Wish Upon a Star ended with a series high rating of 18.5%, which was the top rating among Tuesday dramas. To be perfectly frank, I think the last two episodes are two of the weakest, which is too bad. We do get our happy ending (not that that was ever in doubt) and a feel-good vibe, which is ultimately all I ever wanted from this drama. I’m a little disappointed that this episode wasn’t as good as some of those middle episodes that were so winning, but overall I’m satisfied with how it ended.

SONG OF THE DAY

Ash – “안녕,” which is “hello” and/or “goodbye.” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 20 RECAP

Since we all know that this drama can’t possibly kill Nam off, I’m glad to see they waste no time showing us that he’s fast on the mend. He has taken his surgery well, and can be discharged tomorrow.

With that settled, on to the next hiccup: Pal-gang wants to move her siblings back to Eun-mal’s rooftop apartment. Everyone thinks that’s unnecessary, given that she’s in a dating relationship with Kang-ha and that the living arrangements are more practical at his place. She remains firm about it, intent to get her own place as soon as she has the money.

Kang-ha doesn’t see it her way, and asks if this is her pride again. He even refers to Eun-mal as “our grandma,” asking how Pal-gang can impose such a difficult situation upon her.

Pal-gang starts to protest, but Kang-ha keeps making his point, reminding her how she’d made such a fuss over signing a contract to protect her contract extension. And she’s just going to forget that now? Pal-gang tells him, “You know why I’m doing this.” Kang-ha grimaces and grabs her hand to pull her out of the room for a more private discussion. Everyone finds this demonstration of take-charge manliness cool and not overbearing.

For those of you who find the ubiquitous kdrama arm-drag questionable, perhaps Jin-ju’s reaction will shed some light: she exclaims that those scenes are her favorite in dramas, but balks when Jang-soo attempts the maneuver clumsily. The scenario is decidedly less romantic when it’s your arm being dragged, eh?

Despite the above screencap, this is a mostly amusing scene as Kang-ha grumpily asks Pal-gang whether she’s suffering a case of inflated ego — she’s moving out because of Jun-ha, right? Is it because she thinks he’s still in love with her? Kang-ha says that Jun-ha will be fine: “That’s the most we can do for him. If he acts like nothing’s wrong, we have to do the same for him.”

Furthermore, Kang-ha tells her that she’s not exactly the type of woman that guys get hung up on for ages about. “It’s not like your face is that pretty, or your figure is curvy. And it’s hardly like you’re Jang-geum [of Dae Jang Geum] in the kitchen, or great at keeping house.” She’s not so great at her job, either, and she’s got five siblings to take care of. This is Kang-ha’s attempt to convince her that Jun-ha won’t be pining after her, but he gets a little carried away and pricks her temper. She warns, “I think you’re making a big mistake” and leaves feeling peeved.

Grandpa Jung has a pretty good idea of Min-kyung’s involvement in all this mess, and attempts to get her to confess. First he describes his own past, saying he’s committed a lot of sins in his life. He was once so fixated on money that he neglected his family, and people suffered because of him. The hospital was his attempt to atone, but he didn’t see that in pursuing that goal he was making his own son feel uneasy. Thus he drove them to commit sins of their own.

Therefore, he advises, “Quit while you still can.” He urges her to confess her sins and accept her punishment. Min-kyung is rattled by this direct confrontation but clings to her declaration that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about and excuses herself hastily.

She believes she’s past the point of no return, and although she failed “as a woman and a person,” she doesn’t want to fail as a mother. You know, since mothers are neither.

After giving up on Kang-ha, Jae-young has been a lot freer, and talks philosophically to Jun-ha about why Pal-gang was able to win Kang-ha over when others couldn’t. She has finally realized that it’s because she’d never walked on her own, while Pal-gang was busy running around to support five siblings. Seeing Pal-gang’s efforts must have had an effect on both Won brothers, while Jae-young had been sitting back wondering why she wasn’t being noticed. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the lying and the slapping and the blackmail.

She tells him, “I want to walk on my own too. I might fall, but I want to walk on my own. When that happens, would you not reach out a hand but just walk with me?”

Since Kang-ha has won this argument, the family returns to the house, where Tae-kyu pouts at his uncle and pointedly calls Pal-gang by her name. This is his little rebellion against Kang-ha, and demonstrates his unwillingness to accept Pal-gang as his uncle’s girlfriend.

Into the shower for him. Tae-kyu protests all the while that he won’t give up, and keeps shouting, “Pal-gang-ah!’

While Kang-ha is busy with Tae-kyu, Pal-gang and Jun-ha sit for a talk, and she asks if he finds her bold for returning to the house. Jun-ha says he’ll have to retire from their secret-sharing club, since they’re out of secrets to keep. However, he was happy being a member, “And I truly welcome you back.”

Jun-ha tells his brother that he’ll take over the shower duties with Tae-kyu, since Kang-ha ought to turn his attention elsewhere now.

That night Kang-ha brings up the topic of their relationship, but in his customary unsentimental way: “Let’s get married, if you’re not busy.” Ah, ever the romantic! Seeing Pal-gang’s blank reaction, he asks if he has to sing her a song, present a ring, and get down on his knee: “You know I can’t do that because it’s embarrassing.” Dryly, she replies in kind: “No, I can’t, because I’m busy.”

He clarifies, “I’m proposing right now.” She returns, “I’m declining right now.” His bafflement is cute and amusing because in his mind, it’s all so simple. They like each other and it’s obvious they’ll marry, so why the rejection? He even adds, “I’m a pretty popular guy, you know.”

Pal-gang replies that she’s too busy and has no time for marrying, and tosses his words back at him — she’s not pretty, or shapely, or a good cook, so marrying her is ridiculous anyway. If she married him now, she’ll have to spend her whole life thanking Kang-ha for “saving her.” Others would mock her for marrying up and turning into Cinderella.

While the first part of that explanation was teasing, she does mean the latter part, and therefore she can’t marry until she realizes her dreams: “I’m going to become an insurance queen. So I’ll be busy.”

Pal-gang’s response has Kang-ha so incredulous that he’s reduced to stuttering, and then he gripes, “Why can’t you have a dream that’s possible?”

Pal-gang dives into work and rises in the rankings. Her supervisor is pleased with her third-place performance, but she’s not satisfied and steps up her efforts.

One of her clients winds up in the hospital, and we can tell right away this is going to present a problem. It’s her gangster client, and his fixation on the insurance payout tells us that he’s working some kind of scam. However, this isn’t immediately apparent to Pal-gang, who believes that he’s so badly hurt that he’ll be bedridden for the rest of his life. There’s footage of the hit and run accident corroborating his claim. The sight of his gangster lackeys chatting up a doctor looks a little curious, but isn’t enough to make her suspicious.

Kang-ha finds it odd that the man would have taken out several policies from different companies in the same month and needs to investigate further. He’d expected Pal-gang to protest, but she accepts this; if there are problems, it’s to the client’s benefit that everything be taken care of properly.

In concern, Kang-ha asks if she’s eating properly, urging her to take care of herself. She says that she’s fine, but Kang-ha wants to make sure she understands, and addresses her solemnly:

Kang-ha: “Whether or not you become an insurance queen, it doesn’t change anything for me. Just as you understood the guy who everyone called cold-blooded, the same goes for me. On the day you came out carrying Nam and I told you to ride in the car, that was when I started to see the woman I hadn’t seen in five years of being followed around. So I changed Nam’s diaper, rode the subway, wore wet clothes while shivering. And when you put the sweet potato in my mouth I thought, ‘Ah, this woman may be the one.’ That’s why nothing will change, because you’re enough as it is.”

If she must do it her way, Kang-ha adds, she can do it her way. But he asks her not to wear herself out working too hard, “because that’s worse than making me wait.”

All the while, her eyes have been filling with tears at his sweet words. When he asks her to promise that she’ll take it easy, she nods.

Grandpa asks Kang-ha to make sure that Jung-ae and her son will be able to survive comfortably, even if they aren’t his relatives. He also meets with them again, hoping Jung-ae will be able to remember something to help him narrow his search. She doesn’t know much, but a comment about how she and Pal-gang’s mother were both raising children without fathers gets the chairman’s attention. Wait — isn’t Pal-gang’s father Jin Se-yong?

Jung-ae sees that he doesn’t know, and explains that no, Pal-gang’s mother married him when Pal-gang was around five. She doesn’t know who the father is and Pal-gang’s mother had never told her, so she had assumed they were in similar situations.

Grandpa wonders if this means that Pal-gang might be his granddaughter. Kang-ha is thinking the same thing, but to make sure, he suggests that they do a DNA test.

Never out of the loop for long, Min-kyung hears this from her brother, and she urges him to swap the blood sample — can’t he do that much for his own niece? (Discrediting Pal-gang’s claim to the chairman protects Jae-young.)

The gangsters are dumb enough to talk about their scam at the hospital, where Pal-gang overhears them saying how they’d picked the lowest-ranking FC on purpose. She calls Jang-soo and Jin-ju for an emergency meeting to look into this. A quick phone call to a police officer friend identifies the man as a crime boss.

They decide to continue looking into the case, while the mobster’s lackey reports these new complications regarding their scam.

Pal-gang comes home late that night to find an unexpected sight: Kang-ha is washing rice and tells her he’s “practicing” the part of the beleaguered husband. To cover up the fact that he was waiting up for her all night, he grumbles that it’s fine for her to be working hard but shouldn’t she make sure to come home the same day she leaves? He goes on and on with the nagging — not only has the formerly reticent Kang-ha started talking more in general, now he’s downright babbling.

Min-kyung gets a call from her brother that throws her into more panic: to his regret, he can’t do it. He, at least, has some conscience and can’t mess with the DNA testing.

This forces her to more drastic measures as she meets Do-shik secretly, and they’re at the Han River at night so we know this is serious. Even Do-shik sees that she’s gone off the deep end, and expresses his reservations. This finally gives us their backstory: they’d met when she was a bar hostess, and he’d felt sorry for her difficult life. They shared romantic feelings, but after she married In-gu he’d been hoping she would live comfortably. She didn’t come this far just to dig herself into trouble now, and although he’d been content to never reveal his feelings for her when he believed she’d be happy, if she’s not then he regrets that.

Min-kyung is affected by his words, and holds back her tears as she promises to never seek him out after this one last thing.

Here is when the finale starts to go bonkers on us, but at least it’s the entertaining brand o’ crazy. It’s sorta hilarious to see Do-shik watching Pal-gang secretly, ready to strike — only to see her being dragged off by some other dudes. Drat, his kidnapping was pre-empted by another kidnapping!

Pal-gang is brought before the mobster, who knows she has been nosing around. What is she doing, and what does she want? Pal-gang tries to convince him to take the high road and stop now. He’s going to get caught sooner or later, so it’s in his own best interest to stop.

Trying to bribe her into cooperating, the mobster guesses she doesn’t make much salary and offers to give her a cut of his insurance payout. Unmoved, Pal-gang answers that she’s not that kind of person. But she understands his threat immediately when he says casually, “You have a lot of siblings.”

He warns her to think things over carefully, because if his plan doesn’t work out, he’s bound to feel mighty upset about it.

Meanwhile, Do-shik decides that since he and the mobsters seem to both find Pal-gang problematic, they can join together.

That night, Kang-ha checks on the kids, then heads out to buy some sweet potatoes from a street cart. He mumbles to himself that he’s just here to buy the snacks, not because he’s waiting up for Pal-gang or anything! Nope, just hanging out at the cart that happens to be parked in front of the subway station, purely by coincidence…

Therefore, Kang-ha is only a few feet away when Pal-gang emerges from the station, only to be accosted by gangsters and thrown into a car.

Kang-ha darts in front of the car, which stops before it hits him. Then, the driver revs up anyway, knocking him into the windshield.

Getting up, Kang-ha throws a few punches at one thug, but he’s outnumbered and he can’t get inside the car to free Pal-gang. This whole sequence is supposed to be serious and suspenseful, but it’s unintentionally hilarious.

At home, Min-kyung sits with shaking hands, numb with shock. Jae-young sees her mother’s condition and takes a look at the phone, where she sees a photo of Pal-gang tied up and taken hostage. Min-kyung is starting to realize how far things have gone and whispers, “What have I done?” When Jae-young demands to know what’s going on, Min-kyung cries, “She’s your cousin. She’s your uncle’s daughter.”

Immediately, she calls Jun-ha to help, and thanks to his handy-dandy GPS device, he’s able to locate Pal-gang’s whereabouts.

Not knowing that help is on the way, Pal-gang and Kang-ha are bound and gagged in a warehouse, greeted by the crime boss who is wheeled in like he’s the goddamned Godfather.

The mobster smirks that at least she won’t die alone — they’ll find the water cold, but at least she’ll get to drown with company. Just the way we all prefer our drownings.

As the two hostages are being dragged out, Pal-gang and Kang-ha trade anxious looks, just as police cars screech up to the warehouse, lights blazing and sirens blaring.

Jae-young and Jun-ha race to release them from their bonds, and ask if they’re okay. You know they’re fine because they start bickering again — Pal-gang complains about Kang-ha following her when he can’t even fight. Kang-ha looks put out at first, but he knows she’s just letting off steam and pulls her close in a hug. The other two look away, pretending not to notice.

In-gu wakes up in bed, mumbling for water: “I asked for water, what are you doing?” Lemme tell ya, if my (as-yet imaginary) husband regularly woke me demanding I fetch him water, I’d be absent too.

Min-kyung calls him, her voice grim as she confesses that despite her claim that this was all done for Jae-young’s benefit, she was lying to herself. It was actually out of fear for herself, “because I was afraid I’d fall to the bottom again, that I would lose everything I had gained. I was always uneasy. Tell Father I’m sorry. I’m sorry to you, and Jae-young too.”

In-gu senses the implication behind her words and tries to ask her to explain, but Min-kyung hangs up. Having confessed, she finally smiles, as though feeling free for once, and looks out at the skyline. She’s standing on the roof of a tall building.

And then, we’re one year later: Jin-ju and Jang-soo are getting married. (I think my favorite part is when Pa-rang, who is supposed to be tossing confetti in the air, throws it at his sister.)

Pal-gang has been confirmed as Grandpa’s granddaughter, but she and Kang-ha are still not married. When Eun-mal pesters him about when they’re finally going to tie the knot, he tells her to ask Pal-gang instead. Clearly she’s still holding out while she works on her dream.

When Jin-ju tosses her bouquet, Pal-gang catches it, which gets Kang-ha momentarily excited. Immediately she tosses it over, and this time Jae-young catches it. (Minor comment: Notice Pal-gang is finally wearing a dress again, for the first time since her parents died.)

After the wedding, the chairman brings Pal-gang some paperwork to sign — it’s the document forfeiting her claim to his inheritance. He gives her another chance to change her mind, saying she’s entitled to inherit, but she signs anyway. She’s not at all sorry, confident that she can earn her own fortune as an insurance queen.

Pal-gang has moved her family into their own home now, which is in their old neighborhood. Kang-ha may complain about being made to wait, but he seems genuinely willing to help out; the complaints are really to cover up his embarrassment since he’s allergic to romantic talk.

He’s accepted that Pal-gang wants to make her own way in the world, but there are little signs that she’s starting to come around on her own. Every time he makes a comment, she thinks about it a little, although she doesn’t voice her thoughts just yet.

Still, Kang-ha feels a little disappointed with the long wait, and asks Pa-rang if he agrees that Pal-gang is taking this whole thing to extremes. How long does he figure it’ll take for her to achieve her goal?

Pa-rang answers honestly that it might be a while; she’s working hard but she’s nowhere close to being a queen just yet. They both sigh, and then Kang-ha tucks him into bed, smiling at the sleeping boy, “If I didn’t have you either, I’d have been so lonely I wouldn’t know what to do.”

They’re back at the store for samples, supposedly because they’re stretching their budget but probably also because it’s their version of a family bonding event.

We also see from the way that Man-soo and other neighbors ask Kang-ha for advice that he’s found a place for himself in this neighborhood, too. Even if he does grumble about it outwardly. When Pal-gang catches him muttering, she comments that he looks silly to be talking to himself. He retorts, “And who made me this way?”

The family walks home together and pauses to look up at the sky when they spot a falling star. They all pause to make a wish, Pal-gang included, and Pa-rang announces that his was that Pal-gang becomes an insurance queen. The kids all chime in that they wished the same thing. (And at this point, we can understand that “insurance queen” = marriage, so it’s really a twofold wish.)

Pal-gang announces that she made a wish too, and they all look up at her expectantly. She chickens out of revealing her true wish and answers that it was for world peace, to everyone’s disappointment.

As they approach the house, they hear the sound of a baby crying, and find that a basket has been left on their front doorstep. There’s no note, and the kids know what this means — No-rang even goes ahead to christen the baby Bora (the next color after Nam, meaning purple).

There’s no use fighting the obvious, so Pal-gang tells the baby to stop crying because s/he’s home now.

Now she sends a sidelong look at Kang-ha and says casually, “I’m extremely busy but I can spare some time — so you want to get married?”

As a smile breaks out on Kang-ha’s face, he slings an arm over her shoulder while Pa-rang marvels, “Wow, my wish came true right away!” And everyone rejoices.

 
COMMENTS

What a random, scattered final episode. Thank goodness I was content just to watch for my happy ending and was therefore entertained rather than irritated by all the weird dramatics. Seriously, TWO plots on Pal-gang’s life? A double kidnapping, attempted murder, and implied suicide? This coming after a life-threatening illness and birth secret and DNA testing.

I say implied suicide because they never put a period on what becomes of Min-kyung, although there are several hints that she kills herself. In her last conversation, she speaks with finality and says her goodbyes, and we last see her looking out over the roof of a building. The drama couldn’t let her get away with her crimes without punishment — mere forgiveness isn’t adequate given the gravity of her crimes, with two deaths and additional murders attempted — but they could hardly mar a happy ending with an actual death. This is the drama’s half-assed way of wrapping up her story without causing a death to overshadow the rest. Even if it weren’t a hasty way to wrap up the storyline, this was always going to be a problem from the minute the drama introduced such drastically contrasting tones — the warm and fuzzy family bonding alongside the murder plot.

The final two episodes felt messy but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a mess (unlike some other crazy finales I have seen that were genuinely ridiculous). The stories do conclude in ways that flow logically out of their setups, and the characters remain consistent. The GPS monitors were not gracefully introduced, but they were obviously planned in advance, as was the way Nam’s illness, the blood testing, and Min-kyung’s desperation dovetail to give us our climax and resolution. It’s not like Witch Amusement, for example, where I felt like the writer truly ran out of ideas and just started throwing random things around to fill out the time.

Jae-young’s transformation is another example of something that works in a narrative sense but wasn’t executed smoothly. Her explanation in Episode 19 actually makes a lot of sense, that the reason she kept clinging was because Kang-ha had never shown preference for any particular woman, so it might as well have been her as anyone else. And when she finally realizes that a woman has finally captured his affections for real, there’s no competing. The way this was executed with all that glaring and slapping, however, failed to realize the intent and ultimately I don’t buy the character turnaround. Kdramas often push the villains to extremes in 90% of the drama and then attempt to yank them back to decency in the last episode so we can preserve a happy ending, which is why it’s hinted that she’ll have her own happy ending with Jun-ha. I’m not loving that idea, but at least she now views Pal-gang as a friendly younger cousin and not a hateful bitch, so there is that. Family dinners are gonna be mighty awkward, though.

So yeah, I see what they did; it’s just too bad they carried things out so clumsily. But hey, unintentional hilarity is entertaining, right?

To throw some praise out there, I did like how they reconciled Pal-gang’s desire for independence with her romantic interests. For a while there it seemed we were going to get Coffee Princed into a ridiculous prolonging of their relationship, but the way this resolves is one thing I’m glad they chose to do their way. It’s fitting that the girl with all the Cinderella dreams in the first episode not only realizes that those dreams are not desirable, but actually turns down several opportunities to live the Cinderella life. I’m okay with her rejecting the chairman’s inheritance because at this point she’s found stability and it’s not like she’s endangering her siblings by rejecting the money. She had never grown up believing she’d inherit his fortune, so she’s not really losing it. (Plus, let’s be honest here — it’s not like her husband-to-be is all that poor, either.)

Even so, it’s also a little far-fetched to make her suddenly succeed as insurance queen so that they can marry per her earlier dictate. As we’ve seen all series, Pal-gang learns and grows in baby steps, and while she may get there in the end, there’s always the chance she may not. The point is that she’s always trying to better herself, not that she achieves perfection. There’s no reason to add an artificial obstacle to their relationship with this insurance queen challenge, right? So it’s only fitting that she comes to that realization on her own — and that she proposes this time, since Kang-ha has been so patient with her. It also helps balance things out so that Kang-ha’s not always initiating. She may not kiss him back with tongue, but hey, she proposed!

If I were to grade the first half of this drama, I’d give it a solid B for the fresh comedy and the wonderful family bonding among the Jin siblings. Pal-gang’s growth and transformation also get a big thumbs up. The latter half slips pretty significantly, and I’d probably give that half a C-. But at the end of the day, it’s a drama that gave me a lot of laughs and surprised me by being better than I was expecting.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , ,