Suits: Episode 16 (Final)
The final episode of Suits is about as good as a finale can be, and is probably my favorite episode of the entire drama. Nothing is forgotten, and everything is wrapped up in a realistic, sometimes even melancholic, way, with no easy answers or quick fixes. But room is left for hope, and a future for the people at Kang & Ham… and maybe, if we’re lucky, even a second season.
EPISODE 16: “Life will not tell you where the destination is.”
Kang-seok arrives to visit Yeon-woo in jail, as Yeon-woo narrates: “Last night I had a dream. I dropped on the floor because I didn’t know where to go. That’s when you came to visit me.”
We back up to the day that Director Ham texts the entire firm that Yeon-woo never graduated high school. Kang-seok storms to Director Ham’s office, and Yeon-woo tries to stop him as everyone gathers to see what will happen. Kang-seok orders Yeon-woo to get out of there, and Yeon-woo starts to follow him, but he sees the anger in Geun-shik’s eyes and the confusion in Ji-na’s, so he turns and flees.
Director Ham taunts Kang-seok for failing to protect what he cares about. He says he kept his end of the promise by not sending Yeon-woo’s secret to Ha-yeon (just to everyone else). Kang-seok grabs a paperweight and slams it into the wall, and he growls to Director Ham that this was never his law firm, even for a second. Swiping everything off Director Ham’s desk, he storms out, while Yeon-woo leaves the building as quickly as possible.
Ha-yeon and Geun-shik find Kang-seok in his office, and Ha-yeon tells Kang-seok to turn in his resignation. He hands it to her immediately, having written it the day he hired Yeon-woo. He refuses to answer any more questions now that he no longer works for Kang & Ham, though he fibs that Da-ham didn’t know anything.
Ji-na is still stunned when she leaves for the day, and she meets with Yeon-woo so that he can explain. He says it’s true that he’s a fake, and that she’s the one he wanted to open up to the most, but he couldn’t.
He tells her that it kept him from being honest about his feelings for her, and she swallows a sob. He says he’s been working in a place he doesn’t belong with people very different from himself, and that he might even still be lying now.
Ji-na gasps that she can’t seem to forgive him, but when he says he understands, she says he doesn’t. She explains that she’s not angry because he’s a fake, or because he lied to her, but because he’s lying right now. She asks why he’s telling her everything now, when he’s never been honest with her before, and Yeon-woo says he’s sorry.
She tells him not to apologize, because she’s not ready to accept it yet. But she says she’ll wait, then she walks away.
Yeon-woo goes straight home and starts printing out everything that was on the USB file that David Kim gave to Kang-seok. He gets to work trying to figure out the connection between Kim & Jo offering Ha-yeon a merger, and Taeyang Law Firm taking over Kim & Jo’s cases, then goes to see Kang-seok.
The next day, Ha-yeon calls Kang-seok in and tells him that they managed to keep the partners from leaking anything. She thinks they need to report Yeon-woo, but Kang-seok says they should focus on saving the firm first. Geun-shik spits that if he cared about the firm, he wouldn’t have hired a fake in the first place.
Kang-seok asks angrily if they think Yeon-woo is to blame for what’s happening to the firm, and says that in fact, Yeon-woo is the reason the three of them came this far. Ha-yeon asks for proof that the merger is a trap, and Kang-seok starts to say that Yeon-woo is working on it, but Geun-shik snaps that he’s sick of hearing that name.
So Kang-seok says he’ll reveal everything at the partners’ meeting, and after that, they can do whatever they want. He grumbles that the firm will probably go down no matter what they do, and leaves.
Yeon-woo dresses in his suit, choosing to wear his father’s broken watch and taking with him the Joker card that Kang-seok once gave him. He stops to see Grandma, and he tells her that he’s going to study abroad for several years. She says she’s proud of him, and he tells her that he’s paid for her living expenses and to stay well until he comes home.
He tries to say that he’ll find them a nice house when he gets back, but he breaks down sobbing and confesses that he made a mistake. Grandma says that she already knows the hardships he’s gone through, and that she pretended not to know because she can only imagine the agony he’s been in all this time.
Yeon-woo apologizes, but Grandma wipes his tears and says that he can be hurt or have a broken heart, but that he needs to sort it out and start over. He lays his head in her lap and cries while she comforts him.
Yeon-woo stops on a bridge to look out over the river. He recalls what Kang-seok said on the day he hired him, when he gave him the Joker card: “That card, which is nothing at the moment, is you. Depending on your choices and effort, your card can turn into an ace or some meaningless number. It’s up to you to choose what kind of game and rules you’re going to play and follow.”
Kang-seok shows up at the partners’ meeting that’s been called to vote on the merger, and whether to fire Kang-seok. Ha-yeon allows him to speak first, and he passes out packets of information as he says that if they still want to vote on the merger after what he has to say, he’ll step down willingly.
He repeats what Yeon-woo told him last night — that Kim & Jo has had financial difficulties, and Taeyang Law Firm is in the process of buying them out. Kang-seok says that two years ago, Kim & Jo suffered a similar misfortune as Kang & Ham. Their plan is to merge with Kang & Ham, which will stop Taeyang’s acquisition and make Kang & Ham responsible for their financial issues.
Geun-shik asks why Kim & Jo would do that when Kang & Ham is also having financial problems. Kang-seok says that it’s because Kang & Ham’s financial standing is slightly better at the moment. He says that their original offer of a takeover was just a feint (because they couldn’t afford it), so that Kang & Ham would accept the merger when it was offered.
Ha-yeon looks ill as she remembers how Director Ham urged her to agree to the merger. Kang-seok repeats that if they merge, they’ll be financially responsible for Kim & Jo’s failing situation. Given that the financial information they released seemed to be so compatible with Kang & Ham’s, Yeon-woo guessed that someone inside leaked information.
Interestingly, Yeon-woo also learned that CEO Jo’s properties in Los Angeles have been transferred into Director Ham’s daughter’s name. Geun-shik asks if Director Ham would really give up his firm for a couple of houses, but Kang-seok says he never intended to regain control of Kang & Ham — he wanted to destroy it. Ha-yeon admits that if not for Yeon-woo, they wouldn’t have known about Director Ham’s plan in time to save the firm.
In flashback, we see Yeon-woo asking Kang-seok to take care of his grandmother. He says it’s too late, and that Kang-seok shouldn’t let him be his weakness anymore.
Ha-yeon asks the partners if they still want to vote on the merger and Kang-seok’s dismissal. Not one person speaks up, and Kang-seok says he has something else to say. He tells the partners that Yeon-woo isn’t a lawyer, and that he wasn’t even a good fake lawyer — he was too sympathetic, and sometimes even sided with the opposition.
But he also reminds them that Yeon-woo saved the firm twice, and they all nod agreement. Kang-seok asks them to acknowledge Yeon-woo as a colleague, and a real associate, and he requests that they let him defend Yeon-woo on behalf of Kang & Ham.
Ha-yeon calls for a vote, though she says that it must be unanimous. She asks who agrees with Kang-seok, and hands start to go up. Geun-shik sits with his arms crossed, but after a minute, he also raises his hand.
Standing on the bridge, Yeon-woo tosses the Joker card into the water, then walks to the police station and turns himself in. He requests a lawyer, but the prosecutor says that they received a report on him this morning, disqualifying him. Yeon-woo quotes that he’s still entitled to representation since he turned himself in, even though it was after a report was made.
The prosecutor is offended at being quoted the law by a dropout, and asks if Yeon-woo thinks he’s a lawyer just because he read some books. Yeon-woo retorts that he doesn’t have to prove he’s a lawyer — the prosecutor has to prove he’s a fake.
Even though he voted in favor, Geun-shik is concerned that Kang-seok will be prosecuted as Yeon-woo’s accomplice. Ha-yeon says that Kang-seok started this, so he’ll be the one to end it, but she orders him to back out if it hurts the firm in any way. On his way to see Yeon-woo, Kang-seok gets a message that worries him.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Nam offers Yeon-woo a deal — probation, in exchange for his testimony that Kang-seok knowingly hired him as a lawyer. Yeon-woo knows that Kang-seok’s punishment would be severe, and Prosecutor Nam acknowledges that he’s smart.
Yeon-woo’s lawyer arrives, but it’s Geun-shik, not Kang-seok. Prosecutor Nam sneers that Kang-seok is distancing himself from Yeon-woo, and Geun-shik hisses at him. He tells Prosecutor Nam that he has 48 hours to question Yeon-woo, after which he’s taking Yeon-woo out of here. Yeon-woo asks where Kang-seok is, but Geun-shik just asks him to trust him for now.
Oh no… the message Kang-seok received is that Yeon-woo’s grandmother passed away. He identifies her body and holds her funeral, where Ji-na and Da-ham come to pay their respects. After two days, Geun-shik gets Yeon-woo released as promised, and takes him to the funeral.
Yeon-woo bows in respect, crying as he remembers Grandma’s promise not to die until he returns home. Later, Yeon-woo thanks Kang-seok for holding Grandma’s funeral when he couldn’t. Kang-seok just sighs, like he’s not sure what to say.
Ha-yeon confronts CEO Jo about her trickery and says she should have just asked for help, and CEO Jo says she would have if they hadn’t been in trouble. She goes down to see Ji-na, who asks what will happen now, but CEO Jo tells her to worry about herself. Ji-na nervously asks her mother to lunch tomorrow, and CEO Jo accepts.
Attorney Kim apologizes to Kang-seok for betraying him, and she asks why he chose to hire Yeon-woo. He simply says, “Because he’s different from you.” She sighs that if that’s how he saw her from the beginning, then there was never room for her. Kang-seok says that Yeon-woo turned himself in, and tells Attorney Kim to try making a different choice next time.
She packs up her things, and as she leaves, she finds Geun-shik waiting for her. He tells her not to forget that he acknowledged her as his associate, which means he’ll never abandon her. He asks her to be by his side when he eventually goes to war with Kang-seok.
On their way back to the police station, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that he’ll be sent to the prosecution to finish their investigation, then to prison. Kang-seok asks if Yeon-woo thought he was offering him a legitimate opportunity back when he hired him, but Yeon-woo replies that he knew it was dangerous and wrong, so Kang-seok asks why he accepted.
Yeon-woo says he wanted to be powerful so he could boast, even if it was fake. He says he wanted to show everyone he could make it, it was just that he was never given an opportunity. He adds wryly that considering where he is now, he wasn’t off to a good start.
Kang-seok says not to worry because he’s defending him, and he’ll keep him from going to prison. But Yeon-woo sees that he doesn’t look confident, and he tells Kang-seok that it’s okay, and that he doesn’t want to end as a coward. He says he wants to pay for his wrongdoings and not cause any damages to the firm, and he asks Kang-seok to grant his last request.
Kang-seok nods, and Yeon-woo holds out a fist, and Kang-seok finally, finally bumps it. Awww.
Kang-seok goes back to Yeon-woo’s desk at the firm, where the other cards he gave him, and Yeon-woo’s employee badge, are still on his desk. He finds the recruitment corruption pro bono case in a drawer, which was Yeon-woo’s last request.
Yeon-woo goes inside alone, and he tells Prosecutor Nam that he thought about his offer. He suggests a different offer, recalling the exact date that Prosecutor Nam took the bar exam. But then he says that Prosecutor Nam didn’t actually take the test that day — someone else took the test under his name. Oooh, this is the guy that Yeon-woo took the test for.
Yeon-woo grins and asks if Prosecutor Nam thinks this is a coincidence. He says that they’re meeting again today because they both made a mistake, and offers an agreement — that he’ll confess to what he did, if Prosecutor Nam promises not to touch Kang-seok or Kang & Ham… which is now named Choi & Kang.
Geun-shik leads a meeting regarding the fraudulent recruiting practices, which involved a rigged screening process that gave certain job applicants an advantage. The victims already lost the case due to lack of representation, but Kang-seok says the prosecutor’s office has agreed to retry the case. The Taeyang lawyers suggest that they could lose more clients if they pursue this case, but Ha-yeon says she doesn’t care if she loses all of them, and Geun-shik adds that when they win, the clients will return.
Director Ham is at the airport, preparing to leave the country, when Ha-yeon calls. She says that he’s been put under a flying ban, and that he’s not headed to Los Angeles, but to prison. Director Ham hangs up and stands in the middle of the airport, at a loss.
As Ji-ah studies at her desk, she sees Ha-yeon, Kang-seok, Geun-shik, and Da-ham heading out to Yeon-woo’s trial. She pushes Yeon-woo’s stuffed bunny face-down on the desk, but she’s lost her concentration. She flips to a page in her book where Yeon-woo wrote, “If you made it this far, you should know by now how much I like you,” and she jumps up to follow the others.
At Yeon-woo’s trial, Kang-seok allows Yeon-woo to make a final statement in his place. Yeon-woo stands and admits his wrongdoings, and doesn’t ask for a reduced sentence. He says:
There were many times when I felt lost in my life. And every time, I think I made the wrong decision. The whole reason I’m here at this moment is solely due to the decision I made, not because of the opportunity that was presented to me. My grandma said it takes time to become a decent man. That you can get hurt and become brokenhearted, but you need to give it time to sort it out and start over. I think today is an opportunity for me to undo what I’ve done wrong and start over.
The judge acknowledges that even without a license, Yeon-woo was superior to many who do have a license to practice law, and that he tried his best for his clients and appears to be sincerely repenting. But he says that doesn’t make it right that he impersonated a lawyer, and sentences Yeon-woo to two years in prison.
Time passes, and Choi & Kang wins the recruitment case. Kang-seok visits Yeon-woo in prison, and Yeon-woo tells him about a dream where he dropped to the floor, not knowing where to go. He says Kang-seok visited him and he asked why he chose him.
Handing Yeon-woo a sandwich from the toast cart, Kang-seok says that he knew everything at Kang & Ham would crumble down soon — not because of Director Ham, but because of everyone there, including himself. He says that none of them knew what pain is, so they didn’t understand the people around them.
He says they were all out for themselves, and didn’t know they had to protect each other in order to protect the firm. But he met Yeon-woo, who knew what pain was, and tried to understand the hearts of the victims before the cases themselves.
Yeon-woo asks why Kang-seok kept telling him not to be swayed by emotion. Kang-seok says that’s how Yeon-woo works, and he still doesn’t like it. He tells Yeon-woo that on the day of his interview, he was reading a book which said, “The awful things of the world that we’ve seen thus far, and the worse things that will happen in the future, aren’t caused because there’s an increase of rebels and untamed people in this world, but…”
He forgets what comes next, and Yeon-woo pipes up, “… because there’s an increase of gentle and submissive people.” He jokes that Kang-seok shouldn’t try to be like him if he can’t do it properly, and Kang-seok responds with his usual, “Are you crazy?” Heh.
He says that he knew Yeon-woo wouldn’t do things like the so-called elite lawyers, and that he wouldn’t blindly obey when something horrible happened. He knew Yeon-woo would understand others’ pain and wouldn’t back down, and would fight back in his own way. He says that he thought if they had someone like that, and he could protect that person, then the company might not crumble.
He says lightly that it’s not like he needed that person or anything, and Yeon-woo starts to say that this all sounds like something he said once, but Kang-seok interrupts, “I didn’t need that person! But you seemed a bit like that guy.” Suuure you didn’t need him, ya big marshmallow.
Grinning, Yeon-woo says it sounds like he’s saying Yeon-woo was like him, but Kang-seok denies it like always. He brags that he’s just good at reading people, and Yeon-woo wants to know what he thinks of him. Kang-seok says that he broke the law so they can’t say he did well, and Yeon-woo huffs indignantly.
Kang-seok takes out his deck of cards and spreads them out, and Yeon-woo is all, “Don’t do that! Everyone hates that!” LOL. Kang-seok orders him to choose which card he wants to be, but instead, Yeon-woo says he wants to be the one holding the cards and shaking up the game. Kang-seok gapes, remembering that he once said exactly the same thing, but he tells Yeon-woo, “NO, you are not me. You’ll never be like me.”
After two years, Yeon-woo is released, and Kang-seok is there to pick him up. He holds out a fist for Yeon-woo to bump, and Yeon-woo reaches out… and pushes Kang-seok’s hand down. HA, got him.
He trots out to Kang-seok’s car, asking where they’re going. Kang-seok narrates, “Life will not tell you where the destination is,” and Yeon-woo finishes, “Therefore, what changes your life isn’t coincidence, but your choice.”
Who would have thought that a simple fistbump could say so many things? Yeon-woo used it throughout the show to ask Kang-seok, “Acknowledge me,” and “Support me,” and “Believe in me.” Kang-seok withheld when he couldn’t say those things to Yeon-woo, but when he finally responded, I think he was telling Yeon-woo all of those things and more. And I love that Yeon-woo got to turn the tables on Kang-seok, as if they were starting over from the beginning and a fistbump is again something to be earned. I like that in the end, it symbolized a new beginning with new parameters for Kang-seok and Yeon-woo, and that now they can go forward on more equal footing.
I loved the way this drama ended, with a lot of hope for the future, but no pretty bows and promises of happily-ever-afters. It felt true to life and realistic, and human in a way that I hoped for but was afraid to expect. I even liked that there was a bittersweet feel to the final episode, as if to underline the fact that even though things turned out in Kang-seok and Yeon-woo’s favor, it wasn’t without sacrifices and hardships. And I appreciate that there were very few loose ends left dangling… even the bar exam that Yeon-woo took for someone else came around to benefit him in the end.
I even liked that, while the people at Kang & Ham (or I should say, Choi & Kang) found a better focus, a lot of things didn’t change. I started out assuming that Kang-seok and Yeon-woo would change each other, each making the other less extreme, but in the end they are still mostly the same people as when they started out. Kang-seok is still rigid and unwilling to admit when he’s wrong, and Yeon-woo is still starry-eyed and idealistic, and neither seems likely to be any different in the future. What changed was their relationship, and how they grew to appreciate and respect each other for their differences, even though it’s true that deep down, they’re very much the same.
Yeon-woo did change in one significant way, though I think it was not so much from Kang-seok’s influence as it was from the clients and opponents he worked with. He started out wanting to be a lawyer to right a wrong — the wrong that was done to him and his grandmother when his parents died, and the lawyer pressured them into putting a price on his parents’ lives. Yeon-woo wanted to prove to himself that he could be a lawyer but not become corrupted in that way, and I think he accomplished that.
But I also think that Yeon-woo learned that being a lawyer isn’t about always doing the right thing, but about doing the best he can within the law. That’s why he turned himself in — because he realized that doing his best for his clients didn’t mean much when he was breaking the law in the process. I believe that Yeon-woo’s change was that he learned to respect the law, when before, he always looked on it with contempt for allowing people to be treated the way he and Grandma were all those years ago. It went from something to be conquered and proven wrong, to something to be upheld and respected.
All in all, a solid ending from a solid show. I don’t think law dramas will ever be my cup of tea, but Suits is one of the better ones I’ve seen, which I think owes to the fact that it never forgot that its characters were the show’s heart and soul. There were interesting cases and exciting inter-office machinations, but the show always kept its focus on how these things affected the characters themselves. I really think it’s that simple, and that the show stands on its own without detailed analysis… it and its characters are just solid and real, and that’s all there is to it.