was so good that there were butterflies in my stomach. Lee Yeon and A-eum’s love story is a tragedy, but it has been written in a way that doesn’t feel so tragic, unlike other fantasy dramas I have watched. Either that, or I’m turning into a masochist after all the tragic love stories I have watched.
As the tension builds up, more and more is revealed about the past of the main characters. Meanwhile, the Imoogi has now taken on a human form and grown from an infant to a young boy, feeding on his human babysitter to sustain himself while his assistant pays the babysitter’s family. Not gonna lie, Kim Tae-eul, who plays the boy Imoogi, is a great child actor with a strong presence and a chilling vibe. Although it’s only the fifth episode, I feel like the fast-paced plot is making the end goal of the series a blur, at least to me, because I can’t predict where the show is going. Not complaining, though, I like unpredictable shows! I just hope that the writers keep up this consistency all the way till the end.