Open Thread: Signal Episodes 15 & 16 [Final]

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Gosh, can you believe that we’re already at the end?? I had to have this shot of our main trio headline this post, because it’s ALL I’ve wanted to see, all series long. 😭❤️

SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

1. There’s no Spoiler Zone this week, since this is the final two episodes of the show.

2. Our next Saturday group watch will be of Queen In-hyun’s Man, which will start on 23 April 2022.

I will make an announcement with all the relevant details, next Saturday, 16 April 2022.

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

My thoughts

Episode 15

Oof. What a harrowing penultimate episode this turned out to be. 😱

I.. have no idea how Show is going to weave a satisfying ending for us, given where we end this episode. But at least it keeps me guessing, even at this late stage of the game..?

Our characters just go through so much this episode, and it really makes my heart go out to each of them. Mostly to Jae Han, coz by this point he’s become my favorite character in this entire drama world, but I still had feels left for Hae Young and Soo Hyun too, for the record. 😁

It was a touch confusing watching the various snippets from the 2000 timeline, because I couldn’t tell if what I was watching, was what was happening in real time, as Jae Han tries to save Sun Woo, or if some of it was from past pre-established events that still stood a chance of being changed, if that makes sense.

That’s pretty clever, I have to say, because it makes for an unsettling, nail-biting sort of watch experience, where you don’t know what’s up and what’s down, at least for a while.

I’m horrified that it was Kim Bum Joo who had killed Sun Woo with his own hands (he really will do anything, won’t he??), and I’m absolutely gutted that Jae Han arrives a step too late. Gah. I guess this means that Sun Woo’s dead-dead, doesn’t it? That’s so tragic. 😭

It’s tragic to watch the events unfold in 2000, but it’s also tragic to watch Hae Young be so desperate to see his brother’s case file, in 2015, in hopes of seeing a different result reflected in the document.

It’s heartbreaking to see Hae Young sink into despair and hopelessness, once he sees that nothing’s changed in the case file – which is evidence that Jae Han hadn’t managed to save Sun Woo.

Poor Hae Young. This is like him having to deal with his brother’s death all over again, for a second time. 💔

To make everything so much worse, Hae Young’s being framed for a crime that he didn’t commit, in essentially the exact same way that Sun Woo had been framed, so many years ago.

Egad. The cold cruelty, of Kim Bum Joo, to reflect on this so casually, as if Hae Young deserves what he’s getting, and he’s just doing the necessary. Gag.

Over in 2000, my heart goes out to Jae Han, so much, as he gets overcome with a burning desire to unveil the truth behind Sun Woo’s death.

On the one hand, I’m all for it, because his fiery sense of justice and righteousness deserves recognition, and I so, SO want him to succeed.

On the other hand, as he bursts in on Kim Bum Joo and accuses Kim Bum Joo of Sun Woo’s murder, pretty much, I worry for him, because we already know that Kim Bum Joo is fully capable of retaliating in very deadly ways.

We’ve already had Jae Han killed by Kim Bum Joo’s order once before, and I’m hoping against hope, that it doesn’t happen again. I want Jae Han to survive, SO FREAKING MUCH.

That scene, where Jae Han works to gather himself together, to tearfully break the news to Hae Young, that he’d failed to save Sun Woo, is the most heartbreaking scene this show has given us, so far.

The devastation that Jae Han feels is so real, and the guilt is so real as well. And while part of it is his sense of duty talking, I know that a lot of it has to do with Jae Han’s personal connection with Hae Young, and that makes it land with such deep pathos.

The fact that it’s Soo Hyun on the other end of that transmission, is so surreal. It’s a moment I’ve waited for, all series long, for Soo Hyun to finally be able to speak to Jae Han, over that magical walkie-talkie.

It’s so poignant to see how hearing Jae Han’s voice, and being able to talk to him, basically brings out all of Soo Hyun’s younger, more innocent self. The way she talks to him, is exactly in the tone that she had always talked to him, back when she’d been “0.5” to him.

Even though my brain protests that Soo Hyun doesn’t have the time to let her emotions run loose, in the short duration of the transmission, I can understand that she has a lot of pent-up thoughts and feelings towards Jae Han, that are begging for release.

..I’m just relieved that she manages to tell him at least the bare bones information about the date and location of his death, so that he can potentially do something to avoid it.

Although, as Hae Young points out, Jae Han had gone to Sunil in the first place, after having been warned against it, by Hae Young himself.

Not that we actually see Hae Young warn him, but we do see Jae Han mention, in that first transmission, that Hae Young had told him about Sunil. Gah. This means that Jae Han’s quite likely to go, despite Soo Hyun’s warning, doesn’t it? 🙈

Actually, the circular nature of our events really comes through, this episode, and I find it really trippy, to see that events from earlier episodes, are now showing up again, this time with more context, and a clearer cause and effect.

For example, the fact that Jae Han can’t follow up with the forensics evidence on the red scarf, because the entire unit is activated for Kim Yoon Jung’s kidnapping case, is pretty mind-bendy, to me.

It makes me wonder if there are infinite loops of this magical connection. Like, if the first transmission to Hae Young comes from a dying Jae Han, and subsequent ones come from a Jan Han from a different timeline, could there be multiple chances, to change the past?

Like, if you fail to save one dying Jae Han, could you still save another? Is this an infinite looping of parallel universes, in that sense..? Hrm.. 🤔

In terms of the facts at hand, what I’m curious to know is, who sent that red scarf in to Forensics?

Was it Kim Bum Joo? Why would he, though? If he believed that to be evidence against the son of the President of Injoo Cement, wouldn’t he sooner destroy the scarf, than have it analyzed..?

Unless.. he was having it analyzed, so that he could later use it to blackmail the President of Injoo Cement..? That’s possible? Although, even if this were true, how Jae Han could get in on this, seems quite mysterious to me..

How horrible, that this basically leads to Jae Han getting threatened by Kim Bum Joo and eventually getting shot by Team Leader Ahn, just like before. Gurgle. Does this mean that it’s the end, for Jae Han..? Say it isn’t so! 😭

I’m holding on to some kind of slim hope, that perhaps Jae Han had thought to wear a bulletproof vest, maybe, after the various snippets of warnings, that he’s gotten from Hae Young and Soo Hyun.

I know I’m grasping at straws right now, but I’m just that desperate for Jae Han to survive our story, y’know?

On a tangent, we finally get some insight into the significance of 11:23pm; that had been the time that Jae Han had been shot. 😭 If I read Show correctly, the whole idea is that Jae Han’s will, to not give up, had been the thing to trigger the transmission across timelines in the first place.

Guh. There really is something poetic about that.

In the 2015 timeline, it’s so heartbreaking for Hae Young to learn that, ultimately, in that very circular fashion, it had been his request to Jae Han, that had set Jae Han on a path that had led to his death.

Gosh, that’s a lot to bear, and I can totally understand Hae Young losing his mind over this, at least a little bit.

It’s bad that they lose Kim Sung Bum, but it’s worse, that Hae Young gets shot, while saving Soo Hyun.

There’s such a sad yet deeply poignant mirroring effect going on here, with both Hae Young and Jae Han getting shot in their respective timelines, while thinking on each other, and how they each want the other to be happy. 😭💔

GAH. I have no idea how Show is going to tie this all up, have our bad guys taken down, and save everyone (at least Jae Han and Hae Young, pretty please?), in our finale, but I’m very curious to find out.

Episode 16

Augh. This finale.

How does a finale manage to serve up so many solid answers, yet leave us with so many questions, at the same time?

I feel so conflicted, in that sense. Part of me is satisfied with what Show serves up, in terms of answers, and what I’d hoped for, in this finale. And the rest of me is hungry for Show to give me more – much more! – because it’s leaving my heart dangling. Argh.

Why are you doing this to us, Show? 😭

First, let’s talk about the answers that Show does give us.

For a start, I’m very impressed that Show takes the time to give us insight into just how that red scarf had reached Jae Han’s hands, and why that was a key piece of evidence, not just in the Injoo rape case, but in Sun Woo’s murder.

I liked how detailed this was (vs. some vague explanation that Show could’ve given us instead); it made me feel like our story’s really well thought-through.

Also, I have so much admiration for Jae Han’s tenacity and determination. He just keeps on going, even when the odds are stacked against him. Even when looking for that scarf in that dump, is as impossible as searching for a needle in a haystack, he doesn’t give up.

And it’s just so heartening, when his tenacity pays off, and he finds that red scarf, after all. Huzzah!

I also really like how Show plays with the slightly different iterations of the various timelines.

I’d made mention of it last episode, but I hadn’t realized then, that Show had been playing me, a little bit, in not yet actually showing me the updated version of events, where Team Leader Ahn doesn’t shoot Jae Han, and ends up getting shot instead.

OMIGOODNESS. I think that was quite possibly my favorite moment of the entire finale; I can’t even begin to describe just how happy I was, to realize that Jae Han had acted on the warnings from Hae Young and Soo Hyun, and had arranged for back-up. BIG PHEW, and BIG YAY!

That was my biggest ask of Show, that it somehow save Jae Han from this untimely death, and make it such that he gets out of that horrible trap alive. AND HE DOES.

Not only that, he rushes straight to Soo Hyun, AND HUGS HER. Eeee!!! Omona. I can’t tell you how giddy this made me.

It’s less because Soo Hyun’s had a crush on him for so long; for me, it’s more of the fact that Jae Han’s come to terms with his feelings, and is acting on them, big burly awkward shy bear that he is, and I LOVE IT. 😍😍😍

At the same time, I appreciate the writing touches, that give us these meaningful callbacks.

Hae Young dying in the present timeline, only to be saved by a change that Jae Han made in the past, is such a strong echo of the time Soo Hyun had died in the present, only to come back alive, due to a change in the past.

Plus, the way Soo Hyun describes having gone to Hae Young’s home to look for him, only to meet with his mom, is such a strong callback to how Hae Young had gone to Soo Hyun’s home to look for her, to verify that she was alive, only to meet Soo Hyun’s mom instead.

On that note, can I just say that I’m SO relived, that Show has Soo Hyun remember Hae Young, after everything’s changed?

I was half afraid that she wouldn’t remember him, but I suppose the thing that causes people to remember previous versions of events, is involvement with the magical transmissions, because this time, now that Soo Hyun’s been part of the transmissions, she remembers everything.

I’m so relieved, because this means that the relationship that Soo Hyun and Hae Young have built, is fully preserved (I’d have hated for them to have had to start over, from zero 😱).

Not only that, they can immediately compare notes, and discuss more important things, like WHERE THE HECK IS JAE HAN?? 😭

I do really love the way Hae Young manages to secure the evidence that Jae Han had left for him, by understanding the clue that Jae Han had left for him in his notebook.

Sure, we don’t see how that notebook survived that gang attack, nor how it came to be in Soo Hyun’s possession, but I’m so thrilled at the thought that Hae Young and Jae Han understand each other so well, that I’m willing to just roll with it.

I have to admit to feeling both worried and perplexed, to learn that Jae Han’s been missing for the last 15 years. Like, what? Seriously? After everything that we’ve seen him go through?? 😭😭

But, this development does align well with Show’s overall tone, that changing things in the past, can lead to other changes that are far from ideal.

The way Show plays it, it’s as if it’s Jae Han’s destiny, to be considered missing for 15 years. The big difference, however, is that where before, he’d been missing because he was dead, this time, he’s missing because he’s in hiding.

I have to confess, I’m just so thrilled and relieved at the reveal that Jae Han’s alive, that I don’t even really care (too much, anyway), that we don’t really know why he’s been hiding for so long, and why that group of gangsters are coming for him at the hospital, on this particular date.

ALSO. The walkie-talkie’s buzzing again!! Who’s been talking to Jae Han, all these years? Or.. is this a first contact sort of moment that we’re on the cusp of witnessing?

Guh. I see now, why Signal fans have been sighing so fervently for a second season, all this time since this show first aired. I WANT SEASON 2, NOW, TOOO~! 😭

Show raises so many questions, and so many possibilities, and it would be so great, if we actually got a second season, to explore all of them. More than that, how amazing would it be, to actually see our main trio in the same frame together, for reals?

Ahhh. I feel like my heart would burst at the sight, seriously.

HOWEVER. 😭 It’s already been 7 years since Show first aired, and no one’s been talking about a Season 2, so I don’t think we should be keeping our hopes up, unfortunately.

My silver lining, as I close out this show, is that Show gives us the main things that we could dare hope for:

1. Jae Han’s ALIVE, and he’s not in a coma! In fact, he looks like he means business, and is ready to take on the world;

2. Lee Bum Joo meets his end, and it’s his greed and his dirty dealings that prove to be his undoing; and

3. Congressman Jang Young Cheol is arrested, thanks to the evidence that Jae Han leaves for Hae Young, in good faith that in Hae Young’s time, the world would be the kind of place where such justice can be served.

Show leaves us with an encouraging, uplifting message, to stay focused, and to never give up, because as long as we don’t give up, there is hope. Such a stirring and worthy idea, truly.

And even though we don’t see it, I’d like to believe that Soo Hyun and Hae Young do actually meet with Jae Young, when they arrive at Jeonghyun Medical Care Hospital. Because if I’ve learned anything about these three people, it’s that they simply won’t give up. ❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Grabs your head with its twisty trippiness, then creeps up on your heart with its characters and relationships. Very good.

FINAL GRADE: A-

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j3ffc
j3ffc
5 months ago

I found this a thoroughly enjoyable watch, even though I don’t typically enjoy murdery things either (thanks @Ele for that colorful turn of phrase). This was the first full show I’ve seen Kim Hye-soo in, and she’s a pretty riveting actor, along with the other 2/3 of our main trio.

My thoughts on the ending:

Although I tend to get turned off by overly plotted shows, I did like how they pulled a lot of threads together in the last few episodes. Overall, I didn’t mind the open ending, with a few separate trains of thought.

(1) They clearly did point to a new series of events with the re-activation of the walkie-talkie (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t 23:23 when it turned back on, unless Korea is way closer to the North Pole than I thought it was). And though if they were gonna do another season they’d have surely gotten around to it by now, I’m pleased enough with imagining our heroes working on another case and eventually having those bottles of soju together.

(2) I was OK with not reversing every bad thing that happened in the past. It felt more honest.

(3) On a more contemplative thread, we never do really know the future, do we? Until one final moment, everything is open to question and curiosity, but no surety awaits us. I like the lesson of the show that even with a magical line to the future and the ability to change it. it was impossible to do it predictably. The best laid plans….are that, and no more.

All in all, a great show and watch…enjoyed following the comments of all of you who joined in. A- from me.

Last edited 5 months ago by j3ffc
manukajoe
manukajoe
5 months ago

Wow the momentum towards the end of the season was so intense as we rushed for a conclusion and many threads get looped or tied up. I like it when stories wrap back around on themselves. And now we’re back at Episode 1 Mental Hospital scene.

Ugh they’re talking about two people named Kim and I only just realised it’s two different people. Oh the loan shark guy.

Well I am highly peeved to have been left with things unfinished. And I think the possibility of a second season is no excuse not to tie up season one. I feel owed an ending. And you never know what will happen with season 2. Now it might forever dangling which is highly disappointing.

So overall it was a great 10/10 show, but with some negatives: (1) too much gratuitous violence against women, (2) cast sometimes do dumb stuff, (3) ending left hanging. So I can give it an A I guess. Still falls under Misaeng and My Mister (probably)…

Ele Nash
5 months ago

I didn’t rewatch this with you all, despite it being one of my most loved shows – unexpected as I really dislike murdery things – but there’s only so much I can fit in, and there are so many dramas to see, so little time! But I really wanted to read kfangurl’s thoughts on the end and to concur that Cho Jin Woong’s portrayal of the “big, burly, awkward shy bear” with just the most brilliant resilience, courage, sense of justice, and tenacity that is Jae-han is singly one of my favourites of all time, up there with Jang Hyuk’s Daegil. For me, he’s flawless in all his flaws. Gawd, love him 😍

Leslie
Leslie
5 months ago

Not gonna lie, episode 15 was frustrating for me. Even this late in the story, with lots of experience about how important timing is, our leads keep making the mistake of taking their time in getting to locations (i.e. I almost threw up my hands when Jae Han was unable to save Seon Woo – I’ve already copped to a special wish that he be allowed to live, so it hurt especially), speaking on the walkie as if they have minutes instead of seconds to convey important information, continuing to disbelieve that Jae Han is on the other end of the walkie (Soo Hyun), and other missteps, like Soo Hyun and Hae Young being less than competent in keeping key witness, Kim Seong Beom, alive. It felt like these plot points were manipulated by the writer, rather than an organic outgrowth of characters, in order to create tension, but heck! I’ve been tense for 15 episodes already. 😆

Ep 16 brought many answers and relief – yay! Hae Jan is alive! He and Soo Hyun get to embrace! Lee Bum Joo gets his! Hae Jan’s fondest wish – to get to the core of corruption – is realized! Seon Woo’s name is cleared! Huzzah! But, things got murky and confusing as we rushed to the finish, which felt a little loose, possibly sloppy, after a lot of good plotting and writing in previous episodes. And, being someone who goes into dramas as blind as possible, I didn’t have any idea that the show would end as it did, with no final conclusion and a cliffhanger that suggests a 2nd season (unrealized to-date.) Gah!

Despite all of these little let downs in the last couple of episodes, I still very much enjoyed the watch. Such a twisty, turny, interesting, and emotional story. Sometimes the acting leaned a little more dramatic than I appreciate, but the whole show was some pretty high drama, so there was a match, of sorts. My final grade would be a skosh lower than KFG’s – B++ – because of the things I’ve mentioned. Overall, a really worthwhile and fun viewing. Thanks, KFG, for another great Group Watch!

Trent
5 months ago

I haven’t been watching these episodes (too much drama on the plate for a second re-watch, and Healer got the nod), but I’ve been reading the episode recaps, and just poking my head up here at the end to say I felt just a bit let down by the ending, just in that I felt it was kind of dangling and didn’t quite make as much sense as I might have hoped. I think maybe it’s understandable in the context of they might have been angling for a second season that then never materialized, but still..

(Also, and this is a total tangent, but this was the first time I’d seen Cho Jin-woong in anything, and he was really great, getting the whole big gruff socially awkward but good-hearted and devoted to justice detective vibe pitch perfect. And then…I recently saw the movie The Handmaiden, and whew, all I can say is guy has some skills as an actor, because that was a very different part. (Ditto with Kim Tae-ri, who played a part that was…very different than her Na Hee-do in Twenty Five Twenty One).

Trent
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Wow! Guy really does have some skills…he disappeared into that role in Chuno so well that I didn’t even realize it was him until you mentioned it just now… (I did also recently see him in A Frozen Flower, where he had basically a cameo that…didn’t end well for his character, alas).

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – I think you said you watched Tree with Deep Roots? He’s also in that as the King’s beloved bodyguard/best swordsman in Chosun.

Trent
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — I actually haven’t seen TwDR yet, but funnily enough, Shahz and I were planning to start it this week, so I’ll definitely have my eye out for him.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – but am I completely mis-remembering
You did watch it’s prequel Six Flying Dragons, right?

Last edited 5 months ago by beez
Trent
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — alas! I shall one day muster the fortitude (and time) to tackle 6FD, but it is not this day…

Eta Wardana
4 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

The Japanese version of this drama got a movie. So the Korean version doesn’t?