Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Can you believe that we’re at the end of this twisty journey?? As a final send-off, I just had to have Shi Mok and Yeo Jin headline our post today. What a great moment this is, with them clinking glasses as friends now, after everything’s said and done. I love it. 🤩
We are starting our next round of group watches next week, of My Mister and Someday Or One Day. I hope to see everyone there!! Announcement post is here, with all the details that you might need.
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this final set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
This penultimate episode has me slightly dazed, not gonna lie. 😅 I can’t help going back to what Merij said at the beginning of our group watch, when he pointed out that the puzzle in this story, is less about whodunnit, but why.
I find that during Show’s various reveals this episode, that’s the question that I keep trying to make sense of. And with Show having woven such a complex story with so many moving parts, I find that I’m sometimes more than a little confused over what someone might actually stand to gain, from a particular action.
First of all, though, I’d like to say that I really feel for Shi Mok and Yeo Jin, who feel so personally accountable for the events that transpired.
With the way things shaped up, it had looked very much like Yoon had killed Prosecutor Young after she’d seen his tattoo at the Yeo Jin’s home.
With that likelihood being so persuasive, I can see why Yeo Jin, who’s such a natural empath, would feel so shaken by the thought that her action had inadvertently put Prosecutor Young in danger.
I can imagine her blaming herself for inviting Prosecutor Young over, particularly since Yeo Jin had taken it upon herself to answer Shi Mok’s phone, that Prosecutor Young had been calling.
On the Shi Mok’s side of things, I can also imagine a similar line of self-questioning and self-blame, since he’d been the one to invite Yoon to join the special investigation unit, and had subsequently entrusted him with tasks, which had then given him access to information that he wouldn’t otherwise have.
I’m sure that part of Shi Mok’s angst has to do with the question of whether his invitation to Yoon, had been a contributing factor towards Prosecutor Young’s death.
I’m glad Shi Mok calls Yeo Jin, on a night like this, when both of their feelings are all kind of cloudy and messed up.
I’m particularly heartened by the detail, that it’s Shi Mok who’s reaching out to connect with Yeo Jin, because it’s so often been the other way around. And, I love the detail, that Shi Mok calls Yeo Jin as he steps into the pojangmacha.
It feels like he’d have liked to have sat there with her and talked in person, and this phone call is the next best thing, because it feels like she’s there with him, as he drinks his soju.
The thing that really stands out to me, in this conversation, is how honest they are, with each other. Yeo Jin is so ruefully honest about how she feels about having invited Prosecutor Young to her home, which she assumes is the reason Prosecutor Young ended up getting killed.
And, how significant, that Shi Mok immediately responds to that, by telling Yeo Jin how he feels similarly, about inviting Yoon to join their team. There’s so much openness and vulnerability here, and I love it.
Notably, it’s Shi Mok who talks about how, when there’s a problem with the child, the parents come to hate each other.
Isn’t it quite something, that Shi Mok, who has been physically handicapped in engaging with his emotions because of his surgery, is the one telling something so empathetic, to Yeo Jin, who’s our natural empath?
It really does feel like Shi Mok must be speaking from experience; that perhaps he was the problem, because of his condition, and therefore, a rift had formed between his parents.
I do love that Yeo Jin is able to think along these lines, and ask after Shi Mok’s parents, even though she’s literally still teary-eyed from her own emotional torment.
I mean, they both have so much on their minds right now, and yet, they are making room in their heart to show care and concern for the other person, and say words of comfort to the other person. This selfless expression of care is really touching, honestly.
She talks to him about his brain surgery, and asks if his head doesn’t hurt anymore; he tells her that there’s a chance that Prosecutor Young’s death had nothing to do with being at Yeo Jin’s home that night.
Their words really do mean a lot to each other, and there is so much compassion in each of them, as they take turns speaking those words of comfort, and there’s such a quiet sense of soaking in the words of the other person, as they take turns listening.
All in all, it feels like such a quiet but needful conversation. Also, it feels like that’s the whole reason Shi Mok had gone to the pojangmacha; to talk with Yeo Jin. Because, once they hang up, he gets up to leave. Aw. I love that idea.
As for Yoon, I have to confess that I’m still trying to figure him out. According to his testimony, he’d planned to get revenge on Park Moo Sung because of how Park Moo Sung’s actions had contributed to the death of his son, and he’d included Ga Young in that plan, because he saw her as doing essentially the same thing as Park Moo Sung.
The thing is, by the end of the episode, we see that he’d gone to Lee Chang Joon’s house after killing Park Moo Sung, and that was when Lee Chang Joon had convinced him that there was more that he could do, besides just killing Park Moo Sung.
If Lee Chang Joon’s recollection of events is accurate, then does that mean that Yoon had possible regrets about killing Park Moo Sung? Had he gone to Lee Chang Joon’s home to turn himself in, or had he gone there to seek help in evading the law..?
Also, why is there a disconnect between this recollection from Lee Chang Joon’s point of view, and the recollection that Yoon makes, while being questioned by Shi Mok?
In the recollection from Yoon’s point of view, he’d looked completely methodical and calm, as he’d carried out his plan, down to the collection of Park Moo Sung’s blood sample, to be used as a decoy clue on the neighbor’s fence.
Is Yoon purposely making himself out to be ruthless and heartless, in order to lean into the guilt of his crime?
Or if both Yoon and Lee Chang Joon are reliable narrators, then had Yoon’s attitude changed significantly between the time he left the crime scene, and arrived at Lee Chang Joon’s home..? If so, why?
I’m also curious to know why Yoon sticks so studiously to his cover story, that he’d planned everything himself. If Lee Chang Joon had been behind him all this time, what would Yoon gain, from protecting him like this? Does he actually have a real sense of loyalty to Lee Chang Joon?
If so, is it because Lee Chang Joon had shown him a form of understanding and empathy, in endorsing his killing of Park Moo Sung..?
I do feel heartened to see that our new Chief Prosecutor seems to be the clean and upright sort.
I mean, he’s even willing to stick his neck out to request an arrest warrant on Assemblyman Bae Sang Wook, even though they would be in serious trouble if they failed to find any evidence against him, after acquiring said warrants. And he does it anyway. 🤩
Gosh, it’s somehow quite a heady feeling, to see that it’s possible for someone who’s not a dirty player, to become Chief Prosecutor in this drama world. At least, I hope that Kang’s as clean and dependable as he appears. 😝
The other thing I’m curious about, is what Lee Chang Joon’s ultimate goal is, in all of this. I mean, Show’s pegging him as our Big Bad, the guy who’s been behind Yoon all this time, using him to get various dirty deeds done.
I’m still trying to figure out how each of these things could have benefited Lee Chang Joon.
For example, was the whole thing with Ga Young engineered by Lee Chang Joon, with a view to getting rid of Chief Kim? If that’s the case, it does feel rather cold and ruthless, since Lee Chang Joon and Chief Kim go back a long way, as allies.
And yet.. there’s the thing, where Chief Kim had begged and threatened Lee Chang Joon, and Lee Chang Joon had agreed to save him – until the evidence became too damning, which is when Lee Chang Joon told Chief Kim to go down alone. What was that about, then?
I’m legitimately confused at this point, about why Lee Chang Joon might have instructed Yoon to abduct Ga Young, and then leave her in that bathtub, all stabbed and bruised, and waiting to be found.
What purpose did it serve, if Lee Chang Joon’s intention hadn’t actually been to take down Chief Kim..?
Also, why had Lee Chang Joon gotten that whole whistleblower thing going, since that literally stirred up trouble for him at Seoul Western, while he’d been Chief Prosecutor?
Did he actually sabotage himself, so that he could resign – so that his father-in-law could plant him in the Blue House as Senior Secretary instead? But.. that sounds like a long shot..?
As we’re rounding off the episode, it looks like Lee Chang Joon’s out to steal his wife’s fortune? At least, that’s what I’m assuming is happening, even though I don’t know how he’s going to get that money in his own name, after getting her to donate it all, to her Foundation.
I have to say, he really had me going for a while there, with the sweet way he was talking to his wife. It made me believe that underneath all the businesslike facade, there really were real feelings of affection and care.
Yet, in hindsight, it all looks like things that he’d said and done, to cause her heart to waver, so that she’d trust him and sign away her fortune, just because he asked her to. That’s pretty darn cruel, particularly since she really does seem to harbor genuine feelings for him. 😳
Also, what did Lee Chang Joon have in mind, sending Yoon to the airport, to track down Secretary Woo? Did he plan to take down Chairman Lee for Prosecutor Young’s murder? And if so, what would have become of Yoon, if this scenario had gone according to plan?
I have so many questions swimming in my head, and I can only hope that Show will answer them all, in our finale.
Wow. What a finale this turned out to be. Considering that Show’s kept me on my toes all series long, it feels like quite a feat, that Show would be able to serve up a finale that feels so.. surprising, and yet, so in sync with the rest of its story, all at the same time.
I’m most surprised by the backstory that we finally get, on Lee Chang Joon. Perhaps it might not be a huge surprise that he’s the big mastermind behind the key murders in our story, but his motive and reasoning certainly is – at least to me.
Most impressively, the reveal actually ties together all the contrasting fragments of information that we’ve gotten about Lee Chang Joon, and makes it all make sense, even when they’re stacked up next to one another.
Maybe it’s because I’m a noob at this genre, generally speaking, but through it all, it never even crossed my mind, that this would be the truth behind Lee Chang Joon’s arc. Consider my mind suitably blown, my friends.
At first, I have to say that I’d felt thoroughly confused, at the early events of this finale. I couldn’t figure out why Lee Chang Joon would record a conversation with Chairman Lee, where Chairman Lee admitted nothing, but Lee Chang Joon admitted to masterminding Park Moo Sung’s murder and Ga Young’s abduction.
I was all, “What?? But that conversation only incriminates him..? Why would he do that? That doesn’t make any sense..?”
Ha. Little did I know, it makes perfect sense, when we consider what Lee Chang Joon really had in mind to do.
When Show first indicates to us, that Lee Chang Joon’s intention is to kill himself, I have to admit that I felt very puzzled by it. I couldn’t understand why he’d start something that would eventually lead to his death.
However, as Show takes us through his entire experience, from starting out as a righteous prosecutor, to going down a dark and slippery slope of corruption, it started to make sense in a way that I hadn’t expected possible.
I mean, Show had told us, in no uncertain terms, that Lee Chang Joon had started out as a righteous prosecutor, and it was Lee Chang Joon’s own conduct, that had inspired Shi Mok to also become a righteous prosecutor.
Somehow, though, I had failed to consider that Lee Chang Joon’s descent into corruption might have taken a toll on his conscience.
I dunno; I’d just assumed that he’d rationalized each of his decisions down that slippery slope into the black hole of corruption, and had essentially changed over time, and therefore, didn’t actually feel the sting of his conscience.
It looks so different, when Show peels back those layers, like in the way it gives us those early scenes of a younger, less senior Lee Chang Joon being ordered by his corrupt Chief to bury a case.
That’s definitely something that he would have encountered, given the dirty system, and it makes complete sense, that he would have been coerced into bowing to pressure, and doing things that went against his conscience.
And it then becomes a reasonable conclusion, that over time, this wore him down, particularly with his marriage to Yeon Jae, and the additional pressure that would have then come, from his father-in-law.
I have such mixed feelings, when I think about how Lee Chang Joon must have lived, while gathering all that evidence. He’d prepared for this, for years, it looks like.
What must it be like, to prepare for your own death, for years, with meticulous attention to detail, in terms of the evidence that your death would bring forth?
On the one hand, it’s tragic and sad that a righteous prosecutor would find himself in such a situation, that he would feel the need to use his death as a signal to the world, that the system is broken and needs to be rebuilt. On the other hand, as Shi Mok says, he’s still a monster.
The fact is, he used people ruthlessly, while working towards that goal. Can he still see his goal as a righteous one, when he’s literally taking the law into his own hands, and punishing people in such a rogue manner?
On hindsight, a lot of Lee Chang Joon’s words and actions take on a different light.
Last episode, I’d thought that he was getting Yeon Jae to leave the country, in order to steal her money, when the truth is, he’d gotten her to leave, so that she wouldn’t be around, when he killed himself. Ack. That’s dark. But also, it does show us that he did have sincere feelings for his wife, after all.
Also, what a great irony, that Lee Chang Joon had never changed his mind about Shi Mok. He’d always held on to his original assessment, that Shi Mok would be able to accomplish something great – and he’d even ensured that Shi Mok would be put in a position to investigate him and take him down.
How can something so bizarre make so much sense? Show’s got some serious skillz, is what I’m trying to say.
Another irony, is the fact that Lee Chang Joon had arranged for Kang to be Chief Prosecutor, not as a means for making up for the premature, enforced dissolution of the special investigation unit, but to ensure that Shi Mok would have adequate support, in carrying out the task that Lee Chang Joon’s entrusted him with.
Dang. Lee Chang Joon really is so fascinating, isn’t he?
Plus, I find it really intriguing, that Yoon had seemed to know that Lee Chang Joon would eventually confess everything and kill himself. Show doesn’t give us specifics, but it seems like Lee Chang Joon had been pretty open with Yoon, in sharing his overall plans and goals?
That puts a pretty different spin to this alliance, if that’s true. Did Yoon justify his actions, by looking at it as a larger mission, to eradicate the corrupt from the system?
Although I was a little thrown at first, at how Lee Chang Joon dies in the relatively early part of our finale, I’m glad that Show makes this choice, because this gives us time to delve into the fallout thereafter.
It gave me an inordinate amount of satisfaction, to see Chairman Lee get arrested, after assuming that his interrogation had yielded nothing for the prosecution.
HA. Chief Prosecutor Kang had just been buying time, so that Shi Mok would be able to get the warrant for his arrest. YES.
Even though we haven’t really seen a whole lot of Chairman Lee, in the grand scheme of things, I think just knowing that he’s at the root of a lot of the corruption, was enough to make me want to see him suffer.
And so, when we see that he’s reduced to the whole “I’m sick” act while being seated in a wheelchair, I felt quite gratified, if only by the idea that he’s been pushed into a corner is now grasping at straws.
I’m glad that Lee Chang Joon left that letter explaining everything, because at the very least, it convinces Yeon Jae of her late husband’s true thoughts.
I found the scene of her crying at his grave, and apologizing, very poignant, because it’s true that if she’d never attended her brother’s trial, she never would have fallen for Lee Chang Joon, and then perhaps his future might have been different.
I feel like the shady people in our story world essentially fall into two camps. The first is like Chief Kim, who seems to get a strong wakeup call from it all, and becomes genuinely remorseful for his actions.
To my eyes, it feels like he’s lived in some kind of drunk dream, and is finally waking up sober.
The other camp is like Prosecutor Seo. He feels a momentary prick of his conscience, and gets all enthusiastic about wanting to turn over a new leaf.
However, it isn’t quite enough to get him to actually achieve long-term change, and we see that even before the 10-month time skip, he’s back to his wily, slippery ways.
I actually think that’s a pretty realistic note on which to end, because it would have felt overly convenient, if this incident suddenly caused everyone to change for the better.
In fact, Show’s message on this, feels very similar to what I feel is the final message of Squid Game; that the world is a dark place where the rich and powerful continue to be dark and shady, but there’s a glimmer of hope, in the form of a small minority who are willing to keep fighting.
I’m glad that we get to see Shi Mok go back on that TV show, and fulfill his promise to the nation.
Although it’s completely within Shi Mok’s personality to do so, I’m still pleasantly surprised that he tells the truth about Lee Chang Joon’s final wish, so that people know that he’d collected and supplied that evidence to the prosecution in a purposeful manner, rather than having had the evidence taken from him, against his will.
I feel that in a sense, Shi Mok is vindicating Lee Chang Joon to some extent, even though he states for the record that Lee Chang Joon is still a monster.
I also love the fact that Shi Mok, while giving his thoughtful remarks on that TV show, quotes both Yeo Jin and Young Il Jae. It really shows us how closely he’s been listening, and how much he’s taken their words to heart.
I was literally almost giddy, to see Shi Mok and Yeo Jin finally sit down together, at the pojangmacha! Their conversation touches on work, as always, but the personal touches to the conversation is the stuff that thrills me.
And, how cute is it, that Shi Mok frowns at Yeo Jin and asks her why she’s late. Tee hee. It makes me feel like he’d wanted to see her earlier, and talk to her more, and that’s why he’s galvanized into asking why she’s late.
I love the casual, deadpan banter over whether Shi Mok will rent his apartment to Yeo Jin, now that he’s leaving for Namhae, and how Shi Mok answers with a straight-faced “yes,” when Yeo Jin tells him that he can crash on her porch when he next comes to Seoul. Ahh. How are these two so cute?
Yeo Jin’s gift of a drawing is so like her, and yet, it’s clear that she’s put more care into this drawing than the previous ones. The earlier ones had been quickly scrawled in her notebook, but this one’s carefully drawn and colored in. Aw.
Even though Shi Mok sounds a little unimpressed by how the drawing doesn’t look like him, I can’t help but notice that he puts it into his breast pocket for safekeeping, right away. And I do love the idea, that Yeo Jin drew this for him, as a reminder to keep practicing his smile.
And! I love the idea that Shi Mok now feels comfortable enough with Yeo Jin, to casually ask her what’s up with her lips, since she usually never wears lipstick. I love all these traces of friendship that we now see scattered all throughout their interactions. 🤩
Last but not least, I love the glimpse, 10 months into the future, because not only does Shi Mok have a framed photograph of the special investigation unit on the cabinet behind his desk in his new office, he’s even got Yeo Jin’s farewell drawing taped next to his computer monitor – so that he can practice smiling, just like she’d said.
And it seems to be paying off too, because Shi Mok’s definitely smiling more now than before, and it looks genuine too.
I’m glad that we end on an open-ended sort of note, with Shi Mok being recalled to Seoul, to head up another special investigation unit. Perhaps that’s why he’s smiling – because it’s a chance to regather the troops from the OG special investigation unit?
Whatever the case is, I’m just really pleased at the prospect of Shi Mok and Yeo Jin reuniting, as the awesome partners that they are. 🤩🤩
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Restrained, twisty, and pretty darn excellent.
FINAL GRADE: A