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The Legend of the Blue Sea Episode 11 Recap





I like that this show tends to feel lighthearted overall, even when there are ardent storylines and heavier beats throughout. There’s just a bright energy to the funny that I find infectious, and I think the characters really light up whenever they’re allowed to dive into the feel-good comedy, and there’s a natural romantic development that comes from that. More of that is all I ask for Christmas. See, I’m not even being greedy!

 

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Memories come flooding back to Joon-jae as he runs through the streets, but he isn’t recalling just his own lost memories—they’re Dam-ryung’s too, of meeting Se-hwa in Joseon and being fated to always return to her. Se-hwa’s story echoes in voiceover: “Long ago, there was a boy who once loved a mermaid and heard her voice.” Dam-ryung had asked her, “Am I that boy?”

Joon-jae narrates over visions of Se-hwa erasing Dam-ryung’s memories, and Chung erasing his own memories the same way: “He loved the mermaid and heard her voice. He was that boy. Even when his memories were erased, and erased again, even when he was reborn in another world, he was a boy fated to love the mermaid again. So in the end, he was a boy who would once again hear the mermaid’s voice. He… was me.”

Once the truth sinks in, Joon-jae runs through the streets in search of Chung, but she’s nowhere to be found. A radio broadcast plays from a taxi nearby and the DJ says that tonight there will be a black moon, which in olden days was considered a bad omen. Joon-jae looks up at the tiny sliver of the moon…

…which takes us back to Joseon. One of Dam-ryung’s officers reports that Lord Yang is mounting a case against him, and saying that Dam-ryung was bewitched by a mermaid and killed that merchant on the shore, and framed Lord Yang for the crime. Lord Yang has already begun a witch-hunt for the mermaid as well.

Dam-ryung grows furious and grabs his officer’s sword and marches into the prison. He orders for the guard to open the cell and raises the sword to Lord Yang’s throat.

Glowering, Dam-ryung commands, “Die. And never be reborn.” He swings the blade…

We switch to Lord Yang’s point of view as the sword comes down at him, and in the present day, his doppelganger Ma Dae-young wakes up screaming from the nightmare.

Dae-young wonders why his dreams are like this lately, and though he doesn’t know the reason, he certainly recognizes the key players now: himself, Joon-jae, and the mermaid. He looks up at the black moon with a creepy smile.

Chung lugs a bunch of bags through the department store—it’s everything she and Joon-jae bought during their con—and she asks to return it all.

Joon-jae has been out all night looking for her and returns home to see if the boys have found any leads, and Nam-doo says that she took everything they bought recently and disappeared. Nam-doo figures that she’s going to sell the stuff and rent an apartment, which sends Joon-jae into an even bigger panic.

When Joon-jae finds out that Tae-oh hasn’t hacked into the department store’s security feed yet, he barks, “Hurry, hurry, hurry! You call yourself a hacker?” Nam-doo asks why he isn’t using the GPS tracking app, but Joon-jae says her phone is turned off. Nam-doo thinks that it doesn’t bode well and wonders, “Is she gone forever?”

Chung wanders through the department store aimlessly, and stops in front of a carousel display. She’s mesmerized by it and sits in one of the seats, staring at her reflection in the ceiling as she goes round and round.

Joon-jae’s stepbrother Chi-hyun happens by while doing business with the department store’s manager, and when they spot Chung riding the display carousel, Chi-hyun asks them not to kick her off, since there are hardly any customers to see. He looks over at her with a little smile.

Joon-jae shuffles into his room listlessly and gazes up at Chung’s loft door, thinking of all the times she came popping out to bug him. He sits up in her room and picks up her bowl of pearls, and recalls the thoughts he’d overheard—that he’d find out she was different and leave her.

A mermaid swims toward him for a fleeting second, her image superimposed on the screen as he wonders, “Am I in some kind of fairytale? Or… have you come out into the world?”

Chung meanders through the streets, thinking about how easily Joon-jae had told Jin-joo that he and Chung were going to be married soon, only to confess later that he’s a liar and a con man.

Chi-hyun surprises her by showing up at her side, and when Chung calls him Heo Joon-jae’s family again, he asks her to call him by name. She looks around at all the Christmas lights around them and says that there are lots of nice things here, things that she never had where she’s from.

Chi-hyun asks where she lives, and Chung says she lives with Joon-jae. He tries not to look too scandalized, though she then adds that she lives in the room above Joon-jae’s. Chi-hyun offers her a ride home, but she doesn’t want to go home, and asks if he’ll take her somewhere else instead.

Once they arrive, he asks again if she’s really going to sleep here, and Chung says that in dramas, people always sleep here when they leave home. He tells her to be careful, and she waves goodbye before heading into… the men’s locker room at the jjimjilbang. Ha.

Chi-hyun runs over to try and stop her, but she’s already got an eyeful and comes back out stunned. He explains that the women’s locker room is the one next to it, and when Chung recovers, she pops her head back into the men’s locker room to say “Sorry!” with a big smile. Hilariously, Chi-hyun seems more traumatized than she is.

Chung watches other women in the locker room to learn how to put her belongings away, and as she takes out a big stack of cash to put in her purse, a group of high school girls targets her as an easy score.

At home, Joon-jae grows antsier by the minute while Tae-oh scans the department store CCTV feed. Nam-doo says he isn’t surprised that something like this happened, because he could feel the tension when Chung and Joon-jae were having that silent stare-down.

Joon-jae asks Nam-doo how the story of The Little Mermaid goes, and Nam-doo points out the randomness of the question, but says, “The witch gave her legs. But after midnight it turned into a tail. So she couldn’t wear the glass slipper. And the prince searched for the owner of the glass slipper.” Lol.

Joon-jae thinks that sounds wrong, but ignores Tae-oh’s comment that that’s Cinderella. Nam-doo argues that it doesn’t matter because all fairytales end the same way anyway: She falls in love and marries the prince, the end.

Tae-oh cuts in: “That’s Disney. In the original she dies.” Joon-jae: “Who dies? The prince? The mermaid?” Nam-doo confirms that the mermaid dies, and Joon-jae huffs, “Why does the mermaid die?! What kind of fairytale is that?!” Aw, his anger is so cute. Nam-doo agrees that it’s a little dark for a children’s fairytale, though that leads him to wonder why in the hell they’re sitting here discussing it in the first place.

Chung wanders through the jjimjilbang looking sad and lonely, especially when she notices that everyone is there as a couple or with their families. She looks for a place to sleep, but every spot is taken up, and there’s no place for her to lie down.

At home, Joon-jae stays up long after the boys have crashed, and he spends all night searching through the security feed for Chung. Many coffees and a sunrise later, he still hasn’t found her and decides to hit the streets again.

He goes to see Chung’s homeless fashionista friend on her usual corner, and asks if she hasn’t seen “our Chungie.” Fashionista just asks what he’s read that left the deepest impression on him, and says that it was Romeo and Juliet for her.

He doesn’t see how that’s relevant, but she urges him to sit for a moment and waxes poetic about how all the love stories in all the world are the same once you strip away all the trappings. She says it boils down to one simple truth: “Treat her well while she’s around.”

Joon-jae grouses at the unhelpful advice, but Fashionista says he should’ve just treated Chung well while he had her, because then he wouldn’t be running around looking for her right now. Joon-jae just asks her to let him know if Chung shows up, and she shouts after him that she’s here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Lol, like it’s a job.

Joon-jae deflates when he checks the tracking app for the millionth time and sees that Chung’s phone is still turned off. But just then, the high school girls who’d spotted Chung’s money come outside to the street with her purse, and they turn her phone on. Joon-jae gets the signal right away and speeds to the location.

He finds the girls still there, arguing about how to split the money. He tells them to freeze and hand over the cell phone, and when the girl hides the phone behind her back, he just whirls her around by the backpack and plucks it out of her hand, ha. They lie that it’s theirs, so he calls Chung’s phone to prove that it’s his girlfriend’s, and says that they can keep the money if they tell him where his girlfriend is.

They’re quick to offer up Chung’s hideout, so he thanks them and asks the leader for a handshake. She hesitantly reaches out her hand. Well that’s a mistake. He twirls her around with one hand, while knocking Chung’s purse way up into the air with the other hand. He catches it in midair in one fluid move.

They ask what his deal is, and Joon-jae says, “Me? I’m a con man. If you keep doing this, you’ll end up like me, and later when the person you like asks what you do, you’ll have to lie.” The girls are annoyed about losing the money, but they grudgingly admit that he was very swoony.

Chi-hyun has returned to the jjimjilbang to hang out with Chung on his day off, saying that he was worried about her. She sighs that she didn’t sleep well at all and barely has an appetite, and he laughs to see her crack an egg on her forehead and shove it in her mouth, and do it again.

Joon-jae runs into the jjimjilbang and spots her in the distance, though from where he’s standing he can’t see Chi-hyun. He thinks back to the times he ran into her while he had amnesia, and how she had called him a good person, but he was cold and unfeeling and kicked her to the curb.

She looks extra sad and pathetic sitting there all alone, and he marches over to her with purpose. Chung spots him approaching and stands up, and Joon-jae doesn’t stop until he’s clutching her tightly in his arms.

He holds on for a long while and then starts in with the nagging: “Who told you to leave home and stay at a place like this? Do you know much I looked for you?” He asks how she ended up here, and Chung says that Chi-hyun brought her, glancing in his direction.

It’s then that Joon-jae finally sees Chi-hyun off to the side, and Chi-hyun asks him not to misunderstand, explaining that they ran into each other last night and Chung said she didn’t want to go home.

Joon-jae reels at that and tells Chi-hyun that he can go, and turns to Chung to say that they’ll have go someplace private to have a conversation. That doesn’t sound fun at all. Chung looks like a sad puppy as he leads her to an enclosed room.

Joon-jae sits and stares at her legs for a moment, lost in thought over this whole mermaid business. Chung tells him that she returned all the stuff he bought her and plans to give him all the money back, and he takes the wad of cash out of his pocket and says he got it already. He returns her phone as well, and she’s confused about how he ended up with it. He just says that he’s a bad person, but there are people worse than him here, and warns her to be more careful.

He asks if she’s hungry, and she says she isn’t, but then in her head she rattles off a list of all the things she’d like to be eating right now, like ddukbokki, soondae, and shaved ice. He smirks since he can hear all her thoughts now, and says that’s too bad because he bought all this meat to grill back at home.

She thinks, “Ah, marinated ribs are the best,” and he immediately follows up with “It’s marinated ribs.” Chung thinks, “It must be tender.” Joon-jae: “It’s really tender.” Ha, this mindreading is pretty handy.

He can hear her thinking about how much she wants to eat it, but out loud she sticks to her guns and says she won’t be coming home. He asks why, and she thinks in her head, “You’re a con man. You’re a bad person who fools people. You fooled me too. But… why can’t I be disappointed in you when you’re a bad person? Why can’t I leave you when you fooled me?”

His heart sinks and he tells her that she can stay here if she doesn’t want to come home, but he makes her promise not to go anywhere else, and especially not to disappear again without saying goodbye. When he prods, she agrees, and he gets up to go.

Once he’s outside the room, he hides around the corner hoping to hear her thoughts, but he deflates when he doesn’t hear anything. He says glumly, “What, not even a ‘Don’t go, Heo Joo-jae?’ How can she be so cold?”

Joon-jae walks right past Chi-hyun near the exit, but Chi-hyun calls after him to say that Dad isn’t feeling well. Joon-jae ignores him and starts to walk away, but he thinks better of it and turns back to ask what’s wrong.

Chi-hyun says that Dad’s eyesight is starting to go, but all Joon-jae does is say that Chi-hyun should take good care of him and take him to the doctor. As Joon-jae turns his back, Chi-hyun says, “He may have been your father from the first, but to me, he was my first father. You’re right that the fake son is acting like he’s a real son, but I’m just thankful that Father became my father. That’s why I always wanted to show him my best, and protect him.”

Joon-jae scoffs and tells him to go ahead and be grateful, and show his best, and protect him as he pleases. He adds, “There are quite a lot of things that he lost and couldn’t protect, when my father became your father.”

At the police station, Detective Hong gets killer Dae-young’s rental history and finds an apartment he was living in between prison stints. They discover that there was a woman named Kang Ji-hyun who lived there at the same time, though Detective Hong knows Dae-young was never married.

They look into Kang Ji-hyun’s marriage records and find that she’d been married twice, and both times her husbands died. Detective Hong and his partner go back to find one of her past neighbors, and the ajumma says that Kang Ji-hyun was beautiful and already had a child from her previous marriage, but a year in, the new husband went blind and was killed in a car accident.

When the detectives go to question a different neighbor, he describes her other marriage much the same way: The husband suddenly went blind and died. Well that’s not suspicious or anything.

In case we hadn’t made the connection already, we cut to Joon-jae’s stepmom asking Chairman Dad how his eyesight is. He wonders if he should see the doctor again, and Stepmom lies that she already consulted him, and he said the best thing was to keep taking medicine and rest up.

Meanwhile, Jin-joo and her husband sit around dissecting what went wrong at their dinner with faux real estate tycoon “CEO Kim,” and why they’re no longer answering their calls.

From behind them, Housekeeper Mom chimes in with her usual dry delivery that in her opinion, they appeared far too eager for a first meeting. Jin-joo’s husband says he tried to be subtle, but the housekeeper doesn’t budge and says it was pretty plain to her eyes. Jin-joo sides with the housekeeper and berates her husband for being so obviously desperate and burdensome as to drive away their guests and their chance at making millions.

Joon-jae comes home muttering about why anyone would sleep in a jjimjilbang instead of a nice warm bed, and Nam-doo gets up and climbs into Joon-jae’s bed, saying that the heater is broken in his room. Joon-jae continues to talk to himself and complains about Chung running away from home, and Nam-doo points out, “I don’t think that’s something a guy who ran away from home during high school can say.” Heh.

Nam-doo asks whom Chung said all that stuff to about not wanting to come home, and Joon-jae says, “There’s a guy, this wacko.” Hahaha, he thinks back to all the times he’d referred to his pre-amnesia self as a wacko out of jealousy, and it brings back a whole flood of mortifying memories, like how he flipped out over this Ramyun guy and said he was a player and a dandy with nothing but bad motives, and how Chung had smirked quietly. It finally dawns on him: “That… was me?”

Joon-jae clutches his hair and goes into a convulsive, flailing fit, scaring Nam-doo off the bed in the process. He wails, “That was me? Not some wacko, but me?!” He mentally kicks himself for badmouthing himself so harshly.

But somewhere along the way, the embarrassment and anger turns to happiness, as he realizes what this means: “That’s right… me. It was me. Not another guy. He… was me. Hyung, it was me! He was him. Me. Hyung, it’s me!” Nam-doo looks at him like he’s lost all his marbles and suggests some drugs.

Joon-jae devolves into a giggle fit, and then just as suddenly stops and dashes out of bed. He can barely contain his shit-eating grin as he drives.

He goes to the jjimjilbang, of course, and has already changed and picked up a sleeping mat before finding Chung asleep in one of the rooms. He smiles to see her, but then he notices a creepy ajusshi inching his way toward Chung while pretending to be asleep.

Joon-jae growls and steps right on the ajusshi’s stomach with his full weight, acting like he just didn’t see him there, and wedges his mat right in between them. He gazes at Chung for a long while just watching her sleep.

Joon-jae is asleep when Chung opens her eyes, and she thinks in her head, “It’s Heo Joon-jae! Don’t open your eyes, Heo Joon-jae. Don’t wake up, Heo Joon-jae. So that I can just look at you. So that I can look at you for as long as I haven’t seen you. So that I don’t have to ask you anything. So that you don’t have to hide anything from me.”

At first it’s not clear if he’s sleeping or just doing as she asked, because he doesn’t open his eyes for a long while. But then she thinks that it’s cold, and he suddenly kicks his blanket off in her direction. Aw, you totally heard her!

She wonders if he’ll be cold, so he mumbles that it’s too hot in here. Chung takes the blanket and sighs happily that it’s warm, and Joon-jae smiles to himself, even as he’s shivering from the cold.

Shi-ah comes to Housekeeper Mom’s room to ask where the kimchi is, and picks up a family photograph by the bed. She notes that the son is decently handsome, and Housekeeper Mom catches her snooping and asks her to leave the room.

Shi-ah brings more of the housekeeper’s food to Joon-jae’s house, not knowing that she’s consistently bringing him his own mother’s cooking. Nam-doo makes a comment about the food at her house always being good, and the other boys shoot him warning looks. Shi-ah happily invites them over, and they all quickly decline.

She asks if Chung is gone for good now, and Nam-doo says that she’ll probably be back if she makes up with Joon-jae. Tae-oh gives Joon-jae an icy glare at that, and Shi-ah misinterprets it to be a jealous look because of her.

They accidentally reach for the water at the same time too, which Shi-ah mistakes for an intentional move to touch her. She finally drags Tae-oh aside and asks, “How can you be so obvious in front of other people?” Pfft. Tae-oh: “Me?”

She sighs and says that she thought he was smart, but can see that he’s just a fool in love. He swears that he’s totally over her and fine now, but she says that love can’t just be finished when you want it to be over, and asks if he has her phone number.

Tae-oh tries to tell her that he doesn’t need it, but she thinks he’s putting up a brave front for her benefit and wrests his phone out of his hands to type her number into it. Shi-ah tells him to call whenever things get too tough for him, insisting that you have to see the person you love sometimes. “I may not be able to give you my heart, but I can buy you liquor,” she says. Hahaha, I kind of love her now.

Chung stares wistfully at the footbaths at the jjimjilbang and thinks to herself that this is what it means to be given something you can only stare at longingly. Just then, someone runs past her and nearly knocks her right into the shallow pool, and Chung teeters on the ledge.

But Joon-jae grabs her just before she falls, and he hears her think in relief that she could’ve been outed if she’d fallen in the water. To help cover up the moment, Joon-jae yells at her for nearly falling and cracking her head open.

Then from the other side, someone else splashes water in Chung’s direction, and Joon-jae whirls her around so that he gets splashed instead. You’re choosing awfully huggy ways of protecting her, just sayin’.

He decides it’s too dangerous here and leads Chung inside to where it’s dry, and then becomes a complete water tyrant hall monitor inside the jjimjilbang, where he overreacts at a tiny child who spills water in Chung’s direction. Joon-jae picks Chung up and yells that they could’ve been electrocuted to death, making the kid cry.

He stops kids from playing with water guns like the fun police, and goes to the front desk to ask why they don’t make long pants here, or a skirt version of their uniform that goes down to the ankles.

By the time he starts moving the water dispenser to a safer location, one of the ajummas (cameo by Kim Sun-young) who’s been watching the whole time has seen enough ridiculousness and asks Chung to just give in and go home with her husband already, because he’s making their lives at the jjimjilbang harder.

Chung just perks up to hear Joon-jae being called her husband, while the ajumma argues that she understands to a certain degree because she had a fight with her husband and left home too. But she says that Chung’s husband is annoying everyone with his overprotectiveness, and begs her to just make up and go home for their sakes.

Besides, the ajumma points out, if she misses her timing, he’ll stop begging her to come home and she’ll have to crawl back in herself. Ajumma says her husband is right across the street and hasn’t come here once, and advises Chung not to lose her window.

Jin-joo picks up her snooty little daughter from school, though it’s just an excuse to talk to her classmate Yoo-na, in the hopes of putting in a good word with Chung. Jin-joo offers to let Yoon-na join her daughter’s swim team, and says that she’s welcome to talk about it with her unni friend if she wants.

Jin-joo asks what she’ll say, and Yoo-na says she’ll tell Chung that some ajumma is being strangely good to her these days. Heh. Jin-joo grits her teeth and suggests a different version.

Later at the jjimjilbang, Yoo-na recites the happy PR version of nice Jin-joo making school bearable for her these days, though Chung only needs to ask her once for Yoo-na to say it’s not true at all. She’s particularly down about the upcoming holiday talent show, where they’re supposed to invite their families to come to school. Yoo-na says that no one will come see her because Mom is too busy, and she hated it when the same thing happened in kindergarten, and there was no one there to wave at her and cheer her on.

Chung sees Santa in a corner of the jjimjilbang, where kids are milling about and complaining, “Santa smells like cigarettes.” She says that on TV, Santa grants wishes on Christmas, and suggests that Yoo-na make a wish. Yoo-na: “Unni, are you a child?”

But Yoo-na says you have to not cry for Santa to grant your wish, and she’s already cried too much. Chung frowns and says she’s cried too, so they sit there forlornly like two sad little ducklings. Chung wonders if the jjimjilbang Santa ajusshi has a direct line to the real Santa (at least she knows the difference?), so they go to ask him.

Santa ajusshi tells Yoo-na to write her wish down and hang it on the tree, and Santa will read them all. Chung asks if she can get her wish granted too, swearing that she had a reason for crying, and Santa ajusshi gets one look at her and asks for her phone number so he can get her wish to Santa. Yoo-na hangs her wish—for Mom and Dad to come see her at the Christmas show—and says a little prayer. We don’t get to see what Chung’s wish is.

Then it’s the day of the Christmas show, and Jin-joo tries to make Yoo-na feel better about her mom not being there, though her daughter points out that Yoo-na’s mom never comes to these things.

But everyone’s heads turn when Chung shows up looking like a supermodel to cheer Yoo-na on. She says brightly that Yoo-na’s mom sent her because they’re besties, and Jin-joo files that information away eagerly.

Then it’s Chung’s turn to be surprised when Joon-jae and the boys arrive, complete with placard and flowers. Yay! Jin-joo’s jaw drops at the sight of “CEO Kim,” though thankfully she doesn’t make a fuss.

Chung asks quietly how Joon-jae knew about this, and he just whispers back that there’s nothing he doesn’t know. He scoops Yoo-na up and says, “You’re the prettiest one here! Do a good job, because I’m only going to be looking at you.” D’awwwww!

Jin-joo belatedly sees Nam-doo and tries to contain her excitement at seeing “900’s daddy” again and nags him for ignoring all her calls.

Chung and the boys cheer Yoo-na on and wave and take pictures all through the Christmas show, and give her a standing ovation at the end. She smiles and waves back at them, and then they have her pose for more pictures afterward.

Yoo-na takes the phone and tells “unni and oppa” to pose for a picture, and Joon-jae lights up and asks, “Have I gone from ajusshi to oppa?” They stand awkwardly apart and Yoo-na has to coax them together, so Joon-jae finally puts an arm around Chung.

At that moment, he hears her think, “I’m happy.” They look at each other and smile, and that’s the picture Yoo-na snaps.

As they file out of the school with Yoo-na, a taxi driver watches and starts his engine to follow. We don’t see his face, but that’s definitely killer Dae-young’s voice.

While they stop for coffee, Nam-doo says that it’s nice to have Chung back home: “When our Chungie wasn’t home, the fridge was full, but my heart was empty.” She admits that lying for Yoo-na’s sake today did feel good, and Nam-doo jumps on that and says that there are white lies that don’t harm people.

Chung shoots right back that they don’t just say white lies though, and all three boys get quiet. She turns to Joon-jae and asks, “Can you promise me? That you’ll only tell good lies? That you won’t tell lies that hurt other people?”

He asks if he’s supposed to make that promise here, in front of the guys, and she just nods yes and prods him to answer, while Nam-doo giggles silently. After a beat, Joon-jae answers, “I promise.” All three heads dart up in shock. He swears, “I won’t, ever,” and Nam-doo asks if he’s for real or if this is a lie too. But they aren’t listening to him.

Joon-jae looks over and sees the pink octopus sitting in the claw machine outside and tells the guys to go home before leading Chung out. He leaves her in front of a big Christmas fountain light display outside and says he’ll be right back. But… there’s a killer on the loose!

Killer Dae-young does get spotted in the area, and Detective Hong arrives with his partner to catch him. This can’t be good.

Thankfully, Joon-jae returns to the fountain quickly, holding the pink octopus behind his back. Wait, you could beat that claw machine that fast, and you made her do it for hours? That’s mean.

He pauses to gaze at her for a moment and hears her thoughts from a distance: “Heo Joon-jae, when I crossed the big wide ocean to find you, I saw pretty stars like these every night. But I was lonely, tired, and anxious because I was alone. But is it okay for me to be this comfortable now, to be this happy, to love?”

Joon-jae begins to walk toward her at that, when suddenly a hand clamps down on his shoulder. Oh noes. It’s Detective Hong, who immediately cuffs him, making the pink octopus fall out of his hand.

Detective Hong admits that it feels a little like coming to hunt a tiger and going home with a rabbit, but he’s not about to let Joon-jae get away. Detective Hong gets on his radio to call for backup, but Joon-jae looks over at Chung with tears in his eyes and says that he’ll go quietly, not wanting to draw attention and have her see him like this.

Detective Hong doesn’t understand the situation but he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and leads Joon-jae away. The pink octopus gets left behind on the ground, and Chung just thinks, “Heo Joon-jae, hurry.”

As he gets taken away in handcuffs, Joon-jae narrates the same voiceover from the opening: “He loved the mermaid and heard her voice. He was that boy. Even when his memories were erased, and erased again, even when he was reborn in another world, he was a boy fated to love the mermaid again. So in the end, he was a boy who would once again hear the mermaid’s voice. He… was me.”

And the second Joon-jae and Detective Hong walk off, killer Dae-young pulls up in his taxi and waits for Chung.

Epilogue.

Chung gives Jjimjilbang Santa her phone number and writes down her wish, and we see that Joon-jae is there the whole time, scowling in disapproval. He waits till Santa is leaving to confront him outside, and asks if he really has a direct line to Santa: “Because I think you just got my girlfriend’s number to forward her wish.” Santa returns the phone number right away, and Joon-jae rips it up.

On the tree, we see that under Yoo-na’s wish, Chung’s wish says: “That I will go on a date with Heo Joon-jae under a pretty tree. This year. And next year. And the year after that.”

And underneath her wish is Joon-jae’s: “That I will be able to keep all of the promises I make with you.”

 
COMMENTS

That was such a sweet Christmas episode. Why’d we have to ruin the warm fuzzies with an arrest?! I probably should’ve known that trouble was on the way, given all the black moon talk and realizations of love. Heaven forbid we get to stay happy for a whole day. I’m not actually so worried for Joon-jae, since prison is probably the safer place to be than that plaza right now. Dae-young seems to have caught on that Chung is the way to lure Joon-jae where he wants him, so I can’t imagine that what happens next is anything good. Also, won’t anyone save that poor pink octopus from being trampled? And no, getting her a new one doesn’t count!

I missed Dam-ryung’s presence today, with such a short scene and not another glimpse of him in the episode. I don’t like it when they’re being stingy with the Dam-ryung scenes. But I liked the feeling of Joon-jae’s voiceover that solidified their connection and their intertwined fates to always fall in love with the mermaid. So many times, Joon-jae said in this episode, “He is me,” and I like that it can mean so many different things, starting with the idea that he and Dam-ryung are both that same boy fated to love the mermaid no matter how many times their memories are erased. Or the fact that loving the mermaid will lead him to hear her voice (nice to get an explanation on that, since I wasn’t sure why he suddenly came to hear her thoughts in the last episode).

The comical version was my favorite, when it finally dawned on Joon-jae that he’s that jerkface Ramyun guy he’s been jealous of for weeks. The reaction was perfect, and just about as mortified as I wanted. But it was so cute too, because once he got past the embarrassment, he got to be happy that he was the one who had shared those memories with Chung, and his gleeful I’m-her-guy realization outburst was the best thing ever.

I didn’t expect Chung to stick to her principles and stay in the jjimjilbang for that long when she was mad at Joon-jae, but I’m so glad she did, because their antics got funnier the longer she stayed, and there was a much-needed reversal in the relationship when he had to earn her affections to get out of the doghouse. I love what we gain from him hearing her thoughts without her knowing it too, because when he tossed her his blanket or saved her from all the water (mostly unnecessarily, to hilarious effect), I loved him just a little more. I worry about him not being able to keep all his promises to Chung, but it’s nice to see that she’s changing him for the better and forcing him to be a good person. We already knew he was good at heart, but I like that Chung is willing to forgive, but not bend her principles for him. It’s one benefit to her childlike personality—good is good and bad is bad, and fancy explanations won’t change that. Let’s just hope for Joon-jae’s sake that Detective Hong sees the world in more grayish hues and has a soft spot for mermaids, because I’m not sure how Joon-jae plans to get himself out of this one.

 

I like that this show tends to feel lighthearted overall, even when there are ardent storylines and heavier beats throughout. There’s just a bright energy to the funny that I find infectious, and I think the characters really light up whenever they’re allowed to dive into the feel-good comedy, and there’s a natural romantic development that comes from that. More of that is all I ask for Christmas. See, I’m not even being greedy!

 

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Memories come flooding back to Joon-jae as he runs through the streets, but he isn’t recalling just his own lost memories—they’re Dam-ryung’s too, of meeting Se-hwa in Joseon and being fated to always return to her. Se-hwa’s story echoes in voiceover: “Long ago, there was a boy who once loved a mermaid and heard her voice.” Dam-ryung had asked her, “Am I that boy?”

Joon-jae narrates over visions of Se-hwa erasing Dam-ryung’s memories, and Chung erasing his own memories the same way: “He loved the mermaid and heard her voice. He was that boy. Even when his memories were erased, and erased again, even when he was reborn in another world, he was a boy fated to love the mermaid again. So in the end, he was a boy who would once again hear the mermaid’s voice. He… was me.”

Once the truth sinks in, Joon-jae runs through the streets in search of Chung, but she’s nowhere to be found. A radio broadcast plays from a taxi nearby and the DJ says that tonight there will be a black moon, which in olden days was considered a bad omen. Joon-jae looks up at the tiny sliver of the moon…

…which takes us back to Joseon. One of Dam-ryung’s officers reports that Lord Yang is mounting a case against him, and saying that Dam-ryung was bewitched by a mermaid and killed that merchant on the shore, and framed Lord Yang for the crime. Lord Yang has already begun a witch-hunt for the mermaid as well.

Dam-ryung grows furious and grabs his officer’s sword and marches into the prison. He orders for the guard to open the cell and raises the sword to Lord Yang’s throat.

Glowering, Dam-ryung commands, “Die. And never be reborn.” He swings the blade…

We switch to Lord Yang’s point of view as the sword comes down at him, and in the present day, his doppelganger Ma Dae-young wakes up screaming from the nightmare.

Dae-young wonders why his dreams are like this lately, and though he doesn’t know the reason, he certainly recognizes the key players now: himself, Joon-jae, and the mermaid. He looks up at the black moon with a creepy smile.

Chung lugs a bunch of bags through the department store—it’s everything she and Joon-jae bought during their con—and she asks to return it all.

Joon-jae has been out all night looking for her and returns home to see if the boys have found any leads, and Nam-doo says that she took everything they bought recently and disappeared. Nam-doo figures that she’s going to sell the stuff and rent an apartment, which sends Joon-jae into an even bigger panic.

When Joon-jae finds out that Tae-oh hasn’t hacked into the department store’s security feed yet, he barks, “Hurry, hurry, hurry! You call yourself a hacker?” Nam-doo asks why he isn’t using the GPS tracking app, but Joon-jae says her phone is turned off. Nam-doo thinks that it doesn’t bode well and wonders, “Is she gone forever?”

Chung wanders through the department store aimlessly, and stops in front of a carousel display. She’s mesmerized by it and sits in one of the seats, staring at her reflection in the ceiling as she goes round and round.

Joon-jae’s stepbrother Chi-hyun happens by while doing business with the department store’s manager, and when they spot Chung riding the display carousel, Chi-hyun asks them not to kick her off, since there are hardly any customers to see. He looks over at her with a little smile.

Joon-jae shuffles into his room listlessly and gazes up at Chung’s loft door, thinking of all the times she came popping out to bug him. He sits up in her room and picks up her bowl of pearls, and recalls the thoughts he’d overheard—that he’d find out she was different and leave her.

A mermaid swims toward him for a fleeting second, her image superimposed on the screen as he wonders, “Am I in some kind of fairytale? Or… have you come out into the world?”

Chung meanders through the streets, thinking about how easily Joon-jae had told Jin-joo that he and Chung were going to be married soon, only to confess later that he’s a liar and a con man.

Chi-hyun surprises her by showing up at her side, and when Chung calls him Heo Joon-jae’s family again, he asks her to call him by name. She looks around at all the Christmas lights around them and says that there are lots of nice things here, things that she never had where she’s from.

Chi-hyun asks where she lives, and Chung says she lives with Joon-jae. He tries not to look too scandalized, though she then adds that she lives in the room above Joon-jae’s. Chi-hyun offers her a ride home, but she doesn’t want to go home, and asks if he’ll take her somewhere else instead.

Once they arrive, he asks again if she’s really going to sleep here, and Chung says that in dramas, people always sleep here when they leave home. He tells her to be careful, and she waves goodbye before heading into… the men’s locker room at the jjimjilbang. Ha.

Chi-hyun runs over to try and stop her, but she’s already got an eyeful and comes back out stunned. He explains that the women’s locker room is the one next to it, and when Chung recovers, she pops her head back into the men’s locker room to say “Sorry!” with a big smile. Hilariously, Chi-hyun seems more traumatized than she is.

Chung watches other women in the locker room to learn how to put her belongings away, and as she takes out a big stack of cash to put in her purse, a group of high school girls targets her as an easy score.

At home, Joon-jae grows antsier by the minute while Tae-oh scans the department store CCTV feed. Nam-doo says he isn’t surprised that something like this happened, because he could feel the tension when Chung and Joon-jae were having that silent stare-down.

Joon-jae asks Nam-doo how the story of The Little Mermaid goes, and Nam-doo points out the randomness of the question, but says, “The witch gave her legs. But after midnight it turned into a tail. So she couldn’t wear the glass slipper. And the prince searched for the owner of the glass slipper.” Lol.

Joon-jae thinks that sounds wrong, but ignores Tae-oh’s comment that that’s Cinderella. Nam-doo argues that it doesn’t matter because all fairytales end the same way anyway: She falls in love and marries the prince, the end.

Tae-oh cuts in: “That’s Disney. In the original she dies.” Joon-jae: “Who dies? The prince? The mermaid?” Nam-doo confirms that the mermaid dies, and Joon-jae huffs, “Why does the mermaid die?! What kind of fairytale is that?!” Aw, his anger is so cute. Nam-doo agrees that it’s a little dark for a children’s fairytale, though that leads him to wonder why in the hell they’re sitting here discussing it in the first place.

Chung wanders through the jjimjilbang looking sad and lonely, especially when she notices that everyone is there as a couple or with their families. She looks for a place to sleep, but every spot is taken up, and there’s no place for her to lie down.

At home, Joon-jae stays up long after the boys have crashed, and he spends all night searching through the security feed for Chung. Many coffees and a sunrise later, he still hasn’t found her and decides to hit the streets again.

He goes to see Chung’s homeless fashionista friend on her usual corner, and asks if she hasn’t seen “our Chungie.” Fashionista just asks what he’s read that left the deepest impression on him, and says that it was Romeo and Juliet for her.

He doesn’t see how that’s relevant, but she urges him to sit for a moment and waxes poetic about how all the love stories in all the world are the same once you strip away all the trappings. She says it boils down to one simple truth: “Treat her well while she’s around.”

Joon-jae grouses at the unhelpful advice, but Fashionista says he should’ve just treated Chung well while he had her, because then he wouldn’t be running around looking for her right now. Joon-jae just asks her to let him know if Chung shows up, and she shouts after him that she’s here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Lol, like it’s a job.

Joon-jae deflates when he checks the tracking app for the millionth time and sees that Chung’s phone is still turned off. But just then, the high school girls who’d spotted Chung’s money come outside to the street with her purse, and they turn her phone on. Joon-jae gets the signal right away and speeds to the location.

He finds the girls still there, arguing about how to split the money. He tells them to freeze and hand over the cell phone, and when the girl hides the phone behind her back, he just whirls her around by the backpack and plucks it out of her hand, ha. They lie that it’s theirs, so he calls Chung’s phone to prove that it’s his girlfriend’s, and says that they can keep the money if they tell him where his girlfriend is.

They’re quick to offer up Chung’s hideout, so he thanks them and asks the leader for a handshake. She hesitantly reaches out her hand. Well that’s a mistake. He twirls her around with one hand, while knocking Chung’s purse way up into the air with the other hand. He catches it in midair in one fluid move.

They ask what his deal is, and Joon-jae says, “Me? I’m a con man. If you keep doing this, you’ll end up like me, and later when the person you like asks what you do, you’ll have to lie.” The girls are annoyed about losing the money, but they grudgingly admit that he was very swoony.

Chi-hyun has returned to the jjimjilbang to hang out with Chung on his day off, saying that he was worried about her. She sighs that she didn’t sleep well at all and barely has an appetite, and he laughs to see her crack an egg on her forehead and shove it in her mouth, and do it again.

Joon-jae runs into the jjimjilbang and spots her in the distance, though from where he’s standing he can’t see Chi-hyun. He thinks back to the times he ran into her while he had amnesia, and how she had called him a good person, but he was cold and unfeeling and kicked her to the curb.

She looks extra sad and pathetic sitting there all alone, and he marches over to her with purpose. Chung spots him approaching and stands up, and Joon-jae doesn’t stop until he’s clutching her tightly in his arms.

He holds on for a long while and then starts in with the nagging: “Who told you to leave home and stay at a place like this? Do you know much I looked for you?” He asks how she ended up here, and Chung says that Chi-hyun brought her, glancing in his direction.

It’s then that Joon-jae finally sees Chi-hyun off to the side, and Chi-hyun asks him not to misunderstand, explaining that they ran into each other last night and Chung said she didn’t want to go home.

Joon-jae reels at that and tells Chi-hyun that he can go, and turns to Chung to say that they’ll have go someplace private to have a conversation. That doesn’t sound fun at all. Chung looks like a sad puppy as he leads her to an enclosed room.

Joon-jae sits and stares at her legs for a moment, lost in thought over this whole mermaid business. Chung tells him that she returned all the stuff he bought her and plans to give him all the money back, and he takes the wad of cash out of his pocket and says he got it already. He returns her phone as well, and she’s confused about how he ended up with it. He just says that he’s a bad person, but there are people worse than him here, and warns her to be more careful.

He asks if she’s hungry, and she says she isn’t, but then in her head she rattles off a list of all the things she’d like to be eating right now, like ddukbokki, soondae, and shaved ice. He smirks since he can hear all her thoughts now, and says that’s too bad because he bought all this meat to grill back at home.

She thinks, “Ah, marinated ribs are the best,” and he immediately follows up with “It’s marinated ribs.” Chung thinks, “It must be tender.” Joon-jae: “It’s really tender.” Ha, this mindreading is pretty handy.

He can hear her thinking about how much she wants to eat it, but out loud she sticks to her guns and says she won’t be coming home. He asks why, and she thinks in her head, “You’re a con man. You’re a bad person who fools people. You fooled me too. But… why can’t I be disappointed in you when you’re a bad person? Why can’t I leave you when you fooled me?”

His heart sinks and he tells her that she can stay here if she doesn’t want to come home, but he makes her promise not to go anywhere else, and especially not to disappear again without saying goodbye. When he prods, she agrees, and he gets up to go.

Once he’s outside the room, he hides around the corner hoping to hear her thoughts, but he deflates when he doesn’t hear anything. He says glumly, “What, not even a ‘Don’t go, Heo Joo-jae?’ How can she be so cold?”

Joon-jae walks right past Chi-hyun near the exit, but Chi-hyun calls after him to say that Dad isn’t feeling well. Joon-jae ignores him and starts to walk away, but he thinks better of it and turns back to ask what’s wrong.

Chi-hyun says that Dad’s eyesight is starting to go, but all Joon-jae does is say that Chi-hyun should take good care of him and take him to the doctor. As Joon-jae turns his back, Chi-hyun says, “He may have been your father from the first, but to me, he was my first father. You’re right that the fake son is acting like he’s a real son, but I’m just thankful that Father became my father. That’s why I always wanted to show him my best, and protect him.”

Joon-jae scoffs and tells him to go ahead and be grateful, and show his best, and protect him as he pleases. He adds, “There are quite a lot of things that he lost and couldn’t protect, when my father became your father.”

At the police station, Detective Hong gets killer Dae-young’s rental history and finds an apartment he was living in between prison stints. They discover that there was a woman named Kang Ji-hyun who lived there at the same time, though Detective Hong knows Dae-young was never married.

They look into Kang Ji-hyun’s marriage records and find that she’d been married twice, and both times her husbands died. Detective Hong and his partner go back to find one of her past neighbors, and the ajumma says that Kang Ji-hyun was beautiful and already had a child from her previous marriage, but a year in, the new husband went blind and was killed in a car accident.

When the detectives go to question a different neighbor, he describes her other marriage much the same way: The husband suddenly went blind and died. Well that’s not suspicious or anything.

In case we hadn’t made the connection already, we cut to Joon-jae’s stepmom asking Chairman Dad how his eyesight is. He wonders if he should see the doctor again, and Stepmom lies that she already consulted him, and he said the best thing was to keep taking medicine and rest up.

Meanwhile, Jin-joo and her husband sit around dissecting what went wrong at their dinner with faux real estate tycoon “CEO Kim,” and why they’re no longer answering their calls.

From behind them, Housekeeper Mom chimes in with her usual dry delivery that in her opinion, they appeared far too eager for a first meeting. Jin-joo’s husband says he tried to be subtle, but the housekeeper doesn’t budge and says it was pretty plain to her eyes. Jin-joo sides with the housekeeper and berates her husband for being so obviously desperate and burdensome as to drive away their guests and their chance at making millions.

Joon-jae comes home muttering about why anyone would sleep in a jjimjilbang instead of a nice warm bed, and Nam-doo gets up and climbs into Joon-jae’s bed, saying that the heater is broken in his room. Joon-jae continues to talk to himself and complains about Chung running away from home, and Nam-doo points out, “I don’t think that’s something a guy who ran away from home during high school can say.” Heh.

Nam-doo asks whom Chung said all that stuff to about not wanting to come home, and Joon-jae says, “There’s a guy, this wacko.” Hahaha, he thinks back to all the times he’d referred to his pre-amnesia self as a wacko out of jealousy, and it brings back a whole flood of mortifying memories, like how he flipped out over this Ramyun guy and said he was a player and a dandy with nothing but bad motives, and how Chung had smirked quietly. It finally dawns on him: “That… was me?”

Joon-jae clutches his hair and goes into a convulsive, flailing fit, scaring Nam-doo off the bed in the process. He wails, “That was me? Not some wacko, but me?!” He mentally kicks himself for badmouthing himself so harshly.

But somewhere along the way, the embarrassment and anger turns to happiness, as he realizes what this means: “That’s right… me. It was me. Not another guy. He… was me. Hyung, it was me! He was him. Me. Hyung, it’s me!” Nam-doo looks at him like he’s lost all his marbles and suggests some drugs.

Joon-jae devolves into a giggle fit, and then just as suddenly stops and dashes out of bed. He can barely contain his shit-eating grin as he drives.

He goes to the jjimjilbang, of course, and has already changed and picked up a sleeping mat before finding Chung asleep in one of the rooms. He smiles to see her, but then he notices a creepy ajusshi inching his way toward Chung while pretending to be asleep.

Joon-jae growls and steps right on the ajusshi’s stomach with his full weight, acting like he just didn’t see him there, and wedges his mat right in between them. He gazes at Chung for a long while just watching her sleep.

Joon-jae is asleep when Chung opens her eyes, and she thinks in her head, “It’s Heo Joon-jae! Don’t open your eyes, Heo Joon-jae. Don’t wake up, Heo Joon-jae. So that I can just look at you. So that I can look at you for as long as I haven’t seen you. So that I don’t have to ask you anything. So that you don’t have to hide anything from me.”

At first it’s not clear if he’s sleeping or just doing as she asked, because he doesn’t open his eyes for a long while. But then she thinks that it’s cold, and he suddenly kicks his blanket off in her direction. Aw, you totally heard her!

She wonders if he’ll be cold, so he mumbles that it’s too hot in here. Chung takes the blanket and sighs happily that it’s warm, and Joon-jae smiles to himself, even as he’s shivering from the cold.

Shi-ah comes to Housekeeper Mom’s room to ask where the kimchi is, and picks up a family photograph by the bed. She notes that the son is decently handsome, and Housekeeper Mom catches her snooping and asks her to leave the room.

Shi-ah brings more of the housekeeper’s food to Joon-jae’s house, not knowing that she’s consistently bringing him his own mother’s cooking. Nam-doo makes a comment about the food at her house always being good, and the other boys shoot him warning looks. Shi-ah happily invites them over, and they all quickly decline.

She asks if Chung is gone for good now, and Nam-doo says that she’ll probably be back if she makes up with Joon-jae. Tae-oh gives Joon-jae an icy glare at that, and Shi-ah misinterprets it to be a jealous look because of her.

They accidentally reach for the water at the same time too, which Shi-ah mistakes for an intentional move to touch her. She finally drags Tae-oh aside and asks, “How can you be so obvious in front of other people?” Pfft. Tae-oh: “Me?”

She sighs and says that she thought he was smart, but can see that he’s just a fool in love. He swears that he’s totally over her and fine now, but she says that love can’t just be finished when you want it to be over, and asks if he has her phone number.

Tae-oh tries to tell her that he doesn’t need it, but she thinks he’s putting up a brave front for her benefit and wrests his phone out of his hands to type her number into it. Shi-ah tells him to call whenever things get too tough for him, insisting that you have to see the person you love sometimes. “I may not be able to give you my heart, but I can buy you liquor,” she says. Hahaha, I kind of love her now.

Chung stares wistfully at the footbaths at the jjimjilbang and thinks to herself that this is what it means to be given something you can only stare at longingly. Just then, someone runs past her and nearly knocks her right into the shallow pool, and Chung teeters on the ledge.

But Joon-jae grabs her just before she falls, and he hears her think in relief that she could’ve been outed if she’d fallen in the water. To help cover up the moment, Joon-jae yells at her for nearly falling and cracking her head open.

Then from the other side, someone else splashes water in Chung’s direction, and Joon-jae whirls her around so that he gets splashed instead. You’re choosing awfully huggy ways of protecting her, just sayin’.

He decides it’s too dangerous here and leads Chung inside to where it’s dry, and then becomes a complete water tyrant hall monitor inside the jjimjilbang, where he overreacts at a tiny child who spills water in Chung’s direction. Joon-jae picks Chung up and yells that they could’ve been electrocuted to death, making the kid cry.

He stops kids from playing with water guns like the fun police, and goes to the front desk to ask why they don’t make long pants here, or a skirt version of their uniform that goes down to the ankles.

By the time he starts moving the water dispenser to a safer location, one of the ajummas (cameo by Kim Sun-young) who’s been watching the whole time has seen enough ridiculousness and asks Chung to just give in and go home with her husband already, because he’s making their lives at the jjimjilbang harder.

Chung just perks up to hear Joon-jae being called her husband, while the ajumma argues that she understands to a certain degree because she had a fight with her husband and left home too. But she says that Chung’s husband is annoying everyone with his overprotectiveness, and begs her to just make up and go home for their sakes.

Besides, the ajumma points out, if she misses her timing, he’ll stop begging her to come home and she’ll have to crawl back in herself. Ajumma says her husband is right across the street and hasn’t come here once, and advises Chung not to lose her window.

Jin-joo picks up her snooty little daughter from school, though it’s just an excuse to talk to her classmate Yoo-na, in the hopes of putting in a good word with Chung. Jin-joo offers to let Yoon-na join her daughter’s swim team, and says that she’s welcome to talk about it with her unni friend if she wants.

Jin-joo asks what she’ll say, and Yoo-na says she’ll tell Chung that some ajumma is being strangely good to her these days. Heh. Jin-joo grits her teeth and suggests a different version.

Later at the jjimjilbang, Yoo-na recites the happy PR version of nice Jin-joo making school bearable for her these days, though Chung only needs to ask her once for Yoo-na to say it’s not true at all. She’s particularly down about the upcoming holiday talent show, where they’re supposed to invite their families to come to school. Yoo-na says that no one will come see her because Mom is too busy, and she hated it when the same thing happened in kindergarten, and there was no one there to wave at her and cheer her on.

Chung sees Santa in a corner of the jjimjilbang, where kids are milling about and complaining, “Santa smells like cigarettes.” She says that on TV, Santa grants wishes on Christmas, and suggests that Yoo-na make a wish. Yoo-na: “Unni, are you a child?”

But Yoo-na says you have to not cry for Santa to grant your wish, and she’s already cried too much. Chung frowns and says she’s cried too, so they sit there forlornly like two sad little ducklings. Chung wonders if the jjimjilbang Santa ajusshi has a direct line to the real Santa (at least she knows the difference?), so they go to ask him.

Santa ajusshi tells Yoo-na to write her wish down and hang it on the tree, and Santa will read them all. Chung asks if she can get her wish granted too, swearing that she had a reason for crying, and Santa ajusshi gets one look at her and asks for her phone number so he can get her wish to Santa. Yoo-na hangs her wish—for Mom and Dad to come see her at the Christmas show—and says a little prayer. We don’t get to see what Chung’s wish is.

Then it’s the day of the Christmas show, and Jin-joo tries to make Yoo-na feel better about her mom not being there, though her daughter points out that Yoo-na’s mom never comes to these things.

But everyone’s heads turn when Chung shows up looking like a supermodel to cheer Yoo-na on. She says brightly that Yoo-na’s mom sent her because they’re besties, and Jin-joo files that information away eagerly.

Then it’s Chung’s turn to be surprised when Joon-jae and the boys arrive, complete with placard and flowers. Yay! Jin-joo’s jaw drops at the sight of “CEO Kim,” though thankfully she doesn’t make a fuss.

Chung asks quietly how Joon-jae knew about this, and he just whispers back that there’s nothing he doesn’t know. He scoops Yoo-na up and says, “You’re the prettiest one here! Do a good job, because I’m only going to be looking at you.” D’awwwww!

Jin-joo belatedly sees Nam-doo and tries to contain her excitement at seeing “900’s daddy” again and nags him for ignoring all her calls.

Chung and the boys cheer Yoo-na on and wave and take pictures all through the Christmas show, and give her a standing ovation at the end. She smiles and waves back at them, and then they have her pose for more pictures afterward.

Yoo-na takes the phone and tells “unni and oppa” to pose for a picture, and Joon-jae lights up and asks, “Have I gone from ajusshi to oppa?” They stand awkwardly apart and Yoo-na has to coax them together, so Joon-jae finally puts an arm around Chung.

At that moment, he hears her think, “I’m happy.” They look at each other and smile, and that’s the picture Yoo-na snaps.

As they file out of the school with Yoo-na, a taxi driver watches and starts his engine to follow. We don’t see his face, but that’s definitely killer Dae-young’s voice.

While they stop for coffee, Nam-doo says that it’s nice to have Chung back home: “When our Chungie wasn’t home, the fridge was full, but my heart was empty.” She admits that lying for Yoo-na’s sake today did feel good, and Nam-doo jumps on that and says that there are white lies that don’t harm people.

Chung shoots right back that they don’t just say white lies though, and all three boys get quiet. She turns to Joon-jae and asks, “Can you promise me? That you’ll only tell good lies? That you won’t tell lies that hurt other people?”

He asks if he’s supposed to make that promise here, in front of the guys, and she just nods yes and prods him to answer, while Nam-doo giggles silently. After a beat, Joon-jae answers, “I promise.” All three heads dart up in shock. He swears, “I won’t, ever,” and Nam-doo asks if he’s for real or if this is a lie too. But they aren’t listening to him.

Joon-jae looks over and sees the pink octopus sitting in the claw machine outside and tells the guys to go home before leading Chung out. He leaves her in front of a big Christmas fountain light display outside and says he’ll be right back. But… there’s a killer on the loose!

Killer Dae-young does get spotted in the area, and Detective Hong arrives with his partner to catch him. This can’t be good.

Thankfully, Joon-jae returns to the fountain quickly, holding the pink octopus behind his back. Wait, you could beat that claw machine that fast, and you made her do it for hours? That’s mean.

He pauses to gaze at her for a moment and hears her thoughts from a distance: “Heo Joon-jae, when I crossed the big wide ocean to find you, I saw pretty stars like these every night. But I was lonely, tired, and anxious because I was alone. But is it okay for me to be this comfortable now, to be this happy, to love?”

Joon-jae begins to walk toward her at that, when suddenly a hand clamps down on his shoulder. Oh noes. It’s Detective Hong, who immediately cuffs him, making the pink octopus fall out of his hand.

Detective Hong admits that it feels a little like coming to hunt a tiger and going home with a rabbit, but he’s not about to let Joon-jae get away. Detective Hong gets on his radio to call for backup, but Joon-jae looks over at Chung with tears in his eyes and says that he’ll go quietly, not wanting to draw attention and have her see him like this.

Detective Hong doesn’t understand the situation but he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and leads Joon-jae away. The pink octopus gets left behind on the ground, and Chung just thinks, “Heo Joon-jae, hurry.”

As he gets taken away in handcuffs, Joon-jae narrates the same voiceover from the opening: “He loved the mermaid and heard her voice. He was that boy. Even when his memories were erased, and erased again, even when he was reborn in another world, he was a boy fated to love the mermaid again. So in the end, he was a boy who would once again hear the mermaid’s voice. He… was me.”

And the second Joon-jae and Detective Hong walk off, killer Dae-young pulls up in his taxi and waits for Chung.

Epilogue.

Chung gives Jjimjilbang Santa her phone number and writes down her wish, and we see that Joon-jae is there the whole time, scowling in disapproval. He waits till Santa is leaving to confront him outside, and asks if he really has a direct line to Santa: “Because I think you just got my girlfriend’s number to forward her wish.” Santa returns the phone number right away, and Joon-jae rips it up.

On the tree, we see that under Yoo-na’s wish, Chung’s wish says: “That I will go on a date with Heo Joon-jae under a pretty tree. This year. And next year. And the year after that.”

And underneath her wish is Joon-jae’s: “That I will be able to keep all of the promises I make with you.”

 
COMMENTS

That was such a sweet Christmas episode. Why’d we have to ruin the warm fuzzies with an arrest?! I probably should’ve known that trouble was on the way, given all the black moon talk and realizations of love. Heaven forbid we get to stay happy for a whole day. I’m not actually so worried for Joon-jae, since prison is probably the safer place to be than that plaza right now. Dae-young seems to have caught on that Chung is the way to lure Joon-jae where he wants him, so I can’t imagine that what happens next is anything good. Also, won’t anyone save that poor pink octopus from being trampled? And no, getting her a new one doesn’t count!

I missed Dam-ryung’s presence today, with such a short scene and not another glimpse of him in the episode. I don’t like it when they’re being stingy with the Dam-ryung scenes. But I liked the feeling of Joon-jae’s voiceover that solidified their connection and their intertwined fates to always fall in love with the mermaid. So many times, Joon-jae said in this episode, “He is me,” and I like that it can mean so many different things, starting with the idea that he and Dam-ryung are both that same boy fated to love the mermaid no matter how many times their memories are erased. Or the fact that loving the mermaid will lead him to hear her voice (nice to get an explanation on that, since I wasn’t sure why he suddenly came to hear her thoughts in the last episode).

The comical version was my favorite, when it finally dawned on Joon-jae that he’s that jerkface Ramyun guy he’s been jealous of for weeks. The reaction was perfect, and just about as mortified as I wanted. But it was so cute too, because once he got past the embarrassment, he got to be happy that he was the one who had shared those memories with Chung, and his gleeful I’m-her-guy realization outburst was the best thing ever.

I didn’t expect Chung to stick to her principles and stay in the jjimjilbang for that long when she was mad at Joon-jae, but I’m so glad she did, because their antics got funnier the longer she stayed, and there was a much-needed reversal in the relationship when he had to earn her affections to get out of the doghouse. I love what we gain from him hearing her thoughts without her knowing it too, because when he tossed her his blanket or saved her from all the water (mostly unnecessarily, to hilarious effect), I loved him just a little more. I worry about him not being able to keep all his promises to Chung, but it’s nice to see that she’s changing him for the better and forcing him to be a good person. We already knew he was good at heart, but I like that Chung is willing to forgive, but not bend her principles for him. It’s one benefit to her childlike personality—good is good and bad is bad, and fancy explanations won’t change that. Let’s just hope for Joon-jae’s sake that Detective Hong sees the world in more grayish hues and has a soft spot for mermaids, because I’m not sure how Joon-jae plans to get himself out of this one.

 

The Legend of the Blue Sea Korean Drama

List Recap: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 The Legend of the Blue Sea Title: 푸른 바다의 전설 / The Legend of the Blue Sea Chinese Title: 藍色海洋的傳說 Genre: Romance, Comedy, Fantasy Episodes: 20 (To Be Confirmed) Broadcast network: SBS Broadcast period: 2016-Nov-16 to 2017-Jan-19 Air …

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