Familiar Wife: Episode 16 (Final)
Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin still have a few lessons to learn about life as a married couple, the most important one being that you never stop choosing to love. Time travel may have brought them here, but that’s only one day out of thousands, and they still have to make it through their day-to-day lives. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that no matter what happens, they’ll always have each other.
EPISODE 16: “Familiar happy ending”
Woo-jin makes Joo-hyuk propose to her on a roller coaster, and she agrees to marry him. Three years later, they’re settled and their two children have been born. They oversleep, and fight to be the first to get ready for the day — looks like things are back the way they belong.
But instead of an angry, madcap scramble, this time around Joo-hyuk remembers that he set the alarm an hour ahead, and they dive back into bed for a few more minutes of sleep. When they do get up, it’s Joo-hyuk who gets the kids ready while Woo-jin showers, then they trade off so Joo-hyuk can get dressed.
They’re in a hurry, but they’re smiling and helping each other, and they get the kids to the school van and head to the bank together. Even their bickering about running late is cute.
They arrive at the bank fifteen minutes late, and they sneak in, pretending to have been there for a while already. Jong-hoo stops them and asks if their scenario is that they got to work early so went for coffee, and he points out that their bags aren’t at their desks and Woo-jin isn’t in uniform yet. Busted.
Everyone gets the giggles as Jong-hoo fusses at Woo-jin and Joo-hyuk, saying that they would have been separated if they were at any other branch. Even Jong-hoo cracks a grin when he tries and fails to pull rank — he’s the team leader now, after Manager Byun was promoted to assistant branch manager.
When Branch Manager Cha arrives at work, he announces that headquarters has approved two promotions at their branch. Team Leader Jang is moving to another location to be their assistant branch manager, and Woo-jin is bring promoted to team leader of the direct banking team. Everyone is happy for them both, but sad that Team Leader Jang will be leaving them.
Hwan brings up the fact that with all these promotions, Joo-hyuk is still just assistant manager of the loans department. Joo-hyuk says he’s happy in his position and loudly congratulates his wife, but his smile seems just a bit forced.
He congratulates her again later in private, and she says she feels guilty for being promoted first. But he says he’s happy and proud of her, giving her permission to be as happy for herself as she wants. She does a high-pitched squealing happy dance, and she jokes that even though he abandoned her once (cue grumpyface from Joo-hyuk), she’s glad she remarried him.
The bank employees go out after work to celebrate Team Leader Jang and Woo-jin’s promotions. Team Leader Jang tells Woo-jin that she’ll be great as the new team leader, then Branch Manager Cha gets a little emotional as he wishes her well at her new job, though he says it makes him sad to think that he won’t see her every day anymore.
Manager Byun tries to lift the mood by having Team Leader Jang make a speech, but he forbids anyone to cry or they’ll have to pay a toll. She says that she’s worked at a lot of branches but never one where she was so fond of everyone she works with. She thanks Woo-jin, Hyang-sook, and Hye-jong for putting up with her demanding standards, and they all get choked up.
Despite his admonitions to stay unemotional, Manager Byun looks like he’s about to burst into tears as Team Leader Jang continues, thanking the loans team for helping make the bank feel like a family. He snaps, “I thought you were unaware!” when she thanks him for all his support, and Branch Manager Cha yells for her to skip him when she remembers that he once told her she reminds him of his late sister.
Everyone pays the crying toll to Manager Byun, but Woo-jin hides Joo-hyuk’s crumpled, tear-filled face and takes his wallet when he tries to pay up, hee. Awww, even Manager Byun has to pay the toll, then he pours a round of shots to make a toast.
Later, Manager Byun finds Team Leader Jang in the hallway and calls her by name for the first time. He says he wants to keep having dinner with her after she transfers, giving her the cutest pouty-lipped face, and she agrees — so long as he pays.
Woo-jin drinks enough that Joo-hyuk has to piggyback her home, where Joo-eun is babysitting their children. Se leaves after congratulating Woo-jin on her promotion, and Joo-hyuk puts Woo-jin to bed. She pulls him down and demands his arm to lay her head on, and as she drifts off to sleep, he smooths her hair affectionately.
He gets a text from Woo-jin’s mom asking him to come fix her water spigot, which has flooded her entire yard. He patches the pipe, and Mom tells him that she could live without Woo-jin, but she can’t live without him anymore, ha. They laughs that Woo-jin knows it and gets jealous, cracking jokes that they love each other so much they should just move in together.
Sang-shik calls Joo-hyuk to come over, and yay! He and Joo-eun are running their bar again. Sang-shik fusses at Joo-hyuk and Jong-hoo for not visiting him enough, and Joo-hyuk says that he knows they’re really here because his friends are worried he’s upset about Woo-jin’s promotion. He says he’s fine, and that he’ll get promoted next time.
Jong-hoo seems particularly down tonight and admits he fought with his wife. Sang-shik jokes that he was obviously wrong and to go beg for forgiveness. Jong-hoo says that she yells at him a lot lately, and that she even re-folds the clothes after he folds them, and gripes at him for recycling wrong.
This all sounds really familiar to Joo-hyuk, so he advises Jong-hoo to put himself in his wife’s shoes, and to call her by her name instead of addressing her as the kids’ mom. He says that mothers must hate losing their names when they have children, as well as the ability to dress up and go out with friends like they used to.
His friends are impressed that he understands women so well. He tells Jong-hoo to treat his wife well, and in return, she’ll treat him well. He advises the guys to give their wives a compliment once a day, and they’re fascinated and ask for more tips.
Some time later, Manager Byun reminds Joo-hyuk about some upcoming career training and testing, which will be on his next performance evaluation and could lead to a promotion if he does well. Branch Manager Cha passes out new tablets from headquarters, but when Joo-hyuk says he’s been needing a new one, he’s told that they’re only for team leaders or higher. Everyone else gets paper diaries, which they don’t even pretend to be happy about.
Woo-jin finds Joo-hyuk in the break room and offers him her new tablet, but he declines, vowing to get promoted just to earn his own tablet. Woo-jin tells him that he’s sexy when he’s competitive and pats his behind, and when he whines that someone might see, Woo-jin says that it’s her tush to pat if she wants.
Joo-hyuk is invited to a college get-together by an old classmate, and Woo-jin offers to go with him so they have an excuse to leave early. But Joo-hyuk says that she wouldn’t like his friends, and promises to just go for a few minutes then come home.
He’s surprised when Hye-won joins them, and she tells him that she heard about his wedding and figured that’s why he rejected her when they last saw each other. His friends want to go to another bar for round two, but Joo-hyuk says he has important training tomorrow and heads home. His friends joke that he must be scared of his wife, but Hye-won says with a smile that he obviously loves his wife a lot.
The guys move on while Hye-won hangs back to take a call from her mother. A passerby walks smack into her, making her drop her purse, and we see that it’s Hyun-soo. He peers at Hye-won curiously and asks if they’ve met before, and she spots the college logo on his hoodie and figures they must have seen each other on campus. They linger, seeming inexplicably fascinated with each other.
Woo-jin is waiting for Joo-hyuk when he gets home, and he tells her to go to bed since he plans to stay up and study awhile. His phone pings, and Joo-hyuk picks it up to see that a friend sent Joo-hyuk some pictures from tonight. She spots Hye-won in the pics, so she grabs a beer and waits for Joo-hyuk to come out of the bathroom.
When he emerges, Woo-jin says that Hye-won seems even more beautiful now, and asks if she’s the reason why Joo-hyuk didn’t want her to come along tonight. Joo-hyuk says truthfully that it was only supposed to be the guys. He begs Woo-jin to trust him, but she snaps that it must have been nice to see his ex-wife again, and that his ex-ex-wife is going to bed. Ouch.
After studying, Joo-hyuk creeps into bed trying not to wake Woo-jin. But when he turns to face her, she turns her back to him, and he’s forced to go to sleep without any cuddles. She’s still grouchy the next morning when Joo-hyuk reminds her that he’ll be at headquarters until late doing his testing, so she’ll have to pick up the kids from day care.
The bank is very busy that day, and at one point an elderly woman starts to panic and yell that the ATM stole her card. Woo-jin sends Hwan to open the machine and get the woman’s card back, and she helps the woman sit and offers to get her a drink while she waits. The woman suddenly slumps over unconscious, and Woo-jin calls for someone to get an ambulance.
When Joo-hyuk’s class is over, he gets a call from the day care, wanting to know why nobody has picked up the children. He tries to call Woo-jin, but she’s not answering her phone, and neither is Jong-hoo when Joo-hyuk tries to reach him.
The bank team are all talking about the woman’s collapse, which is why Jong-hoo doesn’t notice his phone ringing. Woo-jin isn’t at the bank because she rode in the ambulance with the elderly woman.
At the hospital, Woo-jin learns that the woman has severe diabetes and her blood sugar level had crashed. Her grandson arrives, so Woo-jin finally checks her phone, to see multiple calls and texts from Joo-hyuk wondering why she hasn’t picked up the kids. She calls and quickly tells him where she is, and he says he’s already on his way to the day care, but that he can still take his test if he makes it back in time.
Instead of panicking, they make a plan. Joo-hyuk intends to pick up the children while Woo-jin takes a taxi to a location halfway between the school and the bank headquarters. If they time it right, they can hand off the kids and Joo-hyuk can get back to headquarters in time to take his test.
Woo-jin’s taxi gets stuck in traffic, and Joo-hyuk starts to worry when she’s not at the meeting place on time. He gets anxious that he might miss his test and end up an assistant manager forever. But thank goodness, Woo-jin’s taxi comes around the corner with seconds to spare, and she grabs the kids while he takes the taxi back to headquarters. He skids into the testing room with less than a minute to spare — safe!
Hwan, Hye-jong, and Hyang-sook are working late at the bank, and they play rock-paper-scissors to determine who buys dinner. Hye-jong loses, and after she leaves, Hyang-sook changes the music they’re listening to. Hwan gets excited that she likes the same singer he does, and they realize that they were even at the same concert last year.
As they talk, they discover that they have a lot in common. Hwan has tickets to their favorite baseball team’s game this weekend, so they agree to go together, suddenly aware of each other in a whole new way.
Joo-hyuk arrives home after his test to find Woo-jin waiting at the door, arms open wide for a hug. She tells him he did well before she even asks about the test, and Joo-hyuk says he did his best. He changes into his jammies and joins Woo-jin for a drink, though he sticks to soda while she has soju.
He tells Woo-jin that he barely made it in time to take the test, affectionately fussing at her for not calling him when she couldn’t make it. Woo-jin acknowledges that she should have called and apologizes, and Joo-hyuk gives her a look and says she should be punished. He insists he’s not thinking of anything sneaky, as he picks up Woo-jin and carries her to bed. RAWR.
A few months later.
Hwan and Hyang-sook glare daggers at each other all day at work, and Jong-hoo tells Joo-hyuk that they’ve broken up for the zillionth time, but will get back together soon like always. He admires their youthful energy, and confides to Joo-hyuk that he wonders sometimes what would have happened if he hadn’t chased his wife to the airport that day. Joo-hyuk tells Jong-hoo not to even think about it, making Woo-jin laugh behind their backs.
They’re getting competitive about whose kids are cuter when former-Team Leader Jang comes for a visit. She says casually that she’s got good news about Joo-hyuk’s promotion, and everyone congratulates him on his new appointment as team leader of the loans department at her bank. He and Woo-jin both burst into tears, awww. Branch Manager Cha runs in yelling that Joo-hyuk is being promoted, and they all pretend they don’t already know.
Woo-jin and his friends plan a little surprise party at Sang-shik’s restaurant that night. They dance and throw confetti, and tease Joo-hyuk that his new title is difficult to pronounce. Woo-jin presents him with a gift of a brand-new gaming console, and Joo-hyuk reflexively leaps out of his chair in fear before he realizes that this time it’s a good thing.
One weekend, Mom offers to take care of the kids so Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin can spend the day together. They’re all Well, okaaay, if you insist… and get out as fast as they can. They go see a sad movie that makes Joo-hyuk cry so loud Woo-jin has to cover his mouth, then to eat afterward (Subway, naturally).
Later they go for a walk at Joo-hyuk’s old college campus, and Woo-jin reminds Joo-hyuk of the first time he brought her here. She jokes that she’s pathetic for falling for the man who abandoned her once, and Joo-hyuk jokes back that he’s just that charming.
More seriously, Woo-jin asks how scary she was that he abandoned her. Joo-hyuk says that it’s not important — what’s important is the history they both remember. He wonders how much more they’ll face in the future, and together they imagine their son’s kindergarten graduation, their kids’ first loves, and which of them might become seriously ill first (a hilarious scene in which a tearful Joo-hyuk runs beside Woo-jin as she’s being taken away on a gurney… for a colonoscopy. LOL).
They vow to grow old together, and to band together against the kids when they give them a hard time. Woo-jin warns Joo-hyuk that if he makes her mad again, she’ll go looking for another magic coin. They admire the moon, happy to be sharing a simple, nice night together.
Such a sweet, simple ending for a sweet, simple show. Life goes on and love continues, as Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin make the decision each and every day to cherish and support each other. They really did end up in the best of all possible timelines, but it was never because of how they changed the past — it’s how they live now and in the future that matters.
I loved all of the parallels in this episode that called up scenes from the first episode, yet with a gentler, more loving spin. The rush to get ready for work but this time helping and supporting each other, the sneaking into work together, and especially when Joo-hyuk found himself unable to reach Woo-jin about the children. It was so good to see them handling the same issues but with a lot more love and understanding, and most of all, teamwork. They aren’t perfect, and they still fight and disagree, but now they act as a unified family and deal with problems in a healthy way instead of fighting and screaming and destroying things in revenge.
Joo-hyuk has grown so much that he’s even advising his friends on how to be good husbands, which is wonderful, because there were times I feared he’d never grow up and be capable of being a responsible partner. Ans Woo-jin got a chance to be a better wife and partner because Joo-hyuk chose to be more aware of his own part in their relationship. She didn’t have her spunky, fun-loving side stamped out by neglect and disappointment, which in turn makes it easier for Joo-hyuk to be the good husband he should be. I’m so proud of them both for learning the lesson that it’s choice, and not fate, that makes a marriage work.
Familiar Wife wasn’t a show with a complicated plot or high stakes — it’s entirely character driven, and the characters were really the best part of this drama. It had some continuity issues (it never did explain how the time travel worked), but I honestly didn’t care, because I just loved all of the characters so much. It must have been fun for the actors to play three different versions of their roles, keeping true to their personalities but with slight differences due to the shifting circumstances of the three separate timelines. The bank team were such a fun part of each episode, and I never got bored of the shifting friendships and romances going on at KCU bank — I even teared up along with everyone else at Team Leader Jang’s farewell party, and when Joo-hyuk finally got his promotion. I’ll miss the quirky gang of misfits and how much they all loved each other.
Recapping this drama was an interesting experience for me, because while Familiar Wife was a sweet show and I enjoyed it overall, there were times when I really, really disliked Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin. Luckily I never disliked them both at the same time, so I was always in one camp or the other depending on who was being more horrible or hopeless at the time. But in retrospect, I appreciate that the characters were flawed and realistic, and even though the story relied on a few travels through time, it still felt grounded and truthful. Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin could be any couple who once loved each other but let their disappointment in life change them and their relationship — they just got lucky enough to encounter a bit of magic to help them find their way back to happiness. But as Joo-hyuk said in the end, what matters isn’t the past, but the memories they share and the ones they’ll make in the future. They won’t always do the right thing or remember to be good to each other, but there will always be love and happiness, if that’s what they choose.