And, finally. Here we are: the final episode!
SONG OF THE DAY
The Hi-Lights – “울트라 캡숑 히든 보너스” (ultra awesome hidden bonus) [ zShare download ]
I’m sad for two reasons: First, that Coffee Prince is over. And second, that the finale wasn’t nearly as good as it could have, or should have, been. Don’t get me wrong; it was a perfectly serviceable final episode. It was cute, and we had a happy ending. For that alone, it was fine. I’ll leave off commenting on the rest till the end.
FINAL EPISODE SUMMARY
Han Gyul and Eun Chan wake up from their night together feeling happy but bashful. Han Gyul is so flustered he hurries to dress as Eun Chan wakes up, and puts both legs through one pant leg, causing him to fall to the ground onto some conveniently dropped pillows.
Eun Chan knows her mother’s going to kill her when she finds out she spent the night with Han Gyul, but she’s not so panicked that she can’t first have breakfast with him. Han Gyul tells Eun Chan not to grow her hair or wear miniskirts when she’s in Italy: “If men ask if you have a boyfriend, tell them you’re married. No, just stay invisible.” Sobering to the fact that she’s leaving soon, he cautions her to take good care of herself. They’ll have to go on dates every day before she leaves; he’ll take her all the places she wanted to go to before.
Driving in to work together, Eun Chan gets a call from Eun Sae, who tells Eun Chan she owes her. Eun Sae covered for her, telling their mother that Eun Chan had left early for work.
Maximilian Hecker – “Flower Four” ::
Ha Rim sees them arriving to work together and immediately senses something different. With glee, he guesses the truth and tries to go around proving it. He manages to sneak up on them, and singsongs his congratulations to the couple.
Han Gyul goes out of his way to sneak a present to Eun Chan so she’ll find it while cleaning, which turns out to be a pair of shoes (for comfort, since baristas are always on their feet). Eun Chan wonders if it’s okay to accept, because there’s a saying that you shouldn’t give your lover shoes because they’ll run away from you — but Han Gyul has taken proper precautions, writing inside them: “You’re mine!” and signing with his name.
That night, Eun Chan falls asleep while on the phone with Han Gyul, and he leaves her on speakerphone — and awakens the next morning with a laugh to realize Eun Chan is still snoring into her phone. He hangs up and calls back to serenade her with the song “I Love You,” originally sung by Han Dong Joon.
On her last day of work, Eun Chan makes her sad goodbyes with everyone. Each of the Princes takes his turn to say a few last words, finding Eun Chan crying in her work locker. Min Yub is first, and gives her some cosmetics as a present, saying she’ll be very pretty when she does herself up. He tells her, “You know I really respect and like you, don’t you? Don’t worry about Angel and your mother, because I’ll look after them.”
Next is Sun Ki: “Take care of yourself, and come back safely. You’ll do a good job — I have faith in you.” For once, Ha Rim has the fewest words, tearing up as Eun Chan tells him how much she likes him, even if they’ve fought in the past. He cries, and leaves her with a goodbye letter without being able to say anything.
Eun Chan cries as she reads the note (song: Maximilian Hecker’s “I’ll Be a Virgin, I’ll Be a Mountain” from a previous episode):
“My Chan, have a good time studying abroad. I don’t know how I’ll stay cheerful after you leave. Since you can sleep and eat well wherever you go, that doesn’t worry me, but there’s just one thing that does — you and men. You’d better not be won over by some guy’s flowery words or killer smile. I’ll handle Han Gyul hyung over here, so don’t worry. If only you weren’t his girl, I could’ve tried pursuing you. My Chan, I’ll miss you. P.S. — dreams come true!”
Meanwhile, Han Sung and Yu Ju’s marriage has been going well. Yu Ju has taken special care to refrain from working or going out to meet friends to watch out for the baby, but still, she encounters trouble. She experiences pains that send her to the hospital, and (the implication is that) they lose the baby. Han Sung comforts her (without anger or resentment, merely worry).
Everyone’s sad to see Eun Chan go, starting with her family, the Coffee Princes, and of course, Han Gyul. Eun Chan goes to the airport alone to avoid a painful parting, especially with Han Gyul, and says her last goodbyes to him over the phone. Her last words before hanging up are a choked string of “I love you”s. (Song: “Sad Thing” by 어른아이 / Adult Child, posted previously.)
And then, we’re two years later.
Eun Chan’s voiceover reads the various messages she’s sent to Han Gyul over the past two years via postcards, which he has posted up on his refrigerator.
Her messages include:
“There are lots of handsome men here. I’ve got a lot of them chasing me around saying they like me. Still, you’re the most handsome of them all!…”
“I’m sleeping late these days, with the excuse that I don’t have a part-time job to go to. Did I come here to study, or play?…”
“But thanks to you and Grandmother, I’m learning a lot. It’s so interesting. Thank you, and love you. I’ll become an impressive woman and go back soon. I miss you. I really miss you! … I love you. Here’s a kiss for you!”
Han Gyul has been busy working with the company to franchise the next store — Coffee Princess.
Min Yub has been working as a model, while Eun Sae works with the behind-the-scenes staff. They’re still together, and at her suggestion, he’s changed his modeling name to simply “Hwang Min.” (Eun Sae’s nickname for him, though, is “Yub.” I wonder if part of her suggestion, aside from professional reasons, was so she gets to be the only one to call him that. It’s cute.) It’s nice to see her so proud of him for something, which is a nice change from their early relationship.
Han Gyul is eagerly counting down the days to Eun Chan’s return, so naturally he’s shocked and panicked when Eun Chan mentions the possibility of staying in Italy for another year to further her studies. It’s a great opportunity for her, her tuition will be covered, and she’d like to stay… Han Gyul yells an insistent no, and reminds her that she signed the contract with his grandmother to come back after two years. He’d even planned the opening of the new cafe to time with her arrival. She asks, “Then should I give it up and return?” and tells him she’ll forget the idea since he doesn’t like it… which makes Han Gyul feel guilty.
Ha Rim, who’s in charge of the interior design for the new Coffee Princess cafe, has been dating Byul for the past two years. I find her inclusion in the story pretty pointless, but I suppose she’s there to give some promise of a happy ending for Ha Rim. She brings up the fact that Ha Rim’s family is going through tough times (they had to close their hospital), which is another weirdly tacked-on story bit. But okay.
Likewise, a new girl walks into the Coffee Prince one day to earnestly request a job there, and the girl seems to serve the main purpose of giving Sun Ki a potential happy ending too. The girl (who also had a minor role in Dal Ja’s Spring) gets on Sun Ki’s nerves, until she responds to his grumbling in fluent Japanese, which is a welcome surprise. It’s also hinted that she’s sort of an Eun Chan version 2.0 — Ha Rim’s reaction to her appearance echoes the very words he first said about Eun Chan, she’s cheerful, she’s 24, and I think she’s supposed to be tomboyish (although the actress is too feminine for that to come across well).
Even Mr. Hong gets a storyline, meeting his long-ago love (the good liar) by chance and having a brief conversation with her. She’s married and has a child now, and I suppose his sense of closure comes when he gets up to leave, and she tells him, “Go on. This time I’ll be the one who stays behind.” He answers, “Sure, I’ll try being the first to go this time.” Closure’s good and all, but I never really felt his story was opened enough to require closing.
Han Sung and Yu Ju celebrate their two-year anniversary. They seem happy, but Yu Ju appears to still be affected by the baby they lost. Han Sung comes upon her as she stares at a set of baby shoes, and guesses what she’s thinking:
“Yu Ju, I don’t have any greed for more. With you always looking at me, and being by my side, and us both doing work we love… I don’t have any more to wish for.”
Han Sung tells her that he thinks they should stop going to the hospital, which I surmise is because they’ve been trying to become pregnant. Yu Ju suggests they go away on a trip together.
(Song: Arco’s “Perfect World,” previously posted.)
Meanwhile, at home alone, Han Gyul deliberates over his new dilemma — whether to persuade Eun Chan to come home quickly, or to let her further her studies as she wants. Finally, he comes to a decision, and calls her, leaving the message:
“You have to pay me back later for putting me through all this. Continue your studying, then come home. Just one more year. When you get this message, call me.”
He runs off, yelling, “Come home quickly! I miss you! Come back soon!”
Later, Han Gyul has a somewhat disappointing interview with a potential barista, who wants double the pay that was offered. After she leaves, Eun Chan arrives unexpectedly, rendering him stunned and speechless.
Eun Chan starts off by saying that she’s here to interview for the barista position, and lists all her qualifications. (Song: “Make Up” by 어른아이 / Adult Child.)
Eun Chan: “It sounded like that other applicant was asking for double the pay, but all you have to do is feed me. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack. I’m good at cleaning, I’m strong, and I make really great coffee. I also have an excellent history as an international barista. I do pretty well.”
Han Gyul: “More than skill, we need someone with a devoted work ethic.”
Eun Chan: “I’m incredibly devoted. If you just say so nicely, I can do the cleaning, cooking, dishes, and everything for you.”
After the initial gladness at seeing each other again, Han Gyul is (mildly) upset that she came back without saying anything, and for putting him through such worry, thinking she’d be gone another year. She assures him that she won’t leave him alone ever again: “Even if you told me to leave now, I won’t. I’ve got to stick by your side every day from now on. I won’t leave you for even a minute.” Mollified, Han Gyul asks, “Twenty-four hours? Night and day, every day? Then we’ll have to get married quickly.”
It appears she misled him purposely with her suggestion of staying another year, and had his parents and grandmother in on the secret. Eun Chan’s kept in contact with them all this time (Han Gyul’s father even met her in Italy when he traveled there on business), and his parents are firmly in favor of the relationship. Even his grandmother can’t hide her gruffness too much: “She asked me to keep her return a secret, but she’s with Han Gyul right now. They’re just crazy about each other.”
And naturally, everyone at Coffee Prince is thrilled to see her (and shocked at her new look).
(Song: “La la la, it’s love” by The Melody, on the OST.)
Han Sung and Yu Ju have their romantic getaway…
And Han Gyul tries out his coffee-making skills for Eun Chan.
(Ending song: “Coffee Is…” by Cloud Cuckoo Land, posted previously.)
This episode left me smiling widely and feeling good. It was a nice wrap-up to a series that turned out to be surprisingly more insightful, fun, and engaging than I’d hoped when I first started watching. I re-read what I’d written in response to the first episode, and was particularly happy to be proved wrong in initially supposing the series held little promise for profound meaning.
As a final episode, I didn’t particularly find this 17th hour to be anything extraordinary. I seem to be in the minority in having absolutely no problem with the “__ years later” device, at least on principle. Some series misuse the time skip in a lazy or poor way, and some use it very well. My disappointment with the last episode has nothing to do with the fact that they skipped two years. It’s merely that this episode felt like a (very, very) long epilogue. They could have cut it in half and been fine. It felt like a tacked-on extension to a series that had been so popular that its very talented director and writer were forced to artificially lengthen its material to fill an extra hour. Imagine that.
But when all’s said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed Coffee Prince, and didn’t tire of it at any point through its conclusion — which is remarkable, given the pure statistics: seventeen episode summaries, twenty novel recaps, and an additional ten posts on miscellaneous news items and behind-the-scenes interviews. That’s a whopping total of forty-seven posts, and I won’t even dare to do a word count, but I’m guessing it must top out at more than 60,000 words, at least. That’s the size of a novel.
And the comments from everyone! All 2,830 of them. That makes Coffee Prince nothing short of a phenomenon. Thanks to everyone for participating in what has been an overwhelmingly pleasant fandom (as far as I can tell), and here’s to hoping it’s not too long before we get another series (and fandom) that’s as widely entertaining and engaging as this has been.
- Coffee Prince: Sixteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fifteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fourteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Thirteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Twelfth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Eleventh Cup
- Anatomy of a Scene: Tenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Tenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Ninth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Eighth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Seventh Cup
- Coffee Prince lyrics: White Love Story
- Coffee Prince: Sixth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fifth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fourth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Third Cup
- Coffee Prince: Second Cup
- Coffee Prince Store # 1