It’s overrrrrrrr, we can all resume breathing now. You From Another Star ended today, and I admit to going into the finale still wondering how the heck they would get our couple out of their cosmic fix. There are a few spots I think got glossed over, but I’m left with a solid appreciation for the value of appreciating each moment of happiness and living life to the fullest, which isn’t about doing stuff so much as it is being conscious of what you’ve got while you’ve got it. Not a bad sentiment to go out on.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Bada – “그대와 영원히” (With you forever). An interesting spacey cover of a classic ballad. [ Download ]
RECAP: FINAL RECORD
Min-joon makes his heartfelt “I love you” speech, telling Song-yi that he’d said so in suspended moments, afraid of letting the words be washed away by the flow of time. Song-yi replies, “The you I’ve known in my time, and also the you from time I haven’t known—I love you.”
Interviewing, Min-joon explains that in the four hundred years he’s been here, he has faithfully kept to his rule of not having anything it would be too painful to lose. He was always aware that he wouldn’t be able to take anything with him, so he didn’t want to love anything or anyone. And that rule worked well for him.
“But in these last three months, everything has crumbled,” he says.
In bed, Song-yi asks him to tell her when he first liked her. In interview, he thinks it over and isn’t quite sure—all he knows is that he grew to love her and became afraid of losing her. “Right now, I’m thinking of what is the best thing I can do for her. My final fate is beginning. Will I be able to beat it?”
Song-yi and Min-joon head out to the balcony, where they look up at the sky, especially bright tonight with the comet on its approach. As we see in a news report, the comet has now left its orbit and is heading toward Earth, and people are urged to look for meteors. Sure enough, a shower lights up the sky with stars falling in abundance and exciting bystanders, who stop to look up in awe.
Song-yi suggests wishing on a falling star, and Min-joon complains that those are just rocks, and that he always found that wishing custom silly. Despite the gripe, though, he closes his eyes to wish along with her.
As people stop what they’re doing to watch the meteor shower and take pictures, one meteor flares extra-bright as it flies overhead. One man confusedly thinks he saw a UFO rather than a comet, though this comment gets laughed off.
But we know better, and at a distance that UFO hovers over the dark forest and shines on its lights. Miles away, Min-joon, who’s still praying on his star, feels it and his hand starts to flicker into transparency before regaining its solid form. Shaken, Min-joon holds up that hand to touch Song-yi’s face while she’s still deep in her prayer, but doesn’t make contact.
Instead, he begins his last goodbye: “Chun Song-yi, whom I love. It’s cold, so don’t go around wearing things that are exposed. You’re prettier when you’re covered up.” Eyes still closed in prayer, Song-yi starts to cry as she listens to him continue, “As I said last time, kiss scenes or back hug scenes are no good. So are passionate melodramas. Don’t be sick, and don’t read negative internet comments. Don’t sing alone pitifully and cry, either. Don’t eat alone, and don’t just walk into any room when you’re drunk.”
Song-yi’s face crumples in tears and she has to turn away. Min-joon’s voice shakes as he keeps going: “Don’t look up at the sky at night and wonder uselessly which star it is. It’s not a place you can see from here. But I’m going to look every day, seeing where you are from there, and I’ll try every day to come back. No matter what it takes, I’ll find a way to be with you for a long, long time. I will.”
By now they’re both choking back sobs, and he has to try extra-hard to maintain his composure. “But if… if I can’t come back… then forget it all.”
She cries, “How could I forget?” She asks how he could ask that of her, then grows scared when he doesn’t reply. She turns in trepidation… and he’s gone. Oooof.
Denial hits first and Song-yi demands that he stop playing tricks on her, that he can’t be so mean as to leave before she got her say. But she knows the truth and sinks down, crying her heart out.
Out in the forest, Min-joon’s body vanishes into a million particles of light, just like we’d seen in his vision.
On to less devastating events. CEO Ahn redoubles his efforts to win Song-yi back to his agency, via her weakest link: Mom. He comes by with designer bags and gifts, but you know Mom has changed when she tries to slam the door in his face anyway.
CEO Ahn makes his pitch, that Song-yi is currently the recipient of the whole country’s remorse, and it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. Mom says that she doesn’t care about bags or fancy goods, and entreats, “Just please do something about Song-yi.”
She describes Song-yi’s zombie-like state of the past few days, not eating or sleeping and spending all her time next door in Min-joon’s home. Song-yi wanders around the empty place and see Min-joon appearing next to her, though we see that she’s just imagining his presence.
Jae-kyung’s trial begins, and Prosecutor Seok starts by listing the charges. Jae-kyung’s attorney gets up to argue for his release on bail… or that’s what Jae-kyung expects. To his shock, the attorney accepts the prosecutor’s terms, and judging from the stern look on Daddy CEO’s face, it seems clear that he has cut the line of support.
Afterward, Jae-kyung speaks with his father and adopts an entreating tone, insisting on his innocence and asking Dad to send Hwi-kyung far away. He shares his plan to set up his secretary as the sole criminal and asks his father to arrange the payoff for the secretary’s family.
Dad states that he’s turning over all assets in Jae-kyung’s name to charity, which Jae-kyung approves as a tactic to curry favor with the public. But his face falls when Dad adds that he has no desire to aid him any further: “You’ll spend the rest of your life in this cold prison. It’s a shame.”
Realizing that his father is not on his side, Jae-kyung tries to argue that this would be too huge a blow to the company, but Dad says he intends to step down and hire a professional CEO. He hadn’t realized he was harboring a monster in his midst, not even when it ate up his son. Dad now regrets covering up an accident in Jae-kyung’s childhood that half-blinded his friend, blaming himself for everything. “I had no idea you would do that to Han-kyung…”
Jae-kyung tries to laugh that Hwi-kyung’s accusations are absurd, saying that Hwi-kyung is trying to usurp his place. But Dad is unbudging, and as Jae-kyung is being escorted back to his cell, he thunders that he’ll find a way to get himself out of here on his own.
Hwi-kyung comes by to cheer Song-yi up with chicken and beer and grumbles about Min-joon ditching her. But Song-yi tells him, “He did everything he could for me. What I can’t bear right now is that I realized that too late. I couldn’t do anything for him, or say a proper farewell. He’s going to do his utmost there, too. He told me to wait, so he’ll be doing everything he can over there. He may not be able to come back in the end, but I won’t forget. I won’t forget a thing, and diligently wait.”
Hwi-kyung shares that Min-joon had asked him to look after Song-yi while he’s gone, because while he feels uneasy about keeping Hwi-kyung at her side, he also feel safest asking him.
Then, something catches Song-yi’s eye. It’s Min-joon’s dying plants, becoming green again, and she says with hope, “They’re living. He must have arrived safely. He must be okay now.” Aw yay.
Song-yi finds her brother tending to his new telescope, surprised to hear that Min-joon had given it to him. In flashback, we see Min-joon telling Yoon-jae about leaving on a trip soon, which by the way stirs adorable hope in Yoon-jae that he may need a bike with a basket. *finger touch*
Min-joon asks Yoon-jae to listen to his noona while he’s gone, using the telescope as a bribe. Yoon-jae is so thrilled that he asks permission to hug him, and then ignores Min-joon’s “No” to assault him with one anyway.
On the set of Se-mi’s movie, the director is antsy to have Song-yi back from her personal leave. Se-mi sidles up for a master stroke at reverse psychology, saying that she supports the idea of firing Song-yi. After all, Song-yi’s been on the rise lately with tons of offers heading her way, and it’s making Se-mi uncomfortable. “I’m sure we’ll be a hit with just me onboard,” she says. “Surely we won’t flop.” That’s enough to get the director to backpedal right away.
Bok-ja goes in for her post-heartbreak Felicity routine, asking for an even shorter haircut. She sighs that it was a push-pull relationship she’d been working… even if she never pushed him away and was mostly pulling.
And then, Song-yi plops into the chair next to her and asks for a haircut too. Bok-ja scoffs that Song-yi doesn’t have the confidence to pull off short hair (heh, a fun dig at Jeon Ji-hyun’s career-long resistance to changing her hairstyle), and the ladies relocate for a pity party in Song-yi’s apartment.
Song-yi busts a gut laughing at Bok-ja’s tale of woe over Min-joon, then asks Bok-ja to share more stories about him. And when Bok-ja says there’s nothing more to tell, Song-yi asks her to repeat the stories she’s already told, her laughs turning to sobs.
Se-mi arrives to check on Song-yi and deliver the shooting schedule, and Song-yi turns to her too, asking for Min-joon stories. “I don’t care what it’s about, just tell me something,” she begs.
Song-yi wonders how long it’ll take for mention of Min-joon not to hurt, if that’s even possible. Se-mi tells her that right now her every thought is of him, and that it’s harder to not think of him. But somewhere down the line, she’ll think of him out of the blue, and realize that she’d been thinking of something else. That’s when it’ll stop hurting, because she’ll be able to think of other things.
Song-yi asks how long it’ll take, and Se-mi says for her it was fifteen years, but now it doesn’t hurt. Song-yi says sympathetically that it must’ve been hard for her, then wonders how she’ll be able to survive if it takes her that long.
Then, we cut to Song-yi in Min-joon’s library, in interview mode. She describes how hard it is not to think of Min-joon, and revisits the places they’d gone to seek traces of him. She also describes how it felt to come upon their hundred-day anniversary, and as promised she goes to the Namsan Tower restaurant. She waits there all night, looking hopefully at every person who walks in, until finally someone sits down across from her.
It’s Min-joon, and he smiles at her. She smiles back, but a moment later we see that she’s sitting alone at that table.
In another interview, Song-yi says that at things started to feel different, though. Early on, she had assumed she’d been seeing things, but at a point she started to believe she’d actually seen Min-joon. “No, I did see him,” she corrects. But she knows that’s impossible, and wonders if she’s going crazy.
Fortunately she has a kindred spirit in Lawyer Jang, who laughs that he’s felt the same thing. He recounts an incident where he’d been tending to Min-joon’s thriving plants and heard Min-joon call his name, appearing behind him. Lawyer Jang had gotten up excitedly to embrace him… only to have Min-joon vanish.
Song-yi says that she’d gone to the hospital and been told it was grief-related stress. She figures that Lawyer Jang must’ve been quite close to Min-joon to experience the same thing.
Yoon-jae makes an exciting discovery with his telescope—a minor planet that he reported to the international astrology bureau, which he’ll get to name if they credit him with the discovery. Mom suggests that he name it after her, but he says he’s gonna name it Do Min-joon Star.
That segues us into three years later, when Yoon-jae gets his wish and the discovery is confirmed. He’s interviewed by a reporter and credits his mentor for helping him with the difficult achievement, hence the planet name Do Min-joon.
Bok-ja has assumed the role of his manager, her hair now quite a bit longer than when we’d last seen her. Judging from the way she fawns over Yoon-jae, it’s not hard to see where her current (delusional?) interest lies. He rejects her flat, and she coos that he’s playing hard to get.
The two investigators discuss the Jae-kyung case, which has given up its appeal and drawn strangely little support from S&C Group. Jae-kyung was recently moved to a safe cell because he has started insisting that he’s being visited by people he has killed. Seok figures this is one case of a criminal having a mental break when confronted with his misdeeds and facing a dead end.
However, there’s one oddity that Seok has heard: Jae-kyung claimed to see Min-joon recently. Detective Park shrugs it off as further sign of insanity, but now we’ve had three Min-joon sightings. Dare we hope this signals a return? Is he appearing in flashes? Beam me down, Scotty?
Song-yi’s career is back on top, with Hwi-kyung ever her faithful supporter/friend/investor. He denies any connection to being her investor despite all facts pointing to the contrary, feigning ignorance when she notes that his company keeps funding her movies. He’s outed when the film crew swings by and thanks him for all his constant attention, support, and food trucks. Ha.
Just then, Song-yi spots Min-joon standing in the crowd of fans and gets up with a start, scanning the faces intently as she shouts his name. When she can’t find him, she dissolves into tears and Hwi-kyung does his best to comfort her.
Mom and Dad ask about her tearful breakdown later, as Song-yi’s preparing for an award ceremony. Song-yi bursts into tears again, saying, “I miss him… I want to see him, and touch him, and be with him so much I want to die.”
Award ceremony time. Stars make their arrival on the red carpet, giving us cameos from Sandara Park and Kim Won-joon. Se-mi gets her moment in the spotlight, but it’s Song-yi’s arrival that sends everyone into a frenzy. Cameras flash like crazy, fans scream, and Song-yi works the carpet like a pro.
And then… time freezes. Aie! No! Is it…?
Strangely, Song-yi doesn’t freeze. She looks around in confusion at the sudden halt of everything around her, and spots someone out in the crowd, walking past all the frozen people into plain view: Min-joon.
Incredulous and speechless, Song-yi meets him at the landing, where Min-joon shrugs out of his jacket to place on her shoulders, reminding her that he told her not to go around all exposed like this.
She can’t quite believe it’s him, but he assures her that it is, and she clutches him tightly. He apologizes for coming so late, then kisses her—just as time unfreezes on the spectacle. The crowd goes wild.
For the first time, we get a joint interview with the couple as Min-joon fields the question of whether he’s back for good. Oh, is this an actual news interview? Min-joon wonders how to explain it, and Song-yi says that he did come back, but he disappeared soon after.
Back at the award hall, Song-yi opens her eyes from the kiss to see that Min-joon is gone again. Everyone is stunned since he was just standing there moments ago, and she looks around in confusion, alone again.
Interviewing, Min-joon explains that when he’d left three years ago, he’d been sucked into a wormhole. After he recovered his health, and started searching for a way back. He tried many times and had fleeting successes, but was only able to come to Earth for seconds at a time. The hundred-day Namsan Tower date was his first success, not a hallucination after all.
Seeing Lawyer Jang was his second success, and then we see him appearing in Jae-kyung’s cell. He says that he is here to confirm that Jae-kyung had in fact lost everything, while Jae-kyung is deeply rattled, thinking himself mad.
He experienced many failed attempts, but the crucial point is that with each try he was able to remain on Earth for longer stretches. This time has been a year and two months, Song-yi confirms.
On a cozy night in, Song-yi and Min-joon settle back to watch the stars, his plants still thriving. Song-yi repeats the words she’d said the night of his proposal, “I’m perfectly happy.”
But that’s when Min-joon disappears from his chair. Song-yi takes in the sight calmly this time, assured of his eventual return.
He leaves his book behind, open to the line: “Once, there was rabbit that miraculously found its way back home.”
Song-yi interviews, and is asked the question of how hard it is to deal with Min-joon’s unpredictable departures. Of course it is, she says, but it also allows her to love him more: “If I think that this may be the last time I see his face before me, that moment feels incredibly precious.”
And as she sleeps in bed alone, Min-joon appears next to her and is there when she wakes to say, “I’m back.”
Ahh, it’s over. Time to make sense of it all!
First off, I am happy that we ended on a happy note, one that left our two characters together and in the moment—I didn’t want to be given a poetic or metaphorical facsimile of a happy ending, I wanted my happy ending with a concrete win against the cosmos, tied up in a bow. And given the epic nature of this couple’s battle with the fates (in that it was like cancer to the tenth power, with an interfering meanie universe to boot), maybe some fanservice too. Maybe a lot of fanservice. By virtue of the fact that we got that, I can’t complain too much about loose ends or plot quibbles, because the overall emotional arc was resolved and I’m at peace with it.
On the other hand, I’m not perfectly satisfied on an intellectual level, because in addition to the romance finding its cheerful resolution (which was the paramount concern), I was still hoping for all the mysteries and plot questions to be answered in a way that felt logical and feasible. It didn’t have to be scientifically accurate or believable in a real-world sense, but I wanted the drama to explain its mechanisms, and I don’t think it did that.
This is a weakness in many a Korean drama dealing with paranormal/supernatural/fantasy elements so You From Another Star is hardly the only offender, but it remains that if you set up this fictional world with very distinct and quirky rules (you can only space-travel home once in four centuries, your existence is threatened if you don’t return, human saliva makes you sick), then I’m going to want to know why. Some answers were given (like the comet explanation for the 400-year cycle) but many were not. Since some of these rules are so interesting and amusing, I’ve been waiting all series long to get an explanation, however silly or fictional, and when the drama chooses not to address them at all, I can’t shake a feeling of disappointment.
For instance, why does Song-yi not freeze when Min-joon returns? Did that last kiss make Min-joon sick, or is he completely fine now that he’s been back and recovered his health? Does that reset his sick-meter so that he won’t undergo the slow decay as he did the first time, or is he actually rejuvenated (so to speak) by his regular trips through the wormhole?
Speaking of wormholes: WTF, wormhole. Talk about a last-minute deus ex machina, aka that magical answer to curing finale episodes in need of a happy ending. You From Another Star made me think of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho in that the supernatural beloved is whisked away out of reach, leaving the earthbound half to wait for years, to be then gifted with their lover’s return because of a solution that doesn’t really make sense. It seemed out of the blue to have Min-joon return home that first time via wormhole given the arrival of the UFO, but I suppose we needed it to establish the wormhole travel that would then account for his trips back and forth, but as this all came in the drama’s last fifteen minutes, I’m not sure it was necessary.
How much do I love how the ending line of the drama (pre-epilogue) works with our hero’s journey, where the book describes the bunny finding his miraculous path home? Because despite the fact that Min-joon spent centuries waiting for his spaceship back to his planet, it turns out that home actually is on Earth, with Song-yi, with the people he loves.
I’m not going to quibble about the Time Traveler’s Wife feel of the constantly disappearing Min-joon, because at least that gave us emotional payoffs that felt organic to these characters. And that’s the kind of thing that has buoyed my love of the show all series long, because when you pare down the plot to its essential bones, it’s a familiar story of lovers fighting a force outside of their control to be together, and barring that, to make the most of what they’re given.
What made this drama such a winner for me was Song-yi’s irrepressible spirit and Min-joon’s unflagging devotion, and the fun alien-superpower stuff was mostly gravy—cause for a good laugh, but not the meat and potatoes. Not to downplay the value of a solidly crafted joke, because goodness knows we’ve seen enough bad attempts at comedy fall flat that I give respect when a drama pulls it off. There were some truly golden moments, like Song-yi’s verbal mix-ups, Min-joon’s brief but awesome dips into childish pettiness, Yoon-jae’s blind adoration (and ET fixation), and superpower-related sight gags.
Some of that we owe to the leads’ chemistry, which was the main reason I tuned in—sure the alien premise was interesting, but mostly, I’d seen The Thieves. I’d seen the kissing. Rawr. There’s nothing worse than a romance that falls flat because of a lack of rapport, despite everything else working, so when you already know the couple is going to crackle together, that’s gold. Served up on a silver platter. Sparkling with diamonds.
And I can’t even express how thrilled I am with Jeon Ji-hyun’s drama comeback—you could almost call it her drama debut, given that her last series was Happy Together in 1999 and she had very limited television work on her resumé. She had actually spent quite a bit of time lumped into the “pretty actress with limited acting skills” category, though I think she’s been underestimated. But it was hard to see all her potential in action when she only acted in select film projects and not that prolifically at that, so for her You From Another Star is something of a discovery moment, even though she’s well into the second decade of her career and is already an A-list star.
Kim Soo-hyun, on the other hand, seems to be unable to put a foot wrong, though I can’t begrudge him his success since he has earned every bit of it by always being present and committed. He has some of the best crying skills in dramaland, because I never see a guy trying to make tears happen; he inhabits his pain so that you actually feel him trying to rein it in while everyone else is trying to force it to burst, and it can be quite powerful.
So no, not a perfect way to tie up loose ends (in that some remain untied), but in the scheme of things the most important issues were resolved happily, and I can put this drama away with a sigh of satisfaction.
- You From Another Star: Episode 20
- You From Another Star: Episode 19
- You From Another Star: Episode 18
- You From Another Star gets extended
- You From Another Star: Episode 17
- You From Another Star: Episode 16
- You From Another Star: Episode 15
- You From Another Star: Episode 14
- You From Another Star: Episode 13
- Only one episode of You From Another Star to air this week
- You From Another Star: Episode 12
- You From Another Star: Episode 11
- You From Another Star: Episode 10
- You From Another Star: Episode 9
- You From Another Star: Episode 8
- You From Another Star: Episode 7
- You From Another Star: Episode 6
- You From Another Star: Episode 5
- You From Another Star: Episode 4
- You From Another Star: Episode 3
- You From Another Star: Episode 2
- You From Another Star: Episode 1