The departure of Eun Sang at the end of episode 16 of Heirs/The Inheritors was nicely done. It happened off screen so that Tan was blindsided, and even the audience who figured it was going to happen with the Chairman’s ultimatum as well as Eun Sang’s farewell tour it still felt like a punch in the gut. Which makes episodes 17 that much more like a balloon deflating, delivering an hour’s worth of screen time that barely moved the main story forward. This episode could be titled “Kim Tan is sad, he is very very very sad and upset”. I thought we were past all that, drama. I’ve loved the last four episodes and felt this surging momentum that promised me leaps towards the end. With four episodes left and a billion plot lines hanging in there since there are so many characters, it would be fantastic if the drama started wrapping up side stories here and there so that we can focus on the big stuff in the grand finale. Have Hyun Joo tell Hyo Shin she’s NOT interested and he can stop carrying a torch for her. Have Rachel moved on from Tan so completely she feels some mortification that she resorted to so much petty bitchy behavior over a lunkhead like him. Have Tan’s mom secretly have a stash of funds she’s squirreled away over the years, and she and Eun Sang’s mom have a backup plan so they can live together and be adorable BFFs openly.
I don’t particularly need to tell Kim Eun Sook to write certain plot points, I just want her to write something happening. Anything is better than an episode that returned to the starefest that I thought was behind us. I never did like how this drama revolved around so much character brooding scenes which never came off as touching or organic and instead made me pick my nails while I waited for the filler to end. I feel like the conflict with Chairman Daddy isn’t interesting to watch played out, and if the solution is definitely coming, then let it arrive sooner than later so we can have more enjoyable narrative from this drama. I wouldn’t even mind if a giant chunk of the last episode is devoted to epilogues for all the characters. Sometimes conflict can be the meat of this story, I don’t feel that way with Heirs. I’ve watched Tan suffer for his birth and family for 17 episodes straight interspersed with his happy scenes with Eun Sang. Heirs has been such a linear predictable ride that it’s time to just reach the darn station already so we can get off and enjoy the view for a longer time rather than squeaking towards the finish line in a bumpy old cart. Between Eun Sang crying and Tan crying, thank god Young Do didn’t join in the cry fest today and managed to continue being an increasingly enjoyable character to watch.
Episode 17 recap:
Tan runs into the apartment he procured for Eun Sang to find it empty. His Eun Sang is not there waiting for him. He remembers his dad saying to never forget today – today he wielded his sword and lost that girl. He falls to his knees and sobs his anguish.
Tan continues to wander the city looking for Eun Sang. He calls her cell and its been disconnected. Tan sits on the streets and cries.
Tan finally goes home and storms into Chairman Daddy’s study to demand to know why he sent Eun Sang away and not him since he was the one who pursued her. Was it because Tan is insurance to dad? How dare he ruin someone else’s life! Chairman Daddy says he merely suggested she live a life more suitable for herself. She’ll withdraw from school as well. He warns Tan not to look for her, the moment he finds her then her life will be thoroughly over.
Chan Young hears from dad that Eun Sang has left Seoul and he helped them move. Dad doesn’t know where they went but they promised to call once they settled down. Chan Young wonders what happened, worried about Eun Sang.
The kids at school discuss that Eun Sang has skipped today and wonder where she is. Myung Soo suggests Bo Na call if she’s worried but Bo Na says that would mean they are friends. She then gives Rachel the evil stink eye and says loudly whether someone was mean Eun Sang that Bo Na doesn’t know about. Rachel gets up to leave which is when Tan storms in.
Tan goes straight to Chan Young and asks if Eun Sang called. Chan Young reminds Tan that he said never to come to him to look for her. And if she told him, he wouldn’t tell Tan either. Young Do barges in and goes right up to Chan Young as well. He gets up and says “not you, too” and then leaves with Bo Na.
Young Do asks the room cleared so he can talk with Tan. Everyone leaves and Myung Soo warns them not to fight before also stepping outside. Young Do knows Eun Sang’s disappeared and asks if she’s still alive. Tan doesn’t have the energy or time for mental battles with Young Do right now. He’ll look for her using his way and tells Young Do to do it his way as well. Young Do wants to know if she’s still in the country? Tan tells him to find out using whatever means possible.
Tan goes to Ji Sook and asks that she not process Eun Sang’s withdrawal papers from school because she’ll be back. Ji Sook wonders why she should help and Tan says one day she may need his help.
Young Do goes to the broadcast club and rifles through Eun Sang’s application. Hyo Shin comes in and demands to know what he is doing? Young Do says searching and Tan comes in and hands a copy of Eun Sang’s passport to Hyo Shin and asks him to help find if her passport was used. Hyo Shin hears that Eun Sang is not at school.
The mothers of Empire High are having tea and when talk goes to Esther’s remarriage to Young Do’s dad, Myung Soo’s mother says she heard Zeus Hotel was being investigated by the prosecutors. Esther asks Hyo Shin’s mom and they step aside to talk.
Chan Young’s dad has been promoted to VP of construction and Won comes in to confirm he’s on Won’s side firmly now. He is and the two shake hands with a smile.
Tan grabs the CCTV footage from the security guards at the house and watches to see the moment Eun Sang and her mom packed all their belongings onto a moving truck. He tries to get more details from the side of the truck. Hyo Shin calls to say Eun Sang’s passport was not used and she didn’t apply for a new one. Tan thanks Hyo Shin, who did it on his own and warns he might get in trouble if found out.
Tan calls Young Do to share the info because two is better than one in looking for Eun Sang. They need to find her soon before year end exams arrive. Young Do tells Tan that he still owes him for busting him out with 8 bodyguards in tow. Tan gets distracted when Eun Sang waves goodbye towards the CCTV.
Young Do decides to post pretending to be Eun Sang disclosing all of Young Do’s mean behavior towards her which is just Young Do liking her. Despite his handsome appearance, she’s decided not to waver and like him back. He giggles and posts it. He then calls a lawyer and says he wants to report a cyber bullying case.
Young Do goes to the dokbokgi store and stares at the wall. Myung Soo comes by to share the rumors at school that Eun Sang up and disappeared and she’s not rich and her dad is dead and her mom…… Young Do tells him to just eat up and Myung Soo shuts up.
Myung Soo drives by Tan outside his house and Tan asks for his footage from his CCTV memory card in the car. He then goes to the cell phone store to ask if Eun Sang’s number’s memory can be retrieved? He hears the number has been bought by someone else and he buys it back.
Tan turns on Eun Sang’s old number and sees a text from Young Do saying that he doesn’t know where she is and he misses her so he texted her number. Tan calls him back and asks if he wants to die. He tells Young Do to stop being an idiot and find another method. Young Do snarks that Tan ruined his excitement when he saw Eun Sang calling him back. Young Do hangs up and calls the lawyer to ask if the victim Cha Eun Sang has been found? The lawyer can’t find her yet because she hasn’t left a trail.
Tan inserts the CCTV footage from Myung Soo’s house but can’t find anything. He gets a text that Eun Sang paid for something at a convenience store. He calls around to find out where it was used and it goes late into the night. It’s morning time when Tan finds the store and confirms it was a high school girl with long hair.
Chairman Daddy hears that Eun Sang didn’t leave the country thanks to Secretary Yoon helping her. He’s upset and says Secretary Yoon can’t even handle his own personal mess why mess with his family’s. He sees the picture and barks at his minion to shut up.
Eun Sang and her mom are living by the beach and she doesn’t go to work but works at a bookstore. The owner says Eun Sang helps the store business but wonders why she doesn’t go to school. Eun Sang lies that she’s taking some time off. Mom walks around town but can’t get a job since she can’t talk. Eun Sang tells Mom not to worry since she has a job. She sends Mom home first and goes to buy some gloves. The moment Mom turns around Eun Sang starts to sob.
Tan is driven to the seaside town and he thinks about his time with Eun Sang. He gets confirmation from the convenience store clerk that it is Eun Sang after he shows her picture. Tan runs around town looking for her.
Eun Sang is unpacking at her new place and takes out her school uniform. She stares it at and thinks about Tan after she’s washed all her clothes and hangs it outside to dry. Tan finds her and watches as she hangs the clothes out to dry. He doesn’t go running to reunite with her but instead just stands back.
Tan sees Eun Sang leaving her house and he follows her to the beach where she just sits and watches the waves. He takes a few steps towards her but changes his mind and turns back without meeting her. Tan goes home and lays down in his bed and cries.
Young Do gets a call from the lawyer that Cha Eun Sang has been found. He goes to the police department at the little seaside town and paces around waiting for her to come. He bothers the police ahjusshi and yells that he should have gone to her house to get her. Eun Sang runs in and Young Do just stares at her and stops yelling.
Young Do strides towards Eun Sang and pulls her in for a hug. He thanks her for not ignoring him and coming to see him.
Eun Sang and Young Do walk by the beach and he asks why she’s so glum. Isn’t she happy a guest came to visit? If she’s waiting for someone else, then she needn’t get her hopes up. She tells him to head back since its cold but he wants to give her his coat first. Eun Sang says he doesn’t like cold places but Young Do is happy right now because she’s fine, she broke up with Tan, he knows where to find her but won’t reveal it like she wants.
Eun Sang is scared right now of how easily Young Do found her. That means many more people may have already come and found her. Young Do says of all the people coming to find her, he’s the least threatening. Eun Sang agrees with that. He asks if she plans to keep staying here? Eun Sang says she’ll go back when Tan forgets her. Young Do says that will be soon then. He tells her that it was stupid for her to buy a new phone in her name since she clearly hasn’t run away before. He jokes that they should run away together as practice.
Eun Sang calls him “Young Do-ya” and he tells her not to call him that. Today he came to find her with the acceptance that his dad might beat him to death for it. But he’ll still come back. Young Do walks away leaving Eun Sang standing there.
Young Do’s dad asks who Cha Eun Sang is and why the posting is now front page news? Young Do says its a girl he likes, and she didn’t write it but he wrote it. She disappeared in one night and he wanted to find her. Dad is upset that he did all this to find a girl, he’s the future face of Zeus Hotel. Young Do says he needed to see her. He has decided but its not because he wants to date her. Dad can control every aspect of Young Do’s life but not when it comes to women because he doesn’t have the right. His dad agrees and says Young Do at least knows when he’s lost other battles.
Young Do’s dad brings him to dine with Esther and Rachel to celebrate the opening of the convention center where Zeus Hotel is anchoring, plus their upcoming wedding. He gets a call and screams to a prosecutor about why Zeus is being targeted for a tax evasion investigation. He ends the call and tells the people present that it’s a routine investigation and will be resolved soon. He wants to push up the wedding date but Esther drops the bomb that she doesn’t want to get married anymore. She says to talk tomorrow when the kids aren’t around and cleanly end things. After they leave, Dad tells Young Do not to worry because the investigation will be handled by their insiders. He will hand Zeus Hotel to Young Do in one piece.
Rachel asks Esther what will happen to Zeus Hotel? Esther says not to worry, it won’t go bankrupt. Chaebol groups don’t go bankrupt, their resources are too vast and the law is limited. But it’s still a mess and there is no reason for Esther to enter the mess with Young Do’s dad. Rachel is relieved that Zeus isn’t going bankrupt for Young Do’s sake. Esther asks if she likes Young Do but Rachel just feels a kindred spirit with him, like they are on the same ship with the same horrible parents.
Tan goes back to the empty apartment and stares at the dreamcatcher and is all sad.
Tan goes to see Won and says he will do everything Won asked – go to the US, never come back, give up all his shares. So in exchange he wants Won to save Eun Sang for him from their dad. He ruined Eun Sang because he likes her. He was the one who pushed her to the edge and she’s lost her home, friends, school. The only way left for him to protect her is this way. But why is it leaving, why does it have to be leaving? Won asks if Tan is here to ask for help or fight. Tan is giving Won a way to get what he wants if Won finds a way to bring Eun Sang back and Tan wants to see her one more time before leaving.
Eun Sang leaves work and its raining outside. She sees Tan standing in the rain holding an umbrella waiting for her. Tan walks towards her quietly. She asks why he is here and what is she going to do now? Tan apologizes and she tells him to leave then. Tan says he did it so he’s returning everything back to the way things were for Eun Sang. He will turn her back to her life before she met him. She doesn’t want to return to before, she likes things now but she doesn’t want to move again. If he comes then she will have to move again.
Tan asks if from the first moment they met, she’s been suffering because of him. Eun Sang cries and says yes. Tan understands and he won’t come again. He apologizes for asking for her sincere heart and asking for her to be brave for him. He says goodbye to her and then puts the umbrella in her hand before turning and walking away in the rain. Eun Sang sobs as she watches Tan leave.
Tan looks like death warmed over and goes home to tell his dad that he saw Eun Sang and dad starts to scream at him. Tan then cuts him off and says he won’t see that girl anymore. Dad has won so don’t look for that girl anymore. Dad calls him an idiot, what’s so hard to get over about breaking up with a girl. Tan says it’s not heartbreak, it’s how tired he is living a life without any happiness.
Tan leaves the study and Ki Ae is fretting over him but he totally ignores her and goes up to his room. Ki Ae tries to talk with him but Tan has locked him room and proceeds to loudly trash it. Mom is outside worried about him but can’t get in. Chairman Daddy comes out and hears Tan having a breakdown in his room. Tan sits in his dark room with a bloody hand and a mess all around him.
At school the next day, Tan is totally zonked out and everyone can tell. The bell rings and he grabs his bag and walks out, completely oblivious to it being the starting bell and not the ending bell. He passes by Hyun Joo and ignores her calling him.
Hyun Joo asks Hyo Shin for information about what is going on with Tan since she heard he was the closest friend to Tan. Hyo Shin asks if this is all she wants to talk with him about? Didn’t she see him kissing another girl? He did it for her to see. She is happy because it means his heart is in the right place. Hyo Shin says its sad she’s happy because doesn’t she know he likes her. Hyo Shin asks why she’s particularly concerned about Tan and Hyun Joo says he’s the brother of a good friend. Hyo Shin realizes she knows Won and asks if they dated before or are dating now. Hyun Joo says no to his question but Hyo Shin realizes he really seems like a kid to her now and gets up to leave.
Tan goes to the store where Eun Sang bought the dreamcatcher and looks at the other ones in the store window. He goes home and lays in the dark just silently crying. Tan runs into Chairman Daddy’s minion as he walks into the house. He grabs the envelope and opens it to find pictures of Eun Sang and her mom at the seaside town.
Won meets up with the girl he’s being set up with, the daughter of a telecom chaebol group. The girl gets to the point and says if he’s interested in getting married then call her. Otherwise don’t bother. She then gets up to go to a date with her boyfriend. Won says she should have just brought the boyfriend along now. Won leaves and gets a call to go to the police station.
Tan’s been arrested for driving with a license and speeding. Won starts chewing him out but Tan isn’t interested and says Won should be happy because Tan is being the loser Won always wanted him to be. Now there is no one in the family who will threaten Won. But then again, they aren’t family, right?
Chairman Daddy gets the report from Won and says Tan is really out of control. Won speaks up for Tan acting like an adult way before he was ready since he’s still a kid. Now Tan’s on the verge of a breakdown. Daddy says Tan may become stronger before he actually breaks down. Buh? Won says that Tan has always been sincere and warm towards Won during all these years that Won has ignored him. Tan was always a strong kid, but now he’s actually on the verge of total destruction. How can dad not see that? How can he not feel it? Won asks why Dad pushed the girl Tan likes away?
Dad continues his own topic of telling Won to marry his matseon date girl next year since Empire Group needs a telecom company. Dad says he didn’t send her away – he said what he needed to say and she did what she needed to do. Won asks if it wasn’t enough what Dad did to him. Dad yells that if he was reliable then he wouldn’t need to prepare Tan. Won and Hyun Joo was a mess and he had to step in. Having one strong family backing is not enough, he needs an equally strong wife’s side family backing as well to do business. Won asks why he can’t trust him once? Dad says he will trust Won if he brings that telecom daughter before him.
Rachel is at the school infirmary and gets a text from Hyo Shin and realizes he’s in the adjoining bed. She quickly closes the curtains and goes back to her own bed. He texts why she’s so nervous around him? She asks him to forget about what happened. He’s fine with it but reminds her that the entire school knows. She asks why he’s at school so dutifully since he didn’t even take the college entrance exams. He asks if she wants him to take it and she wonders what he’ll do if he doesn’t go to college. Hyo Shin thinks he has a film future since he won an award. Rachel stares at him and there is a nervous frisson which Hyo Shin quizzically notices.
Myung Soo, Bo Na, Chan Young, and Young Do are hanging out. Myung Soo discusses going to a club performance and there is cute banter all around. Myung Soo threatens to steal Bo Na away which gets Chan Young fake pretending to punch him out and his jealousy makes Bo Na happy. They get serious and discuss how Tan is melting down and his face is getting way more beat up everyday. Tomorrow is the big Empire Group meeting for the anniversary of the company’s incorporation and Tan will show the world what a mess he looks lately. Young Do looks worried.
Chairman Daddy gives a big speech on stage to all the shareholders but everyone is staring at the zoned out and beaten up Kim Tan sitting on stage next to Won and Ji Sook. Even Won and Ji Sook both turn and look at him with concern. Tan is totally spaced out.
Young Do and his buddies run into Tan as he stumbles out of a night club all drunk. Tan bumps into a guy who demands an apology but instead gets a punch from Tan. Young Do steps in to break up the fight before it starts, dragging Tan aside. Tan is totally drunk and itching to pick a fight.
Tan is impossible to restrain so Young Do punches him and yells for him to wake up. Tan turns his anger towards Young Do and the two start fighting on the street. Young Do finally sends Tan flat on his back which stops him. Young Do tells Tan to go see Eun Sang if he misses her that much. Tan says he won’t go see her anymore, and if Young Do wants her he can have her.
Thoughts of Mine:
Even if Heirs is constructed of every major K-drama trope under the sun and packaged in a very ordinary manner, I still managed to glean enjoyment from the straightforwardness of it all. This is not one drama trying to be clever and failing miserably. Its “it is what it is” cloak feels reassuring because I’m able to watch without too much analysis required. This one for me is the definition of guilty pleasure. That sorta evaporated in today’s episode because it felt entirely devoid of pleasure. Watching Tan look for Eun Sang, find her and let her go, and then process to give up on life, this was 60-minutes worth of tedium because it felt like filler or an attempt to let Lee Min Ho emote sadness and anger ad nauseam. I wish the last two episodes were mashed together. I doubt this is filler since the drama was slotted for 20-episodes, but then I worry where the heck time is going to be found to resolve everything else properly. At this point I think easy solutions like Chairman Daddy dying or Eun Sang magically becoming an heiress (like unconfirmed spoilers have suggested since weeks ago) really is all that remains. In which case, can’t the remaining narrative be more enjoyable? Pain can be pleasure but I can do without watching Tan cry in the dark or stare at dreamcatchers over and over. It’s no wonder Young Do has becoming the more dynamic character because his story line is actually more interesting. The way he found Eun Sang was amusing, their convo on the beach was lovely and so them, and how he talked about her to his dad was pretty admirable stuff. It shows that he’s not covetous but seems to have discovered that he can protect the girl he likes without needing to own her. As long as she doesn’t ignore him or leave his life, he can be content to just know she’s well and happy. I’m not saying Tan can’t be the same way, it’s just not an issue Tan has to deal with since Eun Sang likes him back. While Young Do’s change may seem abrupt and not really substantiated, I’m not going to pick at straws over it since it’s better than watching him continue to antagonize Tan for the sake of it.
I always figured Esther wouldn’t go through with the wedding to Young Do’s dad, but the drama never moved her first love storyline with Chan Young’s dad forward either so in the end I still don’t care. Rachel seems to have slinked off the edge of the cliff and while I’m not invested in her redemption I always thought her character was shafted for the sake of creating the token bitchy jealous girl antagonist. She seemed sane and sensible when talking with Won or Hyo Shin, but the second Eun Sang or Tan showed up she turned into a hissing Hydra. The implication of her loveline with Hyo Shin is also fine with me since it’s logical albeit totally bland to watch. If Won and Hyun Joo are going to get their happy ending even if their relationship was never explored, then might as well shove Rachel with Hyo Shin and call it a day. Too bad the couple we do care about because their interactions are always entertaining, namely Chan Young and Bo Na, continue to get barely any screen time. Chairman Daddy is a really roughly sketched out character and that’s where the obstacles he throws out falls apart for me. He’s just too cold and his motivations are not necessarily all that understandable because it feels myopic. He’s premising everything on Tan actually caring about preserving his wealth and status, except teenage lonely boys may actually chose the rocks fall down method in the midst of all that overwhelming pressure and disappointment. I also never knew why he got rid of Eun Sang so early on when he let Won and Hyun Joo sorta date for years until it couldn’t continue further. This drama has jumped the gun so that all the problems converge and has to be solved immediately. Who will come to the rescue of Tan and Eun Sang, because surely neither have the firepower to save each other. Let’s hope a major clue develops drops in the next episode because I don’t have the patience for more pointless brooding.
Click here to watch Heirs.