Operation Proposal: Episode 16 (Final)
We’ve made it to the end of the time-space continuum … or just the one Baek-ho’s been jumping through. You’ve been quite the ride, drama – but can I get my brain cells back? Are they refundable?
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
At a church, Yi-seul prays through broken sobs for Baek-ho. Clutching the carved cross necklace in her hands, she mutters, “Kang Baek-ho’s fine. He won’t die. He won’t leave me behind.”
She asks the heavens to return him to her, praying that she won’t be greedy ever again. Greedy as in putting her will before others. Well, thank heavens that she actually got the message about Baek-ho.
The church doors open and Jin-won silently approaches her. Placing a small hand of comfort, he tells her that it’s time to go, but she embraces him and cries. Man, why is this man always there as a pillar of tears?
Wedding Day. We witness the same wedding march from the first episode with Yi-seul walking down the aisle with her father. After the wedding, Chae-ri asks after Baek-ho’s absence and Chan-wook tells him that he wasn’t at home. Ah, so our hero is very much alive.
A flashback to a week prior to the wedding teaches us that Baek-ho’s return was a miraculous one and he kept mum when his friends ask why he was travelling to Busan. Yi-seul stormed in, hitting him in angry tears about how much she put her through.
Confused, Baek-ho asks, “Who are you?”
OH NO. DON’T TELL ME WE’RE IN MAKJANG LAND!! Where did I miss the exit?! Daddy Issues? Check. Random Death? Check? Amnesia? Check.
Yi-seul doesn’t find his joking manner amusing at all, but amnesiac Baek-ho repeats that he has no idea who she is, to everyone’s astonishment. Chae-ri asks in slight disbelief if he honestly doesn’t remember Yi-seul and he nods in agreement.
The doctor basically explains that Baek-ho is suffering from, wait for it – selective memory loss. PUHAHAHA. Oh makjang, sometimes you can be downright hilarious.
He continues that patients are likely to forget the trauma surrounding the accident or persons involved. They cannot assure a guaranteed recovery of his memory, but they’ll have to wait and see.
The relationship between Yi-seul and Baek-ho has now shifted into an awkward one as she speaks to him in their familiar banmal, handing him a bite of his favorite fruit. But he replies back in formal jondae, asking if she can stop coming here anymore. Oof, as if speaking formally already created enough distance in their relationship.
He says with a straight face that he understands that they used to be friends, but he doesn’t feel like they are anymore. Yi-seul can barely mask her hurt as he tells her that he doesn’t know why but his head hurts when he sees her and feels generally bad whenever she’s around.
She squeaks out in banmal, “Sorry,” then switches to jondae before running out of the room.
The friends gather in the snack shop and Tae-nam worries that they didn’t see Baek-ho off from the hospital. But Chan-wook says that it’s Yi-seul he’s worried about – what if Chae-ri woke up one morning and said she couldn’t remember her fiancé?
Hilariously, Tae-nam’s voice skyrockets a few octaves and says he’d go crazy, knowing that she’d forget all about their love and adds, “There’d be no meaning left in my life!”
Later that night, Yi-seul finds him in the park, excitedly running over before she remembers that he’s not the same buddy Baek-ho she’s known for years. She cautiously asks after his health and starts ranting before he cuts her off, “What kind of relations were we? The kind who attended the same school and shared ddukbokki together, am I right?”
She stammers in agreement and he lays down that he’ll refer to her as “Coach’s wife” since they’re getting married soon. Is he aware of our friendly their relationship was? He instructs her that she should be good to Jin-won and forget her friend.
Unbeknownst to her, Jin-won has witnessed this scene from a distance and happily greets her after Baek-ho walks away. She apologizes for her downcast mood lately and he agrees that it’s unfair for him to see her crying, especially over another man at that.
She turns to leave, but he gently pulls her in for a backhug. He asks if they should postpone the wedding, giving her the okay to do so if that’s what her heart wants. She assures him that she will go through with the wedding and become his bride.
Flashing back to the present, Chan-wook holds the video camera he picked up from Baek-ho’s house after he borrowed it briefly. Noting the date as the same day as Baek-ho’s accident, he plays the footage of Baek-ho sitting down in front of the camera. We don’t hear the audio, but Chan-wook’s eyes widen.
At the reception, Tae-nam introduces a slideshow as Jin-ju sings. It’s a pleasant song, but it’d be way more pleasant if one of two things happened 1) The musical director turned it up a few keys or 2) They correctly told Jin-ju the key the instrumental would be in. Discordant chords = unhappy ears.
The photos all the way from childhood to the present leave Yi-seul a bit uncomfortable in her seat, knowing that Baek-ho recalls none of it. Then at the very end, the footage Chan-wook uncovers plays before them.
Baek-ho introduces himself to the crowd, saying that if things go according to plan, that this video will be played at the wedding, but he will not be there. He sends his genuine congratulations to the newlyweds and begins to talk about Yi-seul, the words reminiscent of the ones from Episode 1.
But when he
saw imagined her getting married, he realized how he felt towards her. He apologizes to Jin-won and reveals that he asked Yi-seul to call off her wedding; that he wanted to drag her out himself. And even at his moment, he still feels that way.
Tearing now, he sincerely thought that he was the one who could make her the happiest person in the world in good times and bad.
“For a boy who was ridiculed because he lost his father and loved baseball, she became my baseball manager. She faced freezing to death for a friend who gave up on his dream. For someone no one would take, she became my Jerry Maguire.”
She learned his favorite dish from his mother and gifted him with his father. Tears streaming down his face, she was his family and he wanted to become a better person because of her.
But he couldn’t tell her his true feelings. Even though all the times he messed up, it wasn’t until he lost her that he finally realized how precious she was to him. And how much it saddened him to know that he said things just thinking he’d see her next time.
He ends, “I, Kang Baek-ho, loved Ham Yi-seul. I love her. And I will always love her, now and forever.”
The couple looks on with eyes brimmed with tears as he sincerely congratulates their wedding, and Baek-ho apologizes to Jin-won for another man’s love confession. He slaps on a brave façade that he won’t forgive them if they don’t live happily ever after then breaks down into tears.
The crowd breaks into applause as Chan-wook smiles on and Yi-seul runs out of the reception.
In a private moment, Jin-won asks if she remembers what he told her that Christmas when Yi-seul ran out from her thesis. She nods, “Though each road holds regret, but which road you choose will you regret more?” But he adds that he also told her that if she looks into her heart, she’ll know the answer.
The realization that her new husband just opened the door for her to leave of her own accord sinks in and he awkwardly brushes past the moment to step out for a moment. While he’s gone, she can investigate her heart to find her answer. He believes that whatever the answer is, it’ll be the best one and will support her.
Falling to his knees, he hugs her one last time. Looking into her eyes, he says, “I’ll be back.” Jin-won steps outside using all of his resolve to hold back his tears.
The friends contemplate over Baek-ho’s confession and admit it sounds as if he knew he would be involved in a car accident that day. Chae-ri wonders where Yi-seul is and we cut to her back in that small chapel, crying.
She thinks to herself that Baek-ho was always by her side, her memories were always shared with him. She wasn’t able to be true to her feelings and they always missed each other by what seemed like mere seconds. The one who was unable to face the unknown to the end was her. The one who gave up Baek-ho’s affection was her.
He was the one who was showed his feelings, but she was the one who never accepted him. “Our lives were always intertwined. But because I feared it would get more complicated, that we would end up more hurt, I thought we weren’t fated, that destiny wasn’t supposed to be this hard.” Once she lost him did she realize how important he was to her. It’s a nice reflection of Baek-ho’s earlier confession.
Through her tears, a stranger hands her a handkerchief… and hey, it’s the Conductor again. He tells her that most women think it’s a wise decision to marry the one who loves them most rather than the one they love. But she seems different.
She asks after who he is, citing that he looks familiar. He brushes it aside and asks if she’s found her answer. It catches her off guard, and so he regales her with a story that might be appropriate.
He once knew of a man who travelled back in time to change his past. But even though he tried his damndest, he wasn’t able to come back to the reality he wanted. At the end of it, he realized that no matter how many times he went back, he was still himself.
The Conductor tells her, “He realized that rather than changing the past, his will to change the present was more important.” So he thinks that it’s still not too late.
With a nod, he sends her off and Yi-seul makes a run for it. Jin-won watches as she runs barefoot, taking out a paper wish they flew out one New Years’ Day. It was Baek-ho’s wish that landed by his feet and he opens it again to read:
“Every time I travelled back to the past for Yi-seul, there was always something fortuitous that happened to me. I became a baseball player, made first string, and wished that this would be the last time-travelling trip. That Kang Baek-ho’s last time-travelling trip would be towards Yi-seul’s happiness.”
It reminds him of Baek-ho’s bold declaration that he believed in miracles, and when he received his frantic phone call to stop Yi-seul from going to Busan. He muses aloud, “A man who goes back in time. I can’t compete with that – it’s just unfair.” Oy, I’ll say.
He throws the paper wish into the distance, admitting defeat, “Hitter Kwon Jin-won has struck out against pitcher Kang Baek-ho.”
Now Yi-seul is the one running to search for Baek-ho (ha – that’s the same taxi driver!) and he drops her off at the elementary school. Stepping into their old classroom, Yi-seul peers in and spots Baek-ho sitting at his old desk. He looks back at her, but his expression is indiscernible if he recalls her now or not.
As they sit next to each other, wordless, they carry on a conversation with their thoughts. Baek-ho asks her in his head who she is, “Who are you that you make my heart hurt this much?” Mm, I guess he doesn’t remember. She thinks that it doesn’t matter that he can’t remember because she does. They’ll just start from the beginning.
Extending her hand, she greets him, “Hi. My name is Ham Yi-seul.” He takes it and she says, near tears, “It’s nice to meet you, Kang Baek-ho.”
Jin-ju puts on a concert for her fans with Chan-wook filming in the background. She shares about how she went to a wedding earlier today where a lifelong friend who was supposed to give his congratulations ended up confessing his love for the bride.
Using his words that ‘he waited too long,’ and that you should never leave something until tomorrow, she bucks up the courage to make her own confession: “The first time I saw you, I loved you. I was able to breathe because of you. I found the will to live because of you. I started singing because of you. And because of you, I found my place in the world.”
Shining a spotlight on Chan-wook, she slowly walks up to him and tells him, “Song Chan-wook, I love you.” And he pulls her in for a hug. Cute cute cute.
This time, it’s Yi-seul who makes the effort (finally!) to grab Baek-ho’s attention, following him around while he practices his pitches and works out. Initially finding her presence merely tolerable, he hits a point where it seems as if he almost misses her puppy dog presence, looking around the park searching for her until they finally all come together to celebrate a birthday.
Yi-seul rifles through the spare room in Baek-ho’s place, smiling when she uncovers the banner that was draped across their laps the first time they were in here. Baek-ho follows in after her, which is when the door conveniently locks itself and Yi-seul yelps, “Again?!”
That doesn’t go unnoticed by Baek-ho who asks if they’ve been trapped in here before. He calls her peculiar after hearing that they’ll just jump out of the window like last time. But she retorts that there are people who like that quality in her – like someone with peculiar taste.
He curls up on the wall, figuring they’ll have to wait ’til morning and he starts humming the children’s song that Yi-seul always hummed and she finishes it. He’s surprised that she’s familiar with it because it’s left in his memory but he can’t recall the rest of the melody or the lyrics.
So Yi-seul pipes, “Shall I teach you?” And Baek-ho nods like a cute puppy.
They fall asleep, resting on each others’ shoulders and a stranger drapes over the banner across them. With a loving pat on the head, Grandpa (yay!) tells Baek-ho that he’s been through a lot. “Don’t make our Yi-seul cry anymore.”
Yi-seul nods awake to find a note from Baek-ho to find him at the playground. She’s both confused and astonished as Baek-ho asks for that letter – the one that she wrote from middle school.
She snaps that she’s already thrown it away. But switching to banmal, he recites it word-for-word. Their voices overlap as he continues, and tears form in her eyes. Aw, he remembers and man, this is pretty darn adorable and sweet.
Yi-seul finishes the final sentences, “I, Ham Yi-seul, liked Kang Baek-ho. I really like Kang Baek-ho.” He jokingly berates her that she should have told him sooner and she angrily cries, asking if he finally remembers her – who is she?
Pulling into a hug, he says, “Ham Yi-seul. Kang Baek-ho’s most precious friend. The world’s scariest manager.” She asks what else. “The person who’s more valuable than my own life. Even if I were to be born again, my perfect mate.”
She cries what else? Baek-ho looks into her eyes and tells her, “Kang Baek-ho’s first and very last love of his life.”
Yi-seul half-punches his chest, asking how he could forget someone so important in his life and he answers that if she doesn’t stop crying, she’ll just have to marry him.
And he shuts her up with a kiss, as the church bells (rung by the Conductor) ring in the distance.
Some time later, we’re at a baseball game in the final inning with two outs. The commentators wonders who will come out as the final pitching relief and it’s Baek-ho. His friends cheer in the sidelines and Dad and Grandpa clink beers in the bleachers.
He looks on to see his loving and supporting friends and the woman he loves. He thinks aloud, “I love you. I love you Yi-seul.”
With a smile on his face, he revs up for his first pitch.
It’s over! But I don’t get any of my brain cells back — bummer. My brain pretty much checked out for the latter half of this drama because my brain couldn’t handle the time switcheroos and alternate realities. The major flaw here was in the writing – once the writers ran out of ideas of how to pull out the original storyline to its max, it was a discombobulated vortex of confusion. I stopped theorizing and made up my own sadistic makjang storylines because well, that seemed a lot more interesting.
So when the actual makjang kicked in, I found it absolutely hilarious. It’s just one of those plot points that is so ridiculous that you find it funny again. It came in late in the game – the amnesia, the daddy issues, the “fated” or “not fated” love. In fact, since it seemed like the staff just jutted them in there like a stuffed turkey.
From where the story lacked, the series definitely benefited from a well-casted group. Yoo Seung-ho really carried the weight of this series on his shoulders, because it really seemed as if his character was the only one who sort of-kind-of, maybe knew a little bit more of what was going on than the audience, but sold Baek-ho’s struggle and desire to be with Yi-seul that we wanted to see his development and growth in this series.
His friends are really where the meat and potatoes are at – and it definitely says something if I love their interactions more than our main couple. They looked out for each other, having each others’ best interest at heart, and pushed each other to become the best person they could be. It wasn’t always perfect, but lifelong friendships always come with little bumps in the road.
We got our happy ending, with our main couple getting together, but I really felt that we already got our epilogue once Yi-seul became the person making the effort to seek Baek-ho. Again, I feel it would have been a smarter move to leave an open ending, where Yi-seul reciprocated her feelings towards Baek-ho, by starting over and building that trust in their relationship again. But we got a conveniently tied-up ending where our hero “magically” receives his memory again. Don’t get me wrong – his final confession to her face-to-face was appropriate but if you’re going to pull several ballsy moves, drama, then see it through – don’t half-ass it on me and make a huge makjang u-turn.
All in all, the little moments in this show are what carried me through for over 16 hours. We got a lot of pretty in terms of men and camerawork and I could write a whole novel about what went wrong. Or I can leave knowing that changing the course of time will always lead towards an unforeseeable future.
- Operation Proposal: Episode 15
- 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