Here we are at journey’s end, and hasn’t Jealousy Incarnate been a full meal? It’s time for dessert, a sweet finish with some salty crunch and a secret center—exactly as we’ve come to expect from a show that delights in subverting subversions. I’ve had a great time sharing this show with you all, and thank you guys for showing up every week with such interesting comments and perspectives! Shall we hold our fingers to the wind one last time and see which way the jealousy blows? All together now: ♫ No no, no no no nooOOoo… ♫
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
With Na-ri in his arms, Hwa-shin asks her if she won or if he lost. “We drew,” Na-ri replies. Kissing, they disappear under the covers.
Aww no, outside, Chi-yeol sits on the porch all night, shivering…and he’s still there in the morning, when Hwa-shin comes out. He leaps up to confront him, although both of them just stare at each other until Hwa-shin greets him, addressing him as “brother-in-law.” Chi-yeol is so outraged that his fist just flies out, getting Hwa-shin in the mouth. He rages at Hwa-shin in banmal, asking what the hell he’s doing leaving at this time.
He tells Hwa-shin he never liked him ever since he gave Na-ri a hard time for her crush on him, and threatens to kill Hwa-shin himself if he puts a toe out of line now. But Hwa-shin barks at the kid for talking down to an elder—which cows Chi-yeol not a bit.
“The person Noona cherishes and loves the most in this world is me,” Chi-yeol tells him. But Hwa-shin rejoins that actually, it’s him, and he plans to live every second remembering that. “I don’t like you,” Chi-yeol retorts, and Hwa-shin shoots back that he doesn’t like Chi-yeol either. Hahaha, this utterly puerile yet simultaneously complex
posturing confrontation. But as he walks off, Hwa-shin keeps looking back and breaking into little giggles.
Back at his own place, Hwa-shin finds Ja-young’s earring in his wardrobe, but doesn’t think anything of it. Instead, warm with the memory of Na-ri’s attempt to move in, he goes off to make reservations for a wedding. Lucky for him, there’s been a cancellation for Christmas Eve and he takes it.
But when he goes into work, PD Oh tells him that he’s been reassigned to the company kindergarten. Announcer Uhm and Sung-sook tell him that that’s what he gets for running his mouth. Balking, Hwa-shin slaps a hastily scribbled resignation in front of PD Oh, who furiously tears it into pieces. Hotly reproaching them for not taking his side, Hwa-shin stalks out.
Meanwhile, Ja-young breaks it to Na-ri that she’s lost her morning news spot, as part of money-saving restructuring by management, but encourages her to think about what she would enjoy doing in the meantime. She also tells her about Hwa-shin’s reassignment, much to Na-ri’s distress.
After crying for him in the bathroom, Na-ri bumps into Hwa-shin leaving the men’s. He stops her, but she denies that she’s crying because of him. She asks why he’s not angry. Brushing his thumb across her cheek, he replies, “Because you’re crying and getting angry on my behalf.”
He takes her away for lunch, which turns out to be testing wedding menus. Na-ri sks how he can think of getting married at a time like this, and he dryly answers that’s he’s worried she won’t marry him now he’s unemployed. He refuses to cancel, and Na-ri upbraids him for setting a date without even getting his mom’s approval.
“It’s the first time I’m getting married!” Hwa-shin whines. Lol is that even an excuse. Na-ri yells that it’s her first time too, but she still knows the order of things. He makes her sit back down, and gruffly asks who they should have officiate. Na-ri suggests PD Oh, and on the screen above them, the scenario plays out, with Oh giving a backhanded congratulation. Imagining it, Na-ri shakes her head.
Similar sequences play out with all their potential candidates: Dr. Geum talking about how they were fated since farting in front of each other, and then even letting slip about Hwa-shin’s infertility. Next, Sung-sook’s special message to the bride and groom, as a divorced woman, is to break up if things aren’t working out. “Divorce…is being true to your feelings,” she says, and offers to officiate their next wedding. Hahaha.
As for who should host the ceremony, they imagine Dong-gi dissing Hwa-shin, before breaking off to demand money. On the other hand, Jung-won rails at them for daring to ask him. Na-ri hangs her head guiltily, and tells Hwa-shin they can’t ask him. Hwa-shin groans that they won’t be able to get married at all, and doesn’t answer when Na-ri asks if he resigned.
Hwa-shin tries to resign, but PD Oh tears the envelope to shreds without even looking up. Hwa-shin begs for some different punishment, but Oh just tells him to go away.
Hwa-shin slaps down another envelope, and Oh is about to tear it up when he realizes it’s a wedding invitation. He shakes his head nervously when Hwa-shin asks if he’s ever officiated a wedding.
At home, Hwa-shin asks his mom for wedding money, and she scolds him for not even introducing his girl. He holds out the earring he found, but Mom says it’s Ja-young’s. He finds that weird, but is full-on suspicious when he finds the bag full of cash in his cupboard, along with the voice-phishing apology-note.
He confronts Sung-sook and Ja-young, who bow their heads. The story comes out and Pal-gang kneels in contrition. He tells her to get up, and stepping closer, he wraps his arms around her. She says sorry, crying into his shoulder. “I’m sorry to you first,” Hwa-shin replies quietly.
After Pal-gang goes, the women tell him off for being the only one to fall for the trick. He replies by asking if they’ve ever officiated a wedding. Haha.
Hwa-shin pops in to Na-ri’s that night, warily asking Chi-yeol’s whereabouts. He gives Na-ri the packet of money and tells her to use it for the wedding. She’s shocked that he’s going through with it. Settling into her bed, he tells her he wants to live with her asap.
She entreats him not to resign, and he’s sardonic about how she was okay with male breast cancer and infertility, only to be stumped by this. Thinking of her own joblessness, she asks if he really can’t do the kindergarten job. He looks at her all offended.
The next day, Hwa-shin gets his resignation torn up again, and this time he counters with a proposal for a new show, “Whistleblower.” Tearing that up, too, Oh tells him that the three sunbaes he looked down on (Oh, Sung-sook, and Announcer Uhm) for not having a journalistic conscience went and begged the President’s office for a new assignment for “our beloved Lee Hwa-shin,” and tells him to get his butt there.
In a radio studio, Hwa-shin squirms in embarrassment at his name on the script for a new show, “Health Diary: Talking About Bodies.” It doesn’t help that Dong-gi finds this endlessly hilarious. The day’s topic is uterine fibroids, and Hwa-shin cringes talking about dreaded lady-things like menstruation.
Afterwards, Hwa-shin hangs out at Stepmom’s store with Na-ri and Beom, eating steamed buns. Na-ri asks him what she’d be good at, and he tells her that he really enjoyed her weather reports. She leans into him, laughing that he’s biased, and he puts his arm around her.
But he’s dismayed to hear that she listened to his radio show, although she tells him he’s good at everything. Everything like what, Hwa-shin asks. “Just eeeeverything,” Na-ri giggles. Hahahaha. He kisses them both, first Beom, then Na-ri, just as his mom arrives to see.
Horrified, she smacks Hwa-shin, yelling at him for stealing his best friend’s girlfriend. He concentrates on his bun and Na-ri tries to intervene, but Mom rounds on her, too. Hwa-shin can’t let this pass, and tells Mom he’s marrying her.
“Absolutely not!” yells Mom. Hwa-shin tells Mom that Na-ri already broke up with Jung-won, and finally yells that she was seeing both of them, “But she said she likes me more! I won!” He grumbles that he tried to tell Mom but she wouldn’t listen.
A short time later: Mom sits between the couple, chewing them out. Hwa-shin grumps at her not to come to the wedding then, which sets her off again.
After their broadcast, Sung-sook agrees to a drink with Announcer Uhm, who gets adorably excited. They share a drink right there, and after a bit, Sung-sook asks him if he’s got money saved up. She says she’s thinking of being just a tiny bit interested in him. She also asks about illnesses, but exclaims when he reels off a bunch. He points out that he’s honest and won’t cheat, though, although Sung-sook pettishly notes that it’s more like he can’t cheat.
He immediately obliges when she asks if he’d part his hair the other way, but she doesn’t like it and makes him change it back. He looks increasingly henpecked as she tells him to tone his face and look after his skin and wear better clothes. But then he brightens up, saying that her fussiness means she’s interested.
Elsewhere, Madam Kim slides an envelope over to Ja-young, and tells her to quit seeing Chef. Looking inside, Ja-young says it’s too little, but laughs that it doesn’t feel bad to receive such an envelope at her age, and says she’ll think it over. Surprised and pleased, Madam Kim smirks.
In the empty news studio, Na-ri stands on the weather side, thinking about her days doing weather. She goes to meet with PD Oh and Ja-young, and PD Oh asks her if she’d like to renew her contract as a weathercaster. Na-ri agrees, but on the condition that they acknowledge her as a weather expert. She promises to stamp her work with her own fun style. The seniors agree, and PD Oh is pretty stoked. “I’ll do the weather until I die,” Na-ri says, beaming.
Hwa-shin has Dr. Geum and Nurse Oh guest on his radio show. They’re here to talk about breastfeeding, and they discuss how being a mom lowers a woman’s risk of cancer due to rising prolactin. Dr. Geum guesses Hwa-shin’s thoughts, and encouragingly adds that not breastfeeding doesn’t mean you will get cancer. During the break, Hwa-shin asks what they’re doing on Christmas Eve, and if Dr. Geum’s ever officiated a wedding.
That night, Hwa-shin asks Na-ri to cook him rice in her dowry-rice-cooker and hands her a gift box, too. Inside is a flower necklace, and she loves it. But she wants to delay the wedding, worried about his mom’s opposition. “I don’t want to,” says Hwa-shin, and suddenly worried, asks, “You don’t want to marry me?”
Coming close, Na-ri tells him he can quit if he wants to, and find a job that gives him freedom, instead of just earning a wage for her sake. She tells him about her new job, and as if it’s too good to be true, Hwa-shin asks if it’s really okay for him to quit. She orders him to do it right away. He refuses to eat at her place, though, for fear of Chi-yeol, but he follows her when she stomps cutely off, and corners her for kisses. Why are you so cute?!
Ja-young passes Madam Kim’s envelope on to Chef, and says they should spend it all on dates. He’s shocked at how much it is, but Ja-young grins that it would have been way more if she’d been just five years younger. “Let’s just date,” she tells him, “Let’s not get married.” Smiling at him, she confides that she’d rather not get married when there’s opposition.
Back in the house, Ja-young, Sung-sook, and Pal-gang have tea together. Taking a breath, Ja-young announces, “Let’s the three of us live together.” She asks for a vote, and Sung-sook raises her hand right away. Pal-gang eventually says she’ll have to think about it, but grins once she’s out of sight. The moms whisper excitedly that Pal-gang’s mouth definitely turned up, and they clink teacups in victory. Why so cuuuute.
The next morning on Na-ri’s rooftop, Hwa-shin holds out the voice-phishing apology note at Chi-yeol like a talisman. With the utmost pain, Chi-yeol cracks a minimal bow, and respectfully asks Hwa-shin not to tell Na-ri.
“Is that it?” Hwa-shin asks. Oh you’re enjoying this. Looking constipated, Chi-yeol apologizes with a ninety-degree bow, and Hwa-shin smugly tells him he’d better treat him well now. “Only if you treat my sister well,” Chi-yeol replies, quick as a flash.
Na-ri goes to Jung-won’s store to deliver his wedding invitation personally. She tells him it’s okay if he doesn’t want to come. As she stands up to go, Jung-won gives her a hug, and asks her to make Hwa-shin happy and make sure he’s not lonely. Touched, she agrees.
Christmas Eve. Na-ri finishes off a cheerful weather broadcast, dressed in a Santa outfit. Outside the station, Jung-won waits to pick her up (don’t you clean up nice!). He smiles at the sight of her in her wedding dress, bouquet in hand. She runs up to him in happy surprise, having expected Hwa-shin.
In the car, Hwa-shin texts her saying that he’s giving her one last chance to pick Jung-won. She snorts. Smiling, Jung-won tells her she looks pretty in her dress.
At the wedding hall, Stepmom bows to Hwa-shin’s grumpy mom across the aisle, and everybody we know is there. Jung-won emcees after all, and announces the groom to whoops and cheers. Hye-won smiles at Hwa-shin strutting down that aisle. He nods at Mom (who’s proud of him after all), exchanges smiles with Jung-won.
Next, Jung-won announces Na-ri: “Loving the groom through snow, rain or storm, the most beautiful bride in the world.” The crowd is even louder as Na-ri enters on Chi-yeol’s arm (and don’t you clean up even nicer?). The weathergirls hoot and everyone beams. Even Mom claps for her, if unenthusiastically.
As Hwa-shin steps forward to receive her hand, Chi-yeol lets go super-unwillingly, glaring at Hwa-shin. As the couple give each other the wedding bows, Na-ri whispers that he looks cool, and he replies, “Isn’t that obvious?” Her smile drops and she asks why he’s not telling her she’s pretty. “Isn’t that obvious?” he replies again, voice warm.
Aw, Dr. Geum is officiating after all. She tells them she’s more nervous than before a surgery, and wonders if she was chosen because she witnessed their first kiss. She tells them how Hwa-shin’s first name was “Grandma”, and then “Pyo Na-ri-nim”, and now at last he’s claiming his real name as male breast cancer reporter, Lee Hwa-shin.
She says that his trial proved what a fine man he was, and now she can answer the question he asked of her, whether she could marry someone like him. “My answer is, ‘absolutely YES.’ If the opportunity should arise again, make sure you propose to me,” she says, to a chorus of laughs. Of Na-ri, she says that although anyone can love, it’s not everyone who can keep that love burning.
MC Jung-won announces a congratulatory song next. Guys, I can’t recap this awesome. Watch it. It involves Dong-gi, singing, Nurse Oh hopping onto the stage, dancing Dr. Geum and of course, the star of it all, Hwa-shin. The song sounds almost like it was written for the show, like a vow from Hwa-shin to Na-ri. Aw.
The bride and groom make their grand exit. Jung-won steps down from the podium and dances with Hwa-shin’s mom, while Chi-yeol dashes to Pal-gang. Holding out flowers he grabbed from the decoration, he says, “Let’s date.” Taking the flowers, Pal-gang happily agrees, and he kisses her head. Dae-goo looks ready to cry.
One year later. Hwa-shin is anchor beside Sung-sook, but for a twist, he’s in the female anchor seat on the right. He cuts off her closing and to PD Oh’s eternal alarm, they argue back and forth with further comments.
Ten years later. A balding Dong-gi cues a pregnant Na-ri, who tells him to hold it a sec while she tells off her husband who hasn’t dressed or fed their baby right. Omg this baby. “Do you only see the baby?” Hwa-shin asks grimly. “Are you jealous of a baby right now?” Na-ri retorts.
Christmas Eve in the year 2056, where people seem to need to walk around with respirators: A greying Na-ri shows off hula-hooping as exercise in her broadcast, and tells the audience she’s off to enjoy a ramyun by the river with her man while she can still manage it.
Back to the present. Still in their wedding clothes, Hwa-shin sets up his own video camera at the news studio and joins Na-ri at the desk. She wonders why they’re there and he tells her that it’s in place of a wedding shoot.
Bushed, Na-ri says she couldn’t do a wedding a second time, it’s too exhausting. Lightly, Hwa-shin tells her she should, if he dies early. Nooooo don’t say that! Rising angrily, she asks if he brought her here to say that. Smiling, he says that until he dies, he’s sticking to her like an octopus and she’d better not oil him off or salt him dead. She grins scarily at him like she’s about to, though.
She says there’s something she’s curious about, and asks him if he’d have started liking her if he hadn’t become jealous of Jung-won. “I don’t know,” he answers. “When I was in Thailand, I thought of you from time to time,” he confesses. That provokes a cascade of questions from Na-ri, and she complains when he answers them all with, “I don’t know.”
He says that it’s because of all the things he doesn’t know that he ended up here, next to her, being her little octopus. Smiling at his thoughts, he says that because of her crush, maybe he was always destined to go make a fool of himself at those mudflats.
He tells her that the fortuneteller told him that he’d always be curious about her: “Forever curious about you, I will love you. Forever curious about you, I will live with you.” But in classic Hwa-shin style he adds that she’d better not treat him badly because he said that.
The screen closes with a quote from Pal-gang: “Being more jealous means you love [someone] more.”
Sort-of Epilogue: Na-ri and Hwa-shin sign off the show like it’s a news program, and true to form, Hwa-shin cuts over Na-ri’s closing and tells viewers not to have a peaceful evening (“That’s no fun!”), but to have a hot, sultry one. Snorrrt. Hwa-shin keeps on talking, and Na-ri finally shuts him up by kissing him.
I didn’t think we’d really see a wedding in this show, but I’m so glad we did. It was such a great way to send off the characters and give us our last glimpses of everyone, and there was such a lot to like about the way many characters’ arcs were concluded. There were plenty of pairings-off, what with Ja-young and Chef, Sung-sook and Announcer Uhm, but hey, this show is letting us have our cake and eat it, because they totally put the momance first—and long may it live!
It’s true that a lot of the tertiary storylines got neat endings, but though they were neat, they were not perfunctory, like the Pal-gang love triangle, or her reconciliation with Hwa-shin. I admit I’m somewhat…intellectually dissatisfied with the whole Pal-gang storyline, which I feel did not fulfil its setup, and I wish it had because there was a lot to mine there, but I understand viewer feedback made the production cut it back (note: I have only read this as hearsay).
The secondary storylines got more justice, and I’m satisfied with those. I’ve become oddly fond of Announcer Uhm, who randomly appeared one day and I didn’t even know he’d be a recurring character. He’s good-natured and straight-shooting, and strikes me as just right for Sung-sook, not only because he likes her so much. He clearly enjoys a little browbeating, and wouldn’t have her any other way. Sung-sook has really become a character I genuinely like: She’s prickly, driven, and often selfish, but she’s also honest and has a steady temperament, which is such an interesting mix.
She’s not like Ja-young, who’s much closer to the traditional image of genteel womanhood—sweet, elegant and nurturing. In a way, it’s as if Ja-young became even Sung-sook’s mentor for how to be a mother. Not your usual drama-stepmother, Ja-young seems to quietly collect lost hearts, and proves a willing mentor for anyone who needs her. That’s a lot of love. It’s actually been pretty fantastic to see both of these women flourish, professionally and personally, with their different personalities giving them different strengths yet similar successes. They’re capable and confident and know their own minds, to the extent they can’t even hate each other, even though they try. It’s so gooood.
Also so good: Jung-won does not get a token consolation-prize pairing. Instead, the boys get to renegotiate and reclaim their friendship, both of them wiser to their own hearts, and to each other’s. I’m so glad Jung-won is not left to be a tragic figure, but actually gets to play fairy godfather to the couple, and prove at the same time that one love doesn’t end them all. He was the perfect MC, and I think Dr. Geum was exactly the right person to officiate, too, as the person who bore witness to the evolution of the couple’s whole relationship, especially its most agonizing lows. Also, she was most intimately acquainted with their bosoms. (Yes! I laughed writing that.)
But what of our central couple? We talked about relationship equality last week, and I enjoyed the way it played out this hour by levelling EVERYTHING, as they both spend a large portion of the episode effectively jobless. Na-ri not telling Hwa-shin about hers really stood out as just being something she didn’t need to do—she was handling it and didn’t need rescuing. But I really liked that their struggle with the reassignments showed how they recognized that their choices would sometimes be contingent on practicalities like putting food on the table. I also like how they’re agents of their own fates, and in this instance, Na-ri especially, negotiating a job for herself, with a rock-solid conviction in her own abilities. And with that, she’s able to give Hwa-shin back the freedom he sacrificed for their sake, and I think this is what best defines their relationship to me at this moment: the mutual consideration they have towards each other.
There’s a healthy space between them, with things they share and things they keep to themselves, but they’ve put their hearts into each other’s hands. And damn if it isn’t beautiful. Everything about them is so grounded and natural, and the show doesn’t offer a world of idealizations—not in friendship, parenthood, work, romance or even life in general. Instead, it extends a gentle authenticity that encompasses the spectrum of daily life, be it the good and the sweet, the painful or the broken, the cheerless or the absurd. Realizing complex characters is practically par for the course for Gong Hyo-jin, so I feel like she lived up to my expectations, but the real surprise has been Jo Jung-seok. Of course I know how funny and affecting he can be, from What’s Up all the way to Oh My Ghostess, but he tapped a new level of emotional torsion for Jealousy that I think we haven’t seen before, and I hope we see again really, really soon.
What I love most about Jealousy is that while characters changed and evolved over the course of the show, they always remain fundamentally themselves (even in 2056). They’re allowed to be flawed and stay flawed, and that’s a quality that kept the show really anchored not only in its own reality, but also in ours. From early on, I felt some tonal similarities between this show, and It’s Okay, It’s Love (which I love), and both shows also constantly put me in mind of Jane Austen’s Emma, in how that character was born from Austen’s desire to create an unlikeable heroine.
But here’s the problem inherent in that, especially from a sensitive writer: No matter what those characters do, as long as they had even a modicum of self-awareness, it’s very difficult not to sympathize with them. Emma is like that, It’s Okay’s Hae-soo is like that, and everyone in Jealousy is like that. Perhaps that’s why the only character in this show that I couldn’t connect with was Madam Kim, but that itself is the tragedy of her character. That kind of layering, intentional or otherwise, captures so many degrees of everyday human complexity and caprice, and that’s what makes this show so rich for dissection.
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 23
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 22
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 21
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 20
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 19
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 18
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 17
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 16
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 15
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 14
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 13
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 12
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 11
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 10
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 9
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 8
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 7
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 6
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 5
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 4
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 3
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 2
- Jealousy Incarnate: Episode 1