Rating:
Average user rating 3.0
127

To the Beautiful You: Episode 16 (Final)

We all knew that this moment of truth would come; we just didn’t know how painful it would be. In this final chapter, it’s curtains on Jae-hee’s charade and she’ll need to jump the highest hurdle yet: reality. And just when you think she’s alone in all of this, we see that there are those willing to put their own necks at risk to protect her. Sad as it may be, it’s time to close the gates to Genie High.

The series finished off its final week with 4.1% and 5.2% ratings for its last two episodes.

SONG OF THE DAY

f(x) – “Beautiful Goodbye” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Morning breaks and Jae-hee wakes a still-groggy Tae-joon out of bed. She’s even prepared breakfast (no Wheaties?) with a nice large glass of milk to wash it down with.

Just because the boys are now frenemies (in the nicer sense) doesn’t mean they let up any at practice, working harder than ever. They share tips on how to jump higher and better, a sight that makes Coach Baek smile.

It’s a small moment but Tae-joon makes a mental note of Hyun-jae’s worn-out jumping shoes.

Jae-hee employs Doc’s help to learn a thing or two about giving sports massages for Tae-joon. Then Doc asks if the binding on her wrap still gives her trouble. She informs him that she’s gotten used to the constriction – an answer that earns her a noogie.

I love how Hanna dolls up prior to Seung-ri’s arrival and then puts on her normal snobbish air in his presence. She pretends that all the little things still annoy her (though they clearly don’t), even saying that his words give her goosebumps.

Seung-ri: “Only if they were just words. But I’m being genuine.” Aw.

He didn’t have enough time to prepare a joke today but he has heard an interesting rumor that there’s a girl in his dormitory. That’s news to Hanna, whose eyes grow wide, and she asks what he’ll do about it.

Seung-ri shrugs and figures that he’ll have his dorm train shirtless to confirm whether it’s true. Is there an extra seat on that training bus?

Hanna yells that they can’t do that, using the excuse that they’ll catch a cold that way. Seung-ri interprets this as concern for his health, a thought that makes him smile.

Going for the sight gag today, he dons a wig (she waits expectantly) which gets her to burst out laughing, “You’re so ugly!”

Er, it’s not exactly the reaction he was expecting, and he stammers in response, asking if she meant it. She nods, still dying of laughter. Don’t worry Seung-ri – HeadsNo2 still finds you beautiful.

The rumors continue to swirl around campus and Tae-joon tells Jae-hee not to worry about it and mutters, “No matter what happens, I’ll protect you.”

Jae-hee smiles in return, telling him that she won’t and just trust him. I’m thinkin’ you should probably worry a wee bit – it is your secret we’re talkin’ about here.

The conversation turns to Eun-gyul, and Jae-hee frowns that she hasn’t seen him around, nor has she reached out to him lately. Jae-hee mumbles aloud: “I must be a bad friend.”

Tae-joon tells her that Eun-gyul will slap on a smile even if it’s still hard for him and advises her that she leave him be for now.

So you wouldn’t think anything was off when they run into him later and Eun-gyul cheerily invites Jae-hee out shopping. Not one to be left out, Tae-joon tags along.

As they peruse the store, Tae-joon shows Jae-hee a pair of shoes that he picks out. She finds it strange that he orders a pair in a size too small for him and he comments that they’re for someone else. Aww, are those for Hyun-jae?

Gah, and then Eun-gyul has to muster the strength to pretend that he’s fine being the accidental third wheel.

As they eat, Eun-gyul and Jae-hee belatedly realize that they’re both wearing the rugby shirts, a sight that spurs Tae-joon’s jealousy.

So when they return to school, Tae-joon hands Jae-hee a bag, using the ol’ I bought it ’cause it was on sale line, adding that he just so happens to have the same one. Well, whaddaya know. Jae-hee remarks that it’s like having couple backpacks and then slinks her arm in his.

This gives her a perfect opportunity to do something for him in response and she offers to give Tae-joon a massage.

She pushes him into his bed (rawr) and then proceeds to massage his leg. She has no idea that the gesture makes his heart race and he swallows hard before he tells her to stop, declaring that she can’t come within a meter of him.

Jae-hee finds this barrier rule silly – shouldn’t he think of how much effort she put into learning this? Shouldn’t you think of his raging teenage hormones?

She bends down to continue when he suddenly grabs her by the arm. Tae-joon stares at her for a tense second before backing her into the pole. He instructs her to stay put and leaves.

HA – did you sleep in Doc’s office because you were afraid your hormones would take over? When Doc asks why he’s here, Tae-joon answers that he found the office a better place to sleep. Mmhm, you keep telling yourself that.

Alone in the bathroom, Tae-joon says aloud to himself: “It’s getting more and more dangerous.”

Hyun-jae takes a moment to reassure Tae-joon that the rookie jumper is no match against him. His next statement makes me even sadder for him: “You’ll beat him and definitely make it to the Olympics.”

But then Tae-joon replies that he has no intention to make it alone. Awww. And then he gives him the shoes he bought earlier. Double awww.

Tae-joon: “Let’s go together.” Triple awww.

Jae-hee helps Tae-joon do a final run-through of his things. She picks up the red shoelaces she once gave him, to which Tae-joon answers that he still needs a bit of luck.

She promises that she won’t be late on competition day. He’s just about out the door when she stops him and swoops in for a kiss. He drops his bag.

She pulls away, remembering his meter-barrier rule and it’s a minute before he can collect himself. The sudden kiss leaves him so discombobulated that he has to backtrack for his bag and he awkwardly stammers that she’d better not be late.

Coach Baek practically grins from ear to ear when he sees Teacher Lee waiting for him in the parking lot. Handing him some of her homemade banchan she had “lying around,” she tells him that eating too much ramyun is unhealthy.

He smiles and suggests that they carpool from now on ’cause he recently moved into her neighborhood. Awww.

Meanwhile, Tae-joon is on his way to Nationals and gets an encouraging text from Hanna about how she’s on her way to rehab and wishes him luck. She asks after Jae-hee as well.

 

Jae-hee’s diary has gone missing (uh-oh) and worse yet, she finds that her wrap is tighter than before. Her face pallid by the end of practice, she makes it a few feet out of the gym before she collapses to the ground, unconscious.

The boys rush over, concerned, and Seung-ri instructs them to loosen Jae-hee’s shirt to help her breathe. They do so but then stop when they notice the bandages that bind her chest, murmuring that the rumored culprit is Jae-hee.

We see Eun-gyul run across campus as Seung-ri’s voice booms in his head, “You were closest to Jae-hee. I was wondering if you knew… that Jae-hee is a girl.”

Seung-ri steps outside with Eun-gyul and is boiling mad – who else knows about Jae-hee? Eun-gyul admits that Tae-joon knows as well and when Seung-ri threatens that this will mean expulsion for all of them, he answers that it doesn’t matter.

Seung-ri kicks over the trash can in anger.

Back in Doc’s office, Jae-hee has regained consciousness. Doc places a hand on her shoulder, saying that this is the end and that it isn’t her fault.

Eun-gyul walks over to her bedside and her eyes well up with tears, “What am I going to do now?”

At the same time, Tae-joon wonders why Jae-hee isn’t picking up his calls. Then he’s called over by Coach Baek to take in their playing field for the next two days.

Seung-ri lets out a tense breath and we flashback to his earlier conversation with Jae-hee as he tears into her. Did she find their school so laughable that she thought that she could just waltz in here? And when she calls him sunbae, he rips: “How am I a sunbae to you?!” Oof. That’s gotta cut deep.

All Jae-hee can do is apologize and take full responsibility for the consequences of her actions. Insisting that Eun-gyul and Tae-joon are without fault, she vows to accept the punishment that she deserves.

Aw and even in his anger, Seung-ri asks if she’s all right. Tears fall from her eyes, touched by the moment of sympathy, “I’m sorry sunbae.”

Word about Jae-hee spreads quickly through campus. Jae-hee notices the students leer in her direction, at which point Eun-gyul appears to wordlessly take her by the hand(?) to her room. She says, “I think the other students have caught on.” That’s… a bit of an understatement at this point.

Eun-gyul tells her not to worry and that they’ll figure something out. “I won’t send you away like this.”

Jae-hee confides in Sangchu that she’ll really have to leave now and Sangchu cries in response.

The dorm leaders gather in the gym and Young-man tears into Seung-ri at his request to keep Jae-hee’s secret under wraps (hur).

Although they have a pull that doesn’t exist in other schools, he argues that they have to inform the school for the sake of the rest of the student body. Who’ll take the fall if things go awry?

In an unwavering voice, Seung-ri declares: “That responsibility… I’ll take it. If things go wrong, I’ll take responsibility for everything. So keep it a secret from the school. She’s part of my dorm! By whatever means… I want to see it to the end together. Let me make this first and final request of you.”

AHHHH!!! *fangirling* Seung-ri, why are you so awesome?

It looks like the dorm leaders have agreed to his request as Seung-ri tells Jae-hee afterward not to worry – they’ll keep her secret from the school authorities.

Her voice breaking, Jae-hee tells Doc that she intends to leave Genie High and that she won’t stay to see Tae-joon’s competition: “If I stay to see it, I don’t think that I’ll be able to leave.”

She’s even booked her flight the day of Nationals and she thanks Doc for everything as tears fall from her eyes.

Doc steps over and with a hand on her hand, he provides the only comfort he can: “Even though it hurts like hell right now, it’ll get better with time. Even if a scar is left behind, there are no wounds that won’t heal.”

Jae-hee fights tears as she packs her things. She wipes them from her eyes when Tae-joon calls to tell her that he misses her.

She replies that a full day hasn’t even passed yet, and Tae-joon wonders why he must miss her so much: “Did I catch some kind of sickness?” What sickness, you ask? “The Grungy Disease.”

Tae-joon asks why her voice sounds off and Jae-hee dismisses it, saying that Seung-ri was hard on them. She shuts down his idea to come for a quick visit, reminding him about his meet.

Once they hang up, Jae-hee breaks down in tears.

Eun-gyul catches Jae-hee just after she hands in her transfer papers to the school office. He drags her outside and declares once again, “I won’t send you away like this.”

Jae-hee hugs him and replies, “Everyone was so good to me. I must have been too greedy.”

Eun-gyul holds her by the shoulders and repeats, “Do you still not get it? I won’t send you away like this. No matter who you like, no matter who you date, that doesn’t matter. I’m just asking you to stay by my side. You can’t even do that for me? That’s the only thing I’m asking for… You can’t even do that for me?”

Jae-hee apologizes and Eun-gyul leaves.

Hyun-jae and Tae-joon leave smiling from their final practice, satisfied that Olympic qualification is within reach. As soon as Hyun-jae spots Jae-hee in front of them, he excuses himself to leave the roomies to talk.

Tae-joon excitedly runs over and asks why she’s here so early. Smiling, Jae-hee tells him that she missed him and came just to see him for a minute. But that seems like such a waste to him, so they spend the afternoon riding bikes in the park.

They sit on a bench later that evening and Jae-hee reminds him that he should get back early if he wants to be in top form tomorrow. Tae-joon answers, “Seeing you keeps me in top form.” They hold hands.

As they marvel at the large fountain, Tae-joon catches Jae-hee gazing at him and jokes if she finds him handsome. She quips, “There aren’t enough words to describe it. Because you’re my miracle, Kang Tae-joon. Because every day with you is like a miracle.”

Noticing that her tone sounds off, he asks what’s wrong but she changes the subject and asks him to stay still so that she can imprint his face in her memory. Suspicious, he asks if something happened, not fully buying her reason that she’s just happy to see him.

Jae-hee rolls away with her bike, blustering about the competition. And Tae-joon catches up to her with his bike and kisses her.

He escorts her to the bus stop and reminds her to drop by before his event. Jae-hee nods and then puts out her hand: “Take care, Tae-joon.”

Tae-joon notes that it’s a little dramatic since they’ll be seeing each other tomorrow, but he takes it anyway. They shake, and Jae-hee pulls her hand out of his first. Just before she gets on the bus, she turns to embrace him.

He asks again if something’s the matter and she replies that she doesn’t want to leave him, “Be it a second, a day, or a year… they’re all the same to me.”

Jae-hee sits on Tae-joon’s bed the following morning, and as she surveys the room and lingers by the bathroom door, the numerous memories spent with Tae-joon flood her mind.

Dragging her bag behind her, she walks through campus when she hears a voice call out, “Transfer student!” A crowd of students led by Seung-ri approaches her and Seung-ri finally calls her by name: “Gu. Jae. Hee.”

He puts out a hand and tells her not to forget them because they surely won’t forget her. She notices that Eun-gyul’s missing and the others collectively say their goodbye. She bids them farewell with a smile.

She continues to walk when another voice calls out, “Dough Boy!” And Eun-gyul and Sangchu run towards her.

Fighting his emotions, Eun-gyul ekes out that he wasn’t going to see her off. Jae-hee thanks him and then hugs him. He asks if she won’t see Tae-joon before she leaves and Jae-hee shakes her head that it’s better off that way.

Eun-gyul bucks up one last burst of courage and jokes, “This isn’t me forgiving you – you got that? I’m going to go see you and get my revenge.” Jae-hee lingers for as long as she can before she walk away.

A single tear runs down Eun-gyul’s cheek. Jae-hee turns at the last second and Eun-gyul sends her off with a smile and a wave.

Coach Baek gives his athletes a last-minute pep talk and tells Tae-joon that no, he hasn’t gotten any calls. Eun-gyul calls for him the next moment and drops the bomb: “Jae-hee told me not to tell you, but I felt that you should know… Jae-hee left for the States.”

Tae-joon hands the phone back to Coach Baek and heads back to the locker room without another word. No, you wouldn’t…

Hyun-jae charges in after him, telling him that he’s crazy – it’s just minutes until the meet. Tae-joon tells him to get out of his way but Hyun-jae grabs for his bag. It falls to the floor and Jae-hee’s diary spills out of his bag. Ah, so that’s where it’s been…

Tae-joon opens the diary and flips through the detailed pages recording his progress. Then he lands on the very last page: a drawing of Tae-joon clearing the 2.31m mark at Nationals. Hyun-jae gives him one final warning that the meet is about to begin.

Jae-hee is on her way to the airport on the bus. It just so happens that the woman next to her is watching the meet on her phone and lets her watch together. Tae-joon readies himself for the 2.31m mark and we see him tying Jae-hee’s lucky red shoelaces.

He puts a hand to his chest and then starts running. He jumps… and flies over the bar. Clear.

Tae-joon gives a fist pump to the crowd and Jae-hee’s eyes brim with tears. He looks straight into the camera and addresses Jae-hee directly, “I’ll come to see you! You have to wait for me, Gu Jae-hee!” She nods from inside the bus.

(Side note: I know that this is an emotional scene but I can’t help but notice that her neighbor bears this uncomfortable expression on her face watching Jae-hee cry.)

Fade to white.

One year later. California. Jae-hee checks her email and brightens at the video message from Eun-gyul. In it, he shares about his recent soccer goal with the national team and fills us in on what has been going on.

Coach Baek and Teacher Lee plan to marry in the upcoming year, Seung-ri is Hanna’s slave boyfriend, and Doc left for Paris to study fashion. As for Tae-joon, he went on vacation to a place Eun-gyul can’t remember.

Jae-hee muses to herself that it would have been nice to hear more about Tae-joon and wonders what he’s up to nowadays. Her diary falls to the ground and as she reaches down to pick it up, a pair of boots walk up to her.

She looks up…

…and is blinded by the sun until her mysterious guest comes into view. She gasps, “Kang Tae-joon!” An adorable nod to their first meeting.

Tae-joon smiles back at her and they embrace each other.

Tae-joon: “Didn’t I say that I’d come to see you?”

 
COMMENTS

Much like how we jumped straight into the story at the start, the next chapter for Jae-hee and Tae-joon is left open to interpretation with a sweet and open-ended ending.

One of the strongest qualities this drama had was in the cinematography ’cause this drama was pretty and absolutely stunning. (We also got a rockin’ OST. Thanks SM.) Not only did we get some gorgeous shots of our characters, SM kept things fun by toying around with that fancy-schmancy 360 camera. Which then saddens me that the directing and writing couldn’t keep up, where jarring cuts threw us back from one extreme to the other and the story kept stringing us along. It’s like we were waiting for the main course and got dessert instead. Not that there’s nothing particularly wrong with dessert, but you gotta get your meat and potatoes to be fully satisfied.

There were definitely times where the music choices made me constantly question whether the show wanted to go all out zany or wanted to be taken seriously. Moreover, it became apparent that the writing was enough to drive me completely batty at times (okay, most times). Logic fail in drama world compared to the real world I can work with, because we’re being transported straight into a pseudo-world that establishes its own rules. But when those internal rules are bent and it fails at its own internal logic, I’m left frustrated at the drama’s own inconsistencies. “But this doesn’t make sense in this world!” I’d often cry.

I’m still unfamiliar with much of the manga this drama is based off of but I found that I would experience this outcry whenever the drama veered off-course from the Cute and dipped into common kdrama territory which does not suit this fluffy, adorable high school drama genre well – let alone this one. My mind is still perplexed over the ‘what could’ve been’ and I still dream of it. (Seriously, my dreams are filled with happy, smiling Eun-gyul sheep.)

You are certainly entitled to argue that fun is what you found as a viewer and I can see that point. Neurons checked at the door, you’ll find enjoyment and hope in this show. From a storyteller’s standpoint, if you have to enrich a tale out of scenes that just happen, then I wonder if you have much of a story at all.

The fraying plot threads were a-plenty. Does it matter at the end of the day how Tae-joon injured himself or the full reason why Jae-hee ended up at Genie High? (Answer: Yes.) What is important to highlight is to see that at the end of Jae-hee’s run at the all boys’ school, she never faced any real consequences of her actions. Though the situation forced her hand, she made the decision to leave and the rest of the cast helped to protect her secret as long as they could and continued to do so even after it was exposed. So is flying an ocean and being a stan worth it if it means you can be with your idol?

We never really got to see much of driving character developments in our leads but I was okay with that since those nuggets of gold nested in side characters like Eun-gyul and Hyun-jae. My heart will forever bleed for them and for their learned insecurity and inferiority; those arrows point to the writing. In terms of acting, Lee Hyun-woo and Kang Ha-neul drove these characters off the page and into our hearts. But I wouldn’t dismiss Sulli or Minho either, both of whom gave us solid performances despite the characters written for them.

The life lessons we were exposed to in this drama are definitely not ones I would pass onto my children. So with all the fluffy comedy, the gooey romance, and biting one-liners, all I know is that at the end of the day, I don’t need s’more.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , , ,