This finale’s plot borders on unsatisfactory and ridiculous, but surprisingly, other than a few moments where I was tearing my hair out in frustration, I actually enjoyed the entire finale – Nam Joo Hyuk’s desperate attempts to calm down a bereaved So Ah and a devasted Shin Se Kyung were so good to watch.
One thing I never get about dramas is how blatantly they ignore reality. If I was So Ah, I would have kicked Yeom Mi for telling her story in punchlines – because she leaves the most important piece of information for the last.
“It’s not your boyfriend, it’s an older man.” Yeom Mi notices a photo of So Ah and her father, a photo that is only recently revealed because Habaek secretly switches the photos around, and points to her father as the man in her dreams. So Ah doesn’t believe in her story because “my dad has never saved me before.”
Joo Dong finally appears and fills Habaek in on his recent endeavours – i.e trying to find the servant’s tablet. He similarly reminds Habaek that Habaek has to go back to the Realm of Gods. Funnily, both Habaek and So Ah don’t offer for Joo Dong to stay the night, since they only have 6 days together.
So Ah attempts to switch back the order of the photos but Habaek stops her, knowing that she’s lying when she says she hates her father. He apologises for not realising her wish, even though he’s a deity, “So find him after I leave. Even if your father turns out to be the worst man in the world, find him.” Be an adult and get out of that darkness.
If not, he’d go crazy knowing that she’s still in that darkness after he leaves.
Joo Dong later seeks refuge in Bi Ryeom and Moo Ra…who shout, “NO!” when he asks if he could stay the night. Although that was cute, it didn’t particularly endear me to the couple, given that they have an eternity to make googly eyes at each other. Even calling Nam Soo Ri didn’t help, because he’s busy working part-time jobs. It just occurred to me – do deities need to sleep?
In the morning, So Ah wonders that it’s unlike Habaek to sleep in, but as he turns away, he grabs her arm and pulls her down towards him, “I’m waiting for you to come and wake me up.” Aww.
So Ah finally buys some clothes for Habaek as a gift, which is a nice throwback to many episodes back when she gets grossed out by Moo Ra’s choice of clothes for Habaek. The couple goes on a date, starting with a must – game of chasing.
She brings him to a place which is known for cold noodles because she wants to overcome her fear before he leaves. She finally swallows her fear – and the cold soup, and realises it isn’t that difficult once you face the fear. I think this is a nice link back to the first few episodes where we learnt that she doesn’t drink cold water because I totally lost sight of that in the meandering middle episodes.
After the meal, So Ah murmurs, “Habaek” and omg I realise it’s the first time in 16 episodes that she has called his name. She sets Habaek up for a game of scissors-paper-stone with the shop owner. If Habaek wins, the owner will draw a portrait for them. The owner’s wife intentionally steps hard on his shoes and distracted by the pain, the owner loses.
Turns out So Ah has prepared a surprise for Habaek – she changes into a simple, casual wedding dress. Very, very pretty, but also at the back of mind, I’m wondering just how fast So Ah changes. Habaek is speechless and probably breathless and no matter how cliche is this, I actually find it cute. And sad.
So Ah tells him with a smile that pencil lead is made of a material which won’t fade in time, and she wants to remember his face vividly.
I actually enjoy the scene and find it refreshing that she wants their portrait to be drawn, rather than the usual kdrama trope of let’stakeaselfie together, but I find it a cop-out to have her dressed as a bride just as a cursory link back to the title – Bride of Habaek.
Joo Dong finds Hoo Ye because he realises that other than Hoo Ye’s stepmother who found Hoo Ye 13 years ago, there was also another man. That man was the one who brought an injured Joo Dong to the hospital later and who found the tablet . Hoo Ye revealed that that man was on his way to his wife’s grave that night because he just returned to Korea and didn’t know about his wife’s death. There was also someone he really wanted to meet – his daughter. His name? Yoon Seong Joon.
In the next scene, Joo Dong questions So Ah’s whereabouts on 20th December 2004. Habaek knows the significance of that date and drags him away, but Joo Dong finally fills him in on what really happened – The tablet was visible to Yoon Seong Joon because he was a servant. He probably picked it up thinking it belonged to Joo Dong. Although Yoon Seong Joon wasn’t awaken as a servant, the tablet must have recognised him. And guys, remember that the tablet has the power to grant the servant’s earnest wish? “The tablet must have taken him to his daughter.” Uh-oh.
With the information of where So Ah was on 20th December 2004, Joo Dong goes to the Han River and calls Habaek, “I found him.” The implication of what that means causes Habaek closes his eyes. He later walks in on So Ah planning with excitement the things they can do in the last few days. To make things worse, So Ah tells him that she is going to find her father.
Habaek quietly steps out for a while and tells Joo Dong that he will find the father.
Curious about this tablet thing, Hoo Ye asks Joo Geol Rin who tells him that the tablet is only visible to descendants of the servant family. Hoo Ye puts two and two together, and finally realises that So Ah is the daughter of Yoon Seong Joon. He doesn’t tell So Ah that piece of information because Joo Dong tells him not to do anything even if he figures out who Yoon Seong Joon is. However, he still meets So Ah, in order to finish the last part of his story.
That night, after he chased a light and was found by his stepmother, he also met a man. A man who told him it’s okay and hugged him from the back, “Stay still. Stay calm.” It was the first time he learnt the power of someone telling him that it’s okay. He was lucky. If that man wasn’t the first person he met, if he hadn’t met a man who could tell him it’s alright and hugged him from the back, “What would I have become?” He has met three deities in his life – that man, his foster mother and…So Ah. He declares that this is their last session together and thanks her with a handshake. Last session because he has finally gotten over his trauma, and for that, I’m so glad for him.
I also really like the sub-message this finale sent through – humans can be deities too. We may be small, we may lead short lives, but it’s about what we do with that limited power that we have that makes all the difference. To someone else, we can be their pillar of support.
Habaek returns home all devastated and wet. So Ah comforts him at first thinking that his friends refused to lend him money again, but Habaek murmurs in pain that he found her father. “In the river you jumped into that night.”
I know the episode turned up the melodrama knob by 10 times from this point onwards, but suspending logic and whatever, I actually LOVED it.
Habaek brings So Ah to the river and we all finally learn what happened. Her father’s wish that night was to see So Ah. Even though he didn’t know about the tablet, the tablet must have granted his wish and brought him to the bridge. Indeed, in a flashback, we see So Ah’s dad seeing So Ah jump into the river and he ran after her, shouting “No!!”
He jumped in right after her, in order to save her. Like I said, it’s dramatic, but it really broke my heart to see how the dad swam after So Ah and pushed her upwards. The effort propelled him further into the water and also woke So Ah up.
She immediately swam upwards and seeing that, her dad closed his eyes and sank towards the sea bed. I cannot deny that I teared a little here. The way the dad shouted No in desperation was so good in itself.
Back to the present, So Ah reveals that her father cannot swim. She shouts, “Why! Dad! Come out of there please!!”
She sobs and asks Habaek to save her father, but even Habaek can’t revive the dead. So Ah feels even guiltier because all these years, she thought she got out of the water herself and hated her father. “It’s all my fault – ” “That’s not true!” “I killed him -” “No.”
As she cries and says she will get her father out, Habaek grabs her in a tight embrace and holds onto her desperately, and somehow it’s that desperate clawing, both on So Ah’s and Habaek’s part that makes the whole scene so good for me.
Joo Dong fills in the other two deities on what happened and reveals that Habaek tried to move the body but it wouldn’t budge. It, however, did stay intact because of the tablet’s power. Great, because I was thinking how the father would look after being submerged in water for 10 years.
So Ah must have collapsed and Habaek brings her back home. He sits through the night, thinking over So Ah’s wish of speaking to her father and finally makes up his mind. Slightly Twilight-creepyesque vibes too, if I might just say.
At daybreak, all the gods gather at So Ah’s rooftop. Bi Ryeom and Moo Ra also tried to move the body but it wouldn’t budge. Habaek murmurs that So Ah will go in herself but they all know it’s too deep for her. Moo Ra, however, knows what Habaek is thinking and instinctively lashes out, “I’m Moo Ra. I’ve been able to read your mind for the past 2800 years. I even know how you feel by just listening to your sigh.” Thankfully we are only 30 minutes away from the end of this show, so we aren’t baited for any longer about whatdoesHabaekwanttodo.
Because what does he want to do? He wants to use the power which he needs to return to the Realm of Gods on So Ah instead. That means he can’t go back, he can’t be king, and he will die. And when he dies, he will fade from the memory of humans. So Ah stumbles in on this discussion just in time and is distraught that Habaek is even planning such a thing. He runs after her and hugs her, “Please give me a chance to do something for you. I promise that I’ll protect you.”
Moo Ra is enraged because they can’t stop Habaek – they can’t force a king, and their powers combined can’t even do what Habaek wants to do. “If Habaek dies, I will kill you too”, and the hilarious thing is Joo Dong’s semi-eye-roll HAHA.
Bi Ryeom, whom I glad to see is actually concerned over Habaek’s possible death, meets up with So Ah privately and tells her that Habaek will die if he doesn’t become the king. He’s born to be the king, so if the reason for his existence fails, then he doesn’t exist. “Tell him that you are not going to look for your father.”
The message is then conveyed back to Habaek who learns that So Ah has apparently given up on wanting to find her father. Habaek kneels in front of So Ah and requests that she will cherish her life, even after he leaves. “Your father will be at peace there, I will always look after him. Don’t forget, I’m the Deity of Water and the King.” He brings her to the river again, where So Ah apologises to her dad.
Jin Geon delivers a piece of bad news to the other gods, just as So Ah asks Habaek where they should go next. Habaek holds her hand and murmurs, “I love you.”
He suddenly grabs her and kisses her, and the desperation in the kiss is so palpable I feel it through my computer screen. So Ah realises something is wrong and tries to push him away but it’s too late. He has given her his grace, his power. “I want you to meet someone you love, and live your remaining life in happiness.”
As So Ah shakes her head furiously, Habaek hugs her and tells her that he knows she will go in after her father after he leaves.
“Go, let me do something I can while I am here.” While sad music plays, the three gods appear and Moo Ra shouts Habaek’s name.
Joo Dong stops Moo Ra, who cries into Bi Ryeom’s arms, whilst Habaek smiles encouragingly at So Ah. Admittedly at this point in time, I didn’t really know what Habaek’s power is supposed to do – but now I know.
He has given So Ah the power to reach her father, and So Ah, unlike the other deities, is able to bring her father back up. Let’s go home now, Dad. This whole dad-incident really breaks my heart a little – this man came back after a year and had been in the waters for the past 10 years? Indeed like what So Ah said, he must have been lonely and scared.
I think I like the story up till this point, but it quickly became much more frivolous after this? If you know what I mean.
So Ah buries her father under a tree and promises to bring her mother soon. If you think Habaek is going to die, it’s not going to happen
because he’s the male lead because So Ah is going to use the tablet and wish that Habaek returns to the Realm. Which is actually pretty smart.
Just as Joo Dong prepares to awake the tablet, the High Priest appears. Turns out, he comes to the human world quite often and meets a few people. The competent taxi driver whom So Ah met way back? That was him. The old man who gave Habaek his first paycheck? That was also him.
As for using the tablet on the wish, the High Priest’s like why are you all spending the wish on such a useless thing? Habaek finished his mission; he can go back! And in a not-terribly-surprising-turn, Habaek realises that he completed the mission of finding out why the stones were hidden in the human world – how can a deity save the world if he can’t even save just one human?
Thus, So Ah now has one more wish! After some hesitation, she wishes for Habaek to stay with her until she dies and leaves only then.
Turns out it is Hoo Ye who told So Ah all about the power of the tablet, and the High Priest proposes that he teaches him how to use fire. And that~ is the last of Hoo Ye.Habaek has to leave nonetheless for a while to make sure that So Ah’s wish comes true.
He gives her a gentle kiss on the forehead and disappears.
Life goes on, Ja Ya finally figures out how to become a better human being – by coming up with new foundation for single moms, lonely elderly and children without parents. Secretary Min smiles aww.
In her red coat which we’ve seen too often, So Ah tosses a white rose into the river and seemingly drowns in the river. Moo Ra and Bi Ryeom break her daydream. Although Moo Ra gleefully tells So Ah that Habaek is not coming back, she walks off with Bi Ryeom with their arms on each other’s hips awww.
Sang Yu declares that he’s going to get married to Hyung Sik and I thought that it was going to be a gay marriage?? But turns out that Hyung Sik is actually a girl. I must have thought it was a man because of Park Hyung Sik.
At night, So Ah walks home whilst on the phone with Yeom Mi and as she turns the corner, there he is. Habaek!!!
She walks towards him and finally melts into his arms aww. He’s back so late because the process of postponing his enthronement is complicated HAHA. They walk home, hand in hand, while So Ah asks all the important questions – will he still feel hunger? Yes. What about the magic wand? No he can’t take it. How about his driver’s license? He has to get it here. How about Soo Ri? He’s sick of part time jobs and scared of Yeom Mi so he didn’t come this time.
As they walk past the wall, the scrawl in chalk disappears and turns into a permanent block on the house, Habaek, Yoon So Ah, which is an indication that Habaek has his powers…right?
People can survive anything with strength, but life would be better with love.
Is it just me or did this episode run longer than usual? Anyhow, my recap is pretty long oh my, but I hope you guys enjoyed it! I think as far as this show had gone (or not), the finale is actually pretty decent because there was plot movement and some resolution. However, as a finale to the entire series, there are still some huge unanswered questions. For one, why does Habaek’s powers only return when So Ah is in danger and pleads for help? Is it because he’s a deity and he has to protect humans? For the other, why were the fishes dying? I genuinely thought it was something to do with the villain, but as we realise, there’s no true villain in this story…so are the fishes’ death really just an indication of pollution?
Also, I get it – I think So Ah’s wish is actually pretty brilliant, but has she thought about the impact it’s going to leave on Habaek? Imagine spending 60 years loving a person and she dies, and you have an eternity thereafter. I wish that So Ah phrased her words in such a way which makes it possible for her to leave with Habaek to the Realm later on, and we know that’s possible because of Nak Bin…unless the point of Nak Bin was to show us that it’s impossible for another human to live in the Realm of Gods because of the betrayal. As a side note, since the show didn’t go any further into Nak Bin’s backstory, I’m just going to assume that she did betray Habaek, whether accidental or intentionally.
I thought initially that the sequence of So Ah drowning in the river in her red coat having turned out to be a daydream was such a terrible idea. No one likes the resolution that “it’s all a dream”, maybe only with Inception. However on the second watch, it occurs to me that the sequence could have been what would happened to So Ah had Habaek not intervened. Remember Yeom Mi’s prediction? Her father who saved her, would also be the one that stole her soul. Thus, if Habaek hasn’t given her his power, she would have gone after her father and that sequence would have been a reality. Put in that light, I actually like it a lot more now!
As someone who is very practical, I did wonder if all the drama could have been saved if they simply rented a diving boat and had So Ah fitted with the right equipment to pick up her father. But I’m going to give the show the benefit of the doubt because well, it’s a Kdrama and also, I guess with only 4/5 days on the horizon, the couple probably couldn’t think properly. It might also raise a lot of questions on why the body was intact even though this man died more than 10 years ago.
The drama as a whole has been a disappointment. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it never did. On hindsight, So Ah’s trauma made a lot of sense, but I think that it was a badly-played card because as far as I know, nobody liked it that So Ah was consistently stuck in that hole for all 15 episodes. I kept waiting to see more of Habaek’s power, but it never happened until now. I think the plot had lots of potential. Unfortunately, while the twists and turns were all good in theory, they were terrible in execution. If the story has had a stronger writer, I think this drama would have been a bigger hit.
I stuck through with it nonetheless because I’ve somehow come to really love Nam Joo Hyuk’s Habaek and Im Ju Hwan’s Hoo Ye. I think the cast had good acting and that was what made most people survive the drama. So Ah was annoying for constantly crying, but it is undeniable that Shin Se Kyung’s performance in EP16 was heart-breaking too. Im Ju Hwan really got me with his portrayal of Hoo Ye, and Krystal/Gong Myung did well with whatever their (annoying) characters offered. If I were to sum up the lessons I’ve learnt from this saga, it’s that 1. even a strong cast and good director can’t save a bad script and 2. Nam Joo Hyuk is an incredible eye candy. Ha ha ha.
You can watch Bride of Habaek on Viki!