Side dish: Goblin gold is a curse rather than a blessing. So, better that you make yourself some liquid gold, Tumeric Tea by following this recipe.
The money lending thugs who kidnapped Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) never stand a chance against goblin, Shin (Gong Yoo). He slices their car in half with his sword, then announces to the thugs that they will remain trapped under their car for two days. Death god, Yeo (Lee Dong Wook) adds amnesia, and eternal strife to their punishment.
Eun Tak is traumatized by the experience, and regards Yeo with fearful suspicion, much to death god’s annoyance. This does not stop her from remaining angry at Shin about being rejected by him, even as she reveals that she knows that he saved the lives of her and her mother. Shin takes her hilarious teenage pettiness all in stride.
Shin learns of Eun Tak’s evil aunt and cousins from his caretaker’s grandson, Duk Hwa (Yook Sung Jae). The goblin decides to punish the family with bars of gold, leaving Duk Hwa wishing he could get punished, too. What Duk Hwa doesn’t know is how the gold bars destroy the family by sowing strife and discord.
While watching a music show, Shin becomes convinced that one of the boy band members is the reincarnation of the teenage king who betrayed him. Yeo points out that the King could well have reincarnated as a girl band member. Watching the female Kpop performer dance, Shin quickly finds forgiveness plausible.
Eun Tak tries to carry on living without Shin while constantly being reminded of him. Finally, she rushes back to the bookstore to find the maple leaf she had laminated for Shin then abandoned in anger. Duk Hwa is attempting to return the very book containing the maple leaf at that moment, and Eun Tak eagerly buys the book off of him.
When Duk Hwa returns home, he finds his grandfather face-to-face with Yeo. To keep his lease a secret from Grandpa, Yeo is forced to identify himself as a friend of Shin’s. Shin takes advantage of the situation to throw both Yeo and Duk Hwa out of the house, before revealing the truth to Grandpa. Shin eventually lets Yeo back into the house, but Yeo gets the last laugh of the night after leaving a message written in blood on Shin’s shower mat.
Fried chicken restaurant owner, Sun (Yoo In Na) figures out that her part-timer, Eun Tak has been sleeping at the restaurant. She is tipped off by Eun Tak’s own discarded confession notes. Sun shrugs the issue off and decides to pay Eun Tak weekly so that the teenager can afford to wash up at the bathhouse.
Eun Tak is grilling a squid for Sun when her inattention from daydreaming about Shin results in the squid catching fire. Blowing the flame out inadvertently summons a smug Shin who is pleased as punch to have been caught in a flattering moment, with a book in hand. Eun Tak is defensive and they immediately begin bickering.
Eun Tak brings up the topic of the object that she is supposed to see if she is the Goblin Bride. Shin asks hopefully if she can see it, and treats her to BBQ beef then freshly squeezed juice in order to hear her answer. They run into Yeo, which causes Eun Tak to instantly assume that the death god has come for her. However, Yeo reassures her that he is on her side, much to her confusion.
Her fear of the death god having subsided, Eun Tak can’t help but note how handsome Yeo is. When Shin asks for her assessment of him, Eun Tak acts indifferent. Shin takes his irritation out on two strangers who he manipulates into falling for each other. Eun Tak thinks Shin is playing cupid, but Shin reveals that he is actually punishing the terrible couple by pairing them up with each other, and saving their respective partners in the process.
Eun Tak continues to take digs at the fact that she has been rejected by Shin and refuses to identify the object in Shin’s body. She leaves without giving Shin the satisfaction of knowing if she sees the blade in his chest, though she does stop and turn to lock eyes with him in a sad final look.
Shin is shocked to discover that Duk Hwa knows that Yeo is a death god. Yeo appears as they are discussing him, and is hurt when Shin taunts him about having possibly committed murder in his past life. Shin regrets his words immediately, and later goes to apologize as Yeo is writing out a list of all the sins he might have committed in order to have been condemned to the role of a death god.
When Duk Hwa discusses the odd couple dynamic of Shin and Yeo with his grandfather, the old man is unperturbed. He sees a natural affinity between one god who is tormented by his inability to remember his past, and one who cannot forget it.
Duk Hwa worries about the two gods inadvertently revealing themselves to the world, but as his grandfather points out, he has his own problems. When he is not getting punished by his grandfather, he is unsuccessful at trying to find sources of income. Though he owns the building that Sun’s restaurant is located in, he has no control over it.
Shin continues to suspect that Yeo is out to get Eun Tak, following him on an grocery run. Yeo continues to insist that he is on Eun Tak’s side, hoping that she is the Goblin Bride so Shin will die. Shin finally settles on getting Yeo to promise to leave Eun Tak alone when Shin departs. Yeo looks devastated at the prospect of losing his frenemy.
Shin’s desire to see Eun Tak transports him to her aunt’s front yard just as Eun Tak arrives. Eun Tak is fearful that Shin will be spotted by her aunt, but Shin announces that the house is empty. Eun Tak has returned to retrieve the dried bouquet that she received from Shin, but decides to keep this a secret. Having seen Eun Tak, Shin grimly returns home to proceed with packing, and stare at the painting of the queen he loved when he was human.
Yeo is walking over a bridge when he is accosted by an attractive, accessories vendor. He does not recognize the old woman who shielded Eun Tak from him in the young woman (Lee El) before him. The vendor manipulates him into spotting the jade ring that once belonged to Shin’s queen. The ring was also once picked up and worn by Eun Tak’s mother. Sun suddenly appears to scoop the ring up, and she holds it hostage from a teary Yeo until he offers to take her phone number with the ring. The vendor smiles slyly as she watches, muttering that both of them will pay a high price.
Sun plays it cool when she is with Yeo, but she is a bundle of nerves in the aftermath of their meeting. Sun waits impatiently for Yeo’s call, which does not look like it will ever come based on the way Yeo stares forlornly at the piece of paper containing her number and her lipstick imprint.
Eun Tak is having a hard time what with her aunt decamping from their home without notice, and her homeroom teacher bullying her. As she is staring out at the sea, crying to her mother, it begins to rain. Shin appears with an umbrella and admits that the rain is his doing, because he is upset. They both admit to feeling terrible, and as they chat, their mood lightens considerably.
Eun Tak relays her feelings of frustration with how her life seems to be stalled. She finally gives the laminated maple leaf to Shin, and he comforts Eun Tak with pats on the head before announcing that he is leaving tomorrow. The rain resumes as the two of them stare at each other.
Shin and Yeo are moping at home over Shin’s impending departure when the door bell rings. Both gods react in fear, but it turns out to be Eun Tak, and she is incredulous at Shin living with the death god.
Eun Tak has come to ask about what will happen if she can see the object lodged in Shin’s body. Will she have to get married to him right away? Will he give her money? She pauses before asking if he will stay. Shin refuses to answer since she can’t see the object. A frustrated Eun Tak finally loses her patience and identifies the blade in Shin’s chest.
“Goblin” is just making me giddy, and this is in spite of its epic 1.5 hour run time per episode, and the resulting disjointed and repetitive scenes. We are only at the third episode, and the show is already relying heavily on flashbacks to fill in the time. Regardless, “Goblin” is getting away with the sort of sloppiness that would normally drive me insane thanks to charm. I love all the characters and I love the way they interact with each other.
Gong Yoo’s chemistry with Lee Dong Wook and with Kim Go Eun are driving forces behind the show. With the death god, we get to see Shin’s hilarious jerkiness in action, and it contrasts nicely with the obnoxious yet stiff Yeo. With Eun Tak, Shin makes himself vulnerable and compassionate, but he is not above getting into entertainingly petty arguments with the teenager.
I am enjoying Eun Tak way more than I expected to enjoy any teenage Candy. Credit must be given to Kim Go Eun for not making her character a saccharine mess of faux sunshine; her character is believably resilient. I even enjoy Eun Tak’s stubborn grudge against Shin, which wavers when Eun Tak gets caught up in conversation with Shin.
I single the leads out, but really, I am enjoying all of the characters. I like that both of the insanely attractive second female leads, Sun and the mysterious femme fatale played by Lee El, are not adversaries of Eun Tak. Both sympathize with the orphan, though they only help out when necessary, which I appreciate, because it leaves room for Eun Tak to help herself. Even the disrespectful grandson, Duk Hwa has turned out more amusing than expected.
On a superficial note, it appears that “Goblin” has spent substantial resources on cinematography, because the show looks spectacular. Not that Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook, Kim Go Eun or any of the other actors need the help, but it sure does make the 1.5 hours pleasant to see them bathed in golden light.