Operation Proposal: Episode 15
You’re going to flip in this final week as our final conflict readies itself to crash and burn. Baek-ho races against time for his last shot – can he save himself from his miserable present or pull off a miraculous feat where everyone wins?
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Out in the park, Baek-ho flips through Yi-seul’s phone, stopping at a curious contact, ‘Mr. Jonsen.’ A flashback teaches us that Yi-seul pitched Baek-ho as a potential recruit. The scout was impressed by his talents and asked to arrange a meeting in Busan. Screaming into the sky, Baek-ho yells at Yi-seul for taking steps to secure his future. Well, someone ought to.
Baek-ho: “Why? Why would you do that for me?” In voiceover, Baek-ho places all the blame upon his shoulders, including Yi-seul’s death.
Mom is surprised to hear the news at the restaurant, offering a few words of comfort that does little to ease his mind. Baek-ho asks if Yi-seul dropped by to which Mom agrees with a saddened nod. He gets riled up, thinking that she asked Yi-seul for another favor, but Mom tells him it was the first time she came to her after their last encounter.
After a long moment, Mom tells him that Yi-seul came to inquire about something – his father. The words catch Baek-ho off-guard as he softly repeats them. Yi-seul had asked about what he was like and how he passed away.
This triggers a recent memory when he saw a loving father and son enjoying some bonding activities of catch and attending a public bath together. Yi-seul had seen the glimmer of longing in his eyes and casually tossed that he should do the same (’cause he smells – ha!)… and then brought Dad to take him instead. Double HA! Boy these little moments can sure uplift my mood.
Yi-seul had cautiously asked why Baek-ho never mentioned anything about his father, to which he replied he didn’t recall any memories with him because he was too young. His mother kept mum about him and he never saw a photo.
So though he remembered no face to miss, there were times he did feel a bit empty. Like when he saw fathers come see their child’s baseball game, teaching their sons how to hold their liquor when they were of age, or when he saw them taking their sons to a public bath.
Drunk on soju, he slurs his words, asking what his father was like. “A crappy man.” She says. “A crappy husband. A crappy dad.” His voice lined with hurt, Baek-ho asks if his father was the worst – did he hurt, steal, and beat her like the other good-for-nothing men in her life?
But her answer surprises him – he made sure he didn’t wake up the rest of the house, would take care of Baek-ho during the night and took care of the sick. He was an upright man who could live a righteous life even without a set of societal laws.
Baek-ho bites back why she hated him so much then and she answers to both Baek-ho and Yi-seul in the past, “Because he died. Because he left us so suddenly that I couldn’t forgive him. Because people said that love is like a disease and that love left out of the blue. So I couldn’t live like I used to anymore.”
Mom told Yi-seul that she felt guilty towards her son, but he resembled his father so much. She broke into tears and Yi-seul comforted her. Before she had left, Yi-seul asked whether “it” was still there, and Mom said she wasn’t sure, since she and Baek-ho never once went to visit after they left. Ah, so Busan + Dad = Dad’s grave.
Enraged, Baek-ho rises from his chair and demands to know where that place is. As he runs out, he recalls when Yi-seul asked him to clear his schedule the day after next. Though slightly suspicious, he agreed to do so. Little did he know that her wave goodnight would be the last time he would ever see her alive.
With Jin-won’s earlier words about Yi-seul’s odd behavior booming in his head, Baek-ho races in the night down to Busan.
Meanwhile, Chae-ri marvels at the dating rumors concerning Jin-ju in the news. Now it’s Tae-nam to gauge Chan-wook’s darkened reactions as he tells her that this kind of news doesn’t necessarily suit Jin-ju. That sparks Chae-ri to ask whether Tae-nam harbored any romantic feelings for her, thinking him jealous at the scandal.
So she’s confused when Chan-wook leaves in a hurry, and Tae-nam tells her that she may be a dating guru, but she still has so much to learn about the hearts of men. How is she so lovingly dense about these things?
Baek-ho follows an apparition of Yi-seul to a small train station in the countryside where a conductor recognizes him right away. He heartily tells Baek-ho that a young woman came asking after his father and cried for a long while on the bench besides the railroad tracks.
Sitting there, he imagines or we’re taken back to his father’s final day.
Surprise, surprise – hello Conductor! He was a train conductor who was as good-natured as they come. There was a young child who roamed onto the tracks and his father dove to rescue him.
His eyes grow wide when the kind man shares a photo of his father and the same truth dawns on him as the pieces start to come together: the stranger who gave him a sweet when he was a little boy, the money the good-for-nothing boyfriend took, the mysterious man who beat him up, and finally, the times he spent with the Conductor.
The tears start rolling down his cheeks and he clutches at the news clipping. He throws angry pitches again in the park, demanding the Conductor’s presence,. “There’s something I have to tell you! And something I have have to hear from you.”
With every pitch, he cries out for the Conductor to appear, just once for the last time. He finally screams, “Father!”
And this time, the Conductor catches his pitch, dressed in his uniform. He steps towards Baek-ho and in shortened breaths, Baek-ho asks the Conductor if he’s really his father. Dad nods in agreement. “So there was a father to someone like me.” He nods, tears brimming in his eyes.
Baek-ho: “Do you know how much I resented you?”
Conductor: “I know.”
Baek-ho: “Do you know how much I missed you?”
Conductor: “I know.”
Baek-ho: “Do you know…how lonely I was?”
Conductor: “How could I not know?”
He trudges towards the Conductor and they embrace each other, father and son, found at last.
After their tear-inducing reunion, Baek-ho asks the Conductor why he never revealed himself. He was barred to do so, of course and if Baek-ho hadn’t put the pieces together, he would have never found out.
Dad adds that Baek-ho never would have gotten the chance to time-jump if it weren’t for Yi-seul. He apologizes because he had no idea that this journey would end up with her death. If he knew, he would never have appeared to him in the first place.
Cautiously, Baek-ho asks, “Is she there too?” And Dad the Conductor darts his tear-filled eyes back and forth. He answers, “Not yet. We have to find her and bring her back.”
But Baek-ho has a genius idea – he’ll go back once more to save her. Oh if this series was titled “The World According to Baek-ho.”
Dad firmly reminds him of the most important rule to time-travel: One cannot be involved in the matters of life and death of others. If you do, you die. Even if Yi-seul were to make it out alive in a fortuitous event, Baek-ho’s lifelong memories would be wiped clean of her. So what’s the point?
Baek-ho reflects on the possibility that every facet of Yi-seul would be gone and the Conductor tells him that Baek-ho should know from experience that going back in time doesn’t guarantee that the present he returns to will be any better.
Falling to his knees, Baek-ho pleads that it can’t possibly be more miserable than the current present, so can he be sent back one last time? Dad reminds him that even if he does, he cannot appear before him anymore, as a consequence of breaking the Conductor rules.
Baek-ho asks if that means he’ll never see Dad again, and Dad silently nods, tearing up once more. It would also mean that all the memories of him of both Dad and Conductor would be gone too – he still wants to go, right? More Dads breaking my heart, jeez. Wahhh.
And at Baek-ho’s silent nod, Dad reminds him that Baek-ho will be the one to die this time. “Who did you take after that you’re such an idiot?” The obvious answer’s you, but you know that he just chose girl over you, right Dad?
Right. Dad slaps on a brave face and takes out this final trip’s payment – the ball that Baek-ho signed himself and gave to Yi-seul.
They play catch together for the first and last time, and in tears, Dad says, “Kang Baek-ho, I’ll be a better father to you in the next life.” Baek-ho breaks that they’re going to do everything a father and son should do, like going to the public bath together, and then — but the Conductor disappears.
Baek-ho calls into the dark, “Dad… Father!” and spots the familiar vial in his wake.
At the office, Jin-won breaks my hearts into a million pieces, reflecting on his past memories with Yi-seul. The ring reminds him of his proposal and re-watching the Jerry Maguire film has him clutching his heart, wrenching in emotional pain.
Later, Chan-wook checks in with Baek-ho, sighing that this camera was supposed to take Yi-seul’s wedding photos. Baek-ho mutters that it will. Baek-ho thanks him for his concern, adding that he’s grateful he has such a caring friend.
As his lifelong memories flash in his mind, Baek-ho thinks to himself what good is it if Yi-seul isn’t in the world? It’s better for him to die than to forget about Yi-seul; it’s better that she marries Jin-won. It’s better that they remain strangers; it’s better that he dies.
Hmm, maybe it’s the light, but the vial looks darker now as if warning him of his impending doom. For possibly the last time, he whispers, “Renovatio, renovatio.”
Baek-ho wakes up in a flash, seven hours before her accident. He borrows Sergeant Yong-soo’s keys and apologizes that he might not be able to return them to him. Giving up on all your relationships on this girl, are you now?
Meanwhile, Yi-seul looks at Bear Baek-ho, a thunderstorm raging on outside, and tells him that just because she can’t forget doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him. But she’s going to get married to Jin-won and wants to give him one last gift. So she’ll be back so they can greet his father tomorrow.
She tucks the ring into his pocket, exactly where Baek-ho found it, “Wish me luck, Baek-ho.”
And in true kdrama fashion, Baek-ho pulls up to the house two seconds after Yi-seul leaves. And it’s the slowest drive-up ever, especially for a guy who’s only got seven hours left.
Oh, NOW you decide to pull out your phone to call, huh? @!#&(*@!%.
Baek-ho rationalizes in his car, figuring out the best course of action. He deduces that he has to catch her before she makes it to Busan. No kidding, Sherlock.
He continuously tries to call, even though her phone was turned off before, the torrential rain beating on his car. But she’s busy on the phone with Jin-won, assuring him that she’ll let him know when everything works out.
Yi-seul simply says she’s sorry, she’ll be a better wife from now on, but perfect husband-to-be tells her that she can stay where she is by his side. He jokes that she sounds like someone who will leave him at the altar (something I wouldn’t necessarily joke about, but whatever) and wishes her a safe journey.
She finally notices the list of her missed calls and frantic text from Baek-ho. Instead of calling him back, she smiles and tells Baek-ho to wish her luck.
They pass by each other once again and now we witness the accident – a car tried to pull forward and Yi-seul sharply pulled over, crashing into the side of the road, her car flipping a few times over.
Baek-ho looks nervously to the clock as it ticks the fateful minute of the crash. He wishes to the Powers that Be to save Yi-seul… and now it’s Baek-ho who swerves to avoid the same car and he ends up unconscious and bloodied.
The camera pans in and Dad gently pulls Baek-ho close to him, calling out his name. Earlier childhood memories when they played catch by the station flash in his head. Sobbing, he says, “Kang Baek-ho, I was so happy because of you. Having you as my son…”
But the sirens cut him off, and Dad holds him one last time before he disappears.
The medics wheel him in, calling none other than Yi-seul, number 1 on his speed dial. She’s meeting with Mr. Jonsen, unhurt. But like every good kdrama heroine, she’s left her phone in the car, and it’s Chan-wook who hears the dreadful news and informs their friends.
Yi-seul calls Baek-ho in excitement to share the good news that the scout wants to take him to the major leagues as the doctors attempt to revive him.
But despite their best efforts, he flatlines.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy – call me sadistic, but this is the ballsiest move I’ve ever seen a drama pull. I may be stretching my mark here, but this might be the first time where a drama has killed off its HERO. I would enjoy the bravery of the production staff more if I had faith in the writers that they’d be able to pull off pure brilliance from this.
Unfortunately, I don’t and I fear that we’re in for another sloppy ending that a second grader can do a better job of. I really do have to applaud the move because it’s probably the most intriguing cliffhanger I’ve seen in a while and for fifteen hours of pure brain cell killage – they’ve got my full attention for the last episode. Or at least the first five minutes of it to see if he lives or dies.
However, I did not like how the consequences of Baek-ho’s time slips took a drastic turn this late in the game. Sure it’s shocking, but as a viewer, I would have found it far more enjoyable if this death sequence was built up in earlier episodes. For instance, we have barely seen Baek-ho suffer serious consequences for changing the past whilst in the past until he returned to the present. Remember that fading of his hand in Episode 5 when he was going to find the letter prematurely? I hardly do, either – but since then, our hero’s basically been given full rein for his actions.
Then when were we ever told how Tae-nam suddenly became the suave, money-throwing successful young man? Or what Chae-ri does for a living? We’re too busy being flipped back and forth that we’re never really explained of our world, the writers expecting the audience to be stupid enough to not know what’s going on, but still expected to follow along, You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
I’m relieved that Baek-ho got to share a few minutes with his father, the Conductor. Bravo to those in the DB community who correctly guessed that Yi-seul would want Baek-ho to visit his father’s grave even though she had no idea that he was the Conductor. Ugh, it broke my heart when Baek-ho chose saving Yi-seul over him and asked if that’s what he really wanted with pleading eyes. Yeah, he’s an idiot. Not sure why you sent him gallivanting around, changing the course of time, Dad.
So now we’ve got one hour to wrap everything up, and I’m bracing myself for the impending crash ahead. Maybe my memories can be wiped clean too.
- Operation Proposal: Episode 14
- Operation Proposal: Episode 13
- Operation Proposal: Episode 12
- Operation Proposal: Episode 11
- Operation Proposal: Episode 10
- Operation Proposal: Episode 9
- Operation Proposal: Episode 8
- Operation Proposal: Episode 7
- Operation Proposal: Episode 6
- Operation Proposal: Episode 5
- Operation Proposal: Episode 4
- Operation Proposal: Episode 3
- Operation Proposal: Episode 2
- Operation Proposal: Episode 1