This week’s episode focused on Tic’s mysterious friend, Ji-ah. She’s a nursing student in Daegu, Korea. Ji-ah’s mother, Soon-hee, demands that she bring a man home and she reluctantly agrees. She fails to meet a man at the Mee-ting, so she goes to a nightclub and finds a guy there. She brings him home and they sleep together then shit gets weird.
Long furry tentacle-like tails shoot out of Ji-ah’s mouth, ears, vagina, and even her eyes, and go into the guy’s orifices. Then she sees his every memory before the guy explodes into bloody bits. Soon-hee comes in and demands that she bring home ten more men. What?! Ji-ah doesn’t seem to like killing these men, but she never refuses her mother.
It’s the Korean War and American soldiers arrive in Daegu. She spends her days treating wounded soldiers and her nights luring unsuspecting men into her bed. Ji-ah is actually a kumiho, a nine-tailed fox spirit, summoned by a mudang to save the real Ji-ah from her abusive stepfather. Ji-ah succeeded but in order for the real Ji-ah to come back, she must claim 99 more souls. She only needs one more now. Ji-ah and Soon-hee argue, Soon-hee wants the fox spirit gone, but Ji-ah doesn’t want to leave.
Ji-ah and the other nurses are taken to a checkpoint to be questioned by the American soldiers. They suspect that one of them is a communist spy. Tic is there. They begin executing the nurses, Tic shoots one and is about to shoot Ji-ah when her best friend Young-ja confesses. She’s dragged away. Sometime later at the hospital, Ji-ah sees a wounded Tic, she decides to make him her final victim.
She befriends him and eventually he asks her on a date, Ji-ah shows up at the army base expecting to lure him home. However, Tic isn’t like the other men she’s killed, he wants to do something nice for her and they stay in. She develops feelings for him and they start dating for real. They do have sex and Ji-ah manages to keep her tails under control. But the next time she isn’t so lucky. Ji-ah has a vision of his death and tries to warn him but Tic sees the tails and runs away.
Ji-ah reconciles with her mother. Soon-hee seems to have finally accepted the kumiho as her daughter. They travel to the mudang to ask for help. The news isn’t good.
This episode was a nice change from the norm. This isn’t the first time we’ve met Ji-ah. She was the red skinned alien in the dream sequence of the first episode. She was also the illusion Tic fought in the second. I’m glad they dedicated an entire episode to Ji-ah, anything less would’ve been confusing. I think the biggest theme in this episode is humanity.
Ji-ah’s mother made a huge choice when she summoned a kumiho to possess her daughter. She wanted to save her from abuse. Unfortunately, it seems like she wasn’t fully prepared for the consequences. The first time we see them together, it seems like they have a close and loving relationship. We’re disabused of that assumption when Soon-hee starts blaming their poverty on Ji-ah and demands that she bring a man home. At first glance, one would assume she means for Ji-ah to find a husband, we’re quickly disabused of that assumption as well.
That sex scene was crazy. Easily the most disturbing one I’ve seen since American Gods, you know the one. Once I saw that I immediately knew why Tic asked that question at the end of the last episode. It also drove home a point made by Christina, that it’s not always about the men. Before this episode it was easy to assume that the only magic in this world came was that practiced by the Sons of Adam. Ji-ah is living proof that there is magic much older and more powerful than what we’ve seen so far.
This episode took place during the Korean War, and it had all the cruelty, despair, and fear that you might expect. For one, we saw more racism with a dash of sexism thrown in too. Luckily though, this wasn’t the main focus of the episode.
Both Ji-ah and Tic grapple with their demons. Ji-ah is a fox spirit inhabiting the body of an abused young woman. She’s forced to kill in order to please Soon-hee, even though she’s scorned by her. This dynamic explains why Ji-ah always looks so sad, she’s been told she’s a monster and is forced to act like one, but she doesn’t want to be. This is evident in her career choice. She’s a wartime nurse, saving lives every day, despite the threat to her life.
Tic has always seemed bothered by the things he did as a soldier. It was startling to watch him execute that nurse. She was scared, crying, begging for her life, and he shot her with no hesitation. It’s a side of him we don’t see often. This cruel, violent man. It does take a toll on him and he seems remorseful. He’s a soldier following orders and we shouldn’t judge, but we must try to understand. Tic volunteered, he felt it was his duty to protect his country, many men have felt the same. But Tic is a sensitive soul and the things he was made to do were too much for him.
They fall in love because they feel seen, valued, and understood. That’s what everyone wants. But Ji-ah knew about Tic’s dark secret, while she kept hers a to herself. Of course he ran away screaming, furry tails shooting out of your face is…strange to say the least. She should’ve told him. We’ll have to give her a pass on this one though. She’s been keeping secrets her whole life, it’s hard to open up after living like that.
Despite Ji-ah’s big screw-up, we did learn something very important. Tic is going to die. He’s known this for some time, and now it seems he believes it. Will having this knowledge save him? And how is it supposed to happen? He was tied to a gurney and hung upside down. Does Christina do some sort of experiment? As always, we’ll have until next week to find out.
Check out the trailer for next week’s episode below.