This was the most substantive episode of Heirs/The Inheritors to date. It also helped immensely that the protracted staring was kept to a minimum, though sadly there was no commensurate improvement on the kissing front. This was the first time that I saw a smidge of character development on all major fronts, and even if it took 12 episodes that’s better than never. Let’s hope this sticks rather than being a one time deal. I like that the stakes are finally on the table for almost every major conflict. Won and Hyun Joo’s maybe-kinda-sorta relationship got dragged to the front line by Chairman Daddy and now Won has to make a choice. I wish I understood him better, or at least if the drama actually showed us Won and Hyun Joo falling in love along with their happy times together, because right now I get their angst but I don’t feel it. It also hurts that Won appears to pick inheritance over all else so it’s hard to root for a couple when one half isn’t even trying. Tan makes the opposite decision but he’s also working in a vacuum.
Does he really understand what’s on the line for him and even for his mom? Does he comprehend the far reaching consequences of letting the cat out of the bag? I enjoyed watching Tan step up and do something after putting thought into it, I just worry that he has no real understanding of what he’s up against. Eun Sang does, but she and her mother are like insignificant flies that can be squashed by any powerful party. It’s hard to quantify what this drama is trying to say because ultimately Tan is just a kid still and there is years ahead of him to live his life accordingly to his own hopes and dreams. I grew to love him a bit more knowing that part of his impetus to out his own birth secret is to stand up for his mom. That’s way more meaningful than trying to be with Eun Sang. Young Do also made strides in his turn towards the good side inasmuch as he doesn’t immediately throw Eun Sang to the wolves and actually seem to be moved by her lot in life. Despite Young Do having more energetic chemistry with Eun Sang, ultimately nothing about him moves me other than his pitiful family life, whereas now Tan is starting to earn my support for all the battles he wants to wage in order to earn the chance to change his life.
Episode 12 recap:
Eun Sang pulls her hand out of Tan’s and tells him that she can’t go on anymore. Tan knows it’s hard and he can’t make any promises but he reaches his hand out to her and asks that she take it. Young Do tells her not to. Eun Sang takes his hand in both her hands and Tan tells her no because he knows what her decision is. Eun Sang says this is as far as she can come and she can’t go any further. Tan yells at her to not do this!
Eun Sang releases Tan’s hand and says they will see each other in the future of course but she’s off now. Eun Sang walks way leaving Young Do and Tan standing in the cross walk. Young Do tells Tan that he’s still like this, forcing people to leave him. Cars whiz by as Tan stands there.
Young Do catches up to Eun Sang who is crying and tells him to go away. He tells her to stop otherwise people will think he’s kidnapping her. Eun Sang tearfully asks if Tan is still standing there. Young Do thinks today is a good day and asks if she wants to ditch PE. Eun Sang cries and asks if he’s not embarrassed to be 98th place. Ha! She walks away sobbing while Young Do mutters that she’s still not giving him a chance.
Tan stands on the roof reminiscing about all his hand holding moments with Eun Sang. This is a lovely OST song playing by Park Shin Hye. Tan goes to PE class and stares at Eun Sang who is sitting against the wall. Chan Young and Bo Na walk in arm on shoulder and break apart when Bo Na runs over to talk to Eun Sang.
Chan Young goes up to Tan and asks why he called last night? Tan says it was important and asks if Chan Young took Eun Sang in last night? Chan Young has no clue and Tan is fine with it as long as it wasn’t Eun Sang. He wonders if maybe Eun Sang stayed with Young Do last night since they were together this morning.
Young Do and Tan are in the locker room and Tan asks Young Do if Eun Sang cried a lot this morning. He warns Young Do that this is not his chance, it is still Tan’s opportunity.
Young Do hangs in the playroom with Myung Soo and Bo Na who are looking at pictures from the leadership camp. Young Do is frustrated that he can’t find Eun Sang’s SNS page since there are lots of Cha Eun Sangs. Myung Soo and Bo Na confirm that Young Do genuinely likes Eun Sang since pictures don’t lie and all the pictures from the camp are of Young Do staring at Eun Sang. Bo Na wonders why he bothers since thanks to Young Do, the situation between Tan and Eun Sang is now the talk of the school. Bo Na and Myung Soo are shocked that Young Do’s first love is Eun Sang.
Tan comes home and Ki Ae pesters him about Eun Sang, asking that he not see her anymore. Tan says he is here and Mom warns him that if he doesn’t wake up, Dad will send him back to the US. Tan asks if she’s happy living in this house and he can’t even call him mom in public. Mom isn’t happy, she thought when she brought him to this house, he would get official recognition and they could be a happy family.
Tan asks why she wants him to marry Rachel when he can’t even introduce her as his mother. Mom thinks if he’s successful that will be her reward. Tan tells Mom to take off Eun Sang’s socks because it belongs to him. Eun Sang goes to look for an apartment and texts her mom to bring her clothes later in the afternoon.
Tan is out jogging and meets with Hyo Shin. He tells sunbae that Ji Sook is not his birth mother. Hyo Shin thinks he is joking but believes Tan when he says he is practicing telling the truth to Hyo Shin to see if he’s nervous to say it. Tan admits he’s even nervous telling hyung about this.
Secretary Yoon meets with Won who wonders what is left for them to talk about. He doesn’t know who’s side Secretary Yoon is on. Won asks what his father promised Secretary Yoon in exchange for him holding the shares in his name? Secretary Yoon changes the topic and shows Won the news that Hyun Joo is becoming a teacher at Empire High. Won rages that this will reveal Hyun Joo’s sad past to the world as an Empire Group charity case. Secretary Yoon says that is exactly what Chairman Daddy wants to do.
Won storms home and sees Hyun Joo meeting with Chairman Daddy in his study. Dad tells Won to come in and he looks stricken to see Hyun Joo sitting there. Dad says he called Hyun Joo here to hear something from her directly. She is the pride of Empire High’s charitable works and he wants to tell the world. Won says how he can do this to Hyun Joo and make her the laughing stock of the world.
Dad says he’s doing this because Won can’t, Won is being led by momentary feelings and putting his future on the line. He tells Hyun Joo to stop being so shameless, taking his money and support and then seducing his son. Won yells at his dad but the Chairman continues and asks Hyun Joo if she’ll die if she doesn’t ever see Won again? She won’t, right? Won asks his dad to stop, to stop probing when he hasn’t even confessed to Hyun Joo yet. Hyun Joo just sits there blinking back tears.
Hyun Joo says she will take to heart what the Chairman said and she will take her leave now. Hyun Joo walks out and Won says he has never disobeyed his dad’s every wish and worked hard to get to this position. Dad says Won didn’t earn the position, Dad gave it to him. If Dad didn’t get sick and Won wasn’t his son, Won wouldn’t be where he is right now. Ooof. He tells Won to clean up his life and get married soon. Won agrees that he has arrange things soon.
Hyun Joo leaves the house crying and passes by Tan who asks if she’s alright. She recognizes him as Tan and says she will be seeing him again soon. She asks Tan to hold back Won for her and then walks away.
Won walks out of the house and Tan tries to tell him where Hyun Joo went. She asked Tan to hold back Won but Won replies that he has no intention of chasing after her. Tan stops Won and asks if he’s alright? Won warns Tan that their dad has sent a tail on him and likely on Tan as well. He tells Tan not to do anything their dad can use against him.
Tan goes to the bus stop where Hyun Joo is waiting for the bus. He sits down on the bench beside her and says his hyung is not coming. Hyun Joo says she didn’t expect he’ll come. Tan asks if she’s Won’s girlfriend and how she recognized him? Did his hyung talk about him? Hyun Joo says Won described his brother as tall, with the same eyes, kind and straight forward. She smiles and says Tan is just like Won described. Both of them sit there silently thinking. The bus comes and Hyun Joo gets on, leaving Tan sitting there alone.
Eun Sang’s mom gives notice to Ki Ae that she’ll only work only the end of the month. Ki Ae accepts the resignation. Eun Sang’s mom gets ready to go out and Ki Ae is worried that she’s quitting right now. She realizes Eun Sang’s mom is just going out.
Eun Sang’s mom is waiting for her outside the convenience store when Young Do sits down and calls Eun Sang to ask where she is? Eun Sang walks up and has to hide when she sees Young Do sitting across from her mom. She answers Young Do’s call and directs him to meet her elsewhere. He rides off and she meets with her mom to get her clothes. She tells mom that she found a one-bedroom place. Mom worries about where Eun Sang is living right now and she says a very nice and pretty classmate. Eun Sang takes her leave to head to her part time job.
Eun Sang goes to meet Young Do who recognizes the shopping bag she’s holding as the one her mom was holding outside the convenience store. He takes his leave and asks her to wait for a few minutes. She says she won’t wait. Young Do rides to Tan’s house and waits there until Eun Sang’s mom comes home. He asks if Eun Sang is at home and mom shakes her head. He confirms she’s Eun Sang’s mom and asks what time she’s coming home. Mom takes out her phone and texts that Eun Sang is at her part time job. Young Do realizes that Eun Sang’s mom can’t talk.
Tan comes home and sees Young Do riding past. Young Do gets off his bike and says he wants to move here because there are lots of people who live around here he wants to see. Tan tells him to stay away and Young Do snarks that Tan sure is testy after Eun Sang refused to take his hand. Young Do rides off and Tan gets a message from Won that they are playing golf tomorrow with Young Do and his dad.
Young Do returns to the intersection but Eun Sang is already gone. Eun Sang looks inside the bag and sees that her mom packed her I Love California t-shirt. She gets a text from her mom that a friend who rides a motorcyle just came by. Eun Sang runs back to see Young Do sitting on his bike and waiting for her. He mutters that she is the daughter of the housekeeper who is also mute.
Eun Sang asks what he wants now that he knows the truth? He can tell their friends but not to bother her and her mom at the house because that is where her mom works. Young Do wants to spend time with her but she’s not interested. He yells that he’s not going to do anything with her own pain because he doesn’t even know how to heal his own pain. He just knows that he’s sad when she leaves and happy when she comes back. He knows her secret is very heavy. Eun Sang knows he’s hurt others with their weaknesses in the past. Young Do says he’s not doing it now, right! He just wanted to eat a bowl of noodles with her. He says forget it now and rides off.
At the macho golf game, Young Do’s dad tells his son not to fight with Tan because Zeus and Empire will be doing a deal this year. He will lose to Won but tells Young Do to win over Tan. Those are the rules. Tan walks out with Won who tells his brother that Empire needs Zeus but not to reveal it.
The golf game starts and Young Do tells Tan to talk with Won at least otherwise its obvious they aren’t full brothers. Tan tells Young Do to stop talking and warns that he’s holding a golf club. Young Do holds up his club and says likewise. Young Do asks if the world will be more shocked that Tan is illegitimate or that Eun Sang is the daughter of his housekeeper. Perhaps the biggest shock is that illegitimate Tan is in love with the daughter of the housekeeper.
Tan warns Young Do to be quiet and not threaten Eun Sang. Young Do says he’s warning Tan to stop saying he will protect Eun Sang. If Tan keeps holding on to Eun Sang, then Young Do will have no choice but to reveal the truth. If Tan doesn’t try to protect Eun Sang, then Young Do can protect everyone.
Tan warns Young Do that if he gets serious and wants to win the battle with Young Do, he’ll revert to being the bad guy he wants before. If that happens, Young Do will be dead. Tan tells Young Do that he, his father, his father’s company, everything around Young Do, he will destroy it. Young Do chuckles and asks what Tan can do being an illegitimate son. Tan says he may be illegitimate, but he’s still the second son of Empire Group. If he asked his dad for help, there is nothing Young Do can do.
Young Do says Tan said to him three years ago that he would always regret this moment. Young Do says Tan should have come earlier to find him, before Young Do lost his mother. We see Tan going back to grab Young Do but by the time they arrive at the dokbokggi restaurant, Young Do’s mom was already gone. All that was left on the table was a setting for two people. Tan tells Young Do that he missed seeing his mom because he was angry at Tan. Tan asks Young Do to leave Eun Sang alone even if he wants to battle with Tan. But right now Tan doesn’t have time to fight with Young Do, he has a bigger war to wage.
Eun Sang sees Tan at his locker at school but Tan ignores her when he walks past. Eun Sang looks sad and resigned when he walks away.
Eun Sang goes to the broadcast club and sees a celebrating for Hyo Shin winning a youth short film award. Bo Na takes the chance to tell Eun Sang that Young Do likes her but asks her to pretend she doesn’t know. Hyo Shin and then Tan arrive to celebrate the win. Tan asks what the subject of the film was? He mentions horror but Hyo Shin says that is Eun Sang’s style while he likes melo. Hyo Shin notices Tan and Eun Sang are not making eye contact, which Bo Na thinks is because of her. Tan takes his leave and Hyo Shin asks why he even came? Tan says he missed someone and leaves. Bo Na thinks he came to see her.
Tan asks Ji Sook to arrange for a dinner with Rachel and her mom. Ji Sook doesn’t want to until she thinks this is a great opportunity to put Ki Ae in her place.
RS International holds a golf course trunk show where all the rich moms are in attendance, plus a surly Rachel. When the other moms compliment her, she says this is her company in the future and she needs to work hard to earn it. Rachel goes to snipe at her mom for why this show is taking so long. Esther notices Yi Seul’s mom in attendance and reveals that she is not the owner of a bottled water company but sells another beverage, she’s the owner of room salons.
Yi Seul’s mom talks with Ki Ae who is complaining about Tan falling for Eun Sang. Yi Seul’s mom warns Ki Ae not to let Eun Sang’s mom quit because it’s dangerous since she knows too much.
Ki Ae hears that Ji Sook is here to plan a dinner with Esther and Rachel. Ki Ae says why come to the house when they can eat outside. Ki Ae says she didn’t agree and she’s the lady of the house. Ji Sook says she’s not the lady, she’s just a mistress squatter. Ki Ae warns that Rachel and Esther would be interested in finding this out. Ji Sook reveals that the Chairman agreed already and in fact it was Tan who asked for this dinner. Ji Sook compliments Tan on having matured in his three years in the US.
Eun Sang goes to her job at the cafe and finds Ran waiting for her outside. He walks up to her and she asks if he wants to look at her now? Tan asks if she’s happy now, moving out of the house, letting go of his hand, not seeing him? Tan dreamt of her last night and it made him happy.
Eun Sang says she has to go to work and Tan just leans in and lightly kisses her. He isn’t going to do what she tells him to do. How could she be so cold as to leave him standing in that dangerous intersection, and afterwards no call or text. It was so easy for her to say words to push him away but she clearly missed him.
Eun Sang says she didn’t miss him so Tan leans in to kiss her again. Tan tells her not to lie again or else he’ll kiss her again. He leaves her with the warning not to go back to the house tonight for any reason.
The guests have arrived and Ji Sook plays chicken with Ki Ae. She can keep standing there but Ji Sook tells the maid to open the door. Ji Sook says Ki Ae can stand there or slink back to her room. This is how Ji Sook will show Ki Ae what her place is in this house. Ki Ae cries as she walks to her room. Eun Sang’s mom comes to see Ki Ae with a glass of water. She writes that everyone has greeted each other and settled down for dinner. Ki Ae asks about Tan and Eun Sang’s mom shakes her head indicating Tan isn’t home yet.
Esther and Rachel are dining with the Chairman and Ji Sook. The parents compliment Rachel for being so pretty and well-behaved. Rachel asks for some salad and Ji Sook reveals the almonds on the salad are from their farm in California. Rachel admits she eats lots of almonds. What is this random almond PPL now?
Chairman Daddy hears Rachel is good at baduk and she reveals that she enjoys anticipating the moves of her opponent. Tan arrives and apologizes for being late. Tan invites Rachel up to his room and she accepts. Tan takes Rachel to his room and she pauses outside his room and mentions that Young Do said he saw something shocking in the house. Tan says he has no intention of keeping his weakness from Rachel. She walks in and sees the dreamcatcher hanging in his window and recognizes it from his house in the US. Tan invites Rachel to sit down and he apologizes to her first before saying something. He tells her that he will show her what Young Do saw.
Ji Sook goes to see Ki Ae and says she looks as pathetic as the day Ji Sook caught her. In 18 years, her position is still so pathetic, this little room is all she has. Ki Ae tells Ji Sook to get out but Ji Sook splashes her with water and warns her to not talk back. Tan comes in and sees his mother so mistreated and he looks furious.
Tan walks past Ji Sook and takes a towel to clean up his mom. Ki Ae asks why he is here, what if his dad needs him. Ji Sook sighs that Tan is still Ki Ae’s son in the end. Tan takes Ki Ae’s hand and tells his mom not to let go of his hand. He pulls her out of the room behind him with her yelling at him for being crazy.
Tan drags Ki Ae to the living room and everyone pauses to stare. Esther recognizes Ki Ae as Eun Sang’s mom. Tan says no, she is mistaken, the woman next to him is his mother. Jaws drop and silence all around. Tan clarifies that this is his birth mom. Tan is the second son of the Chairman of the Empire Group, but he’s illegitimate. He knows what this secret means to everyone once it’s revealed which is why he wants to cancel the engagement. Esther is understandably upset but Chairman Daddy asks to talk with her at another time. Esther says she’ll set the time and then drags Rachel out of there.
Ji Sook chases after them while Chairman Daddy stands up and slaps Tan HARD across the face. Twice. Tan stands there stoically while his mom cries and begs for forgiveness. Tan refuses to beg, he’ll beg the day he regrets what he did today. But he has confidence that he won’t. Chairman Daddy calls him a fool. Tan says Dad can kick him out of the house, but he can’t do anything to his mom because she is still Chairman Daddy’s woman. Dad heads to his study lair while Ki Ae cries and cries.
Tan takes Ki Ae to his room and tells her to stop crying otherwise she’ll get sick. She asks why he did this? It can’t be for her because she’s endured so much stuck between Won and Chairman Daddy for the 3 years he was in the US. Tan apologizes but he thinks differently than her. Ki Ae cries and worries what’s going to happen next.
Eun Sang is cleaning up and her boss chastises her for making multiple mistakes today at work. Eun Sang takes the trash out and runs into Tan outside the cafe. Tan just stares at her, and then starts crying silently. Eun Sang also starts to cry.
Thoughts of Mine:
This was a lovely episode ender in a drama filled with repetitive staredowns that go nowhere. This one was quiet and raw, meaningful in how far Eun Sang and Tan have come yet foreshadowing how much farther they still have to go. As much as I want Tan to stop being so stalkerish and imposing on Eun Sang, there is a consistency and certainty to how he stays true to his feelings that I like. If only he could temper his tendency to take what he wants from her (hand, kiss, time, etc.) then he would be nearly perfect. Whenever they are bantering I ease into the cuteness, but sadly it’s still in short order and most of the time is spent on developing conflict. That’s necessary at this stage, especially when the conflict is actually resulting in important forward plot movement. What will Chairman Daddy do now that his two sons are acting out? Will Won give up on Hyun Joo this easily? Will Chairman Daddy cut Tan out of the will and kick him out of the house? Will Ji Sook tear Ki Ae’s hair out for realz this time? Its upsetting that the kids are being made the carry the burden of the parents mistakes, especially Tan being illegitimate since it’s the fault of Chairman Daddy himself for messing around with Ki Ae. I don’t even feel the love or affection between them so it becomes such a passing mistake on their part with a lifetime of consequences for Tan. But if Tan makes his birth secret no longer a secret, then it’s a weapon no one can hold over him. I think it’s the right move and sooner is better than later when he has more at stake. Tan and Young Do’s conflict still comes across as conflict-lite, in that Young Do had a teenage boy snit and resulted in a long lasting rift with Tan. Young Do needs to get his shit together rather than hurting others for the sake of transferring his own pain on others. Young Do’s acting out seems especially immature when compared to Hyo Shin’s own painful home life where he doesn’t become a bully to ease his own suffering.
I actually quite liked the cute playful pecks Tan gave Eun Sang, if ONLY she can stop acting like a frightened doe whenever it happens. When she tenses up or looks alarmed, it totally ruins the moment, however probable a teenage girl might react to a sudden kiss. It doesn’t kill the drama for me, but some sweet and tender kissing would certainly add to all the “Love is the Moment” crooning. The drama kinda makes up for it with all the Chan Young-Bo Na cuteness, and its a testament to how well Krystal has settled into her character that I’ve come to enjoy her scenes rather than cringing with her shrieky voice or pinchy-faced expressions. She’s come to represent that rich girls can be nice, just like rich boys can be stupidly endearing like Myung Soo. Not every heir is an angry bitch or a tormented ass. The overarching issue I still have with Heirs is that it’s written so matter-of-factly as if following an outline laid out in advance. Nothing feels organic and everything feels plotted to the point that sometimes in a scene I’ll be taken with how the characters are told to stand just go and stare like that and pause before saying a line. Eun Sang is the main driver of this problem because her very existence as a character feels like a plot device. Hyun Joo is the equivalent of Eun Sang except she has less of a personality or screen time, merely trotted out every few episodes for a few minutes to get the point across that when rich guys fall for poor girls, everyone suffers. A big warning example would be Ki Ae, a woman who landed a rich man to take care of her but suffers emotionally and mentally from the abuse from Ji Sook and the isolated life of being a hidden away mistress. If this drama wants to show us that vicious cycles can be broken and children can become better adults than their parents, then I’m all for it. So far I’m still not certain what exactly I’m supposed to take away from Heirs but it’s been an up-and-down ride I’m content to keep on taking.
Click here to watch Heirs.