It’s been a long week and an even longer wait for our characters, but my biggest fears have been assuaged and I feel good about where we’re headed for the final two episodes. Narratively speaking, the show benefitted from having this episode delayed a week, to give loss and heartache a chance to feel like it had taken root in our characters’ lives. The show didn’t seem to suffer ratings-wise either, as it hit a new high at 17.5% today.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Shin says his final goodbyes in Eun-tak’s arms, and the fire from his heart spreads until he’s nothing but fire and ash. He scatters into the wind before her eyes, and she collapses to the ground in tears.
A strange sensation passes through Deok-hwa in that moment, and Sunny and Secretary Kim too. We also see Eun-tak’s friend the class president, and the ajusshi who was Shin’s second-in-command in Goryeo.
The writing in Shin’s diary starts to disappear, and even the scribble he added in Eun-tak’s book of poems—”It was first love”—starts to burn off the page. Oh noooooo, is he being erased entirely? Every trace of him?
Eun-tak seems to sense that Shin is fading from every memory they shared, literally disappearing from the scene as she remembers it, so she scrambles to her bag to grab pen and paper. She frantically starts writing to herself:
“You have to remember. His name is Kim Shin. He’s tall and when he smiles he’s sad. He’ll come as the rain. He’ll come as the first snow. He’ll keep his promise. Remember. You have to remember. You are his bride.”
Tears fall as she writes the last words, and she clutches the notebook close, sobbing and trying desperately to remember. Fade to black.
A butterfly lands in a vast snowy tundra, and a lone figure stands in the distance—it’s Shin, back to his original form as the Goryeo warrior. Butterfly-god says that Shin has been erased from the minds of everyone who knew him, and that this is a consideration from god. This is you, being considerate? I’d hate to know what the mean version is.
Samshin Granny narrates over the scene that his punishment was over now, and that he should close his eyes and rest at peace. “But there were tears in the goblin’s eyes,” she says.
Shin cries as he remembers Eun-tak and the moment he realized he’d make this choice. He says to the gods, “I will stay in this place. I will remain here and go as the rain. I will go as the wind. I will go as the first snow. For that one thing, I ask heaven’s permission.”
Samshin Granny narrates that it was a childish choice. Butterfly-god answers him: “I was always with you in your life, but in this place, I am not here.” And butterfly-god leaves him too.
Back on Earth, Samshin Granny is back to her grandmother form as she tells this story, saying that the goblin was all alone, stuck between this life and the afterlife, between light and dark, his soul trapped forever in a place without god.
The person listening to the story is Shin’s second-in-command, who asks curiously what happened to the goblin. Granny supposes, “Memories will fade, and all that will be left is shining futility. He’ll walk in that futility and walk some more. And then what will happen? Where will he reach?” Just as she described, we see Shin trudging through the snow wearily, walking and walking with no end in sight.
Nine years later. Eun-tak is a radio PD, and her writer flips out when it suddenly starts to rain and she has to change the DJ’s opening monologue to suit the weather. Eun-tak takes it in stride, though she seems to be in a subdued mood. She ignores a text from her nasty cousin Kyung-mi asking to borrow some money.
As she leaves work, Eun-tak stands outside without an umbrella and watches the rain come down, looking pained. And then a tear trickles down her face. Does she remember?
Omo, Reaper comes up right behind her in line at the coffee shop, but they don’t seem to recognize each other. This can’t be a coincidence though—she’s 29, which makes her vulnerable to grim reapers, doesn’t it?
At home, Eun-tak remembers seeing Reaper at the age of 9, and wonders if the man in the coffee shop could be the same grim reaper. But she thinks she must be mistaken. She wonders about the destiny necklace she’s wearing, where it came from, and why she can’t remember.
Shin continues to walk in the snow, and he narrates, “In that desert / He was so lonely / He walked backwards at times / Just to see a set of footprints ahead of him.” The scene fades into that very poem in Eun-tak’s book, as she copies it down. She flips back to the page with the first love poem, and wonders how it only burned in that one spot.
She heads to the chicken shop and tells Sunny that she’s as pretty as ever. When Eun-tak asks for soju, Sunny wonders why she’s down when today’s radio show was great, but Eun-tak sighs that they have no advertisements, so she’ll probably be fired soon anyway.
Sunny makes Eun-tak get her own drinks, and then her high school friend arrives. Eun-tak still just calls her “class president,” while Sunny greets her familiarly as Lawyer Kim. I’m so glad they’re still friends.
Class Prez asks if Eun-tak doesn’t want to go on a blind date with a cute chef who looks like a puppy when he smiles. Eun-tak says that’s not her type, but Class Prez says the chef is a fan of Eun-tak’s radio show.
Sunny joins them and advises Eun-tak to grab the opportunity while she can, sighing at how she used to be the first love to so many men. Class Prez agrees that Eun-tak should date before she ends up like Sunny, and Sunny wonders if Eun-tak doesn’t have any other friends.
Eun-tak sighs as she notes that it’s raining outside and she’s got two friends to worry about her. She pours herself another drink and says in Shin’s manner of speech, “It’s a nice day.”
As Eun-tak stumbles home that night, two ghosts watch her pass—one of them is the girl who always used to follow her around. They wonder why she can’t see them when she’s the goblin’s bride, but they figure that since the goblin has never shown up, she’s more like a widow.
At home, Eun-tak’s depression worsens and she writhes in pain and chokes down sobs, wondering what she’s so sad about and why she’s always like this. Poor thing.
The image of her sobbing fades into Shin walking in the snow, stumbling but forcing himself back up. And then we see that he’s clutching something in his hand: His contract with Eun-tak.
At one point he just collapses in exhaustion, and the contract blows out of his hand. It starts to fly away, and he scrambles to his feet, falling over himself in desperation to retrieve it.
And down on Earth, it begins to snow. Eun-tak looks up at the sky sadly, and it’s almost as if she’s looking up at Shin, who’s now face-down in the snow, unable to walk another step. A tear falls as he shuts his eyes.
Eun-tak sits alone with a birthday cake, wondering to herself, “What have I forgotten? Whom have I forgotten?” She lights a candle, and in that moment, the sun shines on the contract and Shin opens his eyes…
Eun-tak: “What face and what promise have I forgotten that all that’s left is such deep sadness? Somebody, anybody… please, save me.” As she says the words, Shin snaps to attention, like he can hear her voice. He can hear her!
She blows out the candle, and a familiar smoke rises out of Shin’s fingertips. The contract begins to smoke and turn to ash, and then just like that, Shin appears at Eun-tak’s side.
They reunite just the way they met ten years ago to the day, when Eun-tak blew out her birthday candles at 19.
His eyes full of emotion, Shin marches over to her and grabs her in a hug. Ohthankgod it’s still you and one of you remembers! Eun-tak bursts into tears in his arms.
They both cry for a long moment as he holds her, and then Eun-tak suddenly pulls away, apologizing for crying because she can’t control her mood swings. Then she realizes that this random guy hugged her out of nowhere and asks what he’s doing and if he knows her. She takes another look at him and assumes he’s an actor.
He sees that she became a radio PD from her station badge, and remarks proudly that she realized her dreams. She bristles at his use of banmal, and Shin takes it in stride, remembering butterfly-god’s words that he’d be erased from everyone who knew him. He says it’s okay if she was at peace. Not understanding a word, she just directs him to the drama department.
Eun-tak begins to walk away, but she turns back and asks how he got in here. Shin replies, “Someone called me.”
Secretary Kim—er, CEO Kim—notices Deok-hwa sneaking up beside him as they walk into the office, and he reminds Deok-hwa that he’s still the CEO, while Deok-hwa is a team leader. Deok-hwa laughs sheepishly.
They stop in their tracks when Shin calls out, “Deok-hwa-ya!” Security guards rush to block Shin, but CEO Kim wants to hear what he has to say. Shin approaches and says that he didn’t think he’d ever see Deok-hwa again, and how happy he is to be reunited.
Deok-hwa asks who he is, and Shin starts to say that he’s his uncle and his brother, but Deok-hwa cuts him off and calls him a crazy person. At lunch, Deok-hwa wonders how that crazy guy knew about his uncle, when only he and Grandpa know of his uncle’s existence.
It’s clear that Deok-hwa doesn’t actually know said uncle though, because when CEO Kim asks if that uncle’s name happens to be Kim Shin, Deok-hwa says that’s silly because if he’s in the family, his last name would be Yoo. In any case, Deok-hwa plans to protect his company from any interlopers.
Shin goes to see Sunny next, but remains at a distance just watching her through the window. Sunny pauses curiously at the sight of him, but he leaves before she can get a second look.
Shin’s last stop is Reaper’s tea room, and he looks in the same window (invisible to humans) where they first spotted each other. And just like that first time, he says, “You’re wearing a terribly vulgar hat… as always.”
Reaper tips up his hat and wonders if it’s that goblin who was rumored to return to nothingness. Shin says his rumors are exaggerated and turns to go, when Reaper suddenly says, “I guess you didn’t scatter into dust, and wind, and rain. And of course, it wasn’t the radish you eat either.” Omo. That’s the pun the goblin used to say about not knowing if he’d turn to nothingness [mu] or end up a radish [mu]!
Shin looks back at him in shock, and Reaper finally betrays his emotion, as a tear trickles down his face. Eeeeeeeeee, Reaper remembers him! I was going to cry if he forgot too.
They sit down inside, and Shin asks how it is that Reaper still remembers him when no one else can. Reaper doesn’t know but he has a theory, and thinks back to the moment when Deok-hwa (as butterfly-god) swore to take Reaper’s side to the end when he first moved in.
Butterfly-god had told Samshin Granny that it was a moment of weakness, and she’d asked him to keep Reaper’s memories intact, thinking “Shin and Tak” too pitiful if no one remembered their love. Butterfly-god said it felt like leaving a door open to rediscovering that closed world, and mused cheekily whether he hadn’t closed that door properly.
Reaper cries as he tells Shin that he’s so glad he’s back, and Shin admits that it’s nice to be welcomed. In his typical way, Shin calls it thoughtless, but he smiles a tiny smile.
Shaking, Reaper says, “I’m too late, so late. I should’ve said it nine years ago, nine hundred years ago, but I hope you’ll forgive the words I say now: Forgive me for not protecting you, who protected my lover and my Goryeo. Forgive me for receiving love but not loving anyone.”
Shin simply nods—it’s one tiny motion, but all is forgiven. Reaper smiles gratefully and suggests a haircut, heh.
Back at home and back in modern clothes, Shin has a beer with Reaper and sighs that he’s finally back in his house. Reaper notes that it’s still his house, as he has ten years left on his contract.
Shin asks if Reaper has seen Sunny, but he says he’s stayed away for the last nine years, and that he’s in the middle of receiving his punishment, to miss her. Reaper guesses that Eun-tak can’t remember Shin, and says that he listens to her radio show often. Shin asks for the station so he can listen too.
They’re alarmed when someone opens the lock at the front door, and Reaper says it’s Deok-hwa. Shin ducks behind the couch just in time, and Deok-hwa comes in and tells Reaper he met a weird man today. He suddenly wonders why he calls Reaper “Last Room Uncle” and not just uncle, and when he started living here.
Reaper tells him to look at the contract, and Deok-hwa asks why there are two beer bottles on the table. Reaper grabs them and says he likes to drink double-fisted, but then Deok-hwa asks whose feet are sticking out from behind the couch. Busted.
Shin stands up and tries to play it cool, praising the owner for his taste in furniture. Deok-hwa gapes to recognize him as the weird man from earlier today and says, of all things, “You had your hair done.” Shin says he’s Reaper’s friend, and just like Shin did to him once, Reaper waves and tells him to leave now.
Shin glares but then shuffles toward the front door, muttering to himself that Deok-hwa is wearing terribly vulgar clothes. He stupidly goes through the front door and teleports himself upstairs into Eun-tak’s room with Deok-hwa standing right there, and Reaper finally has to intervene: “Look into my eyes…” Ha.
Eun-tak pops some pills at night and is so distracted with thoughts of the strange man who hugged her that she makes a glaring mistake in her radio program, misreporting the weather as 22 degrees when it’s 2 degrees. Her boss rips into her for the mistake and asks if she’s dating or something, to report spring temperatures when it’s freezing cold.
But then her assistant yelps that Eun-tak must be a magician or something, because right now outside their station, it’s exactly 22 degrees, and flowers are blooming in winter.
Eun-tak runs outside to see people stopping to take pictures of the flowers, and she looks across the street to see Shin standing there staring at her. They look at each other for a long moment, and then he walks away.
Eun-tak works at a coffee shop all day and when a server puts a candle on her table, she mindlessly blows it out, thinking of that man she saw across the street today. She reaches over for her coffee, and someone slides it into her hand.
It’s Shin, of course, and Eun-tak starts to cry again just at the sight of him. She mutters that the meds are really only effective when you first take them, and asks what he’s doing here. He says that someone called him here, but can’t recognize him.
She tells him she doesn’t want to share a table because she’s waiting for her boyfriend, and he just says she doesn’t seem to have a boyfriend, and she clams up. Eun-tak mentions the haircut and says she almost didn’t recognize him, while he counters that she still doesn’t recognize him.
She asks if he was there earlier outside the station, and he says in his vague way that he’s often everywhere and nowhere, but he was there because he missed somebody. “When I’m looking at her, it seems like she’s going to run into my arms at any moment, but I know that won’t happen, so it hurts my heart,” he says.
She wonders why he’s telling her this, and he just says it’s because she asked. She points out that he should order something, only to end up having to pay for him because he doesn’t have a wallet. He tries to explain that he didn’t have a chance to grab his coat before being called here, but she just stomps off, making sure to go in the opposite direction of where he’s headed.
Shin bursts into Reaper’s tea room to borrow some money to repay the coffee, then bursts in again for more money to buy books. Are you going to ask him if the money goes with your outfit? Reaper grumbles but hands over the cash grudgingly, but when Shin wants a lot of money to buy meat, Reaper muses sarcastically that there’s probably a reason god left his memories intact.
Shin feels sheepish having to constantly ask for money, but Reaper points out that he can’t even sell those gold bars that Shin left behind because they’re stamped with serial numbers. Shin decides that there’s only one recourse… and he appears before Deok-hwa and CEO Kim.
Deok-hwa hides and wonders how Shin got in the house, and Shin says dramatically in sageuk tone, “I am water and fire, light and dark.” As soon as they hear his name, they gape to realize that he’s the secret uncle and the man mentioned in Grandpa’s will.
Just as described by Grandpa, Shin has appeared on a stormy night, surrounded by blue fire. Shin looks out the window and says he misses Grandpa especially today, and tells them that he doesn’t need the company or the family assets—he just needs his house and his identity, a credit card, and a nephew. Aw.
Eun-tak gets yelled at by her boss again and he tells her to secure new sponsors or lose her job. Shin runs into her at a bookstore and tries to act casual, though it’s clearly not a coincidental meeting.
As they walk outside, Eun-tak sees a group of high school girls run by and sighs like an old person that they’re at a nice age, and Shin chuckles to hear her say something like that, calling her cute.
She asks if he isn’t going to repay her for the coffee, and he asks eagerly if not repaying her means that they can meet again. She warns him that if there’s a next time, she’ll make him pay criminal charges for stalking her. She ends her statement with a characteristic Kim Shin turn of phrase (meaning something like “You’d think I’d know but I don’t”), and that makes him laugh again.
She demands to know why he’s laughing, and he says, “Because I’m so happy. Because I can’t believe this moment is real. Because everything is perfect.”
She doesn’t know how to respond, and just asks which direction he’s headed in. His face falls knowing she’s about to leave again, and he says he’ll listen to her broadcast. Eun-tak points out that she never told him what she does for a living and finds him completely suspicious at this point.
She starts interrogating him about where he works and what he does, so Shin points up at Grandpa’s company and says he’s the boss there. She doesn’t believe him, of course, so he asks for the advertisement proposal in her hand and offers to prove it.
Cut to: Eun-tak in CEO Kim’s office. He signs her contract personally, saying that it was a request from their president, and she asks awkwardly for Shin’s name and phone number, to thank him.
CEO Kim points out how weird it is for him to be signing this contract if she doesn’t even know his boss’s name, but he offers to pass along her phone number and tells her that Shin’s name is Yoo Shin-jae—the name he uses legally.
Eun-tak is greeted by applause from her staff for scoring the huge advertising deal and saving their program. They excitedly start work on a new radio segment about finding people who’ve lost touch and connecting them over the radio.
Her friend Class Prez thinks the new show is a great idea, and wonders if she should use it to track down her first love. She tells Eun-tak to try finding that Kim Shin person, referring to the journal entry that Eun-tak wrote to herself after Shin died.
Eun-tak is sure that it’s in her own handwriting, which is why it’s strange. Class Prez asks if maybe Kim Shin is a ghost, since Eun-tak used to see ghosts all through high school. Eun-tak says she hasn’t seen any ghosts in about ten years, until now… and jokes that there’s a ghost standing right behind her just to see her jump in fright.
At home, Eun-tak takes out the journal and wonders who Kim Shin is and why she’s his bride.
Deok-hwa runs over to Shin and Reaper with a letter that got sent to a building he owns that used to be a chicken shop. It’s the letter that Eun-tak mailed from Canada ten years ago, and Reaper tells Shin to return it to her.
Shin doesn’t see how he’d give her this letter without suspicion, and tells Reaper to do it. Reaper tells him to give it to Sunny then, because Eun-tak lives above her in the rooftop apartment.
Deok-hwa offers to do it over and over, but they ignore him. Shin says it’s going to be strange any which way they do it, so it’s best if Reaper gives it to Sunny then. Aw, you’re totally inventing an excuse for him to go see her, aren’t you? Shin pats him on the back, like he’s giving Reaper permission. Deok-hwa just pouts at being treated like he’s invisible.
Reaper goes into the chicken shop tentatively, but Sunny isn’t there that day, or the next day, or the next. He finally just asks the server to pass the letter along to Sunny and leaves.
On his way down the street, he keeps seeing Sunny’s face on every woman he passes like he did long ago, until finally the real Sunny walks right by him. Stunned, he turns back to look at her, and she turns too. But she doesn’t seem to recognize him and just goes on her way, and Reaper cries as he watches her go.
Sunny brings the letter to Eun-tak at the station and tells her how weird it is for Eun-tak to have sent this letter to the old chicken shop (which they think Eun-tak has never been to) and from Canada, no less. Sunny says it was so strange that she looked at the CCTV footage to get a look at the man who brought the letter, and she says he was unbelievably handsome.
Eun-tak reads the letter, which is addressed to her mom. She writes asking how heaven is, and if it’s anything like this beautiful place. She says Mom would be shocked to know how she got to Canada, and says that she can go through a door and end up in a place like this if she’s with “Ajusshi.”
She writes that she has someone in her life to ask how she’s doing now, and tells Mom not to feel sorry for the fact that she can see things she isn’t supposed to. “Because of that, I’ve become special to someone,” she writes. She signs off with a promise to be happy and live well until they meet again.
Eun-tak doesn’t understand how she could’ve sent herself a letter from Canada when she doesn’t even have a passport, and thinks this is getting a little scary. She takes out the journal to compare to the letter, and wonders if Ajusshi is Kim Shin, and what could’ve happened to her nine years ago.
Shin calls in that moment, interrupting her thoughts, and when she nearly knocks a candle over, she blows it out. He appears in the sound booth behind her, and asks if she was waiting for his call.
He can see her totally flail before calmly answering that she’s been very busy, and he grins like a fool to see her reaction. It’s so cute. She thanks him for his help the other day, and he asks her on a date, which she accepts giddily.
He sees her spray on the perfume he gave her, and when they meet up, he says he likes the scent. He tells her that she’s the only woman in his phone contacts, though he then explains that he just bought the phone since he came from “somewhere far away with lots of snow.”
When her alarm rings, Eun-tak takes her medication, and Shin asks cautiously what it’s for. She says it’s for her “illness of the heart,” and says she doesn’t really know when it started or why, and that she’s weird and he’s free to run away from her now. Shin just offers to be weirder than her, and she laughs.
She tells him that she’s going on vacation, just in case he comes around looking for her. She worries about it since it’s her first trip abroad, but he recites her own words back to her that she’ll find her way around almost as if she lives there.
Eun-tak gets her passport photo taken and tells Sunny about the trip, which she says she’s taking because there might be answers there. She asks Sunny why she never moved out despite making a bunch of money, and Sunny just reminds her that she bought this apartment building outright, and that she hates new apartments. Oh just say you love her!
Eun-tak goes shopping for new clothes and then flies to Quebec, where she heads straight for the hotel where the letter came from. She’s surprised when the clerk answers her in Korean, saying that the founder of this hotel is Korean.
She says that the letter got stuck in their mail chute for ten years, which they discovered while remodeling. She’s sure about the timeframe because of the hotel’s stationary design, which is ten years old, and apologizes for the delay in sending it.
Eun-tak says that there must be a reason it arrived late, and that there’s always a reason for every step that god takes. Her own statement gives her pause, and she tries to recall who it was that said that.
Back in Seoul, Reaper stands on the bridge where he first met Sunny, while she pours herself a drink and looks out the window like she used to.
In Quebec, Eun-tak goes out for a walk and takes in the sights, and one particular red door makes her do a double-take. It’s the door Shin used as a portal to bring her here the first time, and of course it’s at that moment that the door opens and Shin walks through it. He tries to turn around when he sees Eun-tak, which only makes him look more foolish, and he quickly makes up an excuse that he came here for work.
She asks suspiciously if he followed her here, and he asks if he’d get arrested if that were the case. He swears that he’s not a bad person, and reminds her that he got her that ad contract and she offered to buy him dinner to thank him.
Eun-tak folds her hands together remembering how much she owes him, and cheerily leads the way to dinner.
I’m so relieved he didn’t have to be reincarnated to come back. I figured we were in for a magical deus ex machina—when you have an actual capricious god calling the shots, it’s a given—but I didn’t mind greatly, so long as Shin didn’t have to be reborn as someone new who’d only remember the original Shin as a past life. I just didn’t feel like that could’ve satisfied my criteria for a happy ending if he were someone else. There are still a million questions about the why and how, given that Shin is magically good as new and still a goblin, and I don’t know if that means he lives forever or just a regular lifespan now, or why walking in the tundra for nine years is butterfly-god’s idea of a proper punishment. Also, the gods’ idea of nothingness is a whole lot of something, if Shin just gets to be back in his body after it freaking disintegrated in front of our eyes. I’m just sayin’—your rules are awfully changeable to be rules of any kind.
But obviously I’m happy that butterfly-god was enough of a softie to stick Shin in purgatory or whatever that in-between space was, and to leave the door cracked open enough for him to be summoned out by Eun-tak. That part, I really liked—that it was up to her to make a wish desperate enough to reach him even in the afterlife, and that it wasn’t anything Shin did to earn his way out, but her longing that called him forth. After seeing that she first summoned Shin at 19 and was able to again at 29, it made me think that her being close to death in a plus-nine year had something to do with breaking down some kind of barrier between her and the goblin, whether it’s just her being in more danger, or linked to the way Shin saved her when she was near death before she was born. In any case, the pattern of her summoning him with her birthday wish made for a great reunion scene, because despite not remembering him, it still felt like she saved him just when he was about to give up.
I don’t think anything that happened in this episode was a surprise, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t still manage to make me feel the right emotions when Shin got to come back and reunite with everyone. Reaper’s reunion was best of all; I could not have been happier that someone still remembered Shin. If after nine years of solitude in the snow he came back to no friends and no home, it would’ve been too sad to bear. It also seemed like the least Reaper could do, given all the things he has to make amends for, even though I know it wasn’t in his control to remember or not. But welcoming him home with tears was also the perfect excuse they needed to bury the hatchet and forgive past sins. It also made me feel like Shin had someone to relate to, because Reaper had essentially put everything on pause for nine years himself.
I’m still not sure we needed three whole episodes of reunion, because on the one hand, the callbacks to everyone’s first meetings are nice, but on the other hand, it’s starting to get repetitive. I see that the cyclical nature of everyone’s relationships is the point, but I’m also eager to move past the setups and the jokes that we’ve already seen, because I was there the first time. I do like the repetition when it points to consistency of character or relationships, because in this case, it’s a comfort to Shin to return to life and find that some things never change. Like when Eun-tak has taken on Shin’s manner of speech and his odd turns of phrase, it points to the fact that he’s influenced her, and that she remembers him subconsciously. We’ve seen the show handle amnesia well with Reaper and Sunny, so I’m not surprised that Eun-tak’s amnesia actually gives the love story more depth, and that fast-forwarding nine years gives her emotion the weight I wanted. If there’s one thing this show has hammered in, it’s that the heart doesn’t forget, no matter how many years or lifetimes have passed. Shin has every reason to love Eun-tak still, but now it’s Eun-tak’s love that I find moving, because her heart still remembers her great sadness and longing, long after she’s forgotten his face.