Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Can you believe that we are already at the end of the epic journey that Money Flower’s taken us on? 😱 I feel as wistful as Pil Joo looks, in this screenshot. Thanks for sticking with me through this one, you guys. ❤️
Just a couple of things, before we begin:
1. If you’d like to visit my Money Flower review, you can find it here.
2. The Nirvana In Fire group watch begins next Wednesday, 26 May 2021, and the My Girlfriend is a Gumiho group watch begins next Saturday, 29 May 2021. See you guys there!
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this final pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Woah. This was a rollercoaster of a penultimate episode. Everyone’s bringing their big guns to the party, and they aren’t playing around. 😬
Congressman Na’s video announcement sends all our players into a tizzy. No one had seen this coming; it seems like not even Pil Joo had expected this. Even Congressman Na’s attending doc seems to have been kept in the dark; he doesn’t know where Congressman Na is, either. Given the odd open gates that Mo Hyun’s noticed on and off at her parents’ home, which appear to have been traces left by Grandpa Chairman’s men, it’s quite a feat, that Mo Hyun’s managed to move her father without being noticed.
Pil Joo informs Grandpa that Uncle President had only been imprisoned momentarily because he’d stood in Pil Joo’s way of attaining the Chairmanship, and I kinda love that Grandpa muses to himself, “I wondered whom this nasty lowlife takes after. He takes after me in every way.” HA. Is that an indirect admission by Grandpa, that he himself is a nasty lowlife too? 😆
Significantly, Grandpa returns the necklace to Pil Joo, saying that Soo Man had probably given it to him, so that he could show it to Grandpa, when he met him. I take it that this officially marks Grandpa’s acceptance of Pil Joo, since the necklace is a family heirloom. That’s pretty huge.
The sheen of tears in Pil Joo’s eyes is unmistakable; this is a big moment for him, even though Grandpa approaches it gruffly. He officially isn’t alone in the world anymore, finally. Although, it must be cold comfort to be associated with a family that’s essentially a brood of vipers. 😬
As what looks to be a matter of habit, Boo Cheon seeks out Pil Joo, expecting Pil Joo to fix everything. It’s quietly glorious, the way Pil Joo pushes back, “Boo Cheon-ah. When I gave your mother my last report, I was done being Cheong A’s dog.” How ironic, that Cheong A’s dog, is now proven to be a blood prince of Cheong A, while Boo Cheon’s been proven to be an outsider.
In the end, Boo Cheon pleads with Pil Joo not to reveal his birth secret, because the Jang name is all that he has left. That’s.. pretty sad, actually. And it is true, Boo Cheon’s lost Mo Hyun and he’s lost the Chairmanship, as well as Grandpa’s regard and trust. He doesn’t have much left. Pil Joo doesn’t say anything, but his doesn’t object to Boo Cheon’s request.
As it turns out, Congressman Na is putting up at Aide Yang’s apartment. It’s unexpected, considering that Aide Yang had been bribed into betraying Congressman Na before. But he seems earnest, and the Na family studiously avoids asking him any questions, preferring to take this latest assistance as his atonement for the past.
As Aide Yang transcribes the recordings from Congressman Na’s phone, Mo Hyun learns of Yeo Cheon’s visit, where he’d instigated Congressman Na to commit suicide. Well, that’s one more thing that Mo Hyun can bring against the Jang family.
Mo Hyun secretly meets Pil Joo, and explains that the video was to protect her father, because he’d be safer, if everyone knew he was alive. Mo Hyun then articulates something that we’ve known all along; Pil Joo had helped keep Mo Hyun’s father alive even though that would be disadvantageous to him, because he’d felt bad that her marriage had gone sour, and he didn’t want her to suffer further by losing her father as well. I’m glad Mo Hyun’s become cognizant of the heart behind Pil Joo’s actions, even though they both also recognize that there’s been too much damage between them for them to develop a romantic relationship. At least she knows?
Boo Cheon tries to persuade Mal Ran to leave Mooshimwon with him, but Mal Ran states matter-of-factly, that she will only ever leave Mooshimwon in a coffin. Well, that’s dark. And also, very dysfunctional. It feels like she’s squandering her whole life on the darkness that is Mooshimwon, and for what? It’s not like she’s really getting anything meaningful out of it, especially now that Boo Cheon’s pretty much fully ousted from his Chairman position.
Mal Ran says urgently that she will bring Pil Joo down from the Chairman position, by accusing him of orchestrating everything, including Boo Cheon’s marriage, because of his desire for the Chairman position. Ok, technically, this isn’t untrue, but also, it’s not quite the truth, since Pil Joo’s main aim wasn’t actually the Chairman position itself, but revenge on the people who had destroyed his family.
Thankfully, Boo Cheon appears clear on that, since he looks at his mother like she’s lost her mind. Despite the prickliness with which Boo Cheon now treats Pil Joo, there is clearly some loyalty left in him, for Pil Joo.
Uncle President agrees to Grandpa’s request for him to clear up the mess with regard to Congressman Na’s case, meaning that he will be investigated by the prosecution, on Grandpa’s behalf. Mal Ran proposes that while Uncle President takes care of that, she will take on the task of bringing down Pil Joo from the Chairman position.
Uncle President runs into a snag right away, however. Instead of successfully killing off Congressman Na, his hitman only finds an empty bed, because Pil Joo’s already moved Congressman Na to Cheong A Hospital – right into the thick of the viper’s nest, because it’s safest there, in plain view of everyone. Very shrewd.
Pil Joo also informs Uncle President that he has all the evidence he needs, of Uncle President’s instigation of Congressman Na’s attempted murder, AND Yeo Cheon’s instigation of his attempted suicide. Suffice to say, Uncle President appears troubled. 🙃
In a shock move, Mal Ran responds to Congressman Na’s video by presenting herself to the prosecution, and accusing Pil Joo of orchestrating everything for his own benefit. And when the prosecutor asks exactly how Pil Joo had threatened her, she spills all the birth secrets. Pil Joo’s birth secret, and even Boo Cheon’s birth secret, which she’d sworn she would take to the grave.
Woah. 😳 Lady’s not holding back, and is ready to throw herself and her own son under the bus, if it means that it’ll give her ammunition against Pil Joo. I mean.. it makes sense when we look at it that way, but she has so much shame around Boo Cheon’s birth, that I really hadn’t expected her to tap on it as ammo.
Grandpa collapses when he sees it being reported in the news, and Boo Cheon is devastated that he’s been outed by none other than his own mother. I have to agree with Mo Hyun, who tells Boo Cheon that it would be best for him to leave Mooshimwon immediately, and live far away from Mal Ran.
In his own limited fashion, Boo Cheon is sincere towards Mo Hyun, as we can see in this scene, where he tells her that it would be best if they don’t see each other anymore, because he just can’t bear the thought that he’s lost her. I don’t think it’s cool that he doesn’t allow Mo Hyun to finish what she’d wanted to say, but I do think that Boo Cheon is being sincere towards her.
We get an update on Seo Won when Boo Cheon goes to see her. Apparently, Pil Joo’s set her up where she has a cafe to run, and a place to stay. That seems good for her. Boo Cheon’s request, that Seo Won keep Ha Jung’s surname as Yoon, because at least it’s real, rather than his fake Jang surname, feels extra poignant to me. There’s a lot of ruefulness in the way Boo Cheon says this, and I can feel his sense of loss, after losing the one thing that he’d thought he still had.
Pil Joo starts the ball rolling on the investigation around Secretary Oh’s death, and it’s Boo Cheon who takes the message for Mal Ran, when the police call. He’s definitely unsettled by this, and is galvanized into retrieving the rifle that he’d hidden under Secretary Oh’s bed.
At the same time, Mal Ran’s not about to take this lying down, and sets up an champagne event for herself and Pil Joo, where she drops poison into the flutes beforehand.
Gah. It’s nail-biting stuff, to watch as Pil Joo downs that champagne, and then start to struggle and gurgle after Mal Ran informs him that it’s poisoned – only to abruptly stop, compose himself, and then ask Mal Ran how she finds his acting. Ha. The meta! (I found your acting very on-point, Jang Hyuk-sshi. Thank you for asking. 😉)
I guess it should come as no surprise, that Mal Ran would think of killing herself and taking Pil Joo with her. After all, she’d said not so long ago, that the only way she would leave Mooshimwon, is in a coffin. AND, I guess it should also come as no surprise, that Pil Joo would be two steps ahead of Mal Ran, and (we can infer) have that vial of poison replaced without her knowledge.
However, even though this is all unsurprising on hindsight, Show had me on the edge of my seat anyway, through each step of this deadly dance.
And then, to top everything off, just as we think that everything’s over and Pil Joo’s got the situation under control, Boo Cheon comes charging into the room, cocks his rifle, and fires. Eep. 😱
Overall, I do think that I enjoyed the finale more this time around, than on my first watch. Even though I was satisfied with where we ended our story, I remember that I’d felt a bit cheated on a few counts.
One of those counts, was on the transition between the end of episode 23, and the beginning of the finale. Clearly, Show gives us a different version of events this episode, in order to explain how, 1, Pil Joo could have gotten rid of the poison, and 2, how Pil Joo could have avoided being shot by Boo Cheon.
I’m still not hot on the way Show has Mal Ran follow Secretary Ahn out of the room to choose the flowers for the table arrangement, since we saw that last episode, that Secretary Ahn had simply left the room by herself when Mal Ran had rejected the flowers. However, I am more willing to accept that the rifle changing hands between Boo Cheon and Pil Joo works alright, as long as you accept that PD-nim has creative editing rights. I can buy the idea that Stuff happened between Boo Cheon cocking the rifle, and the final shot being fired.
Also, I’d forgotten that Mal Ran had tried to drink the poison direct from the bottle. Lady really is determined that she’d rather leave Mooshimwon in a coffin than in handcuffs. Was it really necessary for Pil Joo to shoot her? Maybe not. It might have been possible for someone to take a flying leap at Mal Ran, to knock that poison out of her hands. But, I suppose it does give him a valid excuse to wound her? And given how she’d killed his brother, I guess I can’t blame him for taking the shot?
Pil Joo reads his mother’s will, which Grandpa had referred to last episode, and we see that she’d wanted Pil Joo to grow up healthy, and without revenge in his heart. Notably, she addresses him as Pil Joo in the will, which means that she’d written this while they’d lived in Gapyeong, when her sanity had been patchy.
The way Pil Joo sheds tears, then later tells Grandpa that even if he’d understood Mom’s will properly, he wouldn’t have followed it, is so full of pathos. It’s like Pil Joo’s resigned to the fact that nursing revenge in his heart, was his only choice; that there was no way he could have lived the way Mom had wanted him to.
It’s very interesting to me, that Pil Joo’s revenge basically involves revamping Cheong A, such that it becomes an upright company that’s led by the most competent leader, rather than a Chairman chosen for his lineage. That’s.. honestly a surprising thing to associate with revenge. One might have thought that Pil Joo’s revenge would have entailed destroying Cheong A completely. Instead, his revenge is to force the company into a space where it will have no choice but to walk the straight and narrow.
This might feel a little lame by general revenge standards, but actually, it is so in line with how we’ve come to understand Pil Joo as a man with values and a sense of morals, even though he is our antihero who’s bent on revenge.
Also, this reveal by Pil Joo seems to calibrate Grandpa’s attitude towards Pil Joo, since we then see Pil Joo announce the changes to Uncle President, Yeo Cheon, Boo Cheon and Secretary Woo, where Grandpa backs up the announcement by saying that it’s all for Cheong A’s sake. Plus, Grandpa chooses to have Pil Joo drive him home afterwards, even though Yeo Cheon also makes the offer. It actually feels like Grandpa is starting to accept Pil Joo, for real.
However, Grandpa is not at all pleased that Pil Joo’s pledged $4 billion towards Cheong A Bio’s research in his name, and lashes out at Pil Joo for playing with his money. I guess it’s either all too much for Grandpa, or it’s just time for his body to give out, because he collapses right after, and is rendered unable to speak for the rest of our story.
The irony, though, of Congressman Na coming to see Grandpa in the hospital, and leaving Grandpa with a book of his favorite poetry. This feels like a complete turning of the tables, from when Grandpa had visited Congressman Na in the hospital, bearing a gift of poetry also. Instead of threatening Grandpa, however, Congressman Na informs Grandpa that he’s turning himself in to the prosecution, and tells Grandpa to take his time to do the same.
Mo Hyun receives detailed information about the double account of Cheong A Foundation, thanks to Pil Joo, and takes it to the prosecution as well. I appreciate that she takes the opportunity to tell the prosecutors exactly how much Pil Joo has helped her and her father, and requests for leniency for Pil Joo. That strikes me as the best way to do the right thing, while protecting Pil Joo.
The conversation between Pil Joo and Mo Hyun feels important and momentous, when he goes to see her at Cheong A Foundation. After he suggests that Mo Hyun consider staying at Cheong A Foundation to ensure that it runs cleanly and in a way that benefits society, Pil Joo apologizes to Mo Hyun, for using her in his revenge. I’m glad that Mo Hyun tells Pil Joo that because she, her father, Boo Cheon, Mal Ran, Seo Won and Ha Jung all owe him their lives, he can take that as fair exchange, and live.
I appreciate that so much. Pil Joo needs to be set free from the guilt that he feels towards Mo Hyun, and she’s giving him a way out, that feels fair, as if it’s something that he’s earned, so as to satisfy his conscience.
The other important thing that Mo Hyun says, is, “The distance between you and me. I’m well aware that you can’t reduce that distance. The reason you didn’t come close to me was to keep your manner to me. So I never expect that distance to be shortened. I’m going to keep the man I saved, and the man who saved me, in my heart.”
Guh. Such a bittersweet acknowledgement of love, and such a painful pledge, for a mutual regard that runs so deep, and yet has no future. The way Pil Joo takes a step forward and just gazes at her for a long moment, with tears in his eyes, it feels like he’s doing all he can, to drink in the moment, before he has to walk away from it. 💔
What a great callback, that it’s Mo Hyun who reaches for his hand this time, for a brief moment of connection, before she lets him go. 😭
Mal Ran mistaking Pil Joo for his father while in the penitentiary, isn’t something that I saw coming. I’m really kind of stunned to realize that Mal Ran had been the one to kill Soo Man, even though it had been Grandpa who had pulled the plug. Woah. That puts a different spin on everything. All this time, Mal Ran’s spoken bitterly of the way Grandpa had pulled the plug on Soo Man’s respirator, even though he could have lived. And YET, she’d been the one who’d tried to kill him in the first place?? 🤯 Dang, that’s messed up.
Boo Cheon finally moves out of Mooshimwon, and his final drink with Pil Joo is full of pathos. The whole conversation feels honest, and also.. futile, like there’s nothing left for the two of them, going forward. Boo Cheon requests that even if they run into each other in the future, they should ignore each other, and Pil Joo acquiesces. This is goodbye for real, and there’s a definite air of resignation and wistfulness between them.
We see the sentencing of our key Cheong A players, and while I’m reasonably ok with the various sentences, I’m kind of shocked that Mal Ran only gets sentenced to three years in prison. I mean, didn’t Pil Joo have her taken in for murder? Surely this sentence can’t have taken the murder into account?
I remember saying in my Money Flower review that I think Mal Ran gets off pretty easy, and on this second viewing, I still think the same. I mean, I get that she’s lost her sanity, but surely even then, she shouldn’t get to put on makeup and play dress-up with her caregiver? I think Show wants to demonstrate that she’s still lost in her own world, but surely we could have had that exact same scene, but with her barefaced and wearing a prison uniform? I feel like that would have made more sense, and also, felt more satisfying to watch.
The other thing that I remember feeling dissatisfied with during my first watch, was the scene of Pil Joo getting stabbed. I’d felt that since he doesn’t die anyway, the stabbing had felt gratuitous and unnecessary. I know we’ve had that angry maybe-son popping up from time to time in our story, but it is a bit of a stretch that he’d know exactly when Pil Joo was released from prison, and followed him to Cheong A.
HOWEVER. Thanks to dear Drama Fan, who mentioned this in one of her comments on my Money Flower review, I now have a different lens through which to view the stabbing, and it really does help.
What Drama Fan said, is that the stabbing signifies Pil Joo’s death, and therefore Jang Eun Cheon’s rebirth afterwards. Ahhh. With this lens on, the stabbing does feel a lot more meaningful, I have to agree. It would’ve been helpful if Show had been clearer about what this was supposed to mean, but oh well. I guess there was limited screen time to work with?
I do like this idea of Jang Eun Cheon rising from the ashes of Pil Joo’s demise. And thereafter, everything that we see, if viewed through that lens, feels quite significant. For example, the way he goes to Seoul, it feels like a new journey and a new beginning for him. And the way he and Boo Cheon ignore each other and behave as strangers, it feels like they are living new lives in a new world.
I would have liked to have heard him introduce himself at the beginning of his interview presentation, along the lines of, “Annyeonghaseyo. I’m Jang Eun Cheon.” That would have been such a weighty moment; I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to see that. BUT. His name is reflected on the title slide behind him, on the bottom right of the screen. “장은천” (Jang Eun Cheon), and that’s enough for me.
I like that as we then watch Eun Cheon walking the streets of Seoul, his eyes – and the camera – pan towards the sky, which is clear, bright and cloudless. Ahh. Our antihero Kang Pil Joo may have died, but Jang Eun Cheon is just stepping into a new beginning. And in this new beginning, the future is burgeoning with possibilities, for our talented and capable wounded hero, Jang Eun Cheon. Be free, Eun Cheon-ah. The old has gone; the new has come. ❤️