This was easily the best episode of Heirs/The Inheritors to date. That’s not saying much since the first third have been so underwhelming, and truthfully getting good at episode 9 is much too late. I’m relieved since I’ve decided to stick with it, and it’s getting good in ways that I can finally connect with and get behind. This episode dialed down on the lugubrious staring and dialed up the action, which I had been expecting since school started but better late than never. Tan and Young Do are finally confronting each other head on, and even if its all Young Do’s misguided issues driving their conflict, anything that brings Tan out of his withdrawn shell is good for him and good for the show. Eun Sang finally snapped out of her reactive posture since starting school and finally unloads on everyone around her. In her own way, of course, but it’s better than taking everyone pulling her, pushing her, and generally using her as a tug-of-war toy. I’m really not feeling the romance in this drama, it’s the friendships built from lonely and hurt souls that speak to me. The dreaming, lonely-infused mood of this drama has been a very intriguing element and finally is integrated into narrative that is moving forward.
Of course the OTP ship of Tan and Eun Sang is the only sane one, because anything to do with Young Do is pretty much a K-drama version of wanting a woman to heal a hurt man’s soul, despite being the hurt man being in prison for being a miscreant criminal. There is no reason that can justify what Young Do has been doing to weaker people and this is one character where Kim Eun Sook has finally crossed her own line of writing men who are magnetic to watch but more or less wretched human beings. Tan may have been less interesting initially, but I’m loving his return to fighting form that now encompasses the introspective side of him that came out during the three years he spent alone in the US. I see Bo Na and Chan Young as being a support network for Eun Sang and Tan at school, but it’s scary to think that there are so many exterior forces with the capacity to hurt one or both of them. Eun Sang is right that even if she likes Tan, it doesn’t even matter because neither have the power to fight the battle to be together. Like I said, the romance side is really not as compelling as Tan’s need to be loved and find shelter the way he has in Eun Sang, coupled with her complete and utter fish-out-of-water experience of being thrown head first into the world of the uber-rich and powerful.
Episode 9 recap:
After the confrontation in the cafeteria, Tan takes Eun Sang away to the roof to calm her down. But Young Do’s call agitates her again and she insists on answering the call since Young Do has shown her how menacing he can be. Tan yells at her not to answer, and finally gets kisses her to make her stop.
The kiss, if you call it that since it’s just one long lip press, goes on and on. Eun Sang lets the phone slip through her hands. Young Do calls and thinks it’s been answered but hears no response on the other side. Tan ends the kiss and tells Eun Sang that he told her not to answer the phone. He’s going crazy right now and if she answers then that guy is going to die. Eun Sang nods and then runs off, leaving Tan to pick up the phone when Young Do calls again.
Young Do is surprised Tan answered while Tan demands to know where Young Do is. Turns out Eun Sang is walking down the stairs right where Young Do is so Young Do asks what they were doing on the roof? Tan demands he stay right there but he ends the call with Tan having found his prey.
Eun Sang walks right past him but Young Do is relentless and grabs her arm. Eun Sang jerks it out of his arm, gives him a death glare, and marches off. Young Do is taken aback by her anger and doesn’t chase after her. He actually looks hurt/upset.
Myung Soo comes by noticing Eun Sang’s uniform is all dirtied up. Young Do admits he tripped her and Myung Soo asks when he started bullying girls? Young Do claims to have never bullied girls and this isn’t it either, he just wanted to ascertain how he would feel if he tripped Eun Sang. Myung Soo may be slightly dense but he knows that Young Do is interested in Eun Sang and showing it in the most immature schoolboy way possible. He tells Young Do to just confess to Eun Sang rather than resort to such cheap tricks.
Tan goes storming through the school classrooms and hallways, clearly looking for Young Do. He spots Young Do coming in one door and purposely strides towards him. Young Do sees Tan and his eyes light up and he walks towards him as well.
Tan starts the fight by delivering a kick to Young Do’s abdomen. Young Do returns it by back flipping Tan on the ground. The two boys engage in a pretty intense and vigorous round of fisticuffs as the students gather around to watch and gape. Tan lands the first few punches but Young Do gives it right back. Rachel sees the two boys fighting and looks furious.
Eun Sang is in the bathroom washing her uniform when Bo Na walks in with a change of clothes. Eun Sang thanks her but she’s only doing it so Chan Young doesn’t do it. After Eun Sang changes, she’s talking with Bo Na when Yi Seul and Rachel run into the bathroom. Rachel immediately grabs Eun Sang’s hair and Bo Na actually tries to stop her. Eun Sang tells Rachel to let go and they can talk. Rachel chews her out for being the cause of the current fight between Tan and Young Do. Bo Na and Eun Sang are shocked to hear that Tan and Young Do are having a knock-down drag-out fight in the school right now.
Tan and Young Do are finally separated and student body president Hyo Shin is there to calm everyone down. Eun Sang parts the crowd and sees in distress that Tan is all bloody, and Young Do is no better. Ji Sook arrives as the Headmistress and orders both boys to her office.
Ji Sook demands to know why they fought (again) and neither answer. Young Do tries to downplay the situation and calls Ji Sook Tan’s mom but she barks that she’s the Headmistress of the school right now. She plans to view the CCTV footage to determine what happened. She tells them it won’t get swept under the rug this time, how dare they ruin the environment at Empire High. This is where she works and her job is to run the school properly.
Tan and Young Do walk out of her office and Young Do immediately brings up Ji Sook not being Tan’s real mom which is why she’s all about the school over her supposed son. Tan shoots back that at least he has a mom, Young Do’s ran off somewhere long ago. Ouch. Technically, Tan has two moms, which is double what Young Do doesn’t have. Young Do asks if Tan doesn’t cared when he’ll reveal that bombshell, but Tan isn’t since it’s all Young Do has over him. Tan knows Young Do won’t ever reveal it because it’s all he has against Tan. Without it, he’s nothing. Tan goads him to reveal it because he’s ready for both of them to get thoroughly destroyed if that happens.
Myung Soo is in his lair with Yi Seul and Bo Na and they are all wondering what exactly happened to ruin Young Do and Tan’s friendship? Yi Seul thinks Tan likes Eun Sang which is why he stepped up, but Bo Na thinks anyone would do it seeing Young Do bully her in the cafeteria.
Eun Sang sits with Chan Young (finally! the best friend needs to be around more in her life), with her worrying that Young Do knows she’s not a nouveau riche kid. Chan Young doesn’t care since he plans to fight with Eun Sang no matter what happens. Eun Sang tells him not to talk about fighting and Tan asks if Tan likes Eun Sang. Chan Young is more concerned if people find out Tan likes Eun Sang, since people are waiting for Tan to fall to the bottom but are too scared to confront him directly, so she might end up being the target that way.
A beaten up Tan waits for Eun Sang outside the front door and is happy when she finally comes home. He hands her the phone and starts off teasing and whimpering about his injuries and getting scolded by the Headmistress. He worries about getting kicked out of school and having only graduated junior high. But she’s neither in the mood to joke back or to comfort him. Eun Sang tries to just go inside and asking Tan to ignore her from now on. He grabs her arm but she reminds him of the CCTV perched on the door. Tan curses the CCTV and asks when she started listening to his warnings.
Won drives up and sees Tan holding Eun Sang’s arm. Tan lets go and Eun Sang quickly heads inside. Tan wants to talk with hyung but Won just wants him to move aside so he can go in. Dude, if you moved out then you shouldn’t be sauntering back so blithely whenever you want. Tan earnestly asks Won to move back and assures him he has no intention of vying for Empire with him. Won laughs that it’s not Tan’s intentions that matter, it’s who the Empire Group supports. The moment Tan was born as the bastard, then he was destined to be a thorn in Won’s side. He tells Tan not to reveal he came by, he just came to grab something he forgot.
Won heads down to the wine cellar and Eun Sang is there grabbing a bottle for Ki Ae, having missed Tan’s text to avoid the wine cellar since Won is headed there. Won notices she grabbed a bottle of the wine his mother made for her and tells her she can grab any bottle but that. He puts it back and Eun Sang apologizes, but Won just hands her another bottle and says he’s not mad. He finds out her name and that she attends Empire as a student. Won is pleasant to Eun Sang and says nice to meet you.
Won heads back to the hotel with a bottle of his mom’s wine and we see Hyun Joo waiting for him there. But he runs into Rachel first and they head to the cafe for some coffee. She tells oppa that he is acting like a kid running away from home and living at the hotel, and compares it to Tan also acting out at school being interested in another girl. Won makes the connection between Tan and Eun Sang. Rachel brings up Tan getting into a fight because of a girl. She asks if Tan’s face looked terrible and Won teases that she’s acting like a girl after all.
Ki Ae frets over Tan’s injuries, which he attributes to a sports injury. Mom doesn’t believe him but is pushed out of his room. All three – Tan, Young Do, and Eun Sang – sit and brood all night.
Tan wakes up at the crack of dawn to wait for Eun Sang outside the house, but she’s a no-show. He thinks she got to school even earlier, but upon arriving in class realizes that she’s ditched school today. This is noted not just by Tan, but Chan Young, Rachel, and Young Do.
Tan is barely able to concentrate during class and the second the bell rings he shoots out of his chair and runs off, which everyone notices as well since Tan is hardly subtle with his worry and is ditching the rest of the school to go find her. Eun Sang’s mom gets a call from school that Eun Sang was not in class today.
Tan can’t find Eun Sang in her regular spots and ends up calling Chan Young for help. He directs Tan to a free movie theater she frequents and he finds Eun Sang there. Tan sits behind her and spends the rest of the showing staring at Eun Sang as she stares at the screen.
Eun Sang wanders the street and passes by the store that sold the dreamcatcher. She looks in the window and smiles, only to see Tan’s image appear in the window dreamcatcher. She turns around and there he is, asking if she liked the movie. Eun Sang is worried that he’s ditched school as well but he takes her hand and heads off with her.
Eun Sang asks Tan to stop spending with her since things are getting more and more messed up. Tan believes he can go to the end with her and she’ll be there, but Eun Sang assures him she’ll have run away. Tan is at wits end since he likes her so what else does she wants him to do? Eun Sang at least admits she likes him back but there is no future for them.
All Eun Sang wanted was to keep her head down in Empire High and graduated, and be unobtrusive living in Tan’s house. But all of that is becoming impossible. Right now Tan has his own problems to face, namely the secret of his own birth and complicated family situation. Eun Sang asks that he protect himself because he can’t protect her. Tan turns and walks away quietly, leaving Eun Sang crying as she watches him leave.
Young Do has tracked down Eun Sang’s old home address and learns from a neighbor that she moved recently, not sure where but heard it was to a rich neighborhood.
Hyo Shin heads to his tutoring session only to find out Hyun Joo quit and he’s saddled with a new tutor that isn’t quite as smart. Hyo Shin texts Hyun Joo and she continues to help him with answers and tells him that he can contact her any time with school questions. Hyo Shin is disappointed that she still sees him as her student even now when she’s not his tutor anymore.
Secretary Yoon sits down with Hyun Joo and turns out he extended an offer of employment from Empire Group. Hyun Joo accepts despite Secretary Yoon saying she doesn’t need to. She’s smart enough to know that the offer came from Chairman Daddy and she has to accept. She asks Secretary Yoon to keep this from Won for the time being.
Chan Young and his dad are cooking together and Secretary Yoon is very distracted. He wonders how Eun Sang is doing at school, and asks how Chan Young is doing as well. He wanted Chan Young to do well that is why he sent him to Empire High, but today he’s wondering about that decision.
Eun Sang is at her cafe job and being harassed by two boys. She is handling it well and threatens to call the cops when Young Do storms in and kicks one guy down, announcing he’s the police. The two boys scurry away after one recognizes the dangerous Choi Young Do from junior high. Young Do snarks that if anyone if being mean to Eun Sang, it should be him. He thinks Eun Sang should be happy to see him since he got rid of her problem.
Eun Sang is not happy in the least and asks him to please leave her alone and stop bullying her. Young Do says he’s not bullying her, but she won’t believe it will she? Young Do reveals he went to her old house and starts to list out the reasons she’s not really a nouveau riche. Eun Sang cuts him off and admits she’s a school charity case and tells him to reveal it.
Young Do looks at her and says he’s not going to reveal it because he’s come to like her, but she detests him, doesn’t she? Eun Sang is totally surprised by this declaration.
Tan is worried about Eun Sang and sees her on the CCTV feed, but her mom goes to speak with her first. Mom and daughter discuss her missing school today and that it’s been hard on her. Eun Sang plans to be strong and go back to school tomorrow.
Eun Sang returns to school and some kids are already chattering about her behind her back. Rachel spots her and as usual looks pissed. Eun Sang passes Tan in the hallway and they ignore each other.
Eun Sang’s mom gets a call about a very important Empire High mommy meeting and she hurriedly hands the phone to Ki Ae, who tries to beg off but is told she has to come. Ki Ae gets the brilliant idea to attend posing as Eun Sang’s mom.
Rachel confronts Eun Sang at her locker and demands to know exactly what her background is? Rachel warns Eun Sang to back off since her engagement with Tan involves companies and lots of money. Rachel says she is not being immature, her marriage to Tan involves contracts and huge sums of money. Eun Sang tells Rachel to ask Young Do what her background is since he knows. Yi Seul overhears this and doesn’t look happy.
Ki Ae gets dolled up and attends the mommy parent conference, arriving in grand style in a chauffeured car and carrying a extremely rare and limited edition bag. All the other moms stare and she introduces herself as Eun Sang’s mom.
The mommy parent conference is about an upcoming Student Leadership Conference and last year’s conference involved Myung Soo’s mom donating airfare and Rachel’s mom donating clothes. This year’s camp, Young Do’s dad will pay for the hotel and Ki Ae offers to sponsor all the rest by herself, as if making up for years when she couldn’t be Tan’s mom. Everyone stares and claps for her.
Ji Sook arrives late at the meeting as Tan’s mom and the Headmistress, and her eyes fairly bulge out to see Ki Ae there posing as Eun Sang’s mom. Ji Sook continues with the pretense. Ki Tan brings up Tan as so goodlooking and smart and her Eun Sang talks about him. That makes Esther curious. Ki Ae says that if she had a daughter, she wants Tan to be her son-in-law. Ji Sook snaps back that she HAS a daughter (Eun Sang).
Ji Sook follows Ki Ae to the bathroom and yells at her for coming here. Ki Ae doesn’t care since she is just happy to play the mom part for once. Ki Ae is in a good mood but Ji Sook is pissed that Tan is ruining the Empire Group reputation all on his own. She reveals that Tan got in a fight with a very important student at school. Ki Ae wonders whose kid it is, the foxy lady sitting in front of her? Ji Sook screams that the foxy woman sitting across from her is Esther Lee, Rachel’s mom, and Tan’s future mother-in-law.
News travels fast that Eun Sang’s mom was the most glamorous rich mom at the meeting. Yi Seul and her girl cronies confront Eun Sang in class, with both Young Do and Tan sitting right there. Yi Seul wants to know all about Eun Sang’s background and even pokes her when she refuses to answer. Yi Seul wants to know her parents name and why there is no story about a sudden rages to riches story.
Tan is about to step in when Young Do beats him to it, telling Yi Seul to back off. Everyone notices Young Do protecting Eun Sang. Myung Soo runs in and reveals that Eun Sang’s mom is daebak and is super loaded and will pay for the majority of the Student Leadership Conference. Both Tan and Eun Sang are baffled by this.
Esther is at a photoshoot for her clothing line and Rachel comes to ask her mom more about Eun Sang’s mom. Bo Na is thoroughly confused as to how Eun Sang could have a loaded mom. Myung Soo is more interested in facilitating a reconciliation between Tan and Young Do. Bo Na suggests he stop, if Myung Soo locks them up in a room to force them to make up, only one will get out alive the next morning.
Tan and Young Do are cleaning the school as part of their fight punishment and neither can keep from continuing to bicker about Tan’s illegitimacy versus Young Do having no mom. This Oedipal complex on both their parts is getting old. Tan kicks the water bucket towards Young Do and then walks away.
Tan goes home and sits with his mom and confirms she posed as Eun Sang’s mom. He’s upset but softens when he hears that Ki Ae just wanted a chance to be a mom to a kid in high school and learn more about Tan’s school life. He sighs and tells his mom to drink less because it worries him.
The maid interrupts to announce that Tan’s friend is here. Young Do saunters in and greets Tan glibly. Ki Ae tries to sneak out and Young Do calls her ahjumma and asks her to pour him a glass of water. Ki Ae tries to go with the act but Tan grabs her hand and introduces his friend to his mom.
Tan then tells Young Do to go outside with him otherwise he’s dead. Young Do greets Ki Ae as Tan’s mom and then follows him out. Even Tan is amazed at how much of a bastard Young Do is and perhaps he underestimated him. Young Do suggests Tan kneel now before him. Tan isn’t interested and warns him this is a bad idea of his.
Eun Sang walks into the yard texting and oblivious to the two boys standing there. Young Do’s eyes widen to see her there and he retorts that he’s found a good plan. Tan notices Young Do staring behind him and turns around to see Eun Sang coming home. She notices them and looks worried. Young Do says he hit the jackpot despite having no clue to expect that Eun Sang has the kind of relationship with Tan that she can just walk into his house.
Thoughts of Mine:
There were so many interesting moments on this episode, making me wish the drama could have gotten its act together sooner. The Kim family secret gets shaken out a bit, what with Young Do barging in to meet Ki Ae, as well as Ki Ae masquerading as Eun Sang’s mom and putting herself out in public. It’s actually sad thinking that Ki Ae is literally Rapunzel, locked in a tower since she got with Chairman Daddy. She dreams of being Tan’s mom in every way, of getting respect and legitimacy, but it’s never going to work that way. Tan is legally Ji Sook’s son already, Ki Ae will always be the shadow mommy. It was amusing to see her find in Eun Sang as child she can pretend to parent in public, and thereby adding legitimacy to Eun Sang’s position at school the way she tosses money around to impress the other moms. This was an unexpected twist that works very well and is quite entertaining. Plus anytime Ji Sook gets riled up and starts screeching is amusing because she’s such a godawful shrew. Won got a bit of reprieve from being a full time ass in today’s episode. Even though he still facepalmed Tan’s attempt to get close, at least he isn’t spiteful about it and just accepts that this is the way it’ll always be in his mind. His reaction to meeting Eun Sang properly was interesting and I wonder if he now sees a redux of his relationship with Hyun Joo in the way Tan and Eun Sang are developing. It continues to boggle the mind how Rachel can be civil and sassy smart only around Won, and everywhere else she is like the second coming of Ji Sook in the future. I get that it’s both personal and professional in her hatred of Eun Sang, what with billions of dollars in merged company opportunity on the line with her marriage to Tan. It’s not to be taken lightly, and Tan is really not putting any thought into what’s going to happen with him and Eun Sang down the line if he does fight for her to the end.
The Tan, Eun Sang, and Young Do love triangle got started in earnest today, but that’s not saying much since everyone looks at Young Do like he’s a monster with two heads His attempts to show interest in Eun Sang seriously come across as bullying no matter which way you slice it, since she’s not interested in him and yet he keeps seeking her out. Tan is no better but at least with Tan, Eun Sang is clearly torn between her mind and her heart. With Young Do, she’d probably say a hallelujah if he dropped off the face of the Earth. What annoys me about Young Do is that his issues are so trivial as to be such an unmitigated horrible kid. So his mommy left and his daddy is an ass? Even in K-drama land, where the writer can manufacture all sorts of sobworthy past stories to explain away a character’s issues, this is what Kim Eun Seok wants to use to anchor Young Do? It’s failing and only by the grace of an charismatic performance by Kim Woo Bin does Young Do even merit an extra look. The school scenes are now fully dominating this drama and I like that. It works because there is so much school yard conflict to mine with the huge cast, and the writing better start mining all of it rather then letting it slide for the sake of more quiet pining.