Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 15
With time running out quicker than ever, our ajusshis make some bold sacrifices and amends for the sake of the living. They face the ultimate challenge of time management to ensure that their every second is put to good use — especially given the unredeemable quality of time. Whether it’s a fierce loyalty to love, family, or money, there’s a deeply personal stake in this race, and no one’s willing to give in.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Suk-chul strikes Hae-joon with his car and drives off with a satisfied smirk, leaving Hae-joon severely injured in the middle of the crosswalk. Hong-nan seems to sense this bad omen when she cuts her finger, and Da-hye worriedly waits in the restaurant.
Hae-joon crawls up, but he collapses as soon as he stands. He’s in and out of consciousness with his bloody head, but he manages to get back onto his feet and drag himself onwards by pure willpower. He doesn’t want to keep Da-hye waiting.
In the restaurant, Da-hye contemplates the curious addition of “ajumma” to Young-soo’s note in the carriage. Drenched from the rain, Hae-joon makes it to the restaurant and smiles at the sight of Da-hye looking out the window. He wipes off the blood on his face and composes himself for this special dinner.
Hae-joon apologizes for the drenched flowers, but Da-hye accepts them gladly. He attributes his frazzled appearance to his rush to get there. “This time, I didn’t want to be late.”
Hong-nan whips up the chef’s special and looks upon the couple with a warm smile. Hae-joon watches Da-hye eat, his smile faltering. She asks why he wanted to treat her to dinner, and he responds sincerely that he wanted to reciprocate all the gracious warm meals she cooked for him. “Compared to what you’ve done for me, this is nothing. Thank you for being family to me.”
He’s satisfied with himself for keeping his promise and but begins to cringe in pain. As his vision blurs, he tells Da-hye that she looks really pretty today. Then, Hae-joon collapses. Hong-nan and Da-hye rush to his side, and he whispers a quick explanation of his injuries before he loses consciousness.
They rush Hae-joon to the hospital, Hong-nan tries to calm Da-hye. Outside, calls her minions to find the license plate of the car involved in this hit-and-run incident. She watches a distressed Da-hye watch over Hae-joon at his bedside from the window, feeling powerless once again.
She shouts at the heavens and demands a reason for this nonsense. Are they going to kill Young-soo twice?
Maya appears and announces that Hae-joon’s stay has been curtailed due to extenuating circumstances, but Hong-nan won’t accept it. She demands a proper parting for this couple and asks Maya to do anything. Maya can’t intervene in life or death situations and offers the only solution possible: share Gi-tak’s remaining time with Young-soo.
Da-hye holds Hae-joon’s hand and pleads that he wake up. “You said you would pass by like the wind. You can’t do this. Wake up and leave our house with a smile.” Maya and Hong-nan see Da-hye break down in tears, and Hong-nan gives her a nod to seal the deal. Maya approaches Hae-joon and puts her hand on his forehead, giving life to his unconscious body.
When Da-hye wakes up and tries to free her hand, Hae-joon holds her hand tighter. He wakes up and tells her that he wants to go home, to listen to Hanna’s voice as he lays in his head, to eat Da-hye’s food. She nods, and they head home. Soon after, the doctor rushes over and looks shocked at the empty bed because the scans showed a cerebral hemorrhage.
Yi-yeon wonders what Jae-gook is up to, since he was strangely quiet at their family dinner. She tells Hong-nan her suspicions as she looks through a magazine, which contains an interview she had ten years ago. She’s flattered by Gi-tak’s thorough record and compliments herself on her unaged appearance. Hong-nan stays quiet and absorbs the moment, knowing that her end is even closer now.
At night, Jae-gook meets Suk-chul under a bridge to make a deal. Suk-chul hands over the recording of Jae-gook’s supposed order to kill Gi-tak, and Jae-gook throws him a bag of money. Jae-gook has back-up gangsters just in case this “crazy dog” goes loose, but it seems that Suk-chul already has. He updates him on the hit-and-run with Hae-joon and claims that it was Jae-gook’s order. First Gi-tak, and now Hae-joon — Suk-chul is making sure that Jae-gook gets the blame.
Jae-gook’s had enough of this crazy dog and beats him up, but Suk-chul isn’t fazed. He laughs at Jae-gook’s attempt to get rid of him and threatens him with more to come. Then, he grabs the recorder and jumps into the water. He resurfaces and cracks a smug smile before submerging into the water like a crazy amphibian.
Throughout the night, the family checks up on Hae-joon’s condition. They take turns — Da-hye, Hanna, and Grandpa — silently caring for him, and it’s adorable. In the morning, Hae-joon relaxes in his massage chair and revels in Da-hye’s worry. He awards her with a sticker, but she doesn’t take it since they’re not her motive. Hae-joon then checks on his watch and gasps at the sudden loss of time.
In his office, Hae-joon calls Maya and reports a dysfunction with his watch because he’s suddenly lost so much time. Maya doesn’t reveal the whole story and simply tells him it’s on the contrary — he’s actually gained time. He doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about and complains that he’s already short on time to wrap up everything.
Hae-joon thinks back to his meeting with Ms. Wang, who revealed that her father had taken care of the real Hae-joon as a child. She’s been holding back to test Hae-joon, but she’s aware that he’s fighting an uphill battle and offers to intervene. She asks if she give him a helping hand. Back in the present, Hae-joon decides that the only way to save the department store is to become the real Hae-joon.
Yi-yeon visits the department store and has a cup of coffee with Da-hye. They talk about Hong-nan, which leads the conversation to her brother, Han Gi-tak. Yi-yeon admits that she liked Gi-tak, and even after his death, his minions protect her. She looks to Seung-jae and says they’re a big fortune to her. The name stirs an emotional response from Da-hye, though she doesn’t understand why.
Manager Ma bursts into Hae-joon’s room and shows him some shocking news. Jae-gook goes about strategizing about the department store as usual, but Ji-hoon interrupts him with speculations about Jae-gook’s voice ordering Gi-tak’s death from the recording exposed on the company’s dashboard. Though he denies any connection to it, the prosecutor’s office is already making moves, and Ji-hoon refuses to aid his efforts any longer.
The whole department store mutters about it, and people begin to ask Yi-yeon if she’s okay. Seung-jae receives the recording for Je-gil, and it sounds like Gi-tak and Jae-gook. Yi-yeon recognizes the voices and freezes in shock. She excuses herself, but when she turns around, she’s faced with Hong-nan.
Hae-joon confronts Jae-gook about the recording and warns him that he better not be the real culprit. If he is, Hae-joon plans on ruining him. Hae-joon promises to let him experience the pain he’s inflicted on those he’s stepped on.
Yi-yeon tears up, in denial that Jae-gook would order such a horrible deed. Voice quivering, she tells Hong-nan that Jae-gook wouldn’t stoop this low and excuses herself. Seung-jae brims with anger about Gi-tak’s murder, but Hong-nan orders him to protect Yi-yeon. He reluctantly obeys.
Da-hye asks Hong-nan if she’s okay, unaware of the irony. Hong-nan looks saddened and comments that she would be asking Da-hye that same question.
Hong-nan ends up in Hae-joon’s office and admits that she’s not okay. She didn’t lead a great life but wonders if she lived so wrongly to provoke murder. She figures it must be punishment for abandoning family and causing heartbreak. Hae-joon vows to bring down those who committed the crime, but Hong-nan asks that he make better use of his time. Since she can’t be by Da-hye’s side, she asks Hae-joon to protect her until his final moments in this afterlife journey, and he promises to do so.
Sleeping on the couch, Da-hye cries as she dreams about her last interaction with her brother as a child. She still doesn’t know who he is, but it still hits her emotionally. Hae-joon wakes her from her “nightmare,” but she can’t shake off this bad feeling. She asks Hae-joon that he say his proper goodbye if he ever leaves. He promises and looks saddened by the imminent end.
Yi-yeon staggers into Jae-gook’s room and demands a confession of innocence. He couldn’t have ordered the murder of Gi-tak — she refuses to accept it. She trembles in desperation and begs him for his innocence, but that only further provokes Jae-gook to say exactly what she fears. Eyes wide with anger, he admits that he ordered Gi-tak’s death because of Yi-yeon. Her legs go weak, and she sobs on the ground. Meanwhile, Hong-nan tries to call Yi-yeon, highly aware of wasted precious time.
The next morning, Hae-joon presents Hong-nan with his research on Gi-tak’s murder. He’s found a couple hints of foul play and asks Hong-nan to dig into her memory for anything that could be useful to the investigation. Hong-nan retraces her memory back to the accident. As Gi-tak was chasing the supposed paparazzi, a sudden stop made him swerve, sending his car flying. Soon after, a truck hit the flipped car and killed him.
Hong-nan remembers that when she landed in purgatory, she had a cigarette in her hand. But it doesn’t belong to her because she had quit smoking.
In a flashback, we see that the culprit is Suk-chul. At the crime scene, he casually asks dead Gi-tak if he’s okay and pays the mercenary. Then, he calls Jae-gook to set him up. Having already sent him the pictures of Hong-nan and Gi-tak hugging, Suk-chul triggers a fuming response from Jae-gook, who had takes the bait yells in desire to kill Gi-tak. Little does he know, Suk-chul has already committed that literal deed. Suk-chul smokes a cigarette with dead Gi-tak as a farewell gesture and leaves one smoking between Gi-tak’s fingers.
Back in the present, Hong-nan pities Suk-chul’s greed. The only thing he’s after is the secret fund, and Hong-nan stresses that she needs to be known as Gi-tak’s younger sister for that reason. Worried, she asks Hae-joon if Da-hye and Yi-yeon will be okay when they leave. That question prompts Hae-joon to check their watches, and he finds that Hong-nan’s watch has significantly less time than his.
Hong-nan hides her watch, but Hae-joon remembers Maya’s cryptic words and quickly figures out that she must have shared her remaining time with him. Hong-nan says that she did it for Da-hye, and Hae-joon hugs her in gratitude. Aw, these two.
Yi-yeon returns to her real home and looks through the magazine with her old interview. She spots someone lingering behind her in the picture, and she knows it’s Gi-tak. She tells him that it’s a relief that they have a picture together and wishes he were here to see how confident his sister is.
Hong-nan enters the house but stays out of sight, listening quietly. Yi-yeon apologizes to Gi-tak for being so selfish and hurtful. “I’m sorry for loving you.” Hearing the confession, Hong-nan cries.
She then approaches Yi-yeon and tells her to unload her guilt because Jae-gook isn’t to blame. But Yi-yeon’s head still hangs down in overwhelming guilt. Hong-nan tells Yi-yeon that she wants to see her face, since she’ll be gone soon. Her work is done here.
Jae-gook interrupts the company meeting proposing his dismissal. He wonders if this will be possible and demands to know who proposed such a thing. Hae-joon enters the room and reveals that he proposed Jae-gook’s dismissal as a stakeholder in the company. We see that he got a hand from Ms. Wang to secure that authority.
Hae-joon lists the grievances against Jae-gook, who seethes at his father and taunts him for having at least one admirable son. The managers vote on the dismissal, and it’s unanimous — including Chairman Cha as well. Jae-gook is released from his position, and Hae-joon is ordered to stand in as a temporary replacement.
After the meeting, Jae-gook stays seated in the empty room. Hae-joon tells him that this dismissal is not because of the prosecution because he knows Jae-gook didn’t kill Gi-tak. But those words do little to comfort him after this massive loss.
Hae-joon meets with Hong-nan at a café and gives her the update. But the real reason for their meeting is for Da-hye, who requested to meet with Hong-nan. Da-hye arrives with the pictures of her younger self with her brother that she found while cleaning Hae-joon’s room. How did they get these pictures?
Hae-joon explains that he found her older brother but can’t reveal his identity as per his request. He tells her that her brother left because he cared for her. Then Da-hye asks if her brother was Han Gi-tak. Hong-nan and Hae-joon silently look at her, conflicted, while a hooded figure a few tables down smiles. It’s Suk-chul.
Epilogue: Real Hae-joon and the pilot have adapted to the island, and they ignore the sounds of an approaching ship because they judge that it’s too far for hope. They enjoy some fresh octopus and continue to ignore the louder blares, convincing themselves that it’s still too far. They feed each other in ignorant bliss, but suddenly, they hear the sounds of a motor boat approaching. It’s real for them now, and they jump and wave in exaltation.
Obviously everything is coming to an end, but it felt really obvious. This show shines when the character moments feel unabashedly genuine, when the ajusshis can’t help but be themselves in the wrong body. It’s that mismatch that really captures the great moments of the show, and we missed so much of that in this penultimate installment. But there were a lot of loose ends, and they needed some tidying up. It feels like we just had a great riot of a party, and now that it’s over, we need to start cleaning up.
Although it wasn’t the strongest episode, I found a big moment of poignancy in that moment of sacrifice from Hong-nan. I didn’t even know sacrifices were possible to each other, since they both share the same fate of death. There was no greater sacrifice than death in my mind, and it would have been pretty useless to risk your life when you’re already dead. So when Hong-nan was prompted to sacrifice her allotted time and did so willingly, I was unexpectedly moved by the gesture. Hong-nan is such a winning character in my book, despite all the stalking and denial that comes with noble idiocy, and it’s been amazing to see how fluid her character was executed.
Admittedly, Hae-joon’s character wasn’t as relatable or understandable, but I’d still call him wonderful. He was consistently frustrating and so ungrateful, but habits don’t change easily even when reality changes drastically. He was a flawed human, and that’s okay. I think there was some measure of growth Hae-joon (or maybe the show just needed to be more efficient with time), as we saw him being increasingly less pissy about issues at face value. He’s still very reactionary with little thought before action, but he starts to use his brain more. He found that Suk-chul — not Jae-gook — was probably the real culprit of Gi-tak’s murder, and I’d consider that early realization a huge stride forward for Hae-joon.
I loved how much Hae-joon has grown on the family. Seeing Da-hye, Hanna, and Grandpa all take turns at Hae-joon’s bedside spoke volumes about their care for him. I think the family grew to embrace him as Hae-joon, and not just a replacement for Young-soo. It would have been counterintuitive to be that replacement (ahem, first-half Hae-joon), and I love their dynamic now. It’s just so adorable to see the love they have for Hae-joon.
A lot of the side characters entered and left the story, but Suk-chul is quite the one to end with. I don’t have much to say about him, but he’s a terrifying and crazy dog/amphibian. I’m just waiting for karma to bite his soon. As for the other characters, I think they’ve served their purpose (Ji-hoon, Chairman Cha…), but I’m constantly amused by Seung-jae’s character. Such a loyal oversized puppy that has probably done the least acting in this whole show. But when you have a lot of over-acting going on with our main bunch, Seung-jae’s blank stare and stiffness were the perfect compliment. I presume that his script told him to stand and look pretty, and I’d say he did a laudable job.
The Real Hae-joon now getting off the island (although, who knows what’ll happen…) means that we’ll finally see who this person really is. I hope that Real Hae-joon returns a transformed person, and my secret desire is that the transformed Hae-joon is just like the Hae-joon we know now. If anything, he’s definitely got the bromance down.
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 14
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 13
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 12
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 11
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 10
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 9
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 8
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 7
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 6
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 5
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 4
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 3
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 2
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 1