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W–Two Worlds: Episode 16 (Final)

We’re out of time and out of cliffhanger exits, and the final chapter of our story is hurtling towards that final frame. Will our hero find a way to escape life as a manhwa hero, or die trying to change his fate? Will two worlds implode, or will our brains implode first? And what really defines a happy ending? The answer may surprise you…

 

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

It’s the final episode of the webtoon, and Kang Chul, Yeon-joo, and Dad are stuck inside the manhwa world until the ending, happy or sad. With the police closing in on them, Kang Chul makes the decision to erase Yeon-joo from his family registry and pulls off their wedding rings. Out in the real world, Crazy Dog reaches this part in the episode and his jaw drops.

Chul asks Yeon-joo to decide what kind of ending they get, promising to follow her lead. So she puts her wedding ring back on and calls his plan nonsense. Yessss, this is why we love you! She reaches for his hand, which is still flickering in and out and threatening to disappear, and slides his ring back on too. She says there won’t be any ending where anyone disappears, and all of them will get out of here together.

He points out that she can’t live in here for the rest of her life, but she says that the three of them can live together, and argues that visiting him in jail for the rest of their lives is better than never seeing him again. Wait, is this really your plan? Chul doesn’t think such an uneventful ending is possible, but Yeon-joo stubbornly refuses to imagine any sort of ending where Dad and Kang Chul aren’t both by her side.

Yeon-joo says that the only options for leaving her are for him to get sick or die of old age, and declares that her decision is made: They will live out the rest of their lives in here and die. The end.

It doesn’t seem like Chul thinks this is possible (and frankly neither do I), but he can’t argue and asks her to draw them an exit and a car for now, so that they can escape.

On the drive, Chul says, “You said once that your husband never told you that he loved you… I love you.” Agh, why does that make me more scared than happy? It brings Yeon-joo to tears, and she cries silently in the backseat.

Chul drops her off with Dad in a motel before going back to rescue Do-yoon. He tells Assemblyman Han’s henchmen that he wants to see Do-yoon alive before handing anything over, and they turn Do-yoon over to him without a fuss. He’s bloodied and barely conscious, and Chul makes sure that his bodyguards take Do-yoon to the hospital. He remains behind, knowing that this is the deal.

Assemblyman Han is waiting for the tablet, but Chul says he doesn’t have it, and offers up a copy of the CCTV footage of him being tortured in here a year ago. Chul warns him that he has multiple copies, and threatens to turn it over to the police if Assemblyman Han ever attacks one of his people again.

Chul adds that he should stop looking for the tablet if he doesn’t want a syringe in his neck, and turns to go. Assemblyman Han stops him with a question: “What if this ends only when you die?” Before Chul can even react, Assemblyman Han pulls out a gun and shoots him in the chest. Gack.

It sends Chul tumbling backwards, and he lands on the floor with a thud. Back in the motel room, Yeon-joo notices Dad’s hands suddenly solidifying, and she starts to panic, knowing that this means Chul is in danger.

Assemblyman Han says he heard something strange, about two worlds, and how Kang Chul is the hero of a manhwa and he’s the villain. Dude, take a number. Assemblyman Han says he thought it was crazy at first, but it explains so much of what he couldn’t understand before.

He racked his brains trying to figure out why Chul suddenly couldn’t vanish while he was being tortured, or disappear from prison, and then he pumped Do-yoon full of enough drugs that he finally heard the truth: that this is the final episode, and one of them has to die for it to end.

Assemblyman Han is convinced that if Chul dies, he’ll be able to enter that other world. Chul has stopped listening, and focuses all of his efforts on sliding a chair closer with his foot. Assemblyman Han starts poking Chul in the face with his gun, and decides that he can go find out the truth for himself in that other world. He whirls around, ready to pull the trigger…

But Chul is faster, and he kicks the chair so that it slams into Assemblyman Han’s side. Chul rushes him and they wrestle for the gun, choking each other violently. Assemblyman Han screams, “Die!” as they fall to the floor.

By the time the henchmen break their way inside, Chul has the gun in hand and shoots them down. He staggers out leaving a trail of blood, and uses up the rest of his bullets on the remaining henchmen, finally resorting to hand-to-hand combat when he’s out of ammunition.

Do-yoon is awake now and yells at his subordinates for just leaving Kang Chul there by himself. They turn back on Do-yoon’s orders, and arrive outside the hideout just in time to see Chul staggering to his car. They focus on stopping the henchmen so that Chul can escape, and though he manages to drive away, he’s in bad shape.

Do-yoon calls Yeon-joo to update her, and she’s relieved to know that he’s alive. But then they both ask each other where Kang Chul is, and she starts to panic. Do-yoon says they’re on the lookout, and asks where she is so that he can send guards to watch over her.

It’s not until hours later that Chul finally calls her, voice trembling and weak. He asks her to pick him up, because of all the things, he ran out of gas. She asks why he didn’t call until now, and he says he fell asleep.

He admits that he’s “a little hurt” and can’t manage to see where he is, so he hangs up to go find out. Ack, don’t hang up!

Yeon-joo goes to the tablet and starts drawing herself a car, and asks Do-yoon to look after Dad while she goes searching for Chul.

Chul peels himself out of the car and starts stumbling towards the bus stop, looking like he can barely stand. He finally calls Yeon-joo back and ekes out the name of the city and bus stop, and almost immediately after hanging up, he coughs up a nasty stream of blood. Aauuuuugh. Hurry!

Yeon-joo asks Do-yoon to call a doctor because they can’t go to the emergency room, and Chul calls her back to ask why she isn’t here. She stifles back tears and says she’s on her way but it’s farther than she thought, and he says softly, “I’m waiting.”

Chul says that the final episode doesn’t seem like it’ll go on for fifty years, and he starts to cry as he realizes now that the ending they’d hoped for is impossible. “Who’d read an ending that boring?” he asks.

He tries to hold on and says, “Come quickly. I miss you.” She pleads with him to hang on just a little longer because she’s on her way, but the phone falls out of his hand, and his body slumps down. Noooooooooooo.

Yeon-joo finally reaches the bus stop and sees him from across the street, and when she calls out to him, he lifts his head. Oh phew. His mouth quirks up in a little smile when he sees her.

But then, as if that’s the last thing he was hanging on to do, his eyes close and his body falls limp, and the final chyron starts to render in the corner: “The End.” Ohmygod, this can’t be the end?!

Time slows as Yeon-joo sees it happening and she starts to run across the street in tears. She’s almost there, but a truck zooms by, cutting off her path to Kang Chul. And then… night turns to day, the truck becomes a bus, and once it passes, she’s back in the real world and Kang Chul is gone.

This isn’t happening. Tell me this isn’t happening?

Su-bong grouses that no one is answering his calls, and he returns to the empty workshop. He checks Dad’s office, and does a double-take when Dad’s tablet turns into a manhwa drawing and then disappears right in front of his eyes.

Su-bong rushes to the computer to check the last episode of the webtoon, and then rushes to the bus stop to find Yeon-joo. When he gets there, she’s sitting were Kang Chul was, crying inconsolably. Su-bong just sits next to her quietly, letting her cry.

Crazy Dog reaches the end of the webtoon and has just about the same reaction that I did, like he might throw something at his computer. He’s so upset that he marches out to go pick a bone with Yeon-joo, but Seok-bum says she’s in the emergency room, and clarifies that she’s not working in it—she just got admitted as a patient.

Crazy Dog is stunned to find Yeon-joo wailing so sorrowfully in the emergency room, and he’s suddenly sweet and caring as he asks what happened. She just cries and cries, so he tucks his handkerchief into her hand before he goes. Aw.

Su-bong wipes at his tears as he drives to the motel where Dad was last seen inside the manhwa. The clerk has never seen Dad, but Su-bong pleads to be allowed to check again, because Dad must be wandering around and out of his mind.

The final straw for Yeon-joo is when her wedding ring disappears right off of her finger, like the tablet and anything else that came from the manhwa world.

When Crazy Dog spots Su-bong in the hospital, he stops to ask if this is really the end of W, and how it could end like that with the hero dying instead of the villain. That’s the final straw for Su-bong, and he snaps, “Please, STOOOOOOOOP! Shut that mouth!” Su-bong looks like he might tear Crazy Dog a new one, but then he just goes on his way, leaving Crazy Dog to wonder why Su-bong always attacks him like a crazy dog, heh.

When Yeon-joo hears that Dad wasn’t in the motel, she yanks out her IV and stumbles out of the hospital. She goes straight to Dad’s workshop to look for the tablet, but Su-bong tells her it’s gone—it was a copy after all, and it came from the manhwa world. He tells her it’s really over now, and she crumples to the floor in another wave of tears.

Yeon-joo spends the ensuing days in a haze of denial and depression, waking up to her collage of Kang Chul drawings and a fresh batch of tears each morning. She goes to the bus stop day after day and waits there to no avail, and she sketches Dad’s face on a new tablet, but it’s only ever Su-bong who walks through the front door.

They finally circulate flyers looking for Dad, and as Yeon-joo sits at the bus stop again, Su-bong narrates, “Yeon-joo noona was the only one who couldn’t accept reality. But the webtoon W completed its seven-year run and ended in September, 2016.” He says that the manhwa’s hero rejected his destiny and dreamt of a happy ending as a real person, but in the end he fell at the hands of the villain and died in front of the woman he loved.

Su-bong says that reporters came to Dad’s workshop in search of answers regarding the ending, but Dad never returned. As people buy the final volume of W in bookstores, Su-bong narrates that most people didn’t think the ending was so strange. Did those people know how to read?

“But…” Su-bong continues, “Nobody knew that the ending wasn’t a sad one.” Wait, what?

In flashback we return to the bus stop as Kang Chul dies, and this time, Yeon-joo vanishes and we stay in the manhwa world, which doesn’t freeze or stop at all—it just keeps going.

We go back a few hours to find that Assemblyman Han isn’t dead either, and his henchmen find him stewing angrily in the corner of his warehouse, right where Kang Chul left him.

Dad is still tied up in the motel room, and when he hears his bodyguard talking to Do-yoon on the phone, he asks Do-yoon to untie him because it’s faster to help Kang Chul with the tablet than to drive around looking for him. It’s true… but that’s also what the killer would say to be freed?

Do-yoon relents and warns the bodyguard to keep an eye on Dad in case he goes crazy, and Dad begins to draw on the tablet. But ack, the first thing he draws is a syringe in his guard’s neck! Dad waits until the bodyguard passes out and then takes his phone to make a call.

Assemblyman Han pitches a fit at his own assistant, screaming that nothing matters now because he could die at any moment. He’s hysterical, until Dad calls him directly and confirms, “I’m the one who made you.”

Dad asks how Assemblyman Han ended up this way, getting blood on his hands and shooting guns when he’s supposed to be president. Assemblyman Han just wants to know how Dad is here in this world, but Dad asks knowingly, “Did you shoot Kang Chul to find me?”

Dad seems amused and says he’s been here for a year, and then the door to Assemblyman Han’s office suddenly locks, and a gun appears in his hand. Ohhhh. Dad asks if he’s looking for the reason he exists, and sighs that there’s no way to stop that hunger to know, and it’ll end with some sort of explosion… just like the others before him. “That’s how I ended up this way,” he says.

Dad says that can’t happen though—if a bad guy like him knew all the secrets, what would happen to his world? Dad decides, “That’s too dangerous. You should come with me. I failed at everything else, but I need to take care of you before I go.”

Assemblyman Han’s hand starts to flicker and pull the gun up to his own temple, against his will. When he starts to shout, Dad draws a piece of duct tape over his mouth. Time is running out on Dad’s own hand, which is fading quickly, and he draws furiously until he hears the sound of the gunshot.

By the time Assemblyman Han’s assistants bust down the door, he’s shot dead, and the duct tape has been erased. On the desk, Dad has drawn a suicide note along with a USB drive, which must contain all the footage of Kang Chul being tortured.

Dad also sends the cops evidence on Ajusshi’s shooting to prove Kang Chul’s innocence, and then he leaves his own picture and a letter in the bodyguard’s hand before calling Do-yoon. Dad asks where Yeon-joo is, in the hopes of seeing her one last time.

Kang Chul sits at the bus stop coughing up blood, and as Dad drives there, he begins to fade almost entirely. His words to Kang Chul are repeated in voiceover—that they couldn’t be together in the end, and that if it were to be a happy ending for one of them, it’d be a sad ending for the other.

Dad stops in the middle of the road, arriving just as Yeon-joo gets out of her car across the street from the bus stop. He sees her crying and calling out to Kang Chul, and Dad just smiles at her, at once happy, regretful, and loving.

He reaches out a hand, but she’s too far away, and he just says quietly, “I love you, my daughter. Goodbye.” He shuts his eyes and accepts his fate, and then he fades away.

Su-bong narrates that it wasn’t Kang Chul’s death that ended the manhwa, but the villains’ deaths. He explains that their final moments never made it onto the manhwa page because the villain of the story went against his very reason for existing in order to ensure the hero’s happy ending, and he vanished because of it, taking that final story arc with him. What? Why would their deaths get edited out from the manhwa? That makes no sense.

Do-yoon discovers Kang Chul passed out at the bus stop, and Su-bong narrates that nobody knew that Kang Chul was still alive, because the manhwa had simply ended. Chul gets hauled away in an ambulance, with Do-yoon clutching his bloody hand. He’s unresponsive at first, but then… he opens his eyes. Don’t ever scare me like that again!

Do-yoon yells at him: “I thought you were dead!” And all Chul says in response is, “Oh Yeon-joo…” Do-yoon says that she wasn’t there, and Chul smiles in relief. Su-bong narrates that he knew it then, that his role as the hero of the manhwa was over at last.

Sometime later, So-hee returns to Korea after her business trip and is shocked to hear the news report that Assemblyman Han committed suicide. She visits Kang Chul in prison, and he says that as soon as he healed from the gunshot wound, they stuck him back in here. She assures him that since the murder charges have been dropped, he shouldn’t be in there for too much longer.

So-hee apologizes for suspecting him and cutting off contact, but Chul says he was happy when she did, because she proved that she could live a different life.

In his cell, Chul takes out the letter and photo that Dad left behind for him. Do-yoon told him that Dad disappeared without a trace, and passed on the letter. Dad writes that he’d hoped Chul would send him off, but he’s going on his own. Dad says that he’s already dead, and his soul is terminal because he doesn’t know when he’ll go crazy again.

Dad: “You will go out to the real world, and I will end my life here. You will become human, and I will remain a manhwa character. You will break free from the predetermined settings I created, and I will die trapped in the setting I created… Isn’t life funny? Be happy. Make Yeon-joo happy. And if you meet Yeon-joo, tell her that I’m alive, so that she isn’t sad. Tell her that I’m living a better life, inside the manhwa that I drew.”

Tears roll down Kang Chul’s cheeks as he reads Dad’s final words, and in flashback we see Dad smiling wistfully as he wrote the letter and drew a photograph of himself to leave behind.

Su-bong narrates that Kang Chul spent two more years in prison in order to wrap up the manhwa world logically, and that time passed slowly for him.

Thankfully, only a week has passed in Yeon-joo’s world. Mom asks her where dad is, and Yeon-joo says without much conviction that he’ll probably show up if they wait a few more days.

She goes to Dad’s workshop and lingers in his empty office, and then she returns to the bus stop again. She walks through the pouring rain and sits there, looking utterly broken and lost.

At home, Mom answers Yeon-joo’s phone and says she left it behind, and Mom asks who’s calling. Could it be…?

Yeon-joo sits on the curb in the spot where Kang Chul died, getting completely soaked and on the verge of passing out. A car pulls up and stops just a few feet away, and when she opens her eyes, all she sees is a pair of feet walking towards her in slow motion… She begins to fall, and loses consciousness.

When Yeon-joo wakes up, she’s in a bright hospital room, and omo—she’s sleeping on someone else’s arm. She focuses her eyes and sees a man’s hand holding hers, wearing a familiar ring.

She turns around to face him, and there’s Kang Chul, spooning her in the morning as if nothing has happened. He opens his eyes and smiles at her, and Yeon-joo still looks like she doesn’t believe it.

He asks how she is, and says that he told Mom to go home and get some rest. He thought Mom would ask more questions, and says he couldn’t very well tell her that he was Yeon-joo’s husband, so he said he was her boyfriend.

Mom had asked if maybe they’d broken up at a bus stop, and guesses that this was what Yeon-joo was so broken-hearted about. She asked what Chul did for a living, and he handed her his business card from the manhwa world. You can’t keep doing that!

He tells Yeon-joo that he spent two years in prison, but it’s only been a week here. “I was worried that time would flow the same, and that you’d die from being sad alone. What a relief,” he says with a smile.

She finally reaches out a hand to touch his face, and lets herself believe that he’s really here. A tear escapes, and she lets out a trembling sigh of relief. (She’s wearing her ring again—did he bring her a new one?)

She asks after Dad, and Chul gets up to get Dad’s picture out of his coat pocket. He doesn’t say anything as he hands it to her, but it seems that Yeon-joo knows what must’ve happened, and she sobs as Chul holds her in his arms.

Sometime later, they sit overlooking the river and Chul points out that he’s now three years older than her. “So you really have to call me oppa now,” he says happily. Yeon-joo asks if it’s really really over, and he assures her that it is.

They snuggle and kiss, and Yeon-joo narrates, “Kang Chul’s story in the manhwa was a happy ending, but the real-life Kang Chul and Oh Yeon-joo’s ending is still unknown. But…”

Kang Chul finishes, “The two of them no longer stand at the crossroads of life and death like a manhwa, and although boring and ordinary, we hope that they will get an ending that lasts fifty years. Like other ordinary couples.”

As the sun sets, the final chyron appears in the corner: “The End.”

 
COMMENTS

Was that Yeon-joo’s manhwa ending or the drama ending? Not that it really matters, since both are her story. Okay, so I’m happy for the characters and relieved that Kang Chul is alive, and I think Dad’s sacrifice makes sense in the context of the story without reaching for a deus ex machina solution in the final hour. So I’m okay with the resolution on that front, because I was worried that the magical tablet would fix everything with a wave and not make a lick of sense. But URGH, I have SO MANY QUESTIONS, and the finale didn’t even begin to address all the things I wanted it to. I feel like I set out on this journey on pins and needles waiting for the explanation of all the rules that govern this world and the final clever twist—the why of it all—but in the end, I was left wondering if the writer didn’t know either.

Does the manhwa world just keep going infinitely, with no ties to the outside world? What made it possible for the manhwa to be the bridge between the two universes in the first place, if Dad really didn’t create that world himself? What gave Dad’s tablet magical portal abilities? Why didn’t we ever really explore the fact that Yeon-joo created Kang Chul first? I wanted to believe that there was something different about Chul and his capacity to become self-aware because of her, but we never found out what made him different from all the other manhwa characters, and why he became self-aware in the first place. I just feel like all of the fundamental questions that were raised were never answered, and that means I’m ultimately dissatisfied, because I wanted closure, not just on the characters’ lives, but on this construct as a whole—two worlds bridged by a manhwa that somehow operates autonomously, according to rules that change at will.

Here’s what I don’t understand: Why on earth would W the manhwa end on a false version of the story, letting readers believe that Kang Chul is dead, when it’s really the villains who died? If a happy ending falls in the forest and no one’s around to see it, IS IT HAPPY? Dad rendering the villain useless and disappearing as a consequence makes sense—after all, he’s the one who created the one-dimensional villain whose sole purpose for existing was to kill Chul and his family, and his fate became inversely tied to Kang Chul’s the second he was sucked into the final episode. But there’s no logical reason why the manhwa would misrepresent events to the readers, and suddenly end the second the villains are rendered moot.

If Kang Chul were the hero of the story from beginning to end, it should’ve included his happy ending even after the villains died. It doesn’t sit right with me that the manhwa just stopped when the villains stopped breathing, because that’s not how endings go! If Kang Chul thinking that he wanted to stop being the hero of this manhwa was what launched them into the final episode in the first place, then it should’ve ended in the ambulance when he realized he was finally done. Or after prison, if it was suddenly so important for his character’s logic to serve his full two-year sentence (But really, why should that matter if he’s no longer the hero?). I just feel terrible for Crazy Dog and all the fans of the webtoon, who basically got cheated out of their satisfactory resolution.

It seemed like a trick for the sake of a twist to have Kang Chul die in the manhwa but not really die, and I would’ve been much happier if Yeon-joo had come up with a plan to get them out, even if it had failed in the end, requiring Dad’s sacrifice anyway. Living in the manhwa world forever didn’t seem like a solution at all, and Chul going in by himself to save Do-yoon was pretty much the stupidest thing he’s done all series long. I was disappointed that they didn’t outsmart the villians or the manhwa itself, because what I wanted for Kang Chul was to step outside of the construct entirely and manipulate his world. His self-awareness ended up being pretty limited, and I thought the finale felt tame because our hero and heroine were just reacting to events happening to them, instead of taking control of their own fate like I ultimately wanted.

That doesn’t mean I’m dissatisfied with the series as a whole, because I still got my happy ending and Kang Chul gets to live in Yeon-joo’s world without having to be a hero anymore, and he didn’t die, and she didn’t have to meet a doppelganger Kang Chul 3.0 (this was my biggest fear, because I was scared he’d be based on a real person). For me the happy ending is that Kang Chul becomes fully human with complete free will, and the fact that he becomes a real boy is enough to make me not hate the ending. I just wish we had gone beyond Chul and Yeon-joo’s happy ending, because I think there’s an entirely separate happy ending for the audience, the one where we get all our burning questions about the mythology answered, and not get left entirely by the wayside.

It’s too bad that the show used up all of the truly amazing mind-blowing twists so early on in the series, because it made the second half feel rather slow and predictable in comparison, only because it started out with such a bang. I was still very much engaged in the characters’ journey through the end, but there was a definitely slowdown in pace and loosening of tension that happened when they reset Kang Chul’s world and wiped his memory. I liked Kang Chul 2.0 and enjoyed the twist on the amnesia trope and the more grounded relationship that came out of it. But there was inarguably a zippy, raw energy to the first timeline that couldn’t be replicated, and I think that was a flaw in how the story was told in the second half. And if there were one magic wand to wave at the end, I would’ve liked for him to remember both timelines in the final moments, even if that goes against the whole not-amnesia twist.

But I’m still walking away from this drama impressed with writer Song Jae-jung’s ability to create such a pulse-pounding, intricate supernatural story, even though if you look at her past works—Nine and Queen Inhyun’s Man in particular—it’s not much of a surprise. She bends time, space, reality, and our hearts on a regular basis, and though I have plenty of gripes about her raising all of these questions and leaving them unanswered, I’m still unabashedly a fan. I was actually more surprised by PD Jung Dae-yoon, who had done light rom-com She Was Pretty before this; but he turned out a visually expressive take on two worlds, and melded together the beautiful two-dimensional art with live-action in a really stylish way, which was crucial to making this crazy premise believable, and the transition between the worlds seamless. Everything from the music to the CG effects was in service of telling the story first and foremost, and the director impressed me with his flair for suspense.

As for the cast, in many ways it was the Lee Jong-seok show—and for good reason, because he was really so good, better than he’s ever been before—but I think Dad kind of stole his thunder in the final stretch, with his crazy killer mind-meld multiple personality thing. I do think that the horror-suspense really hinged on Kim Eui-sung’s acting, and he was so good that it gave me nightmares and made me question his sanity, and then the next day he’d make me sympathetic to Dad’s plight all over again. And I’d only started to like Han Hyo-joo with her more recent films, but I loved her as Yeon-joo. She was a little screwball, but that just made me laugh more, and I found her warm and relatable, which is pretty crucial in a story where the hero and Dad are intentionally very un-relatable. I felt her angst whenever she was separated from Kang Chul, and in the final episode I really believed she might die of heartsickness if Chul hadn’t shown up in time. Her noona-dongseng relationship with scene-stealer Lee Shi-un was especially endearing, probably in large part because Su-bong was the funniest supporting character I’ve come across in a long time. I will wait patiently for his spinoff until the end of days.

What drew me to W was the freshness of its sci-fi, manhwa, meta-dramaland premise. I loved that we couldn’t anticipate where the story would go, and that it would cleverly turn a standard narrative trope on its head, making the usual drama trademark move a handy tool for the heroine to use in the manhwa world. Kisses as weapons, and cliffhangers as escape routes; I never grew tired of the ways narrative tropes could be used to rewrite the story from within. As a drama fan, it was the ultimate validation—this is the language we speak, and the heroine was one of us, perceiving the world of the manhwa the way we perceive dramas.

At its strongest, W was dizzyingly fast-paced and addictive, and it made me sincerely ponder existential questions about free will and predetermination, and the role that fiction plays in our lives. It was thoughtful and engaging on so many meta levels, especially when the drama served as a cautionary tale about a careless writer who essentially created a monstrous villain out of weak characterization in service of plot. Dad was an avatar for all of the terrible writers out there who reach for the lazy tropes in the bag of tricks, from the truck of doom to the faceless villain with poor character motivation, to the female character who only serves to pine after the hero without an identity of her own (I liked the point that was being made about poorly written female characters with So-hee’s arc). And the moment you don’t treat a fictional character like a real person with dreams and hopes, a name, or a face… well, we’ve seen what happens then.

And I’m glad that Dad’s role as the creator of this manhwa was touched upon again at the end, because the framework of Dad’s story is the thing I found most chilling about this drama. I always felt that the underlying genre of this story was horror, not because it was scary at times, but because of the themes—W was like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, and Dad’s story was classic horror tragedy in almost every regard, and I loved that aspect of the story. There’s something truly horrific about your mistakes coming to life, and your fiction trapping you in the rules you created. I don’t know think that the writer did a satisfactory job of explaining Dad’s supernatural controlled-via-tablet, sharing-a-brain relationship with No-Face, but I do find his end poetic and tragically karmic. It fits his genre, and his tragic character’s self-fulfilling prophecy. Ironic, in a story all about characters breaking free of their predetermined paths.

The thing I loved most about Kang Chul’s journey to free will is the idea of self-awareness breaking you out of a world. On a literal sci-fi level it’s the Matrix, or the manhwa world, but it can also be any construct that defines a person. The fact that Kang Chul’s greatest weapon is choice—choosing to step outside of his predetermined destiny, rewriting his own story with the power of that choice—it’s an ideal and a philosophy that moves me, because I believe that life is a series of choices and we define our own fate by the choices we make. A hero’s journey to gain the fundamental right to determine the course of his own life, live or die, is a story worth telling. Do I think this epilogue needed an epilogue? Yes, maybe two—one for all the ‘xplaining the writer’s got left to do, and one for all the cuddles I was cheated out of. I guess I’ll just have to imagine how the rest of the story goes, since apparently fiction has a mind of its own and decides it’s the end whenever it damn well pleases.

 
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Thank you Dramabeans people for your wonderful analysis and excellent writing. I have only just started watching kdramas but I am equally excited when I watch an episode AND when I read your recaps :)

I am not sure if anyone is reading comments (or is notified) for this thread, since the TV series was shown 3 years ago...
Anyway, worth trying.

I have read all the comments, and I'm glad some of the questions I had got some answers... Others didn't, for example
1) what happened to the 3rd tablet that was used to kill Han Cheol-ho?
2) the wedding ring disappearing and reappearing drives me mad
3) if KC is able to travel between worlds whenever he likes, is he really happily travelling back and forth and getting older every time, or is he in the "real" world for good?
4) why is Seo Do-yoon happy to stay in one world even if he knows there is another one to explore lol

Said that, I hope there won't be a season 2 ever.
Somewhere the writer stated that if there is one, KC will die.
Why does everyone hate him so much? LOL

I love and hate the interpretation D.T.F. gave us: that is both worlds are fictional, created by a young woman who is dealing with grief for the loss of her father.
That explains some things in a more satisfactory way, but my brain is too tired already and prefers to believe the bittersweet fairy tale that makes no sense and has a lot of loose ends.

Anyway, the main reason why I am writing this comment is the following:

I have read that the writer shared the scripts online, and that there may be more clues to what her original intentions were.
I can't speak Korean at all, so I have no chance to make sense of them.
Is there anyone who can at least give me an idea of what was changed?
I read somewhere that the ending was changed as it was too dark.
Still, I really would like to know now :)

Thanks :)

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