[Alternate Endings] I’ve come to save Rescue Me from its ending
by Guest Beanie
Every year, there is one drama that makes me very seriously consider chucking a sickie from work and staying home all day to binge-watch. It is the kind of drama that for whatever reason just absolutely creeps beneath my skin and owns my heart, and this year that drama was OCN’s Rescue Me.
This drama was beautiful, shot in dusky blue light evenings and pre-dawn mountain mornings, and was utterly terrifying, moving, and real all at the same time. I freaking loved it, and I was so completely fascinated by this story that delved deep into the vulnerabilities of humans, and how easy it is for a charming, charismatic man to get away with such awful deeds.
Looking at a cult from the outside in, it is very difficult to imagine being victim to such an utter farce, yet this drama explored how easy it is for people to be preyed upon, and I really believed in Sang-mi and her family’s descent in the face of such unendurable tragedy. Belief is such an interesting thing, and this story explored it in a fascinating way.
That said, it definitely wasn’t a perfect drama.
Certain storylines weirdly dropped off into nowhere, and Sang-mi’s plan to put herself at the mercy of a complete nutcase of a cult leader and cult-marry him was not totally awesome. And, like probably everyone else who watched this show, I had a ship that never sailed, one I was thoroughly invested in.
Seriously, I cried at the end when Sang-mi meets the boys at the army base and smiles only at Sang-hwan, completely ignoring Dong-chul. I swore at the screen after the police raided the cult compound and she says thank you only to Sang-hwan even though Dong-chul is standing right behind her WITH HIS FACE COVERED IN BLOOD AFTER BEING HIT IN THE HEAD WITH A FREAKING SHOVEL. I mean dude, come on!
My feelings about this stupid ending had nothing to do with Sang-hwan as a character, or Taecyeon as an actor. I actually quite like Taecyeon and think he suits this kind of solid earnest role. I just really deeply felt his character arc was all about redemption for his past mistakes. I felt it was enough for him to be the spearhead to save Sang-mi from the clutches of the cult, and the drama really didn’t need to push those weird (and kind of unfounded) hints at romance between the two. What Sang-hwan did at the beginning of the story, when he didn’t help Sang-mi’s brother when she asked, seemed so terrible I couldn’t really imagine her ever falling in love with him. Forgiving him, yes, but that past would always still be there between them, so a romance didn’t work for me at all.
On the other hand, the drama seemed to be subtly pushing the idea of Sang-mi and Dong-chul a lot earlier, in a way I never felt it did with Sang-hwan. For instance, when she sees him for the first time after Dong-chul is released from jail, the music changes and he walks towards her in epic slo-mo. Because she liked him right? That’s why she was staring at him in slo-mo, right? Right? Otherwise, what exactly was that moment even about?? Grrrr.
So my ideal ending for this otherwise utterly compelling and heartbreaking drama would have been for Sang-mi to thank Sang-hwan after the police raid on the cult, and for him to get in the ambulance with his mum and drive away. At this point, Dong-chul and his blood-covered face would have asked Sang-mi and her mum where they were going to stay. After all, they have no home, no money, no belongings… so he would offer for them to come home to his old empty house.
The final scene in my imagination would have been Sang-mi waking up in the morning to a sunshine-filled yet dingy room, after sleeping the full night through peacefully for the first time in forever. She hears talking and laughter and looks out through a gap in the door to see Dong-chul and her mum getting breakfast ready on the floor in the main room. She watches Dong-chul being sweet to her mum. And then slowly she smiles. For the first time in a long, long while.
- [Alternate Endings] Taking the bitter out of Goblin’s bittersweet ending
- [Alternate Endings] Untangling the snarled plot threads of W–Two Worlds
- [Alternate Endings] Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: Take 2
- [Alternate Endings] Hello? Signal 2016? I’m from 2017 here to fix your ending
- [Alternate Endings] Circle’s unexplored possibilities
- [Alternate Endings] A proper sendoff and a new beginning for Lookout
- [Alternate Endings] If I could send Tunnel back through the tunnel
- [Theme of the Month] Write an alternate ending to a drama whose ending sucked