There we have it, ladies and gentleman, foxes and snakes, deities and humans – we have reached the end of this journey into the supernatural world of the nine-tailed fox. It’s been a journey filled with moments of joy, suspense, and fright. It’s been a journey of love — familial, platonic, and romantic. But most of all, it’s been a journey of resilience and for fighting until your last breath. And what a journey it’s been. But like all things, this too must come to an end.
Here’s what happened in the final two episodes of “Tale of the Nine-Tailed”:
Warning: Major, major spoilers! Run away now if you don’t want to know how the tale ends.
The beginning of the end
We continue on from last week where we heard three gunshots. Naturally, Ji Ah is still very much alive, and she’s the one who shot the latter two shots… into the Butler (Uhm Hyo Sup). More specifically it’s Jimoogi (The Imoogi-possessed-Ji Ah) who does the shooting, as the first bullet nicked her neck and drew blood. After Jimoogi finishes off the Butler, she turns her eyes on a trembling Jae Hwan (Kim Kang Min) who unfortunately witnesses the whole event. She raises the gun and is about to shoot him when Sae Rom (Jung Yi Seo) slaps Ji Ah back to her senses. It’s pretty gutsy of Sae Rom to slap this powerful being and I just love her more for it. She’s definitely the one character we could’ve spent more time with.
Ji Ah (Jo Bo Ah) heads to Rang’s (Kim Bum) place to thank him for his “present,” as Rang was the one who sent The Butler to her place. Rang in turn clues Ji Ah in about Yeon’s suicide plan of jumping into the Samdo River. Ji Ah then asks Rang to kill her if she ever hurts Yeon, knowing Yeon would never be able to do it. The two shake hands on this agreement, but Rang being the bratty man-child, uses a transformer/Gundam toy to shake in his stead!
Time to say goodbye
Kicking the cry-fest off is Yeon, who makes his goodbye rounds starting with Shin Joo (Hwang Hee). He asks Shin Joo to watch over Ji Ah and Rang as well as start a family with the “necklace thief.” He even has a pre-wedding gift — an apartment — prepared for him. Shin Joo tearfully asks Yeon why he took him in all those years ago, and Yeon replies it’s because his previous master stole an egg from his noodle dish. And Yeon loves them eggs. This little exchange might’ve seemed strange, until we see Yeon having a meal with Rang and Rang asks for the egg. Yeon naturally allows Rang to take it, again showing how much affection he has for this brother.
The hits keep on coming because we later find out that Rang knows about Yeon’s egg obsession. He probably asked for the egg on purpose, as one last way to mess with his big brother and to “feel” his brother’s love. This sibling dynamic is one of the best parts of the drama, and the two really have come a long way in rebuilding their relationship. The more Rang knows he’s cared for, the safer he feels to lower his guard and revert to his mischievous little-brother-self.
Next on Yeon’s goodbye rounds is Ji Ah, and the two go on a date at the arcade. He’s really bad at claw machines and she picks a fight with the basketball machine. You know, normal couple stuff.
Yeon also heads to Granny Taluipa’s (Kim Jung Nan), where she’s reflecting on her relationship with her son Bok Gil. Granny has always believed that her son resented her all the way till his death, but Yeon offers her a different perspective, suggesting that some of Bok Gil’s action may have stemmed from love instead of hatred. This is enough to change something in Granny and she offers a new plan to Yeon where she’s able to turn a united Imoogi-Terry into stone while also guaranteeing Ji Ah’s safety.
Terry’s big plan
After Terry (Lee Tae Ri) grabs the Mirror of the Moon artifact off of the Governor (Yeon’s bear friend from the Cultural Village), he too pays a visit to Granny. As it turns out, Terry’s biggest weapon was in plain view all along. He is wearing the face of Bok Gil, Granny’s dearly departed son! This shocks and unsettles Granny so much that her judgement is clouded just enough for Terry to make his move. And so as Granny attacks Terry, he uses the Mirror and her attack reflects back.
At the same time, the Jimoogi is back in control, and from her taunts, Yeon figures out that Granny is in trouble. But he’s held back by Shin Joo, Rang, and the Snail Bride (Kim Soo Jin), all acting under Terry’s previously planted compulsion. (Terry’s plan is actually pretty well thought out, isn’t it?) By the time the compulsion wears off and Yeon et al. arrives at Granny’s, it’s already too late. She’s turned into stone, and their plan goes down the drain.
Furious, Yeon attacks Terry but he’s handicapped because each time he tries to land a fatal blow, Jimoogi steps in. Jimoogi herself eventually joins in and she and Yeon fight it out in a very nicely choreographed scene. On a side note, Jo Bo Ah is electrifying when she plays Jimoogi. She looks like she’s having so much fun playing this dark character and it really makes the character come alive.
It’s soon obvious to Yeon that The Imoogi’s hold on Ji Ah is growing stronger and this frightens Yeon enough to throw in the white flag and agree to becoming The Imoogi’s new host. Ji Ah (who’s regained control) and Rang (who was temporarily held off by Yoo Ri outside) both try to stop Yeon, but he manages to swallow the scale anyway.
The scales grow over Yeon’s body, but just when all hope seems lost, Terry notices something is off with himself and starts spitting up blood. Apparently, Yeon had ingested some evening primrose earlier (it’s toxic to him), and because the two are linked, when Yeon gets weaker, so does Terry. Yeon quickly grabs onto Terry and tells Rang to plunge a knife into them both. While he first refuses, Rang eventually gives in to Yeon’s pleads and skewers them both and they fall through the open gateway into the Samdo River below.
…of Episode 15. That would’ve been a terrible finale wouldn’t it? Anyway, we see Yeon and Terry floating in the tragically cheesy CGI Samdo River when Terry just floats off and… dissolves. Terry is officially dead and so is the disease. The world is saved. Major question No. 1: Why does Terry dissolve but Yeon is all fine?
As an antagonist, The Imoogi started off quite haunting and scary. But his motivations and goals got muddled along the way, especially after it seemed like the two parts had different agendas. That made him less compelling which was a shame. After of, a petty villain seems less epic and just… petty.
After Old Man Hyun Eui Ong (Ahn Gil Kang) sees the lengths Granny was willing to go to for Yeon, he goes back to her and the two reconcile. (Major question No. 2: How did Granny get un-stoned?) Ji Ah is unwilling to give up on Yeon and makes daily visits to Granny’s office begging for help, but to no avail. Rang too is hurting, drowning his pain in alcohol. Being the one to deliver the finishing blow undoubtedly did a number on him. But Shin Joo makes good on his promise to Yeon and becomes the emotional support for both Ji Ah and Rang, giving them needed nudges to continue on. Shin Joo also gives Rang a video message from Yeon, and boy, it’s a tearjerker!
Life continues on in a world without Yeon, but it’s not all grey clouds and rain. Our characters experience some joy when Shin Joo proposes to Yoo Ri (Kim Yong Ji) and through a song no less! I was very ready to cringe — and a few of the characters actually did — but he gets a pass because Hwang Hee can sing! Who knew he had such a nice voice?
Rang makes the necessary fatherly threat, and before we know it, the two are married. They’re all living together in a very dysfunctional family unit where it seems like Shin Joo married three very messy kids (of which the least messiest is the actual kid). But they’re all happy and content in their own way, especially Rang who’s finally found a family to call home.
However, Rang doesn’t stop looking for ways to bring Yeon back. When the fortuneteller resurfaces, he and Ji Ah pay him a visit and learn that he’s the Underworld judge who’s in charge of reincarnation. They plead that Yeon be given a chance to reincarnate and he offers them his usual deal — a trade with something they treasure most. Ji Ah jumps at the chance to offer herself but Rang stops her, knowing that Yeon wouldn’t want to come back to a world without her. So he offers himself. And because Rang has found true happiness living with his little family and found a will to live, his life is deemed worthy enough for the fortuneteller. The deal is made and Rang is taken away. Permanently.
Rang was at times cruel and took a few wrong turns here and there, but at his heart he was just a scared little kid who tried to cover his insecurities with bravado by acting out. He had a kind heart that would peek through once in a while and that was what led him to take in both Yoo Ri and Geomdoongie and give them all a home. And at the very end, Rang selflessly gives his life for the brother he treasured above all while also atoning for all the lives he had taken in the past.
Of all the characters, Rang has the most fleshed-out character development. Kim Bum truly has a done a superb job playing this manic man-child who tugs at your heartstrings despite his many faults. His character arc is poetic in a way, though surely there are plenty of fans who are raging about Rang deserving a happier ending.
At least Rang’s sacrifice was not for naught. Because next thing we know, it’s raining again, and guess who’s waiting for Ji Ah? It’s Yeon! Our Yeon! He and Ji Ah reunite under the rain, like how all their reunions go, and it’s revealed that he’s now human. He’s finally gotten his wish. But doesn’t it seem like everything is tied up in too neat a bow? Rang’s deal with the fortuneteller was to allow Yeon to be reincarnated. So how did we get back OG Yeon with his OG body and all his memories intact? It makes you wonder what the rules of the Underworld are, as they seem so frigid one second yet so fickle the next. And more importantly, the point of Yeon jumping into the Samdo River with The Imoogi in him was so that neither would ever be able to reincarnate. But now that Yeon’s back, what happened to The Imoogi that was in him?
Yeon makes his “Hello, I’m back” rounds to everyone, even paying a final visit to Granny and Old Man since he can’t enter the office now that he’s human. Yeon also sees a video message left by Rang saying his goodbyes. That bright smile on Rang’s face hopefully eases Yeon’s pain a little.
We see our second wedding of the finale and it’s Yeon and Ji Ah’s with a gorgeous flower motif. Even mother nature is getting in on the ceremony, congratulating and thanking their previous master, though strangely, no one else is there. Major Question No. 3: We later see the couple watching a video of their wedding. Who took the video when no one was there?
As the episode winds down, we see Yeon adapting to human life, though it’s not as cracked up as he thought he would be. For one, he has astigmatism, and secondly, he needs a root canal treatment, presumably from all that mint-chocolate ice cream.
He also sees child “Rang” (the child version we see in the flashbacks) cycling around, and this too comforts his somewhat.
Right before the episode ends, Yeon hears Ji Ah mention seeing something that resembles the Spirit of Misfortune. That night, as Ji Ah goes to sleep, he grabs his trusty umbrella, sneaks out, and tracks the spirit down. The umbrella morphs into a sword and Yeon’s eyes glow. He’s still a fox!
Okay this time it’s truly the end. The finale was a roller-coaster of emotions with plenty of tears involved. Both the writing and the acting really delivered on that front, but after the tears dried (hours later), I can’t help but feel like the finale missed a few marks. In trying to wrap everything up perfectly, it seems like the scriptwriters threw away the logic that applies to this drama’s world or just stopped bothering to explain.
And that final twist? Yes it’s supposed to get our hearts racing, but after getting over the thrill, you have to wonder why they made Yeon lie about being human. It’s such an unnecessary lie/plot twist, since the other characters are bound to figure it out. And couldn’t Granny sense that he’s still immortal? Or were his powers suppressed and they’ve only just resurfaced? The fox bead probably has something to do with this (and maybe even his OG revival), but it’s never made clear.
These inexplicable, wishy-washy lapses are really the biggest gripes with this finale. The writing was so tight before, with clues and storytelling devices from earlier episodes coming into play in latter episodes, and you could really appreciate all the details that went in. But the larger story threads seem to unravel in these last two episodes, and it’s a little disappointing.
But other than that, it’s been a fun journey. The characters were all fun to watch and there wasn’t a grating one in the bunch. They were all well-written for the most part, and they all got their moments to shine. The casting department really hit the jackpot with this cast as they definitely raised the overall watch-ability.
The “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” started of with a nine-tailed fox searching for his love, and it ends with the nine-tailed fox living happily with his love. And in that sense, we couldn’t ask for more.
Watch “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” here:
What did you think of the finale? And the whole series in general? Do you have the same questions or might you have some answers instead? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments section below!