Oh My Ghostess: Episode 12
It’s a wonderful episode for emotional growth and forward movement, which perks up my interest just when I was fearing the show was heading into murky waters. All this maturity doesn’t necessarily mean the most happy of trajectories for our characters, but sometimes the pain is a necessary step in taking responsibility for your actions and learning from them. I swear I don’t mean any of this sadistically. Narrative progress is exciting!
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Bong-sun launches herself into Sun-woo’s arms , telling herself she can think of her own feelings this time. He teases her about being so attached to him, but obviously loves it.
Officer Sung-jae congratulates his partner, Officer Hwang, on being released from the hospital. I’m encouraged by the fact that Officer Hwang feigns complete ignorance over who attacked him, now that he’s made the connection that Sung-jae may have had something to do with it, and for now plays along.
They head to Soon-ae’s father’s restaurant for lunch, and Officer Hwang sighs that he’s incredibly sorry to Eun-hee for losing the last clue that could track down her hit-and-run driver. Sung-jae assures him that it’s not his fault, and says he didn’t tell Eun-hee or Sun-woo about it so they won’t feel disappointed. Officer Hwang takes another long look at Sung-jae’s wristwatch—the one that matches the one his attacker was wearing.
At the restaurant, Sun-woo swoops in to take a box out of Bong-sun’s hands, and tells her that later when he leaves for the market, she should make up an excuse that she has to go to the hospital so she can join him. Bong-sun’s in such a peppy mood today that Sun-woo comments on the difference—she’s not quite in her “manic” mood, but she definitely feels bolder. He leans in and whispers, “You’re prettiest when you’re in the middle.”
This makes her giddy and she heads off happily… and the camera pans over to one of the goofy assistant chefs, Ji-woong, who’s heard the whole thing.
He gathers the others together to share the news, and most of the boys scoff at how that can’t be, though Joon stays quiet. Min-soo goes on and on about how impossible it is for the chef to be dating Bong-sun, thinking it much more likely that he’s dating So-hyung.
Soon-ae doesn’t budge from her spot on Medium Unni’s floor, sad and lonely and unresponsive to Unni’s urging to eat something. Unni figures that they’d been mistaken about her unresolved grudge—as in, Soon-ae wasn’t lingering as a ghost just to have sex, which, duh—and says she’ll perform that ceremony to help Soon-ae pass on to the next realm, promising to minimize the pain as much as possible. Soon-ae just lies there.
When Sun-woo starts sending texts back and forth during the staff’s lunch, Min-soo hounds him to see who he’s texting. Sun-woo barks a denial, then excuses himself to go on his market run, looking to Bong-sun to make her exit too. She lets out a cry of pain and complains of a twisted ankle, and Min-soo tells her to get it checked out.
As soon as she hobbles out of earshot, Ji-woong points out how terrible her acting was, insisting that she’s going to follow the chef, though Min-soo dismisses him.
Sun-woo runs into a chef friend at the market, who notes that the underling isn’t helping by carrying any groceries. Bong-sun jumps in to take a few bags, but Sun-woo is annoyed and snaps at the friend, rejecting his offer to go eat something. He takes back the bags and holds Bong-sun’s hand, and leads her to a restaurant to buy her that food she’d said she loved—or rather, the dish Soon-ae loved but Bong-sun can’t seem to stomach. Uh-oh.
She pretends she likes it, trying not to let on that she’s forcing it down. (It’s a dish with innards and intestines, so the distaste is understandable.) She even has to excuse herself to throw up in the bathroom. She tells herself she can do this and heads back out, happy to see Sun-woo’s eaten most of the dish, then dismayed when he says he ordered another serving.
Sun-woo tells his staff that the cooking show will be coming to the restaurant tomorrow to film, and gives Bong-sun the responsibility of making the appetizer. It’s a big break for her and everyone congratulates her on it, but Bong-sun is stricken in panic and tells Sun-woo privately that she’s not ready for this opportunity, and she doesn’t want to make the restaurant look bad, either.
Sun-woo assures her that she’s got talent, listing all the foods Soon-ae successfully cooked, which of course is no consolation. He tells her she can handle this, and Bong-sun weakly promises to work hard.
Sung-jae heads out dressed in all black, and then shortly thereafter a man in black arrives at the restaurant. (His face is deliberately withheld from us, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume it’s the same dude.) He hangs back in the shadows as Bong-sun practices making the dish for tomorrow, but his plans are thwarted when Sun-woo joins her in the kitchen (and compliments her sauce, so at least Bong-sun isn’t completely adrift here).
Sung-jae heads back out without doing anything, his hand clenching a switchblade. He taps his palm with the blade, and then—ick ick ick—closes his fist around it, squeezing so hard he slices his own hand. It doesn’t even seem to faze him.
Soon-ae remains listless and silent in Medium Unni’s home, although she does listen when Sun-woo’s mother makes an unannounced visit. Mom wants a drinking friend to listen to her concerns about Sun-woo dating that girl, and Unni casts nervous glances at Soon-ae and urges Mom out to drink elsewhere. Mom’s confused at the need to leave, though she gets up eagerly to go when Unni assures her that the man who runs the pojangmacha in front is good-looking. Haha.
After they leave, Soon-ae sighs, “I miss you, Chef” as tears trickle down her face.
Bong-sun practices long into the night, getting close but never quite succeeding with her dish attempts. She’s so focused and pressed for time that when a ghostly hand starts to creep up her side (omg so creepy), she snaps that she’s busy and doesn’t even spare it a glance. The ghost tries a second time to accost her, but again, Bong-sun just slaps its hand away. A girl’s got priorities!
When she burns her hand, she hurries to run it under water while telling herself firmly to get it together, to be strong. She even musters up her frustration and fear to swear out loud, and pulls herself to keep going. And finally, she comes up with a dish that just might work.
Sung-jae arrives home late that night, his hand wrapped in a fresh bandage. Eun-hee worries over it, and he repeatedly assures her with a smile that he’s fine. But when she touches his arm, he flings her off and turns ice-cold, snapping at her before he gets the nice guy mask back in place. Eun-hee sweetly tells him that it’s fine if he gets upset with her from time to time rather than being perfect always, though she does look pretty taken aback.
The next day, lunchtime goes well and Bong-sun’s appetizer gets positive response, both from diners and the staff. The other assistants congratulate her openly, and Sun-woo flashes her a quick (hidden) thumbs-up before pulling her aside to tell her she did a good job, and to take this confidence going forward.
The TV crew arrives for the shoot, and there’s a flurry of activity as the crew sets up and the cranky director complains about everything, while So-hyung tries to keep him placated. He seems determined to complain, though, and sends Bong-sun running around fetching things from him, and after watching quietly for a while, Sun-woo steps in. He pulls Bong-sun aside and scolds the sous chef for treating her like she wasn’t important, allowing for the crew to follow suit. The director drops his complaining act, but asks Sun-woo why he’s so sensitive about her—are they dating or something?
Sun-woo shocks everyone by replying, “Yes. We’re dating. So don’t order her around.”
The assistant chefs are stunned, though Joon admits that he’d guessed as much and seems happy for the couple. Min-soo, on the other hand, worries that he’s shot himself in the foot by not being nice to the chef’s girlfriend and moans, “Do I have to quit now?”
Soon-ae finally rouses herself and tells Unni that she’ll do the passage ceremony. Unni is relieved and pulls her into a hug, promising she’ll use every bit of her abilities to make this as painless a procedure as she can, to send her on quickly. They’ll do it tomorrow, and Soon-ae will make one last visit to see her father tonight.
After the shoot wraps, So-hyung tells Sun-woo he was especially impressive today, and romantic too. She invites him and Bong-sun out for a drink, and the inclusion surprises him but seems like a nice gesture.
The assistants—at least, the Three Stooges, minus Joon—see Bong-sun straightening up tables and run in to take over, trying to score some points. Min-soo sits her down and reframes their entire relationship as that of doting sunbae taking care of his protégé, where the only reason he may have ever been hard on her was to build her up.
Sun-woo checks to make sure Bong-sun isn’t upset with his method of announcing their relationship—it wasn’t as he’d intended and he knows he rushed it, but he’s relieved when she tells him she’s fine with it as long as he is. Then they head out to drink with So-hyung, and the ladies get along great; So-hyung admits to feeling envious of how great they get along, but Bong-sun tells So-hyung she’s always found her so cool and admirable.
Sun-woo gets called by Sung-jae, who asks him to take Eun-hee home from rehab because he got stuck at work. Which is an excuse, because we see Sung-jae dressed in his blacks again and picking a lock to a car.
Sun-woo picks Eun-hee up, and she teases him about the hearts shooting out of his eyes at Bong-sun. She’s happy for him and likes Bong-sun, but he asks her to keep it a secret from Mom, since they both know how dramatically she’s likely to take it.
Soon-ae drops by to make her last goodbyes to her father and brother, tearfully giving them her last bits of advice. Then as she walks by a store window, she sees Sun-woo on TV and decides to see him one last time.
Meanwhile, Bong-sun’s pretty tipsy as she and So-hyung continue drinking, though she insists she’s not drunk, merely in a good mood. So-hyung finds her so adorable she can’t even hate her, and clears the air about their friction from that MT trip they all went on.
So-hyung offers to take Bong-sun home, but Bong-sun insists she’s totally not drunk and can go home on her own. She does get more serious as she asks So-hyung, almost like she’s asking for permission, whether all people are selfish—if, when pressed, they don’t have the space to think about others before themselves. So-hyung replies, “Yes, because we’re all people.”
So-hyung asks if it’s because Bong-sun’s sorry to her, and Bong-sun replies, “Yes, I feel sorry to you, and to the ghost, and to Chef too. But I’ll ignore it this one time.”
Bong-sun continues walking home alone, singing to herself, “It’ll be okay, it’ll all work out…” She tells herself she’s never been this happy before, and a flashback to her childhood shows us what it was like to be a little girl who would get accosted by little girl ghosts wanting to play. She’d always been the friendless outcast, and she tells herself it’ll all be fine.
As Bong-sun walks down a quiet street, Soon-ae sees her from across the way—and clocks the car speeding straight for Bong-sun. Soon-ae rushes in and shoves Bong-sun out of its path, and the car just passes safely through her.
Bong-sun leaps up to stop Soon-ae from leaving, and asks if she’s here to see Sun-woo. Soon-ae says no, that she’d just dropped by to see her family, and tells Bong-sun to be careful of cars.
Bong-sun tells her, “I’m sorry. And thank you.”
Soon-ae scoffs that she has nothing to be sorry about, and tells her, “Be happy. Please. I’m going now—eat well and live well.” Bong-sun watches her go with tears in her eyes, and Soon-ae heads off… and then sees the almost-hit-and-run car parked on another street. She’s startled to recognize Sung-jae sitting inside, just as he growls angrily, “Shin Soon-ae!” and honks his horn.
The horn angers a passing pedestrian, who roars at Sung-jae to step out of the car… and then finds himself being dragged down a dark alley. Horrified, Soon-ae watches from around the corner as the man is choked.
She returns to Unni’s house in a daze, and says they’ll have to postpone the passage ceremony. She can’t quite figure out what’s what, but she’s certain that Sung-jae is different—the feeling she gets from him is “remarkably bad” and she doesn’t feel she can leave things be like this. Why would Sung-jae try to kill Bong-sun?
Bong-sun arrives home at the same time Sun-woo does, and he asks her to make him fried rice. She’s surprised at the request, but he says that since she likes rice, he’s got to practice eating it, which is just the most adorable thing. She cooks it for him, but her encounter with Soon-ae has her more subdued than usual, and he wonders at it, even though she says she’s fine every time he asks.
Sun-woo suggests a walk afterward, and is rather proud of himself for doing one more of the things she (Soon-ae) had mentioned wanting to do. Bong-sun is taken aback to hear him recite what she’d supposedly said, about not getting to see the sights or ride the ferries, and how he wants to do them all for her. He’s pleased with himself for remembering exactly what she’d said, but that only makes her look gloomier, though she tells him she likes it.
They see the view from Namsan Tower and take selcas together, and then Sun-woo’s mood gets a little more thoughtful as he tells her he’s particularly thankful to her for that one day when his old schoolmates dropped by the restaurant. The reunion had messed with his head a little, taking him back to all those feelings of misery and loneliness. And that pancake she’d cooked for him afterward had been soothing to his feelings.
Bong-sun realizes to herself, “That isn’t me.” He explains that he’d always been used to being alone, and thus kept his feelings bottled up inside. But it made him realize that just having someone with you can be a comfort.
Bong-sun thinks again, “That isn’t me. What made Chef want to eat rice, what gave Chef comfort—all of that isn’t me.”
But Sun-woo pulls her into a hug and thanks her, “for making me do things I don’t usually do, and for being by my side.” She grows teary-eyed and upset knowing he doesn’t feel these things for her, even as he gets more tender and attentive.
They ride the cable car down, and he says they can ride the ferry on their next outing. But Bong-sun speaks up to say no: “It’s not me that you like.”
He’s totally confused, but she tells him, “It’s a ghost that you like.” He stares, and she says with trembling voice that she can see ghosts, and that a ghost had possessed her body. “So the one you like is the me that was possessed by a ghost—not the me of right now. I’m sorry.”
She starts to cry, and he wipes at them while trying to understand what’s going on. He can only stare, and when the car comes to a stop, she apologizes again and hurries out.
Shocked, he doesn’t even seem to realize the car is moving until it’s already heading back up the hill, carrying him away from Bong-sun.
Oh thank goodness for that. I’m surprised that Bong-sun told Sun-woo at this point (and not, say, in finale week) but commend her for it; I don’t begrudge her one second for feeling tempted to keep the relationship going, but I’m proud of her for doing the mature thing right away once she realized that Sun-woo’s feelings aren’t meant for her. Or at least, not for the same Bong-sun as he thinks; I’d still argue that there are elements of the real Bong-sun that he does like, but it’s mixed up in the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is not her.
It was heart-tugging to watch Bong-sun navigating her own life now that Soon-ae had left her body for good, and realizing in bits and pieces that the Bong-sun in Chef’s eyes had altered. Soon-ae’s possession has created a whole new Bong-sun in everyone else’s eyes, and now Bong-sun rather finds herself stranded in a lie. It’s one of the reasons I would get annoyed at Soon-ae every time she jumped in and out of the body without, say, writing up a memo apprising her host of all the things she’d need to know.
Not to pin all the blame on Soon-ae for a bad idea conceived in two brains: Bong-sun was naive for not thinking to ask what was happening in between her moments of wakefulness, and I felt like she should maybe have had more interest in what was going on in her own body. I do wish the drama had made a more thoughtful attempt to portray what it would feel like to wake up randomly in strange situations, the world having moved on while you’d been stuck in time. But it came to a head in this episode, and I appreciate that at least now, we’re seeing the emotional fallout of their harebrained scheme, which hurts all three people involved.
But at least we’re back on track to figuring out the mystery of Sung-jae, which I’m frankly a little shocked that the drama has held on to for so long. I get that the hijinks and the romance have been adorable fun to watch, and those episodes sure sped by and plastered a goofy grin to my face. And for sure, that’s worked marvelously in capturing audiences; Ghostess has been a huge hit, both in ratings and in the general mainstream consciousness (Episode 12 pulled in an impressive 4.8% overall rating, peaking at 6.3%—a great number for tvN after quite a string of disappointing drama runs).
But plot-wise, the question of Soon-ae’s death and the source of Sung-jae’s villainy are the real drivers of the story, and it would have been nice to have gotten more of that earlier. I find it curious that Sung-jae’s dark backstory has only been revealed to the audience in disembodied flashbacks; so far, very little has been done to connect it to the other people in the show. I like that Sung-jae’s partner is catching on, and now that Soon-ae’s become suspicious I expect things to speed up.
Most of all, I’m glad Soon-ae has found the way to her actual unresolved grudge, and hope that she and Bong-sun might find a way to work together as partners this time, rather than the simple hijacking of the first round. I’m relieved that both girls were honest and reasonable enough to understand when their plan had gone awry and needed to be abandoned, which makes me think that perhaps a Take 2 might yield more satisfying results.