There is no trace of plucky Yang Sun in episode 9 of Scholar Who Walks the Night, giving her a chance to try on the tortured heroine mantle that so endeared Myung Hee to the viewers in episode 1. It works once again, giving Yang Sun a canvas to show her guts and grit, and let the men who care about her suffer alongside. The narrative progressing on the romance front has gradually led me to boarding the OTP ship even if it lacks the tight cohesive hooks from a couple with a better falling in love phase. Now it doesn’t matter as much that Sung Yul’s feelings for Yang Sun were rather abrupt since he has to watch her suffer for the bigger cause and that pathos works beautifully.
Everything came together nicely in this episode though some of the great impact is lessoned by the disjointed in scene cuts which is a visual glitch with this drama since the beginning. Improved developments come from Gwi doing more than growl threats along with regaining use of his brains. Sung Yul also showcases his ability to plot methodically, with a side break to tenderly care for Yang Sun in jail when he can’t spring her just yet. There was tons of father-child moments in this episode, from the King-Yoon’s wake up and get a grip harsh talk to Yang Sun and her adoptive father’s tearful sacrifice and concern for each other. With the Lecherous Scholar arc finally done, I’ve renewed hopes that drama will really keep stepping up its game like it did today.
Episode 9 recap:
Yang Sun and her dad are lumped in with the cohorts of the Lecherous Scholar and taken away to a secret place to be interrogated. Yang Sun’s father reveals that she’s a girl to spare her the branding torture. She’s still badly beaten and wakes up in a jail cell, finding her dad also collapsed beside her.
Yang Sun calls for help to tend to her dad but the one to arrive is the interrogating minister who offers her a deal. If she admits to being the Lecherous Scholar then her dad and whole family will be spared. Yang Sun points out that she’s not the Lecherous Scholar who is the royal grandson. The minister doesn’t deny it but says if she makes that public then her entire family will still die, and the vampire in the palace will kill everyone else. All Yang Sun needs is to sacrifice herself to save everyone.
Sung Yul reveals that Yang Sun’s dad saw him ten years ago, at the residence of Teacher Seo after Gwi turned him into a vampire. Sung Yul had to kill vampire Teacher Seo so to Yang Sun’s dad he is a blood sucking monster and will never hand over the memoir to Sung Yul. Soo Hyang disagrees, saying Yang Sun’s dad will hand over the memoir if it means saving his daughter’s life.
Ho Jin is more worried about Gwi demanding to see the suspect Lecherous Scholar, i.e. Yang Sun. He knows her scent from the satchel and may even suck her blood when he sees her. Soo Hyang asks if Sung Yul can handle seeing Yang Sun die? Sung Yul admits it hurts him and he struggles with it, but if one Yang Sun’s death can save the entire populace then he would allow it to happen. To get rid of Gwi, Sung Yul is willing to do even more unforgiveable things.
Gwi and the Prime Minister discuss how the captured bookseller suspect could not possibly be the real Lecherous Scholar. It’s clear the King is trying to find a scapegoat and doctor evidence to back it up. Gwi figures he can tell once he sees the suspect. Plus the way Sung Yul has been trying to protect the owner of the satchel makes him curious why that person is so important. He’s also looking forward to finally tasting the delicious blood.
Yang Sun mulls over the devil’s deal extended by the minister, her life and sacrifice to save everyone she cares about.
Yang Sun’s little crippled sister Dam pays Sung Yul a late night visit, crawling her way to his study to plead with him to save her sister and dad. She points out that he’s saved Yang Sun many times already so he can do it. She shows Sung Yul the novel of the Scholar Who Walks the Night, asking him to read it and understand how much Yang Sun likes him.
Sung Yul reads the novel which contains all of his interactions with Yang Sun, lovingly captured in words and rendered in illustrations.
Ho Jin’s stakeout of the palace jail pays off when he sees the captured prisoners returned for official interrogation. Sung Yul knows the King is planning to have all of the blame pinned on this crew as the Lecherous Scholar and cohorts.
Sung Yul sneaks back to the jail to check on Yang Sun and her father. The father wakes up and freaks out seeing Sung Yul before him but isn’t stupid enough to scream this time. Sung Yul asks if the father saw him ten years ago at Teacher Seo’s residence. The father admits he saw it all, Sung Yul killing and sucking blood. Sung Yul confirms he’s a vampire so it’s natural for the father to be scared of it.
Sung Yul then reveals he’s been living for the past hundred and twenty years looking for the memoir in the father’s possession which will help him get rid of Gwi. At today’s interrogation, the King will personally attend and do everything to frame Yang Sun as the Lecherous Scholar and will not let her live. Sung Yul promises to save the father and Yang Sun in exchange for the memoir, and get the whole family safely to Jeju. Sung Yul asks him to decide quickly and trust him before leaving the jail.
Yoon is mulling over what the King chastised him about, how he’s dying to be a hero while letting the people he cares about die for his cause. Yoon has a meeting with his dead dad, asking if Yoon won’t do something to try and save his subordinates. Yoon asks for advice on how he can safe those people when he has no power? Yoon’s father puts a reassuring hand on Yoon’s shoulder before Yoon looks around to see that he’s all alone.
The Minister calls his grandson out to warn him not to try and admit he’s the Lecherous Scholar to try and save others. If he does so, then the Minister will reveal that the royal grandson is the Lecherous Scholar so in the end the prince can’t be safe either. The Minister has already lost his son, he won’t risk losing his grandson over this.
The interrogation begins with the King presiding over the questioning. Yang Sun is awoken with a splash of cold water while the King warns Yoon not to try and do anything otherwise Yang Sun is dead. Yang Sun sees her hyung Yoon standing by the King as the prince and finally knows his real identity.
The torture begins as everyone is stretched with sticks and branded with hot irons, including Yang Sun even if she’s a girl. The King demands to hear a confession by the Lecherous Scholar. Yang Sun remembers her last conversation with Yoon where she supported what the Lecherous Scholar is doing to give people hope. She also remembers the Minister telling her that everyone is going to die if she doesn’t admit to being the Lecherous Scholar.
Yang Sun struggles to get the words out and finally says “I am the Lecherous Scholar.” She frames what she did feeling tired of this hopeless life and orchestrated something to change it. Yang Sun begs for her father’s life which is when her father speaks up as being the real Lecherous Scholar.
The King doesn’t believe the father since all evidence points to Yang Sun. The father reveals that he worked for the Crown Prince ten years ago and has been angry about what happened so he planned this as revenge. The father begs for his daughter’s life as she’s a good child who cross-dressed to earn money to support the family. The King announces that everyone here will be executed tomorrow at noon for their treasonous act. Yang Sun and her father cries over this hopeless situation they are in.
Sung Yul prepares tons of Hawthorn bark shavings and uses his vampire power to spread it into the air to conceal Yang Sun’s scent.
Yang Sun is dragged back to jail and Sung Yul quickly gains access to check on her. He notes her serious injuries before pouring blood over her and taking the Hawthorne wood amulet he gave her. Sung Yul senses Gwi arriving so quickly takes his leave.
The Prime Minister brings Gwi to the jails and allows him to see the prisoners. Gwi is shown Yang Sun’s father as the one who admitted to being the Lecherous Scholar. Gwi says it’s not someone this old and also doesn’t have the amulet. Gwi is then shown to Yang Sun’s jail cell and told that she’s the daughter of the one confessing to being the Lecherous Scholar.
Gwi checks out Yang Sun, noting that her features are beautiful and sure to make men like her. But he doesn’t smell the same scent on her and the bloods he tastes from her wounds don’t taste the same. He’s also upset that all the prisoners are barely conscious and near dead, he can’t interrogate them to ask about the memoir this way.
Gwi does notice something odd, the men in jail smell like men while women smell like women, except for Yang Sun. He then sees Hawthorn powder and figures Sung Yul used it to conceal Yang Sun’s real scent. It doesn’t matter if this girl is the Lecherous Scholar or simply the girl that Kim Sung Yul likes, either way things are sure to get interesting. He’s certain that Sung Yul will always be around this woman.
Gwi leaves the jail and sure enough Sung Yul rushes back to Yang Sun’s cell. Sung Yul’s eyes well up with tears looking at the bruised and battered Yang Sun. She’s in and out of consciousness and calls out for Sung Yul, telling him that she’s in so much pain and wants to go home.
Yoon stands before the well where his father the Crown Prince was sent to die, feeling shamed by how nothing has changed in the ten years since he was a little boy begging for his father’s life. Today he still has no power to save the people he cares about. Yoon remembers watching Yang Sun tearfully admit that she is the Lecherous Scholar and starts to cry.
Gwi and the Prime Minister walk by and see Yoon by the well. Gwi wonders why Yoon is here and notes that the King’s personal guard is standing nearby. He wonders if the guard is keeping an eye on the royal grandson or protecting his life.
The Minister asks the King whether they should tell Yoon the truth – that they have been planning an attack strategy against Gwi this whole time and will be ready to act on it soon. The King would rather not tell Yoon at this time. News breaks that Yoon’s personal guard has been dragged down to Gwi’s lair.
Yoon’s guard immediately tells Gwi that the real Lecherous Scholar is the royal grandson Lee Yoon. The guard begs for his life and agrees to serve Gwi, but for that gets his throat slit. Gwi finds useless a servant that betrays his master for his own life.
Sung Yul holds a sleeping Yang Sun in his arms until she regains consciousness and wonders why he’s crying before passing out again. Sung Yul clutches the sleeping Yang Sun even tighter in his arms and keeps crying while remembering how mean he was to her earlier to keep her away from him. Sung Yul begs Yang Sun to endure just for a little while longer.
Yang Sun’s father awakens and sees Sung Yul cradling Yang Sun tendering in her jail cell. He then remembers the aftermath from ten years ago when he saw Sung Yul stake vampire Teacher Seo. Sung Yul cut his palm with the dagger and dripped his healing blood on Yang Sun to heal her injuries.
The Prime Minister is ordered to bring the King and Yoon down to the lair to see him. The King and Yoon are inside and overhear this request so they both know that Gwi knows the truth, that Yoon is the Lecherous Scholar. Yoon is willing to die for this and gets chewed out by the King. The King calls Yoon shortsighted to be willing to die to save some subordinates. The King isn’t afraid of either him or Yoon dying, what’s more important is keeping the people of Joseon alive and well afterwards.
The King finally reveals that he’s been planning an attack strategy to battle Gwi ever since the Crown prince died. He didn’t tell Yoon so that he would grow up hating Gwi and becoming stronger to fight him. That way if the King dies then Yoon will be strong enough to govern Joseon. The King needs Yoon alive so that he can continue to rule the country afterwards.
Sung Yul pays Yang Sun’s father another visit and is asked whether he likes Yang Sun and wants to help her? He remembers now that ten years ago Sung Yul helped Yang Sun, revealing that Yang Sun is the child of Teacher Seo and the child Sung Yul saved. Sung Yul asks to know whether the memoir is but doesn’t hear it as Yang Sun’s dad hesitates and then the guards arrive.
Hye Ryung meets with the sleazy official from the gisaeng house who tried to molest Yang Sun, confirming that Sung Yul showed up there. She then orders her guard to eliminate that guy before preparing to pay a visit to the gisaeng house if she wants to see Sung Yul.
The Minister hands a packet of slow working poison to Yang Sun’s father, promising that he will save Yang Sun if the father takes it and accepts all responsibility. The father doesn’t even hesitate and eats that poison powder before telling the Minister to uphold his end of the bargain.
Yang Sun wakes up alone in her cell and doesn’t see her father in the other cells. Her dad is returned to his cell and he stops to tell Yang Sun that she can go home soon because they are being released after the authorities agree they are not the Lecherous Scholar.
Ho Jin rushes to tell Sung Yul that Yang Sun and her father have been dragged to the palace, clearly being taken to see Gwi. Sung Yul orders that the dead consort be awakened now as a vampire so in the commotion he can save Yang Sun.
Yang Sun and her father are taken away on a cart and Yang Sun wonders if they are being released? The father says yes, the Minister promised him, but Yang Sun wonders why they are headed this way. Yang Sun’s father tells her that the item the Scholar is looking for is in the temple where the father often goes to pray. The cart stops and Yang Sun’s father gets off alone, turning to look back at Yang Sun while apologizing for all the hardships Yang Sun has suffered because of having a father like him. Yang Sun’s father walks into the lair and starts to run a nosebleed.
Yang Sun’s father begs the head guard to send Yang Sun away now and promises not to do anything as he’s already taken the poison and come so far. He doesn’t want his child to see him walk through the door and be the last memory she has of him. Yang Sun’s cart is driven away and she finally realizes that her father is not coming back to join her. She too weak to climb off and can only call out for her father.
The King and Yoon are in the lair, with Yoon staring at his father’s corpse hanging on Gwi’s wall like a trophy. The King asks Yoon to greet Gwi, who laughs wondering why Yoon isn’t happy to see his own dad here. Gwi is even more surprised that the Lecherous Scholar is Yoon and that snaps Yoon out of it. He boldly asks why Gwi believes what one guard said, that Yoon is the Lecherous Scholar.
Yoon orders the Prime Minister do keep on investigating and bring irrefutable proof that Yoon is the Lecherous Scholar. Then Yoon is willing to be killed by Gwi, but not without hard evidence. Gwi asks that the person who admitted to being the Lecherous Scholar be brought here for direct questioning and the King announces that the person is already here.
Yang Sun’s father kneels before Gwi who asks if he’s the Lecherous Scholar. He sees Gwi and remembers now that he was the one who killed Teacher Seo. Gwi asks Yang Sun’s father to confess he’s not the Lecherous Scholar and Gwi will spare his life. Yang Sun’s father refuses to beg for his life from a monster. Gwi asks how he knew about his existence? Yang Sun’s father says the Crown Prince left a document for him and he’s since passed it on.
Gwi grabs Yang Sun’s father by the neck and demands to know where the document is? Yang Sun’s father is willing to die now and orders the royals to watch how their citizens are sacrificed to this monster. Yoon stops Gwi before he bites on, asking him to leave Yang Sun’s father alive so that he can be executed before the public and end the Lecherous Scholar mess publicly. Gwi suddenly senses something and says “Kim Sung Yul, is it you again?” The King’s retainer comes down to announce that the consort has turned into a vampire in the palace. Gwi rushes off which is when Yang Sun’s father dies of the slow moving poison.
The vampire consort wanders through the palace, scaring everyone and causing a commotion. Gwi arrives and senses that this was a trick to lure him out. Sung Yul whizzes through the palace with Gwi hot on his heels.
Sung Yul encounters Yoon in the palace, with both recognizing each other from the meeting with Yang Sun present. Neither says anything until Sung Yul takes off again. He runs back to Gwi’s lair in time to see Yang Sun’s father’s corpse carried out. He has to hide when Gwi arrives behind him, and Gwi is not pleased to see Yang Sun’s father dead already.
Gwi is told that Yang Sun’s father suddenly spit up blood after Gwi left and then died. Gwi wants all the cohorts brought to him for questioning and is told all the cohorts have committed suicide in jail.
Yoon goes to the jail cell and sees all his subordinates dead inside. He closes their eyes and takes in their sacrifice for his cause.
Yang Sun is being led though the palace and doesn’t realize when she crosses paths with the guards carrying her father’s body. Sung Yul arrives and quickly dispatches the guards to rescue Yang Sun. She immediately asks him to save her father but he just wants to take her back to his place where her family is waiting for her. Sung Yul promises to go rescue her father but she needs to leave first. Yang Sun tells Sung Yul that her father wanted her to pass word that Prince Jonghyun’s memoir is at the temple.
When Yang Sun turns her head, Sung Yul uses his arm to block her view until he reluctantly allows her to see what is nearby. Yang Sun stumbles over to the body of her father laying on the ground and sobs over him, pleading for him to wake up.
Thoughts of Mine:
Maybe all it took was some serious no-holds barred torture on the leading lady for me to finally connect with her character, or more likely it was her finally getting a chance to behave in ways that allowed me to have faith that she’s more than an act first then think type. It really is too bad that the connective threads in this drama are either weak or non-existence, as evidenced by jarring scene cuts and characters that are either overly important or barely merit inclusion in the main plot point. Otherwise this drama really isn’t that bad, and certainly doesn’t have anything I find super annoying or a deal breaker. Even Sung Yul and Yang Sun’s fast developing romance isn’t that big a problem either as they do have chemistry and are blanketed with so many swoony scenes, but for those scenes always feeling airlifted into the storytelling. Like today’s Sung Yul jailbreaks to check on Yang Sun, which would be so moving but for me not yet being onboard with their held up feelings. I see it but the drama doesn’t make me feel it, but then again, this episode worked best because it was mostly about the politics and bigger picture with the romance dialed down to a suitable simmer.
Yang Sun’s dad redeemed himself overnight, from useless annoying nuisance to strong-willed and sacrificing common man hero. Both Yang Sun and his dad’s confessions at the royal interrogation moved me, with convincing acting and an appreciation for why they would each ultimately choose to bend to the will of the unjust for the sake of the greater good. When Yang Sun’s dad stopped and calculated the players in this mess, and his own ability to yet Yang Sun out of jail alive, his final choice to hand the memoir to Sung Yul and then go die for a chance to save Yang Sun was the best part of seeing chess pieces that payoff. Now Yang Sun has both her real dad and adopted dad die because of Gwi, so her stakes in this war is just as strong as Yoon and Sung Yul. I love that, too bad Hye Ryung continues to be totally ancillary because it would help if the drama gave me her backstory so that her limited screen time plotting could be more meaningful to watch. I’m glad Yoon and the King had a “come to jesus” moment and talk in this episode, finally they are on the same power and can combine smarts and forces. I don’t blame the King for sacrificing his son until he could find a sure fire way to defeat Gwi, a good ruler doesn’t fight a losing battle. Then leaving Yoon angry and bitter to grow up to be a fighter is also a brilliant move even if it leaves Yoon wrongly mad at him for a decade.
With Yoon finally learning the hard way just how powerful Gwi is, not just being a strong vampire killer but also having minions of power who cater to his whims, now he can start thinking strategically rather than idealistically. The Lecherous Scholar saga is coming to a close at just the right time, I was tired of the looks good on textbook method to out Gwi and try to use public will to topple him. That was never going to work because the public could never be motivated to act in accord with enough power to end the centuries long reign of Gwi, with all its established systems in place. In many ways this drama is basically a political coup sageuk about getting rid of a bad ruler, except this one sucks blood and doesn’t like sunlight. Thank god the drama didn’t have Yang Sun’s dad die before revealing the whereabouts of the memoir, and also let Yang Sun tell Sung Yul the moment she saw him rather than drag it out. Now Sung Yul can actually read that dang memoir and see if the Gwi killing secret hidden inside was worth all that fuss for the last hundred and twenty years. I also want to see how Yang Sun deals with the fall out of learning Yoon is the Lecherous Scholar and royal grandson, their friendship was so wonderfully chill it would certainly feel like a gut punch to see her blame him for everything. This episode delivered the goods with mostly jail time and I’m excited to see where all the players take it after Yoon and Yang Sun lose people they care about.
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