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Circle: Episode 11

The tables have turned once again, and I’m loving it! Instead of being outmaneuvered by Human B’s nefarious villains, Woo-jin takes charge of his own destiny and begins his plot to trap them instead. Instead of being just book smart, we see that Woo-jin is resourceful and clever on his feet as well, and that he’s always ready to sacrifice himself for those he loves. Then again, I guess if my friends and family were on the line, I’d be willing to make some sacrifices too.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Opening up the USB file containing his father’s research, Woo-jin thinks he’s found the way to save Bum-gyun’s life at last. And when a video of his father describing his research pops up, Woo-jin’s face breaks out in a relieved grin… until he realizes that this video isn’t an explanation of the research at all. In the video, his father explains that he destroyed all his research, effectively ending the Beta Project: “I decided that this technology isn’t something that humans should have.”

In a series of flashbacks, we see that Kim Kyu-chul had been confronted by a dilemma when he realized that Byul’s memory technology had the potential to ruin lives. Despite the fact that the technology could be used to help people with PTSD, Kim Kyu-chul had argued furiously against it when a younger version of Professor Han tried to persuade him to continue with the research, since Han believed that the removal of unpleasant memories would allow them, as imperfect as they were, to create a brave new world without crime or war.

But to that line of argument, Kim Kyu-chul had said, “But imperfect human beings will be in control of that technology. Someone will definitely try to take control of it! If that happens, people will be able to manipulate the memories of others, and will even be able to control them!”

Byul, who was watching their argument, went up to Kyu-chul after Professor Han was gone and asked for her memory to be erased. “I didn’t consider humanity’s greed,” she’d said. “It would be better to get rid of this technology than to allow it to be used for dark purposes.”

After the deed was done, Professor Han had demanded to know where Byul was, desperate to obtain that technology. Even after Kyu-chul told him that Byul’s memories were gone, Han refused to believe it, and had attempted to persuade Kyu-chul by pointing toward a group of threatening men down the hallway, headed by a younger Detective Choi. “If things go wrong, you and I could both end up dying,” Professor Han added.

However, in the video that Woo-jin watches, his father says the data was destroyed because he made an ethical decision to stop the research. Woo-jin reels back in shock as he finally registers that there’s no research data for him to use, and thus, there’s no way for him to save Bum-gyun.

It puts Woo-jin in a daze as he realizes that the information he needs to save his brother will only be obtained if he agrees to do as Professor Han threatened him to. But he snaps out of it quickly when Min-young calls in a frantic voice to tell him that Bum-gyun’s in trouble, and that they’re on the way to the hospital.

Woo-jin arrives to the hospital in time to see the doctors use a defibrillator on his flatlined brother, who’s gone into cardiac arrest. The doctors try shock after shock, until finally, Bum-gyun’s pulse returns. Woo-jin all but collapses in relief, finally able to breathe again.

When Min-young’s father explains Bum-gyun’s state to the group (consisting of Chief Hong, Min-young, Woo-jin, and Jung-yeon), he lets them know that Bum-gyun will only worsen and has a high chance of dying if the blue bug inside his brain isn’t removed.

And because the bug has burrowed into the brain so deep, Min-young’s father says that the only people with the proper expertise to remove it would be its creators, or the people who inserted it in the first place.

Hearing this, Jung-yeon tries to secretly text her father, saying that she’ll agree to his terms and try her best to recover her memory as Byul if he makes sure that Bum-gyun receives his life-saving surgery. However, Woo-jin catches her, and remembering that his father said that Byul made the choice to erase her memories, he stops her from sending Professor Han the text.

He also reassures her by showing her the crucifix USB, lying that it’s his father’s research data, which he plans on using to bargain with Professor Han. It’s enough to fool Jung-yeon, even as Woo-jin thinks of his father saying that the research no longer exists.

But being the clever kid he is, Woo-jin begins a plan to fool Professor Han in order to get him to perform Bum-gyun’s surgery. At 3:00 p.m. on June 26th, he goes to a karaoke room and puts his mic up to the speaker, enduring the agony of listening to the screeching sound caused by the sound waves’ interference.

Moments later, we see him asking Young Dong-soo for a request (though we don’t hear what it is), and Woo-jin eventually acquiesces to a deal that the rascal makes to get out of four tutoring sessions.

Meanwhile, Professor Park tells Sunbae Lee that they must both be extremely cautious and secretive from now on. He opens up an email on his computer from Woo-jin that had the beginning clip of Kyu-chul’s introductory message where he said: “This is the last log of the Beta Project…”

But the video cuts off before getting to the part where Kyu-chul talked about destroying the data, leading Professor Park to believe that there’s more.

Professor Park immediately calls Woo-jin to ask where the rest of the video is, and Woo-jin, who still thinks Professor Park is on his side, tells him to relay the message to Professor Han that he wants to exchange his father’s data for Bum-gyun’s surgery.

But it turns out that Woo-jin is back at his old house setting up his father’s office for the confrontation he knows is coming, which includes setting up his memory file from the noraebang to play. He finds the hidden camera that Professor Park installed in front of his father’s computer, but he thinks that it’s Professor Han’s dirty work and leaves it there, since it’ll only help his plan.

Pretending to be the good guy, Professor Park tells Woo-jin over the phone that “Professor Han” will probably want some sort of evidence or collateral for Bum-gyun’s surgery, and Woo-jin says that he’ll be a hostage. Professor Park agrees that this would probably work and tells Woo-jin that this will all be over once he hands over the data.

Sunbae Lee asks Professor Park if it really will be over once they get the data, but Professor Park replies that it’ll only be the beginning, since he plans on both using Woo-jin and Jung-yeon to restart the Beta Project.

After calling in some help to create an effective trap, Professor Park calls Woo-jin on his burner phone. Acting as though he’s being threatened by Professor Han and Human B, he tells Woo-jin that the other side has agreed to his request and that they want him to come to a meeting to discuss terms and hand over the data.

Woo-jin knows that he’ll be walking into a trap, so he begins saying his last goodbyes to everyone. They’re worried that he’s going into a dangerous situation alone; Chief Hong suggests that he help out, but Woo-jin says that he and Min-young should concentrate on getting Bum-gyun to a safe location as soon as his surgery is finished.

To deflect suspicion, Woo-jin puts an optimistic spin on everything, saying that it’ll be a simple handoff of the data. Plus, he adds that Professor Park will be there, and once the data changes hands, he’ll be free to go.

However, Woo-jin does have some doubts, and it shows when he watches Bum-gyun sleep in his hospital room. Bum-gyun wakes up with a smile, and after joking a bit back and forth with him, Woo-jin suddenly leans in to tell Bum-gyun something that we don’t get to hear.

When we see Woo-jin next, he’s handing Jung-yeon a pouch of things for his grandma, including next month’s hospice fee. He asks Jung-yeon to visit and take care of his grandma since he’s been too busy to do so recently.

It’s almost like he knows he may not survive the encounter and is preparing for that eventuality, because when Jung-yeon asks to go with him again, he just asks her to take care of everything while he’s gone. He stands up to leave, and she watches his retreating back until he turns back and returns to her.

Without preamble, Woo-jin pulls her into a gentle hug, which she reciprocates. He tells her that he’ll be back soon, and she replies that she’ll be waiting.

Woo-jin arrives on scene at an abandoned building, where a group of gangsters (including Detective Choi) stand around with Professor Park looking helpless among them. Woo-jin takes out a jar full of clear liquid and produces the cross USB, which Professor Park recognizes from his days spent researching at Kyu-chul’s house.

Woo-jin says that he’ll hand it over once he knows that his brother’s surgery has finished successfully. However, Detective Choi tries to pry it from him beforehand, resulting in a brief struggle. Prepared, Woo-jin drops the cross into the jar of what must be some sort of acid, since the USB immediately begins disintegrating.

Detective Choi grabs Woo-jin by the throat and begins to choke him, and Professor Park, seeing his dreams fizzling in a jar, puts a stop to it. When Woo-jin sees Detective Choi taking orders from Professor Park, he finally realizes who was behind this setup in the first place.

Although he’s shocked that he’s been betrayed, Woo-jin quickly adapts to the situation and tells Professor Park that he’s their only hope of getting his father’s research data now that the USB has been destroyed. He adds that they can find out what they want to know by playing back his memories on his father’s computer — however, if they harm him or if he refuses, it’s all over.

With that, Professor Park has no choice but to agree to Woo-jin’s request to save his brother. He makes the call.

The surgery finishes successfully, and the writhing electronic bug is taken out of Bum-gyun’s brain. Chief Hong calls Woo-jin immediately afterward, and tells him to come home safely. Now that his end of the deal has been carried out, Professor Park gets his goons to carry Woo-jin back to Kyu-chul’s old house in order to activate the system.

Once they’re in Kyu-chul’s old office, Professor Park and his goons impatiently lean into the computer while Woo-jin bides his time and surreptitiously maxes the volume out on the speaker he set up earlier.

Woo-jin then activates his own memory of the horrendous noise he endured at the karaoke place, which plays loud enough to burst eardrums in the office. Woo-jin’s the only one unaffected, since he brought a pair of earplugs.

So while everyone else is incapacitated by the screeching noise, he quickly snatches the star and makes his escape. We learn that he’d asked Dong-soo to cut the power to the house once he heard the sound, and to get out of dodge afterward.

With Dong-soo at the helm outside, the lights go out as soon as the screeching sound is heard, which gives Woo-jin a valuable chance to escape.

Jung-yeon waits at an empty bus stop while on her way to see Woo-jin’s grandma when she receives a video message from none other than Woo-jin himself. In it, he reveals that he found out that it was Byul’s wish to have her memories erased because of humanity’s greed and the technology’s potential for destruction.

He tells her that because she only has the memories of Han Jung-yeon, she’s only Han Jung-yeon to him, and he tells her to live as Han Jung-yeon instead of trying too hard to reclaim her memories as Byul.

“To me, you’re no longer Byul, but Han Jung-yeon,” he adds. “I will return to Han Jung-yeon. So run away as soon as you see this. Anywhere is fine. But if, by some chance, something happens to me, you still have to run away. Protect yourself until the very end.”

Having given chase after the stunt Woo-jin pulled, Detective Choi pursues Woo-jin into a forest, where he loses him. Woo-jin watches from his nearby hiding spot as Detective Choi taunts that this is all very similar to the way his father died Detective Choi just calls for Woo-jin, saying that this is very similar to the way his father died.

And in flashback, we see that Kim Kyu-chul had been shot and killed by none other than Detective Choi.

Shocked and enraged by this revelation, Woo-jin takes a rock and smashes it over Detective Choi’s head from behind, but the ex-cop makes a quick recovery and ends up pointing a gun to Woo-jin’s head. He’s clearly mentally unstable as he yells “Die! Die! Die!” just as he prepares to shoot Woo-jin.

But Professor Park arrives with reinforcements and manages to grab the gun, since he’d specifically said that Woo-jin had to remain alive. The other Human B gangsters force Woo-jin onto his knees, and Professor Park finally asks him whether the data even exists.

Woo-jin replies that it doesn’t, but Professor Park says that’s not a big loss, because they can probably recover it as long as they can track down Byul. Shouting for them not to touch Jung-yeon, Woo-jin protests vigorously against the restraining hands.

Professor Park kneels down to explain to him that they’re on the verge of a scientific breakthrough, but Woo-jin just tells him that he’s trash. Woo-jin knows that Professor Park’s actual motive isn’t something as lofty as scientific progress, but greed for the technology contained in the star Woo-jin holds. Professor Park doesn’t disagree — in fact, he asks if being greedy is so wrong.

Thinking fast, Woo-jin throws a handful of dirt into one of his captor’s eyes and makes another break for it. He’s almost successful in his mission to lose his pursuers in the forest, but in his blind rush, he ends up on a road.

Everything seems to happen instantly — no sooner do Woo-jin’s feet hit the asphalt do we hear and see the car speeding toward him. A shocked sort of realization hits Woo-jin just moments before the car makes a sickening impact, sending Woo-jin flying into the air before he falls to the ground in a broken heap. (Noooo!!!)

The driver of the car is none other than Sunbae Lee, whose shocked face tells us that this was all a terrible accident.

As blood begins to pool and spread from Woo-jin’s head, his eyes focus on the alien cube that was hidden inside the star, which was shattered in the impact. As Professor Park and his cronies look on helplessly, Woo-jin tries desperately to reach for the cube, but his body won’t do what he wants it to.

Woo-jin manages to say Jung-yeon’s name, and we cut to her watching the rest of his video at the bus stop. As we see Woo-jin try and fail to reach the cube, we cut back to him (in video form) telling Jung-yeon to open her bag. Inside, she cries to find the pendant we’ve never seen her without in 2037 as Woo-jin’s narration continues: “Wait for me. Wherever you are… I’ll find you.”

Back on the road, Woo-jin doesn’t give up his struggle even as bright, happy memories of Bum-gyun play through his mind. He reaches for the cube as his strength fades, and ever so slowly, we see the spark fade from his eyes as his body goes limp. The cube lights up once, then goes dark.

Woo-jin wakes with a start in a hospital bed with an IV line attached. Remembering the accident, he searches his body for injuries, only to find none. But when he tries to leave the room, he realizes that the door is locked, and no amount of yelling gets it to open.

With tears running down his face, Woo-jin remembers his promise to return to Jung-yeon and the moment when he’d confided something to Bum-gyun in the hospital room. He throws everything he can at the door, but the sudden sound of an alarm seems to unlock the door.

Taking the opportunity, Woo-jin escapes at a dead run from the hospital room and bolts into the exit stairwell as he all but flies down the steps… only to suddenly stop dead.

Peering around the bend, Woo-jin sees…

…Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon? (What?!)

We finally know what Jung-yeon and Joon-hyuk saw that shocked them so much in the past episode, as both of them look up to see Woo-jin looking just like he did when they last saw him. While Joon-hyuk calls out to his brother disbelievingly, a confused Woo-jin backs away from the strange man uneasily.

But Woo-jin does recognize Jung-yeon, though she’s too stunned to answer any of his questions. Joon-hyuk desperately grabs onto Woo-jin’s arm as he asks if he’s really Woo-jin. “I’m… Bum-gyun. Kim Bum-gyun,” Joon-hyuk says through his tears. Woo-jin: “Hyung?”

Seeing Woo-jin’s empty hospital bedroom, Minister Park orders Deputy Chief Lee to find “Circle 8.”

Part 2: Brave New World

We rewind back to two and a half years after Woo-jin’s car accident, and Jung-yeon has disappeared without a trace. Professor Park has been keeping Woo-jin alive on an artificial ventilator with the star cube at his bedside, but he’s told that Woo-jin’s organs are deteriorating past the point of saving.

So, Minister Park convinces a foreign researcher to perform human clinical trials on cloning by enticing the man with a future of unrestricted funding, resources, and fame. In 2022, their clinical trials succeed, and because Professor Park no longer has a need for the original Woo-jin, he tells the doctors to put him out of his misery.

Back in 2037, a tearful Joon-hyuk can’t understand how Woo-jin looks the same, even though twenty years have passed. Woo-jin can’t believe that it’s been so long, because to him, it seems like only yesterday that his entire encounter with Professor Park and Detective Choi happened. “Are you really my hyung?” Woo-jin asks with wide eyes as he takes Joon-hyuk in.

However, since they’re still being chased inside the Human B building, they make their escape first. When they get to a place to rest, Woo-jin reveals what he learned on his last day: that it was Professor Park who was the ultimate mastermind, and not Professor Han.

While Woo-jin wonders how he can still look the same even though twenty years have passed, Joon-hyuk thinks back to what both the insane Professor Han and what Professor Park told him at their standoff—that Woo-jin was alive. In addition, his own memory (not the ones he received from Woo-jin) start to resurface, but they’re still on the run.

With Joon-hyuk in the lead, they take down several Human B goons as they make their escape, stealing weapons from them as they go. Upon seeing Deputy Chief Lee around the corner, Joon-hyuk captures him at gunpoint and makes him explain Woo-jin’s presence at Human B.

Deputy Chief Lee smugly tells him that the Woo-jin in front of them is “Circle 8-III,” and confirms Jung-yeon’s suspicions that Woo-jin is a clone. Lee explains that the real Woo-jin died fifteen years ago, adding that they needed to reinsert the original Woo-jin’s memory into his clones in order for the cube technology to work. That’s why Circle 8-III looks exactly the same.

As both Joon-hyuk and Woo-jin try to come to grips with what they’ve just heard — Joon-hyuk taking in the fact that the brother he knew died, and Woo-jin the fact that despite having memories of the accident, he’s a clone — Deputy Chief Lee secretly presses the panic button on his phone.

“You’re not Kim Woo-jin,” Lee says, pointing at the clone. “You’re just the key that we need for the supercomputer. You’re a component.”

With that, Human B cronies are able to find them and corner them into the stairwell. Just when it starts to look hopeless for Joon-hyuk and Co., Chief Hong and cavalry come to the rescue just in time, though not without Hong taking a startled look at Woo-jin.

Once they’re in the stairwell, Dong-soo can’t get over his shock to see Woo-jin, his old tutor, looking the same as he did twenty years ago. They all manage to leave the situation without any casualties, and regroup at their safe haven: the church.

Once all explanations have been made, it splits the group into two camps: Detective Oh and Joon-hyuk insist that Woo-jin is dead and that this clone is a substitute, but Jung-yeon and Dong-soo say that the person in front of them is Woo-jin. Dong-soo believes this especially, since Woo-jin remembers him, even though Detective Oh fires back, “You’ve never met him before!”

Joon-hyuk speaks up to agree with Detective Oh, asking repeatedly, “Why is he Woo-jin? Woo-jin is dead. If he has the same face, is he Woo-jin? My little brother and your tutor is dead.” While looking Woo-jin dead in the eye, Joon-hyuk adds, “This isn’t Woo-jin.” Ouch.

Thinking about Woo-jin’s goodbye video, Jung-yeon finally speaks up: “This is what Woo-jin said: Because I have Han Jung-yeon’s memories, I am Han Jung-yeon. I lived as Han Jung-yeon all this time because of what he told me. So, he’s Woo-jin too. Because he has Woo-jin’s memories, he is Woo-jin.”

“No, Woo-jin is dead,” Joon-hyuk fires back. At first, he seems almost revolted by the thought that the Woo-jin in front of him isn’t the same brother that he once loved, and tears fill his eyes as he asks what would become of his dead brother if they were to accept that the person in front of them is Woo-jin.

Walking straight up to Woo-jin, Joon-hyuk looks him in the eyes as he says, “You’re not Kim Woo-jin.” With that, Joon-hyuk leaves.

At Human B Headquarters, Minister/CEO Park holds a meeting of his top department researchers, who speculate about what will happen now that they no longer have Circle 8-III to activate the Care Chip technology. They predict mass chaos due to the blocked memories of all Smart Earth citizens returning.

Minister Park declares that they can just make another clone, but since that would leave Smart Earth without the Care Chip technology for another year, their only remaining option is to capture Bluebird, Circle 8-III, and Joon-hyuk at any cost.

The city government, acting on Human B’s orders, places a terrorist watch on all three. Ho-soo tries to protest, saying that the real criminals are Minister Park and Human B. However, unbeknownst to him, his superior is one of Human B’s goons, so his protests fall on deaf ears.

Having heard all the arguments going on in the church, Woo-jin understands both sides, and goes outside to process the information. Jung-yeon finds him on a bench, and when he asks if Bum-gyun woke up from his surgery successfully, she explains that he took ten years to wake up.

She tells him that Joon-hyuk’s memories of the past are entirely based on the memories Woo-jin left him just in case he never recovered from his amnesia, and so she adds that Joon-hyuk has been searching for his twin all these years just based on those precious few memories. Aww.

After they realize they’ve been put on a terrorist watchlist, everyone furiously argues about the implications of keeping Woo-jin with them. Detective Oh thinks that if they’re with Woo-jin (who is not really Woo-jin in his mind), they’ll be in more danger.

While this may be true because they know that Human B won’t stop until Woo-jin is back under their control, Jung-yeon tries to get them all to see reason: If they let Woo-jin go back to Human B, he’ll live a life as a prisoner and a tool for their use.

Woo-jin, having overheard their conversation, slowly walks outside, despondent but ready to sacrifice himself again for the good of the group. This time it’s Joon-hyuk who follows him outside and asks where he’s going. More flashes of a memory begin to form in Joon-hyuk’s mind, and he begins to remember bits and pieces of something that wasn’t in Woo-jin’s memory files.

Remembering flashes of the last conversation they had before his surgery, Joon-hyuk asks the clone what Woo-jin said to him on that last day. But Woo-jin calls him “Detective Kim” and insists that the memories Joon-hyuk wants him to recount aren’t his memories, since he’s just a clone.

But Joon-hyuk wants him to answer regardless, so Woo-jin repeats what he said that day in the hospital: “I’m… scared.”

The memory replays in Joon-hyuk’s mind as he remembers the rest of their final exchange. Before Woo-jin had left him for the last time, he made Bum-gyun promise not to forget him. After promising, both brothers had smiled at one another.

In the present, tears stream down both their faces as Woo-jin and Joon-hyuk take each other in. Using the same words he used twenty years ago, Woo-jin says, “Hyung, I’m scared. I’ll… be back.”

This seems to break a dam inside Joon-hyuk, and he lets out all his frustration and sadness in a barrage of questions, asking him concernedly if he knew what he was doing when he left to see Professor Park. “I’m sorry,” Joon-hyuk finally says. “I shouldn’t have let you go alone. I’m sorry, Woo-jin-ah.”

Embracing Woo-jin not as a clone, but as his true brother, Joon-hyuk cries as he apologizes over and over again. Woo-jin resists at first, clearly conflicted, but once he allows himself to say the word “Hyung,” he gives into the embrace as he hugs his brother back.

 
COMMENTS

Oh the feels! In the first couple episodes, I had been emotionally invested in Woo-jin’s story because my heart felt raw from his backstory—how he grew up with a dementia-ridden grandmother and a brother who was so singlemindedly intent on finding the alien who kidnapped their father. The interactions he had with Bum-gyun later, when he desperately pleaded for his brother to stop his crazy-seeming quest, were heartbreaking. However, the previous couple weeks, I hadn’t been feeling the same amount of deep emotional connection, although I had enjoyed the cerebral ride as Circle took us through the mystery of finding Human B’s CEO and Future Woo-jin.

But in watching this reunion between the brothers, the dam holding back my tears broke. I could understand why Joon-hyuk wouldn’t accept Circle 8-III as his brother, because despite him having the same memories and the same DNA, they were inherently different existences. It brings up many interesting questions about cloning and the concept of souls and the afterlife.

For example, does it even matter that Circle 8-III is not the original Woo-jin because he is essentially the same person to the people who know him? Or is he a different person because he hasn’t had the physical interactions with his environment as the original Woo-jin had, despite having the memory of those experiences? In this world, is cloning a pathway to immortality because you could infinitely clone yourself and transplant memories? If so, why hasn’t Deputy Chief Lee or Minister Park taken advantage of it?

When he quietly decided to leave the group, I thought that Woo-jin also understood Joon-hyuk’s point of view regarding him not being the real Woo-jin. And true to his character, he was still willing to sacrifice himself again for the good of the group. Throughout the entire drama, Woo-jin has displayed a tendency to sacrifice himself for his loved ones, and in this episode, he put himself in danger to save Bum-gyun and Jung-yeon.

But all along, he’s been the one who kept his family together by running ragged to stay at the top of his class and earn money, and he didn’t give up on his brother or his grandma despite how much pain they caused him. I don’t necessarily like the idea of noble sacrifice as a trope, but unlike circumstances in which it is unwarranted, in this scenario, the stakes were real and the danger that he posed was an imminent threat to everyone’s survival. Thus, I found the moment to be poignant and in-line with what the show has been telling us about Woo-jin’s personality.

While I enjoyed Jung Suk-won’s cameo appearance the last episode as the shadowy man behind Human B, now I’m super confused. The way he was presented, I thought that he would have a much greater role in the future episodes and provide a looming sense of doom, but he wasn’t even present in this episode. I don’t know if his introduction at this stage of the game was all that necessary. Sure, it gave Professor Park access to his goons, and gave the writers a way to explain his access to unlimited funding for memory research. However, I don’t know if this minor subplot adds any more depth to the story, even if it did get the job done.

Overall though, Circle has been thoroughly entertaining, thrilling, and heartbreaking. I would have liked for there to have been more episodes to explore this dystopian futuristic world, because I think one of the things that could have been explored through the strict divide between Smart Earth and Ordinary Earth was the clear socioeconomic divide, and what its implications were for prejudice and discrimination.

However, I love sci-fi, and so I also enjoyed the route that Circle went, focusing on how technological progress is imminently tied with human greed and how it will inevitably be used for either good or bad depending on human motivations. But if nothing else, I’ll always remember Circle for being innovative in using the concept of memory transplantation and splicing as an avenue to explore the meaning of self and identity.

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Finally the timelines have merged! I was half expecting Woo-Jin to be in Darth-Vader-like existence from the previous episode.

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Yeah... I thought the cloning thing was a pretty smooth way to merge the two timelines

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And the story went into cloning plot, which of course got me linking to the underrated Duel. Is cloning the latest trend in kdrama land right now?

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Yes, the shows themselves are cloning.

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Ha, you just made me spit out my food.

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I know right ! I thought this is a story about aliens but ended up the same as Duel in the latter part. I've watched Duel and dropped it , I still think Circle is much better in the way the suspense, twists and cliffhangers are built up.

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I jumped out of my seat when I realized that he was a clone.

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I was wondering, is Duel good?
Was on hype before the show starts but then I haven't tried to watch it after airing.

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Duel is sooo goood!try watching it^^

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It's good! I highly recommend it.

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YESSSSSSS!!!!!!

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Ahhh so brilliant!! What a flawless transition into the second timeline!! It was so seamless and perfect. My brain hurt going back and forth as to whether Circle8 III was legit and the real Woo-jin or if like Joon-hyuk he wasn't the real one, his real brother. I can totally get why Jung-yeon was so quick to accept him when she's been waiting for him for 20 years!!! and it doesn't help that he looks exactly the same, the same adorable kiddo from 2017. It's almost like it negates the terrible 20 years she's had to live through to now have him back.

I can't wait for the final ep!!
Great recap too tineybeanie :)

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Aaah you bring up a good point.
With the clone issue and the dilemma of if Circle 8-III is or isn't WJ, comes a whole lot of questions. Knowing that the clone does have all of WJ's memories, I think it's easier to accept him as WJ because he literally has the same appearance. But what if he'd happened not to look like WJ? I wonder if they (and us viewers) would have readily accepted him.

And this might be unrelated, but why did Human B need to make three clones ? Does each clone have an expiration date? Or were they just making trials and doing improvements with each version?

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I was wondering the same thing but I guess the first two tries didn't succeed or probably needed improvements.

And I think if he didn't look like Woo-jin, it'll be harder to accept him the way Jung-yeon did. I totally get Joon-hyuk's angst and conflicted self when he found out his brother has long died and yet he's seeing an exact replica and with the memories to add to it all. The shock and confusion. But even if it was a clone WJ, the personality remained. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the ones he love. Maybe it has something to do with the memories that was also transplanted idk but I just really have to say, Circle really has done an amazing job. It didn't disappoint at all.

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Ok, riddle me this. If Bum-Gyun woke up from a ten year coma with no memories of his life, and only has Woo-Jin's memories of the past, how can he be upset at the new Woo-Jin for not being the old Woo-Jin, when he doesn't know the old Woo-Jin either?

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Exactly! I was like whoa you both had a lifetime of difficult and weird circumstances that were not either of your faults you need to chill. Then while watching through my tears I thought he's in so much shock. I mean his brother is both dead and alive. Okay freak out understood but I was so relieved when they reconciled.

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One more thing, the series is initially promoted into alien-related, but actually we haven't really got into alien plots in the futuristic timeline. I felt cheated in a way. And the way the series have ended...is there a possibility for sequel that finally centered on the alien themes??

Even in the present timeline, once Jung-yeon acknowledged her identity as Byul, it seems that everyone else does not care about her alien identity anymore.

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what they focused on was her memory weaving technology instead...they are after that....but as scientists, do they not care about how she arrive and her origins? I thought alien origins would have been interesting to those curious researchers.

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Same! And when I saw Woo-jin, I had a thought. Was Jung-yeon really an alien or just a clone as well? It's a whole new plot I guess, which we may or may not find out?

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I think we can all agree they were awful researchers. I think when they found her DNA to be identical to humans they latched on to her memory technology and went crazy with the greed.
But yea it was strange everyone was like okay you're an alien moving on. No one was like oh I wonder if they are more of you or hey when you crashed was that like you being born because you don't seem to remember a pre earth life. What's up with the Byul? Perhaps you have an alien father you can visit in an alien hospital. Also will you never age? Are you immortal?
Mmm hahaha I guess your post brought up thoughts I didn't know I had piling up. Sorry!

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Wait except the twins they asked her questions and remember when she drew celestial bodies on the window...that was it on the alien info.

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I knew it would go to the cloning side of things. Although my heart wished so hard, my brain kept telling me that Woo Jin probably didn't survive in the 2017 timeline, so when I actually saw him confronting Jung Yeon and Joon Hyuk, I was like that's not really him, is it. Also, when he videoed that message to Jung Yeon to not regain her memories as Byul, I felt my heart break into pieces again. Everything that he was doing at the time, was like saying goodbye. Now, that both worlds have full merged, with barely any episodes left, I'm stuck here wondering what am I going to do without this show.

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After this show, I'm a big fan of Yeo Jin Gu AND Gong Seung Yeon now. (I finished watched GSY in My Only Love Song.)

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@Lunabird,

I was already a fan of Yeo Jin-gu. Gong Seung-yeon is now a few fave. ;-)

I thoroughly enjoyed MY ONLY LOVE SONG, although I wasn't expecting General Ko to end up as he did, given how much buffoonery had gone down earlier. The show's wackiness helped offset some of the thriller-induced stress of watching CIRCLE, LOOKOUT, and DUEL at the same time. THE BEST HIT has helped balance out the dystopian darkness, too. ;-)

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Yeo Jin Gu and Gong Seung Yeon havé shows airing in the coming months *hint hint*

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I cried and cried and cried during this episode. It was too painful to see Woo-jin die, after everything he went through. And his last words were "hyung," which just SHATTERED my heart. (how was that car accident filmed though?)

Also, to have WJ back in part 2 as a clone, only to have his brother initially reject him, and him subsequently deciding to quietly walk back to Human B...poor puppy.

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I wondered about that too - how was it filmed. It looked so realistic. Yeo Jin Gu is really an expert.

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So many tears especially since that car scene was so amazing.
Woo-jin tried so hard all his life. The man was a mountain of love and pain. How is your clone just as honorable?!?

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Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Kang Woo were in perfect harmony as brothers and to see them reunite was such an emotional moment. I particularly loved the moment Woo Jin finally, after 20 years, let it all out in his older brother's arms...best hug in drama in 2017.

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The way he said "hyung" reminded me of how he said the same thing when he died, which made cry even more :(

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Gaaaaaaaah!!!!!!! THIS SHOW!!!! I can't believe we're already on the second-to-last episode of the wild ride! The feels the hit me in this show hit me hard, I cried for about two years at almost everything. The last episode's ending had me wondering whether it really was Woo Jin they were seeing or if it was something else and the first part of this episode had me thinking "Gah! Nooooooooooo!!!!!" But, then when Woo Jin woke up in the hospital room it was, "Yay!!! He's not dead!! He's alive!!!" And then when he started running around thoughts like, "This place looks vaguely familiar...." started circulating and then once he hit the stairs it was, "OMG WHAT? HE'S IN THE FUTURE? HOW?WHAT?" If that wasn't enough, Bum Gyun's rejection then reconciliation of Clone Woo Jin got me even more. I cried with them when they hugged. I'm super excited to see how this show resolves itself!!!!

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Woojin-ah... ??? He's such a tragic character who will stop at nothing to make sure his loved ones are okay. He tried his hardest to keep Bumgyun, Jungyeon and himself safe without making the bad guys succeed, but like what he said, 1 in 10,000 things could go wrong and it ultimately did.

He's been characterized to be a truly selfless person right at the start.. and I'm so heartbroken to see his life end that way and I was so mad to see Human B taking advantage of him like that while he was so helpless and in a coma.

For me 2037 Woojin is still Woojin. He may not have his original body but his mind and memories do tell him he is. I love how this show stressed that we should live our life and identity the way our mind and heart tell us to.

And when he said that he's scared. I was just crying so hard. Woojin tried to put a brave front with everyone else, but only to his brother does he admit he's scared and that says so much about their bond. And it's so apparent that 2037!Woojin is just as scared. ? Jingoo's acting throughout the entire time when the rest were debating whether he is Woojin or not totally felt like I was being punched in the gut.

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Yes! But I also loved that 2037 "Woo Jin" is now truly able to act as the younger brother that he always was, and rely on his hyung. Because in 2017 he was forced to grow up too soon and take on too much responsibility like you said, and sacrificed himself to save the rest.

So it carried even more emotional impact to have his 2017 self reconcile with his brother in 2037, (plus the initial struggle for Joon Hyuk to accept him as really Woo Jin) and tell him that he was scared- he got his hug and his brother's support, he could finally let go of the load on his shoulders and let his hyung take care of him. ?????

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So true, you said it so well. In 2017, we see how he's forced to grow up so fast so he pretends to be brave in front of everyone, but in 2037 he is completely vulnerable and absolutely scared and just to see him break down like that to his Hyung, letting go of all the burden that he's been hiding all these years is just so powerful to me.

Also, it is only to his Hyung does he ever let go of himself like that. Just like in the first episode where he begs Bumgyun to just stay by his side because he's been suffering all this time. T_T

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I also cried my eyes out the moment Woo Jin said, "I'm scared." And I didn't know why! But now I see, it was because 2017 Woo Jin was really just putting up a front to take care of his loved ones. He was the only one at that time able to go against the professor. He had to be the one to take up the burden, to sacrifice himself, to make it seem that all will be well when he didn't know how everything will turn out.
Then again in 2037, "Woo Jin" again was going to choose to sacrifice himself and go back to being locked up in that room. When hyun asked him to say what he said in the hospital room 20 years again, it is also how he was feeling at that time because he decided to give himself up again for the sake of everyone else. When he said that he was scared, my heart went out to him. Such a truly selfless Woo Jin whether in 2017 or 2037 really deserves the hug from hyun. I'm so glad hyun accepted him!

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'Yes! But I also loved that 2037 "Woo Jin" is now truly able to act as the younger brother that he always was, and rely on his hyung.'

Well, they are twins, you know. Even if Woo-jin is the younger brother, I suppose their birth were only separated by few minutes. Bum-gyun is not a lot older than Woo-jin. They are same age, at least, in 2017 storyline. It's only due to their personality that Woo-jin matures faster.

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?? Aww you're right annnnd I'm back in tears again.

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Woo Jin is certainly one of the best written characters in kdramas. He does everything in order to ensure the safety of his loved ones at the same time fighting against his circumstances. He is clever and resourceful enough to put together an exit plan. Also loyal, responsible, tenacious, loving, caring, hardworking. Yeo Jin Gu simply brought the character alive and made him unforgettable. He conveyed the gamut of emotions Woo Jin went through perfectly. I am missing him sorely. My Mondays and Tuesdays will never be the same again.

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Yes, I used to hate Mondays with passion but because of this show I looked forward so hard to it. It will definitely never be the same again.

I'm thankful at how well-written the characters are here in Circle, especially Woojin. They made him stay true to his character and Yeo Jingoo's acting is so layered and heart-felt that he successfully made us root for Kim Woojin, no questions asked.

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Noooo, you guys...this thread is making me tear up again and missing Circle even more?????

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OMG guys my face are wet again with tears. dont make me like thissss.

woojin will be forever my kdrama character. his self-less character just look so alive with jin goo's act he's such an amazing actor

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So bad cop gets his head smashed with a gigantic rock but manages to get up without so much an owie and point a gun? And how about the ubiquitous car of death with slo-mo free fall? What would Prosecutor Shi Mok say about these coincidences? Does suspicious Hyun Soo have an alibi this time?

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I've gotten a bit tired of drama good buys clonking bad guys on the head and then just standing there till the bad guy gets up and gets his weapon. Has anyone in Kdramaland ever *IMMEDIATELY* followed up with a few more clonks?

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@Lord Cobol,

ROFLMAO!

Obviously it was not the best hit...

"Has anyone in Kdramaland ever *IMMEDIATELY* followed up with a few more clonks?"

By definition, good guys don't bash in even the worst baddie's brains. Even in self-defense.

I'm beginning to think there's another unwritten Kdramaland law: "Thou shalt linger in the crosswalk."

@9 apple,

"Does suspicious Hyun Soo have an alibi this time?"

Hyun Soo looked so traumatized that I accepted it a being a totally accident.

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I haven't been this transfixed by a show in a while, and Circle is really a wonderful melding of writing, directing, and acting coming together flawlessly. This episode hit me in the feels super hard (cried a river). I knew cloning would come into play from the moment it was mentioned earlier in the show, but it still hurts just as much thinking about Woo-jin not being Woo-jin or indeed being Woo-jin, and all the psychological stuff regarding what makes us US. Thanks for the recap, tineybeanie!

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The brothers reunion was so emotional!

I was thinking, in a way, the writers and directors had to make two story's and casts feel fleshed out and have us emotionally connect with them, in half the time, while keeping us excited and surprised for part one and two every week. And they did it!

Circle has been astonishing!
Big props to everyone involved.

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Even Circle being a scifi with Aliens, futuristic dystopia, manipulation of memory and some twist, the core of the drama is about two brothers and their journey of trying to find each other, and damn... the reunited was more than satisfactory, it's was everything.

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I had quite a few thoughts and questions after this episode and wanted to wait to see if the finale would answer them. It did not, so I will share those thoughts now.
Although I wanted a (physically) older Woojin to be appear in the show (and I wanted a happier ending for the twins), I must admit that the final moment between Clone Woojin and Beomgyeon in this episode was moving and powerful.

Questions:
1. Do clones go through the normal aging process?
2. How long was Circulate 3 in the bed? Has he been there for a couple of years? (If so, his muscles have miraculously not atrophied--which is nothing new in k-dramas, lol) ). And if so, has his mind been playing these memories constantly during those years? In which case, those memories would have become a nightmare.
3. Have the other clones been in sleep-induced states? But what about the Woojin we saw in 2022? He was awake and had an eerie smile in the photograph.
4. If clones have normal life spans, why wouldn't Park start preparing back-up copies in advance?
5. One of my bigger questions. Human B seemed to be such a menacing force that pushed the research of professors Han and Kim. Where are those forces in the future? Why did they yield to professor Park? This question led me to believe that they might be acting as a shadow government, with Park as the figure head. But this did not turn out to be the case.

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no 5 is a big question in my mind too..

for no 2 & 3 i guess there's Circulate 1 and Circulate 2 before this Circulate 3 we meet in 2037. the picture in 2022 may be taken when they succeed creating first clone without Woo Jin's memory. after they imbued the clone with Woo Jin's memory they have to put him in induced sleep because of course he wouldn't want to help them, rite?

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if the previous circulate had no Woo-Jin's memory and could cooperate with Park, they shouldn't make circulate III has Woo-Jin's memory as well. It's better to have the clone who could give them everything they need without any force right?

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The cube won't work without Woo Jin memory.

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that's why, the circulate I and II (if these two really are the previous clones which failed) must be had WJ memory.

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Hmm imo
Circulate I and II failed (this happened before 2022)
And in 2022, they finally managed to make WJ's clone that is Circulate III and that clone was photographed in the CEO room (Maybe prof Park want to show off with his succes to make a clone).
At that time, Circulate III didn't have WJ's memories. Then after that, they realize that cube won't work out without his memories, so they inserted that memories and make him sleep

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Oh that makes great sense!

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But my biggest question is why he wake up from his sleep, suddenly? I mean, if this the first time it happened or it has been repeated?
And he wakes up at the right time, too apt to be called a coincidence

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<why he wake up from his sleep, suddenly?

Jung-yeon was in danger. I interpreted the whole thing as his connection to her – him sensing that danger to her and thus waking up.

Probably up to now he was in a controlled deep sleep, nothing ever roused him, but the moment Jung-yeon was close and in danger, he somehow remembered (yes, I think memories played a role) even in deep sleep and woke up.

Sorry if I'm not explaining it well – plus, that's just my interpresentation, since the show doesn't explain anything on this end.

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@nomunamu he's wake up because JungYeon hacked supercomputer through Ho Soo, that's a trap she made as Ho Soo idea. Remember the previous ep, the supercomputer or the electricity basically turn off for a while to buy JunHyuk and JungYeon time.

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@alua @soohyang thank you for your explanation

Hmm it's make sense about the connection between WJ and JY. Because I thought that too in ep 10. But when they showed ep 11, it make me confused again.

When WJ wake up, everything seems fine (no black out, etc). After a while he tried to break a door, suddenly we heard alarm sound and the door lock was off, WJ run off and then the electricity went off

So my assumption
Alarm : was when JY hacked supercomputer, right?
So WJ woke up before that?

Pardon mee...

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That makes sense. Perhaps the first successful/viable clone was the one pictured in 2022. Maybe he didn't have those memories, which would explain his strange expression. Once the go-ahead was given for Smart Earth, the memories of Woojin could have been planted in version 1, after which the cube would have been re-activated.

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2. It seems to me that he did not wake up even once before this episode. Did Human B inject him with something that put him to constant sleep? But how was it that he suddenly woke up?

3. I believe they have only one clone at a time. Otherwise they would not try so hard to capture him back. Clone 1 and 2 may be dead.

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I agree that circulate three seems to have been asleep the entire time and that that sleep state must have been induced through some medical means.

Yes, I also think that they had one "active" clone at a time. But with the risk of death--or whatever else might potentially go wrong--wouldn't it make sense (to someone like Chairman Park) to start the process of creating a back up copy?

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I am guessing it is too expensive or technically difficult to produce more than one clone at a time. And since clones have short lifespan, it makes sense to wait until this functioning clone to show sign of deteriorating health to start prepare for a back up clone.

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But if we go with the assumption that clones have short lifespans, that means Circle 8-III aka 2037 Woo-jin probably won't have a long existence past what we saw in the finale.

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1. I think clone should be aging as well as human because its contain the same DNA, and not kind of immortal
2. That's what I thought too. Woo-Jin's clone still healthy, clean and muscular despite of his long sleep.
3. It's another goof I guess. The real Woo-Jin were in dying state and the clone (literally I have no idea whether circulate III sleeping all the time since the day he made) always in isolated room.
4. I guess he already has back-up/ starter in form of stem cell contain Woo-Jin's DNA or something because in ep 12 he said it's okay to kill the clone, he just need to make another one.
5. I know nothing. lol

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Re # 5, LOL. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the questions I posed.

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I think that even though Circle has been labelled as a sci-fi show, it is, at heart, the tale of two brothers. Woo Jin and Bum Gyun searched for each other in 2017 and 2037 desperately, overcoming all obstacles in their way. If the show had more than 12 episodes, the unanswered questions would have been addressed but at this length, I think it gave a very satisfying ending true to itself.

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I agree that the brotherly bond (and the theme of identity) was central to the story. I just wish that at least a couple of these questions would have been answered. I think the writers, directors, and actors gave us a wonderful story in spite of constraints and limitations.

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@Peridot,

2. How long was Circulate 3 in the bed? Has he been there for a couple of years? (If so, his muscles have miraculously not atrophied--which is nothing new in k-dramas, lol) ).

Yeah, I thought exactly the same thing. Actually, if he were in bed the whole time, I don't think there would be any gravity-induced muscle tone in the first place. If anything, there would be muscle contractures that preclude walking. That very thing happened to the mother of a friend after surgery no one had expected her to survive. :-(

I have to agree with you regarding #4, too. How could Human B not have "an heir and a spare" on standby, perhaps in cryonic suspension?!

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Hello, @pakalanapikake.

I am sorry about your friend's mother.

In one of Phillip K. Dick's short stories, The Minority Report, there are individuals known as "Pregogs" who have severely underdeveloped bodies but large heads. I could almost picture clone Woojin looking like that, as his brain and memories are all that Chairman Park wants to preserve in order to keep the current system running. Maybe one day we'll get a kdrama scifi that is allowed to go all out like that.

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@Peridot,

"I am sorry about your friend's mother."

Aw, shucks. Thanks, Peridot!

I mentioned it only because I saw first-hand what being bedridden for an extended period of time can do to musculature (without physical therapy, that is).

"Pregogs" sound pretty wild.

In Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift had a race of scholar-nerds with oversized noggins living on the flying island of Laputa. They were so perpetually lost in thought that they had servants called "climenoles" (flappers) whose job it was to flap a bladder on a stick at their ears and lips to indicate when they should listen and speak to other people. LOL.

I was wondering if Human B would upload consciousness straight to silicon -- and leave meat behind entirely. But then Woo-jin would have ended up stashed in a glorified thermos like H.P. Lovecraft's Whisperer in Darkness. Retaining his hunky physical form as a clone was much more fun to watch than dials and blinking meters, or listening to disembodied voices. ;-)

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You're welcome, @pakalanapikake. :)

I have heard of people who have been bedridden for relatively short periods of time and have lost muscle mass. I can only imagine what happens when one is bedridden or in a coma for months and years.

LOL. It should actually be "Precogs," not "Pregogs." Sorry for the typo. These individuals have precognitive abilities, which are used by the Precrime Division of the futuristic society. There was a film adaptation of the short story, but it cannot compare to the original work, and like other adaptations of Dick's works, it is quite different.

"...servants called 'climenoles' (flappers) whose job it was to flap a bladder on a stick at their ears and lips to indicate when they should listen and speak to other people...." That does sound funny.

Consciousness in silicon? Wow, that would be frightening and disturbing, but very interesting (not in real life, of course ;) ). I know that k-dramas have to have their hunks and good-looking male leads, but I hope that one day we'll get an all-out scifi work.

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"They were so perpetually lost in thought that they had servants called "climenoles" (flappers) whose job it was to flap a bladder on a stick at their ears and lips to indicate when they should listen and speak to other people."
These beings would come in handy for many people within our society as well :)

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@Peridot June 30, 2017 at 9:46 AM

Thanks for the pointer to Philip K. Dick's short story, "Minority Report." I just read it, and now see why you mentioned the "precogs." -- Using them to apprehend "pre-criminals" conjures up the historical use of phrenology to assess an individual's predisposition to criminality.

Re: Jonathan Swift's climenoles. His satire still bites to this day. Swift would have a field day with cell phone users who don't look where they're going. ;-)

Re: "uploading," it is "the process of transferring an intellect from a biological brain to a computer," per the Transhumanist FAQ. While it does not yet exist, uploading is a topic of discussion among cryonicists and others seriously interested in life extension. It's a radical concept. ;-)

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@sirena June 30, 2017 at 12:59 PM

"These beings [climenoles] would come in handy for many people within our society as well :)"

I totally agree! Swift would probably have climenoles riding shotgun with distracted drivers. And escorting smartphone users who can't pry their eyes away long enough to avoid falling down open manholes. LOL! ;-)

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As for earlier clones, yes, all dead. I would guess that their cloning tech had as many first-time glitches and fatalities as the blue-worm memory-mucking tech.

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I had some of those same questions myself.

1 - Unfortunately this show doesn't answer that (Duel implies no) because #3 could be the refined version if there were problems with 1 & 2.
2 & 3 - Well the drama can't have him unable to escape so... he needs muscles. I imagine all the clones were in a drug induced coma, however, I'm not sure about the nightmares because he wakes up as if the crash had just happened. That would be torture if he did.
4 - That would have been the smart thing to do.
5 - I have no clue. It does seem as though Park kept the truth very close to himself, so not many knew exactly how it worked. I imagine it wasn't the government so much as conglomerates making money. They didn't care how; just how much. However, there were definite influences on government officials considering the hospital audit and confiscation of police evidence so who knows.

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I think this is gonna be incoherent...

1. I don't think they do.
2. Since Circulates 2 & 3 have been failures in making the cube work, and Woojin died in 2022, then probably at least since 2022. It was in 2022 when they said they have successfully made the clone. Whether it's successful as a replica or successful that the memory got actually implanted, I'm not sure.
3. Since they don't have Woojin's memories, I don't think they needed to put those clones to sleep. They'd easily do as told. Someone explained on dramalist that the photograph or the clone himself might have been used to get funding for the project. The year on that photo is May 2022. The investor briefing was Jan 2022. Maybe during that year, PDG has been working to get more investors for Human B.. But then this doesn't get along with what I said that Circulate 3 has been around since 2022... lol
5. This is a headcanon already so... lol Maybe since they've already lost too much money funding for Professor Han, Park Donggun's knowledge of the research is their only hope to get returns from the money they have wasted over the years.. maybe they were at the verge of bankruptcy, so PDG used that knowledge as leverage to make Human B follow him. Which is kinda what he did.

I really wish there were more episodes...

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Ad 2. Exactly! I was wondering the same thing! But also he's fully dressed in sweatshirt, pants and RUNNING SHOES (while laying in bed!) which is really a bit ridiculous. If Human B is basically "cultivated" him as a component of the supercomputer then why would they even bother to dress him at all, not to mention fully equip him for running away? Or does the cube has to have a fully functional (mentally & physically) & casually dressed Woojin in order to work?
It's not that I want naked Woojin running around (although I wouldn't complain either ;) but at least a hospital attire would be more appropriate than sweats and sneakers, it really somehow spoilt the moment for me...

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It's not that I want naked Woojin running around (although I wouldn't complain either ;)

Hahaha, that's me?
I was wondering that too, why this clone who already bedridden for a long time wore casual clothes (complete with shoes, and nice hair), but because this drama (and JinGoo's acting) is awesome, I choose to ignore that detail... ??

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What's even more mysterious is the fact that Circle 8-III is wearing the same clothes as his biological host -- but how many years have passed?! Talk about backward compatibility! ;-)

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I had watched this episode twice and the ending still makes me tear up. The twins have been through so much already.

I thought it was clever how they managed to tie up the ending of Part 1 to the cliffhanger of Part 2 from Episode 10. Uggghhh, Park Dong Gun... look at how greed has brought you to a dark place!?

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As soon as I saw Woojin wake up in bed, I knew that we had transitioned to 2037. I just had that feeling. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to see an older Woojin, but this episode was emotionally powerful.

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Ah, me too. I was slightly hoping for a cameo. But the "clone" thing grew on me towards the episode's end.

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I'm still upset about the introduction of clones, but the performances of our main cast helped make that pill a little easier to swallow. :)

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More Woo Jin cloning information would have helpful.

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Reading this recap is like tearing open the stitches in my heart.?

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It's bleeding again ??

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OOOOH THE FEEELLLSSS!

I found a new level of respect towards Yeo Jin Goo. He's so great portraying all the emotions. The look in his eyes in the slo-mo after the car hit him is perfectly showing his shock, desperation, and concern I almost can hear what he was thinking at that time. I hope he get an award for this role as Woo Jin :)

Kim Kang Woo is also good. How he rejected "Woo Jin" was so intense, and how he accepted him later was also intense. My heart hurts when he rejected "Woo Jin" though my brain kinda agree with him, but I criiiied at the last scene :')

*I've always been silent reader din dramabeans but I can't help commenting on this haha.. Circle is so thrilling! The comments here adds to the fun watching this, so thank you everyone :)

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He is very good. His subtle yet impactful type of acting is truly breathtaking when in an emotionally charged scene.

I just wish that he could play a happier character next time- his happy smiling face was so rarely seen in this show! Like as if the director was so enthralled by his ability to portray emotional anguish that he was made to show it all the time. I want more happy smiling Jin Goo next time please! <3

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Indeed!
I watched the behind the scene video and rather shocked to see how handsome he is when smiling hahaha.. More skiling Yeo Jin Goo please!

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This role was obviously written for Yeo Jin-goo and the writers and director took advantage of his skills.
Sometimes I hate it when they make him cry so much. He is very capable of expressing his frustrations and worries without crying.

When you watch him for so long you can kind of tell when Yeo Jin-goo cries real tears and when he is told to cry.

I hope he'd do more films because film directors trained him to control and refine his skills.
I watched a clip of Jeong Yoon-cheol directing him in "Warriors of Dawn" and he was all about subtle and control and not giving away too much through his face.

I hope he'll get to work with Song Kang-ho or
Han Suk-kyu. They are fantastic mentors for young actors.

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"When you watch him for so long you can kind of tell when Yeo Jin-goo cries real tears and when he is told to cry."

Wow.. You are a real fan!! Jjang????

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I really wish Jingoo could win an award for his performance as Kim Woojin in this drama. He has earned it. I'm worried he won't though and will probably win some petty award at best. The huge awards normally go to the popular shows.

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I hope they'd give him some sort of award. I don't actually care what they call it.
I think the more season adult actors and popular actors will compete for best actor award.
A nomination for best actor would be awesome if they'd still remember "Circle" at the end of the year.

The rating wasn't so bad for a sci-fi genre. I don't think Joseon X-files ever made it pass 1%.

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Yes!! Have been refreshing over and over again since I saw this was the next recap to be posted!

Just like everyone has been saying so far that transition to the future was amazing - so smooth! And as they showed him running past that elevator bay, realization slowly dawned on me... I was like ooohhhh, SNAP!!!!

Really hoping that if we get more seasons that we'll really be able to explore some of the themes that were touched on in the discussion of the recap.

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Is the Clone Woo-jin still Woo-jin? Jung-yeon, Jun-Hyuk and Dong-soo's stance is that he has the memory of WJ, so he is WJ, but I'm curious of fellow beanies' take on this. I know we all love WJ so much we are just really happy that he got to reunite with his hyung in some way, but can he really be considered as WJ?

It may be easy to accept him as WJ because he has the body with the exact same DNA of original WJ. But what if we take Ho-soo, erase all his own memories and insert WJ's memories into him, is he now HS or WJ?

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then they would make an excuse, no, he isn't WooJin. He's not share any DNA of WJ. lol.
for JunHyuk must be the hard to accept, but he's so desperate to find him for 20 years. and the clone feels the way WJ feels, so how could he refuse the clone?

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2037!Woojin is truly Woojin to me. Because in his mind and his heart, he is Woojin, with exactly the same memories, emotions and most important of all, deep love for his friends and family.

That's why the scene where he is watching Joonhyuk and the rest debate whether he is Woojin or not spoke volumes to me. He remembers all the sacrifices he made for them, and it must've hurt so deeply to see Joonhyuk discard him like that but he also knows that he is a clone, and worse, he knows that his presence only puts these people whom he care about so much in such danger. So he quietly decides to go back to Human B and once again make a huge sacrifice. And when Joonhyuk catches up to him, he even tells JH to just forget him and go far away with Jungyeon and live with their current identities. He even called Joonhyuk, Detective Kim, even if he's dying to be with his Hyung again. And that is the most Woojin-ish thing Woojin can do: be selfless.

As I put it on another forum, if that happened to me: I wake up, knowing I have my loved ones and they suddenly tell me, I am not me. Even if I take another identity, I'd always think that I am still me, the me that I woke up to. Because we know our self-identity in the first place through our own memories.

He would always remember all the things that Woojin did, including the huge sacrifice he went through as if it was him who had undergone them. Whatever trauma, joy and suffering Woojin experienced, he'd always remember them just as his own.

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Yes, I think the clone is Woojin. He has the same memories, but he also has the exact same body chemistry and brain chemistry, which I think makes up a lot of our personalities. If his memories were put into Hosoo, he would react differently from Woojin from that point forward because his body is different, which many people don't consider. You hear those stories of people getting heart transplants and taking on some characteristics of the donor, I think that makes perfect sense.

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I tend to lean toward clone Woo Jin being Woo Jin. It's not that he just has the same body but he also has the memories and his own private thoughts.

Technically Ho Soo is only Ho So because he saw the tapes left by Woo Jin. I think he would be a very confused Ho Soo if he kept his own body but had his brothers memories. Many of his memories would be like talking to himself in a mirror. (That makes my head spin.)

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I think you confused Ho Soo with Joon Hyuk. HS is not WJ's brother, he is the government officer working in Smart Earth.

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I was also rejecting him to be WJ at first. But then, because everyone desperately wants to find WJ, and he himself feels like WJ. It is really hard to deny that he is WJ.
But I want to ask a question. What if 2017 WJ was kept in his coma stage? And 2037 WJ was successfully made and woke up with WJ's memories.... then who is WJ?

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I was thinking about a similar scenario too. If there were more than one WJ clones living, all carry WJ' memories, then are they all WJ(s)?

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While I loved how the timelines seemed to seamlessly flow into eachother, the explanation left me a little sad.
Clones, really??
And 'our' Woojin just died offscreen?
I think it's interesting how it makes us think of existence and identity, but simultaneously the me that got so emotionally invested in our Woojin over the past 11 episodes really wanted him to be able to have his reunion with his brother. I accept that clone Woojin is also Woojin but he isn't that exact Woojin I've been invested in for the past 11 episodes, and his death just seems so pointless and isn't given the attention and mourning it deserves...

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I feel the same way!! I was hoping for something along the lines of 'Woo-jin lives but keeps Yeo Jin-gu's face', so I was anticipating this, but still. Woo-jin's loss hit me hard, because he tried so hard, and didn't get anything in the end, and I feel I wasn't given enough time to mourn before things happened and I honestly felt like Joon-hyuk in this episode where I don't really want to accept clone Woo-jin yet. Granted, the reunion between clone!Woo-jin and Joon-hyuk was very tear-inducing ?

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I hope in episode 12 that they (Cloned Woo Jin, Joon Hyuk, and Byul) would have a nice memorial for the original Woo Jin, who sacrificed so much...for ALL of them.

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Thanks for the recap tineybeanie!

My favourite episode right here!

Because it hit all the right emotional notes- I too cried at the brothers' confrontation- oof the FEELS- so good!

Also, as many have mentioned, the seamless transition from 2017 to 2037. Writer deserves a round of applause!

Loved the way we were also brought a full circle (hurhur) in terms of the idea of What Makes Us Human- is it our memories? I accepted the cloning plot much better than just a late plot device since in this episode it was tied back to the original ideas of the show- is it really Woo Jin since he has all the memories of Woo Jin? I guess the argument stands that our bodies are just a vessel for the brain since science has managed to replace hearts, lungs, liver, kidney.... but no one (other than Byul) has managed to find a way to store and reimplant memories from the brain and enable this amazing form of cloning.

I also had many many many other things to say, so I put it on my blog (so as to spare you all here from my long-windedness XD)

Final episode here we come!

https://mydramalesslife.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/circle-final-week-rants-and-raves/

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This is my favourite episode too!! I loved everything about both timelines for once (except how Woo-jin just died and that was it ?, screw you Truck of Doom *shakes fist*), but I have to give mention to the part where Woo-jin could've veered the noble idiocy route but he didn't, he told his team what to do after he was gone, and it was a desperate plan but he didn't leave them hanging. He really gave it all his episode, and it breaks my heart, in a good way, that he couldn't see the fruit of his labour, instead dying lost to the Evil.

I also love how he once told Jung-yeon her memories were what made her in 2017, and how Jung-yeon told it back to his clone, who, for all Woo-jin's memories and emotions, is Woo-jin now. Very nicely done, Circle. Very nicely done.

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Yes! The theme of the show came through in all the main characters and I love that.

Bum Gyun losing his memory and gaining it from watching his brother's.
Woo Jin coming back in 2037 as a clone but with his memories intact and not knowing he is any different.
Jung Yeon being an alien that wiped her memory

I think that the only thing they didn't really explore was whether Joon Hyuk has accepted he is really Bum Gyun since he had all his memories wiped. In fact if not for Woo Jin's memories, Joon Hyuk would not know of any ties he had to Woo Jin. Maybe I've forgotten but after a while it became a non issue and I accepted Joon Hyuk=Bum Gyun as fact.

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But the brain is more than memory alone. Memories do create a personality, but a person also requires some form of consciousness. It is possible for OG Woojin and clone Woojin to exist side by side and experience things differently, especially if you put them in different rooms. Therefore they are not one and the same, they have separate existences. Unless they did a full brain transplant into theclone body rather than copy the brain. Which is why the easy acceptance of clone Woojin left me sad.

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I loved everything in this episode and I was so heartbroken through out it. I ended up crying when they embraced in the last scene.

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When Woo-jin got hit by that car, I think my heart actually stopped. And those scenes with Jung-yeon! Both the goodbye and the recorded message made me cry real tears, which doesn't always happen. And then at the end when Joon-hyuk reconciles with (clone) Woo-jin I cried too (and my little brother walked in and laughed at me, but I guess we can't all be having touching sibling moments.)

This is a small thing, but I love how Dong-soo, of all people, instantly accepts Clone Woo-jin as the real Woo-jin pretty much without comment or thought. He's just like "yeah this is my teacher he remembers me so he's my teacher." It made me laugh a little, even in the midst of all the feels.

After they made that brief reference to cloning earlier, I'd had the suspicion that 2037 Woo-jin could end up as a clone. Before it happened I was skeptical, because it seemed like it'd be shoehorned in at the last minute, but I actually think they handled it in an interesting way that didn't seem too forced. Which is the vibe I've been getting from the show as a whole--it's one of the main reasons I like it so much!

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Dong-soo is smart :)

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I've had a couple of days to decompress this and reflect a little, but I still wish the show would have found another way have the original Woo Jin die. Getting hit by a car is just lazy writing in my mind. The show is smarter than this. I would have had him accidentally shot. However, I have to admit that tying the two timelines together with the cloned Woo Jin was genius. My mind was racing with him when he was running through those familiar halls, of course realizing that he had to be a clone. I thought for a split second (while the two brothers were running through the stairwells and halls at Human B) that perhaps the show was going to pull another fast one somehow and make Joon-Hyuk also Woo-Jin, but without his memories and an older version. Then we could have explored the whole scenario of Joon-Hyuk NOT being Woo- Jin because he didn't have Woo-Jin's memories, when in actuality, he was the original Woo- Jin. Then the clone would have Woo- Jin's memories and actually be more like Woo- Jin. But then what would have happened to Bum Gyun? Of course, the show wouldn't do that, I said to myself, it's the second to the last episode. Yes, all that went through my head in about a 1/2 a second.

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"...perhaps the show was going to pull another fast one somehow and make Joon-Hyuk also Woo-Jin, but without his memories and an older version."

Oh my goodness! For a brief while, the same thoughts also crossed my mind. I am glad that wasn't the case.

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I had the same fear that they would reveal that Joon Hyuk was WJ all along. Then I realized that scene when JH broke down in the old motel room and reveal to the audience that he was in fact BG was pivotal. Since he remembered bits of his old memories and tied it up to WJ's, he knows his own identity. The writer made sure that we know he is BG and not confuse him with WJ.

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The bittersweet reunion of the twins. Overall, This was a heartbreaking episode for WJ, BG and JY. They have been searching for WJ for so long and only to find out that the original WJ died. ? it is understandably difficult for BG to accept that fact and also this clone infront of them.

Eventually, I think part of the reason BG accepted Circle 8 - III is that in his thinking It may have been too late for original WJ but they can still make this clone's life better than merely being a component. He is still WJ essentially. A clone, yes, but still WJ in looks and memories.

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My thoughts exactly. And since WJ sacrificed so much to protect them before, now it's their turn to look after him. Bittersweet, yes. But I'm happy they've been given a second chance at least.

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I agree. They got their second chance to fulfill that promise with WJ's clone

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I think BG tried to keep his promise he had made when he was out of jail in 2017, that he won't leave his little brother alone again.

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So true.

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I hate deputy Lee!!

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A real coward..

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true!
He's the worst! Only pull out his tie and moving his jaw!

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Gahhh, this episode ??. I'm going to miss our 2017 squad! They were such a good squad, everyone bringing their own smarts and gumption to the table (I still love Bum-gyun's rescue in ep10 so freaking much), who each had their own motivations and emotional arc, and although they didn't succeed, I love that they tried their very best. I'm sad that that was their ending. I know the 2037 squad is gonna get things done, and I'm going to enjoy them even more now that Woo-jin is back with them, but they can't compare.

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Oh I was waiting for this recap. Thank you for thorough work!
I'm deeply satisfied with the finale and everything but I have 2 questions:
- where did the big shot from Human B disappear?
- why was Woo-Jin on the picture with Park's painting in the background? Was it another clone? Circle 8 - 2? Circle 8-2.5?
- Wouldn't Human B make waaay more money and wicked projects if they had had human cloning all figured 15 years prior?
Just sayin...

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1. No idea.
2. Woo Jan's clone but without his memories. The picture was dated 2022 and if I remember right, they completed cloning 5 years after his accident.
3. Exactly. Human cloning, aliens, eternal youth - there is so much more potential for Human B to exploit. Human cloning however, can perhaps be forgiven because it wasn't actually legal, but when has that ever stopped Human B?

I honestly loved this show, and perhaps if it were the standard 16-20 episodes, it would have explored aliens and Human B more. I wanted more.

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same here. They say, you should still feel a little hungry after finishing your meal. That's the kind of feeling I have. Plus severe withdrawal symptoms.
But hey, until there is a recap on the final episode, it's not officially over, right? Right?

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"until there is a recap on the final episode, it's not officially over, right? "

Agreeeee
It's not over until it's over

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I'm kind of disappointed at Woo Jin for not having a good enough plan. Like, seriously? His plan is to just run away? He should've at least asked someone to wait there to drive him away. I guess the writers wanted it to be sad. And his death was sad. Ahh I feel so bad for Woo Jin. Right before he gets hit by a car, he gets to know his father's tragic ending.

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Exactly! His plan was so brilliant until the part where he had to run. Seriously, he couldn't have prepared an escape vehicle nearby? Even a bicycle would've helped *eye roll*

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@banana,

Given the shocking revelation that he's been deceived by the odious Professor Park, I have to cut Woo-jin some slack. I prefer to think that he employed the 36th Stratagem. ;-)

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Best episode ever! The way the 2 timelines merged was brilliantly executed, I'm sure no one saw it coming. Getting teary-eyed again reading the recap of the brothers' reunion. I've watched the last episode so I'll hold off commenting further until the recap comes out.

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Thank you so much for recapping, tineybeanie!

This episode blew me away. Woo-jin's relentless search for the truth, and unflinching willingness to protect his loved ones, are truly inspiring. His admission to Bum-gyun that he was scared and that he would return took me apart at the seams. If ever there were a case of "feel the fear, and do it anyway," this is it.

I like how Woo-jin's earlier pronouncement that Jung-yeon's memories were what made her Jung-yeon came into play when his own identity was questioned.

Lee Sunbae's being behind the wheel of the Car of Doom certainly explains his need for Human B's memory suppression -- as if he doesn't already have enough other regrets to run from.

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With all this memory-erasing, can't someone erase the memory of the endings of God's Gift and W? Please?

And maybe also erase the memory of the ominous loud slow footsteps in the stairwell at the end of last week, because Woo-jin didn't sound like that this week. It isn't inconsistent if we don't remember, right?

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Genuinely curious, but what was wrong with the end of W? I remember enjoying it from start to finish and thinking the ending was perfect for the drama. There was a "neither can live while the other survives" undertone between dad and Kang Chul so I thought it made sense for dad to be sacrificed in place of Kang Chul.

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It wasn't BAD, just not as good as the rest of the show, so my memories would be happier without it.

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Yes the previous epi had his footsteps heavy and slow like a grandma coming down the stairs but now in this epi it was changed to quite and more light footsteps when it was showed that it was cloned WJ.

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*quick

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I cried so much at Bum-gyun insisting that wasn't his Woo-jin. And poor Circulate 3 just hanging in the back like, "I'll just go" made me cry even more. I loved the seamless transition though, that was really good. I wanted to say some things while watching the episode but I forgot everything now.

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I know how it is to have so many thoughts but then forget them by the time a recap is available. That's why I've taken to writing notes. :)

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First of all, thanks so much for the recaps, tineybeanie! I know you mostly do news stories here, but I really enjoy your recaps as well.

I realized this episode that Woojin was just basically a guy prone to noble idiocy who cries a LOT, but somehow, I was never annoyed by him (or Byul, who also cried a lot) or by his actions. Usually if a character cries for more than 3 episodes, I start grumbling in the comments section, ha. So I don't know if it was wonderful writing or wonderful acting, but something worked here.

That scene in the church where Joonhyuk denies Woojin broke my heart into a million pieces. So glad it ended with the scene of him accepting Woojin as himself.

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I'd normally be annoyed too, but given his circumstances I'm actually surprised he doesn't resort himself to eternal sobbing every single time. I know I would. Every time he cries, he will always try to restrain himself, and face his responsibilities head on.

I'd say it's both the writing and acting. His reasons for his self-sacrifices are well-justified to me, the stakes are definitely high and urgent and he actually tells Jungyeon the situation but gives her enough time to escape. And Yeo Jingoo's acting... T_T He never over-acts and his acting is something that somehow reaches out of the screen to give the viewer's heart an emotional tug.

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The one question I've had since episode one is where are the rest of the aliens? How did she get here? Why is that she looks and functions just like humans? I wish they would've delved into the alien plot a bit more.

When we learned that Woo Jin was a clone, my brain immediately went to the theory that Joon Hyuk is the original Woo Jin that was disregarded and the secretary was Bum Gyun? But that's not what happened and I've very happy about the direction this show took

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Same!! I was worried for a moment that they were going to throw another twist now that it was revealed Woo-jin was a clone and have Joon-hyuk be the Actual Woo-jin and I'm sooo glad they didn't go that way.

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Do kdrama writers get together once a year and make say things like "I bet I can make a better clone drama than you", or "Let's see who can do the best time-travel/amnesia/birth-secret story"

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Yesss!! Or "let's air shows about doctors on the same day in the same time slot"

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Or let's make a sageuk with the same historical figures right after the one that just ended.

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Because we can never have too many Yeonsanguns. ;-)

Er, I beg to differ. I think I've reached my Joseon Tyrant Saturation Limit for the remainder of the decade. ;-)

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I cried much when he died even though he is technically alive because when he whisper his brothers name, it felt so real. Like he was beging the universe for another chance, you know?

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@tineybeanie I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for doing such a wonderful job recapping this series. I really enjoyed reading not only your recaps but also your insights about this drama. ♥

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This show is amazing!
The two timelines merged perfectly and while i kinda guessed the reveal about the cloning, the episode packed a punch.
When the two brothers broke down n hugged my heart broke for them both YJG and KKW are pitch perfect in the emotional scenes.
The accident was scary to watch, i was bawling my eyes out as i watched WJ trying desperately to get the cube.
Yeo Jin Gu shows such restraint n maturity in his acting, its amazing he is only 18. What a talent.
Having never seen Gong Seung Yeon in anything befire, i am very impressed by her potrayal of Byul/HJY. I watched My only long song becoz of circle and she was great in that too.
Cant wait for your recap on the last episode.

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He's actually 19 and turning 20 in August, but I totally agree with everything you said. ♥

That car accident was wonderfully shot but terribly painful to watch. T_T The struggle as he calls out to Jungyeon and his brother, trying to reach out for the cube and failing... ugh T_T

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That car scene was so magnificent so as YJG's eyes. I can feel so much emotion in his eyes while flying and falling like a chicken after being hit by the car. I even wonder how they were able to film that and how YJG was so immersed to his role.

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Big thumbs up for Yeo Jin Gu & Gong Seung Yeon!

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Oh Woo-jin! Oh Yeo Jin Gu!

Should I watch Duel then after finishing this awesome Show?

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When he started running down the stairs I realized he was about to run into Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon and I thought OMG, it's 2037. That's when I remembered CEO Park talking about getting cloning approved and I realized that this Woo-jin had to be a clone and my mind was BLOWN! I wanted them to still use YJG as Woo-jin in 2037 but didn't know how that would work. I certainly wasn't expecting this, but it all makes sense.

My heart goes out to Woo-jin because he had so many battles to fight to save the people he loved, and in 2017 he had to fight those battles alone because he couldn't risk the others falling into enemy hands. The fight isn't over yet so I'm glad Joon-hyuk came around, because Woo-jin (and I do consider him to be Woo-jin, clone or not) is going to need all the support he can get. Now that the gang is back together, they can fight as a team. TEAM WOO-JIN FOR THE WIN!

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This episode is definitely the best out of all and that tells a lot considering that each episode of Circle has been AWESOME!

That moment when Woo-jin was hit by a car and dying, that moment that they bumped into one another at the staircase (AWESOME merge of the 2 timelines and I think I forgot to breathe for a moment there) and that moment that the 2 brothers hugged one another! T_T

Kudos to everyone who contributed to this awesome piece of production.
Yeo Jin-goo and Kim Kang-woo together in one screen. Gosh, I think Christmas is here early for me.

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Aaah I'm late.. it already over 100+ comments
Everyone already said/type what I want to say
All I can do now is give a thumbs up

And thankyou for the recap..
Just reading it, makes me cry again.. ?

This episode really an emotional journey to me.. I'm so attached to WJ's character and to witness him died like that.. my heart breaks to pieces
It's hard to accept but at least "WJ's memories" had a second chance to reunite with his beloved Hyung, eventhough he is clone.. but his memories is the original one

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About the alien storyline, while it would've been nice to tackle that side if only they had more episodes, I'm actually glad that the thing they decided to focus on is the subject of memories. I feel like they wouldn't have been able to go too deep with an alien plot. The thing they decided to focus on (memories) actually raised a lot of meaningful questions and discussions.

I don't think an alien plot would have as much impact to me as the memories plot did. And since the scientist who found Byul is a neuroscientist, and the technology she brought is something that would absolutely advance the field, I don't think it's far-fetched that they decided to focus on that instead of the other aspects that Byul's arrival brought.

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Byul's origin was never the focus of the story. The two brothers and their individual journey to find one another was the story's main plot and i'm glad they did not mess it up. Though i'm curious about Byul i'm happy with h