Shark: Episode 20 (Final)
And so it ends, and just about how you’d expect it to. I’d like to think that we just had extremely high expectations for Shark that it just couldn’t meet, and that we stuck it out because we always hoped to see it reach its full potential. At least, that’s what I hoped for—though I definitely feel unrewarded for that hope now. I’m also left with the feeling that this might be one of those dramas that we’ll just flush from our collective memory in a year or so, and maybe bring back up only when we’re feeling nostalgic for the side characters we came to love. Or when we feel nostalgic for the elderly, or split screens, or pictures, or juice.
Okay, it’s not ALL bad, and emotions always run a wee bit high after a final episode. But I’d be lying if I said I loved it.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Soo-hyun calls Grandpa Jo about the fee he’s due now that he’s shot Yi-soo, and no amount of squirreling on Grandpa’s part will get Soo-hyun to back down—he wants his money tonight, and he wants Clicky to deliver it to him. Grandpa finally agrees.
Junichiro gets the news about the shooting and wonders if Yi-soo is dead, though the police detail (run by Detective Byun) haven’t found his body yet.
Hae-woo gets a call that stills her nervous pacing, though we don’t hear what it is. In the meantime, we see Daddy Jo trying to play nice with the prosecutor who received the USB drive with incriminating evidence of Gaya. The prosecutor is clearly disgusted to be in Daddy Jo’s grinning presence.
So when he runs into Joon-young in front of his office, his first thought is that Joon-young is trying to bribe him. He peevishly replies that he will uncover Gaya’s dirty dealings no matter what, only to be surprised when Joon-young reveals that that’s the reason he came—not to bribe him, but to help him.
Joon-young reveals his noble cause: “Although it seems difficult now, I think that being properly investigated and starting anew is the best thing for Gaya’s future.” Good thing he leaves out the bit about getting revenge on Grandpa Jo.
Clicky meets Soo-hyun at a frustratingly dark harbor to hand over the money Grandpa Jo owes him. Soo-hyun thanks him for telling him the truth about who killed his father, but adds, “I am curious about one thing. How did you witness Han Young-man killing my father?” Oh crap.
As he asks this, we catch a brief glimpse of Detective Byun approaching, gun at the ready. Ah, Soo-hyun must have called Hae-woo… so this was a trap.
Soo-hyun then tells Clicky that he thought about it and realized that his father was doomed that day anyhow—if Yi-soo’s dad hadn’t have killed him, then Clicky would have.
Clicky begins to fidget for the gun in his pocket, but Soo-hyun raises his first. Detective Byun and another cop come out of hiding to surround Clicky and arrest him.
Afterward, Detective Byun walks right up to Soo-hyun and kicks him in the shins. Ha! How can a moment like this be adorable? He scolds Soo-hyun for his foolishness, and when he asks whose harebrained idea it was, Soo-hyun instantly looks ten years old as he points to himself.
Detective Byun then asks about Yi-soo, and all Soo-hyun knows is that his hyung told him he’d contact him. I love that Byun is totally taking Soo-hyun to school, and that his scolding is so dad-like. This skill is going to come in handy when Soo-hyun is his son-in-law. (C’mon, we’re all thinking it.)
We then see Yi-soo driving, very much alive and well. He has a flashback to when Soo-hyun confronted him over the truth and punched him repeatedly to get all his anger out.
Yi-soo accepted every hit, knowing better than to expect forgiveness. But he wanted Soo-hyun to at least understand that his father lived with a guilty conscience every day of his life.
Soo-hyun: “When I found out the truth, I resented and hated you so much that I wanted to kill you. But you’ve already been through so much up until now… and you’re the only family I have left. But that doesn’t mean that I forgive your father. If you want to atone, you should arrange for Chairman Jo to be properly judged, so that you and I can feel less wronged.” I’m so glad Soo-hyun didn’t turn into a remorseless vengeance machine. Mutual understanding for the win.
Yi-soo calls Dong-soo out of his house to deliver an envelope to Secretary Jang, and I love how Dong-soo instantly launches into a defense of her spying actions (by saying that Junichiro kept threatening her), only for Yi-soo to tell him that he already knew the whole situation.
Aw, and I was kind of hoping he’d actually tell Dong-soo about his identity, considering that he’s the only person who still doesn’t know. He does end the conversation by calling him “Dong-soo-ya” in banmal, like they would’ve when they were kids. This strikes Dong-soo as odd, but he doesn’t get the connection.
Clicky isn’t saying a word in the police interrogation room, and they soon find out that the money was all fake—which means Clicky was planning to kill Soo-hyun during the deal.
Detective Byun sighs that they have two options to summon Grandpa Jo for an investigation—either they get Clicky to confess, or they find more evidence. Hae-woo offers to try and persuade her grandfather. (So, did Soo-hyun not record his call with Grandpa Jo? What other evidence do they need, seriously?)
Yi-soo gives Hae-woo a call to ask if Clicky has confessed before he apologizes for not telling her about the plan with Soo-hyun beforehand. He’s got a hunch that Grandpa uses threats against Clicky’s wife and son to keep him in line, so he tells Hae-woo to assure Clicky that his family is safe to see if that gets him talking.
She then reveals that Secretary Jang gave her a USB (of the incriminating documents), but Yi-soo’s warning for her to do nothing comes too late—she’s already handed it over to a journalist.
After they hang up, Yi-soo waits for an opportunity to sneak into Junichiro’s office to steal the contents of his computer.
During his questioning session, Clicky turns the tables on Hae-woo by asking her if Yi-soo is more important than her family. Hae-woo: “Do you think I’m trying to uncover my grandfather’s sins just for Yi-soo?” She knows better than anything that uncovering the truth will mean the end of their hotel empire as well as her career, so while she may have started this because of Yi-soo, he’s not the reason she’s ending it.
As for the why, Hae-woo explains, “I want to beg for forgiveness from those people who died so wrongfully. I want to ask for their forgiveness in my grandfather’s stead.” She tells him it’s not too late for him to do the same, so he asks to talk to Yi-soo. Hae-woo calls him and hands the phone over.
Clicky makes a deal with Yi-soo to give his wife a new necklace for her birthday in two days, seeing as how he won’t be able to thanks to him. Because it’s totally Yi-soo’s fault that he killed how many people, again?
He doesn’t guarantee a confession if Yi-soo does this task, but he does stress that when Yi-soo gives his wife a new necklace, he has to throw away the old one. Hmm. That’s curious.
Dong-soo hands Secretary Jang the envelope Yi-soo entrusted to him, and Yi-soo calls her once she receives it to tell her that it’s a press release he’d like her to release the day before their official hotel opening.
She’s shocked and touched that Yi-soo still trusts her after everything. But he cuts off her chance at an apology by telling her he’ll hear it in person later. Why do I feel like that never happens?
Grandpa Jo’s other assassin (that creepy dude who tried to murder Prosecutor Oh, and the one who followed Soo-hyun on his murder mission) pays a visit to the police station, and is greeted by Detective Byun’s partner as a sunbae.
He claims to be visiting from another precinct to investigate the murder of Detective Oh, so he wants a little chat with Clicky, since he’s the chief suspect. Why they let him in without anyone monitoring the conversation is a little beyond me, but whatever.
He hands Clicky a poison pill and tells him that if he doesn’t take it, bad things will happen to his wife and son. Clicky gives a resigned sigh: “I knew this would happen.” Then he takes it and immediately keels over.
Detective Byun comes running when the fake-detective cries out for help, with the fake-detective claiming that Clicky took a poison pill he’d been hiding in his clothes. Byun is at the end of his rope, “Do you know how hard it was to arrest him?!” While the fake-detective avoids suspicion by acting just as outraged that he lost his super important suspect.
The cast plays a round of telephone to pass on the info about Clicky’s poisoning, and Yi-soo is devastated when he finds out.
Hae-woo meets with the reporter friend she handed a copy of the document to, only for him to admit that he’s powerless to publish it. So she turns to an accomplished hacker friend she knows instead to disperse the document to as many people as possible safely and anonymously.
She meets Joon-young outside and asks, “Did I really do the right thing? Will releasing the document change the world? Will the people believe it?” Joon-young tells her that from now on, it’ll be up to the people. She did the best she could.
Yi-soo stands precariously on the edge of a high-rise rooftop. Is he thinking of jumping, or is he just looking at the north star? I can’t see.
The next morning, there isn’t a phone or tablet that doesn’t have “The Truth About Chun Young-bo” on it. Grandpa Jo laughs it off to one of his concerned cover-up specialists who seems to be a little curious as to the truth of the matter.
Grandpa Jo sets him straight pretty fast—if people begin to doubt him, a paragon of virtue in their troubled society, then it’ll affect the government he so graciously supports. Man, he IS a devious bastard, because this is an underhanded threat of the highest order. Hurt me and I’ll hurt you.
And the tactic works, because the man with him suddenly changes his tune. They’ll be covering up the story like it never happened, at no cost to Grandpa Jo.
While Joon-young warns Hae-woo about the reporters swarming outside their house, Grandpa Jo places a call to his new assassin to demand Yi-soo be immediately found and killed.
Soo-hyun escorts Yi-hyun to lunch with her brother, and the two men share silent looks over whether to confirm Yi-hyun’s suspicion that the article about Chun Young-bo is really about Grandpa Jo. Luckily they get interrupted by their food, which of course, is spaghetti. Aww.
Yi-hyun is able to eat it without worries now, and pulls out a camera to take a picture with her brother afterward. Noooooooooooooo! She might as well be signing his death warrant. We all know what Final Episode Pictures mean.
I do love that Soo-hyun feels all excluded from being in the photo, and I especially love that Yi-hyun coaxes her brother into making a peace sign for it. (And because of the wonders of product placement, Hae-woo gets an instant copy.)
Detective Byun calls Hae-woo with the autopsy report on Clicky, showing that he died of the same poison used on Yi-soo’s dad and Detective Oh. He’s more upset that they lost their only witness, to which Hae-woo replies that they’ll just have to find more evidence. I hate to be Buzz Killington here, but, how?
Grandpa Jo gives a statement to all the reporters waiting outside his door that he’ll be donating all his hotel holdings to society, while Hae-woo finally gets the package of her late grandmother’s personal effects as promised.
Hae-woo’s reporter friend is among the crowd, and he confronts Grandpa Jo directly over how his sudden charitable impulse might be misconstrued as a cover-up.
Moreover, Grandpa has no plans to refute the evidence in the article, claiming that he’ll just have to reflect over what wrong he must have done for someone to hold such a grudge. Pffft. He sure knows how to work a crowd.
Hae-woo just so happens to twist one of her grandmother’s hairpins to find a picture rolled up inside… of Grandpa Jo when he was Chun Young-bo, surrounded by the bodies of people he killed. Grandpa’s empty promises to the people are heard in voiceover as she takes in what she’s seeing.
Yi-soo calls Soo-hyun as he’s driving his sleeping sister home to check in while he heads off to meet Clicky’s wife. Soo-hyun remarks that she’d been strangely tired… Come on, you guys are NOT going to pull anything weird right now. We’re forty minutes in, for crying out loud!
He finds Clicky’s wife in much nicer surroundings than the hospital they kidnapped her from, and hands the dazed woman a necklace. The necklace she’s currently wearing has a key dangling from it. Ah, so that’s why Clicky wanted him to go.
Soo-hyun grows alarmed when Yi-hyun won’t wake up, and immediately rushes her to the hospital. Her father and mother are there with Soo-hyun when the diagnosis comes in—she has an aggressive autoimmune disorder.
And the only cure is—wait for it—a liver transplant. They’ll need a donor within the family, and I swear the rest of his speech just sounds like the way adults talk in Charlie Brown. In short:
Detective Byun thanks Yi-soo for volunteering to donate his liver, and Yi-soo hands him the key he found with Clicky’s wife.
He has something to take care of before he goes into surgery, but is sure to tell Detective Byun that he’ll turn himself in to the police the day Yi-hyun is discharged in order to take responsibility for the death of Detective Jung. According to him, Soo-hyun had nothing to do with it.
He then pays a visit to his benefactor, Junichiro, who mentions that if Grandpa Jo managed to make it through the public release of the incriminating documents, it means Yi-soo’s revenge failed. Yi-soo: “It’s your revenge that failed.”
He describes the contents of the envelope he hands over as a press release stating that all of their hotel’s profits will be donated to torture victims. Because Junichiro put him in charge of the hotel in Seoul, Yi-soo had the authority to sign off on it and to put Secretary Jang in charge of it.
When Junichiro threatens that he won’t just take this lying down, Yi-soo threatens him back—he’s given all the dirt (which he stole off Junichiro’s computer) he has on him to an acquaintance in Japan, whose first job will be to take it to the police if something were to happen to him or Secretary Jang.
“Thank you for everything,” Yi-soo says with a small bow. “Especially for saving my life.” Hell of a way to thank the guy. Also, why the harsh retaliation? Did I miss the part where Junichiro became a villain?
Detective Byun uses Clicky’s key to find a secret compartment in his bookstore containing a ledger of his transactions, as well as a recording of Grandpa Jo ordering the murder of Detective Oh. There’s the evidence they needed.
An arrest warrant is issued for Grandpa Jo at last, a fact that’s made public along with the picture Hae-woo discovered.
When the police come to Grandpa’s house to arrest him, he pulls a pistol out from his desk drawer, puts it up to his head, and pulls the trigger… Click. It doesn’t fire.
…And then we see Mrs. Park hiding the bullets she stole from his gun. Awesome.
Now that the nation knows he was responsible for countless massacres along with the more recent murder of Detective Oh, Hae-woo’s reporter friend asks Grandpa Jo if he has anything to say before he’s carted off.
“I lived my life for this country!” Grandpa all but yells, only no one’s buying it anymore.
Mrs. Park gives Daddy Jo the box of his mother’s things Hae-woo wanted passed onto him, and he breaks down into pitiful sobs the second he sees his mother’s funeral photo.
Hae-woo finds the wooden shark pendant while packing up her desk, and as she and Joon-young responsibly facing the consequences of their family’s actions, we hear the news reporting on Grandpa Jo being charged for Detective Oh’s murder. A separate investigation is being launched into the released documents and his dark past.
His case has spurred a general re-investigation into other sordid events in the country’s past regarding independence activists and events like the Gwangju massacre that Clicky and Yi-soo’s father were a part of, in order to shine a light on the injustice between those who helped the Japanese during the occupation and became wealthy from it as compared to those who fought against Japanese rule and now live in poverty.
With Yi-hyun’s liver transplant surgery set to take place the day after next, Yi-soo calls Hae-woo to arrange a meeting, since they both have things to say to each other that they can either say now or never.
Yi-soo smiles when he sees Hae-woo rounding the corner, but someone appears from behind and puts a gun to the back of his neck. He starts to turn around…
But the assassin pulls the trigger, and shoots Yi-soo in the neck. The shooter is revealed to be Grandpa Jo’s backup assassin, and he runs away before Yi-soo collapses.
Hae-woo starts running when she hears the sound, and there Yi-soo is, bleeding out in the middle of the park. “I have… to live… Hae-woo-ya,” he chokes out. He wants to live long enough to make it to his sister’s surgery, but it’s clear that’s not going to happen once he starts going into convulsions.
Hae-woo is just left in shock as Yi-soo eventually goes limp in her arms, before we cut to Grandpa Jo in prison, smiling victoriously.
Cut to: Hae-woo standing in the light of her grandfather’s office before she leaves it for good.
Yi-hyun asks where her brother is as she’s wheeled off to surgery, and Detective Byun lies that Yi-soo will come after the surgery. Wait, did she have no idea that her brother was donating his liver in the first place? Where did she think she was getting it from?
It’s heartbreaking that her mother can’t hold back her tears, because she knows the terrible truth they’re keeping from Yi-hyun.
Hae-woo stands by the hospital bed where Yi-soo lies unconscious, but alive. We hear her in voiceover: “The doctor said that it’s a miracle that Yi-soo is still alive. But I know that it’s due to his strong willpower, not a miracle. Yi-soo’s holding onto his thread of life with all his might. And he’s telling me… to save him, and to let him go. And to do what I can right now.”
She leans over to kiss him. “I love you, Yi-soo.”
Dong-soo clutches Yi-soo’s hand and sobs as he’s wheeled into surgery, with Soo-hyun and Joon-young following behind. Did someone finally tell this poor man the truth? And we missed it?!
Time stops for Hae-woo, and when it finally starts again, she begins to cry. I think that might’ve been an indicator that Yi-soo died.
Some time later, we find Hae-woo alone on a beach, clutching her shark pendant. She walks until the waves are up to her knees and addresses it: “Now you can breathe in peace, Yi-soo.”
She gently releases the pendant into the water and watches as it floats away.
This finale did so many things wrong, and for reasons I really can’t understand. In some ways, maybe the ending reflects on this show’s failure to humanize our characters, because it didn’t seem to be about them all that much. Yes, the main objective driving the plot was to bring Grandpa Jo to justice, not just for the murder of Yi-soo’s father, but for his countless war crimes. So why did this whole exercise end up feeling like it was more for the benefit of The People, and not for our people? I’m all for the greater good, but up until now this show didn’t really work toward making that its core message—Yi-soo was never supposed to be a hero of the people, even though in retrospect it would’ve been a good move for the show to tie in his teenage desire to become a prosecutor into his present journey to bring Grandpa Jo down. But they didn’t, so Yi-soo gave his all to his quest for justice only to kind of succeed, and then he gets shot at the end. But, wait! He hung on to donate his liver to his dying sister! And then he died anyway!
Which, wait a minute, what? And more importantly, why? We’ve all seen the dramas that throw in a life-threatening illness to add some last-minute dramatics, but what confused me most about the inane addition of Yi-hyun’s illness was that it added absolutely nothing to the story. Literally, nothing. I’m still left a little slack-jawed at why the show even felt the need to introduce her illness when it only had twenty minutes to resolve it and the story as a whole. And the argument that they set up this up in advance with her nosebleeds isn’t legitimate in any world which values good storytelling, because no amount of setup could justify pulling that sudden illness and resolution out of (what certainly felt like) the writer’s bottom.
So then I struggled with trying to figure out what this show’s final message was—that evil inevitably wins? That life sucks and then you die? When the entire story revolved around one thing, aka Yi-soo’s journey for vengeance/justice, why end his journey on something so unrelated? Even then, since he would have died with or without helping his sister, if she didn’t know beforehand and we didn’t get to see her reaction after the fact, what was the point? Saving her was a point I suppose, showing Yi-soo’s selflessness was another point, but when we get all of five minutes to process that then there’s just no way to empathize, which means we miss the point.
I feel like we could talk forever about why melodramas feel a compulsion to kill off their heroes (which means we’re usually very surprised when they live), so I won’t belabor the point here other than that the hero’s death in this specific story seemed more pointless than usual. Yi-soo really did live a miserable life before he was killed for it, and there was just nothing satisfying about watching his story unfold. It’s not like only happy endings are acceptable, or only endings that are neatly tied into a bow are good—all you need to do is legitimize the journey. I just wish that would have happened here.
Other things that I wish would’ve worked better: Dong-soo’s off-screen realization that Kim Jun was Yi-soo, Junichiro’s very amorphous character, his reasons for revenge, and why he didn’t just reveal the incriminating documents if he had them the whole time, and Hae-woo’s reaction to pretty much everything. Especially her “Oh, well” take on Yi-soo’s death. This wasn’t a case where he shot himself or was dying from a disease—her grandfather was the reason he was shot down like a dog when he least expected it. And then she sheds a few tears, but figures that death was actually better for him in that now-he-can-finally-rest way? Sometimes heroes earn a valiant death, sometimes they don’t, but Yi-soo’s end just came off feeling unfinished, like he had to die because we’d reached the end of the show and not because the story necessitated it.
Oh well. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
- Shark: Episode 19
- Shark: Episode 18
- Shark: Episode 17
- Shark: Episode 16
- Shark: Episode 15
- Shark: Episode 14
- Shark: Episode 13
- Shark: Episode 12
- Shark: Episode 11
- Shark: Episode 10
- Shark: Episode 9
- Shark: Episode 8
- Shark: Episode 7
- Shark: Episode 6
- Shark: Episode 5
- Shark: Episode 4
- Shark: Episode 3
- Shark: Episode 2
- Shark: Episode 1