Yesterday I didn’t believe they could do it—wrap it up with just one episode. But this finale leaves my heart full to the brim. It’s a show I could watch for a hundred episodes, but in the end I’d trade those episodes for a well-written finale that leaves me satisfied, so while I’ll always want more of Shut Up, I’m happier to say goodbye to it at its best.
SONG OF THE DAY
Loveholics – “몰라야 할 말” (Words you shouldn’t know). This is the song briefly mentioned in the previous recap, which makes a reappearance in this episode. [ Download ]
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Hyun-soo gets up and declares that it’s not over. The boys are quick to tell him he shouldn’t throw away his solo career to save the band, but he tells them it’s not their decision. He tells Teach he’ll think about it.
Meanwhile Ji-hyuk broods alone in the dark, pondering Rock Kim’s really depressing pep talk about how Ji-hyuk is just like him and can do nothing else with his life.
Seung-hoon and Su-ah walk down the halls at school, and he says he heard about her dad, adding his two cents that it’d be a good idea for her to go to China. She asks if he’s sick of seeing her, and he says it’s because he wants to see her alone. Oh, as in, you’re the only one with the means to fly to China to see her then? You ass.
But he says it’s really because he doesn’t want to see her here alone. Deo-mi runs up and happens to catch the tail end of their conversation and freaks out to find that her only friend might move abroad…
…which she declares loudly just as Ji-hyuk is passing by. He stops in his tracks. He looks at her in panic, but turns away just in time for Su-ah to only see his back as he walks away. Aaaaaaaafgh.
Ji-hyuk finds the boys minus Hyun-soo still feeling really sorry and sheepish, and they ask if he got home okay last night. Ji-hyuk: “What am I, a kid?” Uh, I think your answer and my answer to that question are slightly different.
He says things are fine, which is a big fat LIE, but it’s nice to see them smiling again, in any case. They tell him about the offer to take Eye Candy to Japan.
Hyun-soo gets interviewed for his big solo debut, which is garnering lots of interest along with CF offers. One interview question stops him short though – What is your dream? He hesitates, not sure how to answer.
Later, Ye-rim sneaks up on him reading about himself (nothing more embarrassing than being caught mid-self-google) and asks if he wants to eat. Hyun-soo: “Don’t you have any friends?” Hee.
She admits that she really doesn’t, since she came here from the States. She says that’s why she was so envious of Eye Candy’s friendship – a running theme for most of our side characters – because no matter what she does, she has no one to share it with.
She points out how cool they always looked together, like you can’t mess with me ’cause I got my boys. “You always seem like you try to take care of everything on your own. But it would be better together… with your friends… or with me.”
Well I’m glad someone said it. He flashes back to Ji-hyuk’s hand-saving hug, and his words then come flooding back: “Don’t do it alone. Let’s do it together.”
Ji-hyuk looks out at Su-ah’s empty rooftop, sighing to himself, “China? You sure are going far.” He sits numbly in his room, staring at Byung-hee’s guitar in its case. And then someone bursts in with a knock. IT’S HYUN-SOO!
I have been waiting SO EF&$*#^ LONG for this scene!
They sit side by side on his bed, just like he used to do with Byung-hee. After a while, Hyun-soo asks how he can be the same back then and now – always deciding everything on his own, “Always trying to look cool.”
Ji-hyuk: “I’m going to raise Da-som-ie to be healthy so I can marry her. What?” HA. Dude, don’t mess with a bro’s little sister. That’s not cool. Hyun-soo gives him a hairy eyeball: “Not a chance.”
And then he says haltingly that he’s always been curious about one thing. Ji-hyuk used to come over every day, and then one day, he just stopped. “Do you know how betrayed I felt?” You can’t make me cry already!
Ji-hyuk points out that Hyun-soo was the first to step away after Da-som-ie was born. He realizes that’s true, “I just didn’t want her to be like me. Coming home alone in the dark, waiting for my parents to come home… I really hated that. It was really scary.”
And then, as if they’re competing for who breaks my heart the most, Ji-hyuk counters, “I didn’t have anyone who came home. When I went to your house, it smelled like rice, it was warm, like people lived there. Then I had to come home to this room. It felt colder, and lonelier. It was unbearable.”
*TEARS* Okay, you win! You win! Stop it!
He says that was when he stopped going over there. Hyun-soo: “Excuses. You were totally cheating with Byung-hee!” God, I love you two.
They both laugh, and Ji-hyuk wonders if he’s right. He says that Byung-hee never wanted to go home either. Hyun-soo: “We thought we knew everything about each other, but it seems like there’s so much we didn’t know.”
Ji-hyuk finally puts an end to the gut-spilling by calling him a girl, and offering to make him ramyun. As they wait for their instant ramyun to cook, Hyun-soo broaches the Eye Candy subject and asks what Ji-hyuk plans to do—is he really going to give up music?
He says he doesn’t know yet, what he likes. But he tells Hyun-soo to stick with the shiny idol world, since shiny has always suited him. He jokes, “It’s because you always went to the cabaret since you were little.”
They laugh and eat together, and I love how different a bowl of ramyun feels when it’s eaten alone or with your bestest friend. Ji-hyuk’s character so perfectly conveys that contrast, from the last episode to this one.
The next morning Ji-hyuk gets a panicked phone call that their basement studio is finally being demolished, and the boys gather there to give it a send-off. They sigh that they’re sad to see it go, realizing that a lot of unexpected things happened out of that dank little basement.
Ha-jin asks Ji-hyuk if they shouldn’t meet with the Japanese agent, just to see what’s what, and Ji-hyuk says they shouldn’t mess with Hyun-soo’s career. Kyung-jong interjects, “Uh… but Hyun-soo called me last night and we booked the meeting…”
Ji-hyuk doesn’t look too happy about it, but they go anyway, and wait for Hyun-soo to arrive. He confronts Hae-ri with his decision and runs over to meet the boys. The Japanese agents give them a contract offer, which looks favorable enough to get the boys excited.
Ji-hyuk asks what the concept is for the band, and the answer doesn’t make him too happy: “A visual rock band.” Basically it’s the same thing all over again—they’d just be idols in Japan instead of Korea.
Su-ah sits pondering her decision, staring at her passport next to Ji-hyuk’s necklace.
Ji-hyuk sits in the pool hall without a word, and Do-il wonders why they keep getting pigeonholed as a visual rock band—is it the name Eye Candy? Well, it does imply there’s sumthin’ to look at, yunno.
He wonders, “What’s so great about our visuals?” Woo-kyung: “Don’t go around saying things like that in public if you don’t want to be called an egomaniac. You’ll be terrorized.” Ha, I love that this is her convoluted way of saying you’re hot.
She turns to Ji-hyuk and asks about Su-ah, which I take to be a clear sign that she’s over him. He says that Su-ah’s the one who broke up with him. He did promise Hae-ri that he’d end it, but once he saw her that night, he couldn’t actually do it.
He admits that he was grateful when she said it first, so that he could believe that she left because things were hard for her, and not because of him. “So how can I stop her now?” He says he doesn’t know how things got so complicated, and shuffles out with a heavy sigh.
Woo-kyung calls him an idiot, and Do-il asks if she’s okay. “It’s not like I ever dated him. I was just a piece of gum that stuck to him. I think it’s about time to un-stick.” Do-il looks over at her with a hopeful glint in his eye, “Does that piece of gum necessarily have to stick there?”
So cute. They just stare awkwardly for a second and then Do-il walks away before it gets too embarrassing.
Su-ah finally calls Ji-hyuk, and he takes off running to see her. I love that he runs the whole way, and then lies that the bus came super fast. He says he meant to call her anyway, and asks if she’s really going to China.
“I—should, right?” She’s giving you an in! Say NO! SAY NO!
She says she’s not sure what she should do, and tells him she’d be leaving next week. She turns to stare at him, “So I can memorize your face,” and asks if he’ll be able to remember hers. She decides on second thought that it’s better if he forgets.
Su-ah: “I regret it. Running away because I thought I’d cause you more harm—I regret it.” Damn, I’ve loved her forthrightness throughout, but every time she surprises me more. I love her!
“I just wanted to say that to you. Keep singing, so that I can listen, even from far away.” And she gets up to go.
He reaches out and stops her. Ohthankgod! “Don’t go. I regretted it like crazy. I hated it. I didn’t ask. I just tried to protect you alone, like an idiot. I really regretted it. Don’t go. Stay here.” Listen, if an idiot’s gonna call himself an idiot, you won’t get any argument from me. She looks up at him, but we don’t get an answer yet.
Alone on his rooftop, Ji-hyuk thinks over Rock Kim’s words, about figuring out what kind of music he wants to make.
He meets the guys in the pool hall, where Hyun-soo has news – he’s cut the cord with HR Ent and his solo album, so they’re clear to go to Japan. But Ji-hyuk says he’s against it. Hyun-soo thinks he’s still trying to be a noble idiot, but this time it’s different.
He asks if this is what they really truly want, or if they’re doing it because they don’t want to betray the band, or each other. “I’ve thought about how we ended up here, until my head burst. I think the time when we did things solely for each other is over.”
Say it ain’t so! He points out how much their paths are diverging now—Do-il doesn’t want to live in the limelight, Hyun-soo’s got a solo career that’s taking off, so why throw it away to start at the beginning?
Hyun-soo: “Because I don’t want to be alone. Besides, can’t we succeed together?” That’s what I’M saying! I love that now Ha-jin is Hyun-soo’s biggest fan, constantly calling him a loyal bastard.
Ji-hyuk asks if music is what they really want to do with their lives. Doesn’t Ha-jin want to be an actor? And doesn’t Kyung-jong want to own a business? “It’s time we each make a real decision – about what we really want, what we want to do, what we need to do.”
Aw, is it time to grow up? But I DON’T WANNA.
They each take the time to really think long and hard about their futures. Ha-jin goes back to acting class, Kyung-jong helps an ajumma at the market and feels a pang thinking of how hard Mom is working on her own.
Hyun-soo ponders the life of a star, and if he really wants to give it up. Do-il looks at his drumsticks, wondering if it’s time to say goodbye.
Su-ah has her bags packed… but they’re not to go to China. Phew. Seung-hoon wonders if she really has to go back “there,” and by there I really hope he means her rooftop.
He tells her he’s going back to the States, to get back on track with his family’s plans for him. He realizes now that there are things he can’t force, like her feelings. He says he’s okay with it, because was honest with himself for the first time, about his feelings for her, and about music.
Su-ah: “There’s something I want to tell you…” Seung-hoon guesses she’s about to say “sorry,” but no: “Thank you for being my friend.” Aw. That brings a wistful smile to his face.
The boys sit huddled together in Ji-hyuk’s bed, which is just about the cutest thing ever. It’s like putting a litter of puppies in a basket. Exponentially cuter than a single puppy.
They say that perhaps Ji-hyuk was right after all, and they think back to why they started the band in the first place. Do-il says he just liked playing the drums. Ha-jin can’t remember the first song they played, but he remembers what they ate.
Kyung-jong says Hyun-soo started playing guitar because he always copied whatever Ji-hyuk did. Hyun-soo: “He copied lots of things from me too!” Hee. They say that Byung-hee and Ji-hyuk were always different from them.
Ji-hyuk wonders if he and Byung-hee pushed them to share the same dream. But they assure him that’s not what happened. Do-il wonders if maybe it was the friendship and the band that they wanted more than anything.
Ji-hyuk: “I think it’s time we each decide what we want to do with our own lives.” Ha-jin wonders if that means the end of Eye Candy. Ji-hyuk says he’s made his decision: he’s dropping out of school. Wha?
He says that if they ever decide they want to return to music, he’ll be here. They all agree to work hard on what they want to do, and to cheer each other on. Ji-hyuk throws his fist out to the group.
They join him and scream: “Shut up, and run!”
Ji-hyuk comes out the next morning, guitar slung over his shoulder. He stops to tie his shoe, and Su-ah’s voice catches him by surprise, “A guitar? Guess I have a noisy neighbor.”
Startled, he looks up and finds her on her rooftop, like nothing ever happened. He asks why she’s not in China. “I was going to go, but there’s stuff I need to do here, and there’s this neighbor I’m worried about.” He can barely contain his excitement, but he manages about half his usual gruffness: “Ah, it’s going to be SO annoying, with you next door.”
He turns to go, “Whatever, I’m busy! I have things to do!” and disappears. The wind knocked out of her sails, she scurries over to see him leave, mumbling to herself about his unexcited response.
She wonders where he disappeared to, not noticing that he’s standing right behind her on her rooftop with a big goofy grin. Aw. He pulls her in for a hug. “Welcome, neighbor.” Swoon.
He heads to Rock Kim’s club, where he wakes him up (from his tabletop bed adorned with empty bottles, natch) with waaaay too much chipper for Rock Kim’s tastes. Ji-hyuk calls him “Master” and urges him to get up so he can talk him through the song he wrote.
Annoyed, Rock Kim tells him to go back to school instead. But it looks like this is Ji-hyuk’s school now. He asks if the song was good enough for him to play in the club, but he gets shut down on that idea pretty quickly.
Rock Kim’s more perturbed by his chipper mood more than anything. “Did something good happen? What’s with you?” Ji-hyuk flatly denies it.
Meanwhile Ha-jin goes on an audition… for Chwa Chi-soo? HA. It’s totally an audition for Ramyun Shop! And here I was, trying to stop myself from indulging in a reference to that show with the whole ramyun bit earlier.
He gets shut down right away and he turns back to declare that they’ll regret turning him away. As he leaves, the PD mimics his “Chwa” and laughs at how ridiculous that sounds. Pffft. I love the rewriting of history that Ha-jin is the true source of Jung Il-woo’s Chwa~.
Kyung-jong outlines his plans to save money until he graduates, as Do-il arrives from tutoring. They’re like, “Have you gone crazy?” Do-il says he didn’t know because he never studied before, but he finds it fun. They nod, “Yup, he’s crazy.”
Ha-jin gives him a shake, “Do-jjang, get it together!” He talks about math and they look at him like he’s joined a cult where they eat brains.
Ye-rim’s crush on Hyun-soo is as strong as ever, and she asks if she can do a duet on Hyun-soo’s solo album too. Hae-ri shuts her down right away, not wanting to fan the rumors that they’re dating. Ye-rim: “Then should we just date?” Everyone’s jaws drop and she pretends she was kidding.
Hyun-soo asks if he can add a new song to his album before they go into production—written by Ji-hyuk. He promises that Ji-hyuk hasn’t given up on music and that he’s working harder than ever.
Hae-ri turns to Seung-hoon for the decision, since he’s the album’s producer. He agrees that they should at least hear the song. Aw, have you grown as a person? And is that… a smile from Hyun-soo in front of other people?
Deo-mi squeals in delight at the news that Su-ah isn’t going to China anymore. Su-ah in turn invites her over to her rooftop room for the first time, offering to make her ramyun, and proudly telling her how great the view is. Aw, good for you. Deo-mi happily accepts.
Ji-hyuk’s apartment. Gah, I love the sight of all those shoes in his doorway. That just warms my heart. The boys sit around and shoot the breeze, and Ha-jin sneaks in a mention of Ye-rim, teasing Hyun-soo about her and telling him to treat her well.
Kyung-jong mans the ramyun pot and asks how many eggs he should put in. Hyun-soo screams at the top of his lungs: “WHY DO YOU ASK EVERY TIME, YOU CHEAP BASTARD? JUST PUT ‘EM IN TILL THE POT BURSTS!”
I dunno why, but that makes me so happy. It turns out they’re gathered in front of the tv for Ha-jin’s big debut. They count down and then they watch the scene… where he delivers his one line, but gets his head cut out of the frame. HA.
They die laughing. Poor Ha-jin slumps his head, while the boys have a field day, playing headless waiter and praising his backside.
They’re like, “Congratulations on your debut! You get all the eggs!” Hee. Hyun-soo stops every few minutes to repeat Ha-jin’s line as they eat and they crack up all over again.
Ye-rim gets a new song from Seung-hoon, and notes how sad the lyrics are. “Did you get dumped recently?” This time he doesn’t hide it and says yeah. She offers to set him up with someone, when Hyun-soo walks in and sees them all smiley with each other.
While Seung-hoon steps out she asks Hyun-soo if Seung-hoon isn’t handsome. He tells her to get her eyes checked, since she can’t tell the difference between handsome and greasy, and she smiles, “Are you jealous?”
He denies it of course, and turns down her offer for a date tomorrow. Only when Seung-hoon comes back and she asks HIM what he’s doing tomorrow, Hyun-soo interjects, “No! You have a thing… tomorrow… you said you had a thing. Think carefully. You know… that thing you have.” Cute.
Woo-kyung nods off in the salon, and Do-il quietly sits down next to her, leaning her head on his shoulder with a smile. Augh, so like him to be silently swoonworthy. She opens her eyes for a second and realizes he’s there, and smiles. Awww, even CUTER.
Ji-hyuk meets with Hae-ri, to see Hyun-soo’s freshly-pressed album. He downplays his involvement, saying it’s just one song, but she tells him it’s going to be the album’s title track, and even Seung-hoon’s signed off on it.
She asks about him working at Rock Kim’s club. “I just go and get yelled at, and get fed.” Which you know he secretly loves, because all he’s ever wanted is to have a parent-figure yell at him every day.
She says they should talk about “remaking” Kwon Ji-hyuk, but he turns her down. “I don’t know yet what kind of music I want to make.” He says he doesn’t want to go headlong off the deep end like the last time.
“Next time, I want to start the right way.” She tells him to come back whenever he figures it out then. He gets up to go, but stops to say something. He gives a little head-bow, “Thank you. You were the first person who acknowledged us. I won’t forget it.”
She plays it cool and chuckles, but you can see she’s moved. She thinks back to her conversation with Hyun-soo, and now we flashback to what he said when he was ready to give up his solo album to go to Japan:
Hyun-soo: I really want to succeed. But if there’s a one percent chance I can do it with my friends and not alone, then I want to go together. Even if it takes a long time. The only thing we have a lot of… is time.
Kyung-jong and Ha-jin continue to be amazed by Do-il’s studying, checking and re-checking him for signs of mental instability. He announces that he’s going to college someday, which doubly floors them.
He adds, “Silva’s back.” Cue faces of horror, and Teach’s creepy morning face looming over the school. Kyung-jong: “Is it like in prison, where you get your sentence cut short for good behavior?” Ha.
They get stuck taking a test later, when Ji-hyuk texts them all: “The weather’s great. Let’s go see Byung-hee!” They eye each other mischievously and sneak out, with some help from Su-ah who distracts the teacher.
Ji-hyuk meets them outside school, where he helps each of them hop the fence… only to get caught red-handed by Silva who chases after them. They take off running, full of lightness and youth, and no longer weighed down by all that angst and darkness. It’s my favorite moment in the episode.
Sometime later, the boys frantically call each other not to be late. It’s Ji-hyuk’s big night, where he finally gets to play at Rock Kim’s club. He freaks out before he goes onstage, calling Hyun-soo to get his ass there or else. Aw.
Su-ah is there to cheer him on, which just makes him more nervous. The boys finally gather, with Woo-kyung too, and they head inside.
Ji-hyuk takes to the stage and plays an acoustic ballad that he wrote (which is actually a cover of the Loveholics song posted above), and in the back, we see Hae-ri with Seung-hoon, Pyo-joo, and Maro, reluctant to admit that they’re happy to see each other. Ye-rim arrives too, to Hae-ri’s annoyance, but she whines that since Hyun-soo went abroad she never gets to see him.
After that song, Ji-hyuk says it’s fun to play alone, but there are some friends here he’d like to play with, and calls out each of the boys from the crowd. They jump onstage and play “Jaywalking” with huge smiles, just enjoying the moment.
As they play, we get some moments of closure for each of our characters.
A flashback to Byung-hee and Eye Candy on stage.
Looks between all our couples – Ji-hyuk/Su-ah, Do-il/Woo-kyung, Hyun-soo/Ye-rim. Su-ah and Woo-kyung even have their own awkward moment that ends in sheepish smiles.
Pyo-joo sulks, but Seung-hoon nudges him, and they both smile, while Maro stands next to them, still the same emotionless bot, but a friend all the same.
Teach and Rock Kim laugh together, and then Teach mimes to Hae-ri that they should go have a drink. Hae-ri buries her head in mortification. Ha.
Eye Candy rocks out, having a great time. As he sings the line, “My heart goes thud,” Ji-hyuk taps his chest, which just gets me *right there.*
We close with Ji-hyuk’s voiceover:
Ji-hyuk: John Lennon said, ‘The Beatles are more famous than Jesus.’ We’re not famous or special. But we’re just doing what we want, right now. The world that surrounds us is gray and we can’t see our futures. But for now we just shut up and run… To the time that’s waiting for us.
And so it ends. What a great show, from start to finish. I love this story’s consistency—they grow by miles, but they stay true to character the whole time. I expected an open-ended finale, because that’s just in keeping with the spirit of the show (and with characters so young, there’s only so much closure you can give before it gets unrealistic). So it’s exactly the kind of finale that rings true and leaves me satisfied.
What did surprise me was that in the end, it wasn’t about the music. I guess I took it for granted that it would just be a music drama through and through, and that we’d get the traditional ending of the band getting back together. But the band ended up being a symbol and a device for their friendship (and growing apart) more than anything. It caught me off guard when Ji-hyuk finally made the ultimate sacrifice—to split up Eye Candy to save their friendship. At first you think it’s wrong—how can they be better apart? But then you realize the whole reason they started the band was to be together. And now, it’s the band that stands in the way of that bond. What a heartwrenchingly bittersweet metaphor for growing up.
The one thing I really really wanted, no needed in the finale was Hyun-soo being the one to bring Ji-hyuk back from the dead. Their heart-to-heart was so satisfying, because they spent so long not telling each other all their problems, each trying to be so cool and so strong on his own. I just adore everything about that relationship, right down to Hyun-soo’s Byung-hee complex that won’t die, and their allergic reactions to anything overly bromancey, even though they totally wanted to hug. (I know you did!) I love the full circle of Ji-hyuk’s words to Hyun-soo not to go it alone. It takes him nearly the whole series to figure it out, just in time to give the sentiment right back to Ji-hyuk when he needs it most.
It’s the best kind of open-ended love story, which is so fitting for a drama that stayed so true to life. Maybe they get back together as Eye Candy down the road, or maybe they just continue on their own paths—no one knows what the future holds. But it’s their togetherness, their bond of friendship that remains. And that’s where the heart of the show always was—music brought them together, and the sudden success made them focus on the wrong thing. But if they’ve come out the other side keeping the together part of the equation intact, then their futures are suddenly wide open, and they can do whatever they want, conquer all their dreams, because they have that ineffable strength that comes from being one of the boys – like Ye-rim said, it gives them the you-mess-with-me-you-mess-with-all-of-us strength that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
For me it’s enough that Ji-hyuk pursues music in a real way, searching for who he is and what he wants to put out into the world. They’re the first real steps into adulthood for him—leaving the band behind. Before he was characterized by his lack – lack of a mother, lack of a family, trying so hard to always fill that lack with his friends and reacting in fear of being left alone. But by the end, he’s strong enough to let go of his friends, and not cling to them for dear life. He can say, let’s all pursue our own dreams, even if that means you’ll leave my side. Only it does the opposite—it brings them closer. It’s that final bit of trust that he didn’t have before that changes everything for them in the future. Now he knows he can let go and they’ll still be there, and that empowers them to do anything. And that? Is an ending I didn’t expect, but it leaves me satisfied, and full of hope, and wanting to conquer the world screaming, “Shut up and run!”
Siiiiigh. I feel supremely satisfied, and yet also a little bereft now that this show is over. It’s not often I find that a drama is so consistently awesome the whole way through, with nary a misstep either in tone, or execution, or conflict. This drama knows itself so thoroughly that it breathes, from start to finish, like a being with life; it feels like an organic whole.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing about it to criticize (but why would you?) — but for what it is, it is honest and true to itself, through and through. When it comes to dramas about youthful passion and angst, it really doesn’t get better than Shut Up.
I was afraid that one episode wouldn’t be enough to take us to a satisfying conclusion; there just didn’t seem to be a way to get in everything I wanted to see. But as usual, the show does what it’s so good at: creating people and scenarios that are so vivid and textured that we feel like we can fill in the blanks. The finale gives us enough of a glimpse into the near future that we can see the shape of things to come — and as for the things farther down the line that we can’t see, well, we’re given the hope that these people will manage whatever the future holds for them.
I have to take a moment to note that I really appreciate this drama’s depiction of women characters — not to harp on the matter, but it’s because I’ve recently finished several dramas with meek, frustrating, puppet female characters who drove me nuts with their lack of identity or agency. That isn’t to say all the women in Shut Up are awesome, because they’re flawed and occasionally annoying and some of them questionably acted. (The acting didn’t bother me despite the technical weaknesses of a few of the cast, because the writing of the characters was so strong.) But the women all have backbones and minds of their own, and are shown to be people with agency. Su-ah calls Ji-hyuk out on his doublespeak and is clear about her non-feelings for Seung-hoon; Ye-rim is assertive and forthright without losing herself in her feelings for Hyun-soo; Hae-ri is competent and fair, despite her emotionless business brain; and Woo-kyung — though clingy and shrill — at least stood up for herself and didn’t take crap. So thank you, drama.
I’m in love with the way the drama resolved the question of what to do with the band in a way that was fair to everyone and required no stupidly noble sacrifices or magic acts of god and/or nature to fix what’s broken. The dream-fantasy would have been for the boys to come back from rock bottom, whether in Japan or at home, somehow juggle Hyun-soo’s solo stardom with the band, and give them the means to regain their success.
But that works when the focus of your drama is musical stardom. This drama was never about five guys dreaming of making it big, and that kind of ending would have glossed over all the conflicts it skillfully introduced along the way — about what the band means for them. I’ve always felt most keenly for Ji-hyuk and his band-as-family outlook, but to be fair to the other guys, it’s not the only way to need the band. Hyun-soo, Do-il, Ha-jin, Kyung-jong — the band means different things to them, and they love each other enough that they were willing to bend themselves to The Band, Singular Entity. Until it was pointed out that they had their own futures to consider.
As a side benefit, being secure in your own identity means that these boys are no longer locked into their “roles” within the quintet. Do-il gets to discover his inner nerd (eeee!) and show a little confidence with Woo-kyung (eeeee!), and we get to see Hyun-soo being dorky and adorable (eeee!).
Not only is this not a drama about fame, it’s a drama that’s really about growing up and finding yourself, a coming of age story about these five friends. Adolescence, and its attendant uncertainties about my identity and future, are far enough in my rearview mirror that I can look on the good parts without feeling the bite of the bad parts. There’s a comfortable distance. But sometimes it does a body good to be reminded of that time, to recall what shaped me into the adult I am now, and a drama like this reminds me to respect the process of growing up.
The reason I often hate the obligatory finale time-leap forward is because it feels lazy to me. You couldn’t tell the story you wanted to tell in the time you were given, so you let time act as the magic fix, as though inserting years into the narrative makes the problems go away. But most of the time it’s just a Band-Aid, or a pretty coat of paint covering up the conflict underneath that didn’t really get solved properly. So the fact that the drama was able to get us to this feel-good conclusion in the present day speaks to how thoughtfully it has planned and paced itself. Props for that.
I love that Ji-hyuk gave the matter serious, thoughtful consideration and recognized that finding their own identities didn’t mean that those had to be the band identity. The way we go out honors every character as his own person, and that is deeply gratifying. And rare; so many dramas just use secondary characters as chess pieces to further the king and queen’s endgame, without regard for character autonomy. He realized that they each love the band for something more than just the machine of the band — the songwriting, instrument-playing, contract-signing machine — and that they could preserve what they hold dear while pursuing their own lives.
And he’s sharp enough to recognize that they hadn’t taken the time to think that through previously, because they’d been caught up in the whirlwind created by that machine. It’s why friction developed and things started to fall apart, because they didn’t recognize that they weren’t all on the same page, while all thinking they were on the same page. Whirlwinds don’t give you time to think. Whirlwinds are romantic and exciting, but when they eventually stop, you’re left reeling and disoriented, and at a complete standstill.
So it’s like Ji-hyuk narrates at the end — and I love the contrast between the bleak, hopeless way the words were spoken in the first episode, and how they echo with a brighter tone now — about running toward the time that awaits them. There’s no big secret, no answer — there’s just the future.
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 15
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 14
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 13
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 12
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 11
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 10
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 9
- Sung Joon goes from scruffy rocker to prepster
- Shut Up: Lyrics edition
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 8
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 7
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 6
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 5
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 4
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 3
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 2
- Shut Up: Flower Boy Band: Episode 1