Ah, so cute. If only neurotic stream of consciousness were always the way to get the person you love to be direct and swoony. Forget mermaids and reincarnations; that’s fantasy right there. I’m pretty sure I would never want to know if someone could hear my thoughts, for fear I’d die of mortification, but I sure wouldn’t mind all the benefits.
Note: Legend of the Blue Sea will be pre-empted on Thursday (expect a whole slew of pre-emptions this week for all the end-of-year awards shows). SBS will air a Legend of the Blue Sea special instead, and Episode 14 will air next Wednesday, January 4.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Afraid that Chung’s thoughts will keep him up all night again, Joon-jae quiets her thoughts with a kiss. Naturally this does nothing to help her sleep (it’s like you don’t know girls at all!), but when she peeks down into Joon-jae’s room, he’s sleeping like a baby.
Joon-jae has another dream that night: In Joseon, Lord Yang lights lanterns above the sea knowing that the mermaid will surface, and sets out to hunt her down. Joon-jae sees the mermaid swimming towards the light and wakes up crying, “No, Se-hwa!”
He opens his eyes to see Chung and hugs her in relief, and she asks if he had a scary dream. He says, “I was scared. I never used to be afraid of anything—because I had nothing to lose. But now, I’m scared… that I might lose [it].”
Chung: “Who, Se-hwa?” She says she heard everything, and Joon-jae suddenly doesn’t know how to respond. She grows increasingly jealous, wanting to know if Se-hwa is another fish he’s keeping on the hook in his pond, and whether she’s pretty.
Suddenly smiling, Joon-jae takes a good look at her and says, “Yes, she’s very pretty.” LOL, are you getting revenge for Ramyun? She gets pissy at that and demands that he choose: Is it her, or Se-hwa?
Joon-jae laughs, especially when she starts using slang she learned on the internet to indicate how serious she is right now. He does this adorable lean-in so that he’s looking up at her and says, “Of course it’s… you.”
He hears her thinking, Is he just saying that to maintain his fish pond? What about Se-hwa? Is he telling the truth? What if he’s conning me? Am I really prettier?
He says it again to reassure her, and she beams. Satisfied, she gets up to go back upstairs, but he pulls her back down on the bed and tells her not to go. She asks if he’s been drinking, since “don’t go” is his anthem when he’s drunk, so he says, “Let’s say I’m drunk. So don’t go.”
He pulls her under the blanket and wraps his arms around her, and she snuggles in like it’s her favorite place on Earth. Swoon.
They’re like that for barely a minute before Chung turns to face him and stares at his lips, asking, “You know that thing earlier… that thing…?”
He doesn’t even need to hear her thoughts to know the answer, and kisses her. “That?” he asks. Why are you being so cute, Heo Joon-jae?
She asks if she’s supposed to forget the kiss this time too, but he tells her not to forget this one, making her smile. He snuggles closer and says he’ll have to sleep just like this to prevent his nightmares, and she thinks, I hope you have scary dreams every night! I love scary dreams!
Sometime later after Joon-jae is asleep, Chung extracts herself from his arms and runs out to the terrace to scream in her head, Heo Joon-jae likes meeeeee! The whole city lights up as if in response, and she leaps up and down and wonders if her heart is going to beat right out of her chest.
Joon-jae’s mom drinks soju by herself that night, and Jin-joo comes to ask her for a hangover cure and nearly tosses her cookies at the sight of more liquor. Jin-joo asks her what’s wrong, and housekeeper Mom is grateful for the question, since it’s been a very long time since anyone’s asked her that.
Mom says she ran into her ex-husband earlier today by chance, and he pretended not to know her. She doesn’t know he’s very nearly blind, of course, and says that he looked at her as if they were strangers. She muses that there are some aches that time just doesn’t cure.
Jin-joo hears that and says they need wine, and pours two glasses. Aw, that’s sweet. She says she had a rough day too, and tells Mom about her drunken outburst at Stepmom and how she even groveled on her knees, to no avail.
Jin-joo calls Stepmom a nasty woman who stole her friend’s husband and got the first wife kicked out, and Mom’s face goes pale at the familiar tale. Jin-joo laments the effort she’s put in to send side dishes to that house just to be included in their new development project, and Mom asks with trembling hands what family Jin-joo is talking about.
Jin-joo names Chairman Heo, and Mom can’t believe that her ex-husband and his new wife have been eating her food for weeks now. She keeps her reaction under wraps, and murmurs in disbelief that it’s a small world.
Meanwhile, Stepmom makes sure that Chairman Heo’s new will leaves everything to her and Chi-hyun. The lawyer worries that a small amount should be left to Joon-jae in order to prevent a lawsuit, but she assures him that Joon-jae won’t be putting up a fight. You mean, because you intend to kill him?
As ordered, the shady lawyer and two lying witnesses who have been paid off present Chairman Heo with his new will. He can’t read it or even see where to sign, but they lie that everything’s been left to Joon-jae, and he stamps it with his seal. Chi-hyun watches silently from the doorway.
Nam-doo is confused when he wakes up to a rearranged living room, and finds Chung picking up couches by herself like she’s the Hulk. She says it’s not heavy at all and that she just couldn’t sleep, still bouncing with energy as she sing-songs in her head, Heo Joon-jae likes me~!
Joon-jae chuckles to himself to hear her singing it over and over, and thinks that it’s a good thing only he can hear her. She bounds up to him to ask where they’ll be moving once their lease is up, because she has so much energy that she wants to start moving the furniture there now.
Joon-jae ignores Nam-doo’s cries for rice and offers to make pasta for breakfast at Chung’s request, and she volunteers to go buy noodles. She’s overflowing with strength as she skips to the store, and stops to help a grandma pull a cart up a hill, throws out trash for a pregnant lady, and even pushes a car out of the way so that a fire truck can pass in a narrow street.
The boys grow tired of waiting for her, but Joon-jae hears her singing the Heo-Joon-jae-likes-me song and says she’s almost here, and Chung bounces in on cue. Nam-doo gapes and jokes that they must share a telepathic connection now.
Over breakfast, Nam-doo tells them that Jin-joo’s con has set them back a considerable amount, and he’s set up a new job. Chung glares at Nam-doo and gives Joon-jae the hairy eyeball, and Joon-jae quickly says he won’t be joining them. Chung beams and thinks to herself that Joon-jae really does like her, but Nam-doo’s face grows dark as he looks back and forth between the lovebirds. Uh-oh.
Nam-doo calls Joon-jae aside for a chat and argues that he’s only known Chung for a few months, but they go back ten years. Heh, why does it sound like he’s jealous of Chung? Joon-jae says he’s just trying to keep his promises, and Nam-doo argues that Joon-jae promised to work with him until he found his mother, and that he fed him and sent him to school all those years.
Joon-jae points out that Nam-doo is the one living off of him right now, and Nam-doo gets pissy at that, whining that he’s going to move out because Joon-jae doesn’t seem to care that the heater is broken in his room, and he’s tired of being ignored.
Nam-doo quotes an old adage about not abandoning the friends you made when you were poor, and then he points to the swimming pool and asks, “Chung and I have fallen in the water. Who are you going to save first?” Pwahaha.
Joon-jae says he’d save Nam-doo, and you can practically see Nam-doo’s heart melting. But then Joon-jae adds that if he didn’t, Chung would save Nam-doo herself and he doesn’t want that. Nam-doo deflates, and Joon-jae gets a call from Detective Hong and runs out.
The forensics team is going over the taxi that Ma Dae-young used to kidnap Chung, and Joon-jae joins Detective Hong and his partner at the scene. Joon-jae is hilariously bossy as ever, giving orders to the examiners, who assume that he’s a prosecutor.
All they can find in the taxi is the stuffed pink octopus that Joon-jae dropped while being arrested, and they come up empty-handed on evidence that Dae-young was there.
Joon-jae asks them to check nearby trashcans and then remembers that Dae-young ran away from the hospital in a hurry, and didn’t have time to wipe down his fingerprints there. He tells them to check the tub of water in the operating room, which looked like it’d been filled recently.
That leads Detective Hong to wonder why Dae-young would fill a tub with water out of the blue. Joon-jae has a sudden flash of Lord Yang hunting the mermaid down in Joseon, and grows alarmed.
Housekeeper Mom announces that she’s quitting her job, and Jin-joo is upset, arguing that she’d just gotten used to Mom’s weird personality, and she’ll never find anyone as good as her. Mom assures her that it’s not because of Jin-joo, and that she just wants to rest. Shi-ah comes home and accuses Mom of angling for more pay, and tells Jin-joo not to hold her back.
Jin-joo convinces Mom to stay on just long enough for her to find someone new, sorely disappointed that she’ll be leaving. Shi-ah doesn’t seem disappointed at all, and demands that Mom meet her somewhere later tonight.
Mom carries a load of groceries somewhere, when suddenly a man on a motorcycle zooms by and nabs her purse, making her fall in the process. But the real shocker is when Chung speeds by on foot to chase after the thief.
They both disappear offscreen and we hear a loud crash, and then Chung skips back toward Mom to return her purse and help her retrieve her groceries. Mom is grateful and startled, and offers a reward for Chung’s help. But Chung refuses and just skips off with a friendly “Bye!” She leaves the thief tied up to a lamppost.
Shi-ah is annoyed to wait all of ten minutes in her car for Mom to arrive with the groceries, and omo, they ring the doorbell at Joon-jae’s house. Shi-ah says this is her future boyfriend’s house and asks Mom to make dinner for them tonight.
Mom walks in and gapes… at Chung, who’s at home by herself. Mom is happy to meet the nice girl who retrieved her purse, and Chung helps her with the groceries sweetly, while Shi-ah just walks off like a spoiled brat. Just keep digging that grave.
Shi-ah leaves more information regarding Dam-ryung on Joon-jae’s nightstand, and lingers a while to look around Joon-jae’s room. She picks up a picture of Little Joon-jae with Mom and doesn’t think much of it, until she suddenly recalls seeing these same people in a photograph in Mom’s room. Shi-ah shakes it off, thinking that they must just have a vague resemblance, though it starts to unnerve her and she picks up the picture to look again.
From the back of the police car, Joon-jae asks why Dae-young went to that hospital, and Detective Hong says he was treated there for a while, for his psychological issues.
He was on medication to control his anger and bipolar disorder, and Joon-jae suggests that Dae-young would have to keep taking those medications now, which could be a lead. He is a way better cop than all of you combined!
At least Detective Hong isn’t too proud to take all of Joon-jae’s suggestions, though he always does so through gritted teeth. Joon-jae requests to be dropped off as close to home as possible like he’s being chauffeured, and Detective Hong’s partner wonders why it feels like Joon-jae is their team leader. Detective Hong argues they’re using him as bait to catch Dae-young, though his partner doesn’t seem convinced.
Shi-ah peers out at Mom in the kitchen feeding Chung her food like a doting mother, and she starts to go pale. Karma is delightful, isn’t it?
Shi-ah comes running over to drag Mom out before Joon-jae comes home, and when Mom asks after her boyfriend, Chung is about to pitch a fit and shout Heo Joon-jae’s name. Shi-ah clamps a hand over Chung’s mouth and barely stops her in time, and ushers Mom out the door.
Joon-jae is walking up the stairs just as they close the door and head in the opposite direction, and Shi-ah manages to scurry away with Mom without a second to spare.
Once they get home, Shi-ah asks Jin-joo what she’s heard about the housekeeper’s son, and Jin-joo only knows that they’re estranged, he’s supposedly very handsome, and he went to KAIST.
Shi-ah hangs her head. Suddenly all of her snide, spoiled outbursts at Mom flash through her memory, and she looks like she might puke all over the floor. This is awesome.
She sneaks into Mom’s room to compare Mom’s family photo with Joon-jae’s, which she’s snapped a picture of on her phone. It confirms that Joon-jae really is her son, and when Mom asks what she’s doing in there, Shi-ah turns demure and respectful and asks if she can call her Mother.
Mom wonders if she’s sick or something, and Shi-ah says she must’ve been sick before and is only now back to her senses, and get so worked up that she demands Mom to bring her some water. Pffft. She immediately takes it back and offers Mom water, and basically sounds like a crazy person as she apologizes and runs away.
Joon-jae asks Chung about why Dae-young filled a tub with water the night he kidnapped her, and hears her thinking that Dae-young saw her as a mermaid in his dreams and wanted to confirm it for himself.
She thinks that she can’t say any of this out loud, and he says as if answering her that she doesn’t need to tell him if it’s difficult for her to talk about. He hugs her, and she thinks about how frightened she is that Dae-young will find out her secret.
He says, almost reassuring himself as much as he’s reassuring her: “There’s no need to be afraid. Nothing will happen. Nothing will repeat. No matter what happened before, it will not happen now. I will make it that way.”
Chairman Heo staggers out into the hallway looking for Stepmom, getting precariously close to the staircase in the process. Stepmom is there the whole time watching him silently, and she steps back and watches as he feels his way around… and tumbles down a flight of stairs.
Chi-hyun comes home just a minute later and looks up, and a chill goes through him when he sees his mother just standing at the top of the staircase gazing down at Dad’s body. He calls for help and rushes Dad to the hospital, and the doctor says he made it through surgery, but they’ll have to wait and see how he recovers.
Chi-hyun runs into the room when the nurse says that Dad is looking for his son, and takes Dad’s hand tearfully. But Chi-hyun leans down to hear what Dad is murmuring, and it’s like a stab to the heart when all he hears is “Joon-jae, Joon-jae.” Chi-hyun drops his hand with a thud and storms out of the hospital, not even stopping to acknowledge his mother.
He goes home and breaks every picture frame and removes all the photographs of himself with Dad, and goes out back to burn them all.
Joon-jae stays up to read over the research on Dam-ryung that Shi-ah left behind, and learns that the artifacts they discovered were from a shipwreck on Dam-ryung’s way to exile, which is likely how he died.
Joon-jae sees flashes of the scene from his most recent dream: Dam-ryung being sent into exile and leaving on a boat, and Lord Yang lighting lanterns to go hunt Se-hwa down.
Joon-jae looks at a copy of Dam-ryung’s portrait and asks, “So, were you able to protect her?” He hurriedly puts everything away when Chung comes down, and she says she learned a lot of things today.
In flashback, we see Chung watching an internet lecture all about men and how to act in a relationship. She wondered what the heck it meant to appear easy but play hard-to-get, and why she should reject skinship when it’s so awesome. Then she got to the part about first loves, which said that a first love to a man was like being branded with an iron.
She tells Joon-jae that she gets it now, because Se-hwa was his first love, and she must’ve branded his heart pretty deeply for him to still be dreaming such sad dreams about her. Joon-jae tries to deny it, but Chung says it’s a good thing, because a man’s first love supposedly doesn’t come true.
Chung thinks it’s a relief that she isn’t his first love because then they wouldn’t last, while Joon-jae looks upset to hear the words.
Dae-young finally answers Stepmom’s call and she tears into him for kidnapping some girl instead of killing Joon-jae like he’s supposed to. Dae-young tells her that he keeps dreaming about his past life lately, and that she’s there, and so is Joon-jae, and that girl.
Dae-young says that the girl is a mermaid in his dream, and Stepmom tells him to take his medication, thinking he’s gone nuts. She says that they’re so close to getting rid of Chairman Heo and Joon-jae, and living happily with Chi-hyun just the three of them. At that, Dae-young seems to snap back to reality.
Joon-jae goes to see his psychiatrist and says that the dreams of Dam-ryung cut off after a certain point, and he can’t connect the dreams to find out what happens to Dam-ryung.
We cut over to Detective Hong, who gets a list of doctors who’ve treated Dae-young over the years, and the one who’s seen him the longest is a Professor Jin Kyung-won…
…the very professor Joon-jae is spilling his guts to right this second. Joon-jae says that if Dam-ryung is trying to send him some sort of message, he has to see how the dream ends. Professor Jin warns that seeing the end of that dream could result in a severe trauma for him, but Joon-jae wants to do it anyway, and gets put under hypnosis.
Dae-young chooses that very moment to seek out Professor Jin to get back on his medication, and arrives outside the door.
Under hypnosis, Joon-jae returns to Joseon in his dreams just as Dam-ryung is asking his friend for a favor. Dam-ryung knows he doesn’t have much time left, but he says warmly that they are destined to meet again as good friends someday.
Dam-ryung is sent into exile, and boards his boat without a fight, accepting his fate. Aw, it’s Detective Hong’s doppelganger who takes him, saying solemnly that it’s just his job.
As he sets off, Lord Yang’s men light lanterns over the ocean and take off in their own boat, and prepare a large net to go hunt the mermaid.
Se-hwa sees the lantern lights above the water and swims toward the surface, and Joon-jae starts to squirm and murmur aloud in his hypnotic state. And outside, Dae-young turns the door handle to come inside…
Back in Joseon, Dam-ryung gets up when he sees lanterns floating overhead, and realizes what Lord Yang is up to.
Se-hwa swims towards the lights but doesn’t see Dam-ryung, and seems suspicious enough to turn back without surfacing. But Lord Yang spots her beneath the surface and orders the net to be cast, and it traps her exactly as he’d planned.
Dam-ryung asks for his boat to be turned around, and when the officer in charge refuses, Dam-ryung steals his sword and holds him hostage. He promises to return the boat back on course as soon as he saves Se-hwa: “Please. If I can’t save her, I have no reason to continue living.”
The officer tells his men to back down, and declares that Dam-ryung saved his father when he was wrongfully accused and nearly died. He says he’ll take responsibility for this, and orders the boat to be turned around.
Lord Yang orders his crew to start shooting arrows and throwing harpoons into the water, and Se-hwa is trapped in the space of the net and forced to dodge for her life. Arrows fly past her left and right, and finally one grazes her arm and sheds blood.
Lord Yang is about to skewer her with a spear when an arrow takes down one of his men. They look up and see Dam-ryung’s boat facing off with theirs, head-to-head. Awww yeah.
Dam-ryung tells them to stop, but Lord Yang refuses to listen to a criminal who’s been exiled, and simply returns to hunting the mermaid when one of his men spots blood in the water.
Lord Yang orders them to begin another onslaught, and Dam-ryung watches frozen in shock. He finally recovers a moment later and launches himself from one boat to the other, flyyyyyyyying through the air like a badass and swinging his sword on the way down.
Men fall into the water one by one as he cuts them down, but then someone hits Dam-ryung from behind, and he falls to the floor. As a battle rages on around them, Lord Yang spots Se-hwa himself and raises his harpoon in glee.
Dam-ryung sees what’s about to happen and calls out, “Se-hwa!” and dives into the water just as Lord Yang releases the harpoon. I don’t know how he swims faster than it, but he gets to Se-hwa just seconds before she’s hit, and the harpoon lands in his back instead.
He embraces her with his last remaining strength, and she caresses his face tenderly. He goes limp in her arms.
Overcome with sadness, Se-hwa hugs him one last time… and spears herself with the harpoon. Aw, noooooo!
In flashback, Se-hwa had asked Dam-ryung when they were teenagers if they’d still be apart after they died because his heaven would be on land and hers would be in water. He said that they’d be together in the same heaven, because heaven is neither land nor ocean.
Se-hwa hoped that they’d still be themselves in the next life—that way, they’d be able to recognize each other. Dam-ryung assured her that they would: “If we meet again, you’ll be you, and I’ll be me.” She asked, “Will we remember, this story?”
Dam-ryung said to her, “I promise, even when I’m reborn, I will search for you, and meet you, and love you, and protect you. I will remember this story.”
As Se-hwa’s arms go limp in the water, Dam-ryung’s bracelet slides off her wrist, and she dies in his embrace. Se-hwa and Dam-ryung sink to the bottom of the ocean, together to the last.
That’s so tragic! Is that really how their story ends? Say it ain’t soooooo! There’s still a way to save them, right? I’m saddest of all about the possibility of losing the Joseon storyline, because I love Dam-ryung too much as a character to let go of his half of the story. I was so excited when he got his big hero moment to come to Se-hwa’s rescue, and even though I was fully prepared for his love story with Se-hwa to end sadly, I’m still upset about losing them so early. I just thought Joon-jae was going to learn something to help save Dam-ryung from having to die so young, and that the drama would make more of their timelines happening in parallel rather than simple past and present.
I might be madder about Se-hwa dying and making Dam-ryung’s sacrifice moot, except I really do believe that despite returning to the ocean and choosing to be apart from him, Se-hwa would have spent her remaining days sad and alone in love. I mean in this dramaverse, love is practically a death sentence, so I don’t know that living another sixty years in sadness sounds better. I do find Dam-ryung’s choice to go back for Se-hwa all the more admirable because he’d known for some time that he was supposed to die. He could’ve avoided the fight altogether and lived a long quiet life in exile, but there’s no question for him either—given the same choice, he’d always risk his life for her, and go willingly to his death if it meant saving her.
Their end has to be tragic, to motivate the reincarnation fueled by an unfulfilled love—it would make Joon-jae and Chung’s story moot if Dam-ryung and Se-hwa got it right the first time and lived a long and happy life with little mer-babies. It does make me feel a little better to believe in their hope that they just remained at their core the same two people even when reborn, and found each other again. Maybe I’ll just think of Se-hwa choosing to die as her faith in being reborn to love Dam-ryung again, and that she wasn’t about to let him go without her.
I do find the present timeline to be moving slowly in comparison, though I’m enjoying the everyday banter and romantic development in the couple a great deal, and Shi-ah’s constant foibles are very amusing. I just find it less urgent that they need to unravel the mystery, possibly because I don’t find the bad guys very compelling or even all that scary. I mean, the killer is a scary killer, but he’s also the slowest assassin ever, and Chung seems to be able to defend herself quite well. I felt more urgency when it came to Joon-jae saving Dam-ryung in some way with the two heroes affecting each other’s timelines, but maybe that ship has sunk? I’m going to hold onto hope though… because I refuse to let Dam-ryung’s story end here. Pretty please?