Man to Man: Episode 16 (Final)
Yes, Park Hae-jin, I’ll miss seeing your face every week, too. We finally bid goodbye to our gang of secret agents and agent-wannabe’s, and we use our last hour with them to tie up a few loose ends before sending everyone off on their next mission. That includes Ghost Agent K doing what he does best—closing out a mission in style—only this time, he’s got an awesome team behind him, and it makes everything that much more fun to watch.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Just before the live broadcast, Seol-woo outfits Seung-jae with the explosive mic, warning Seung-jae that if he doesn’t tell the truth on air, his heart will literally explode. Sitting across from Seung-jae, Woon-kwang looks at his rival with a smirk before cheekily tapping his chest for effect.
Director Im walks into the 58th floor of Songsan, where the TV’s already turned on to Seung-jae’s show. He looks around the office (probably for Mi-eun?), then gets a text from said secret agent, which reads: “Listen carefully to my husband’s words.”
On air, Seung-jae introduces himself as a “fan” of Dark Death. Woon-kwang doesn’t waste any time, asking why a fan of his would try to kill him not once, but twice. Damn. As the in-studio staff and crowd break out into hushed murmurs, Do-ha asks the show’s PD to trust her this once, promising a ratings bonanza in exchange.
As the show continues, Woon-kwang explains his accusation: “Eight years ago and two months ago—the accidents during my stunt shoots. Those were hits ordered by you, Mo Seung-jae, to kill me.” Seung-jae tries to feign innocence, but Woon-kwang has evidence, pulling out Dong-hyun’s pen recorder and broadcasting a clip of Seung-jae’s assistant ordering the hit on Woon-kwang.
In the control room, the PD calls for a commercial break in a panic. Do-ha pleads with him to let the two men continue their conversation, calling it their chance to uncover Songsan’s dirty connections. She confirms the authenticity of the recording that just aired and hands over a stack of confidential Songsan documents for the PD to verify. That works, and a few moments later, the PD tells his team to get the host off camera, leaving Seung-jae and Woon-kwang on air alone.
Back at Songsan, Director Im answers a ringing phone, his eyes widening when he hears K on the other end. Seol-woo instructs Director Im to look under the table, where he finds a blinking explosive. Seol-woo orders the director not to hang up or move unless he wants to be blown up.
Trapped, Director Im asks Seol-woo what he wants. Seol-woo says it’s simple: crime and punishment, and of course, revenge.
On set, Seung-jae mutters to Woon-kwang that despite this stunt, the world can never be on their side. Smiling, Woon-kwang responds: “Just once in a while, the world flips upside down. Today is that day.”
The show goes back on air with everyone tuning in, including Myung-suk and Dong-hyun’s wife from Dong-hyun’s hospital room, and Sharon, who’s watching alone at her shop with Mi-eun. When Woon-kwang asks Seung-jae for a response to the recording, Seung-jae insists that he’s innocent and calls the recording fake.
Over the phone, Director Im tells Seol-woo that the recording is meaningless, as evidence only matters if it’s in the hands of someone powerful. Seol-woo easily replies that they have plenty of evidence, so he shouldn’t worry.
Woon-kwang lobs the next question at Seung-jae, this time exposing Songsan’s newly set up foundation as a slush fund rather than as a true charitable organization. Once again, Seung-jae avoids all responsibility, saying he doesn’t oversee the day-to-day workings of the foundation, as that’s done by his wife. Dude, way to throw your wife under the bus.
Seung-jae apologizes to Woon-kwang for not keeping those around him in check, but he says that he’s not legally responsible for any of what’s occurred, since he himself hasn’t done anything wrong. When Woon-kwang asks if that applies to Dong-hyun’s accident as well, Seung-jae claims he doesn’t even know who the prosecutor is.
Meanwhile, still on the phone with Seol-woo, Director Im pulls out his cell phone to send a text instructing someone to track his location and send agents.
Back to the show. Woon-kwang brings up Seung-jae’s assistant again, this time telling Seung-jae that the assistant is being interrogated by the prosecutor’s office. Seung-jae clings to his stance that he shouldn’t be held responsible for his assistant’s actions; as a response, Woon-kwang mentions that Dark Death’s a particularly scary villain because of how easily he blows up bombs, then taps his chest.
Now looking really nervous, Seung-jae turns his head towards Seol-woo, who waves his detonator and whispers, “Boom.” Seung-jae’s fear-filled face is clearly visible on camera, leading Director Im to ask Seol-woo what he’s got on Seung-jae. Seol-woo tells him about the explosive, calling it a “microphone of truth.”
Woon-kwang asks Seung-jae if he really doesn’t have anything more truthful to say, moving to wrap up the show. Glancing back at Seol-woo, then at Woon-kwang again, Seung-jae finally breaks, hastily announcing to the world that he’s being threatened.
Hearing those words, Director Im smirks into the phone, telling Seol-woo that it doesn’t matter if Seung-jae blabs on live TV about the bomb or if he’s blown up with the bomb; either way, Seol-woo and team would be labeled as terrorists. Seol-woo, however, doesn’t look troubled at all.
Seung-jae continues his confession, telling his fellow citizens that they need to know the truth. “The person behind all of this is… the NIS director,” he says. (Ha, I knew Seung-jae would rat Director Im out!) Woon-kwang asks Seung-jae for proof, so Seung-jae digs up a USB drive in his pocket, saying it contains a file noting Director Im’s past evil deeds.
Director Im looks stunned by this turn of events, but Seol-woo smiles, calling Seung-jae a “young prince” who would never gamble with his life. Desperate now, Director Im yells at Seol-woo to detonate the bomb on Seung-jae, offering whatever he wants in exchange.
Seol-woo’s eyes turn hard as he asks, “Why did you do that to Dong-hyun?” Director Im says it was all for the country, claiming that it would be disastrous if information on the first-generation ghost agents were to be made public.
But alas, that’s exactly what’s happening now, as Seung-jae slides his USB drive towards Woon-kwang, offering it to the prosecutor’s office. Seeing this on screen, Director Im screams that he’s sorry about Dong-hyun and pleads with Seol-woo to kill Seung-jae now. After a beat, Seol-woo agrees, then holds up his detonator and presses the button.
Instead of Seung-jae being blown up though, the hidden wall in Seung-jae’s office slides up, revealing the video feed of Director Im on screen. Seol-woo coldly tells Director Im to accept his punishment, and Director Im chucks the phone in frustration, bellowing loudly.
That’s when Department Head Jang walks out from Seung-jae’s secret room, a copy of Director Im’s confession in hand. Moments later, authorities barge in to arrest the NIS leader. As Director Im is handcuffed, Department Head Jang tells him that his mission to catch the NIS traitor has been completed. Love it.
After the live show concludes, a chastened Seung-jae is escorted out by the police. Woon-kwang asks Seol-woo if Seung-jae’s mic was really a bomb, and upon confirming that it wasn’t, he asks about the alarm clock bomb Seol-woo concocted on his first day on the job. Seol-woo’s face betrays the truth, and the two cutely bicker about it, hee.
With everything now out in the open, Mi-eun tells Sharon that she and Jae-young will live like ordinary people, quietly. When Sharon asks if she’s okay, Mi-eun replies that it was all going to turn out like this eventually.
At the hospital later, Dong-hyun’s wife tells Seol-woo that Dong-hyun’s regained consciousness (whew!), but they’re not sure how his recovery will turn out. Noticing Dong-hyun’s wriggling toes, Seol-woo says he’ll be fine, and Dong-hyun almost looks like he’s smiling at his hoobae.
Myung-suk shares the good news about Dong-hyun with Do-ha and tells her this will hopefully lead to Seol-woo being cleared of his charges. When Do-ha asks her father why he thought Seol-woo was innocent, he says it’s obviously because Do-ha trusted Seol-woo, aw.
After receiving a call, Do-ha rushes over to Woon-kwang’s and finds the celebrity’s face grave. The reason for his stress? He can’t decide between keeping the three wood carvings, or the five million in cash. Do-ha yells at him to choose one, so he finally decides to go with the wood carvings. He confirms with the carvings that he’s made the right choice, lovingly asking them, “I did good, right?”
Do-ha brings the cash back to Seol-woo, and after hearing that he’s been cleared of all charges, she asks him how he knew that Seung-jae was going to betray Director Im. Seol-woo says it was a combination of his awesome skills and scientific profiling; at that, Do-ha’s eyes narrow, as she realizes that she must have been profiled by him as well.
She wonders if he chose to seduce her deliberately, having sized her up as an easy target. She gets more and more embarrassed at the thought of Seol-woo reading her feelings and covers her face in mortification. Smiling gently at her, Seol-woo says it’s true that he read her feelings, but adds that it was his own feelings that he didn’t know at the time. Seol-woo brings her in for a hug, and Do-ha melts into him, smiling happily.
The next morning, CEO Ji tears into Woon-kwang for keeping him in the dark, yelling that what he did turned out to be… crazy awesome, ha. CEO Ji gushes that Woon-kwang’s celebrity status is through the roof with media requests pouring in from all sides, then leans in to compliment Woon-kwang’s amazing performance on the live show. Woon-kwang grins, but then turns serious to ask CEO Ji for a favor: He wants him to look after Mi-eun.
Seol-woo meets secretly with Department Head Jang (who’s back with the NIS) to hand over the five million dollars. Department Head Jang tells Seol-woo that he’s been reinstated as a ghost agent and gives Seol-woo the next month off, telling him to rest and think things over.
For some reason, Seung-jae and Director Im are interrogated together in the same room. The two take turns blaming each other for their crimes and even try to name-drop in an attempt to influence the prosecutor, but thankfully, it doesn’t work.
In another interrogation room, Ki-chul and Assemblyman Baek, already in prison garb, wait for their turn to be questioned. Assemblyman Baek is positively giddy at Seung-jae and Director Im’s comeuppance and tries to get Ki-chul to agree to come up with a story to make things worse for the two. But Ki-chul opts for the truth, telling Assemblman Baek that he’ll testify against him as well.
When Assemblyman Baek asks Ki-chul about the deal he made with Seol-woo, Ki-chul thinks back to his last conversation with the ghost agent. Ki-chul had told Seol-woo that he’d get Seung-jae’s assistant and then turn himself in as promised. In response, Seol-woo assured him of his daughter’s continued medical treatments. Back in the present, Ki-chul tells Assemblyman Baek that the deal he made was to stay alive, then smiles gratefully.
Sometime later, Mi-eun returns to the ransacked offices of Songsan. Do-ha visits Ki-chul’s wife and daughter and sends a photo of the two to Ki-chul, who is on his way to prison, along with Seung-jae, Assemblyman Baek, and Director Im. Filming for Last Love continues, and while Dong-hyun’s still in the hospital, he looks like he’s on the road to a full recovery.
As we check in on everyone, Do-ha reads lines from the poem “Sky” by Park No-hae:
Someone high up, someone with power, someone with wealth
They all seem like the sky
No, they are the dark sky controlling our lives
Where and to whom will I be the sky?
Ah, we want to be the sky too
Not dark clouds that press down on others
Ones that support each other
I wish it could be a world in which we can all be blue skies to each other.
Do-ha sighs that it’s her favorite poem, to which Seol-woo sassily replies that it’s his too—that is, starting today. Seol-woo’s good mood is ruined when Do-ha has to run back to work, and when she suggests that he come back as a bodyguard so they can continue their office romance, he adorably complains that he’s on vacation, so he shouldn’t have to work.
Seol-woo’s next stop is Dong-hyun’s hospital room, where Dong-hyun also tells him to go back to work as Woon-kwang’s bodyguard. When Seol-woo reiterates that he’s on vacation, Dong-hyun asks what he’ll do after his vacation is over. Seol-woo retorts that he’ll resign and disappear, and though he’s sounds like he’s joking, Dong-hyun wonders under his breath whether Seol-woo’s referring to his NIS job or his bodyguard job.
Later, Seol-woo ends up at Woon-kwang’s, where he makes a deal to log 10,000 steps on the treadmill for Woon-kwang in exchange for Do-ha getting a week off, heh. Determined to spend some time with Do-ha, Seol-woo huffs and puffs his way through his task, much to Woon-kwang’s amusement.
In her store, Sharon fits Department Head Jang for a suit and congratulates him on his promotion. (Oh, is he the new NIS director?) Department Head Jang looks like he’s there against his will, protesting that he can’t accept the suit since it goes against ethics rules. At that, Sharon innocently asks if the gift would be okay coming from his wife. Cute! As Department Head Jang stares at her in shock, Sharon laughs at his response, and the two embrace.
Mi-eun visits Seung-jae in jail, letting him know that she’s transferred her stocks and real estate holdings back to his name. She then slides divorce papers over to him, telling him to sign it if he wants. Wait, she’s letting him decide?
Over a meal at Song-yi’s restaurant, Myung-suk gives Seol-woo a fortuneteller reading for him and Do-ha with a recommended wedding date. Myung-suk offers to gift the couple with a place to live, remarking that he feels as if he’s gaining a son. Seol-woo can’t say anything in response and just looks down at the fortune, looking conflicted.
Dong-hyun and his wife enjoy some outside time on hospital grounds when they spot a bunch of men in dark suits headed their way. Dong-hyun groans as the men split into two lines, forming a path for Department Head Jang, who marches up to Dong-hyun and pulls out an official-looking certificate.
Department Head Jang announces that Dong-hyun’s being awarded the medal of honor for playing a large role in protecting the nation. He pins the medal on Dong-hyun’s coat, then leads his men in a salute. Dong-hyun looks completely taken aback, but raises his hand to return the salute (though not before glancing nervously at his wife, ha). He exchanges a warm look with Department Head Jang, melting my heart into a puddle of goo.
It looks like Seol-woo’s hopes for getting some time with Do-ha go unfulfilled—Seol-woo’s followed Do-ha to the set of Last Love, but she continues to blow him off for work. Seol-woo’s busy pouting about this when someone catches his eyes from afar: Russian Major Petrov. Noooo.
Woon-kwang’s co-star, Eun-soo, pleads with him to film the ending kissing scene himself. She says that while she respects his rules, it would be really weird to use a double for the scene. With a sad look in his eyes, Woon-kwang tells Eun-soo that if they kiss for real, it would have to be passionate, since there’s no other love for these two characters.
In his hideout, Seol-woo thinks back to his earlier conversation with Petrov, who told him about a resurgence of a group called Red October, and that everyone from their previous mission—aside from the two of them—has disappeared.
Having made his decision, Seol-woo pays Woon-kwang a late-night visit. He’s refreshingly honest, telling Woon-kwang that an Eastern European terrorist organization is active again, and because his cover was blown, he now must disappear.
Woon-kwang doesn’t seem all that surprised at the news, commenting that only Dark Death could help Seol-woo at this point. Seol-woo says that Dark Death has other work to do—like be with the brave child who visited his secret headquarters—and tells Woon-kwang that he’ll end the bodyguard tactic now. Woon-kwang accepts his decision, but reminds Seol-woo that “tactics end, but life continues on.”
The next day, Woon-kwang meets Mi-eun for coffee and tells her that they’re wrapping up filming for Last Love. He says he’s planning on shooting the ending kiss scene himself, ending his promise to her of not kissing anyone while filming. When she tells him the promise to her isn’t important, Woon-kwang tells her it was, to him, simply because he kept loving her all this time.
“Let’s break up for real now,” Woon-kwang says, finally ready to move on. “Let’s do so without guilt, and without clinging on.” When Mi-eun agrees, Woon-kwang asks her to tell her son that Dark Death is always on his side. He adds that he’ll appear whenever Jae-young needs him, and at that, the two tearfully smile at one another.
Seol-woo meets with Do-ha and wordlessly hands her a cup of coffee while gazing at her with this look in his eyes. It doesn’t take long for Do-ha to realize that Seol-woo must be leaving, and she asks him when, and if, he’s coming back. Seol-woo explains that being undercover means that he has no idea who he’ll be, nor when he might return to being the person that Do-ha knows now.
So he tells Do-ha not to wait. She says that she won’t—she won’t look for him or be curious, and she’ll try not to think about him. She says she’ll just be here, and asks him to just come back someday.
Seol-woo’s still processing the goodbye when he gets a phone call from Department Head Jang, telling him to get back on duty. But ha, K is one step ahead of him as usual, as he’s already made plans to head to Hungary. Department Head Jang scolds him for doing whatever he wants as usual, but ends the call with a smile, ordering him to return to Korea safely. As Seol-woo hangs up, Major Petrov appears, ready to accompany Seol-woo on his next mission.
As Do-ha helps clean Woon-kwang’s carvings, she quietly tells Woon-kwang about Seol-woo’s departure. She remarks that Seol-woo’s fight never ends since there are so many bad guys out there, but she adds that she’s okay, since their tactic hasn’t ended yet either. Woon-kwang reassures Do-ha that though Guard Kim may have disappeared, Brother will surely return.
On his way to the airport, Seol-woo plays with his tracker coin, which Do-ha had given back to him when they said goodbye. Petrov notices the coin and asks about it; in response, Seol-woo calls it his “weakness” before turning the conversation over to what lies ahead for them.
Another day, another wake-up call for Woon-kwang. Woon-kwang awakes to a beeping (fake) bomb next to his bed, along with a poor man’s Guard Kim, aka Sang-shik, asking the “VIP” to wake up. Woon-kwang peeks over and insults Sang-shik’s new look before blowing him off.
Elsewhere, Do-ha cancels a movie date with Song-yi for something far more important: tracking down someone selling fake Woon-kwang merchandise. Do-ha pretends to be interested in buying an “authentic” Woon-kwang jacket and captures ample evidence to take down the scammer before scolding the culprit for daring to sully Woon-kwang’s name.
We also check in with Seol-woo, who’s now undercover as a priest in Hungary. As expected, he’s zipping along in his mission, easily securing the information he’s after and looking good while doing it.
Myung-suk prepares for the opening of his new restaurant and shows Do-ha the sketch he used to design the layout, which happens to be signed by “K.” Myung-suk wonders if Seol-woo will make it to their grand opening, then says that it’s probably difficult to come and go “from there.” Do-ha looks at her father in shock, asking if he knows Seol-woo’s whereabouts; he responds that he does, but it’s a matter of national security.
In jail, Seung-jae returns the signed divorce papers to Mi-eun before asking after Jae-young, saying that he misses his son. Welling up at those words, Mi-eun rips up the divorce papers, saying it’s not time yet. As tears roll down his face, Seung-jae nods at her in agreement.
CEO Ji and Woon-kwang meet with a potential investor, who quickly notices Woon-kwang’s prized wood carvings on display. The investor asks Woon-kwang if they’re for sale, assuring him that he’ll pay double whatever price he has in mind. At this, CEO Ji loud-whispers to Woon-kwang that they might not need the investment in the movie after all, but Woon-kwang tells the investor the carvings aren’t for sale, since he can’t put a price on his family’s memories.
Aww, Do-ha’s taken Seol-woo’s place next to Dong-hyun, as the two play video games in Seol-woo’s hideout. She quietly asks if Dong-hyun told her dad about Seol-woo—and ha, it turns out what Dong-hyun told Myung-suk isn’t quite the whole truth, and now Dad thinks Seol-woo’s a bodyguard for the Blue House.
Dong-hyun complains about not having any idea where Seol-woo is, and Do-ha offhandedly says that Seol-woo should have the coin tracker on him. It takes a second for that information to sink in, but after a minute, the two look at each other in surprise, realizing that they can actually track Seol-woo’s location. What, you just thought of that now?
At a café in Budapest, Seol-woo sips his coffee, coin in hand, when he gets a text from Major Petrov indicating that the Red October mission is complete. Smiling, Seol-woo quickly makes another call, then disappears.
Do-ha happens to be looking at Seol-woo’s location on her phone when the blinking red light suddenly disappears. She’s startled at first, but a slow smile spreads across her face when she realizes what this might mean.
As we zoom out from his empty seat at the café, Seol-woo narrates, “I am Ghost Agent K. A shadow without a name or reputation. I have a good feeling about this mission.”
I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about this ending, which is similar to how I feel about this show overall. On the one hand, I did enjoy the way our villains met their downfall—though the setup was kind of ridiculous, it was fun to watch Seol-woo partner up with not just Mi-eun, but also Woon-kwang and Do-ha in bringing down Seung-jae and Director Im via a live broadcast.
But on the other hand, I’m confused about the actual resolution of the whole mission. What was the point of establishing Director Im as the NIS traitor, in addition to positioning the “elders” behind Assemblyman Baek as the ones truly pulling the strings, if we weren’t actually going to find out more about those people? Why did the show bother to bring in first-generation ghost agents and the damning evidence on them and then not follow through on what those records contained? Why go on about how the world will be turned upside down if those records were released, but then not even mention what happened as a result of Seung-jae’s confession? Argh, so frustrating.
Plot issues aside, I’m mostly happy with the way the show wrapped up for our characters, especially since it meant that Dong-hyun made it out alive—for once, the truck of doom did not prevail, yay! That heartwarming moment Dong-hyun had with Department Head Jang outside of the hospital was so beautiful and in character, and it was made only better by the presence of his wife (though she came in at the very end of the series, she’s really added something extra to Dong-hyun’s story). I liked that Department Head Jang’s upright, steadfast nature was rewarded, and that Ki-chul, another man who was shown to be true to his word, got the peace of mind that he was searching for. Even Myung-suk seemed to have redeemed himself, having found his way of “living quietly,” while offering Do-ha the support that she’s always craved from him.
To me, the heart of the show was always Woon-kwang, who not only was at the center of the funniest scenes in the series, but also created the most swoon-worthy moments as the best oppa/hyung ever. I was disappointed in the show’s uneven use of Woon-kwang in the latter half of the show, but I thought the resolution to his story was handled nicely in the finale, especially by having him play such a prominent role in the live broadcast. I loved Woon-kwang’s fearlessness in going after Seung-jae on air, as it underscored the stark contrast between the two men beautifully: Seung-jae is such a coward—someone who’s driven by self-preservation at all costs—but Woon-kwang’s the opposite, and is always willing to put himself and his resources on the line if it means helping out his loved ones.
It’s so clear who the better man is here, and I’m glad Woon-kwang got the closure he needed to move on from his painful past with Mi-eun. Though I did at some point root for the two to get back together, I think the way they ended things was right—they aren’t the same people they were eight years ago, and it really does seem like Mi-eun loves Seung-jae in her own way, given her willingness to stay married to him. I just hope for her sake that Seung-jae comes out of prison a changed man, because while I get why she’d choose to stay with Seung-jae, we can’t forget that he’s the same guy who so cruelly threatened to take her son away from her.
I guess that leaves us with Do-ha and Seol-woo. It took me so long to get behind their romance, and then when I did, I feel like the show just kind of let it fade into the background, like it wasn’t worth spending too much time on. It bothers me that Woon-kwang got more of an explanation from Seol-woo on his departure than Do-ha did—at least, from what we were shown. It’s unclear what kind of arrangement the two agreed to, if they talked about their relationship at all—but based on their final scenes together, it seems like they’re operating on an “ignorance is bliss” model.
I hate the idea of Seol-woo going back to hiding so much about his work, when we saw how much he’d opened himself up to Woon-kwang and Do-ha through the course of the show. I mean, I understand the need to keep things under wraps for the sake of national security if Seol-woo’s back to being a ghost agent. But at least tell the people you love what that means for them! All we get is Seol-woo telling Do-ha not to wait for him, and Do-ha basically saying she won’t wait in name only, but that she’d still be around when he returns. Sure, that kind of arrangement might work with friends like Dong-hyun and Woon-kwang, but for Do-ha? Not so much.
In the end, though, I guess it doesn’t really matter, as I wasn’t necessarily watching Man to Man for the romance, nor for its action/thriller narrative. I liked watching the character interactions, especially our good guys, and for me, the show was at its best when it was light and funny and didn’t take itself too seriously, even as it was dealing with Very Serious Spy Issues. And even though the series was fairly entertaining throughout, I wish it would have been able to bring that lightness to the forefront a little more evenly all throughout its run—because when the show was firing on all cylinders, it was so great, and when it wasn’t, it was just Park Hae-jin on screen, looking pretty. Which I guess isn’t all that bad of a way to spend a few weekends, but let’s just say that I’m hoping for better projects for all of these actors the next time around.
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