Forest: Episodes 29-32 Open Thread (Final)
If you’re still with me, we’ve made it to the final week of Forest. And that means justice will be delivered, and loves will be reunited. But first, more flames! Forests, hospitals, and hearts will burn — because this drama really does love things going down in burning flames. Maybe, in the end, that’s the best metaphor it’s created.
EPISODES 29-32 WEECAP
At this point, Forest has done everything it can to make San-hyuk into the full-fledged valiant hero. He’s sacrificed the contamination records to save Young-jae. He’s confronted his repressed past and dealt with the horrors of his childhood, including the loss of his little sister. He’s identified the remorseless, weasely bad guys that made it all happen. And now he’s out to bring them down. It should be exciting, right?
It’s not. San-hyuk strikes up a phony deal with Taesung and while this plays out (yawn!) we’re treated to San-hyuk and Young-jae curled up alone on couch and bed, respectively, missing each other. Interestingly enough, both seem to look fondly upon their misadventures in the water together.
San-hyuk’s plan quickly comes to fruition, and with some testimonies from important players from 25 years ago, it’s all put out there on live TV. The mining for rare minerals. The contamination of the water and entire mountain. The cover-up when they had to shut down operations. And the rescue unit’s headquarters plopped right on top of the old excavation site, in order to hide it. And that’s why they couldn’t let the unit move, folks. *Gasp*
To her credit, Young-jae and the nurse and doc from Miryeong have been on a parallel track as San-hyuk, trying to do the same thing from the other angle. They’re committing all sorts of medical violations to learn about the cover-ups with the people that are passing away due to Miryeong’s toxicity. But they’re not quicker or more well-equipped than San-hyuk. When Young-jae realizes that he was just trying to bring the whole thing to light, they reunite. Forgiveness, hugs, and never ending love.
But the baddies aren’t done yet. They set fire to Miryeong hospital, lock our leads inside, and when that fails (thanks to our highly-trained rescue worker), the Taesung guy shows up with a shotgun and shoots San-hyuk while laughing.
We’re faked out to think that San-hyuk’s in critical condition — but no, that’s Team Leader Bong, poor man. San-hyuk is safely tucked away in the VIP ward with a photogenic scratch on either of his shoulders and one of his cheekbone (lol). Did they really think I really thought he was in danger of death and/or coma? No. We know it’s a ploy to get us to watch the final episode.
Everything falls a bit flat (flatter?) when the drama takes back its reveals, though. All that live news broadcasting and country-wide reveals? Covered up, again. In fact, our people — all of them — can’t prove anything, and this back and forth is a little tiresome. Things start to move again with the help of deus ex machina: Choi Chang heads home early and just happens to hear his father talking out loud to himself confessing the entire plot from start to finish.
I was vaguely interested in what would happen when Chang realizes his father is a complete scoundrel, but things take a weird turn when Papa Choi gets diagnosed with late-stage cancer out of the blue. Um, I hate this as a plot arc, because it’s as painful as it is nonsensical. I don’t approve of it as a “punishment” for Papa Choi, and I don’t like it as a wake-up call for him to make amends and start telling the truth, either.
There’s a final showdown in the typical deserted warehouse where the tables turn, San-hyuk takes the victory, and then punches the lights out of the Taesung baddie. It’s supposed to be symbolic that he beats him to a pulp with the very “burning hand” that had reached into the fire to save his dying sister… but it’s actually not that powerful of a scene.
The culminating courtroom scenes where all the villagers and rescue workers come together and tell their stories is a little better, and eventually the truth is revealed. The Taesung baddie finally stops his giggling when Papa Choi is wheeled into the courtroom. Choi’s testimony finalizes things since he’s got all the inside knowledge and evidence to bring Taesung down once and for all. This is also, theoretically, supposed to be redemption for his misdeeds, but as said above, I don’t really like where they took this.
The attention then turns to Young-jae before this thing can close. Her adoptive father, after decades of silence, dredges up the case of her parents’ joint suicide. He forces her to realize that in the end, they tried to save her. I’m not sure why we need to know all this now, with nine minutes left in the drama, but we do.
Young-jae has a little moment at the river pool where our couple often hangs out, and it looks like she’s going to drown herself. But instead, it acts as a sort of emotional exorcism, I guess? She goes from almost drowning to saving herself, and I guess we’re going for a rebirth metaphor here.
It goes without saying that we didn’t really get the story we expected with Forest. It’s not the dead-ends and plot tangents that bother me as much as the painfully long process of actually getting to the climax and conclusion of this story. All of this seemed to occur in the final fifteen minutes of the drama. Everything in between felt more like filler. Anyway, at the conclusion of our tale, both San-hyuk and Young-jae have now re-lived their respective childhood traumas in the most gory ways possible. This has given them the ability and strength to move on with their lives. They are now free to pursue their dreams, and each other. And it’s all thanks to the forest.