Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 20 (Final)
This long denouement is an answer to the difficult and painful truths we’ve had to deal with so far. It’s an episode full of substance, and takes its time to craft a fitting send-off to the characters we’ve grown to love, as well as the ones we decidedly didn’t. Bittersweet crosses to simply sweet, as we circle back to what this story is really about — not company politics, not revenge or retribution, but just how two children overcame abuse to find a way to exist in the world without carrying the burdens of their past.
With all the intense character moments and the inevitable goodbyes, keep your tissues handy. There’s going to be lots of things in all your eyes. Thank you all for your patience! Now let’s ride this train together one last time.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Ri-jin shows Dr. Seok CCTV footage of the new alter, “Mr. X,” which shows a caped figure enter her room. She tells him how Perry Park left for good, and Dr. Seok replies that it’s possible the new alter arose in response. He says that Mr. X could either be a helper personality who will facilitate the treatment, or the opposite.
Do-hyun stops short when he finds his office occupied. In a magician’s cape and top hat, the new alter invites Do-hyun to open a briefcase. Do-hyun looks away in confusion, but when he looks back, the room is empty. Do-hyun, eyes wide, tells Chief Ahn that he thinks he saw Mr. X, in a bout of co-consciousness. His head rings sharply, and the chief anxiously takes him home.
Now recovered, Do-hyun works from home, and his diligence surprises Chief Ahn. The chief has other news for Do-hyun. He reveals that Min Seo-yeon’s driver, who was new that day, got the job under the auspices of Do-hyun’s dad.
The shock of the news brings on the telltale ringing. Fighting the pain, Do-hyun tells the chief to secure the driver’s testimony immediately — he needs to know the truth.
Alone, he remembers little Ri-jin showing him her locket. The pain, insistent, takes him again.
Ri-jin catches “Princess Yo-na” sneaking out to Oppa, decked in her new pink headband. They scuffle and Yo-na calls out, “Mr X!” which gets Ri-jin’s attention quick. Just for lols, Yo-na hawks a gobbet of gum right into Ri-jin’s face. Laughing her head off, she refuses to divulge the secret for free…
Ri-jin bursts into Ri-on’s room and rattles off a profuse apology, promising to spend her whole life atoning. Horrified understanding dawns on him when Yo-na bounds in. Ri-jin shuts the door (“I’m sorry Oh Ri-on, forgive me Oh Ri-on, I love you Oh Ri-on”) but Yo-na locks them in. Oh my days.
She tackles him onto the bed. Trapped, he wails and flails while she toys with him, a cat preying on a mouse. Poor molested Ri-on, I’m (not) sorry you’re suffering for my lols!
She makes him sit still, and sings him “Oppa, Cheer up,” the Yo-na version (based on children’s song “Cheer Up, Dad“) but HAHAHA, “Oppa, cheer up! Yo-na’s going to… give you a kiss~!” Ri-on desperately blurts that he’s leaving for army service. She sobs — for about two seconds, and threateningly holds up a copy of his 2010 discharge papers, the evidence of his lie.
She proceeds to take a million selcas of herself with Oppa, and you can’t blame him if his smile is more of a grimace. No fight left in him, he submits to her kisses.
Ri-jin still has her ear to the door when Yo-na whips it open, waving a prize photo of Oppa. Ri-jin gasps at her brother’s kiss-covered face while he flails and sobs even more, convinced he’s ruined for life. Ri-jin, are you laughing at Oppa?
Ri-jin comes to collect on her promise from Yo-na: What does she know about Mr. X? Yo-na cryptically tells her to smile brightly: “Mr. X disappears when you become happy.” But that’s all she’ll say.
Yo-na claims the bed for the night, and this time Ri-jin lets her. They settle down to sleep. In her tough-girl way, Yo-na speaks: “For treating me like a friend, thank you. And for treating me like a sister, thank you. For granting my wish today, thank you. Just… thanks for everything.”
Ri-jin sits up, recognizing it’s a goodbye. Eyes full, Yo-na tells her she was the first girl she met who could fight. She tells Ri-jin to be well, and closes her eyes. Ri-jin watches over her.
Yo-sub calls Yo-na to him. Ri-jin noona is at Do-hyun hyung’s side now, he tells her. They have to go so the couple can be at ease. Yo-na runs past him crying, and dissolves in a spray of pink. There’s something in my eye.
Yo-sub quotes French poet Paul Valéry: “The wind is rising. We must try to live.” He adds, “Goodbye, noona. Thank you.”
Then he, too, dissolves into the breeze.
Do-hyun wakes up with Yo-na’s headband in his hand. He knows what it means, and carefully folds away her pink blazer for the last time.
Ri-jin sniffles in front of her mirror, hands over her face. She tells him Yo-na left, “After doing this” — and shows him her face. HAHA. Yo-na gets the
last penultimate laugh after all, because across Ri-jin’s forehead, thoroughly misspelled, she’s scribbled “vicious chick.”
Ri-jin bawls that she fell asleep for just a moment, and that’s when Yo-na left. Do-hyun consoles her by calling her “unni” in Yo-na’s voice, telling her she’ll mess up her makeup.
In the hospital, Do-hyun’s dad opens his eyes. Do-hyun gets the news from Chief Ahn, who adds that Dad wants to atone for the past, and so wants to see Ri-jin and his son together. Do-hyun hurries from Ri-jin’s house, saying he’ll see her at his house later.
While he drives, he clutches his ringing head, roiling with suspicions of Dad’s involvement in Min Seo-yeon’s death.
At Do-hyun’s house, Ri-jin finds a lump hiding under the covers in her room. She peels the cover back and is greeted by Se-gi’s giant teddy bear. From behind it, Do-hyun peeks out. He gazes at her with limpid eyes, and waves the bear’s paw. Realization dawns, and Ri-jin tentatively asks, “Nana?”
She says the bear’s name is Nana, and Ri-jin finishes — her name is Cha Do-hyun, isn’t it? We see the little girl now, and Ri-jin tells her she knows, “Because you… are me.” She explains that she’s little Do-hyun’s adult self, and little Do-hyun is her child-self. She lovingly tells her younger self how happy and loved she is now, “So much that it overflows.”
She wants to say one more thing: Back then, when that ajusshi was angry, it wasn’t because she did anything wrong. Telling her not to be scared or hurt anymore, she reassures the little girl that it’s okay for her to go now. She’ll look after Cha-gun.
But little Do-hyun can’t go alone because she doesn’t know the way. She asks Ri-jin to call Mr. X. But who is Mr. X? “My daddy,” the little girl replies.
A memory. The two children draw pictures on the basement floor, and little Ri-jin looks longingly towards the door. If her dad were there, she says, they could get out. Do-hyun tells her he heard her dad was dead, which makes her cry. Do-hyun, you heartbreaker. He quickly takes it back — of course he’ll come. He paints a comforting promise of her father watching over her from the heavens.
Do-hyun jolts awake, bear in hand, while Ri-jin watches over him. He asks if Nana was there, and she wordlessly pulls him into a hug. “For your mind splintering again because of me, I’m sorry, and sorry again. But thank you,” she says. At last, she grasps the extent of his pain, she tells him, and how much hope he gave her — he really did save her. She cries into his shoulder, grateful that they got to meet again, so she could say those words.
Do-hyun is still tortured by the fear that his father killed Ri-jin’s mother. In his bathroom, co-consciousness strikes once again as Mr. X appears in the mirror. Once again, he invites Do-hyun to open the box. This time, Do-hyun steels himself and opens it.
There’s only a teddy bear inside, and it’s not frightening at all (unless you’re the bear). Mr. X proves his point that until Do-hyun looks for himself, he won’t know whether what’s inside is gold or a bomb.
“The extent of my imagination decides the size of my fear,” says Mr. X. Do-hyun realizes that means he has to go check the facts himself. Mr. X encourages Do-hyun to confront his past, and spend his imagination on his future.
From Nana’s memories, he now knows who Mr. X is. Mr. X says he took on this form because that’s how Do-hyun made him. As for why he looks like a magician, Mr. X says that must be how a kid imagines a dad. He quips that Do-hyun has no idea how glad he is that he’s not Superman.
Eyes full of conviction, Do-hyun tells Mr. X that he will protect Ri-jin from now on, and get stronger. Do-hyun tells him he can rest easy now, and Mr. X agrees. A moment later, Do-hyun is alone — surprised, but content.
Do-hyun stands by his father’s bedside. Dad sits up and asks if he’s Joon-young. He marvels that he’s completely grown up, and wants to see him better. Wasting no words, Do-hyun tells Dad that being in a coma for so long didn’t erase his sins and turn him into a victim. He’s only here to find out if Dad was responsible for Grandpa’s and Min Seo-yeon’s deaths.
In a private meeting between the family execs, Ki-joon begins a speech to Grandma about Do-hyun’s job capability. Unfazed, Do-hyun interrupts to ask if it’s about his DID. Uncle and son look smug, but Do-hyun counters with his own concerns about Uncle.
His father revealed that Uncle had bribed the driver to delay the two from leaving the country that day. The accident that killed them was pure misfortune. Dad admits that he covered up his findings at the time because he coveted the chairman’s seat. Do-hyun tells his uncle that Dad kept a recording of an incriminating conversation between the two of them. The transcript Grandma has in front of her is that conversation, he says. She looks at Uncle with horror.
Uncle scoffs that that won’t stop Do-hyun’s secret coming out. But Do-hyun has more dirt on him — reams of documents prove he embezzled company money, as well as laundering money via his wife’s gallery. Even Ki-joon looks shocked now.
Do-hyun rejects Uncle’s offer to compromise by hiding each other’s flaws. His secret won’t land him in jail, whereas Uncle’s definitely will. Ki-joon is stricken and Grandma steps in. To protect the company, she offers to cede Seungjin to Do-hyun. Uncle sweeps out, defeated and indignant, and Ki-joon follows.
Grandma says that Do-hyun was right — he’s not a monster. The monsters were other people. She almost smiles at him, in what must be the first time in 21 years. She urges him to get treatment and recover: She’ll protect Seungjin for him until he comes back.
Chief Ahn tells Do-hyun that Ri-jin went to see his father. As he’s about to run out, he’s struck by the pain in his head again.
Ri-jin steps into the room, and Dad is affected by her resemblance to her mother. He kneels at her feet. Eyes brimming, he thanks her for being alive. He knows his sins against her were too great to carelessly ask forgiveness, but he woke up, he says, out of his earnest wish to atone to her.
Do-hyun bursts in, except he’s Se-gi, and he’s livid. Does Dad want forgiveness? Crouching to be eye-level with him, Se-gi grabs Dad in a choke and spits at him to die — to disappear from the world as quickly as possible.
Looking into Se-gi’s face, Dad’s mind goes back to the fire, and the memory of little Joon-young/Se-gi’s face then. He seems to realize something.
Ri-jin urges Se-gi to stop, and finally pulls him away. Standing between father and son, she tells Dad that his forgiveness will have to wait. If she tries to forgive him, it will be for the sake of this person, she says, indicating Se-gi. This person, who, instead of Dad, spent his whole life protecting her and being in apology to her.
To Se-gi, she says the words he last said to her, to run away anywhere — away from their scary memories. She tugs him out with her. Alone, Dad is racked with sobs.
Se-gi and Ri-jin ride away on a motorbike, and in a voiceover, she asks him what present she can get him. His answer is simple: “You.”
They light sparklers together in the twilight. Full of sad bravado, Se-gi tells her he’s thinking about how he can make time stop, or somehow stay with her forever. Eyeing her suspiciously, he turns away, convinced she wants him to disappear.
She coaxes him to look at her. With a steady gaze, she tells him that he was the first person to say her word was law. He hangs on the word “person,” noting that she finally came to see him as his own person, not just an alter. But until she sees him as a man, he doesn’t think he can go.
He asks for his present. She steps up to him, and kisses him. For everything he did for her, this was the only present she could think of, she says. Gruff, he tells her it was a good choice — unsurpassable. He pulls her in again for a deeper kiss.
We get a montage of Se-gi’s memories with Ri-jin: There’s their first kiss in the pumpkin-carriage; then, when he asked Ri-jin to run away with him, and just now, when Ri-jin asks him to run away with her. Entreating Ri-jin not to kill him is overlapped by the memory of her taking his hand.
Face to face in their mental ether, Do-hyun asks Se-gi why he’s leaving if he doesn’t want to. Se-gi shrugs that he isn’t needed anymore. He calls him “Cha-gun,” and threatens to come back and take over Do-hyun’s body and time if he becomes a weakling again, “So it would be good if you lived well.”
They share crooked half-smiles, although Do-hyun is sniffing back tears. He extends his fist to Se-gi for a bump, and for a second, Se-gi flexes his fingers and you think he’s going to leave him hanging. Oh Se-gi, you make me laugh at the same time as you make me cry. They touch knuckles, and Se-gi charges him again to live well.
But Do-hyun has one more thing to say: “Shin-gun. You’re… me.”
“I’m… you,” he replies, “So live with style.” They hold each other’s eyes, and the tattoo fades.
Do-hyun releases Ri-jin. Tears stream down her face, and Do-hyun smiles at her through his own tears. Holding her face between his hands, he wipes her cheeks. This time as himself, he kisses her again, wrapping his arms around her.
One year later.
Ri-jin takes a break from work in the hospital staffroom. She reads an ad for Omega’s new bestseller, “Kill Me, Heal Me.” Her eyes widen at the tagline, “A romance between a DID chaebol and a female doctor.”
She remembers when Ri-on asked her if he seemed like the type to profit from another’s misfortune. “Yes! That’s exactly what it looks like,” she growls, cursing out her absent brother. Haha!
Ri-on’s busy scoping out how his book is doing — incognito, of course. Another customer (cameo by SNSD’s Yuri) snatches up the copy he was reaching for, and cajoles Ri-on to let her have it — it’s a copy with a hidden message from the author inside.
He perks up at her fangirling, and offers her a pen dug out from his pocket. It was a gift from Writer Omega, he says, and claims to be a distant relative. She immediately asks him out for coffee, and he introduces himself as “Oh Hui” (his ladies’ man persona).
“I’m Yo-na,” she says. “Ahn Yo-na.” HAHAHA. Horrified Ri-on can’t run away fast enough. The girl gives chase, calling for Oppa.
Do-hyun splits wood and Ri-jin’s dad complains he’s making tinder of it. Dad grumbles to Mom, but she’s firmly on Do-hyun’s side — he’s so handsome, the (female) customers just come rolling in. She wonders if it’s time to matchmake “Perry” and their daughter, but Dad protests — that guy’s been unemployed for a year!
That unemployed guy is on the phone right now, talking shop with Executive Director Ahn (ha, what is your hair?). The director tells him Grandma is waiting for him to come back, but Do-hyun is satisfied with his present life. “Here, each day is new and happy,” he tells him.
Do-hyun lies in the sun, eyes closed, when Ri-jin’s shadow falls across him — the opposite of the shadow that haunted their childhood memories. She joins him, and they lie side by side. She playfully scolds him for being carefree by himself when it’s his girlfriend’s day off.
He produces a box, and shows her a pair of couple rings. Although she plays hard to get (again, lol), she happily submits when Do-hyun puts one on her. She does the same for him, and they hold up their hands to admire them.
“Couple rings are the sweetest handcuffs in the world!” Ri-jin squees. The rings glint in the sun, and they twine their pinkies together in a wordless promise.
Do-hyun narrates in voiceover: “Within each person’s heart is a dark basement. If you look away or stand by, that darkness thickens. You must summon your courage to go down and turn on the light. If you’re scared to go alone, you can hold someone’s hand.”
Little Do-hyun and Ri-jin hold hands. Laughing and smiling, the children walk together into a brightly lit room, as adult Do-hyun’s narration continues: “If I’m with you, I’m not afraid.”
The couple lie together on the grass, hands entwined and eyes closed, smiling.
OMG the credits! I thought I was ready to let this show go AND THEN YOU GO AND DO THAT. There are so many things in my eye right now, like my HEART. I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to finish.
That ending scene sums up one of the things I love most about Ri-jin and Do-hyun’s relationship. It characterizes how they do everything important: mutually, and without ceremony. They don’t seek recognition or validation from anyone but each other — that’s all they need, and that’s I’ve had so much confidence in them.
Grandma’s turnabout was a little too pat, but I suppose we can account for it by saying getting her son back softened her up (huh). But the show makes the point that even in accidents where no one person is to blame, everyone has some responsibility. Although the situation that led to the children’s abuse and its subsequent cover-up was a string of unfortunate accidents, the abuse itself was anything but. So Do-hyun’s dad got a fitting end. Redemption and forgiveness aren’t free, you don’t get them because you want them — you have to consciously earn it. Bluntly put, it was unfair of Dad to put Ri-jin in that position, when he knelt to her. Remember how she told Do-hyun she can’t refuse people’s requests? The conflict is evident in her face at that moment, and Se-gi’s timely arrival is one more way he saves her, because she wasn’t ready to forgive him, but she seemed on the brink of having her hand subtly forced.
She’s able to return the favor a moment later when she puts herself between Se-gi and Dad — not to save Dad, but to save Se-gi from becoming that person. And yet, there’s something pitiful about Dad’s agony that twists your heart. It’s the punishment I wanted, but it doesn’t really give me any pleasure. I’ll forgo the discussion about whether his revival was unnecessary, because it was important for them to look their monster in the eye, and cut their nightmares down to size.
But the best thing that came of it was the radical shift in how Ri-jin conceives Se-gi. In every previous occasion of Se-gi getting violent, she calls for Do-hyun. But for the first time, she calls Se-gi’s name — instinctively trusting that he’ll respond to her. Se-gi’s desires have always been simple: to protect Ri-jin, and to be recognized and loved by her. Once fulfilled, he’s at peace. He’s the only one so much part of Do-hyun — the first to come and the last to go, his equal and opposite — that he doesn’t dissipate. He’s folded into Do-hyun’s consciousness, in a way that is both not there, and yet always there. That’s why Ri-jin is able to kiss him – because he is Do-hyun, and Do-hyun is him.
As hilarious as Yo-na has been, until now, she felt like a one-note character, milked only for the comedy. But her send-off gave her the depth she needed, while staying true to her feisty, uncomplicated nature. Her sorrow at leaving and her gratitude for being known were achingly sweet, underlaid by a wholehearted love for Ri-jin that only showed itself now. It’s amazing that Yo-na was completely real to me: Ji Sung made me believe he was a teenage girl. And then he made me cry. (Give this man an award already!)
I wasn’t sure how Mr. X would work as a last-minute introduction, but thankfully, he didn’t bring any game-changing elements. On the contrary, as a completely new alter, Mr. X serves to remind us that Do-hyun absorbing his alters and gaining a measure of stability doesn’t mean he gets a magical “cure.” His vulnerability continues to exist, but he’s chosen a path of accepting it. This episode in particular took care to highlight to us the nature of his inner world. Every time he blinks and finds himself alone in an empty room, it’s a jarring and sudden reminder that his encounters with his alters are events in his consciousness, without any outer reality.
With each departure, Do-hyun’s sense of peace grows palpably, and you can see the complicated blend of sadness coupled with satisfaction. It’s an effective reminder that the characters that were so real and lovable to us were, nevertheless, products of a broken mind. Ri-jin legitimately grieves for each one, but their grief isn’t the same. I want to hold on to what he implied to Se-gi — “gone” doesn’t mean “dead.” They’re dormant inside his living mind, so they’re never dead. But I am sad that we had to wait twenty episodes to get some real Se-gi x Do-hyun bromance, and then it didn’t last longer. Like, you know, forever.
Looking back on the show as a whole, it has been so consistently satisfying that I don’t really want to pick at its flaws (although I do want to know what happened to Do-hyun’s mom while everyone else got their adieus…). Kill Me, Heal Me always chose to tell the most interesting story, with style and self-awareness — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a chaebol drama relegate corporate machinations to little more than a tertiary storyline. It felt like the writer knew what she was doing 99% of the time, and it showed in the effortless subversions and fluid tonal shifts, attention to detail, and an overall intricacy in its construction.
The message the show leaves us with is no less satisfying — that it’s vital to depend on our loved ones, and to seek out the truth despite our fears. We’re never so broken that we can’t be helped. While the illness doesn’t always have a cure, it does always demand love, and willingness to go on the journey.
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 19
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 18
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 17
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 16
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 15
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 14
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 13
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 12
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 11
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 10
- Kolorful Palette: Split [Kill Me, Heal Me]
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 9
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 8
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 7
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 6
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 5
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 4
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 3
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 2
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 1