I feel like watching Heirs is like playing a game of musical chairs or duck-duck-goose, the entire narrative keeps going in circles and chases that have no exit. One thing teen dramas is supposed to have is a surfeit of fun. Because they are young and aren’t tied to adult and real world problems and consequences yet, the narrative allows them to fight over kids stuff and enjoy life without the overwhelming pressures of adult responsibility. When we watch it, there is both a nostalgia for the freer days of our own school aged years as well as frothy entertainment for what these particular high school kids are dealing with. It’s not that bullying, gossiping, petty sniping, the pressures of success, and boyhood posturing all goes away when people grow up, but when kids are in high school that is all they have to contend with. The problem with Heirs/The Inheritors is that all the real life adult problems are foisted on the kids and the story gets bogged down on double the angst and woe. Take Eun Sang – she’s bullied, the subject of girl gossip, the object of male posturing, and desperately clinging onto the chance for academic success to raise her up. That is all good and fine, but then the drama makes her home life butt poor and so her poverty turns her into a cowed and fearful character who occasionally shows some spark and spunk.
I don’t necessary think characters like Eun Sang shouldn’t exist, but watching her is so very dour and tiresome. Despite all that, episode 11 finally allowed happy Eun Sang to come out for a spin when Tan takes her away to his own little campsite. There was little staring to be had and lots of talking and enjoying each other’s company. Of course that was followed by more angst in the form of Ki Ae finding out that her precious son is in love with the housekeeper’s daughter. I’m a little sad the two moms are going to be at odds now because their strangely functional relationship has been mildly entertaining in a drama where there is more staring than laughter. Young Do continues to mistake unwanted attention towards Eun Sang as permissible because he likes her or is looking out for her best interests. Rachel shows me some genuine vulnerability and I like that she can be a bitch and still be a person with feelings. It’s rough that the drama wants to paint Eun Sang with a saintly halo because she would be more interesting if she actually told Rachel that she likes Tan back and will fight for a chance to be with him rather than meekly accept she’s in the wrong but still spend time with Tan behind Rachel’s back. There is no right in love but candor is the route I most respect. Heirs continues to make me angry and amused and that is all good as long as I’m not bored.
Episode 11 recap:
Hyo Shin pulls up at the leadership retreat campsite and out comes Tan from the passenger seat, which Myung Soo spots since he’s always in the wrong place at the right time. Tan heads into the campsite to look for Eun Sang, pulling his phone out to call her. He sees her standing and talking with Young Do, who spots Tan and immediately pulls Eun Sang in for a hug. Eun Sang jerks himself out of his arms and asks what he’s doing. Young Do tells her Tan is here and he did this for Tan to see (confirming he needs to act out even more whenever Tan is around). At least Tan walks up without fists flying this time.
Young Do tells Tan to not interrupt the good mood but Tan says he came specifically from Seoul to interrupt. Eun Sang tells them to cut it out but that only leads Young Do to confirm the two of them are even comfortable arguing. Young Do tells Tan to tell Eun Sang that he likes her, because she doesn’t seem to believe him when he tells her. Young Do walks away.
Tan tells Eun Sang to snap out of it. Tan says he traveled 4 hours to come here to see this? He knows it’s been hard on her, but he’s also going crazy as well. If she keeps running away from him, it better not be towards Young Do.
Hyo Shin sits in his car and looks at his phone, thinking of calling Hyun Joo. Rachel pops in looking for Tan and Hyo Shin teases that he shoved Tan in the trunk, but she doesn’t find it funny. Rachel gets in and asks if Tan went to look for Eun Sang. She plans to wait here for Tan.
Tan comes back and Rachel wants to go with them to the nearby hotel where they are staying for the night. The boys settle in for the night and Rachel asks Tan if he saw Eun Sang. Hyo Shin leaves since he doesn’t want to be involved.
Tan says he saw Eun Sang and is now waiting for her to call. Rachel asks if Eun Sang told Tan that she hit her and is shocked that Eun Sang didn’t. Rachel points out that their engagement was done in front of all their friends and family and is not to be taken lightly. Tan knows that hence he’s being driven crazy by all this, which really is not Rachel’s fault and she doesn’t give a damn. Before Tan can mention ending it, Rachel turns and walks out.
Eun Sang returns to the campsite and hears the girls in the tent gossiping about her toying with both Tan and Young Do. Young Do walks up and pulls Eun Sang’s hood over her and tells her not to listen. He takes the girls shoes and throws it in the water pail as revenge.
Eun Sang wants to take it out but Young Do tells her not to. This is easier to explain than why she lives in Tan’s house. He doesn’t want her to answer because then they have nothing to talk about so he’ll just talk. Young Do says he’s sure she lives in Tan’s house, and the reasons are she is family, a relative, a servant, or a tutor, but none of it is possible. Young Do asks again if she really likes Kim Tan? Eun Sang stares and finally says “yes”. Young Do smiles a little and says he understands. He tells her not to take the shoes out of the water pail otherwise he’ll get revenge.
Chan Young calls Rachel and tells her to hurry back because their teacher is taking role call. She refuses and wants to spend the night at the hotel.
Esther gets a call from the teacher about Rachel’s absence. She’s at a bar and finds Young Do’s dad inside with some ladies. She is upset their wedding announcement is going out tomorrow without her approve, she needs it delayed a few days so she can handle some things. Esther turns and sees another Empire High parent there, it’s Yi Seul’s mom who happens to be the Madam of that drinking establishment. Madam is calling Yi Seul at the camp to talk.
Eun Sang sees Tan back at the campsite and he calls her to follow him. He’s stalking has become so ridiculous its funny. Eun Sang follows him as Tan walks ahead of her. She asks where he is taking her and he tells her to just follow along.
They come upon a clearing where there are two vans, lights strung up on the pole, and a fire roaring before two chairs. Tan is very good at setting up very PPL events to woo Eun Sang. Tan lies that this was all here and he didn’t totally set it up. He gives her a choice of sleeping in the van or outside under the stars, but he’s not letting her go back to the campsite tonight. Oh Tan, please stop with the forcing the girl you like to do what YOU want for her. He does make things a smidge better by saying he came back because he missed her.
Eun Sang walks up and he tells her to sit down and takes off his jacket and wraps it around her. Eun Sang smiles and sits down, happy to enjoy it this time. She tells him to not let her leave because she doesn’t want to leave. She literally leaves Tan speechless and gaping like a fish when she tells him that she missed him and wanted to call him. It was a hard day for Eun Sang and she’s happy here’s here. This is like a midsummer night’s dream and she wants to enjoy it. She pats the seat next to her for Tan to sit down. He sits and asks if she’s been totally ostracized since she’s acting so weird.
Eun Sang leans her head on his shoulder. They rest like that for awhile until Eun Sang says this isn’t as comfortable as she thought it would be. Tan teases that she’s not resting properly, she’s supposed to rest her heart along with her head. Awwww.
They look up at the stars and Tan preempts Eun Sang by saying he can’t pick stars for her so don’t even ask. Eun Sang sighs that Chan Young said to Bo Na….and Tan cuts her off to ask which star. Double awwww. Conversation finally turns to Eun Sang’s love of horror movies since they are outdoors in the dark. She explains the tragedy in those horror movies makes her own life woes seem insignificant in comparison. Eun Sang closes her eyes and goes to sleep.
It’s morning time and Eun Sang and Tan walk back to the campsite. Eun Sang slept well since it was warm, waking up to all the firewood gone which meant Tan was up all night keeping the fires stoked. He whines that he’s cold and wants to hold her hand but she doesn’t offer. He grabs it and says this is something he needs to do without permission. EPIC FAIL REASONING.
As they walk hand-in-hand, Eun Sang compares Tan to the Hollywood sign. When she got close it seemed near yet in reality was still very far away. He’s like that to her. Right now she can pretend he’s close because he is, but in reality he’ll always be far away. Eun Sang pulls her hand away and Tan grabs it again. Since she never tried to get close, how does she know he’s far away?
Everyone is brushing their teeth in the morning by the sinks and discussing how Myung Soo saw Tan arrive last night. Bo Na thinks Rachel was gone last night because she was with Tan. Chan Young comes to round everyone up to go to the hotel for their morning leadership camp.
Everyone walks in and sees Rachel already sitting there. Rachel glares at Eun Sang, who sits down quietly. Young Do gives her a look when he walks in. Yi Seul asks Rachel if she was with Tan and she asks rhetorically if that’s what it looks like?
All the kids walk to the hotel dining room to grab lunch and see Hyo Shin and Tan sitting there eating already. When asked why they are here, Hyo Shin says someone missed someone here. He then calls out Eun Sang’s name because she happens to be walking by. Tan kicks out a chair for Young Do to sit down and he does. Rachel walks over with a tray and sits herself down.
Bo Na and Yi Seul walk by and ask by Hyo Shin is here? He brought Tan and Bo Na asks if Rachel was with them at the hotel last night. Tan says Rachel wouldn’t open the hotel room last night so he slept in the hallway. After Bo Na and Yi Seul leave, Young Do says that Tan has a the person he misses and the person he doesn’t want to sleep with. Tan is upset and asks Young Do which of them needs to leave this table.
Eun Sang stops eating and gets up, walking out towards the pool area. Young Do offers to leave the table and gets up to follow her. Young Do stops Eun Sang by the side of the pool by blocking her path. Eun Sang tries to go around him but almost falls in the pool.
Young Do grabs her to stop her from falling over. They stare at each other, and Tan is staring out the window at this scene the entire time. Young Do suddenly smiles and lets go. Eun Sang goes flying into the pool with a scream.
Tan gets up and storms out, warning everyone to stay away. Eun Sang sputters and asks what Young Do is doing? Is this his real heart? Young Do said his hand slipped but he wanted to show him what Tan would do to her in the future. He may pull her close but in the end he’ll let go and she’ll fall. It’s best for her to let go now and stay far away from Tan. Eun Sang says she knows but she’s still going to kill Young Do.
Tan walks out and kicks Young Do into the pool with Eun Sang and apologizes for his foot slipping. All the kids are plastered against the window staring in shock at this confrontation.
Tan kneels down and reaches out his hand to Eun Sang to help her up. Young Do climbs out of the pool and asks Tan if he’s planning to make Eun Sang into a mistress. Tan grabs Young Do’s collar and Young Do does the same right back. Young Do reminds Tan that he’s got a fiancee.
Hyo Shin comes out to break up the fight. Chan Young and Bo Na run out with towels for Eun Sang. Bo Na adorably helps so her Chan Young doesn’t touch Eun Sang’s hand. Hyo Shin warns the two boys to stop fighting. Tan walks off and Young Do throws an extra towel over Eun Sang so she doesn’t catch a cold as he also leaves. Bo Na says Eun Sang shouldn’t listen to Young Do and go ahead and catch a cold.
Tan and Hyo Shin are driving back to Seoul and bickering. Hyo Shin muttering that Tan is acting like he’s the only one who has ever been in love before.
Hyo Shin goes home and his mom is upset that he missed a college admission interview and not that he was out all night. Hyo Shin wonders when she’ll ever ask him why he doesn’t want to go to law school and tried to kill himself? His mom says after college admissions they can talk. Ugh.
Hyo Shin’s mom calls Ji Sook to reschedule the interview. Ji Sook storms into the Kim house and demands to see Ki Ae. Eun Sang’s mom takes out her note pad to communicate with her but Ji Sook spots the note pad and demands to see it. Eun Sang’s mom shirks backward.
Ki Ae comes out and realizes the note pad contains information. Ki Ae blocks Ji Sook and tells Eun Sang’s mom to run off, and she hilariously runs off while eating the note pad paper. Ki Ae says Ji Sook has no proof that she is planning anything against her. Ji Sook warns that she will show Ki Ae exactly what her position is in this household.
Ki Ae sits down with Eun Sang’s mom and negotiates for the purchase of all her note pads with Mom striking a very tough bargain.
The news breaks of Young Do’s dad and Rachel’s mom getting remarried. All the kids are gossiping but Rachel just holds her head high. The kids laugh that the family is so dysfunctional.
Rachel runs into Young Do by the lockers and he teases that they ought to fall in love now just to make it more complicated. Rachel thinks that might be the best way to stop the marriage but Young Do says he’s already falling for someone else. Young Do tells Rachel to be prepared, it’s going to be rough in the future. If she needs anything, she can come to oppa.
The kids all come by to fake congratulate them both. Young Do turns around and sees Eun Sang looking at him sadly. Bo Na walks up to Eun Sang since her locker is nearby and explains that everyone is being fake with the congrats but inside they are mocking Young Do and Rachel. This isn’t a school where people are real friends, everyone is just making connections.
Rachel just walks outside where she breaks down and starts to cry. Tan comes by and asks her if she’s alright? Rachel doesn’t want his fake comfort but Tan says he’s not her fiancee but her friend right now. Rachel starts to ugly cry and Tan takes a step close and pats her on the back.
Eun Sang walks by and sees Tan comforting Rachel. Young Do walks up and Eun Sang asks him if he’s alright? Eun Sang says it’s okay to not be fine, he’s still just an 18 year old high school student. Tan looks up and sees Eun Sang talking with Young Do
Tan walks to the broadcast room were Eun Sang is sitting in the booth. Tan blocks the door out of the booth with a desk and chairs and then sits down at the controls to talk with Eun Sang. He explains that his birth is a misunderstanding for people in this world, so he lives his life by clearing up misunderstandings within his control. He and Rachel are friends and he was being a friend back there. He’s sorry for not helping her out of the pool but he didn’t want to make her life more difficult, though it’s been bothering him so much he wished he did it. And lastly, he wants to know what she said to Young Do because he looked very affected. She needs to stop it otherwise Tan will kill Young Do.
Eun Sang walks out of the booth and stops to see the items used to block her path. Even his blockage is pretty poorly constructed and Eun Sang uses the opportunity to rib Tan for coming in dead last in the midterms that he can’t even build it properly.
Young Do takes Myung Soo to have dokbokggi at an out of the way place. When Myung Soo asks why come all the way here, Young Do says he lost something here. A flashback happens with Tan goes to find Young Do, asking to show him something. Young Do brushes Tan off and tells him to get lost. Myung Soo asks Young Do again what he lost, and Young Do says he lost his mom and his friend.
Secretary Yoon looks deep in thought and Won comes by. Won knows that Esther’s marriage news came out today and probes about why it didn’t work between Secretary Yoon and Esther. He turns it back on Won, asking if he broke up with Hyun Joo for the company. Won says no, he just placed the company first and Hyun Joo second. Secretary Yoon says that ordering is a choice, and he and Hyun Joo have no reason to wait and be second.
Ji Sook goes to meet with Won and reveals that Chairman Daddy has started to make arrangements to transfer shares. Tan’s 18th birthday is coming up, and she reminds Won that he got Empire shares as a birthday present when he turned 18. Looks like Daddy Chairman is being fair to his younger son, though Tan may end up with the same or even more shares than Won. Ji Sook snarks that she’s telling Won as a gesture of affection since she raised him for 10 years and all.
Won wants a list of people Chairman Daddy had been putting those shares under and turns out the biggest lump is under Secretary Yoon’s name. Won realizes he’s got no one he can rely on at the company.
Eun Sang comes home and a maid asks her to put incense in the room upstairs. Eun Sang hesitates and then walks upstairs. She sees Tan’s room is open and he’s inside. She tries to sneak past but Tan calls out to her and pulls her inside. Eun Sang asks if he’s crazy but all Tan wants to know is what she said to Young Do earlier today. Tan tells Eun Sang that if she turns her back to him he’ll hug her and if she talks back he’ll kiss her. HEADDESK. Way to turn romantic gestures into a way to control the girl you like, Tan.
Ki Ae walks into Tan’s room and sees the two kids jump apart. She demands to know if they are dating and calls them crazy! Tan tries to explain and tells Eun Sang to leave.
Tan announces that he likes Eun Sang and has been trying to get close to her. Eun Sang is so worn down now so can his mom please not yell at her. His mom warns him to be quiet lest his father overhears. She reminds him now is not the time for falling in love when his brother is in control of the company. Tan pushes Eun Sang out to try and talk to his mom alone. Whatever his mom wants, don’t ask him to get it for her. He wants to choose his own path in life, and he wants Eun Sang so can his mom please support him? Ki Ae looks so upset as she storms out of the room.
Tun Sang is shaking and goes back to her room. Mom asks what is going on and Eun Sang tries to explain what just happened. Ki Ae runs in and pushes Eun Sang aside and demands to know what Eun Sang’s mom is doing in repayment for all the help she gave them. She did so much for them, giving them a house and putting Eun Sang in school. Eun Sang’s mom tries to sign that Eun Sang did nothing wrong, it was Tan who keeps seeking out Eun Sang. Ki Ae demands to know what Eun Sang’s mom signed and Eun Sang says her mom said sorry. Eun Sang’s mom hits her daughter for not translating what she really said.
Tan comes to apologize for his mom and drags her out. Ki Ae demands they leave the house immediately. Eun Sang apologizes to her mom but Mom is the sorry one for not speaking up for Eun Sang. Eun Sang cries that its her fault for liking Tan. Mom asks if they should leave this house? Eun Sang asks if they have the money to do it. Mom says she will make it happen. Eun Sang also wants to transfer schools. Mom says okay and she will make it happen by month’s end. The two hug.
Tan is in the wine cellar and keeps texting and calling Eun Sang. Tan goes to Eun Sang’s mom’s room and knocks before opening the door and finding it empty. He finds Eun Sang’s mom in the kitchen and asks where she is? He asks begs her to tell him. Eun Sang’s mom says she went to stay with a friend and not to worry.
Tan runs around the neighborhood looking for Eun Sang as she walks. Eun Sang sits down at a bench and checks her phone to see lots of missed calls and texts from Tan. Eun Sang calls Bo Na to ask for a place to stay for the night. Bo Na thinks she’s crazy so Eun Sang is about to call Chan Young and Bo Na screams for her to come over right now.
Eun Sang goes to Bo Na’s house and reveals that her mom is a housekeeper and mute. Eun Sang thinks Bo Na is nicer that Eun Sang used to think but Bo Na says no problem since she cursed Eun Sang way more times. Bo Na asks for payment for letting her spend the night, wanting childhood pictures of Chan Young.
Eun Sang sits up awake the entire night and Tan does the same as well down in the wine cellar.
Eun Sang arrives at Empire High too early and finds the school gates still locked. Eun Sang checks her waller and goes to the convenience store to buy something. She spots Young Do sitting in the convenience store eating a bowl of ramyun and he raises his head and sees her as well.
Eun Sang goes to buy a snack and Young Do walks up to talk with her. They realize both stayed out all night.
Eun Sang and Young Do walk towards school and stop at the cross walk. Eun Sang is looking down so doesn’t see Tan pull up in a car. Young Do sees him and Tan walks to the other side of the cross walk. Young Do pulls Eun Sang next to him and she struggles but he won’t let go. He asks if she’s trying to avoid Tan, and if so then he’ll help her. Eun Sang says she doesn’t need his help. Young Do says he’s curious what Tan will put on the line for Eun Sang? Eun Sang looks up and sees Tan standing at the other wise.
The lights change and both sides walk towards the middle of the street. When they intersect at the middle, Tan reaches out and pulls Eun Sang’s hand. Young Do doesn’t let go and puts his hand on Tan’s hand.
Tan asks Eun Sang to come with him but she pulls her hand out of his first. Eun Sang apologizes but she can’t keep doing this anymore. Tan knows it’s very hard for her right now and he can’t promise it’ll get better in the future, but he wants her to trust him and take his hand. He reaches out his hand again towards her. Eun Sang stares at it while Young Do tells her not to take it.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’ve lost count now of how many Tan-Eun Sang-Young Do staredown ending scenes have capped an episode of Heirs. I know this conflict can be a good one, but it’s not the ONLY conflict in Heirs, and rather ranks pretty low in the major problem meter since Eun Sang does not like Young Do. Period. That’s it. The issue is whether Eun Sang and Tan have a future together. Throwing Young Do in the mix is just a way to create more fodder for the frenemy relationship he has with Tan, and to give him something to do around Eun Sang. Young Do needs therapy and some good friends more than he needs or is ready for any opposite sex type relationship. Tan is not much better, but he’s at least more functional than Young Do. Sometimes I wonder if their friendship continued and Tan never left Korea, at this age would their idea of wooing girls be grabbing them around and doing caveman grunts of “Me like, You Come”? Chan Young and Bo Na continue to be shining positive examples of healthy teenage dating despite the massive dysfunctional kids all around them. Too bad Eun Sang can’t just hang out with those two all day long. I really did like the campsite interlude under the stars between Tan and Eun Sang. It’s clear she likes him, she said so to him, and her reluctance to hang out with him is due to her massive class and wealth difference between them. But that doesn’t make Tan’s repeated breaching of her reluctance right and allowable just because he likes her and knows she likes him back. Give the girl some space, dude. I like Tan but he’s got some serious growing up to do first before telling Eun Sang to trust him and follow him wherever. When the shit hits the fan, there is no way Tan can solve any problems yet. He’s still just a kid.
I have to give credit to the drama actually fleshing out some of the side characters in a steady fashion ever since the kids all got back to school. Young Do may be unpalatable but he’s not a complete neanderthal. I always accepted that Rachel was in the right even though her bitchy actions totally turn her into a screeching banshee. Tan falling for Eun Sang while still engaged to Rachel is just not cool. The moments of vulnerability in Rachel and Young Do when they are confronted with their own horrible parent and the impending devil marriage did help to humanize them more. I think neither is capable or ready for romance, and I don’t ship either character with each other or anyone else. These two have bigger fish to fry, namely how can they possibly grow into decent adults when they are already such messed up teens. I don’t dislike the romance in this drama, but sometimes its just laid on like molasses. I need more lightness and energy in this drama still, and the leadership camp was an opportunity for more high school related story lines but yet again it was pushed aside for poolside conflict and putting Eun Sang in the position of being everyone’s favorite tug-of-war prize. At this point, I’m sorta warming up to the idea that Eun Sang can magically be made an heir and rich in her own right, because then she’ll stop moping around so much. She’s got quite a coterie of hot young guys around her, let her have some fun with them while she’s still young.
Click here to watch Heirs.