[Alternate Endings] A plaintive plea for a do-over of Warrior Baek Dong-soo
by Guest Beanie
It has been exactly 6 years, 6 weeks, and 4 days since the finale of Warrior Baek Dong-soo… and I am STILL PISSED OFF over it! My precious Ji Chang-wook deserved a better ending for his first starring role in a sageuk. By the time the last episodes aired, the show was starting to suffer from the terminal condition known as writerus extendaritis, after announcing the extension (from 24 to 29 episodes) in early September 2011. The writer definitely ran out of steam around Episode 26 and barely kept the plot together with thin string in order to make it to Episode 29.
I would have been one happy fangirl if the show had officially ended on Episode 28 after the coup attempt and resulting epic sword battle on the palace grounds. As dictated by the Book of Sageuk, the good guys won and the bad guys didn’t. But the best part was that the bromance between the two boys was BACK! *swoons*
But nooooooo. We viewers had to be subjected to Yet. One. More. Warning: spoilers ahead.
To recap for those who have not witnessed the horror that was Warrior Baek Dong-soo’s finale, it went down like this:
After some unnecessary flashback padding, Yeo Woon knows he is dead meat walking after disbanding the assassin colony Heuksa Chorong, and decides to commit suicide by Dong-soo. Finding a nice open field with enough room for a proper pas de deux, Dong-soo tries to talk Woon out of his death wish. Woon gets tired of Dong-soo’s blabbering and impales himself on Dong-soo’s sword, giving himself the opportunity for one last soliloquy about all the wrongs his death will finally correct. Dong-soo goes mental while screaming for Woon to LIVE, DAMMIT LIVE!!
Even though Woon does not survive, I would have been perfectly happy for the show to end right there.
But then there’s a time jump. Dong-soo is at his local watering hole, majorly drowning his sorrows. But then Woon sits down and joins Dong-soo for a drink as they reminisce about their younger days. Dong-soo eventually shakes off his dream and sees The Log Ji-sun sitting next to him instead of Woon. (That alone would make me drink myself into a coma for sure.)
All plots that transpired over the past 28 episodes are tied up neatly, while the characters happily pair off: Dong-soo/The Log; Jin-ju/Painter Guy; Cho-rip/Mi-soo; Sa-mo/Jang-mi. Sadly though, Woon’s still dead. SOBS. Dong-soo ends up being appointed the palace guard’s chief instructor, there’s some nonsense thrown in about kids in a field trying to learn swordplay, and then Dong-soo and Ji-sun mount their horses and ride off into the sunset. The end.
WHAT IN THE FREAKIN’ HELL WAS THAT?!?
In my alternate ending, any remaining boring palace machinations cease to be known. After the king’s passing and the crown prince’s ascension to the throne, there would be no need for more political stuff and it would have mercifully faded into the background.
Dong-soo ends up wandering around aimlessly for a few years, but still continues to hone his martial arts skills while keeping his mane of glory flowing and his chocolate abs incredibly toned. He also returns to being the goofy Dong-soo first shown in Episodes 5-10, and meets up with Woon quite often. The bromance must go on!
Having fully recovered from Dong-soo’s stabbing, Woon remodels the Heuksa Chorong honeycomb hideout into a cozy bed-and-breakfast to house the increasing number of tourists passing through Joseon after hearing word that Proprietor Woon was the only person to ever survive a Dong-soo attack (therefore becoming sort of a local legend around those parts). The gisaeng Gu-hyang opens a side business inside the B&B selling potions and telling fortunes.
Elder swordsmen Gwang-taek and Chun decide that a fight to the death would be counterproductive to living long enough to spoil their grandchildren, so they lay down their blades and open a small tavern where they could make money hand over fist just keeping Dong-soo and Woon happy with booze and snacks. Ji would not have been killed back in Episode 19, but instead presides as the mistress of their tavern, happily mediating the squabbles that Gwang-taek and Chun would inevitably get into over the smallest things.
Ji-sun should have officially died—not when Dong-soo accidentally stabbed her in Episode 13, but after ingesting a poisoned batch of that damned red ginseng that she risked life and limb for. Live by the root; die by the root. GOOD RIDDANCE. All the other characters basically stay alive, because history. (Except for that jerkwad Cho-rip, who should have died when Woon stabbed him the first time. WTF, Cho-rip?)
Jin-ju decides that Painter Guy is way too boring since all he does is stay home and paint, paint, paint… and kicks his lazy ass to the curb in order to join forces with her first love Dong-soo. Dong-soo unsuccessfully tries to fend off the advances of fellow warrior Jin-ju, but eventually gives in. Thereafter, they become the first husband and wife Joseon palace guard training team. On their days off, Dong-soo and Jin-ju venture out into the countryside with their three gorgeous children, giving master classes to the neighborhood kids in the ways of the sword, Dong-soo style.
Warrior Baek Dong-soo had SO much potential that truly delivered in its first two-thirds, but the extension worked against the plot and the show eventually sputtered to a lame finish. What could have been… *sigh*
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