Three Days: Episode 16 (Final)
This series has been a roller coaster ride in terms of both its plot and its quality. When Three Days was good, it was very good and when it was bad… well, let’s try to focus on the good times, shall we? A drama can often be forgiven for some bumps along the way as long as it goes out on a high note. So was the last episode of Three Days the epic masterpiece we’ve been hoping for? Read on.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
March 14, 7:50 PM
With no secret service agents left to protect him and accompanied only by a good samaritan with a four-door sedan, the president has made his way to the place where it all began: Yangjinri village. Now he stares in terror at a briefcase bomb on the back of a truck. From a car parked a safe distance away, Chairman Kim presses the remote trigger.
BOOM! The explosion shakes all of Yangjinri. The villagers are in a state of panic and word travels quickly to the Blue House where what’s left of the security team scrambles to figure out where the explosion occurred.
Positioned nearby with a team of cops and soldiers, Tae-kyung hears the bomb go off. He gets a report that the explosion happened next to a local police station, but fortunately no one was around.
The president, unharmed, watches the distant flames rising up from the site of the bomb blast. Chairman Kim has detonated one of the other three bombs scattered around Yangjinri. Apparently he wants to toy with the president a bit before going in for the kill.
Tae-kyung’s fears for the president’s safety are assuaged when President Lee pulls up, driving the good samaritan’s car. But the danger isn’t over yet, and the president orders the soldiers to evacuate the citizens of Yangjinri and defuse the three remaining explosives. It’s imperative that no civilians are harmed.
The president is momentarily overwhelmed when he learns of the fate of the security agents and their team leader, but there’s no time for grieving right now. Tae-kyung insists that President Lee must return to the Blue House immediately for his own safety, but the president refuses. It’s not just that he feels he owes something to the people of Yangjinri. He says that just as it is a security agent’s duty to protect the president, the president’s responsibility is to protect all the citizens of his nation; he cannot secure his own safety until his people are out of harm’s way.
Under Cha-young’s command, the Blue House dispatches everyone they have to go help Yangjinri. The prime minister is furious with her for not sending a helicopter to retrieve the president, but she knows she will not be able to sway the president if he has decided to stay in Yangjinri: “His will is too strong.” She assures the prime minister that the secret service will protect their president to the very end.
March 14, 8:05 PM
As he waits for the Blue House reinforcements to arrive, President Lee thinks back to the attempted bus bombings in Seoul and wonders what they used for the detonator. Tae-kyung reminds him that it was a modified cell phone, a fact that seems to hold some significance for the president, although neither Tae-kyung nor I understand what it is at this point.
That question will go unanswered for now, as the conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Chairman Kim. While the president takes the call, Tae-kyung phones Cha-young to see if she can trace where Kim is calling from.
Chairman Kim offers the president ten minutes to finish evacuating Yangjinri and to meet him at Indong Bridge, alone. If he doesn’t show, Kim will detonate a second bomb.
Tae-kyung implores him not to go, sending an army regiment in his place to nab Chairman Kim. Meanwhile, Cha-young continues to try to pinpoint his location, but it’s going to take some time. (Hurry! You only have ten minutes!)
Chairman Kim is playing it safe by sending his assassin in police disguise to wait at the rendezvous spot. The assassin phones his boss to let him know that the president has not shown up yet.
As the ten-minute deadline approaches, the president rises from his seat. Tae-kyung knows he intends to meet Kim at the bridge and insists that he stay. The life of the president is too valuable to use as a bargaining chip.
But President Lee disagrees, believing his life to be no more important than anyone else’s. He refuses to risk the lives of his people for any reason. He argues that it’s the people who make up a nation, and without the people, the presidency has no meaning at all.
Time’s up. Chairman Kim hits a button and bomb #2 explodes in a crowded area. Several civilians are injured, but fortunately there are no fatalities. The search continues for the two truck bombs that remain.
A little out of the loop, Bo-won calls Cha-young with a scoop. She’s been interrogating the assassin with the lizard tattoo and has gotten him to confess that there are bombs on the trucks Chairman Kim sent to Yangjinri. Bo-won reacts with anguish when Cha-young informs her that two have already been detonated.
Chairman Kim calls his assassin in the police disguise. Since President Lee seems to be unwilling to come out, they’ll have to change the plan a bit. The assassin understands and goes to retrieve one of the bombs from its truck. He assures Kim that the last truck bomb is still safely hidden in a remote location outside the search area.
Tae-kyung receives a call from Cha-young that she was finally able to trace Chairman Kim’s location. Armed soldiers are dispatched to the coordinates where they find a black vehicle with a man inside. They order him out of the vehicle and he appears to be compliant, but suddenly pulls his gun and opens fire on the soldiers.
The president and Tae-kyung listen to the shootout over their radio and at first it’s unclear who came out on top. Finally, they receive a report that the soldiers have successfully taken down the shooter, a man in his forties who they’re pretty sure is Chairman Kim… but they need someone who’s actually seen him to come identify the body to be sure. Tae-kyung volunteers for the job.
President Lee is tense as he waits for the final word on the dead man’s identity. At last, the phone rings, but when the president answers, it’s not Tae-kyung on the line. It’s Chairman Kim, alive and well. He gives the president another ten minutes to get to the bridge, or else innocent people will die when the next bomb explodes. In a vain effort to contain his rage, the president clenches his fists so tight the knuckles go white.
Meanwhile, Tae-kyung has just discovered what we already know, that the dead man is not Chairman Kim. The president telephones with a disturbing update: he’s on his way to meet Chairman Kim at Indong Bridge. Tae-kyung can no longer protect him; the president’s counting on him to protect the citizens of Yangjinri now by locating the last of the bombs before his meeting at the bridge in ten minutes’ time.
With an uneasy glance at his watch, Tae-kyung orders the soldiers to find the bombs before 8:30, then races away to try yet again to save the president.
As Tae-kyung and the president each speed toward Indong Bridge, the people of Yangjinri are being taken out of the city in the back of army trucks. In one such truck, the good samaritan who gave the president a ride is being evacuated with her family when she notices a piece of luggage that she doesn’t recognize (but I’m sure you do). It’s one of the black bomb briefcases, which the woman’s daughter explains was placed on board by a certain policeman. Now which policeman do you suppose that could be?
The policeman/assassin calls Chairman Kim to let him know that the bomb is in place. Kim orders him to detonate it immediately if anything happens to him. The assassin asks what to do if the president actually does show up alone, as promised. “Set it off anyway,” Kim tells him.
Out on the road, Tae-kyung passes the truck with the bomb on board and notices the assassin in his police car following close behind, cell phone in hand. Although Tae-kyung has just four minutes to get to the bridge, he remembers the president’s exhortation to protect the people of Yangjinri above all else and whips his car around behind the truck, forcing the assassin to bring his squad car to a screeching halt.
Tae-kyung comes after him on foot, blasting out the squad car’s windows with his pistol as he comes. The assassin returns fire and manages to land a bullet in Tae-kyung’s arm, knocking him to the ground. He uses the opportunity to reach for his cell phone, but just as he prepares to detonate the bomb, his head explodes in a spray of blood. It appears Tae-kyung was down, but not out.
But his worries aren’t over yet, because just as he’s pulling the battery from the assassin’s cell phone, he finds himself surrounded by soldiers, their rifles aimed directly at him. I guess it is a little difficult to explain why you would force a policeman to swerve off the road, then shoot him in the head and take his phone.
The issue is quickly cleared up when Tae-kyung leads them to the briefcase containing the bomb. The good samaritan is confused — exactly how many bombs are there? She counts this one, the two that have already gone off, and the one the president took with him.
Whoa, hold up a minute. The president took one of the bombs? Tae-kyung does not like the sound of that. He high-tails it out of there to stop the president before he does something crazy.
March 14, 8:30 PM
Chairman Kim watches as the president approaches in his car, leaving it parked in the middle of the bridge. Finally we have arrived at the scene that was teased in a flash-forward back in Episode 12: the president and Chairman Kim standing face-to-face on Indong Bridge.
Elsewhere, two soldiers have located another truck bomb sitting atop the Yangjinri oil pipeline. If it detonates, the whole town will go up in flames.
Chairman Kim rolls his cell phone around in his hand, ready to hit the detonator at any moment. President Lee dares him to go ahead and press the button. Whether he does it or not, the president will make him pay — for the Yangjinri incident, for the assassination attempt at Cheongsoodae, for Tae-kyung’s father, for Secretary Shin, for every evil act he has committed.
Kim laughs at him. How exactly is someone as unimportant as President Lee going to make him pay? Kim and Falcon will find someone else to make into a president, continuing to become richer and more powerful until he controls all of Korea.
The president concedes that he can never really force Kim to pay for his wrongs — the cost is much too high. Even with all his wealth, Chairman Kim could never hope to pay back his debt. But the president intends to make him try to pay for it with his life.
Tae-kyung has arrived at the bridge, abandoning his car to continue on foot. He spots the two men and runs toward them with everything he has, eyes bulging in fear.
As the president turns to walk away, Kim hits the detonator. The bomb’s clock starts counting down from ten seconds… Nine… Eight…
Flashback. The president and the good samaritan have just discovered the first truck bomb. What we didn’t see before was the president asking to borrow the woman’s car before placing the bomb inside.
Three… Two… One… Ka-BOOM. But the blast doesn’t come from the bomb on the oil pipeline. That’s right, the president tricked Chairman Kim into blowing up the car sitting right next to him.
Tae-kyung cries out in terror as the explosion lights up in the night. Kim is completely engulfed in the flames, but the president is a few steps further away from the car and his fate is less certain…
Some time later (days? weeks?) on a calm and sunny day, Tae-kyung is delivering water jugs to a security office. Looks like he’s finally getting back to his everyday life.
At the same time, the Blue House security team and their new team leader are securing a building in preparation for an upcoming event.
Elsewhere, Police Sergeant Yoon Bo-won is receiving an award certificate for her role in stopping the March 11 terror attacks. Not bad for the woman who was previously suspended because of her involvement in that incident.
A large basket of flowers is delivered to her at the police station. The card has no signature, only the message, “Congratulations on returning to work.” Hmm, who could have sent them?
A flashback to Tae-kyung sending the flowers confirms my suspicions. He tries to dodge questions from his agent friend about the recipient of the gift, but the agent is no fool. He knows the bouquet is for Bo-won.
Interrogations of people connected with the various acts of terror continue as a prosecutor questions the shady assistant prosecutor, Kim’s inside guy from the police department, and the assassin with the lizard tattoo. The assassin promises that even though Chairman Kim and Falcon have been stopped, all of this will happen again, with someone new rising up to take their place. Money will always control the world, he says.
The prosecutor makes a promise of his own. He and other good men, men like Prosecutor Choi, will continue to track the bad guys down and make them pay for their crimes. There will always be people like him who are ruled by justice, not greed.
Prosecutor Choi arrives to meet Bo-won for coffee and finds her gleefully making a dinner reservation on her phone. Does she have a date? She says no, but I’m not sure I believe her. Wishful thinking?
Choi is under a lot of stress as he prepares for his big upcoming case and continues to heal from his stab wounds. Bo-won thanks him for his help in getting her reinstated on the police force and she has a little announcement to make. She’s being transferred to the Jongno police department in Seoul, so they’ll be working together a lot more from now on.
Bo-won goes to see Tae-kyung at work, but before she can talk to him, his agent friend asks her to come have a cup of coffee with him. When they turn to leave together, Tae-kyung drops everything to break it up. He tells agent friend that their boss is looking for him and he’d better go right now if he knows what’s good for him. Jealous much?
Bo-won tells Tae-kyung the good news about her transfer to Seoul over lunch. They’re glad to be able to see more of each other, but Tae-kyung awkwardly interjects that she won’t be able to stay at his apartment. It’s becoming too difficult for him to protect her. He abruptly excuses himself to return to work, leaving her with a final warning to stop smiling for just any guy.
As he walks away, Bo-won thinks back over all the moments they’ve shared, every car chase, every explosion, every time he cradled her unconscious body in his arms during the most stressful nine days anyone has ever had. She laughs to herself looking back on it all now.
At the Blue House, Tae-kyung runs into Cha-young and they decide to take a walk together. Cha-young has been promoted and is being sent overseas. Tae-kyung asks if she has been to see “him” yet, and she says she hasn’t, but feels she must do so before she leaves.
Another montage replays the rocky course of their relationship over those fateful nine days, the way their trust in each other was shaken and then strengthened by Cha-young’s undercover mission, and how afraid Tae-kyung was to lose her when she was struck by a car.
Cha-young shakes his hand warmly and departs. Alone, Tae-kyung thinks of another memory, one that we’ve previously only seen a part of. The late Team Leader Ham is advising the president that for his own safety he ought not to take so many trips outside of the Blue House.
The president calls a younger, fresh-faced Tae-kyung over and asks if he agrees with Ham. Tae-kyung is unsure how to answer, not wanting to offend either man. The president lets him off the hook, saying that he feels safe going out at night because he has so much faith that the agents will protect him.
“You will protect me, right?” he asks. As he’s done many times before and since, Tae-kyung promises to protect the president.
Tae-kyung thinks of another, more recent memory of visiting the president, who lies injured in a hospital bed, but is still very much alive following the explosion at Indong Bridge, thank goodness. President Lee thanks Tae-kyung for keeping his promise.
A flashback to Indong Bridge reveals what happened after the bomb went off. President Lee is thrown to the ground and Tae-kyung rushes to his side to find him bleeding from the skull all over the pavement, losing consciousness. He holds the president’s battered, bloodied body in his arms and whispers to him over and over, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
At his hospital bedside, the president confirms that even in the state he was in at the time, he still heard Tae-kyung’s words. He feels it is now his responsibility to live well in order to honor all the people who died so that he could survive.
Back in the present, Tae-kyung is jarred from his trip down memory lane by his fellow agents passing through. They’ve been dispatched for a mission and call Tae-kyung to come along. He hurries to join them, ready as ever to do his duty as a presidential secret service agent.
Was the final episode successful? That’s a complicated question to answer. On the one hand, it delivered what I needed it to and wrapped everything up with a happy ending without feeling unrealistic, so it definitely wasn’t unsuccessful. On the other hand, I was left wishing for something a bit more rewarding. For a show that always has the potential to be either a masterpiece or a disaster, this episode totally lands on the good end of the scale, but doesn’t ever achieve the emotional impact and thrilling action of the series’ best episodes (Episodes 5 and 12 spring to mind).
There was a time not long ago when Three Days offered surprises and revelations and the thrill of realizing that what you thought to be true actually wasn’t at all, and I just didn’t feel any of that in this episode. The one big surprise in this episode — Chairman Kim blowing himself up by detonating the president’s car bomb — could have been really exciting if it weren’t so clearly telegraphed in advance. If I could change one thing in this episode, it would be to cut the scene where the good samaritan tells Tae-kyung that the president has a bomb. Everything else in the following sequence leads me to believe that I’m not supposed to know there’s a bomb in that car (the diversion of finding a different bomb on the oil pipeline, the revelatory flashback just before the car bomb detonates…), but you’ve already ruined the surprise by essentially just telling me that the president has a bomb in his car.
I don’t want to sound too down on this episode because I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. There are many things that this episode really got right. It acknowledged all of the major characters and their relationships in a satisfying way; we got to see a beautiful final showdown with the big bad; the timestamp conceit was put to better use than in any other episode; and it provided just a hint of romance without going overboard.
My favorite thing this episode did was to throw a lot of focus on the major theme of the series. At its core, Three Days has always been a clash between two kinds of people — those who are driven by selfish desires, and those who are driven by a sense of duty to preserve the greater good. There are two scenes in the episode that really drive this idea home. One is the confrontation on Indong Bridge, where suspense and emotion are running so high you might not even notice the battle between duty and desire playing out before your eyes. Chairman Kim’s biggest goal is to be the richest, most powerful man in the country, but the president wishes only to protect the people of his nation, and his resolve is so strong that he willingly throws himself into mortal danger in order to secure the safety of others.
The other scene that highlights this theme plays out in a completely different way because it occurs between two minor characters, the nameless prosecutor and the lizard tattoo assassin. It’s actually a clever move to put these ideas into the mouths of characters we hardly care about and to set it after the big action climax has already concluded. With less of an emotional undercurrent running through it, the scene becomes a more cerebral experience where the viewer is encouraged to really listen and digest the thoughts being presented.
Three Days was spotty throughout, but its strong-willed characters are what kept me engaged all the way along. I wish it could have gone out with a bigger bang, but I still found the final episode wholly appropriate and respectful of the story I’ve been tuning in to see for eight weeks — the story of a man who spends his life protecting others.
- Three Days: Episode 15
- Three Days: Episode 14
- Three Days: Episode 13
- Three Days: Episode 12
- Three Days: Episode 11
- Three Days: Episode 10
- Three Days: Episode 9
- Three Days: Episode 8
- Three Days: Episode 7
- Three Days: Episode 6
- Three Days: Episode 5
- Three Days: Episode 4
- Three Days: Episode 3
- Three Days: Episode 2
- Three Days: Episode 1