For an episode that aired coincidentally on Thanksgiving for those in the US, it’s a holiday that evokes both warm familial reunions and fractured familial niceties. Families that get along enjoy a boisterous meal, families that loathe each other dine in barely concealed veneer of courtesy. Episode 16 of Heirs/The Inheritors finally took the main narrative conflict of dynastic inheritance and ratcheted it up to def-con 5. It was all a feint of course, cleverly orchestrated by the diabolical Chairman Daddy to make his sons dance like puppets on a string to show them exactly how much power they have over their lives. Both Won and Tan learn a hard lesson today, with Won merely getting his pride and self-worth trampled on, but it’s Tan who loses the one thing he’s been clinging onto as a life line. It was time for Chairman Daddy to show us he was more than a paper tiger and all his orders could be flaunted by Tan and still there would be no consequences besides a brief house lockdown. This man isn’t just the Emperor of this tale for nothing, and he didn’t get there by being a nice gimpy man who talks the big talk and has nothing to back it up. He is more lethal and deadly than either of his sons could have imagined, and to secure his legacy he will sacrifice anything including love and affection because those things are meaningless to him. With his money he always wins, so the only way to destroy him is to take away all his money and render him a pathetic old man with a cold cold heart.
Too bad Won is too busy fighting with Tan and Tan is too young to be of much help, so in this episode both brothers got played big time and the drama sets the stage for a big shake up for the final arc. It’s funny how Tan has come across so much more mature than Won during the entire drama, and even in this episode with pivotal moments we see Won becoming frazzled while Tan stands his ground. Perhaps the difference is that Won is old enough to know what his dad is capable of, whereas Tan is still too young and untried to understand that he has no chance against his dad. While I liked how Tan threatened Chairman Daddy to stay away from Eun Sang, the entire time I knew this would come to a very bad end. I suspect a time jump may be coming which would be greatly appreciated since Tan doesn’t stand a chance to prevail in his fight until he grows up a bit. I have come to enjoy the cute throwaway school scenes so I’ll be sad when and if everyone takes off their school uniforms and dons the power suits and designer duds of the heirs turned acting rulers. With Heirs close to wrapping up, this drama has been way more entertaining than I expected, especially after a shaky start, and it wears it narrative purpose with confidence if not originality. Ultimately this drama has its fans for a reason and Kim Eun Sook has rendered another hit for herself.
Episode 16 recap:
Chairman Daddy offers Eun Sang two choices and he has two plane tickets in front of him. Choice one is to leave now and he’ll send here somewhere nice. Choice two is to spend the next 15 days with Tan and then he’ll send her somewhere less nice. This seems like too complicated of a plot. Eun Sang cries but we don’t see which ticket she picked.
Eun Sang’s mom started getting text messages on her phone from creditors thanking her for paying off the debts fully. She goes to ask Ki Ae if the payments are her severance but Ki Ae doesn’t even want Eun Sang’s mom to leave anytime soon so clearly she didn’t pay it. Ki Ae complains about all the ahjummas she’s interviewed and no one will do. She thinks Eun Sang’s mom is not paying attention to her because her heart has already gone to another lady of of another house. Ha, she’s so petty jealous like Tan is of anyone Eun Sang pays attention to.
Eun Sang sits with her mom and hears about all their debts being paid. Eun Sang says he’s made her take money from him already. Her mom tries to ask what happened? Eun Sang prepares to tell her mom the big decision.
Eun Sang walks up to the staircase and the guards let her through, clearly she picked door number 2. She arrives at Tan’s door and knocks. He was sitting inside watching news programs and brooding. He opens the door and sees her happily smiling at him.
Tan pulls Eun Sang inside and she lies about sneaking up when the guards were on a break. Eun Sang candidly admits she missed him so she came. Tan hugs her tightly worried that she’s like a movie special effect that he can see but not touch. She is sad that he’s suffering this fate because of her but he says no, he came back so that they won’t be locked up in the future. Tan wants her to trust in everything he does because she’s the only one he has left and he will find a way for them to be together. She asks what happened and he says he’s just liking her right now. They resume hugging but Eun Sang can barely keep back her tears.
The next morning Tan watches the CCTV feed and perks up when Eun Sang steps out the front door. She must know him well because she turns to the camera and writes him a note that she had a happy dream because he was in it. As long as she’s fine being spied on its good with me.
Secretary Yoon tries to resolve the impasse between the half-brothers but Won doesn’t want to even try because eventually he will fight with Tan over control of the company. He’s seen all his relatives do it from back stabbing to going to jail to being on top and then falling to the bottom again. Secretary Yoon brings up Chairman Daddy splitting the shares equally between the brothers to avoid that but Won is even more pissed since he’s way more capable to run the company. Won wonders which side Secretary Yoon is on but he’s on the side of Empire Group always. Won asks if Secretary Yoon has decided to accept his offer to become VP of one of the constructions subs and he agrees to give his decision soon.
Eun Sang arrives at school to find it swarming with reporters looking for a scoop on Kim Tan. When a reporter approaches her, Young Do and Myung Soo flank her and shoo them away by hilariously declaring that Young Do is the third son of Empire Group while Myung Soo is their daughter.
Eun Sang goes to her locker and discovers its been totally trashed, including soy milk doused on her gym clothes. Young Do walks up and places a call for a delivery of drinks. When the PPL drinks arrive, he plans to trash everyone’s locker with it as revenge on her behalf since one of the lockers must belong to the culprit. Eun Sang stops him since he’s going to hurt innocents to get back at the culprit. Young Do points out she did no wrong either which makes Eun Sang smile since she understands Young Do’s strange thinking. Young Do realizes that Eun Sang smiles as well when she feels thankful. She tells him not to waste food so he tells her to enjoy it since this is his treat.
Eun Sang offers Bo Na and Chan Young each a drink as they are chatting in the library and explains it’s courtesy of Young Do. They wonder if its safe to drink? She hands Bo Na the promised childhood picture of Chan Young, and then hugs them both for being her friends. They look at her oddly for behaving like this. Eun Sang tells them to never break up.
Secretary Yoon arrives for another tutoring session but he cuts to the chase and tells Tan that Chairman Daddy is likely sending Eun Sang abroad. He warns Tan that his dad is way more ruthless than Tan can even imagine, both as a father and as the Chairman.
Tan leaves him room and walks to his dad’s study. He goes inside and takes his phone back, placing a call to Ji Sook to come pick him up at home because he’s going to school. Dad asks if he’s using Ji Sook to go to school to see that girl? Tan knows that thanks to all the shares he now owns, Ji Sook will help him when he asks. Dad says he didn’t give him the shares to use this way. Tan says its a hefty sword and Tan plans to use it. Dad asks if Tan is threatening him right now? He warns his dad not to do anything to Eun Sang otherwise Tan doesn’t know who he may point that sword towards.
Ji Sook and Tan ride together to school. She says money and power are so useful, now he can use it to order her around. Jo Sook says Tan will be paying her back for this favor one day. He asks if she regrets how she treated him and his mom in the past? Jo Sook reminds him to be cordial when they get out of the car.
Upon arrival, Ji Sook and Tan exit the car and put on a cordial show of mother-son in front of the reporters. She tells him about a family dinner tonight as more photo ops and Tan says he’ll be there. Their classmates Myung Soo, Bo Na, Chan Young, and Yi Seul observe from above, wondering if they really are close but concluding it’s just for show. Myung Soo says Tan may be illegitimate but now he’s a major shareholder so in essence he’s still untouchable.
Tan immediately beelines for Eun Sang’s classroom and shoves her things into her backpack before dragging her out. Aiya, aren’t we past all this dragging?
Tan takes Eun Sang to Myung Soo’s playroom and dumps out the contents of her backpack. He rifles through it until he finds the plane ticket for Buenos Aires. He can’t believe she really took it and asks if she really likes him? He rages at her for taking the ticket and for not believing in him. She asks for it back and he tears it up and asks if she wants to die. He knows that she took the ticket so she could go up the stairs to see him, but it also means once she leaves she’s never coming back to Korea. How could she smile after taking that offer?
Eun Sang asks what else she could do because the other choice of leaving him immediately is untenable. Tan says she should have come to him so they could fight together. It’s his father, he’ll deal with him! He has nothing now and all he has and wants to hold on to is her. If she leaves him he’ll really go crazy. Eun Sang just cries and nods her head. He wipes away her tears and apologizes for making her cry all the time.
Young Do walks in and asks why they are arguing and he even made a girl cry. He sees the tossed items and asks if Tan is being a bossy shareholder already. Tan has no time to banter and simply entrusts Eun Sang in his care, asking that he take her to and from school and keep her safe until tonight. Young Do is as shocked as me and asks why Tan thinks they will be here later tonight, but Tan has seen through his nasty shell and knows he’ll keep Eun Sang safe.
After Tan leaves, Young Do wants to know why Eun Sang is crying but she’s not about to tell him about her soon to be exile. He decides to redeem his one favor and Eun Sang suggests they go have noodles after school.
Cut to random night out dinner with Chairman Daddy and Ji Sook walking in arm-in-arm while Tan and Won arrive right behind them. All of this is clearly staged for the throng of reporters outside.
The fake family sits in their private dining room and the facade comes down and now it’s time to get serious. Won snarks that they ought to go see a play next time while Dad acts all pleased at this rare family outing. He turns to Ji Sook to ask for an update on finding Won a girl, effectively dropping the news on Won that Ji Sook has lined up a nice girl ready to meet him and lead to a suitable engagement. Won tries to pick his own bride but Dad says he needs to get married before his career takes off. Won gets the warning and stops arguing.
Then comes the second even bigger bombshell. Chairman Daddy has called a shareholders meeting in two weeks to vote for the President of Empire Group. He’s nominating Secretary Yoon for the position. Won tries to argue but Dad tells him to be quiet since the walls have ears. Dad reminds Won that he fired all of Dad’s loyal subordinates without even consulting him. He placed Won there because he needed someone when he fell ill, but Won seems to have forgotten that the entire company belongs to Dad and he runs it. Dad says he doesn’t have a policy of favoring the elder, he will hand the company to whichever brother most capable of running it. Won asks if Dad gave Tan the shares for this very reason? Dad says he’s lost his appetite and the parents leave after thoroughly screwing with the boys.
Tan gets up to leave as well but Won tells him to sit down. Tan says Won will only keep him because he has something Won values. This time its Tan who says talking now it unnecessary. Won has two weeks to line up votes to keep his presidency of the company, and the last person he’s going to have to lobby is Tan. That’s so ironic since Tan was always last for Won anyways.
Won goes to see Secretary Yoon about how the heck he’s being nominated for President? He asks if Secretary Yoon picked his dad’s side in exchange for his position. He asks how Secretary Yoon must’ve been laughing at him with the VP position offer! Secretary Yoon tells Won to protect his position first, and when he does so Secretary Yoon will take his side and accept the position of the VP of the construction sub.
Tan goes back to the playroom but finds it empty. He calls Eun Sang’s cell and this time its Young Do who picks up, and hilariously plays coy about where he took Eun Sang. He tells Tan that he’s at a place in Tan’s heart.
Turns out he’s sitting at the dokbokggi place with her and Eun Sang knows he’s just teasing Tan. Young Do knows that Eun Sang must’ve have been forced to kneel before the Chairman already despite her claims to the contrary. The Chairman needs to make Eun Sang kneel first in order to make Tan kneel. She asks why they didn’t come for noodles and Young Do wants to save that to hold her to the promise later on.
Young Do gives her a pen and tells her to write down a promise to have noodles together since they didn’t go today. Eun Sang gladly writes it on the wall which Young Do takes in. He wonders why she wrote it so easily and why she cried earlier? She doesn’t answer so he tells her to memorize his number as well as Tan’s number and to call if she ever needs anything. Eun Sang says she needs to go home now and Young Do agrees to let her go to annoy Tan. He sends her home in his car to mess with Tan some more since Tan will be there shortly. Eun Sang leaves and Young Do sits there sadly.
Tan arrives to find Young Do alone at the restaurant. Young Do compliments Tan on finding this place. He thanks Young Do for helping him escape and for today. Young Do asks if Tan has anymore secrets like maybe he’s a girl or something because the big secret is out and Young Do has nothing else left. Young Do tells Tan that his dad appears to have made a move towards Eun Sang. Tan knows and tells Young Do to go home and not sit here alone.
Tan comes home to find his mom drinking wine while slumped on the ground against the sofa, totally drunk and miserable. He is furious when he sees his dad insult her as embarrassing, especially when he hears that Ki Ae is so upset because she can’t accompany Tan to the shareholders meeting. She’s drinking alone to celebrate him becoming a major shareholder. Dad insults her as a stain on Tan’s life and is the reason he can’t take her outside. Mom asks if Tan’s stain was all by herself, she didn’t give birth to him alone! Tan tells him dad to stop being so pathetic as a man and a husband, if he keeps going then Tan won’t hold back anymore. Eun Sang is hiding in the kitchen with a bottle of wine and she overhears this fight. Tan warns his dad to back off lest Tan reach out to Dad’s enemies to take him down.
The lame Won-Hyun Joo loveline continues and he goes banging on her door late at night until she comes out to see him. He sadly says that he can’t come see her for the foreseeable future but his grand plan is to have her go abroad and wait there until he can come pick her up, maybe in a few years. She asks why he’s controlling her life but he wants to do it so that they can be together. She yells that they can’t be together anyways so why bother!
Won begs her to leave so she doesn’t see him even more pathetic. Hyun Joo asks what is happening and will she read it on the news? Won begs her to leave and not to read the news and see how miniscule he’s become. Hyun Joo agrees not to read the news and Won pulls her in for a hug.
Eun Sang gets called out to the kitchen pantry by Tan in order to surrender her passport to him. He’s upset she wasn’t waiting at the playroom for him and was so worried. He tells her to stay where he tells her to and do what he asks her to.
Eun Sang nods and Tan then swoops in for a hot and needy kiss and this time Eun Sang doesn’t look like an axe-wielding murderer is gnawing at her lips. Her body language is a bit stiff but all in all she reciprocates and the two kids kiss. Afterwards Tan hugs her and makes her promise again not to leave him. Eun Sang doesn’t answer but wraps her arms around him.
Tan decides to go to school with Eun Sang in the morning figuring Dad always knows so why bother scurrying around. Good point.
During literature class, Rachel presents her book report on The Great Gatsby, and uses it to pointedly make digs at Eun Sang and Tan’s pathetic love for each other by referencing how Gatsby ruined his life for the love of an unworthy woman.
Afterwards, Rachel and Hyo Shin almost bump into each other in the hallway. To makes things less awkward, Rachel calls him and asks that he avoid her for the time being. Hyo Shin says there is no need but Rachel says she’s not comfortable. They stop in the middle of the hallway and stare at each other and suddenly there is this tension. Oh god, please don’t let them end up together. After Rachel walks away, Hyo Shin peeks to stare at her.
Won lines up meetings with all the major shareholders to lobby for their vote, ranging from Esther, Young Do’s dad, Ji Sook, and finally Tan. Tan strikes a hard bargain – he wants an apartment from Won – before admitting he would side with Won anyways because their dad is trying to bother Tan’s girl. Won scoffs at Tan doing all this for a girl but Tan candidly says that girl is his everything. Won agrees and even throws in a car and driver, telling Tan that he’ll see what Tan does to protect that girl.
Young Do is looking at the bandaid Eun Sang gave him which leaves Myung Soo sighing about his lovelorn self. Young Do doesn’t know when he got hurt or when he’ll heal. Myung Soo notices that Young Do has gotten skinnier lately and wants to take him out to eat. Young Do declines because he has another place to go. Myung Soo tells Young Do not to spend the afternoon waiting outside Tan’s house for her, but lo and behold that’s exactly where he toddles off to.
Young Do doesn’t see her so heads over to the convenience store where he spots her sitting outside in the falling snow. He walks up and drapes his coat over her before taking a seat. Young Do reveals that he’s actually seen Eun Sang at this convenience store three times before they met for real, and he even shoo’d away noisy kids when she was napping. Eun Sang smiles to hear that. Eun Sang wishes she knew earlier that Young Do is both a good guy and a bad guy wrapped together. Eun Sang tells Young Do to let her become a passerby in his life. The next time he likes a girl, don’t trip her so he can hold her and don’t threaten her to have noodles together.
Eun Sang takes off the coat and thanks him, for a short time it felt warm. She tries to leave but Young Do tells her not to and he looks worried. Eun Sang lies that she has a date with Tan but Young Do doesn’t buy it since today is the Empire shareholders meeting and Tan has no time to see her. Eun Sang says they agreed to meet before the meeting. Still Young Do can tell the look of someone planning to sneak away in the middle of the night. Eun Sang doesn’t look like she’s going to meet someone. She looks like she’s about to let it all go. He demands to know what happened? Has she been kicked out? Is she moving? Eun Sang says she’s moving soon and asks him for a recommendation of an apartment, it can be close to his place so they can be neighbors. Eun Sang walks away leaving Young Do sitting there in a daze.
Tan goes to see Won and takes the key to the apartment from him. Won reminds him about the shareholders meeting and says Tan needs to vote to keep him. Won warns Tan that their dad will find that girl very quickly. Tan knows that but he’s showing his father and his brother that he has nothing left after 18 years of loving his brother and father and all he has left is that girl. So he will use everything in his power to protect that girl from now on.
Eun Sang sadly remembers the Chairman insulting her as young and shameless and ruining so much, making Rachel a laughingstock and destroying families and turning Tan into a joke in the eyes of the world. Eun Sang is waiting outside a store when Tan comes up and back hugs her. Young Do has followed her in his car and looks sad before driving off.
Tan and Eun Sang are modeling couple shoes and hanging happily at a cafe. Tan takes Eun Sang to the apartment he got from Won and says this is hers now. He wants her to move in here otherwise he’s worried his dad will keep hurting her. Tan says this is all he can do for now. Eun Sang is not happy with this and Tan knows and apologizes for doing things his way. Eun Sang notices the dreamcatcher hanging in the window and she blinks back her tears.
Eun Sang tells Tan to go to the shareholders meeting and she’ll stay a bit to take some pictures to show her mom. He asks how she’ll get home and she reminds him that she was quite capable in the US. Eun Sang sends Tan off and says she’ll wait for him here. They wave goodbye and Tan says they are like a real married couple. Eun Sang gives him an unexpected peck on the cheerks but Tan doesn’t register it odd. Eun Sang tells him to go safely and she’ll be waiting for him at home.
Once the door closes, Eun Sang starts sobbing but stifles her cries.
Everyone files into the conference room for the Empire Group shareholders meeting to vote on whether Won will be removed as President. It’s tense and the ballots are collected and counted.
The final vote is a stunner – only 3% want to remove Won and over 95% have voted for him. The votes are so staggering that its clear Chairman Daddy never intended to remove Won and told his followers to vote for him from the get-go. Everyone looks stunned at the results while Chairman Daddy sits there with a self-satisfied smirk.
As Won stumbles out of the conference room, Young Do’s dad says this was clearly a father teaching his son a lesson. Chairman Daddy goes to congratulate him but Won glares at him before leaving. Ji Sook asks if Tan understood what just happened? Tan asks if that was all just a show? Ji Sook says Tan has grown up and warns him to stay away from Won who will be in a foul mood.
Chairman Daddy says he did it to give Won a little taste of shame and embarrassment to have him run around like a headless chicken to get votes when he was never in danger to begin with. Chairman Daddy says this whole exercise was also to teach Tan a lesson. Tan asks what his dad means? His dad says Eun Sang, that girl Tan hid away, she left Korea an hour ago.
Tan rushes out to find her, but his calls go straight to voicemail, her locker at school is cleaned out, and her boss at the cafe says she quit. Ki Ae cries reading a letter from Eun Sang’s mom apologizing for leaving so abruptly and thanking for her the time spent serving her. Tan comes home and asks where Eun Sang went and Ki Ae says they left without even saying goodbye to her. Tan finds the room empty at their house.
Tan runs around the streets looking for her but she’s gone. He calls Chan Young who asks what happened between them because he doesn’t know where she is either. He goes to the apartment and finds it empty and dark. He stands inside staring out the window at the shining night lights of Seoul and then breaks down crying on his knees.
Thoughts of Mine:
I actually don’t know if there will be a time jump (likely if Eun Sang did go abroad), or no time jump (she’s stashed somewhere in Korea). Either one there will be plenty of issues to resolve, but the first option seems more interesting because suddenly everything is shaken up including the characters’ options in life. I want to see older Tan with an array of weapons and actually teach his dad that it’s wrong to screw with his sons lives. Chairman Daddy has unequivocally risen to the occasion as the villain of this tale, and he rivals another Kim Eun Sook-penned evil powerful daddy BB in City Hall as one of the most scary father opponent for the male lead. Again I wished Young Do’s acting out would have been limited to at most 2 episodes rather than 6 because I knew he was going to turn around the edge of the cliff rather than jump down so dragging it out with Tan ruined great scenes he could have with both Tan and Eun Sang. These last two episodes made Tan deal with his dad and allowed Eun Sang and Young Do some room to spend time with each other as just unspoken friends. It wasn’t anything particularly meaningful, but it did feel rather poignant in a story that has become much more melodramatic and with greater stakes.
While Young Do has turned into the supportive (and still snarky) second male lead, it was a welcome change because I don’t have time for his antics anymore when Chairman Daddy scares the bejesus out of me with his slow methodical drawl and always being three steps ahead of everyone else. I actually didn’t cry in this episode (or so far in the drama) because I feel like nothing is that dire despite Tan saying stuff like he’s life is over without Eun Sang or she’s all he has. The reason being is that while the rich kids suffer emotionally, there are plenty of kids out there suffering way more due to poverty and even more brutal emotional and physical abuse. So Tan’s sadness is understandable but I’m not of the mind to accord him status of “saddest kid in all of Korea”. Losing Eun Sang was because he underestimated his dad and overestimated himself. I’m comforted knowing he’ll probably take away from this devastating loss to become stronger so he can go find her and then build a forever after together. He may have lost the battle but he hasn’t yet lost the war.
Click here to watch Heirs.