I like the finale!
Turns out the police isn’t as inept as we thought – the timeline was actually shifted, such that when Kwang Ho called Yeon Ho, she was in her office reading the diary. Both father and daughter realised at the same time that Jin Woo’s new target is Yeon Ho, or more specifically Kwang Ho who took Jin Woo’s precious pen away. Kwang Ho even predicted that Jin Woo would attack Yeon Ho in her house, and reminded Yeon Ho of the time when someone rang the doorbell but there was no one outside. What I like about this scene is that this time, Yeon Ho doesn’t go about crazily alone.
She knows her dad will protect her, and Kwang Ho promises just that. Thus, the police go on the third stake out (or was it the fourth? Lost count!) which brings us to the last scene of the episode where Yeon Ho gets strangled. I don’t know what anyone else thinks but I like this twist. Although I wish Kwang Ho and Sun Jae arrive earlier on the scene so that poor Yeon Ho doesn’t have to actually go through the strangled process, I’m glad they weren’t as stupid as we thought.
Kwang Ho breaks the back door and throws Jin Woo outside, while Sun Jae grabs Yeon Ho in a reassuring hug. After tussles and throws, Jin Woo smiles tauntingly at Kwang Ho and that earns him a punch.
Kwang Ho passes the handcuffs to Sun Jae and in that moment, I love the full circle – a victim’s son slapping on cuffs on the murderer. He reads out Miranda rights, even though Kwang Ho says Jin Woo doesn’t deserve that. The rest of the crew arrives on the scene (a bit late don’t ya think) and hauls Jin Woo away.
The Chief feels apologetic for making things difficult for the team when they were right all along. Sung Shik mentions that he learns to disobey his superiors from someone in the past and Kwang Ho smiles. Even though they have evidence to indict Jin Woo for the current murders, Sung Shik wants him to confess to the murders 30 years ago.
As Yeon Ho predicts, Jin Woo remains tight-lipped about the murders. I find it slightly amusing that Kwang Ho’s lines thus far consists of Speak up you jerk! and Answer him you jerk! Yeon Ho reminds her dad to eat up while Kwang Ho reminds his daughter to lock up. Awww. The team searches Jin Woo’s house and finally finds the room filled with funeral portraits. With these, Mok Jin Woo’s victims are a grand total of 26.
Sun Jae thinks that talking about Jin Woo’s mother is the key to breaking him down. We then watch Yoon Hyun Min monologues for a few minutes (how many pages of script is that!) about how Jin Woo hated his mother but loved her at the same time. He cleverly repeats the words from the diary which Yeon Ho finds, “Mom’s dead, but I’m not sad at all. She only died because she’s dirty.” This is why Jin Woo only kills women in stockings and skirt; he sees his mother in them. Jin Woo’s eyes flicker, and I don’t know why Kwang Ho has to break the moment with yet another “Answer him, you jerk”. Jin Woo stills himself and smiles, which triggers Kwang Ho.
Yeon Ho realises the diary is a record of the murders and analyses that Jin Woo’s weakness is not his mother, but himself. He thinks that he’s getting rid of evils in the society, “He thinks he’s fighting for justice.” Sun Jae rushes out to see Jin Woo lying in the cell, pretending that he’s smoking under the sky. This time round, Kwang Ho leads the interrogation and cleverly insults Jin Woo for not being different from other killers from murdering innocent people.
True enough, Jin Woo laughs. Lee Jong Suk deserved to die because she said she was going to work when she was actually meeting a guy, even though her mum was waiting at home. Kim Kyung Soon wanted to date her boyfriend’s friends. Hwang Choon Hee wore a skirt because someone said she looked pretty in a skirt. Kim Young Ja who was always talking about money and Seoul, “How do you think she earned all that money? She was only 18.” Jin Seon Mi spent a night with a man. “Every single woman I killed is flirtatious. They can’t be a good mother.”
Sun Jae asks about his mother, despite Kwang Ho’s objections, and Jin Woo complies, “She smiled at another man on the bus.” A flashback shows Seo YI Soo talking to a soldier and smiling that she bought a necktie. All murders are horrible, but I can’t imagine how Sun Jae feels, knowing that he lost a mother because of such a reason. Kwang Ho prevents Sun Jae from strangling Jin Woo and finally Jin Woo loses his calm, “I only did what I had to do!”
“I’m just upset now that I won’t be able to kill anyone anymore. This world is still full of people who need to be punished. Don’t you think so, Detective Park?” After he’s left alone in the interrogation room, Jin Woo tries to convince himself that he’s different from other killers, “I’m saying I had reasons for killing those people.”
And with this, this is the last we see of Mok Jin Woo. It’s creepy, it’s repulsive, it’s psychopathic but I like it that the drama doesn’t redeem his character. Any other ending for Jin Woo wouldn’t have been convincing or satisfying.
After Kwang Ho’s prompt, the crew informs families of each victim from 30 years ago that they have finally caught the killer. Although the statute of limitations has passed, the family members all break down in tears. This is another favourite part of mine of this episode. There’s a true sense of closure. Of course, the last one we see is Sun Jae telling his own father that he has caught his mother’s killer, and that the detective from 30 years ago kept his promise.
Yeon Ho wraps up her class on why they studied criminals for a semester. She quips whether it is to become criminals themselves, but sobers and says that ultimately, “it is to save lives”. A flashback brings us back to that moment when Kwang Ho shouted at her for only wanting to catch the culprit instead of wanting to save future lives.
The young Kwang Ho also finally gets his own closure by being cremated and placed in the columbarium next to his grandmother. Min Ha spots the phone which Kwang Ho dropped in the tussle with Jin Woo. The crew thanks the young Kwang Ho for chasing after Jin Woo because that led them to the killer. They look through the phone and find lots of evidence on Jin Woo’s murders of the old people. The young Kwang Ho would have been a great detective.
Kwang Ho pulls Sun Jae aside and informs him that he’s going back home. Sun Jae starts tearing up at the thought and turns away. Kwang Ho murmurs that he has grown up to be a good man but teases that he’s a crybaby.
Yeon Ho bursts in, “Who’s the crybaby?” which causes Sun Jae to hilariously jump out of his seat. Sun Jae offers to drive Yeon Ho home, which triggers Daddy Kwang Ho. He wants his daughter to take a cab home but he doesn’t have enough money. Yeon Ho runs off with Sun Jae and Daddy Kwang Ho does the typical Kdrama dad thing of having a headache HAHAHA, “Can I really leave them when they behave like this?” In the car, Yeon Ho reveals that actually she drove. Oooooh she like Sun Jae too.
The team readies themselves for the team dinner. Kwang Ho scolds Tae Hee for calling him a kiddo but isn’t happy when Min Ha says Father as well. At the team dinner, everyone is sad that he wants to return home, especially Sung Shik who is heartbroken that he’s beloved senior is leaving him once again. I’m in conflict about this whole sadness thing, for a few reasons, including one which Min Ha points out, “But if you return to the past, won’t that change things in the present?” Kwang Ho answers that he’s unsure but he will find out when he returns. He demands for a mix of soju bomb since there’s nothing like that in 1986 but asks suddenly if that means Kwang Ho will become the founder of soju bomb HAHA.
Finally everyone knocks out. Kwang Ho thanks Sung Shik for everything and wonders if they will meet again in the past. “Our team’s Kiddo”. Sun Jae drives Kwang Ho home and says subtly that he will be back again later.
Yeon Ho has cooked dinner for Kwang Ho and is saddened to find out that Kwang Ho is leaving that night. Kwang Ho nags at her like a dad would and finally relents, “If something happens, just call Kim Sun Jae, but only if something happens!” They take a photo together.
Sun Jae returns to drive Kwang Ho to the tunnel. Yeon Ho tears up, “Return safely to Mum”. Kwang Ho turns his back and finally Yeon Ho cries, “Dad!”
Sun Jae steps up to comfort Yeon Ho and Kwang Ho smiles. Sun Jae does a 90-degree, meet the father-in-law bow which makes Kwang Ho laugh. He turns back to the tunnel, starts running…..
And we are back in the past. And in this past, he manages to be with Sung Shik again, running after a criminal as they did in Episode 1. A pregnant lady is injured in the process so they send her to the hospital, where she named her son after Kwang Ho because she is so grateful. I like the little full-circle here, although I’m not really sure if it works out in terms of logic. Anyway there we go! The answer to why we have someone with the exact same name. As for our happy family? You will be glad to find out that Kwang Ho returns home to Yeon Sook, Yeon Ho, and a little Sun Jae.
I know it doesn’t make sense that everyone is so saddened by his departure since if he’s going back, that means Yeon Ho will have a father and a normal childhood. But I think if I were in their shoes, I would similarly be heartbroken because you never know how the future would change, and in that moment, you know you would never see that person again. For that reason, I like all the little farewell scenes.
What I don’t like about this finale is that it never truly answers two things – first, what happens when Kwang Ho returns to the past for good? If he catches Mok Jin Woo in the past, won’t that change a whole slew of events in the future? What if he does something which actually alerts Mok Jin Woo and therefore, stops the future from catching the killer? It may be beyond the scope of this drama, but leaving it as I don’t know, I will find out when I go back and just go with the flow seems lazy. It’s not that Kwang Ho doesn’t know, it’s the scriptwriters themselves who don’t know the answer. Second, I know the algorithm works such that Kwang Ho travels every time he has an encounter with Jin Woo in the tunnel and I like that formula. But the show starts off with this notion that there is a reason why old Park Kwang Ho is pulled to the future to replace the young Park Kwang Ho. Now at that the end of it all, it seems nothing but a coincidence and coincidences are not satisfying. I know synopsises aren’t always accurate but this drama’s summary gives the impression that he goes to the future to save his daughter’s life. I guess so, he did save Yeon Ho various times, but it didn’t feel like that was the reason why he was pulled to the future either.
Other than this crucial premise of the show which I think needs work, I do like everything else about the drama. I find Jin Woo sufficiently creepy; I like his back story (insert minor rant here about how Strong Woman Do Bong Soon really lacks in this aspect – why does the psychopath have such an obsession with the play? Never answered, never explored in the detail). I like that each lead goes full-circle in their own way, that Shin Jae Yi ends up being Yeon Ho, that Sun Jae was the kid from 30 years ago. It may have been predictable, but predictable is not a bad thing. I once read this from a tumblr I followed – sometimes predictable is a sign of good foreshadowing, instead of throwing a twist just for the sake of it.
Would I recommend this drama? Yeah I still would. Despite getting tired of Yeon Ho being strangled for the nth time, or Kwang Ho shouting “You jerk” at various timings or not suiting up with a vest and gun, or the police’s inadequacies at times, I think the show had lots of potential and premise, most of which it carried out. I hoped you enjoyed this drama as much as I did, and till next time, take care everyone!