Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more we could learn, today’s penultimate episode of Goblin teaches us that there’s always more than what meets the eye. Some truths may never change, but there are so many other things in this world that could potentially tip the scales one way or another for our characters. And when time is such a precious commodity, perhaps it’s best to savor each and every moment as it comes.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
As Eun-tak explores Quebec, she responds automatically when a handsome young man recognizes her: “You again.” The oddity of that exchange hits her moments later, so she whirls around… but he’s gone. Omo, it’s Canadian ghost oppa! Also, she can see ghosts again?!
Her search for him leads her to the street vendor who recognizes the destiny necklace. She asks if Eun-tak is living happily with the man who commissioned the piece ten years ago. Speaking of whom, Shin is in his room holding the little maple leaf.
Next thing we know, Shin pops in and out of the house traveling all over the globe save for one destination: where Eun-tak is. Reaper, who has stayed home during Shin’s globetrotting, tells him to go there then.
When Shin worries that he’ll just confuse her by showing up in Quebec, Reaper says he’s confusing him enough here. Pouting, Shin says it’s because his heart feels empty. Cut to: Shin emerging from a sarcophagus, and Reaper tells him to return that mummy back where he found it. Ha.
Climbing back inside, Shin tells the mummy: “Let’s go. He’s really scary when he gets angry.” LOL.
Now we’re caught up to the chance encounter in Quebec, where Shin exits through the red door and comes face to face with Eun-tak. He follows as she leads the way to food, though she stops and realizes that she never specified that she was traveling to Canada. He quickly says she made some mention about seeing autumn leaves, and that’s enough of an answer for her.
She treats him to coffee and a sandwich, and he asks if that’s enough. He means for him, noting that he secured an advertising deal for her. Coughing, Eun-tak explains that she didn’t bring much money for this last-minute trip, but asks what he likes anyway.
He replies meat, not believing her when she says she’s not much of a meat-eater because he know she loves it. “How did you know that?” she asks, suspicious. She wonders if he looked her up to see if her familial background would be good enough to date a chaebol.
“Who said I’d go out with you? You’re not much of a catch!” she stresses defensively. Shin calmly says she still owes him a meat-centered meal, so she promises to call him later.
She stalks off but doesn’t get far before Shin offers to be her personal tour guide, adding that there’s not much here. So they start walking together, and Eun-tak asks if he’s been here before. He replies that he’s been here four times with his first love, but they’ve since broken up, and she immediately asks why.
Shin explains that he was very far away for a long time, and the separation must’ve been hard on her because she’s forgotten all about him. Eun-tak says first loves never work out anyway, but he must’ve loved his ex-girlfriend very much. Still looking at her, Shin says he must have, considering it’s so hard for him to hold back now.
He says he wants to hold her hand and embrace her, though Eun-tak has no idea those sentiments are directed at her. He’s amused when she kicks at the autumn leaves, saying that he hasn’t forgotten his first love yet. Shin: “No, not for a single day nor moment.”
He tells her the same story she once told him about how your love comes true if you catch a falling autumn leaf with the person you love. She scoffs, saying that it didn’t come true since he’s walking with her now. She points out that men tend to talk about their exes in front of the woman they’re interested in, and that flare of jealousy reminds him of the younger Eun-tak.
She’s still hung up on that childish tale back in her hotel room, scoffing that only a high-schooler would say something like that, then sighs over how she can’t even remember what part of her memory she’s forgotten. Seeing Shin sitting on a bench outside, she decides to confront him and asks if they’ve met before, about ten years ago.
She swears this isn’t a pickup line when he doesn’t readily answer. She repeats herself when he asks if he likes her, then boldly amends her reply moments later with a “yes.” Since she’s single, she figures that she was meant to be unlucky in the love department in this lifetime.
She lets that thought sink in before excusing herself, only for her and Shin to call out to one another almost simultaneously. She timidly offers to treat him to an early dinner, and he smiles that he was about to do the same.
Now we finally see Shin’s vision of Eun-tak’s future play out in the present, as Eun-tak chats with Sunny on the phone. Shin leans against the doorway as he confirms in voiceover that this was the future he saw, where he was the man Eun-tak was waiting for.
Shin can’t hide his delight as he sits across from her, and Eun-tak scowls at his confirmation that he also visited this restaurant with his first love. He says it didn’t matter since she forgot all about it, which prompts Eun-tak to ask if Shin met up with that woman after they broke up.
Eun-tak says people are usually left disappointed when they reunite with their first loves because the reunion never lives up to their fantasies. He says she’s still pretty, which only gets her worked up, and she asks in annoyance about what he thinks of women who recently became beautiful—y’know, like her.
He asks if they should see each other again tomorrow, not at all bothered by the fact that she’s flying out in the afternoon. He means to see her before she leaves, and again after that. She nods and hides her smile behind her menu.
As Sunny reviews the CCTV footage of Reaper dropping by the old chicken shop, she sighs that she oddly wanted to head over there that day. She seeks out Deok-hwa instead, and though he’s struck dumb by her beauty, he doesn’t recognize her.
He still remembers the chicken shop in question since that place was often behind in rent, and is flabbergasted when he learns that Sunny is looking to get in touch with Reaper, not him.
At home, Reaper stops short when the incoming call is from Sunny (whose caller ID is still misspelled on his phone, aw).
After picking out her next outfit, Eun-tak peruses the brochure for ideas on where to go with Shin on their date. Her eyes fall upon an image of a hilltop cemetery, and a sudden memory momentarily superimposes onto the picture. But then she remembers how Shin led her away from the graves yesterday, which is followed by more rapid flashes into the past, including Shin’s own gravestone.
Eun-tak heads straight to the gravesite, where she’s soon joined by Shin. She wonders if this grave belongs to him, asking, “Are you a ghost?” She asks if that’s why she keeps seeing him, and he hones in on the idea that she can still see ghosts.
“Still?” she repeats. She demands to know how he knew that about her, and pauses for a few seconds before asking, “By any chance, is your name… Kim Shin? Did we come here together ten years ago?”
But she still can’t remember, and demands to know who he is: “Why did I write down not to forget you? Why did I write down that I’m your bride?! You’re Kim Shin, aren’t you? I’m right, aren’t I?”
“I’m not,” Shin answers, and tells her to head back to the hotel.
Reaper waits for Sunny at the cafe they used to frequent, and time seems to slow down when she enters. She picks up on how he isn’t the least bit surprised when she sits across from him, which suggests to her that he knows who she is.
She recognizes him as the man who delivered Eun-tak’s letter and as the man who cried in the street. She wonders if he was crying because of her, and when Reaper replies that she looks like a woman he once knew, she says not many people look like her.
In any case, she asks for his name, and this time Reaper introduces himself as “Wang Yeo.” His eyes widen when she says “I wanted to see you” (since the same words can also mean “I missed you”), and she explains that she wanted to see how handsome he was in person. He laughs softly when she says he looks better on camera.
She thanks him for delivering the letter, then gets up to leave, though she advises him not to cry outside in the cold lest his face freeze. Reaper responds with “It was nice… seeing you,” and sheds tears as she leaves.
Sunny steps into the street and stops in her tracks as tears fill her eyes. “It was nice seeing you too… Kim Woo-bin.” Omo, she remembers.
We then jump back to nine years ago, as Eun-tak jotted down her fading memories and a thunderstorm brewed behind her. Sunny was waiting for her at the chicken shop and found the little boy who lives nearby shivering outside in the rain.
She ushered him inside, where the little boy said his grandma was still working. She tsked over his situation, but the boy piped up how his granny told him that there were people who were worse off than them.
Sunny said the problem was with god, and wasn’t at all afraid of being punished for those words because she’d been through it all between the goblin and grim reaper in her life. God made her remember her past life, then tried to erase it again, and made enough people suffer.
It was at that moment the boy leveled with her—wouldn’t oblivion be an act of consideration from god so she wouldn’t feel agony? And then we see a fluttering butterfly, indicating that god had possessed the little boy for a moment.
Pointing to the self-service water station in the corner, Sunny said everybody including god fetches their own water in her restaurant. She leads her own life, so what would give god the right to show consideration toward her without her permission?
She wished that god would stay out of her life because she could take care of herself, and boy-god answered, “Yes, I understand.” Sunny scoffed, unaware that she’d been directly speaking to god.
Five years prior to the present, Hoobae Reaper moved out of the rooftop apartment while Eun-tak moved in. Sunny didn’t acknowledge their prior acquaintance, and instead started their relationship like every other time, declaring that today was their Day One.
We skip ahead to when Shin went to see Sunny after being away for nine years. He was gone before she could get a second look at her oraboni, and she dropped the tray as tears rolled down her cheeks.
This means that Sunny also recognized Reaper when she passed him on the street recently. She didn’t betray emotion in their brief encounter, but once she was out of sight, she clutched her chest and sobbed.
She’s not the only one suffering, however, as Reaper weeps while holding the portrait of Kim Sun. Sunny writes a post dedicated to Reaper, and her words are intercut with the memories they shared up to the present:
Sunny: “To you, who thinks my oblivion is my peace, I knew the moment our eyes met… that you also kept your memories. So I pray that in this life, we each forget this tragedy in our own happy endings. I pray that in the next life, that the time we wait will be short and the time we meet will be long… that we don’t need excuses to see one another. I pray that we can meet with one cherished name in this world… so we can greet each other if we cross paths, and with a love that always has answers. It was enough that I saw your face. Sometimes as Kim Woo-bin… sometimes as Wang Yeo… I bid you farewell.”
Deok-hwa, meanwhile, mulls over the importance of Eun-tak’s letter and why Sunny wanted to see Reaper. He feels left out, though he can’t help but think he has an important role to play.
Shin sits alone with his thoughts in the restaurant that evening, believing that Eun-tak might be better off not remembering him, and whether he was someone worth being forgotten if she can’t remember him. He muses, “I missed her very much.”
Eun-tak sits by a fountain, looking at the fallen maple leaf she caught during her evening walk. She sets it down, and doing so triggers her past memories to come flooding back to her. Her eyes fill with tears, and she cries, “I missed you.”
She starts running through the streets and stops to blow out a candle in front of the Christmas decoration store. Wailing, she screams, “I miss you! Where are you? I miss you!”
And then Shin whips her around and softly kisses her. They break apart to stare at each other before Eun-tak pulls him in for another kiss.
Back at the hotel, Eun-tak finds it fascinating how he kept his promise to come as the rain and the first snow. She wonders if the contract is why he was able to come back, and he nods. Her voice breaking now, she asks how he could leave her, and how he used her hands to pull out that sword.
He apologizes, but she shakes her head since it’s enough that he kept his promise. She asks what it meant for him to return to nothingness, and Shin answers: “Not being able to see you.” She tells him that she would cry and feel pain without knowing why whenever it rained. Her medication was no use, and she apologizes for not faring well in return for the love he showed her.
Shin promises to make her happy from now on, and he asks in his sageuk tone why she keeps touching his face. She says she wants to make sure that this isn’t a dream because she’s had too many dreams like this moment.
He hugs her and pats her shoulder comfortingly, then assures her that this isn’t a dream. She says she’s still in shock and her heart is racing, so he uses his goblin powers to open the minibar and tells her that he can buy her everything in it.
So they indulge in beer, and Eun-tak notes that calling him “ajusshi” feels weird now, but Shin shuts down the idea of addressing one another as “hey you.” Upon hearing that Shin only saw Sunny from afar, Eun-tak assures him that she’s doing well. Shin can’t quite say the same for Reaper, acknowledging that they’re friends now.
Eun-tak looks at Shin and slips her hand into his. He tells her that he too missed her very much, and she tells him that she loves him very much.
Shin is disappointed when they have to part the next day, though Eun-tak pointedly says she needs to leave a record for immigration if she doesn’t want to be arrested. Shin offers to visit her in jail, and though he’d like to fly back together, he didn’t bring a passport.
She figures they’ll see each other in 17 hours then, but chooses to linger for an extra minute for kisses. Shin is there to pick her up when she arrives in Korea, which is a relief since I thought some disaster would take place on the flight.
He teases her while holding her hand, saying he won’t ever let go. They slip through the doors… and then they’re transported back in the hotel room in Quebec.
Shin swoops in to kiss her, and she hops up into his arms before adding more kisses. He gently sits down on the couch and kisses her cheek and her eyes… and well, we can guess the rest.
Later, Eun-tak looks for Sunny at the chicken shop, but she isn’t there nor at home. Reaper, however, is in his tearoom with an elderly woman waiting for her long-lost husband. It’s a tearful reunion as the husband apologizes for being 73 years too late, unable to return to her because of the DMZ.
He still has her hairpin and says she’s still pretty. Aw. Reaper gives them a private moment under the excuse that he needs to reheat the tea.
Reaper is in for a surprise when he returns home. Shin announces Eun-tak, who greets him cheerily. He learns that she’s regained her memory, and Eun-tak notes how it’s been a while since she’s heard him call her “Missing Person.”
Reaper says he’s enjoyed listening to her radio show, and Eun-tak proudly states that she’s already 29. That only reminds him of his unsaid warning to her about how she’d meet another reaper at 29, and he muses to himself how they have crossed paths again at another vulnerable age.
Eun-tak thanks her psychiatrist for her services and ends her sessions because she’s finally remembered how to be happy. In the ensuing days, Eun-tak summons Shin—once while he’s preparing dinner, and another time when she points out that he’s been reading the same book for nine years.
She finds it adorable, and he ventures, “Is it obvious?” It is, but I love it. She uses a candle app to summon him beneath her covers and he calls her naughty. She tells him he can leave if he likes, but then she snuggles up to him, and he says he’s getting sleepy because it’s warm in here. Mmhm.
But not every call is a happy one, as Eun-tak wakes up in her bed one night crying. Frightened, she grabs the lighter and blows it out, counting the seconds until Shin appears. She throws her arms around him and cries that she was so afraid that it was all a dream.
He assures her that she isn’t dreaming, and Eun-tak makes him promise to show up by the count of three when she calls him. He promises to stay close and apologizes once more.
As Shin leaves Eun-tak’s place in the morning, he lingers outside Sunny’s door. Sunny calls out to him just then, asking why he’s staring so intently. Sizing him up, she asks if he’s the same guy from the restaurant, and the words trigger a glimpse into her future… where she’s giggling next to Reaper at a cafe.
He cryptically says she’s headed down that road (with Reaper), and it’s enough for him to know that she’ll be happy. Once he’s gone, Sunny hopes that Shin will make Eun-tak happy and promises to live happily herself in this lifetime.
At home, Deok-hwa freezes when Reaper flashes his watch and says all grim reapers wear one. Shin tsks that Reaper just blew his cover, but Deok-hwa says he found out about Shin when he saw the goblin’s blue flames.
Deok-hwa isn’t at all surprised because he’s known that he has a goblin-uncle ever since he was six, and was told that his family has served him for generations. Still, he never dreamed that those words were true, having imagined it more like a vague religion and not a literal goblin.
Deok-hwa tells them to prove that they are a real goblin and grim reaper. So Reaper disappears and reappears in a different spot and Shin makes a skillet float in the air, but Deok-hwa isn’t impressed—human magicians can do that too.
He figures that’s all they can do, but that’s when Reaper ominously tells Deok-hwa to follow him. Afraid, Deok-hwa shuffles behind Shin, who refuses to get in the way. Reaper approaches him menacingly… then continues to cut slices of bread. Ha.
Vowing to get back at them, Deok-hwa gets busy looking up NASA’s phone number when his phone freezes over. He immediately apologizes to the empty space that he was merely curious.
Aunt pays an unexpected visit to Eun-tak, angling for a meal. She claims to have lost contact with her rotten children and criticizes how her niece is living in a rooftop apartment. Class Prez does a guest spot for Eun-tak’s radio show, though she noticed that her friend was distracted during the entire broadcast.
Eun-tak passes on drinks this time to visit Sunny, who wraps up a meeting at the chicken shop. She greets Sunny with a hug, asking where she’s been. Sunny replies that she’s moving—both the shop and her house—and asks if Eun-tak found what she was looking for in Canada.
Eun-tak says she found everything, including a handsome long-lost boyfriend. Sunny guesses he must be the man at the restaurant, and Eun-tak promises to introduce him to her one day. Sunny says there’s no need, explaining that they met outside Eun-tak’s place.
Sunny tells Eun-tak to take care of herself, words that sound much like goodbye to Eun-tak’s ears.
Eun-tak belatedly realizes that the handsome man in Canada was the same ghost she saw during her first trip to Quebec. She wonders why she’s seeing ghosts again, but those thoughts are interrupted by Shin’s arrival.
She says she was thinking about Canada, specifically how Shin told her that he’d been there four times already with his first love. It makes her think that she’s the woman he’s been referring to all this time, but she doesn’t understand how the first love from later Joseon adds into this.
“It’s you,” he replies. He explains that they had briefly crossed paths even before he knew it, and saw her: “You, in the far future.”
She can hardly believe that she was Shin’s first love and giggles over how she got a glimpse of Shin as a man of Goryeo when he reappeared before her as a warrior.
He stops walking and tells her in a solemn voice: “I’m saying this because the day is just so… because you’re still blindingly bright. I’m saying this because you are my first love.”
As cherry blossoms fall, he proposes, “On another day that is just so… will you be this man of Goryeo’s bride?”
What a beautiful proposal and a beautiful penultimate episode as a whole. By now I’m sure no one is surprised by the reveal that Shin was the man Eun-tak was waiting for at the restaurant in Quebec, though I can hardly blame him for thinking that he wasn’t when his future with Eun-tak previously seemed so bleak. That isn’t to say that they won’t face any perils ahead, since every drama fan knows that a happy reunion is the calm before the storm.
So even in the joyful new memories Shin and Eun-tak are creating together, they’re working off of borrowed time. Seeing them so happy in the present makes it hard to gauge whether or not they know that they haven’t reached the happily ever after part of their relationship… or perhaps the very thought of that is too fearsome for either of them. As a viewer, I often felt like Eun-tak this hour, worried that this idyllic reunion will be ruined by some foreboding threat lurking just around the corner. Even god has eerily remained hands-off in their relationship this hour, which can only mean we’re headed straight into dangerous waters for the finale.
But stepping back from that, I did like that we got to see flares of the old, spirited Eun-tak even before she regained her memories. From the very moment of Shin’s reappearance, his presence has slowly but surely brought out her old self, even though she still experiences moments of intense fear of abandonment. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that her ability to see ghosts reappeared soon after Shin did, and I’m hoping that she makes her worry regarding that a top priority because she is again at risk. Even if Reaper didn’t give Eun-tak the full warning, I really hope she remembers him telling her that her current age makes her vulnerable.
Reaper and Sunny’s relationship continues to tear at my heart. They’ve both made conscious decisions to live out their lives without the other, neither of them acknowledging their short-lived relationship in this lifetime. I was surprised to find out that Sunny does remember everything, from her own doomed connection to Reaper to getting to know Eun-tak again from the very beginning. It’s safe to say that Shin’s visions typically come true, so I hope that shared laughter between Reaper and Sunny isn’t a fleeting moment. But we’re in a precarious position as we head into the final hour because everyone is just on the edge of happiness.
But don’t worry—I’ve got my box of matches, a lighter, and a candle app readily available in case we all need to summon Shin. Everyone ready? One… two…