Open Thread: Kill Me, Heal Me Episodes 19 & 20

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Can you believe we are at the end of our journey?? Thanks for sticking with me through this one, y’all. 🥲

Do Hyun and Shin Se Gi’s fist bump is headlining our post today, because it’s just such an iconic moment, to me. It feels like what we’ve been working up to, for the entire 20 episodes.

I have put up the announcement post for our group watch brainstorm, which you can find here. Do pop on over, to share your thoughts!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

Kill Me Heal Me OST – Auditory Hallucination

Here’s Show’s signature track, one last time, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the episode notes. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

My thoughts

Episode 19

This penultimate episode, I’m reminded all over again, that even though this show might have ridiculously inaccurate ideas about mental issues and how they’re treated, it’s really got a whole lot of heart. Once I let go of any need for medical accuracy in how DID is portrayed, and embrace this show’s premise as more fantasy than an actual exploration of mental health, the heart behind this story takes over, and does such a solid job of it, that I can’t help but be moved, as I once was, when I first watched this show.

I think one of Show’s strengths, is the resonance of its themes. I like the idea that one of the keys to Do Hyun’s pursuit of mental health, is being set free from the prison that he and others have created. The whole Alex thing is pretty farcical, for sure, but I do really enjoy the idea that Do Hyun now refuses to be threatened by Alex. He’s literally willing to go public with his struggle with DID, if that’s what it takes to get out of Alex’s grip. And that’s exactly the thing that takes all the power away from Alex.

Another idea that comes up in this arc, is that of personal responsibility and compassion. Even though it’s Alex who’s been blackmailing Do Hyun all this time, Do Hyun takes responsibility for his own actions that have contributed to this situation.

He articulates that he shouldn’t have told Alex his secret to begin with, after which, he shouldn’t have allowed Alex’s threats to have any hold over him. Even though Do Hyun really doesn’t have to, he has compassion on Alex, and even gets Secretary Ahn to put things in place, so that Alex can get out of his worst debts, and get some help for his drug addiction.

I feel like this acceptance of culpability and his choice to exercise compassion, set Do Hyun free, as much as his embracing of the truth has. It’s pretty powerful stuff, I feel, and I do get a bit of a vicarious thrill, from witnessing Do Hyun rise to the occasion like this.

I’m glad that Do Hyun chooses to tell Chae Yeon the truth too, when she shows up at his lunch with Chairman Gran.

On a tangent, it occurred to me during this episode, that Chae Yeon is clinging onto Do Hyun like this, basically because she fell for Shin Se Gi’s bad boy charms – just like most of us, when this drama first aired. 😆 I honestly had been so dazzled with Shin Se Gi’s sexy smolder, that I basically couldn’t think very straight, whenever he was on my screen.

The exact same thing has happened to Chae Yeon; she’s had one encounter with Shin Se Gi glowering at her with smirky intent, and she’s ready to give up her engagement and all rationality, to try to win Do Hyun back.

Ahahaha. I’m sorry; I am inordinately tickled by the power of Shin Se Gi’s smolder. Poor Chae Yeon never stood a chance, from the moment Shin Se Gi showed up at her door. 😂

This episode, I’m also glad that Ri On finally gets himself together and makes the decision to be a brother to Ri Jin, like she wants. Finally. I mean, I feel it’s been a long time coming, in the sense that Ri Jin’s made it clear that she only sees Ri On as a brother, and she really likes Do Hyun.

I do appreciate that it’s difficult for Ri On, and that often, the heart wants what it wants, even when the brain sternly says, “Oh no, you don’t!.” I’m glad that despite his heart clearly still protesting, Ri On’s going ahead to make the choice anyway.

You’ll be ok, Ri On. You’ll be ok.

I don’t know how much logical or medical sense it makes for Do Hyun and Ri Jin to say they wont need Professor Seok’s recommended treatments, but want to figure things out on their own, together. However, I will admit that there’s a nice amount of poetry in the sentiment that they are the cure for each other, once you remove the problematic logic thing.

I also like the idea of treating each of the alters with respect and compassion, like they are legitimate identities of their own. I always love rooting for the underdog, and there’s something about this way of thinking that appeals to the part of me that wants every underdog to have his day.

I also appreciate the idea that in acknowledging each of the alters, Do Hyun’s actually learning to accept and love himself, because each of the alters is part of him, to begin with.

On a related tangent, I also rather like the idea of Ri Jin and Do Hyun consoling their childhood selves. Even though the execution leans a little hokey to my eyes, I appreciate the thought that there are parts of them that have been hurt and repressed in their childhood, and those parts need to be acknowledged and comforted, in order for their present selves to be more whole.

I also like the idea that in order to satisfy the alters that they are no longer needed, Ri Jin and Do Hyun need to deal with the root of fear. It was because Do Hyun had been afraid that Dad would hurt Ri Jin, that Shin Se Gi had been created, and therefore, they now need to forgive Dad and therefore eradicate the potential need for Shin Se Gi to appear and save the day. I don’t know how much medical sense that makes, but it makes really nice metaphorical sense to me.

My personal favorite scene this episode, is Perry Park’s goodbye scene.

I have a soft spot for Perry Park and his breezy, cheerful manner, so I had mixed feelings about his appearance this episode. I was happy that he was on my screen, but I was sad because it was clear that this would be the last time I’d see him on my screen. Sniffle.

I love how Ri Jin treats him to fried chicken, along with that God’s Water Balloon beer that he hadn’t managed to drink, the last time he’d been at Ssangri. And I just love, so much, how happy and appreciative he is, as he eats that chicken and drinks that beer. Perry Park’s such a good egg, isn’t he?

I’m really touched by the reason he gives Ri Jin, for choosing to leave; that he’s the oldest, and therefore should set an example for the others, so that Do Hyun would be able to live more comfortably. Augh. That’s so noble of him, and he says it all so matter-of-factly, like it’s the most natural thing in the world, that he should do this.

Also, I love Ri Jin’s insight, that Perry had come to her rescue that time, when she’d been kidnapped because of the leather jacket, because he’d felt bad for not being able to rescue her before, from the fire. Oof. Perry denies it, but judging from his stricken look in his eyes, Ri Jin’s hit the nail on the head. It’s sad and rather discombobulating to think that even alters have emotional baggage and guilt.

I love Perry’s parting words to Ri Jin, to take care of Do Hyun, and take care of herself, and not be bothered by the past because the past isn’t important, and you only live once. It’s all such heartfelt advice, given with such finality.

It’s so perfect, though, that when Perry is shown making his exit into the Great Beyond, that what greets him, is the boat that has always defined his existence. It’s the most perfect send-off I could ask for, for Perry, but I’m still sorry to see him go. 😭

Perry’s parting words to Do Hyun are such a perfect callback to what Do Hyun had once learned from Dad, “Live freely.” Same words, but they hit so differently, now that so much has happened. It’s the kind of stuff that just hits you in the heart.

Episode 20

It feels like Show tried to fit a lot of things into this final hour, what with introducing Mr. X, waking up Dad, and dealing with Seung Jin stuff and all. While all that was fine and good, I have to confess that it was the various goodbyes with our alters, that really had me by the heart.

Again, there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief required, like how it’s literally impossible for Dad to wake up from a 21-year coma, and then be able to sit up in bed on his own, but as we’ve learned, this is just par for the course, with this show and the way it executes its ideas.

I do like its ideas, though. For example, I like the reveal this episode, that Nana isn’t the name of the alter, but the name of the bear, and the alter is actually little Ri Jin, our original Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung does such a great job channeling little girl Do Hyun, with his slow blinks and shy manner). It’s a poignant idea, that boy Do Hyun had created this alter, because of his connection to girl Do Hyun, and because he’d wanted to keep her with him.

I don’t personally care for the magician-like styling, but I do like the idea of Mr. X being girl Do Hyun’s father, a person with whom the kids associate help, care, and an all-seeing sort of ability – thus the magician-esque styling.

In this context, it makes sense that Do Hyun’s ISH (Inner Self Helper) would be created in the image of someone like little girl Do Hyun’s father, whom they looked upon as someone who would save and help them.

Ri Jin taking Yo Na to visit Ri On in exchange for information on Mr. X was painfully funny. Painful, because I feel bad for Ri On feeling so terrified and overwhelmed by Yo Na, and funny, because, well, it’s Yo Na and she’s always hilarious.

I think in a different drama, I might have struggled with how Show milks comedy from Ri On’s personal space being invaded, and Yo Na coming on to him so aggressively. But in this drama world that is so farcical and fantastical, and with Park Seo Joon playing it to make Ri On look more funny-scared than sincerely terrified, it lands much more amusingly to my eyes.

I also think that the underlying knowledge that this is likely Yo Na’s last outing before her disappearance, helps me to feel more indulgent of her and her Oppa-terrorizing antics.

Honestly, I felt pretty darn wistful at Yo Na’s farewell, which I felt was a pitch-perfect blend of poignant feels, and Yo Na’s signature sass.

“Hey, girl.. Thanks. Thanks for treating me like a friend. Thanks for treating me like a sister. And thanks for granting my wish today. Anyway, thanks for everything. You were my only real match that gave me a good fight. Take care of yourself.. I can’t stand you.” Pfft. That’s such a perfectly Yo Na way to end her heartfelt spiel. 😆

I really love the scene of Yo Na and Yo Seob standing outside Ssangri, just before they make their exits to the Great Beyond.

I’d almost forgotten that Yo Na and Yo Seob are twins, so this scene, where we see Yo Seob being Yo Na’s oppa, and getting her to do the right thing, feels extra meaningful to me. It’s like, they came into Do Hyun’s life together, and therefore, they are leaving together.

There are other bits and pieces that I appreciate about this finale, like:

1. Ri Jin getting to assure her younger self (well, the alter Cha Do Hyun) that everything wasn’t her fault, and that her future self is doing great and receiving lots of love from everyone, and that that’s the thing that enables the alter to leave.

2. Ri Jin thanking Do Hyun for caring so much, that in shattering his mind into pieces, he made one piece for her.

3. The conversation that Mr. X has with Do Hyun, which helps him to see that it’s best to confront his fears, rather than be afraid of unknown things in a box.

4. Do Hyun calling out Evil Uncle, not only for indirectly causing the deaths of Min So Yeon and Chairman Gramps because of his greed, bu also for his crimes of embezzlement and other mismanagement of funds.

5. Chairman Gran telling Do Hyun that she will hand down Seung Jin Group to him, and that she will watch over it for him, while he goes for treatment and gets completely better.

I have to admit, though, that my other big highlight of the hour, aside from Yo Na’s goodbye scene, was Shin Se Gi’s goodbye scene.

Given how we started our story, where Shin Se Gi declared his love for Ri Jin, it makes sense that the only gift that he’s interested in, is her.

While it’s a little weird when I think about it too much (like, is she cheating on Do Hyun with Se Gi? I know they’re technically the same person, but we’re treating them as separate and distinct, for all intents and purposes, and this messes with my mind a bit), I do think that Ri Jin’s choice of a goodbye kiss is exactly the right gift to make Shin Se Gi feel seen, acknowledged and understood.

On top of this, when Ri Jin talks to Shin Se Gi, she thanks him while referring to him as the first person to have told her that her words are like law to him. That definitely means a lot to Shin Se Gi, who’s always chafed at being relegated to Do Hyun’s shadow, when he sees himself as the stronger one, who’s come to Do Hyun’s and Ri Jin’s rescue.

I love Ri Jin’s compassion and deep empathy, demonstrated in how she sincerely cries sad tears, with each alter’s farewell. She really does acknowledge each of them as a unique and valued person, and that’s touching to see.

I also really like Shin Se Gi’s final scene, just before he disappears. With the other alters, their final scenes have always been something that defines them, and with Shin Se Gi, his final scene is with Do Hyun himself.

Their conversation still leans a little confrontational (as always), but this time, there is acceptance in the mix, which works really well for these two, I’d say. Do Hyun tells Shin Se Gi that Shin Se Gi will always be a part of him, and Shin Se Gi tells Do Hyun to live well – or else he’ll come back all over again.

I love that final fist bump between them. It’s not exactly friendly, but there’s acceptance and truce built into it, which I think is pitch perfect. Do Hyun tells Shin Se Gi, “Go well,” and Shin Se Gi responds, “Live well.” Again, perfect. 🥲❤️

I thought the time skip was a rather nice epilogue sort of way for us to catch up with our characters, to see how they’re doing. I thought Kwon Yu Ri’s cameo, channeling Yo Na a little bit, was really cute (though completely illogical), and it’s also nice to see that Do Hyun’s managing to contribute to Seung Jin via proxy, through now-Executive Director Ahn, even as he takes his year off to work incognito at Ssangri as Perry Park. It is weird that Do Hyun and Ri Jin are dating, and yet, they haven’t revealed his identity to Mom and Dad, but whatever, by this point. 😆

It’s been a sometimes weird, sometimes uneven journey with Do Hyun and Ri Jin, but it’s also been emotionally rewarding, and I’m glad to see that they’re both happy now, much healed and much assured in each other’s company, for the journey ahead.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Suspension of disbelief required in spades, but so thematically and emotionally resonant, that it evens out.

FINAL GRADE: B++

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Ele Nash
Ele Nash
19 days ago

Ah, well a happy sigh to finish on. Thank you, kfangurl, for choosing this as our other group watch – it made for a definite change of gear from Nirvana in Fire and, while not as light and fluffy as I was expecting, it had moments where I was properly laughing (yes, I’m side-eyeing you, Yo Na 😏)

Agree with your summary that the DID and mental health treatments were entirely fanciful and though potentially damaging in the sense that it actually didn’t show what it’s like to be around someone mentally ill or to have DID, it did at least have a strong heart at its core which I really value and applaud. I just wish… but I said all that already so will let it go.

Oh, for me, if I was going to tell anyone to watch it, it’d be entirely for Ji Sung – and, oh yes, more specifically Shin Se Gi. My god, ridiculous eye-lined heart eyes 😍😍😍 You say it perfectly, kfangurl: “Ahahaha. I’m sorry; I am inordinately tickled by the power of Shin Se Gi’s smoulder. Poor Chae Yeon never stood a chance, from the moment Shin Se Gi showed up at her door. 😂” The smoulder ❤ Right or wrong (OK, definitely wrong but…) I’d be swooning all over him in her place too!

Anyway, I finished It’s Okay, That’s Love (which for me had the edge over this show) and now my TV screen looks woefully blank… What do we watch next?! Looking forward to finding out. xx

j3ffc
j3ffc
19 days ago

So here’s a funny little thing. I actually finished not one, not two, but THREE shows this week. I finally got to the end of “Delightful Girl Choon Hyang”, which I started watching back in October 2020. It was the first Hong sisters drama, and I know it to be a sentimental favorite of some. I suggest it for anyone who didn’t think “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” felt dated enough 😳. Even though DGCH was a trope-a-rama, it did have a certain zip and I can see how it launched the Hong’s careers. And I dug the cheesy 90’s soundtrack.

j3ffc
j3ffc
19 days ago

Dontcha just love it when a show introduces a new character at the very end? I know I do! (Sorry, snark doesn’t come across all that well in print.) At least Show was, as always, self-aware enough for Ri Jin and Sec. Ahn to point out this late appearance as well. Mr. X at least turned out to be a cleverly thought-out alter; I liked that he was a kid’s conception of a dad and the message that mysteries are meant to be solved and not only feared. 

In the end, with full reveal, the identities and purposes of all the alters was very satisfying. I still think that the show would have worked better as metaphor without the uncomfortable/tone-deaf medical trappings, but the realization that the various personalities came out of Do Hyun and Ri Jin’s shared history made dramatic and emotional sense. Especially so since Ri Jin’s regaining her recollections was an integral part of the healing process. The ML/FL sharing a childhood past is one of my least favorite K-drama tropes, but it felt more organic than usual here. 

Much of these last two episodes felt like rote wrap ups, with the reveal of what happened back in the accidents and exactly how bad Bad Uncle was (at least he didn’t spend the entire episode reading the newspaper). While I got a little whiplash from Granny’s turnaround with granting Do Hyun the time he needed, I thought they handled Dad’s waking up rather well. Ri Jin and Do Hyun made it clear that they were the better people in every way while withholding the forgiveness that Dad clearly does not deserve. Only Shin Ge, who we knew had to make an appearance here, was inclined to seek immediate revenge, but that morphed into another step in the process of reintegration. Well done.

Of course, the emotional center of these episodes was the fond farewells to the alters. They were nicely done and appropriately heart-string-tugging, and I enjoyed them all (especially the scenes with Yo Na and between Ri Jin and Li’l Ri Jin). But what I was expecting, and would have preferred, was that it would be recognized that each was a part of Do Hyun, and rather than disappearing, would be truly integrated into DH’s better self, moving forward. We got some of this with the most important alter, Shin Ge, but I thought that the show missed out on an opportunity overall here. I felt Ri On’s pain and disappointment acutely, given the impossible emotional position he was in, but not so much that failed to laugh at his expense upon his encounter with a real life Yo Na. [Of course, he can also take solace from the fact that someone, somewhere, might just build a shrine in his likeness 😉.]

All dramas cannot be great, but this one had enough going for it to make it a solid watch and I certainly understand why kfangurl recommended it. It was Ji Sung’s show from beginning to end, and he was indeed fantastic in conveying the different personalities – even I could begin to tell who was whom near the end. I had never seen him before so this was a great introduction to a fine actor. And I might as well own up to being the sole member of the Ri On/Hwang Jung-eum fan club; she never once bothered me with her screeching and I thought she portrayed the compassionate sides of her character beautifully.  I was perfectly happy to see our OTP together at the end.

And I loved the extended Oh family, “Auditory Hallucination”, and for an all-too-brief time, the incomparable Kim Seul Gi. About half of the humor worked for me, which is a better batting average than a lot of shows. And I think we have adequately called out the show’s failings on the thread.

Bottom line is that this was a worthy undercard to the NIF watch (part deux) – another show I wouldn’t have watched on my own and which was made immeasurably better by the curation of our fearless Editor and our community (shout-out to Ele for sticking it out to the end). Thanks to all.

Final grade: B.

Ele Nash
Ele Nash
19 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I absolutely agree with you, j3ffc! I would have loved the personas to have melded into Do Hyun’s character, so that he had flashes of Yo Na’s exuberance, flashes of Perry Park’s kindness, flashes of Yo Sub’s artistry, and – of course – Shin Se Gi’s grrrrrrrrrrr. That for me would have made more sense. I remember in an early episode, Secretary Ahn saying Do Hyun rarely got angry, as though Shin Se Gi had that element, and when he said that, I kind of thought that that’s not normal, everyone needs to be able to express good and bad emotions in an appropriate way, not block them out. By dissolving those personalities into the mental ether, I wonder if he was actually suppressing important emotions.
But, as we know, this show didn’t necessarily make a whole bag of sense 😉 Still, it was an enjoyable ride. And it told me something about myself – that a guy only has to wear eyeliner, a smoulder, and have an intense chat-up line, and I’m a puddle of embarrassing dribbling argh… 🤤

Jaco_4950
Jaco_4950
19 days ago

Thanks for the final episodes. This show was a really interesting journey and I am now a dedicated ji sung fan.