YESSS you read that right! This is my severely overdue recap (not sure why I did it when no one needed it anyway HAHA) and thoughts on the finale!
A quick recap: An finally sees the entire truth, as he touches the old house and visions of Seung Mo, well being the arsonist AND the murderer, is shown to us in full for once and for all. He collapses from the physical pain but rushes off once he realises where Seung Mo is – back in An’s old house.
Indeed, Seung Mo is there waiting for him. He explains that when his dad left behind the body, he wanted to finish what his dad did and set him up for the murders so that he could be locked behind bars. “No matter how much I want to deny it, I am a murderer’s son.”
Right till this moment when Seung Mo confesses his sins, I’d still believed he was innocent. I didn’t think the scriptwriters would have the guts to go there, but boy they did. I had fought valiantly for Seung Mo’s innocence as you guys can tell from this backstory theory I did, but the scriptwriters had decided to turn every assumption I had exactly on his head. For example, I’d assumed that the arsonist ran downwards, but the flashbacks showed us that Seung Mo froze and never left the building. In a sense, the every clue dropped was just to mislead us.
“You developed emotions then? Which is why you saved me?” Seung Mo replies, “That’s right.” Wow reviewing this episode just brings back so much feels for Jin Young’s acting. He’s an actor AND an idol, not an idol actor!!
Jae In arrives in time to arrest Seung Mo and… this is all over. Soon after, the police arrive to inform Eun Joo that Seung Mo has been arrested.
How strange and how cruel is life that within just a few months, Jeon Mi Sun had already left this world:(
Jae In questions Seung Mo about the whereabouts of the ledger, and Seung Mo requests to leave one last message to An, “Tell him I’m sorry for ruining his past, present and future.”
An immediately knows what his hyung was talking about and a flashback shows us that it was Seung Mo who bought the painting for An who had liked it at first sight. Learn from the past, behave in your present so that you don’t ruin your future. Seung Mo had hidden the ledger behind the painting all this while.
An runs into Eun Joo on the way out with the ledger and Eun Joo clasps his hands in a desperate attempt to transmit a memory of her persuading Seung Mo not to kill Guen Taek and not to kill himself after that. An murmurs bitterly that it’s too early and cruel at this point to ask him to forgive Seung Mo.
Spurred by the death of his daughter, Commissioner Eun resigns from his post and launches a full investigation into the matter. Some time later, Jae In also kick-starts the process of getting a fresh trial for her father.
Meanwhile, Guen Taek insists that he never killed anyone, not even Detective Eun. The crew figures out that that’s because this is his last ditch attempt to see Eun Joo again – without her testimony in court, there’s no way he can be tied to the Hanmin Fire Case.
The couple tries to convince Eun Joo to testify and she requests for them to give her some time. Jae In later asks An if he knows why Eun Joo never mentions Guen Taek’s name. An nods sombrely – it’s because the first time they met was when a construction manager asked a young Eun Joo to give Guen Taek (nameless at that point) a name.
He liked it….and that was when everything started.
To Eun Joo, the name was the curse. (He didn’t seem so psychotic here though.)
Later, An tells Eun Joo to stay comfortably in the house – he’s leaving because the place reminds him of Seung Mo, not because of her.
Also, how could I have forgotten our cute third (?) couple??? Who sits awkwardly at a chicken and beer gathering, only for Dae Bong to explain that a lot of things have happened between them when the main couple was busy. An sneakily first-bumps So Hyun’s hand and sees that she has actually always been on the look-out for Dae Bong whenever she passes by the gas station.
He privately wishes Dae Bong good luck and jokes, “What if she makes a move today?”
As we move along in the last part of the finale, Eun Joo testifies in court, effectively putting Guen Taek behind bars and under a death penalty.
Seung Mo gets sentenced to 13 years in jail, in consideration that he was a minor at the time of the murder and that he suffered from alexithymia.
We use every possible means to get over our painful experience, but the scar remains and becomes a memory which cannot be erased. It requires a lot of time to fade away.
One year later, we get to see some semblance of a happy ending. The couple goes on a picnic date,
the team continues to work
as comedians, Jae In’s dad is finally released from jail, Detective Nam ends up with Jae In’s aunt, An’s psychometric skills are no longer seen as something to be feared of…
and Dae Bong ends up with So Hyun hehe. My cuties.
An finally visits Seung Mo and Seung Mo explains that the side of him which feels like a human and the side of him which is a monster keeps clashing. He was worried about An and missed him, and couldn’t leave him alone. “I wish someone would tell us when it’s enough. The resentment, the hatred, and even the guilt. If only someone could tell us when it’s all enough.” Andddd that’s the last time we see the two of them face to face.
I totally appreciated this ending. It’s realistic because An can’t quite bring himself to forgive Seung Mo yet and his words about how he wishes there was someone external who could make the decision from him strikes me as particularly true. Sometimes, we hold on so hard to our grudges and we just want someone to tell us, it’s okay, it’s time to let go now. At the same time, the relationship between the brothers still lingers and that made the scene extremely poignant, almost bittersweet.
And at the end of it all, the couple visits a new home and An tells Jae In he will pay 2/3rds of it. The last third? “You will pay for it.” An holds Jae In’s hands and asks her to live with him. This boy is smooth as heck, I give him that.
Jae In hops around in joy and the couple looks out of a window.
Some time later, the couple runs into a man who is giving out flyers desperately to fight against a case of medical malpractice.
Jae In smiles to An, “Do you think you can fully understand the terms used by doctors?”
And An’s face slowly breaks into a beam.
My thoughts – in the most haphazard order
I know some people are disgruntled with how the ending turned out, but I saw this a bit differently – in my opinion, the writers had it all planned out from the start. The clues were blatantly dropped from day one, and even Ji Soo’s death was heavily foreshadowed. Whether you like it or not, is however an entirely separate question, but I’d thought this shouldn’t be confused with the fact that this is one of the few dramas where the writers clearly knew the destination of their story even at the start. For this reason, I had actually not grieved over Ji Soo’s death. I saw a lot of tweets with screenshots of how cute she was with Seung Mo and going, “How could the writers waste this potential???” but I didn’t think it was a waste of potential at all. The writers intentionally made the couple seem extra sweet and cute, so as to make her death even more impactful. It was, in part, definitely a means to an end.
As for who Seung Mo actually liked though, I’m inclined to think that he liked Ji Soo, not Jae In, but he never had the chance to fully rationalise or realise his feelings because of his emotional burden. Besides, he probably still think of himself somewhat like a monster and therefore, probably didn’t even think he deserves to love. It’s just a pity that Ji Soo couldn’t see this before she died.
There were however some outstanding questions/comments which I don’t think this finale adequately addressed:
- So just why on earth did Jae In and So Hyun move to the same neighbourhood?
- For me, what was not convincing about the backstory was that the fact that Seung Mo carried out the murders wearing a security guard’s jacket and not realise what kind of implications that would cause. This is particularly ironic given that the entire purpose of carrying out Guen Taek’s plans was to pin it on Guen Taek.
- I’m also not sure where Guen Taek went after he saw the empty house? Like he literally abandoned the body, the identity card (is it forged??) and just….what?
- Also didn’t make sense that Seung Mo decided to blow the apartment up anyway because just the murders alone should pin Guen Taek down technically. Unless he also wanted to create the illusion that his mother was dead?
- So how did Seung Mo have the funds to move his mother to Canada? (Could have been explained but I just can’t remember this after such a long time)
- Jae In’s dad didn’t really need to commit suicide though…
Overall, I’d thought the story was rather tightly written which already makes it more praise-worthy than some other dramas I can say. It was a tiny community of characters but they all played an integral part in the story. I would also disagree that the story basically throws shade that a murderer’s son will always be a murderer; to argue as such seems to ignore and reduce the meaning behind Seung Mo’s inner turmoil and his ultimate wishes to bring the truth to light. What I am on the fence however, is whether the choice of Seung Mo as the murderer is the best one at the end of the day. I still am not so sure that a boy who has been lovingly brought up by a mother who had constantly reminded him not to inflict pain on others, would nonchalantly carry out 3 murders and blow up an entire building, without thinking of the consequences. He lacks emotions, not logic, and it’s a pity that the writers had somewhat compromised the logic in the origin story by trying to come up with the reveal which they’d thought would create the most impact.
Moving on, what I loved about the couple was that we really saw them grow and evolve. The show was already off to a dark start, but who remembered that An was just a cheeky boy and Jae In mistook him for a pervert? And how she refused to get into any physical contact with him, but now comforts him anytime she can by holding his hand or hugging him? We all love some skinship don’t we, but for a guy who has always shrunk literally into his clothes and also (literally) avoid contact with the outside world, Jae In’s support is a much-needed solace and harbour for the lonely An. This is why the second ending scene for them is also incredibly apt – because this couple had lost their homes and their families, to have them finally settle on a physical space and to build a new family from there signifies the closure of a great chapter of their lives and the start of a new one.
Cast-wise, I am greatly impressed with Jinyoung’s acting. He flourishes as an actor and many of us didn’t even know he was an idol to begin with. On the other hand, I still think that Shin Ye Eun still requires work. Sometimes, I can almost literally see her thought processes like look angry, look confused, start crying now, which makes the acting appear quite stiff. I’m not planning to watch A-Teen so I’m not sure if this is just a one-off thing but I do hope she improves in the future. Speaking of idol-actors though, I had zero idea that Da Som was part of Sistar?? Like I knew Sistar existed and that Da Som was part of a group before, but it just never clicked till literally 3 days ago. In any case, Da Som and Kim Kwon acted well against each other and I loved the casual banter which bounced off both of them. A reunion work is probably unlikely, but I do await their future dramas(:
Bonus thoughts – Little Prince and other symbolism
The entire drama draws heavy parallels with Little Prince and I had initially thought that Seung Mo could potentially die, just like the Little Prince at the end of the story (ish). But thinking about it again now, I’m not so sure if the Seung Mo IS the Little Prince. Although both characters were lonely, the Little Prince was optimistic and observed the human world with much fascination and child-like wonder. Seung Mo, on the other hand, grew up a jaded and withdrawn child. Perhaps, the use of Little Prince as a backdrop in this episode was really meant as just a note that the show, like the Little Prince, was a commentary on humanity and the ugly but real sides of it.
Have also written on other symbols on Twitter, so just linking them here!
- Thread on the meaning of Flowers in Episode 13: https://twitter.com/thoughtsramble/status/1120679410330247169
- Theory on the yellow and red umbrellas:
theory on the yellow and red umbrellas: aposematism refers to the “appearance of an animal which warns predators that they could be toxic, distasteful, dangerous” and the most common warning colours include red and yellow. #HeisPsychometric pic.twitter.com/MNf021zvs6
— thoughtsramble (@thoughtsramble) April 11, 2019
I hope this was a good walk down the memory lane for you guys! I wished I had written about it right after it ended but I could only cover one drama at a time with my busy schedule and now, writing about the finale when I finally have some rest seems to be a much better send-off to the series than if I’d gone at it, stressed and frazzled.
Thank you for an interesting and intriguing story!
Didn’t know you finally posted this lol
I share some similar thoughts as you did. The writers knew their direction very very early on and was planned way ahead. Is how it happened the most logical one? No, but that’s on the writer’s skills in creating a logical crime progression, not directions. The relationship between Seung Mo and the director, the corporation wasn’t explained so all this time we thought that’s how Seung Mo has money to send mom to Canada.
Overall it was well written and paced well but there are definitely some plot holes but the story was interesting and characters were written well, interesting and I care for them, taking out the part where Seung Mo’s crime being the most logical or not.
One side note, I think the dad went out to find the mom (because that’s all he cares for) and leaving the body and identity card behind cos he didn’t think anyone would visit the house since the mom and Seung Mo already “left”.
Also, thanks for finally speaking my thought on Shin Ye Eun’s acting! I don’t dislike her and she’s pretty good given this is really only her second project, especially on such a demanding character and plot. I have been having a hard time understanding why do I can’t feel her acting – and you have said it!! I can see her thought process and she’s trying to “act” instead of acting naturally. Her expressions come off a bit stiff at times and it’s better when it’s not the complicated scenes.
Even I am a Jinyoung stan, I was really critical to his acting because I wanted to objectively say that his acting was indeed good, not just because I like him. I was worried before starting the drama because he has never really acted as a more important role in an on-going character for an actual 16 episode drama, so I don’t know how he can take a main lead and as a role that’s not going to be the most likable (cos from the plot introduction Ahn is supposed to be dumb and annoying lol) He actually really really surprised me with his acting and the amount of emotions he displayed, and the ability of him making the viewers feel for his character, the charisma him as a role to make the viewers fall in love with him, and how he is able to make the character convincing as an optimistic but also been through a tons of trauma, bubbly but also has his darker side, also his comedic ability as an actor and not over playing a “dumb bubbly” role. I am genuinely looking forward to his future projects.