Deck the walls with lots of padding /
Fa la la la la la la la la /
‘Tis the season to go crazy /
Fa la la la la la la la la /
Don we now our white straightjackets /
Fa la la la la la la la la /
Madam Shin is gonna get it /
Fa la la la la la LA LA LA /
What? Someone said it was Christmas.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Jae-in gets the whole backstory on Gun-wook (minus the rain-soaked flashback with the dead dog, so she’s one up on us, anyway) and wanders off in delirium, calling out his name. The cops wonder if they said too much. Oh, you think?
Madam Shin continues to be spooked. She threatens Gun-wook’s lighter that she’s not going to be defeated. You tell that lighter! I have to say, this is the first time I’ve ever thought that Gun-wook’s partner in crime was useful in any way. His psychological warfare with Madam Shin using one inanimate object is sheer genius.
Old Cop calls Jae-in to ask her if anyone at Haeshin, particularly Tae-sung or Madam Shin, may have had any reason to off Gun-wook. She’s startled to think that they might have murdered him, but Old Cop is quick to be like, no, no—we’re just looking into all avenues of inquiry. Seriously? Anyone-around-you-a-murderer followed by: just kidding? Worst cop ever.
He does provide one nugget though: someone is definitely covering Gun-wook’s tracks, dead or alive. Jae-in immediately remembers Tae-ra’s lie that she sent Gun-wook on a trip and starts running.
She confronts Tae-ra about the lie, but she won’t budge in any way. Jae-in asks her if maybe they’re all in on it, to get rid of Gun-wook. Not knowing the severity of the situation, (his presumed death) Tae-ra keeps posturing to keep her claim on her man. Jae-in asks if she knows about Gun-wook’s real identity, which Tae-ra plays off coolly as news to her.
Jae-in can tell that she’s still lying, so she plays her last hand. She tells her that Gun-wook is dead. Tae-ra is shocked, but also immediately starts suspecting someone, as she murmurs to herself, “Is it possible…?”
Jae-in, voice shaking, tells her that if her family found out who Gun-wook was and did something to him, she won’t let it go. She storms out, leaving Tae-ra stunned.
She decides to go straight to the source, and marches right over to Madam Shin’s office. She happens to overhear yet another conversation between her mother and Secretary Kim, where they totally reveal their murderous ways. Why so lazy, Show?
To her credit, Tae-ra walks right in there to confront them both. She tells them that Gun-wook is dead, and then, for some god-forsaken reason that only makes sense in Opposite Land, she believes her mother’s excuses that this is the first time she’s hearing about it. Never mind that she let slip that Gun-wook was dead the other day, nor the conversation you just overheard. Who needs amnesia when there’s just plain ol’ denial?
She gets the runaround from both Mother and Secretary Kim, then goes to the auditorium where she and Gun-wook had their lockdown imaginary movie date to have a good cry.
Tae-sung attempts a grand gesture in giving Jae-in a car and an officetel, but she’s not interested in shiny new digs at the moment. She’s in such a daze that Tae-sung calls her out on it, even cluing into the fact that it’s about Gun-wook and his unknown whereabouts. She asks how he can be so cold about Gun-wook now, but his perspective has changed (so very quickly) since finding out that he was using Tae-ra to get to Haeshin. She asks if he really believes that about Gun-wook, which gives him pause, but he doesn’t budge.
And Jae-in continues to serve her story purpose: she drops another bomb on yet another Hong family member. She tells him that Gun-wook was Original Recipe Tae-sung, and the news is so shocking for him that he walks away in angry disbelief.
He starts to remember all the clues, as the realization sinks in.
We get another look at Gun-wook, who’s definitely looking crazy. I’m going to go with ‘mental ward,’ and ‘got his brains squished in accident,’ until further notice.
OH. YEAH. Definitely cuckoo for cocoa puffs.
Aw, man. Really, Show? REALLY?
Tae-sung goes to see his father, and confesses with tears in his eyes that Gun-wook, despite having everything taken from him by Tae-sung, actually looked after him. Aw. You mean these two really could have ended up as hyung/dongseng, and we’re being robbed of that because Gun-wook’s brains got fried?
Tae-ra joins him, and he gets all riled up again over Gun-wook using her. Tae-sung: “Do you love him?” Tae-ra: “Yes. Whether he used me for revenge or because he wanted Haeshin—it doesn’t matter. I love him. But the person I love…whether he’s dead or alive…there’s no trace of him.”
Her earnestness provokes something in Tae-sung, as he begins to empathize with her for the first time. But Father must’ve heard her too, because he stirs awake. I would be happy, except the only reason I cared about President Hong was because of his potential relationship with Gun-wook, but with his now-scrambled brains, that’s all moot.
Jae-in goes back to Gun-wook’s place, and breaks down as she straightens his shoes—the ones he had put on her feet when he came to her rescue. She looks at their picture and cries, saying, “Gun-wook-ah, where are you? You’re coming back, right? I’ll be waiting…so you have to come back, okay?” It’s a little heartbreaking to see her wait so fervently, even after knowing that he’s dead. Or perhaps it’s heartbreaking because we know he’ll never return as the old Gun-wook.
President Hong is back home in a wheelchair, and he can’t speak, so HE’s suffered some long-term brain damage as well. Are no brains safe, Show? But his faculties remain intact, as he eyes Madam Shin’s perverse declarations of “hooray, murder” with disgust.
As she starts to wheel him to the bedroom, she has a panic attack at the sight of young Gun-wook’s ghost. She screams at the top of her lungs that he’s supposed to be dead. Definitely losing her mind, this one. So…three out of seven characters with brain damage, huh Show? Will there be a family reunion at the asylum?
Dare I say, President Hong looks pleased that his wife is losing her marbles.
Tae-ra gets a package in the post, and it’s a mini-recording device. She turns it on, and it’s a recording of Madam Shin’s initial kill order to Secretary Kim. Nice move. Tae-ra FINALLY lets herself put all the pieces together, and believes that her mother could have killed Gun-wook. It seems Madam Shin received her own copy, which she throws in anger. She’s now quite convinced he’s alive somewhere, and calls one of her minions to find him.
Tae-ra confronts Madam Shin about the recording, and this time she doesn’t let her mom talk her way out of it. She presses her, and when Madam Shin can’t answer, she knows that what she suspects is true. Tae-ra asks if she ordered Secretary Kim to kill Gun-wook. Madam Shin finally says, “I told him to remove him from my sight.” Ugh. She says “remove” like it was a painting that was an eyesore. But she refuses to admit that she killed anyone.
Tae-ra cries that of anyone, she’s lost the most for Gun-wook—her sister, her father, her family—and pleads with her mother to give him back to her. I know you FEEL like you’re the most hurt, most entitled, most deserving…but love doesn’t actually work that way. That’s something you don’t know because everyone in your family thinks that you can buy, earn, and take whatever you want. Your tears incite pity from me, but nothing else.
She has an imaginary conversation with Gun-wook where she tells him to stop playing and come out, and she pleads desperately that she doesn’t care if he uses her if he just returns.
Jae-in quits her job, and gets a call from Old Cop that they found Gun-wook. She rushes over and Old Cop takes her to the hospital. He warns her that they don’t know his condition, so to brace herself in case it’s bad. Well that’s an understatement.
It looks like Gun-wook is having flashbacks to his traumatic childhood, but whether or not he has amnesia is really unimportant compared to the fact that his BRAINS ARE MUSH, no? And I know that you’re trying to be Girl, Interrupted, but it’s coming across as over-the-top crazy and lacks all subtlety, which is strange, because usually this show’s strength is in its mood.
Jae-in finally finds him, rocking back and forth and sticking his tongue out. She’s a great mix of happy to see him alive, and heartbroken to see him this way. She sweetly just calls him “Gun-wook-ah,” and he answers, so it looks like he’s reverted to a childlike fugue state, while still knowing who he is.
Jae-in: “Why didn’t you tell me you were hurting? I could have listened.” He tries to write on the wall with his finger, so Jae-in gives him the pen that he had retrieved for her so long ago. But he can’t work it and goes back to scratching at the wall maniacally. When Jae-in tries to stop him, tears in her eyes, Gun-wook looks up at her: “Mom, why are you crying?” Oof. Okay. That was heartbreaking.
She holds him tight, and says through her tears, “Mom’s not crying. I’m not crying, my baby.” He continues to go batshit crazy while she cries her heart out.
Old Cop finds out from the doctor that Gun-wook arrived at the hospital fine, but went crazy due to a traumatic incident. So he just had some psychotic break, unrelated to any physical trauma? Great. Deus ex machina, meet JB. Have fun with that finale, javabeans!
Tae-sung is waiting for Jae-in when she arrives near home, and he tries to get her to un-quit her job. That doesn’t even register with her, as she tells him that she wants to be by Gun-wook’s side. He thinks she’s just overreacting because she misses him, and she replies that while Gun-wook may have hurt Tae-sung, she’s the one who hurt Gun-wook, and she thinks he needs her.
He tries to convince her that Gun-wook is just trying to steal her because he stole Sun-young away. But Jae-in says that regardless of the reason, that’s where she’s going. It’s good to see her FINALLY showing some resolve to stick to her guns, even if it’s too little, too late. As for Tae-sung, his eyes fill with angry tears as he asks, “Then what about me?”
Jae-in: “I want to be by Gun-wook’s side, and be his strength.” Tae-sung refuses to give her up, and all Jae-in can do now is say she’s sorry. Tae-sung pride can’t hold back his tears any longer, and they start to fall.
Jae-in tells him not to like someone like her. He pulls her in for a forced hug, as he confesses that when he should have held onto Sun-young, he couldn’t manage to do it. So he told himself that if he ever loved again, he’d never let go, and do everything the other person wanted. Jae-in: “What I really want right now…is for you to let me go.” It finally sinks in and he lets her go.
President Hong uses all his energy to glare at Madam Shin because that’s all he can do for now. She wonders if he’s mad at her, and goes closer to him, which is when he manages to grab onto her shoulder and send her screaming in pain and fear. He looks ready to kill her, but has another stroke and goes down.
Jae-in contemplates Gun-wook’s condition as Won-in questions her about whether she’s made a choice between Gun-wook and Tae-sung, or still two-timing them. Jae-in takes off Tae-sung’s watch, and Won-in is ecstatic about her choosing her favorite boyfriend. Jae-in wonders if maybe she made the choice too late, and Won-in agrees that she has, but that they can make a fresh start. Well, you’re partly right, Little Sister, as they will be starting anew as Mother and Son.
Over at Haeshin, the board takes a vote for the new President, and Tae-sung and Tae-ra are tied at fifteen votes each. They motion to take a revote, but then someone presents the board with Mo-nae’s vote, in writing, which of course goes to Tae-sung. Thus, to Madam Shin’s utter horror, the job of running Haeshin goes to Tae-sung.
She has a public freakout which mostly embarrasses herself and Tae-ra, and all the while Tae-sung tries to tell her that he doesn’t even want the job. The board members say that they want him to fill Daddy’s shoes, which is when Madam Shin pulls out the big guns. She announces that Tae-sung is NOT President Hong’s biological son, presenting the board with the DNA evidence to prove it.
They postpone the decision, and Tae-sung rushes over to look at the documents, which indeed show that he isn’t his father’s bloodline.
Tae-ra confronts her mother about who the real son is, and Madam Shin insists he died twenty years ago. She deduces at least the fact that her mother brought in Tae-sung on purpose and deceived the entire family. Madam Shin again shows no sign of remorse, either for the deception, or for crushing Tae-sung with the news, since she’s basically only ever treated him like a second-class citizen his whole life, and hasn’t magically grown a heart in the last two seconds.
Her entitled self-righteous dogma becomes so disgusting that even Tae-ra has had enough. She tells her mother that SHE can sit in the President’s seat, since that’s what she’s always really wanted.
Tae-sung reels at the thought that his whole existence, and even his entire rebellion against his family—was all based on lies.
Jae-in fills Gun-wook’s fridge with food, saying out loud that if he returns, no matter in what state, she’ll make him lots of delicious food. She urges him to return soon, and cries as she puts the groceries away.
Madam Shin finds out that Gun-wook is alive but crazy, and she orders yet another hit.
Tae-sung kneels by President Hong and takes his hand. He asks with childlike sincerity, “Father…I can still call you Father, right? Even from the attachment in raising me, couldn’t you allow me to be at your side a little longer? I was just starting to be a proper son…I haven’t even had the chance to do anything for you yet.” It’s a sweet moment, and President Hong can’t answer, but looks at him with a soft smile.
Madam Shin interrupts them, of course, because her Joy Radar went off, and she had to come kill it.
Tae-sung seems at peace knowing the truth, and he tells Madam Shin that he gets now why she was always so cruel to him. She tries to get him to stop calling her Mother, but he keeps doing it, and tells her that he never left to go to his biological mother because the Hongs never abandoned him. He wanted to repay that kindness someday.
Tae-sung: Thank you, Mother. All this while, I didn’t even recognize that you raised me, and all I did was throw tantrums. I should have done well from the start. I knew from the day I came to this house…that no one here would love me. That no one would accept me as family. I thought because you had grown attached to the kid before me…so I waited. If I had known back then that no one here could ever love me…it would have been easier.
Heart. Break. Madam Shin does show one crack in her armor, as she pities him and throws him one bone: “Your Father loved you.” He smiles, “Of all the words you’ve ever said to me, those were the warmest.”
On his way out, Tae-ra tries to comfort him, but he says that he should let go of his attachments and go his own way now. He leaves, and goes to meet Jae-in. She’s on her way to Gun-wook with a lunch she packed for him, and Tae-sung asks if he can go with her, as he has some things he wants to say to Gun-wook.
They end up heading over together, and arrive at the hospital ONE STEP behind Madam Shin’s assassin. Tension! Oh, how I’ve missed you.
The hitman walks down the dark hallway, and Gun-wook hears the footsteps in the rain and it triggers something in him. But by the time Jae-in and Tae-sung reach his room, it’s empty.
Madam Shin enters her office and gets a call from the hitman that Gun-wook has disappeared. Just as the thunder and lightning startle her, it lights up the dark office just enough to show a figure sitting in her chair, his back to her. She shrieks in horror, and Gun-wook lies in wait.
No! Deus ex machina, you were supposed to wait until the finale! Grumble, grumble…
Okay, that timeline is all screwy, and not just in a will-they-make-it-no-they-won’t way, that uses editing to make one action seem longer than another. Gun-wook had to have woken up AGES before those people even arrived at the hospital, what with the time it would take to a) get sane, b) get dressed in a snazzy suit, and c) haul ass to Haeshin in a thunderstorm. Just sayin’.
There was a lot of jarring editing throughout this episode (particularly multiple cuts of different angles on one person), and I get the stylistic emphasis on everyone’s frazzled emotions; I do. There’s just a LOT of it, and overusing any overtly stylized motif calls attention to itself and makes it seem like the director learned a shiny new trick, rather than being a narratively-motivated choice.
The switch to suspense-thriller was a surprise, and not the cleanest execution (since that’s not this drama’s genre), but I appreciate the attempt to have a little fun with the audience. Kudos for the attempt, Show, even if it didn’t quite fit.
About Gun-wook. I know. People are going to write hate mail. But what is up with the over-acting? I get it. Batshit crazy. There’s no need to go to such lengths to make it comical. No, not comical exactly…more like a caricature of a crazy person.
His story arc for this entire episode is as follows: alive, crazy, then not crazy. The end. I mean, WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN with how upsetting that is, for someone who has followed this character for 16 episodes, along a supposed mastermind plot for ultimate revenge, only to be pooped on, and then kicked, and then made fun of for caring?
I need a shower, a punching bag, and a hug.
The only upside I can see is that Jae-in is finally someone I can connect with now, because she’s finally choosing something (or someone), and doing something about it. Also Tae-sung had a great family-related arc in the second half of the episode that perhaps saved me from trying to drown my face in my drink.
Dear Gun-wook: I don’t care whose son you are. If you FAKED being crazy, I will disown you, kick you out in the rain, and sell your dog to the circus.
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