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49 Days: Episode 20 (Final)

If I tried to explain this episode in a paragraph, I think I’d spill more tears, and frankly, I don’t know if I have any left. So here it is in a nutshell: It’s FUCKING PERFECT. Gah. Okay, fine, it’s maybe a hair shy of perfect, but damn if it isn’t the most satisfying ending I’ve seen in a long time. It solidifies the assumption that I started this drama with—that the best thing about this show would always be the writing, which elevates everything else, and brings all our characters full circle.

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Yi-kyung asks if Ji-hyun really remembers her, and Kang, from her 49 days. She says she does, but then adds, “I’m going to die soon.” What the?

Lest we think it’s her assumption because her memories are intact, we flashback to earlier in the hospital, when the Scheduler appeared in front of Ji-hyun. She recognizes him and asks why he’s here, why she can see him, if she’s not dead…

As soon as the words come out of her mouth, it dawns on her that something is wrong. Why does she remember her 49 days? Why is he appearing to her?

And in his trademark blunt but sympathetic way, the Scheduler says, “This is your last cruel gift. You can refuse it if you like.” She asks, trembling, if this means she’s going to die.

He says that he received his last schedule for his remaining time, and the last person on that list… is her. Ooof. I knew his last schedule would come back to bite us in the ass, but this is too cruel.

He tells her that she is to die six days from now, and that this date of her death was determined as she was born. He says that because she experienced the 49 days and even earned her three tears, only to be met with this, the powers that be have given her the gift to remember her time on the other side, if she chooses.

It’s crushing to watch this, because it’s clearly even upsetting the Scheduler, to have to deliver such news. But he gets through it, and tells her that she can choose not to remember, in which case six days hence, he’ll appear to her as if for the first time ever.

He tells her to go ahead and get angry. She shouts through tears, “Get angry at whom?! No matter how unfair it is, no matter how much it tears up my insides, I know it won’t change a thing. No matter how much I beg.” Heartbreak.

He puts a hand on her shoulder as she cries, and tells her that it’s one thing human hands cannot control—life and death. Still, for the love of all that is hopeful, I can’t believe she went through all that just to die again. I mean, I know she’ll die eventually, but SIX frackin’ days? Show, I know you love your circular narratives, but this is just mean.

Back in the present, Yi-kyung asks who would deliver such cruel news to her, asking defensively for Ji-hyun, not realizing that Yi-soo’s been her afterlife guide all this time. Ji-hyun just says that such beings exist.

Yi-kyung says what we’re all feeling, that it’s so unfair for her to have go through all of that, just to end up having to die all over again. But Ji-hyun shows just how much she’s matured over her 49 days, and the new perspective that’s come with being on the other side:

Ji-hyun: If I hadn’t gone on my 49 days’ journey, my father’s company would be in Kang Min-ho’s hands, and I wouldn’t be in my right mind from the trauma of being betrayed by my fiancé and friend. It’s possible that my fate was to commit suicide from that shock. But because of my 49 days, I was able to receive love from someone like Kang-ie. I was able to love. I was able to guard my father’s company. And I was able to look back on the life I had lived. I’m grateful actually, because if I hadn’t known anything and died, I would’ve lived a fake life until death.

Yi-kyung asks why she’s pretending not to remember then. She says that she wants to show the people in her life that she lived happily, as the immature, naïve, sweet Ji-hyun. Aw. But then when she saw Yi-kyung, she couldn’t hide it from her.

She clasps her unni’s hands, and it’s so sweet how happy they are to see each other, and sit next to each other in their own bodies. That sounds weird out of context, but you know what I mean.

Yi-kyung reminds her that her family might not know anything, but Kang remembers all of the 49 days, and he asked her to tell him how she feels, and not to leave without a goodbye. Ji-hyun thinks it’s no use giving him more heartache, if she’s destined to die. She’s leaving; he’s staying, and knowing isn’t going to change that. In fact, it’ll make things harder.

Ji-hyun adds that she’s learned one thing from watching Yi-kyung, and it’s that the living need to go on living. She wants to leave as Kang’s friend, so that he can live his life once she’s gone. Oh man, I’m already welling up just thinking about how sad this is going to be.

Kang goes to see Min-ho in prison, and though he does admit to being satisfied that he blocked the Haemido takeover, he asks Min-ho to serve his time and repent, and someday return to the hyung that he once respected and liked.

Ji-hyun goes home and eats with her parents, putting on a cheery smile for them, but holding back tears. Watching them be so happy that she woke up is just making it even sadder, knowing that they’re going to suffer all over again.

See, this is the stuff that totally gets to me. It was the same with Yi-kyung / Yi-soo. Their happy moments put my heart through the wringer more than anything, because of the bittersweet end that I knew was coming. It’s the happiness before the fall. When she starts doing this with Kang, I’m gonna be a wreck.

Ji-hyun shows up the next morning to Yi-kyung’s house holding a picnic basket. On her way down those familiar stairs on her street, Ji-hyun takes a moment to put her hand on the rail as she walks down, as if she had been dying to put her hands out and feel the world that she couldn’t for so long.

Yi-kyung helps her make a kimbap lunch, and Ji-hyun takes her basket to see Kang. She tells him that she’s never once been on a picnic with a boyfriend, and asks to borrow his car, his mp3 player, and he asks what else she wants to borrow. Ji-hyun: “You.”

Aw. Proper swoon. He does a double take, but agrees to play her boyfriend for a day, as long as she agrees to play his girlfriend tomorrow. Hehe. It’s just like their I-know-you-know game from before. Except, I guess, Kang doesn’t actually know this time.

They have a picnic, being adorable together and play-fighting like little kids. While they’re fighting over who looks best in their pictures, Ji-hyun’s bracelet falls out of his pocket, and she pretends to be surprised, asking if he’s had it all this time.

Then she tells him that it’s actually his mother’s, and that they were close once. We flashback to her high school days, when she’d go see Kang’s mom from time to time, and eat food and chitchat with her about Kang.

Ji-hyun asked why Kang was so mean to Mom, and she had told her that it’s because there are things she didn’t tell him. Because when you love someone so much, sometimes it’s better to just have him misunderstand, so that you can spare him pain. They’re the same words that Ji-hyun had repeated to Kang, the day she had quit Heaven before her first tear.

As they walk along in the present, Kang realizes that back then, Ji-hyun had given his mother’s words back to him. He adds, quoting 49-days-Ji-hyun, that hiding your feelings is a lot harder than not knowing (as in, the person sparing the other’s pain has the harder time of it).

That stops her in her tracks, not only because they were her words, but because it’s true of her, right now.

He takes her to a wishing statue, and tells her to toss a coin and make a wish. She gives it a toss and then closes her eyes to make her wish, and Kang turns to her, his eyes giving away more sadness than he ought to be feeling…

…Which is when we flashback to yesterday, when Yi-kyung had come to see him. She tells him the truth, and that she wasn’t supposed to say anything, but she can’t stand watching Ji-hyun go through this alone.

She tells him that she understands Ji-hyun’s wishes, to go smiling rather than crying, and to give the people she loves less pain. AHA! So it totally IS their I-know-you-know-but-you-don’t-know game!

Kang finally looks up at her, tears brimming in his eyes. “The thing I hoped for the most was for Ji-hyun to live. Isn’t there something like that? It’s okay if I never get to see her again—she just has to live!”

Nooooo! Aaaaand, here start the tears. Oh god, I can’t handle this. I can pretty much take anyone else turning into a wreck, but Kang-ah? Waaaaaaaaah.

Back in the present, Kang closes his eyes and makes a wish: “That Ji-hyun lives and stays by my side.” And Ji-hyun makes her wish: “That Kang forgets me.” God, that’s just… so… heartbreakingly perfect. Gah.

They smile at each other adorably. After he drops her off, Kang says to himself that he did the right thing, over and over again. Aw, stiff-upper-lippy Kang is so cute. And so sad.

Back at the hospital, Ji-hyun sweetly tells each of her parents that she’s so happy to have been born as their child, and hugs them. They laugh and smile together, and then… she gets a sharp pain in her stomach, and doubles over, falling to the ground.

Dad calls out but her eyes start to close. Her soul gets up, while her body lies there, and then the Scheduler appears, all dressed up, and puts out his hand. No! Already?

She looks up at him and asks if he’s been waiting all this time. She tells him that they should go, and he stands her up. She looks back, and there’s Dad, holding her lifeless body, crying, trying to wake her up.

The Scheduler walks her to the elevator. Without a word, he puts out his hand for their final goodbye. She takes it and looks up at him, smiling in gratitude. He tells her that she worked hard, and with a wave of his hand, he opens the door.

She steps inside and looks out at him with a smile, and he smiles back at her. As the doors slowly close, they betray tears at their final parting.

The doors close, and then the elevator disappears, leaving the Scheduler alone.

Mom and Dad weep over Ji-hyun’s body, now covered with a white sheet. Kang comes running in, and cries.

In Jinan, In-jung gets a phone call, and collapses in tears. So does Min-ho, only now showing true regret as he cries.

They hold the funeral, and bury her ashes by planting a tree in her name. Oh, I love that. It’s so beautiful, and simple, and marks her death with new life.

In-jung watches everything from afar, crying but unable to go near, knowing all the wrong she’s done. Min-ho weeps in his jail cell, finally repenting for the person he’s become. Kang, Yi-kyung, and Seo-woo send her with full hearts and tears.

Back at home, Mom and Dad walk into Ji-hyun’s room, and are shocked to see it stripped of all her belongings, as if she had known she was dying, and prepared for it. That’s when Dad asks what Ji-hyun had whispered in Mom’s ear that last day at the hospital, and they realize that Ji-hyun just woke up for a short time, to say goodbye.

The Mom and Dad part is where I really start to lose it. I need a tissue break.

Kang lies around in his office, hearing Ji-hyun call out his name and jumping up to find no one there. He then remembers that she’d entrusted a box of stuff to him, and opens it up. He finds a letter addressed to him:

Ji-hyun: This is Song Yi-kyung. Please return these things to me… they’re important. I’m someone who needs a friend. It would be nice if someone like Han Kang would be a friend to someone like me, who has no one to lean on. Like he was to Shin Ji-hyun…

Oh my god. She’s sending him to her. It’s breaking my heart. It’s perfectly perfect, and yet… crushingly crushing. It’s her last gesture, to send him to her, to fulfill her wish that he live go on living his life. I didn’t even know I HAD this many tears.

He returns the box to Yi-kyung, whose eyes open wide when she sees a key inside, which had been Yi-soo’s locker key, in his music studio. They go to the abandoned studio and she opens up his locker.

Inside, she finds a stack of his old music notebooks, and in the back, she notices something familiar. It’s a little child’s backpack, and she tells Kang that it was hers, from when she was first abandoned at the orphanage. They were supposed to have gotten rid of those things, but Yi-soo must’ve kept it all this time.

She looks inside and finds her little pink shoe, and then a bank book. We flashback to the day they had run into Ji-hyun and Kang and gotten the pink rose, when Yi-soo took her to the bank later that day.

He asks for her student ID card, lying that he doesn’t have his on him, and that he needs it for something. While she waits, he opens an account in her name.

The even cuter part is that every time he makes a new deposit, he adds a line in the description, and over time the whole thing reads like a letter, or rather more like song lyrics, line by line, with each deposit. It’s maybe the sweetest thing ever.

She reads it now, in the present, with tears:

Yi-soo: Yi-kyung-ah, it’s Yi-soo
The thing I promised
The February Pension
To give it to you
I made an account
In the future little by little
Our dream
Will be built
Even if we encounter hardship
If we are together
We can conquer it
This is a secret, but
Truthfully, Song Yi-kyung is
Song Yi-soo’s guardian
Because you’ve given
Me a reason to live
In all the world
Someone who needs me
You are the only one

She clutches it to her heart and cries, and we see that Yi-soo is there watching her, crying too.

Kang goes to visit Ji-hyun’s parents, and finds them arguing over old photos, as Mom clutches to her memories and Dad argues that she has to move on. Dad leaves the room in a huff, and Kang sits down next to Mom. He picks up one of the photos, but doesn’t recognize it as Ji-hyun. He asks who it is.

Mom: “It’s Ji-hyun’s unni, Ji-min.”

DUN DUN. Man, I knew they hinted at this possible thread and left the door open, but I actually didn’t think that they’d go there. I… honestly don’t love this story thread, only because there was plenty of connection and resolution without this. It seems unnecessary to me. Anyway, here we go…

Mom tells him that Ji-hyun had an unni, and that she’d lost her one day at the bus station. A lady had kidnapped her, and called to ask for ransom twice, but each time they went, no one was there. Finally the calls stopped coming. Ji-hyun was traumatized at first, but was too young to remember it as she grew up.

Kang looks at the picture of Ji-min and immediately recognizes the little girl’s shoes (not just randomly, but because Mom’s story included the bit about the girls wanting the same shoes). They’re exactly the ones Yi-kyung took out of her backpack, from Yi-soo’s locker.

They go to see Yi-kyung, and Mom asks to see the shoes. Yi-kyung denies that it could be her. She firmly remembers being abandoned by her mother. But Mom asks just to see. She adds that Ji-min liked stars, so that’s how she had differentiated the girls’ shoes.

Yi-kyung cautiously hands her the backpack, and Mom’s eyes immediately well up at the sight of it. She instantly recognizes the star Ji-min drew on it, and then takes out the shoe. She looks up at Yi-kyung and cries, “You were alive. Our Ji-min-ie was alive.”

Aw, despite the fact that I dislike how quickly this thread is being wrapped up and forced on us, it’s still tear-inducing. We see that Yi-soo is there, watching the scene unfold, and it shocks him. This is a twist he was not expecting.

But then this leaves a big gaping hole in the plot… Flashback to the Scheduler, explaining that the three tears exclude blood relations. Then on Ji-hyun’s final walk to the elevator, she asks him who her final two tears were from.

She guesses Seo-woo and Yi-kyung, but he tells her that Yi-kyung wasn’t one of them. Then flash back? Forward? Gah, who the hell knows anymore – to In-jung when she had come to try and kill Ji-hyun.

She reaches her hand toward Ji-hyun’s respirator, and in spirit form, Ji-hyun screams for In-jung to stop. I don’t know if she hears it, but something makes her stop and turn around, and she’s met with her own reflection in the glass behind her.

It’s enough to knock her back to her senses, and she cries, as she says, “What am I doing? What am I doing to you?” We see that this is when she began to regret what she had become. She confesses that this wasn’t because of Ji-hyun, but herself, and then she gets on her knees, and says that she was wrong.

She gets up to touch Ji-hyun’s face, and that’s when Kang had found her, thinking the worst. She tries to get Min-ho to stop, calling him out on his own feelings for Ji-hyun, and the fact that he pushed everything back when Ji-hyun’s dad needed surgery.

She knows that he can’t admit it, but he’s grown attached to them, and feels sorry. But he refuses to acknowledge it, and says he can’t stop it now. He’ll drag it out till the end. So In-jung goes to his mother, and asks for the file that he entrusted to her.

At first she refuses to give it up, but In-jung pleads with her that Min-ho is becoming worse than his own father. And to save him from himself, she sends the file to the prosecutor.

Outside the hospital, In-jung says to Ji-hyun that she wishes she could turn back the clock, to when they would just look at each other and laugh. And she sheds a tear. It was Ji-hyun’s third and final one, that brought her back.

Back to Ji-hyun pre-elevator-ride, the Scheduler tells her that her final tear was from In-jung. Ji-hyun looks surprised, but then instantly she lights up with a smile. “That girl. I knew it was sincere.” Wow, even after everything she’s seen, she’s so genuinely happy and trusting, that her friend really loved her. It’s amazingly pure of heart and completely without bitterness.

She turns to start her walk to the elevator, satisfied. The Scheduler looks on with a smile, and then follows her down the hall.

Alone, Yi-kyung clutches her backpack and cries, calling out Ji-hyun’s name, regretting all the things she wasn’t able to do for her, not knowing that they were sisters. Yi-soo watches her, and then realizes now the full weight of his sunbae’s words.

Flash-(listen, if you think I’m gonna keep this timetable straight, you’re sorely mistaken) to when granny sunbae told the Scheduler that he could meet Yi-kyung. She asks if his wish is still the same, to give her the rings and tell her that he loves her.

He scoffs that she assumes he’s still a child, and she laughs, kind of impressed that he’s not just a lovesick puppy anymore. And then he catches on, realizing that she gave him his memory back early on purpose, so that he’d change his wish and not waste it on something that doesn’t help the living.

She calls him smart for catching on, and then he surmises that she also broke the barrier between Yi-kyung and Ji-hyun for a reason. She doesn’t divulge what it is, but does muse that they might be connected well into the next life as well.

Then in the present, Yi-soo turns to Yi-kyung, to say his final goodbye. Gah, I HAVE GIVEN YOU TOO MANY TEARS. Stop taking more!

Yi-soo: Now I can leave with my heart at ease. Live happily, for Ji-hyun’s life too.

He reaches out to touch her face, but knows that he can’t anymore. He draws back and looks at her one last time. He smiles, and as a tear falls, he disappears.

He takes his final walk through the garden, dressed in his reaper finest, and vanishes, having completed his work.

In the coming days, Yi-kyung begins to finally live her life, eating rice instead of ramen, and looking for a new job.

Han Kang goes to… Han Kang (the river) and says his final goodbye to Ji-hyun:

Kang: Ji-hyun-ah, now I understand why you wanted to leave without a word. Though you were lonely, you’ve allowed those of us you’ve left behind to be encouraged by you. I’ll trust your words, that your 49 days were a blessing. Because they’ve returned many things to their rightful place. Be happy somewhere, Ji-hyun-ah.

Two years later.

In-jung is in Jinan, and she flashes back (wait, did we just flash forward in order to flash back? Is this drama trying to kill ME on its way out?) to when the girls were in high school.

She smiles as she thinks of Ji-hyun, and then goes to see Min-ho in prison. It’s been two years since they’ve seen each other, and she tells him that she’s moved his mother down to a hospital in Jinan.

He tells her to stop coming here, and to forget him and go her way. She tells him that she’ll continue to take care of his mother for three more years—the rest of his time in jail. She says it’s her fault that all this happened, but he makes it clear that he was the one who made the decisions and acted. She tells him that she’s living her life, and that he’ll see—someday he’ll be able to forgive himself too. He finally says that he’s sorry.

Kang is… wait, is he… WORKING? Oh my god, the man DOES have a job! It’s a miracle! He oversees a construction site for a building he’s designed.

Yi-kyung is working at Heaven, though today is her last day. Manager Oh and his wife have a baby on the way, and Seo-woo is happily dating Ki-joon.

In comes Dr. Noh. NOOOOOO! Not the doctor! No Dr. Noh!

But then, here comes Kang-ah. Oh, thank god. KANG-AAAAAAAH!

Phew. Seriously, I nearly had a fit at the reappearance of Dr. Creepy. Thankfully they hint at his being paired off to her waitress friend.

Yi-kyung confirms her plans with Kang for tomorrow, and heads to dinner with her parents. She’s heading to Haemido to work at the new resort, which is of course what Kang is designing and building.

Though the whole losing a daughter / finding a daughter thing isn’t my favorite, it IS really satisfying to see Yi-kyung with a family, and not off on her own anymore. Mom and Dad are as cute as ever, now doting on Yi-kyung, as they talk about Ji-hyun fondly. Aw.

On their last day before going down to Haemido, Yi-kyung and Kang go to pay their respects to Ji-hyun and Yi-soo, whom they’ve buried side by side with identical trees. Aw, it’s kind of killing me how poetic it is, to bury them next to each other, as they were each other’s friend and guide in the afterlife.

Kang and Yi-kyung put a bouquet of pink roses by each tree, and stand next to each other, the two in this life mirroring the two in the afterlife. In voiceover, we hear their thoughts:

Yi-kyung: Ji-hyun-ah, Han Kang is busy working, and as you requested, he’s been a really good friend to me. Because of your bright personality and your connection to others while you were with me, I was able to adjust well.
Kang: Ji-hyun-ah, though people know they’re going to die, they live as if they aren’t. Because of your 49 days, I’m living my life as if it’s 49 days. Because I saw things change that never would have happened, if you hadn’t known when you’d die. Here lie the two most important people in our lives.
Yi-kyung: Here are the two people who changed our lives and left beautifully.
Kang: Because of the 49 days’ journey that we were on with these two
Yi-kyung: We live today as if it’s precious, and our last.
Kang: Ji-hyun, because I met you
Yi-kyung: Yi-soo, because I met you
Kang: I was happy.
Yi-kyung: I was happy.

THE END

 
GIRLFRIDAY’S COMMENTS

Wow, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so satisfied with a drama ending as I am with this one. Maybe Return of Iljimae, which also has this circular, contemplative tone and structure. I was fidgety about the sister thing (still am, only because it’s unnecessary, not because it doesn’t fit) but I see why it’s part and parcel of the whole resolution. I still contend that there is enough mirroring in Yi-kyung living for Ji-hyun that their blood relation isn’t needed, but I will yield that it’s very satisfying to see Yi-kyung with a family. That alone is worth the deus ex machina plot twisting that had to occur in the last episode, when all I really wanted was the death and epilogue. Thankfully, most of the episode was just that, so I got what I wanted, full-throttle.

Truthfully, until the end of Episode 19, I wasn’t expecting Ji-hyun to die. It was something I was expecting earlier on, but then the drama did a number on me, focusing all our expectations towards what would happen when she woke up, by bringing her back so early. I was so engaged with how Kang would bring her memory back that it hit me like a ton of bricks when her death watch was reset.

And though I wasn’t anticipating it, this is exactly the ending I wanted, and even better than the one I was expecting. I thought we’d get this ending for Yi-kyung, while Kang and Ji-hyun went on to be happy in this life. But the parallel send-off actually makes Ji-hyun and Yi-soo’s lives much more poignant, in what they each leave behind in their deaths. It also fits the parallel life / afterlife mirroring better.

Throughout this drama, we’ve had the motif of mirrors and circles, both as a visual motif and figuratively as a theme, in characters facing each other across the divide and living parallel lives. It’s a theme that is rendered so poignantly, because it’s a simple one: that life is circular; that life ends in death, but death brings new life; that the way you live this life affects the life you live after it.

Yi-kyung begins the story wanting death, and ends choosing life. Ji-hyun got to live the happy, secure existence that Yi-kyung so cruelly had stripped from her; and then it gets returned to her, in Ji-hyun’s death. Yi-soo guides Ji-hyun as her friend in the afterlife, and Kang guides Yi-kyung as her friend in this life. Yi-kyung’s struggle to hold onto Yi-soo’s memory is what informs Ji-hyun to leave Kang without that tether, and her choice to do so is what helps Yi-kyung move on from her pain.

In the end, Ji-hyun makes it so that Yi-kyung can live, while at the same time, Yi-kyung helps Ji-hyun to move on in the afterlife without regret or remorse. It’s the idea that regardless of the moniker “life” or “death,” that each is a road and a journey, and that you can’t go from one to the other without letting go.

There must be death to make new life, and it’s the same in love. You let go of your last love, in order to love again. The last scene sets up Kang and Yi-kyung not necessarily to be lovers, but in the position to be able to love again, which is what’s important, and what Ji-hyun and Yi-soo made possible in the way they left the ones they loved.

 
JAVABEANS’ COMMENTS

Hm, Imma have to deviate and express some dissatisfaction. I’m of two minds of the finale. I admit to not having expected that the drama would actually go as far as to let Ji-hyun die, not because it didn’t make narrative sense — it did, as girlfriday points out — but because it wasn’t the way the show was positioning itself. The dramatic trajectory didn’t suggest it, even if the seeds were planted (a little clumsily in some cases) well in advance. Examples: Ji-hyun’s mother crying in an early episode about how she can’t lose “my one remaining child” or the hint that the Scheduler’s last assignment was a shock to him.

I do think there’s a difference between dropping a few hints and paying off a storyline satisfactorily. The drama did the former; I don’t think it did the latter. Introducing, and then completely resolving, the mystery of Yi-kyung’s birth in the finale feels like cheating, frankly. Being mysterious successfully requires more than sheer withholding of crucial information.

For instance, In-jung being the third tear is an example of a successfully paid off storyline — because it was properly set up. We saw plenty of hints that In-jung still loved Ji-hyun, that she felt remorse, and that she could be the tear, so the twist works. Not so much the birth secret. Yi-kyung happens to get her old locker contents back, happens to find Yi-soo’s old stuff, happens to discover that he kept her childhood belongings, and Kang happens to be there so he can days later recognize that backpack in old photos at the Shin household? Yeah, I’m calling that one out, drama. What this show has done pretty well so far is keeping coincidence OUT of the equation, so to provide such a huge puzzle piece through a whole series of them is kinda lazy.

In a lot of cases, I think I’d be taking girlfriday’s line and expressing satisfaction for the symbolic, metaphoric, narrative completeness of this kind of ending. Heck, I’m someone who felt perfectly satisfied by the infamous Hong Gil Dong ending, and appreciated that the writers went for a meaningful wrap-up on a deeper level. It’s just that this kind of ending wasn’t paced properly into the story — not like the Yi-kyung/Yi-soo storyline, which I think was beautifully done. I’m now recalling the pitch-perfect ending of Flowers For My Life, which accomplished what I think 49 Days was aiming for, but in a more skillful, emotionally satisfying way.

Furthermore, I do think that effect is as important as intent, and if a large portion of your (hitherto avid) viewership has to convince itself that the ending works, then it doesn’t wholly work, does it? And I don’t mean we need to bow to fanservice, because cheap fanservice that gives us the easy resolution independent of story logic is, well, cheap. 49 Days never positioned itself as a comedy, or a light-hearted drama, so I don’t think you can accuse it of hoodwinking the audience with a slightly bittersweet ending. But I don’t blame some people for feeling bait-n-switched, because you can’t spend 19 episodes hyping up one soul’s struggle to survive, and then…just…NOT.

Having written all that, maybe I’m not so two-minded about the finale after all. I’m not bitter or upset, because I agree with all that girlfriday points out so incisively above. This is a case where I’m bumping on execution, despite being happy with the dramatic intent. On a gut level, it just didn’t hit that spot for me. I leave feeling dissatisfied, and as we know, with dramas, often the heartspeak is stronger than the headspeak.

 
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I'm going voting crazy!

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Loved this ending

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It has been so long since I watched this show..
Yesterday I started to read & watch again (read dramabeans and watch the parts that I wanted) due to time shortage, but man, it still manages to break my heart...

I just read the recaps of the two last episodes, and I am bawling my eyes out!! I really, really love this show. It is well balanced, and it does everything it sets out to do, and more...

Watching the characters develop (especially Ji-Hyun) is really satisfying, and the ending of her and Yi-soo leaving wraps everything up..
The scheduler, and Jung Il-woo in general, is AWESOME! His whole demeanor throughout the show.. great ^^

Thanks for the recaps,, I am off to cry some more..

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