Hidden Identity: Episode 16 (Final)
The long and literally torturous journey comes to an end in a deadly showdown as Investigative 5 Unit puts their lives on the line to protect the country from the Ghost’s threat of biological warfare. Is Director Choi truly the villain he’s made out to be? Or is he merely misguided in his idealistic vision of revealing the corruption of those in power? The answer isn’t an easy one, and neither is the final battle.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
At the Investigative 5 Unit headquarters, everyone is silently grieving the loss of Tae-in (*sniffle, sniffle*) when the Chief of Police suddenly arrives with an announcement: Director Choi wants to see Team Leader Jang.
The governmental higher-ups have congregated in a emergency meeting after discovering Director Choi planted the virus VD108 in various areas around the city. None of the high-ranked men seem to have any faith in Jang’s negotiation abilities, but the police chief reassures them that Jang is the one who knows Director Choi the best, and, really, he’s the only hope they have. No pressure, though.
In the police conference room, they connect to a video call with Director Choi. Jang wants to know why Director Choi wanted him specifically, and he says that Jang is different from the rest of the men in the room. Unlike them, Jang isn’t swayed by money or power — he stands firm in his opinions and beliefs. If all the agents in the NIS were like Jang, the world would be a very different place.
Jang’s just like “get to the point already,” and Director Choi reminds him that he has control of VD108, and whether or not he denotates the virus that could wipe out most of the population of Seoul depends on Jang. Again, no pressure.
Director Choi’s conditions are thus: (1) restore the identities and honor of the agents who were assassinated and have them buried in the National Cemetery; (2) expose the men in power (including quite a few of the high-ranked government officials in the room with Jang) who have been taking bribes from Chairman Lee’s company for the past seventeen years; and (3) reveal everything on a news broadcast within the next 24 hours and formally apologize to the families of the deceased. If they intead decide to take the time to try to find the VD108 bombs or evacuate the city, then Director Choi will detonate the bombs anyway.
After Director Choi signs off, Jang asks the police chief in private if the government officals will agree to those terms. The chief doubts that they will, and when Jang worries about the loss of citizen life due to the virus, the chief points out that the men in power consider themselves to be the root of the tree — irreplaceable — but the citizens to be like branches.
But Jang’s not going to ignore the death (or “pruning”) of 100,000 citizens, and he calls up his team to quickly fill them on the pertinent details. He has a new mission for them — while he’s trying to negotiate with the police and Director Choi, Investigative Unit 5 is to find out everything they can about the Ghost and Choi, especially where these VD108 bombs might be located.
The team seems nervous about this new mission, no doubt fully aware of the danger it poses. But they silently agree to work together and begin digging into the files.
At the abandoned hospital, where Director Choi waits to hear from Jang, he tells Chief Jung to make sure keep Yeo Jin-woo safe. If he’s forced to release the virus, then Jin-woo is the only one who can create an antibody.
But Chief Jung wonders if it’s even helpful to have an antibody at this point — plus it doesn’t seem like Director Choi to keep him alive. But Director Choi reminds him it’s an order. Chief Jung turns to leave, but then stops, asking if Director Choi will really release the virus if their demands aren’t met. Still staring out the window and with his back to Chief Jung, Choi calmly says that he trusts they’ll come to an agreement.
A small sliver of a mirror reflects Chief Jung’s grimace at the response, but when Choi turns around in alarm, Chief Jung simply reassures him that he trusts Choi. But it looks like Director Choi might not be so sure about Chief Jung.
The Investigative 5 Team has figured out what style of bomb Director Choi is using for the virus. It’s an old (but indestructible) type of bomb, three of which had been in the possession of the American government after stealing it from Russia during the Cold War. But a couple of months ago, they were stolen — and one of the names on the CIA guestbook was none other than Director Choi.
There was another agent who was with him, too. One who had conveniently resigned from the NIS the day after the bombs were stolen. Min-joo immediately asks for his address.
Jang returns to the conference room to continue the negotiations. When Choi asks if they’ve come to a decision, Jang has another question — why is he doing all this? Why is he threatening to kill so many innocent civilian lives?
Choi sneers at the idea that these lives are “innocent.” No one is innocent, especially not the civilians who give unlimited power to those in power. He calmly explains that these “innocent” civilians are the ones who are truly to blame. Besides, the world won’t change by accusing a few leaders of wrongdoing. Instead, society — and the people who make up society — must take responsibility and pay for the errors of their ways.
He doesn’t really expect Jang to understand, which is a good thing, since acting like the judge and jury to society on the whole, especially to people who actually aren’t responsible for the world’s sins, seems a bit unhinged. However, Jang takes it in stride, and with only a brief flash of a furrowed brow, he confidently informs Choi that it by 9am, all the news stations will have the report.
The higher-ups aren’t pleased with his decision, but he reminds them at least 100,000 lives are at stake. The police chief is no dummy, though, and quietly tells Jang to check in with his team, knowing they’re already on the case.
Tae-pyung picks the lock of the recently (and suspiciously) retired agent’s door, and he and Min-joo barge in, guns at the ready. No one’s home, though, and they quickly search the apartment for evidence. Min-joo discovers blueprints of a building and sends a picture of it to Duk-hoo to figure out what building it is.
But it’s actually a subway station, and the Investigative 5 Unit meets up there, everyone spreading out to figure out where a bomb might have been planted.
Min-joo looks through employee records at the subway station’s office and finds out that the ex-agent was hired a few months ago as a technician. The men continue to search for the bomb, but Gun-woo notes a subway worker who looks a lot like the ex-agent who hurries away in the opposite direction once he spots Gun-woo.
But before the ex-agent can get very far (or call Choi), Gun-woo surprise-attacks him, knocking him down. The ex-agent blusters that it’s too late and he won’t tell them anything. Gun-woo accepts that, but says that if they detonate the virus, the ex-agent won’t be able to escape, either, and he handcuffs the agent to a door.
That seems to be enough to have the ex-agent spill the beans, and Gun-woo calls the rest of the team, letting them know where they can find the bomb. Tae-pyung finds it hidden behind an access panel, but it’s strange — the timer is paused. Also, there’s only one bomb, and they know three were originally stolen. But the ex-agent swears he knows nothing about the other two.
The high-ranking government officials nervously watch the clock as they wait for the 9am news report. They intently watch as the reporter begins, but the only one freaking out over her news is Chief Jung, who furiously throws the remote at the television. There was no revealing of corrupt officials or apology for the dead agents.
Head in his hands, Director Choi tries to reassure the angry Chief Jung that they still have someone else they can go to, but Chief Jung has had enough. There’s no point in dealing with those government punks any more, and when Choi orders Chief Han to bring in Yeo Jin-woo, Chief Jung forcefully stops him, informing Choi that it looks like their paths have finally diverged.
He storms out to get Jin-woo himself, who’s handcuffed to a radiator in one of the old hospital rooms. Chief Jung tosses him the keys to the handcuffs and orders him to follow. Jin-woo does, but his hesitant steps reveal that he knows this isn’t a stroll for pleasure.
When they reach an empty hallway, Chief Jung tells Jin-woo to turn around. He pulls out a gun, explaining that he’ll make it look like Jin-woo was shot trying to run away. But the scientist begs him to reconsider, reminding him that if he dies, then so does any hope for the antibody to the virus.
Jung doesn’t care about the antibody though, and even though Jin-woo pleads on the lives of his wife and unborn child, Jung points the gun at his head.
A shout from Director Choi stops him pulling the trigger, and he orders Jung to wait until they hear back from Jang. But Chief Jung’s reached the end of his rope. He paces around as he tells Choi that the last thirty years have been hell for him, and Choi tries to persuade him that this is not the time to get blood on his hands. Even if in past few years Choi has had to kill to further his plan, they shouldn’t create any more victims as they pursue justice.
Jung sets off a warning shot into the wall. Choi realizes that this was Jung’s original intent the whole time, and he and Chief Han pull out their guns to aim at Jung. Ma Song-ho appears behind Jung, and when Director Choi orders him to take down Jung, Ma song-ho apologizes — he’s on Jung’s side now.
It’s a face-off with Jung’s men against Diretor Choi and Chief Han, with the unfortunate Jin-woo stuck in the middle. Choi realizes with growing horror that he’s actually raised a monster, and Jung agrees, letting him know that if wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be here today. He raises his gun to aim at Choi, thanking him for everything he’s done.
A panicked Jin-woo tries to scurry away, which distracts Jung long enough for Chief Han to try and take a shot. In the ensuing shoot-out, Chief Han is shot in the gut. Knowing his end is near, he slides the detonator to Director Choi, who’s taken cover behind an upended table. He takes the detonator and, with one last look at his loyal, but now deceased, right-hand man, he makes his escape from the building.
But Chief Jung is prepared and expertly assembles a sniper. As Director Choi hurries to his car, Jung watches through the scope — Choi is perfectly centered in the crosshairs, an easy target. But when Jung pulls the trigger, he hits the side of his torso instead of the heart, and Choi manages to drive away.
Investigative Team 5 are regrouping, trying to figure out what their next step is, when Director Choi calls Jang. He warns Jang that the virus will be deployed in a couple of hours, but before that happens, he has something to give Jang. As he struggles to keep from bleeding out in the car, he tells Jang that he’s sorry — after all his comrades died, he was never the same. He’s sure Jang feels the same way.
Meanwhile, Chief Jung has taken matters into his own hands. This time he’s the one behind the camera of the video conference call, and he stands behind Jin-woo, informing the government officials that this was the scientist who created VD108, and therefore he’s also the only one who can create a cure.
The police chief ask to know what Jung’s demands are, and in response, he pulls out his gun and shoots Jin-woo in the head. All the officials are horrified, and Jang calmly tells him that he doesn’t have any demands. Instead, he warns them that they’ll soon pay for their crimes.
Director Choi staggers into the chapel of the orphanage, collapsing into a pew and pulling out the detonator. Except it isn’t a detonator — Choi had previously destroyed the detonator and, just in case, replaced it with the GPS device.
It isn’t long before Jang and his team arrive. But it’s too late for Director Choi. The sniper’s bullet was a fatal one, and Jang quietly enters the chapel and sits across from him. There’s a moment of sacred silence as Jang contemplates this man who was once both an enemy and ally, who was so caught up in pursuing what he believed to be right that he never comprehended the evils he created along the way.
With a respectful bow towards the dead man, Jang takes the GPS device. Thanks to the device, he now knows where the other two bombs are. He sends Tae-pyung and Gun-woo to track down one of them, and he and Min-joo will take the other.
But before they can set off, he quietly calls all of their names, urgently telling them that they all came here together, and they will all return together. No one will be left behind — that’s an order. The emotion underlying his voice shows the true heartfelt meaning behind his words: “Be careful and don’t die, because you’re my team and I care about you.”
Tae-pyung, Min-joo, and Gun-woo try to lightheartedly answer that they’ll follow his orders, but they know how serious this last mission will be.
Min-joo and Jang arrive at the complex where Chief Jung is in the middle of setting up one of the bombs. Jang barely even breaks his stride when he takes out one of Jung’s minions. Meanwhile Tae-pyung and Gun-woo figure out why their GPS shows the third bomb to be moving — it’s on a bus.
Jang enters the gym where Chief Jung is finishing setting up the bomb. Just as Chief Jung presses a button that turns it on, Jang holds his gun to Jung’s head, telling him it’s all over.
But Jung simply smiles, asking if he really thinks that, and then spins around and pulls out his gun. The two men wrestle as Jang tries to disarm Jung and Jung tries to kill Jang. Min-joo’s also got a nasty fight of her own, as one of Jung’s burly bodyguards easily disarms her. It looks like he’s got the upper-hand, both on size and skills.
Having forced the bus to a stop, Tae-pyung orders all the passengers to get off. Gun-woo looks under all the seats to find the bomb, but with no luck. There’s even less luck when Ma Song-ho suddenly appears and Gun-woo barely has time to warn Tae-pyung before Ma Song-ho shoves him into a window, knocking him unconscious.
Things don’t look good for the Investigative 5 Unit, as each member in their respective fights seem to be losing the battle. But there’s still a little fight in them — after all, they’re not just doing this to save the country, but to make sure Tae-in didn’t die in vain. Min-joo manages to use her handcuffs to blind her assailant, and Gun-woo balls his fist as his rage over the death of Tae-in gives him a burst of power.
Tae-pyung discovers the bomb under the floorboard of the bus, and he pulls it out, warning Gun-woo there isn’t much time left for him to try and disarm it. To protect Tae-pyung, Gun-woo throws himself at Ma Song-ho. Even though his body wants to give up, he refuses to surrender.
Thanks to Chief Jung’s switchblade to his leg, Jang kneels on the floor in pain as Jung crouches across from him, calmly telling Jang that the world will be in chaos after the bomb explodes and the virus spreads. But out of the chaos, a new system of order will arise, and that will be his turn to take control. After all, that’s the only way for the system to change. “In order to have a new start, everything must first be destroyed.”
But Jang disagrees. As he struggles to his feet, he tells Jung that he’s the one who should be destroyed. Not the innocent people.
Gun-woo does everything he can to keep Ma Song-ho from stopping Tae-pyung’s attempts to disarm the bomb. Blood pouring down his face, Gun-woo fervently clings to Song-ho, refusing to let go. He’s lost too much already to give up now — he has nothing left to lose except for the promise to redeem Tae-in’s death.
When he sees Song-ho pull out his switchblade to attack Tae-pyung from behind, Gun-woo pulls himself around and takes the knife into his own body, digging it deeper and deeper into his stomach as he refuses to let Song-ho pass. He pulls the knife free only to twist Song-ho’s arms around and have Song-ho stab it into his own heart.
Relieved that he was finally able to disarm the bomb at the last second, Tae-pyung turns around to let Gun-woo know — only to see him collapsed on the floor, bleeding to death. He hurries over and pulls Gun-woo in his arms, frantically telling him to hang on for the ambulance.
But Gun-woo shakily replies that he’s held on long enough, and a small smile passes his lips as he says he’s ready to go now. His eyes slowly close as he loses consciousness and his arms fall limply to his side. Tae-pyung’s agonized cries echo through the bus as he holds Gun-woo, desperately trying to make him regain consciousness. But Gun-woo’s body is lifeless.
Back at the gymnasium, Min-joo has found where Jang and Chief Jung are grappling, and she tries to help take Jung down, but he easily knocks her to the ground. As all three of them lay gasping in pain on the floor, they all realize that the guns Jung and Jang had earlier are only a few feet away. But Jang’s injury to his leg is too severe and he’s unable to crawl towards the gun.
Just as Chief Jung manages to get the gun, Min-joo manages to slide the other one towards Jang, who rolls and shoots Jung in the chest. Game over.
Later, Jang returns to the orphanage chapel, where he sits across from the nun. She tells him about Director Choi’s recent visit, where he had wondered in regret if the world would really change once he succeeded in his mission. Instead, wouldn’t people forget and just continue on with their lives?
A week after the epic boss fight, the Chief of Police commends Jang on his work, informing him that he wants Jang to continue with the Investigative 5 Unit. The chief adds that he knows that, as a consolation prize, it won’t make up for the lives lost. Jang’s only request is that the government officials restore the identities of the agents who were killed and bury them in the National Cemetery.
The morning news report states that Director Choi’s death was due to a car accident, and that he spent most of his life protecting the country.
As the citizens of Seoul go about their day, Jang says in a voiceover:
Power is not justice. Justice is power. At least, that’s what I believe. Some day I may be defeated by the criminals, but I will not give up because of those fears.
In the middle of a crowded pedestrian street, a man in a baseball cap walks along, blending in. He raises his head, and it’s…. Gun-woo! He presses the communication device in his ear, telling Team Leader Jang that he’s ready.
On the other end of the communication device, an undercover Min-joo begs for chicken and beer after their hot day working outside. From his location, Tae-pyung cheerfully agrees with her, asking who’s going treat this time. Dressed as a bum, Duk-hoo calls in from his location, saying the person who made the suggestion should pay. Gun-woo offers to pay, but Jang says he’ll pay, and orders them back to work.
We hide our identities to catch criminals. We don’t exist in any records, not even police records. We are Investigative 5 Unit.
So he’s alive?!?!? Gun-woo survived?!?!? After the painful grief the show put me through with his self-sacrificing death (pretty sure Tae-pyung’s tears had nothing on mine), we actually get a happy ending?
I feel sort of cheated that all of a sudden he’s back and healthy and we get no explanation why (other than Gun-woo’s superhuman healing ability, of course). As a fan of the team, I’m happy that he survived and they can go and be awesome as they kick ass as Investigative 5 Unit forever’n’ever amen.
But it almost cheapens the emotion and grief of those last fifteen minutes. This was such a huge, serious mission for the team that it seemed obvious going into it there would be be a strong chance not everyone would survive, and I honestly expected a few casualties. Even if it hurt, Gun-woo’s sacrifice made sense, narratively speaking. In fact, it was nice and poetic — he might not have been able to save Tae-hee and Tae-in from dying, but he could save thousands of others from the same fate.
Which means I’m torn. I really enjoyed the final episode and what was essentially the epic final boss fight. I didn’t mind that Director Choi got a last-minute redemption arc as he realized that this mission he’d believed in for so long was not, perhaps, the god-send he once thought it would be. Perhaps that’s because there’s something about the way the actor is able to portray him — yes, there always seemed like there was something fishy about him, but I still couldn’t help but like him. Maybe Choi’s mission was misguided, but he ran his team with a deep sense of loyalty and protection, just like Jang ran his.
On the other hand, excuse me for a moment while I crow over the fact that Chief Jung turned out to be the Big Bad after all (remember a few episodes back when I said I found him suspicious? I told you so!). I almost wish we could have spent a little longer on his arc. There’s a sense of megalomania madness within him, but did it start from childhood when he watched his father be killed in front of his eyes? Or was in inculcated in him as Choi raised the children to take control of what he believed would be a new world?
Then again, I do like how the show was always careful to keep certain motivations and identities, uh, “hidden” until the right moment to reveal them. The plot may not exactly be the most logical — if held up to scrutiny, it would fall apart like a poorly assembled IKEA bookshelf — but taken in the moment, it looks slick. I never truly felt bored and even if I had to occasionally suspend my belief (superhuman healing powers!), I enjoyed that the plot didn’t lag very much. There was so much momentum hurtling us from one moment to the next that the lapses in plot and logic were easily glossed over.
The true saving grace of this show lies primarily within the cinematography, editing, and cast. Even when there were episodes that consisted of mostly exposition, they were never dull. The energy behind the camera and the creative editing of the scenes kept my attention, and the artistic framing and choreography of the action sequences made me eagerly await each episode, hoping for more. The stunning visuals more than compensated for the sometimes weak and predictable script, keeping the story fresh and exciting.
But my favorite part of the show, hands down, was the cast. I fell in love with the Investigative Unit 5 team so hard, and I know it’s largely due to all of the actors. They all did such an excellent job portraying the largely unspoken portions of the story — those glimpses of deeper emotions that might be hiding the tough exterior (yes Team Leader Jang I’m talking about you and your little brow furrows and slightly trembling pout whenever you realized that one of your team might be in danger). The supporting cast was great, too, especially our “baddie-of-the-week,” and I’m actually a little sad that there’s no chance that most of them could come back for another season.
Because we should totally get another season, right? That’s the reason I’m telling myself the writers wanted to make sure we saw that Gun-woo had miraculously healed himself: so we could have the Investigative 5 team back together to continue to do what they do best — capture the bad guys, and capture my heart.
- Hidden Identity: Episode 15
- Hidden Identity: Episode 14
- Hidden Identity: Episode 13
- Hidden Identity: Episode 12
- Hidden Identity: Episode 11
- Hidden Identity: Episode 10
- Hidden Identity: Episode 9
- Hidden Identity: Episode 8
- Hidden Identity: Episode 7
- Hidden Identity: Episode 6
- Hidden Identity: Episode 5
- Hidden Identity: Episode 4
- Hidden Identity: Episode 3
- Hidden Identity: Episode 2
- Hidden Identity: Episode 1