Side dish: I was on the hunt for a new cookie recipe, and I came across this one for Mostaccioli di Mamma on She Loves Biscotti. I can report that it was delicious.
Goblin, Shin (Gong Yoo) is only concerned about teenager, Eun Tak’s (Kim Go Eun) well being after saving her from the shove he delivered as she is pulling the sword out of his body. When she regains consciousness, Eun Tak promises to try harder next time, pleased to prove that she is the Goblin’s bride. Meanwhile, chaebol, Duk Hwa (Yook Sung Jae) goes into damage control when video of flying cars appears online. He enlists the help of death god, Yeo (Lee Dong Wook) to erase the memory of witnesses.
Shin self-medicates to deal with the stress of knowing that Eun Tak is truly the Goblin’s Bride, and collapses on the ground. Eun Tak finds him, and decides to watch over him, after creating a nice ambiance with candles. Shin wakes up briefly to admit that he feels unwell due to his first love without revealing that he is referring to Eun Tak. Eun Tak’s curiosity about this first love leads her to ask Duk Hwa to translate the Chinese writing of Shin, but it only leads her to conclude that the woman lived 900 years ago.
Yeo is feeling equally unwell lately, not knowing why Shin’s painting of the Queen elicits such strong feelings. Shin learns about Yeo’s reaction to the painting from Duk Hwa and confronts the death god, revealing that the woman in the painting is his sister. Yeo can only guess that he has guided Shin’s sister to the afterlife.
Yeo visits with one of his co-workers, who tells him the story of another death god regaining his memories, then points out that people only become death gods to atone for a great sin committed during their lifetime.
Shin, meanwhile, is spotted by Eun Tak on his way to save a man from suicide (with a Subway sandwich, no less). Eun Tak can’t help but express her jealousy over his past love, then runs away when Shin points it out. At school, Eun Tak runs into a ghost friend, who points out that her birthmark is fading.
Shin stops Eun Tak on her way to school to give her the scarf she’d forgotten. As she gets on the bus, a thief passes by on a bike and Shin sees a vision of the thief causing a series of accidents that eventually lead to the bus crashing and everyone on board being killed. In fact, Yeo and the other death gods are waiting for this event, but since Eun Tak is unexpectedly on the bus, Shin stops it from happening and punishes the thief.
Yeo and Shin work out that something must have changed for Eun Tak to have ended up part of an accident that she wasn’t fated to be in, but neither knows what. That day, Shin confesses to Eun Tak by telling her that he hates the part of himself that likes her.
Yeo goes to see restaurant owner, Sun (Yoo In Na), and she finally admits to him that Sunny is not her real name, but Kim Sun. Aware that his name is not really Kim Woo Bin, she asks Yeo what his name is. He doesn’t have an answer, but at the same time, Shin is sending up paper lanterns for his dead sister (whose name is Kim Sun) and the king who had them both killed, whose name turns out to be Wang Yeo.
In a flashback to the past, we see that same Wang Yeo, giving Shin a sword and sending him into exile. In the present, as an angry Shin writes Wang Yeo’s name, the present Yeo is struck by pain. He hypnotizes Sun into going home, then goes back to the house to look at the portrait of Shin’s sister.
Meanwhile, Shin gets a visit from the Birth Grandmother (Lee El), who tells him that it’s time for him to die. Back at the house, Eun Tak finally asks Yeo what removing the sword from Shin’s chest will do to him. As Shin learns for the first time that either he dies or Eun Tak does, Eun Tak learns that removing the sword will kill Shin.
I never thought I would say this, but if not for how entertaining this show is, I would be mightily irritated at the lackadaisical pacing. Here we are, eight episodes in, with all the secrets finally on the table, finally about to get into the meat of the story. Yes, there’s a ton of cute moments to get us through and none of our leads are short on charm, but so little happens in each episode that I’m struggling to maintain my interest in what happens next. For a show that started with an epic battle, it sure spends a lot of time on nothing but looking pretty.
We can make an argument that what we’re watching is an slow, emotional journey, but at 75 minutes per episode, we’re taking the slowness to the point of pain. How many times can we watch Shin be paralyzed by his dilemma and the strength of his emotions? For once, I’m looking forward to the story taking on a darker turn because at least something will be happening.
But, rather than complain, let’s talk about what did happen here. Shin has pretty much acknowledged his feelings for Eun Tak, just in time to learn that it’s either his life or hers. There’s no question which he will choose, but now that Eun Tak knows what removing the sword will do, there’s no telling whether she’ll go along with it. If these two could have a conversation like a pair of adults, where everyone could talk out their feelings and preferences and come to a resolution, we probably wouldn’t have much of a show, so I’m going to guess that the outcome of this knowledge is going to be a stalemate in the short term.
On a sidenote, I’d like to point out that Shin’s confession is up there with Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice” fame for worst confessions ever.
To make matters worse, in the background we have the brewing mess of Sun and Yeo. It’s pretty clear at this point that Sun is the reincarnation of Shin’s sister, while Yeo is the King (my apologies for the inadvertent spoiler in our use of the name; by the time we figured out that it was a spoiler, it was too late). Again, it would be nice if, in this incarnation, the two of them could have an uncomplicated love, but that isn’t the case now, and it probably won’t be the case later on in this show. As Shin pointed out in the first episode, it was the King’s jealousy that was Shin’s undoing, and history could easily repeat itself with modern Yeo, who is desperate to be acknowledged by Sun as worthy. Plus, you know, given that Yeo wasn’t reincarnated as a cute idol, Shin might still be holding a grudge.
In the meantime, I’m super curious as to why the King was so mad at Shin in the first place. Till next week!