“Tale Of The Nine-Tailed 1938” Promises An Explosive 2nd Season With Adventure, Mythology, And Sibling Shenanigans
“The Tale of the Nine-Tailed” was easily one of the best shows of 2020 despite faltering slightly toward the end. All seemed well as we left the characters on a bittersweet, happy note, so it came as a surprise when it was announced that the show was renewed not for one but two seasons. Anticipation and curiosity arose with the first stills and show being set in 1938, and I’m happy to announce that season 2 is off to an incredible start.
There’s so much to love about the action-adventure mysterical caper that season 2 promises to be. It’s chockful of references to season 1, hasn’t retconned anything (thus far!), and continues Lee Yeon’s (Lee Dong Wook) devotion to his now-wife Nam Ji Ah (Jo Bo Ah). Here’s what we loved about the premiere and every reason to start watching!
1. Blast to the past
The show picks up right at the end of the drama but before the epilogue. Yeon, still devastated by his half-brother Lee Rang’s (Kim Bum) sacrifice to save him, pesters the Underworld’s manager, Taluipa (Kim Jung Nan), on how to reincarnate him. The first season’s epilogue shows that this reincarnation works because Yeon finds Rang reincarnated, albeit with no memory of him. However 2020’s Lee Yeon has no clue, and Taluipa isn’t spilling, unless Lee Yeon returns to being a gumiho and enforces law and order among non-human beings interfering in matters between the spiritual and human realms. Yeon agrees on the condition that he doesn’t get the immortality portion of being a gumiho. He wants to die at the same time Ji Ah does. He throws it out so casually too. And if that isn’t the most insanely romantic thing, I don’t know what is.
And just like that, our gumiho is back in business. And just in time too because a new enemy has appeared, whose roots are buried in the murky years Yeon spent between Ah Eum’s (Jo Bo Ah) death and her reincarnation as Nam Ji Ah. The mystery masked man steals the gem that wards the boundary between life and the Samdo River that carries the dead and jumps into a portal. Yeon follows with Taluipa’s warning that he’ll be stuck if he doesn’t get back with the gem within 16 hours of entry. Yeon expects to fight his way through one of the hells, but he suddenly finds himself back in 1938!
2. Lee Rang
Yeon’s chase of the mystery masked man with the gem leads him to none other than Lee Rang, the devious half-gumiho you can’t help but love. Naturally, this past iteration of Rang holds all the resentment that the first season’s Rang held and then some. 2020’s Rang had a long time for that resentment to fester, but 1938’s Rang hasn’t had even 50 years yet. But he still tries to kill his brother because it’s Rang we’re talking about. But Yeon gets visibly emotional at having his brother back and happily takes it all, apologizing for drowning his own sorrows in the wake of Ah Eum’s death instead of watching for his brother. But he also knows that he can’t stay in this timeline when it’s imperative that the gem be returned to 2020.
He makes his farewells and apologies and is about to leave when Rang is stabbed through the heart by the mystery masked man. Yeon vows revenge but has to stay in 1938 in order to find a way to save him. And the only method of doing that is to trust a mercurial being with the ability to lengthen lifespans located in a courtesan house called Myoyeongak. Trapped between life and death, Rang’s spirit follow Yeon around – invisible to him – while he tries to outwit the being to save his brother.
This is a great concept because it provides a great reason for why Lee Yeon would be stuck in 1938 because he loves his brother as much as he loves Ji Ah. In addition, having Yeon risk everything to save Rang’s life in this timeline is the best way of earning 1938 Rang’s trust. And Lee Yeon is going to need all the allies he can get here, seeing as he’s both out of time and running out of time.
3. Lee Yeon meets Lee Yeon
As for where 1938’s Lee Yeon is? Well, he’s in a rather embarrassing place physically and emotionally.
The Lee Yeon of this era is relatively fresh off losing his beloved and drowns his sorrows in drink, opium, and sleep. The way Lee Dong Wook plays two very different iterations of the same character while grounding them enough to show their commonalities is just incredible. In order to save Rang, Yeon needs to steal a legendary weapon known as Uturi’s sword. The trouble is that he was the sword’s owner. Sneak tactics don’t work, and Yeon ends up fighting 1938’s Yeon.
The two are evenly matched. What 1938’s Yeon has in sheer strength, 2020’s Yeon can outmatch in street smarts with 82 years more knowledge. And, hilariously enough, it’s a picture of Ji Ah that saves the day as 1938’s Yeon immediately stops everything to hunt for his Ah Eum. Yeon sends him off on a wild goose chase to Manchuria for her, so it looks like we won’t be seeing double for a bit. It’s such clever writing to incorporate 1938’s Yeon into the story! But perhaps we could do with having him around because Yeon’s facing enemies from all sides and doesn’t know it.
4. Ryu Hong Joo
Unbeknownst to Yeon, Ryu Hong Joo (Kim So Yeon) is the proprietor of Myoyeongak. She’s a businesswoman with a deep network throughout Japanese-occupied Joseon… and has a rather bad desire to possess Yeon. He’s wary upon finding her, determined to elude her grasp, and he knows how dangerous it is to explain that he’s from the past. Yeon has never been one to trust easily, and he knows that telling Hong Joo the truth could result in her wanting to see 2020 for herself. Hong Joo has all the charm of Jang Man Wol from “Hotel Del Luna” and is incredibly powerful. Physically, she’s the strongest of the four mountain gods. And seeing as Yeon is on her turf, that could make for a troubling game.
At present, it isn’t clear whether Hong Joo is an ally or an enemy. She’s blatant about wanting to possess Yeon, without any regard for his feelings in the matter. But like Rang, she seems to have noticed that there’s something different about this Yeon. Given her extensive network of informants, she gets to the masked man that Yeon is looking for before him. And to her surprise, it’s someone she knows well.
5. The man behind the mask
Cheon Mu Young (Ryu Kyung Soo) is a man on a mission: to ruin Yeon. The show makes no secret of the fact that 1938’s Yeon wasn’t the greatest person. He was prone to outbursts, easily angered, and utterly ruthless in punishment. A bit of a drama queen at times too. It was a time when gods were revered instead of hunted and a tumultuous historical era where violence was the name of the game. But none of that explains the glimpse we get of Mu Young’s memories that show Yeon driving a sword through his older brother’s chest. Clearly, this is Mu Young’s rationale for hunting Yeon, but there’s not a lot of detail as to why. Judging by Yeon’s garb, it’s clear that he killed Mu Young’s brother at a time when he was still the god of Mount Baekdu.
We also know that Mu Young was presumed dead for some time because Hong Joo tearfully embraces him, showing more emotion than she ever has in her pursuit of Yeon. Something deep ties those two together, and there’s so much to unpack on just what it could be! But for now, all we know of Mu Young’s plans are that he intends on taking everything from Yeon and seems to have lured him to this time period for that. But it isn’t clear whether he knows that an even greater threat lies in wait because there’s a villain more powerful than either of them, and he hasn’t even gotten started yet.
6. The real villain
Ryuhei Kato (Ha Do Kwon) is the Japanese Governor-General of Korea. He also happens to be a very powerful demon. In a great addition to its mythology, the show demonstrates that gods and demons took part in the political turmoil of the era, both aggravating it and helping defend the people of Joseon from occupation. Ryuhei is definitely the former. He intends of accumulating as many powerful artifacts from Joseon’s gods and demons as he can and using them to make himself more powerful. And the worst part is that he isn’t on Yeon or Mu Young’s radar.
Given the hardcore team vibe that the poster for this season gives off, it seems likely that Yeon, Rang, Mu Young, and Hong Joo will team up to fight Ryuhei after settling the bad blood between them. And what a glorious time that promises to be! But until then, there’s about to be a lot of infighting, if next week’s preview is any indication. Yeon muses that having his wife safe in 2020 means that he has nothing to lose in this era and can go all out. We see glimpses of his former ruthlessness in him, even as he tempers it because of the man he’s become. But if Yeon thinks that he is without weakness, he has it all wrong. His loyal servant and best friend, Gu Shin Ju (Hwang Hee), has accompanied him to this era and found him after much effort. He and Rang remain Yeon’s Achilles heel. Plus a young reporter by the name of Sun Woo Eun Ho (Kim Yong Ji) is a secret freedom fighter in this era despite her father being heavily involved in the Japanese occupation. And Sun Woo Eun Ho’s face is the same as that of Shin Ju’s wife, Ki Yu Ri. So there’s another potential weakness there.
Thankfully, Yeon won’t face any consequences via the butterfly effect. He seeks help from 1938’s Taluipa and is told that he’s just a passing traveller in this era and what he does here will not change the future. However, he only has 29 days until the Gate of Time opens, allowing him to return back home. And, in order to return, he needs to hold onto that gem. If he misses his time, or loses the gem, then there’s no going back home.
The show pays great respect to Yeon’s love for Ji Ah and constantly shows him thinking about her. They’ve even added that time passes differently in 2020, so a month in 1938 will only be a few days there. It’s the level of care here that makes the show feel well-realized. Next week’s preview shows Hong Joo and Mu Young teaming up to blind Yeon, kidnap Rang and Shin Ju, and dump a lot of monsters in Yeon’s path for him to fight them off in the hopes of rescuing those he loves. Yeon has his work cut out for him! It’s nice that we know how this all ends. But “Tale of the Nine-Tailed 1938” promises to show that the journey there is the best part.
Pretty sure this is heaven.
What did you think of the premiere week’s episodes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “My Perfect Stranger,” “Tail of the Nine-Tailed 1938,” “Stealer: The Treasure Keeper,” and “Dr. Romantic 3.”
Looking Forward to: “Black Knight,” “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Demon,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.