Final week! Get your tissues ready, today will wring a sea of tears out of you (at least if you have a heart) as the countdown winds down to the final hours. It’s a bittersweet though also gratifying way to send off a loved one, with an appreciation of every precious minute left combining with the desire to enjoy that time in an utterly mundane way. Because as our hero now realizes after four hundred years of Not Getting It, the beauty of life is living out the moments you have, rather than dwelling on the inevitable at the end of the tunnel.

SONG OF THE DAY

Sweden Laundry – “우리가 있던 시간” (The time we had) [ Download ]

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RECAP: TWENTIETH RECORD

After receiving her proposal, Song-yi tells Min-joon to live on, even if that means leaving Earth after all. He counters that he’s already made up his mind to stay, but she says that she’s also decided: “If you die because you stayed by my side, I’ll die too. Do you understand what I’m saying? I care for you much, much more than you think, so I think I could live if I just knew you lived somewhere. That’s easier than you not existing anywhere.”

Min-joon tries to argue that there must be a way, and that he’ll look for one. But it seems like a futile hope.

The investigators watch the reports on TV and wonder where Min-joon went. The amazing disappearing act makes him a source of fascination for the public, particularly since footage of him vanishing with Song-yi has hit airwaves. Reporters have tracked down people he knew in his other identities, and his old mahjong rival and a former hospital colleague interview that he looks just like a guy they once knew.

Among the interviewees is Bok-ja, who denies the rumors that he is dating Song-yi. In fact, she hints that she had a little something going on with him herself. Oh, simple delusional Bok-ja.

In bed that night, Song-yi confides that she’d mulled over all the ways she might break up with Min-joon, like lying that she’d gotten tired of him or that she’d be happy with Hwi-kyung. The idea of him dying scares her, and she asks if he feels afraid too.

He says that he’s seen countless people being born, growing older, and dying. It made him wonder why people even bothered with living so diligently when they knew they’d all die in the end; it all seemed so pathetic and meaningless. “But I realized that nobody lives to die. What’s important is that moment they’re alive. So even if the ending was decided, they could be happy and live on. It’s so simple, but it took me so long to realize.”

Only now does Bok-ja see all the news about Song-yi and Min-joon, which sends a dagger through her ridiculously romantic heart. Hilarious that she thought she had a chance with Min-joon all this time.

Meanwhile, Lawyer Jang insists to a police officer that Min-joon hadn’t kidnapped Song-yi. Ack, of course kidnapping would be a logical conclusion. Boo, logic.

Song-yi and Min-joon take a taxi ride back to civilization, and she asks why Min-joon didn’t tell her the full truth about Jae-kyung. He answers that she’s hot-headed and unable to hide her feelings, so it wouldn’t have done any good. She sighs that Hwi-kyung must be going through a tough time, and that’s our cue to jump over to Hwi-kyung, in bed with a worried Se-mi at his side.

He tries to send her away, wanting to mope in private, but she sticks around. She admits that she’d felt satisfaction at watching Song-yi fall and lose her standing—but she sees that she was the one who lost the most. “Now I’m going to let go of you completely,” she says, “because I have to live on.” That’s the only way for them to be friends again, and for her to be honest. Saying that she understands how he must have struggled without anybody to talk to, she encourages him to confide in her.

In jail (muahaha), Jae-kyung takes a visit from his lawyer and instructs him how to handle his case—seek bail, argue that he was interrogated under duress, accuse the prosecutor of entrapment, etc. I admit to finding the sight of his floppy hair oddly satisfying, now that he isn’t able to shellac it into his pompadour of power.

Song-yi and Min-joon’s taxi pulls up to their building, where a crowd of reporters lie in wait. She orders him not to be nervous or fearful though it’s clearly Song-yi who’s feeling the pinch, and lays out her plan: She’ll get out first and command their attention, giving him the chance to slip inside—she doesn’t want him using his powers when he’s feeling weak.

So Song-yi wears her shield of confidence and struts right up to the mics to take their questions… but when Min-joon steps out of the car, the crowd barrels past Song-yi to bombard him with questions, leaving the megastar in the back of the crowd, trying to get the paparazzi’s attention. Heh.

Song-yi shoves her way back to Min-joon, essentially playing the manager role as she entreats them not to take photos of him. Then a man steps up and flashes a police badge, here to take Min-joon in for questioning. Song-yi protests that she wasn’t kidnapped, but the officer insists and Min-joon is escorted along.

Watching the news from home is Song-yi’s family, with Mom sputtering at Song-yi’s declaration that they’re engaged. Dad gets up to go, and it’s Mom who stops him to suggest, albeit awkwardly, that he stay for dinner. She checks with Yoon-jae, who mumbles that Dad can stay, not quite comfortable being openly friendly but clearly warming up to him gradually. The mending of bonds is underway.

At the police station, Song-yi balks at being separated from Min-joon during questioning. One word from Min-joon quiets her instantly, and at his assurance that he’ll be fine, she lets him go, however reluctantly.

The officer begins by asking curiously how Min-joon managed to disappear from sight, and Min-joon challenges him on what laws he’s broken. He tells the man not to use his authority to merely satisfy his personal curiosity.

Detective Park arrives at the station and chides the officer for keeping him out of the loop when they’re both assigned to the case. Pretending to be on the cop’s side, Detective Park takes over the investigation and then makes sure to help sneak Min-joon and Song-yi out of the station unseen. Who knew the day would ever come when we’d welcome Detective Park as the smart, competent party?

Min-joon and Song-yi are on their way out when an officer stops to ask for an autograph. Song-yi agrees to sign, only to find that the woman meant Min-joon’s autograph. She bristles possessively when the officer asks for a photo or a handshake with him, but when the officer adds that her kid looks up to Min-joon as a Superman, Song-yi’s jealous instincts fade and she urges Min-joon to sign after all. HA.

Detective Park leads them out through a back door, but now it’s off to the prosecutor’s office for more questioning. Song-yi refuses to leave Min-joon and ends up waiting out in the hallway while Min-joon talks with the investigators.

But as it turns out, Min-joon does no talking at all while the investigators end up answering their own questions. Aw, they even put their heads together thinking of how to spin this in Min-joon’s favor, like arguing that Song-yi was in grave medical danger and that his restaurant disturbance could be resolved with a mere fine. Regarding his assault on Jae-kyung in front of the reporters, Detective Park muses, “Well, he deserved hitting.”

Seok asks Min-joon why he revealed himself after going to such lengths to protect his identity. Min-joon replies that they all probably have loved ones in their lives, and that in the face of losing her, he wasn’t capable of calculating facts. “All I did was what I could do in that moment.”

Song-yi is waiting to take his hand as soon as he’s done, and the second Min-joon takes it, he zooms them out of sight. And so, just as Mom is huffing into the phone that Song-yi hasn’t come home yet and that all the teleporting stuff is nonsense, they materialize in Song-yi’s apartment to dropped jaws and wide eyes. Mom moves to hit Song-yi for not calling during the whole ordeal, and Min-joon darts in to intercept the hit. In unison, the siblings rush to his side in concern. Adorable.

Mom pulls Song-yi aside and demands to know what Min-joon’s deal is. Song-yi just tells her that he’s the one man she loves in the world, and that there won’t be another: “He may not be an ordinary person, but to me he’s just the person I love.”

So Mom softens and makes dinner, bringing the family to the table for their first meal together in twelve years. I love the incredulous look on Mom’s face when Yoon-jae ignores her urging to eat up, only to shovel food into his mouth obediently at one word from Min-joon hyung.

Song-yi complains about Mom’s soup, and Mom turns to Min-joon for his opinion. He either can’t or doesn’t think to lie and tells her honestly that it’s strange, so Mom snaps at all the ungrateful kids and takes their bowls, giving them to Dad (who said it tasted fine). So cute.

In interview, Min-joon says that it was the first time he’d ever eaten with family before, and it eased his mind to think of leaving Song-yi in their care. But also, it made him want to be a part of it.

As the evening winds down, Song-yi pointedly looks at the time and offers to call cabs for her family. Dad takes the hint right away and gets up, but Song-yi has to bid good night to Mom directly, and then to Yoon-jae, who takes issue. “Is Min-joonie hyung yours?” he asks, and links arms with his hyung. Song-yi grabs Min-joon’s arm back, and Mom clucks at her forward behavior. I love when the Chun siblings fight over Min-joon.

With Song-yi’s star back on the rise, CEO Ahn is eager to get her back under his management and offers Mom the original (huge) contract fee. That makes her pause for a second, but then he adds another contract that makes her gape—one for Min-joon, whose disappearing skills could translate into worldwide fame and lucre as a magician.

Mom decides she’s more offended at the way CEO Ahn treats Song-yi and Min-joon as products to be kept or dropped, and snaps that she’ll be looking for a company that treats their clients as people. CEO Ahn is left wondering when Mom grew a heart and hastily tries to win her back.

Song-yi tells Min-joon to stay home while she goes to work today, since his presence would only create a commotion. Grudgingly he agrees, though he asks suspiciously if she’s keeping him home because she’s shooting kiss scenes today, or maybe a back hug. So when Hwi-kyung shows to take Song-yi to work, Min-joon bristles jealously.

Hwi-kyung thoughtfully presents her with a new phone to replace the one that got stolen, and has made sure that the ending digits match his. She likes this since she forgets her own number but has memorized Hwi-kyung’s, which makes Min-joon clench his jaw, even though he denies feeling the least bit upset to Hwi-kyung.

Hwi-kyung says that he has stepped back because Song-yi is head over heels for Min-joon right now, but he hasn’t given up on her—the minute Min-joon leaves her to be alone, he’ll be there to step in: “And I won’t let go of her then.” Prescient words, since he knows nothing of the actual impending separation.

As Hwi-kyung drives Song-yi to set, he apologizes for his brother’s actions against her, and she tells him that she understands that he’s miserable inside despite smiling on the outside. It’s something she knows well, because it’s what she feels now: “It seems like the whole world is happy but me.” He wonders what she means.

Song-yi arrives on set and joins Se-mi, and the two start off trading tentative barbs. It’s the same kind of stuff they’d been sniping all along, though without the usual bite. For instance, Se-mi says the film has been disrupted by Song-yi’s scandal, Song-yi quips that she’s just hot that way, Se-mi sniffs that this is all some kind of media play, Song-yi replies that Se-mi has obviously been reading all the articles about her. Song-yi asks if Se-mi has some free time, though we don’t get to see why.

Mom gets filled in on the general alien concept by Yoon-jae, then sits down with Min-joon to quiz him: Is he really an alien? Where’s his family? Will they come from their planet to Earth? Min-joon answers that things operate differently on his planet, and that they don’t have the concept of family, spouses, or even friends.

And then, Min-joon gets a nosebleed. Aghhhhh crap. He once again flashes to his premonition—where he disappears into light—and staggers into bed weakly. Noooooo.

Song-yi gets worried when nobody answers his door and lets herself in, and takes note of his wilting plants. It makes her think to a conversation she’d had with Lawyer Jang, when Lawyer Jang had mentioned seeing one of Min-joon’s plants rotting and guessed that it was indicative of Min-joon’s condition.

Thus when she finds him slumped over in his bedroom, she approaches in tears, trembling in fear. He’s unresponsive to her calls, and she feels his limp arms and listens for a heartbeat, sobbing, “No!”

Min-joon rouses slowly and gathers her to him. He tries to tease that he couldn’t help waking up amidst her noise, but she’s so scared she just cries, “I thought you died!”

Maybe it’s seeing her terror up close that changes his mind, but now the conversation turns back to the question of when he leaves. He’s got about a week left, and she sighs that it’s too short to waste a second. To convince him that she’s right in sending him away, she tells him that her momentary despair just now would be magnified every day of her life if he were to die because of her. He doesn’t want her to live the rest of her days blaming herself, does he?

But Min-joon asks, “What about me? I’ll miss you for every day for a long, long time—what about me? What if I can’t forget you?”

Song-yi says she’ll have their pictures and the song he sang her. They can cram seven years’ worth of time into their week together, she says not quite convincingly. She asks if he loves her, angling for the words again, though he deflects with a joke.

In interview, Min-joon answers the question of whether that last week was special. He answers that it was completely ordinary, as we see them eating in front of the TV and bickering like always. Min-joon continues to help run lines with Song-yi, doing a terrible job as usual (and finding fault with the cheesy dialogue as usual). That ends with more bickering, with Song-yi prodding for more affectionate words by asking who Min-joon would save if she and Lawyer Jang both fell into the water. (He says her, but her glow dims when he adds that Lawyer Jang was in the Marine Corps and would be able to manage just fine. Hee.)

They play Go-Stop too, although today Song-yi’s confused at where her amazing skills went, while Min-joon racks up the points. He claims his reward (a forehead flick) and she threatens him with deep kisses in retaliation (yes please!). He flips the situation around and delivers that deep kiss anyway, rawr.

And then, suddenly, we’re one day from D-Day, as Lawyer Jang reads news of the comet’s approach with worry. Aiiiiiiie. Nooooo.

While in his library, Min-joon responds to Song-yi’s call to eat by accidentally transporting himself outdoors instead of merely out of the room, leaving him shivering out in the cold in the street. It’s Lawyer Jang he calls, who rushes over to meet him in the park with warm clothing.

Min-joon muses that it was this park where they’d come on their first encounter, after he saved Lawyer Jang’s life. We see the scene in flashback, as Min-joon receives Lawyer Jang’s gratitude stoically and hands over an envelope of money as a loan. Lawyer Jang asks why he would trust him to pay it back, and Min-joon answers gruffly that he doesn’t trust anybody. Still, even though he doesn’t want to form bonds with anyone, they can consider their connection as kismet.

There’s something deeply moving about the way young Lawyer Jang is in awe of Min-joon, whom he calls Teacher, and the way that has transitioned into their nearly father-son relationship now. In the present, Lawyer Jang asks to hold Min-joon’s hand just once; he says sadly that he doesn’t want to send Min-joon away, and that it feels like he’s a parent losing a child.

Lawyer Jang starts to break down in earnest, which is pretty gut-wrenching stuff—so earnest and heartfelt. Min-joon tells him words he’d once been told (by Yi-hwa in Joseon times), that farewells should be made in advance in case you don’t get the chance at the last moment. “Thank you,” he says. “I won’t forget you.” Lawyer Jang sobs freely, and Min-joon fights back his own tears.

When Min-joon arrives home, Song-yi is waiting with an embrace and leads him inside, where he takes in the candles filling the home, as well as the fresh flowers. Song-yi kneels before him and says, “We’re getting married today. You can’t divorce me, since you leave tomorrow. If you go there and cheat on me, you’re dead.”

As a proposal gift, she hands him a flash drive, which she tells him to watch when he’s alone, and when he misses her. She adds with a smile, “It looks like you don’t mean to say I love you to me, so I’ll do your part. I love you, Do Min-joon. You’ll live a much longer time than me and may forget me, but don’t forget that a perfect woman like me loved you, and think of it proudly.”

He says that his best superpower is stopping time, which he’s done many times: “And in this time you didn’t know of, I said this: I love you, Chun Song-yi. If I said this in the flow of time, it felt as though everything would flow on and disappear, so I said it in that stopped time. I love you, Chun Song-yi. I love you.”

 
EPILOGUE

Now we see why Song-yi asked Se-mi for her time, as she thrusts a camera in her hands. Se-mi begins recording as Song-yi does a cute, aegyo-filled, ridiculous dance to the song “Marry You.”

Later, Min-joon watches Song-yi’s adorable antics on his computer, his chuckles soon mixing with choked sobs. Song-yi winds down the performance by presenting a bouquet of flowers at the camera and asking, “Do Min-joon, will you marry me?”

 
COMMENTS

Waaaaah. I need to pick myself off the floor after that, and nothing bad has even happened yet. Aside from the nosebleed and the fading powers, I mean, though those are freakier for the foreboding they elicit than on their own merits. (I don’t know why nosebleeds are so ominous in dramaland considering what they actually are, but aside from scenes of students studying really hard, there’s no reason to include it so it must augur tragic circumstances down the line. Talk about making literal the idea of Min-joon’s body just leaking life force haphazardly.)

I really love that the show gave him his beautiful farewell scene with Lawyer Jang, who ripped out my heart with his raw grief. He’s been such a rock for Min-joon and a constant source of support that in a way their bond hits deeper than the romance angle. It isn’t that I don’t feel for the romance (obviously!), but Lawyer Jang has been his friend for longer than he’s allowed himself to know anybody else—and now that we know that Min-joon’s planet doesn’t even think of relationships the way humans do, he’s Min-joon’s first friend.

As I mentioned before Lawyer Jang has gradually progressed from being the rescued party to the one offering the support, which is sort of like a child growing up and becoming parent to the parent. That relationship works on a bunch of layers and they all convened in that scene to kill me. (Plus, the actors let ‘er rip in that scene, and the force of the emotion was hard-hitting.)

But more that just being sad, this episode made me cry because it portrayed that thing Min-joon pointed out, that what makes life worth living is the people you have around you and the time you get to spend with them. He’d kept head and heart firmly separated, and it was a poignant thing to see him choose a brief but full existence over a return to his long-stretching, unconnected one. Because one week to us seems woefully short, but I suppose if you’re looking at it from his perspective, the entire human lifespan seems just as meaninglessly quick. So why not take the thing of value, no matter how small, than the oodles and oodles of blankness?

It was sweet and somber to focus on the mundane in Min-joon’s final days, which is fitting in that it seems like exactly the human thing to do. Sure, some people might go crazy and indulge in every earthly pleasure if they knew the world was ending, but I suspect the majority of people would strive for normalcy—you want live each moment consciously and thoughtfully, but not necessarily differently.

So now we’re here with one episode left and I have no idea how they’re going to wrap things up. I do hope that the show can pull out another satisfying turn in its final stretch, because it’s done so well till now—why ruin it in the final hour? I don’t ask for much, but all I want is for Min-joon to stay on Earth, alive, happy and with Song-yi. None of this philosophical “We’ll always be together in spirit” crap or dying-happy-in-her-arms nonsense. I want happy, together, and alive, dammit. Chop chop.

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