Oh My Ghostess: Episode 15
Things take a dark turn today, but with that darkness comes some answers, and also some resolution. (Also, the episode is quite literally dark, as in strain-your-eyes-against-the-grayscale dark, and frankly I could have used more resolution on the graphic front. Hur hur. But until this director learns to light his night scenes better, I suppose we’ll have to suffer a little eyestrain. I suppose it’s not too much to sacrifice in the name of dramatic conflict and payoff.)
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Soon-ae comes out of the officer’s body, and Sung-jae smiles menacingly to finally have found the rogue ghost. She tells him she’s remembered now that he killed her, and asks why. He replies that she saw something she shouldn’t have, and that it would’ve been much nicer for her to move on instead of hanging around with unsolved grudges.
Soon-ae says he’s going to have to pay for his crimes, because the truth has already started to come out and he can’t escape his eventual punishment. He moves to seize her throat angrily, but thank goodness his human body can’t touch hers. Soon-ae runs.
Sung-jae chases her down the street, but he can’t follow when she jumps into a passing bus and bellows in frustration.
A flashback to three years ago takes us back to that crucial day: Sung-jae’s on duty, and the man stopped at the checkpoint stares up at him in recognition—this is the adoptive father who’d kicked him out after he’d been hovering menacingly over the new baby. The man tells him he doesn’t want to run into him ever again, and drives on.
Later that night, Sung-jae waits in the shadows as his former family—mother, father, and their now-teenage son—arrive home. When Dad steps outside for a smoke, Sung-jae comes up behind him silently, armed with a heavy pipe. He raises it a couple times, but struggles with himself and stops himself mid-swing. His face is conflicted and tearful, but he pulls back just as Dad decides to go buy his other son ice cream.
So Sung-jae doesn’t hurt Dad, who remains oblivious to how close he was to danger. Sung-jae fights tears as he drives, and looks genuinely shocked when he runs over something in the road. He gets out and sees Eun-hee lying in the street unconscious, and at first he seems upset—but that turns to calm as he returns to the car, his face impassive. And as though hitting her wasn’t bad enough, he drives right over her legs as he leaves the scene.
Soon-ae, who’d been preparing a late-night snack to give to Sung-jae, happens by just as he’s driving away. She calls for an ambulance right away, then jots down the last four digits of the license plate. But she makes the fatal mistake of calling Sung-jae to ask for his help, telling him what she saw and the digits she remembers. That’s when she looks outside to his parked car, its license plate in clear view.
She tries to hide her sudden distress but she’s not very good at it, and Sung-jae follows her as she leaves in a hurry. She runs through the neighborhood and slips out of sight, but as she fumbles with her phone, in her distraction she doesn’t notice him until he’s right in front of her.
The next thing we know, she’s bound and gagged in his car as he drives her somewhere. As surreptitiously as she can, Soon-ae dials a number on her phone, and when the voicemail starts recording, she inputs the license plate number. Her last message to Dad.
Arriving at an out-of-the-way building, Sung-jae proceeds to calmly drown Soon-ae in a bathtub. Gahhhh, his coldness is chilling. Next he tosses her off a bridge, and her corpse is discovered the next day.
In the present, Soon-ae arrives at Unni’s home, telling her she’s remembered how she died. Unni holds her tight as she cries, then hears her story and warns Soon-ae of the danger now that Sung-jae has seen her—there’s no way he won’t try to go after her.
He happens upon Soon-ae’s father in the street, who’s carrying home a hefty amount of takeout food. Dad explains that he has a guest, and Sung-jae files this information away.
Soon-ae had instructed Bong-sun to tell Sun-woo about the license plate, so she calls and asks to see him. He heads over right away, so she waits outside Dad’s restaurant, where someone comes up behind her and claps a hand over her mouth.
Sun-woo arrives wondering why Bong-sun isn’t picking up her phone, then sees the sneaker on the ground in front of the building. Unease growing, he heads over to Unni’s house, interrupting her prayer requesting the strength to fight the evil spirit.
Sun-woo says Bong-sun has disappeared, and Unni and Soon-ae both realize who’s responsible. Unni fills Sun-woo in on everything we know, including Sung-jae’s role in the hit-and-run accident.
Unable to get Sung-jae on the phone, Eun-hee worries at home. She recalls waking up in the middle of the night recently just as Sung-jae was hiding the diary in his secret suitcase, and now she asks her mother to fetch the suitcase. The strange items inside have them confused and a little alarmed, particularly Soon-ae’s broken cell phone and the dead cop’s wallet.
Sun-woo arrives and acts casual as he covers for Sung-jae, saying that he’s working late and that the suitcase must be evidence from his cases. It’s likely to keep Eun-hee from freaking out, since she looks on the verge of a panic attack, and he joins the police in their search to track down Sung-jae.
But a location trace just takes them to an empty room where Sung-jae has left his cell phone, and Bong-sun is nowhere in sight. She is, at the moment, stowed in the trunk of a taxi, with Sung-jae riding in the backseat.
The next day is a low-traffic one at the restaurant, and sous chef Min-soo is thoroughly enjoying being the most senior cook in the kitchen. His sunbae drops by for lunch and Min-soo makes it a point to act like the boss, ordering everyone around.
But then, a twist! Min-soo’s sunbae recognizes assistant cook Dong-chul—the tough-looking one who’s been lying about his age because he’s a latecomer in the field. He’s been pretending he’s way younger and just looks old, gritting his teeth when Min-soo talks down to him. But now Min-soo’s sunbae calls Dong-chul his sunbae—and since they’re all from the same high school, this totally rearranges the hierarchy. Min-soo is now the maknae, while Dong-chul assumes the hyung position.
Unni attempts to get a read on Sung-jae’s whereabouts, as Sun-woo and Soon-ae wait anxiously. She gets a few vague clues, such as a proximity to Seoul and the sound of many children.
He’s at the orphanage where he grew up, playing soccer with the children. He’s supported the orphanage over the years, although not entirely altruistically: The car he donated a few years ago is the one he hit Eun-hee with, which bears the telltale license plates.
The director has offered him to stay in an unused building for the time being, which serves as a convenient place to stash Bong-sun. He keeps her gagged and tells her he won’t do anything to her right away: “That would be no fun.”
She looks fearfully at the little boy huddled in the room—a ghost, who flees with a gasp when Sung-jae looks at him. He draws the curtains on her and leaves, keeping her hidden in the dark.
Bong-sun tries to think of a way out of this fix, but she doesn’t know where she is. She vaguely catches a familiar scent in the air, recalling from her cooking lessons that it’s rosemary. Ah, that’s because right next to the orphanage is an herb farm.
Sun-woo has no luck persuading the cops to intensify the search or target children-dense places like schools, since they argue that they’re already doing what they can and are stretched thin. Plus, they can hardly take the word of a psychic as their only basis for investigating. So there’s nothing to be done but go out there alone, hitting up every school or day care, asking after Bong-sun.
Meanwhile, Soon-ae finds her ghost frenemy eating funeral food with other spirits, and asks for help. Ah, well that’s smart to spread your resources, and the frenemy happens upon that orphanage as Sung-jae is leaving it. She’s surprised when the human sees her, and his energy unnerves her enough that she leaves right away.
Unni prays again for the power to catch this evil ghost, and this time, she gets an answer. The lights flicker dark, and she thanks the gods for granting her this request.
Soon-ae worries for Bong-sun’s condition and says guiltily that she should have been the one to get caught instead. That’s when Frenemy Ghost finds her and lets her know that she’s found no trace of that girl anywhere, and only ran into some guy “with incredibly strong ki” who could see ghosts. Hearing his description rings a bell.
ung-jae returns to check on Bong-sun, and she begs him to think of his wife and surrender himself. Mention of Eun-hee just makes him scream at her to shut up, and he starts to squeeze her throat in a rage. Thankfully the orphanage director calls out for him, and Sung-jae quickly gags her and steps aside.
The little boy ghost returns to the room, and she tries to communicate to him, asking him to kick the phone over to her. He manages to move it after a few tries, and Bong-sun struggles to make a call. She gets through to Sun-woo, and despite her being unable to say anything, he guesses right away that it’s her, and that she can’t talk for some reason. He tells her to text him her location, and waits anxiously for her reply.
Bong-sun struggles to type in a message, and only has time to send the word “rosemary.” She manages to fling the phone back across the room before Sung-jae returns, and although he sees the last message, he doesn’t seem suspicious of her. To him, it doesn’t mean much.
Sun-woo tries to decipher the clue, and asks his team where they source their rosemary. They name a few different suppliers in the area, and then Dong-chul recalls that Eun-hee bought her potted rosemary at an herb farm near someplace she visited with Sung-jae.
Unni calls Sun-woo with Frenemy’s tip about seeing a ghost-seer at an orphanage, and that provides enough clues for Sun-woo to guess it was Sung-jae’s old orphanage. He calls in the report to the police and heads over immediately, and across town Unni (and Soon-ae) grab a taxi for the same place.
Eun-hee can’t shake her feeling that there’s more Sung-jae’s absence than she’s being told, and cries in worry. He calls from a pay phone and assures her that nothing’s wrong, and that he’s just out to think things over. She doesn’t believe that’s all there is, but tells him that whatever’s going on, she’s on his side: “Because I trust you. You’re a good person.”
That rattles him, and he hangs up on her. He drives back to the orphanage in his old hit-and-run car, but sees the police cars that pull up ahead of him and redirects his route, managing to remain unseen as he drops by the other building where he’s holding Bong-sun.
Sun-woo arrives with the police, and he sees Sung-jae speeding off and recognizes the plate numbers. He drives off in hot pursuit, and Unni’s taxi arrives in time to see and join the chase.
Bong-sun has been tossed into Sung-jae’s backseat and surreptitiously works on untying her ropes while Sung-jae’s distracted driving. She gets her feet loose first, then grabs a knife in her bound hands—and sticks it into Sung-jae’s abdomen.
Sung-jae’s car swerves into the wrong lane, then screeches to a stop right in the middle of the busy highway. Bong-sun runs out of the car moments before Sung-jae screeches off again, and Sun-woo runs out of his car to collect her. She bursts into tears while he consoles her, and then Unni’s taxi arrives and Soon-ae rushes to her side too, apologizing.
Unni hears that Sung-jae got away and asks to borrow Sun-woo’s car, determined to put a stop to him. She drives madly enough to unnerve Soon-ae (Unni: “What kind of ghost has that much fear?”) but doesn’t let up, keeping up the pursuit.
They pull over when they find Sung-jae’s car parked at the side of the road, and his blood provides a trail.
That night, Sun-woo watches over Bong-sun as she sleeps, thanking her for returning safely. He lays down next to her, patting her comfortingly when her sleep turns fitful, staying there for a good long while.
Unni and Soon-ae follow the dark road until they come to a dam, where Unni senses a dark energy. Sung-jae staggers his way up a dark staircase, just a little bit ahead of them.
Eun-hee drops the wedding photo she’d been holding in her sleep, and the glass shatters. Symbolism!
Unni and Soon-ae arrive at the top of the stairs, which takes them out into the open, and Sung-jae rushes at them with a roar. Soon-ae shoves Unni out of harm’s way, and when he rushes at Soon-ae, Unni throws beans, used for exorcism, at Sung-jae.
They knock him down, and the evil spirit bursts out of the body, ghastly and repulsive. Unni chants a string of incantations at it, and a freed Sung-jae stares in shock at the thing growling at him.
All of a sudden, Eun-hee’s loving words come at him in a wave as he recalls the happy moments in their marriage. He wasn’t entirely dormant, it seems, and he recalls the better parts of his life, including Soon-ae when she’d been alive, looking after him in her adoring way.
The evil spirit cackles and approaches him again, then dives into the body to reclaim him. It makes the body writhe and choke, and Sung-jae struggles with himself—he seems to be resisting, or at least in pain.
Getting to his feet, he sends a long plaintive look at Soon-ae and Unni. Then sighs, closes his eyes, and lets himself fall off the ledge.
He lands with a thud on the ground below, blood pooling around his head.
That’s a terrible way to go, but it’s one way to give Sung-jae a shred of humanity without fully redeeming him, which would be difficult to do at this point. I was always most curious about the rules of Sung-jae’s possession, because he seemed different from the other examples we’ve seen in the show. I don’t think his is inconsistent with the established logic of this world, but I’m finding it requires a bit of a mental workout to figure out how it all works. For one, Bong-sun and the other hosts appeared to have no memory of the times they’d been possessed, so how is it that Sung-jae seemed to be aware?
For me, the crucial detail was when Unni said that the longer an evil ghost possesses a human, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between the two. Because he’d been inhabited for years, I’m interpreting that to mean the ghost had, for all intents and purposes, made himself at home and melded with Sung-jae. We saw that Sung-jae had a dark streak prior to meeting the ghost, though one could argue that he hadn’t succumbed to those evil urges, much like the adult Sung-jae refrained from hurting his adoptive father. Just as Soon-ae was a particularly good “fit” for Bong-sun, I can see how the evil ghost felt right at home in Sung-jae, and once he’d settled into that host, he started to take over.
What confused me previously about Sung-jae was that sometimes he did seem conflicted, or almost sympathetic, and I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile that with the moments where he displayed unmitigated evil. I don’t know if Sung-jae realized that he was literally possessed, but I’m going to presume he could feel that sometimes he wasn’t himself, and that sometimes he was. And maybe he felt bad from time to time, but that evil ghost was always stronger and managed to keep Sung-jae’s better nature subdued.
So his death hits me as moving and meaningful, but not necessarily tragic, because how do you save him? It’s sad that the best thing that the real Sung-jae could do was to kill himself to take power away from the ghost, but as we’ve been told, Sung-jae’s destiny was to be alone, and maybe he just got to the end of his fate.
For a penultimate episode I would have preferred more character development and relationship moments, because as tense as the episode was, it wasn’t really big on surprises (since we knew everything already) or narrative movement. I did love seeing Unni step it up and be a badass, and ot was touching to see Soon-ae feeling responsible for the danger she’d put Bong-sun in, to the point where I wonder if she’d put Bong-sun ahead of herself. That’s a lovely bit of growth, though it’s not really explicit in the episode; that’s what I want the drama to wrap up tomorrow.
When finales are mostly driven by external conflict, I often feel dissatisfied that we didn’t get enough time to resolve our character stuff, so if there’s a silver lining it’s that we have one more episode left, and maybe tomorrow will be the day that’ll tie the emotional loose ends and give us our satisfying resolution. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye yet, but like our characters, those are the ones that pack the emotional wallops. And on the upside, our evil is vanquished (…ish—the ghost’s not really gone, is he?), so does that mean we have lots of extra time for hugs and kisses?