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[Alternate Endings] I’ve come to save Rescue Me from its ending

By Poppy

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.

The end.

 
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That ending would have been awesome- I was on that ship as well. One other thing I really wanted at the end of this drama was for Sang Mi to give her father one last verbal smack-down before being able to turn away from him, completely free of him and his damaging beliefs

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Oh, I love it! I love it so much!

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I want to watch your ending so bad 😭😭😭

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Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

I was riveted to this story at the beginning and then stopped--it was so grim and I was so angry at what happened to Dong-chul. I mean, keep-you-up-at-night angry. His life ruined because he stood up and did the right thing. Even now, just thinking about it...yeah, I was overly invested, obviously. So I stopped watching.

I picked it up again towards the end, but this time I was just perplexed. Why were they so determined to make Sang-hwan the main protagonist when he so obviously wasn't? He didn't make the sacrifices of Dong-chul, he didn't take the risks, he didn't suffer, he didn't overcome as many obstacles, and he just wasn't anywhere near as interesting.

So what gives? Is the actor who played Sang-hwan more famous? Is he considered better-looking because he's taller and looks more Western? I mean, I even wondered if subtle racism was a factor. It just didn't make sense that Sang-hwan emerged as the hero. Maybe because their names match?

Look, it's not just that Dong-chul deserved to end up with Sang-mi more that Sang-hwan. It's that she obviously had a connection (and chemistry, too, btw) with him that she didn't have with the other guy, no matter how hard they tried to push that relationship.

And wouldn't Dong-chul and Sang-mi have a better chance of a good life together? They've both been through so much; they can understand each other, and have an appreciation for the tender mercies of the days ahead. I don't like the odds for the two Sangs together.

All in all, I like your ending MUCH better. As a matter of fact, I'm choosing to remember the ending your way. Thank you! :)

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yes and yes and yeeessss to everything you said.

and yes, TaecYeon is more popular (he's a singer) and THAT's why the Show tried hard to make him the main protagonist, in spite of how much more awesome and compelling Woo Do-Hwan (Dong-Chul)'s acting was. It almost feels as though the Writers were forcing the steering wheel sideways in TaecYeon's direction, when all it wanted to do was move straight to Do-Hwan.

or maybe I'm just being a hater... lol

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It wasn't just because he was popular, it was because the main leads were Seo Yeji and Taecyeon. This is something that I've always disliked about kdramas, where you know simply from the casting most of the time that the two main leads will end up together. I don't think I've ever heard of the main leads ending up with the second leads. In a show like this that's an ensemble cast, the leads should extend to at least the three of them, to make that more likely to happen. I knew from the beginning (even though I wanted to believe), that they'd throw romantic hints if there were any towards the two of them and not Dong Chul.

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The funny thing is that this drama was supposed to be for Taecyeon to lead but all anyone talked about in the Korean articles comments was Woo Do Hwan/Dong Chul.

I guess you can be consoled by the fact that he stole the show lol. But then the same thing happened in Dream High as well, Kim Soo Hyun didn't even appear till ep 3 but he ended up stealing every scene, the main lead position and all the public love.

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Thanks, kethysk, that's what I suspected. And yes, it did feel like the writers were forcing the story to go in one direction when it was trying with all its might to go in another.

For me, it's not just about the romance or shipping or whatever. Dong Chul as a character is more compelling. His story arc, his suffering, his resilience, and redemption are so much more interesting than anything happening with Sang whatshisface. Dong Chul is the hero. Period.

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I was completely satisfied with Rescue Me's ending because everyone had their small closures while leaving room for a possible second season. I'd be lying if I say I didn't have a smile on my face reading your ending but emotionally, it would be the same ending but with her being with Dongchul instead of Sanghwan.

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I really like that simple-but just right, we already know Dong-chul was devoted to his grandmother and probably needs someone to devote himself to. He has been shown to have alot of love to give and unwavering loyalty towards the people he cares for.

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Thanks so much for posting my ending! :-)

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this alternate ending made my thought on Rescue Me series... thank you... very thank you...

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Oh my God!! Thank you so much for this perfect ending❤️️
You made my day...Now,I will always remember Rescue Me with your ending scene..❤️️

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That's definitely a nice ending I wish we got see

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Well done! That set everything right, with an ending like that, it could have been a near perfect drama :)

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This post hurt me, mostly because my heart aches for what could have been! 💔 All those lingering stares for nothing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Poppy!

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Oh lords. I'm torn between hugging you for that sweet and simple epilogue or giving you a "fire prayer" for making me badly want something we'll never get to see.

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lol @ "fire prayer" @mary
I'm not gonna lie, those looked teeeerrifying. I was wincing and twisting when Sang-Mi administered one to the undercover reporter.

As for when her dad offered one to the prisoner, LOOOOOORD! I thought he was gonna puncture riiight through that poor man's bruised belly! like in horror movies! So glad they didn't go there...

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Aw. I totally loved the show's real ending, but yours is so sweet.

I think the main reason why I didn't have a problem with the real one is that I didn't see it as indicating romance between her and Sang-hwan at the end. She just escaped from horrible isolation and has finally found, maybe for the first time in her life, real friends. She'll have more time and emotional freedom for romance (with Dong-chul, of course!) later. ;)

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Oooh, I had the same interpretation as you: I never felt that any focus on Sang Mi and Dong Chul (like her thanking him a little more special in the end) was not an indication of romance but rather an acknowledgement that if Dong Chul hadn't heard the "Save Me" plea in the van, the rescuing would have never started in the first place. So I felt that alone would have warranted the difference in attention between DC and SH ^^

I would love this alternate ending too, 'cos I feel that both boys would be fine and deserving for Sang Mi ♥

I loved Sang Hwan's character a lot too because what's not to like? I just felt that SH was set up too much as the sad-gruff-bad-boy-puppy-but-is--actually-a-softie type. I was as fascinated with Dong Chul's character on the other end of the spectrum: the privileged one :)

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I didn't watch the drama,only checked out some recaps here and there as I was curious about this peculiar,unusual story.
Though I see that it turned out to be a sort of mess, they definitely get pointers for being different. And for a new idea, it wasn't extremely bad and was kinda excusable?!? Meh, I dunno. I don't have the right to anger the beanies who went through all the eps and know the pain first hand,I guess. Sorry😅.
However, what I wanted to say is, you've used a beautiful array of words to write this post and your alternate ending, conjuring up fascinating imagery, making it gloomy-poetic and sounding like a should-watch drama!
Keep it up Poppy!👏😃🌷

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Yes! This is the ending I want! OMG Thank you sooo much!!!

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OMG....yesssss I agree

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muuuuuch better, INDEED!
I was on that ship so hard !
Sang-Mi and Dong-Chul MUST have had a thing. there was a zing in the air whenever they faced each other, and as you rightly said @poppy , it seemed really unlikely for Sang-mi to do more than just forgive Sang-hwan for his past INACTIONS; falling in love with him seems absurd.

I have to confess: I do not like Sang-hwan as a character, or Taecyeon as an actor. so I am somewhat biased. I actually put off watching the show until it was over because of that.

I gave it a shot and discovered Woo Do-Hwan. It's been love ever since. lol. So much so, that I finally started watching MAD DOG and I reeeeally like their ragtag ensemble. Woo Do-Hwan, Ruy Hwa-Young AND Jo Jae-Yun ("Curly" in RESCUE ME) make my day whenever they're on screen.

anyways, back to this show: Thank you for the better ending, Poppy!

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I love Mad Dog for the same reason!

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After so much improve of other characters, Sang Hwan nothing change, stupid ( i really don't want to use this word), random appear in right time.
Your ending really amazing, I also want know more about ending of Lee Jae Joon (the guy in The Lover) too.

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I love your ending!

The problem with the writers were they made Dongchul was so charming as a bad boy? with his street smart solution while Taecyeon was not so realistic thinker and bad solution maker in that so realistic world. WDH has better acting skill with expressive eyes made Taecyeon was less appealing with us. Dongchul had better chemistry with Sangmi was also not helping while in other kdrama, I realized we usually can see strong chemistry from both of MCs even though the second lead usually are really likeable.

I really love Dongchul Sangmi's moment in that forest pic esp with back light from Dongchul's back.

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Woohoo, I love your ending! It's a prelude to what Girlfriday said on her thoughts on the matter and I quote, "In my mind, Sang-mi bakes a cake for Dong-chul because that's the least you can do for a guy who joins a cult to save you,and then he asks her out to jajangmyun and the rest is history."

Thank you Poppy (and Girlfriday too,hee) for articulating and visualizing the kind of ending I want for this show :)

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Love this ending. Dong-chul did all of the dirty work. Sang-Mi could have invested some time thanking him.

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I like your ending! I also liked the open ended ending. I do think there was something there with SM and DC, but I also feel like after such an experience Sang Mi might have wanted to do her own thing for a while before considering romance.

If I could change the ending, I would just have had her in a different outfit. The slow mo of her walking in the blazer looked like "Wow, she's great, she's doing well, she's a survivor, she's in a power suit!"...and then the scene zooms out and she's in the most awkward jorts. 😭 😂

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I actually thought the ending was quite neat as it is except for that slow-mo smile at the end but I like yours as well. Its simple and it ends on a hopeful note.

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Great write-up! So...for a viewer who hasn't seen the original--that would be me--is Rescue Me still worth a watch??

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Yes. Very much.

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Yes! Thank you! I cried reading that ending. That is the ending I needed.

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