Que Sera Sera: Episode 17 (Final)
Although Que Sera Sera hasn’t been the most fun, or “easy” series to watch, I am reluctant to let it go… but also a bit relieved. As with all things intense and involving, when it’s time to let go, there’s a bittersweet relief. Thank you for a wonderful run, QSS!
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Clazziquai – “다시…” (Again) [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 17 (FINAL) SUMMARY
Tae Joo rushes to Eun Soo, slumped on the ground in pain, but she shoves his arm away, rejecting his help. Joon Hyuk arrrives and takes her away, as Tae Joo watches them go….
At the hospital (the miscarriage is obvious in implication, if not explicitly described), Eun Soo seems devastated at her loss — and Joon Hyuk tearfully apologizes for making things so hard on her, for putting her through so much. You get the sense he now realizes the severity of his jealousy and suspicion, and is paying dearly for the toll it took on Eun Soo.
Joon Hyuk continues to apologize and asks her to forgive him, but Eun Soo interrupts: “Give me some time. I think we rushed into this without thinking.” She thinks they need time to think things over. “For now, let’s spend some time apart.”
Joon Hyuk is summoned by President Cha, who asks what he really wants to know. Joon Hyuk answers that he wants to know what really happened between his father and the President, and the President levels with him. It’s true that he’d met his father at the construction site. They’d talked, argued, and even physically fought. But then, Joon Hyuk’s father suddenly disappeared from sight, falling to the ground — and the President saw Joon Hyuk there. He took him home and raised him, always fearing that he’d regain his memory. That’s the true reason that he opposed him marrying Hye Rin — he didn’t want to bring his daughter into a situation whereby Joon Hyuk might one day suddenly regain his memory, then turn on the family.
Joon Hyuk asks why he was so afraid of Joon Hyuk’s memory. The President answers that although he didn’t push his father off the building, there was a moment that he wonders if he could have stopped him, if he could have grabbed onto him. “I’m certain in that moment… I was only thinking selfishly.” All these years, he’s carried this guilt. And so, now, he will do whatever Joon Hyuk wants him to do.
Joon Hyuk fights back tears — if the President had only told him this from the start, he would have understood. “What makes me truly sad, Father, is that you couldn’t trust me.” The President answers that it wasn’t because he didn’t trust him, but rather because of the wrong he himself had committed: “I’m truly sorry for making you so lonely all these years.”
Hye Rin informs Tae Joo that her father is ready to hand over the department store to them. Out for drinks with his hyung, Tae Joo muses at his good luck, not sounding too particularly happy. It feels too easy. Tae Joo admits: “I feel suffocated. It’s like someone’s hands are tightening around my throat.”
On his way home, Tae Joo runs into Eun Soo in their apartment hallway. They exchange brief nods before she leaves, and Tae Joo heads to his apartment… but turns back around to chase after her, finding her waiting for the elevator.
He grabs her in a hug, begging her, “I’m truly sorry for letting you go. Let’s run away. Let’s not think of anything else, just leave everything, and run somewhere.”
After a moment in his arms, Eun Soo pulls away, and tells him to stop. “Don’t hurt others anymore. I’m tired of this. Even in ten, twenty years… even if you see me on the street… act like you don’t know me. Lets not meet ever again. Forget everything.”
In the confines of the elevator, Eun Soo cries, just as Tae Joo does, on the other side of the elevator doors……
Joon Hyuk quits his job at the company, to the displeasure of Director Choi, who demands to know what Joon Hyuk was up to. Was he just playing, this whole time? Joon Hyuk says it was more like he was using him. Just like Director Choi used his father.
Later that night, he arrives home and is both surprised and relieved to see Eun Soo there, despite her earlier appeal to spend time apart. Joon Hyuk tells her of a new job opportunity in the States, and expresses his desire to start over new with her, in a place where nobody knows them. Forget everything and begin again.
Over drinks, Hye Rin tells Joon Hyuk that although it’s not the proper thing to say, she can’t help but be relieved he’s leaving. Although she thought things would be better after Joon Hyuk and Eun Soo married, she’s still uneasy, and it’ll help knowing that Eun Soo’s far away from Tae Joo. Joon Hyuk admits it’s not easy dealing with someone who’s by your side but emotionally miles away… and Hye Rin assures him that she’s not that sentimental. She just needs Tae Joo by her side.
Joon Hyuk warns her not to make the same mistake he did. Hye Rin: “Do you regret it?” Joon Hyuk: “Even as I regret it, I don’t want to let her go.” Hye Rin tells him that over time, everything gets better. All you have to do is wait it out.
Ji Soo reacts to news of Eun Soo’s upcoming move with hurt and anger. She can’t believe Eun Soo’s not even going to wait for her to be discharged from the hospital. Fighting back tears, Ji Soo tells her, “When I got better, I was so looking forward to spending time with you. Going places and enjoying ourselves. What is this?” Eun Soo, obviously feeling bad but attempting to hold back her own tears, tells her Ji Soo can always come visit in the States. Ji Soo’s not having it though, and says as her tears spill over, “Han Eun Soo. Why’d you even get married?” Ji Soo buries herself under her blanket while Eun Soo tries not to think too hard about that question……
Hye Rin calls Tae Joo to a board meeting, where they’ll make the announcement that they’re taking over management of the company. As Hye Rin waits, Tae Joo comes to the meeting room, hesitating for a long moment in front of the doors…
…before he makes a decision, turns around, and throws away his employee badge….
… stepping into the sunlight, walking away from the department store and all its trappings.
Hye Rin makes an educated guess and arrives at Tae Joo’s apartment, demanding to know what’s up. Tae Joo tells her he just can’t go through with it:
Tae Joo: “I thought I could win over my feelings… but that won’t work. I can’t do it.”
Hye Rin: “So what are you going to do? Is Eun Soo going to come to you now? The woman who’s about to leave for the States?”
Tae Joo: “That isn’t what’s important.”
Hye Rin: “Then what is important?”
Tae Joo: “Whether you believe me or not, it won’t work because of you.”
Hye Rin: “Don’t make excuses.”
Tae Joo: “It’s not an excuse. Because I know how you feel, I can’t continue on, deceiving you.”
Hye Rin: “Do it anyway. Have I asked for anything from you? Just be by my side. What’s so hard about that? You can have the life you want. Everything you wanted has come true. Why act like this now?”
Tae Joo: “Because this isn’t the end. We have our lives ahead of us. What’s the point in acting like this is the end of the road?”
Hye Rin: “No. I can’t.”
Tae Joo: “It’s my fault for selling out my honesty, and yours for insisting honesty’s something we don’t need. Now that we’ve seen our mistakes, we should stop now. Nothing good will come of us going any further.”
Tae Joo continues: “Why does someone like you, with so much love, with so much passion, act like this is the end of the world?” He tells her that if she’d taken their relationship lightly, he could have handled it… but knowing how she feels, he can’t continue. “Let’s end this. While we can escape, let’s escape. We have to, Hye Rin.”
At the airport, Eun Soo and Joon Hyuk prepare to leave for the U.S. Eun Soo takes a moment to make a final phone call to Ji Soo, while Joon Hyuk watches her with what appears to be a mix of contemplation and sadness. When she finishes her phone call, Joon Hyuk tells her: “Thank you. For coming this far with me. Even until just a moment ago, I kept hesitating. I wondered if I should just close my eyes and take you away with me. Maybe this is for my good, or for yours, but this doesn’t feel right.”
Eun Soo asks what he’s talking about, and Joon Hyuk tamps down his emotions as he tells her:
Joon Hyuk: “I don’t have the confidence to keep living always looking at your back. That’s too damaging.”
Eun Soo: “I’ll try hard.”
Joon Hyuk: “It might’ve been different if we hadn’t known, but we both know all too well. Even if we cross the Pacific Ocean, it’ll keep us apart. You’re not leaving me, I’m leaving you, so don’t feel sorry. For coming this far with me — for leaving the sister you’ve valued so much to come here with me — I’ll be satisfied with that… Let’s not meet again. I don’t have the confidence to be able to see you again. What if I weaken my resolve and hold onto you?… So, if you see me around somewhere, act like you don’t know me.”
Eun Soo: “I’m sorry, for making you lonely. I’m so sorry for hurting you.”
And TWO YEARS LATER…..
Hye Rin is doing well in her job, still at World Department Store. She meets up with Joon Hyuk for drinks the night he returns to Korea. They catch up on old times and discuss what happened between him and Eun Soo, and her and Tae Joo. Hye Rin asks why he and Eun Soo split up, and Joon Hyuk replies that he got tired of living next to someone whose feelings were far away. Hye Rin expresses her curiosity to know whatever happened to Tae Joo and Eun Soo… and has called Tae Joo to meet them for that reason.
Joon Hyuk’s not pleased to hear Tae Joo will be joining them, and asks why Hye Rin waited so long to meet with him if she was so curious about his life. She answers that she wasn’t ready to face him alone, so is using this as a good opportunity to face him.
Tae Joo looks good, and is glad to see them. Nobody has kept in touch very much over the past two years. Tae Joo’s working for an event planning firm, and although his company works closely with World Department Store, he and Hye Rin have never met. But the mood is light and casual — time really does heal.
Hye Rin asks about Eun Soo, and Tae Joo admits he doesn’t know. He heard vaguely that she’s running some kind of Internet shopping business in Seoul, but doesn’t know much more — that much he learned from his hyung, who still keeps in contact with Ji Soo. Hye Rin says half-jokingly that it makes her feel better knowing they didn’t end up together, but asks why he never tried to contact Eun Soo. Tae Joo answers: “Because she said she didn’t want to see me. She asked me not to even recognize her if we passed each other in the street, so I figured I should at least observe her last request.”
After Hye Rin leaves, the men stay behind for another round. Joon Hyuk asks why Tae Joo broke up with Hye Rin, and Tae Joo answers: “Because I felt it was wrong to her. She needs a good person who’ll love her. And being a chaebol [tycoon]… On the outside, it seems impressive and grand, but being on the inside, I found it wasn’t my style. It’s a headache. I hate complicated things.”
Joon Hyuk admits that he and Eun Soo didn’t work out because he realized you can’t force fate. But he’d always thought Eun Soo and Tae Joo would get back together.
Tae Joo: “It seems love depends on timing. Eun Soo and I let our chance go.”
Joon Hyuk: “Why?”
Tae Joo: “Because I was foolish.”
Joon Hyuk: “Yeah, you’re a foolish guy. Did you really believe her when she asked for you not to recognize her even if you crossed paths? That’s her asking you to recognize her, whenever and whenever you meet again, you idiot.”
Joon Hyuk speaks from his own experience, having made that same request of Eun Soo two years ago, and the realization dawns on Tae Joo that Joon Hyuk’s right.
That night, on his way home, Tae Joo thinks he sees Eun Soo in the neighborhood, and pursues her. Running through the neighborhood, he eventually loses sight of her, only to turn around and find her standing right in front of him. (Unfortunately, she’s wearing perhaps the most ill-conceived set of hair extensions since Britney shaved hers off in a fit of insanity. Jung Yoo Mi is actually quite a beautiful young woman, but her awful hair looks like a middle-aged woman’s mullet. You couldn’t just give her a wig?)
They exchange brief pleasantries and catch up, happy to have run into each other. Ji Soo’s healthy and studying to enter university in the next year, and her mother’s well, working in a neighborhood beauty salon. Tae Joo’s still living in the same apartment — he’s comfortable there.
After a brief pause, he asks if she’s dating anyone these days. She’s not exactly dating someone, but there’s a guy who keeps asking her out. Tae Joo asks if he’s good-looking. Eun Soo: “He’s not as good-looking as you, but he’s all right.” Tae Joo: “It’s not easy finding someone as good-looking as me, you know.” She asks if he’s dating anyone, and he replies that he’s as popular as ever, but he’s getting tired of it these days — he must really be turning in to an ajusshi.
Tae Joo: “I wanted to meet up with you one of these days. Now that I have, I’m satisfied.” As her bus pulls up and she turns to go, he stops her with: “Thanks. It was the first time for me. I think that’s why I was so confused and awkward. Really, thanks. I wanted to tell you that.”
Although their short conversation has been pleasant and friendly, after Eun Soo leaves, Tae Joo’s walk back home is flooded with old memories… of her tearfully confessing her feelings for him, of their first date, of their round-and-round twirling… Eun Soo, likewise, is caught up in the sudden onslaught of old feelings.
Down-spirited, Tae Joo makes his way back to his own apartment, only to see Eun Soo awaiting his return just outside his doorway. Just like the day they first met.
And they’re back at the start… only without all the foolish mistakes they’ve made in the past, because of the lessons they’ve now learned…
…and maybe this time, they’ll make it.
To be honest, as the episode drew to a close, I started to worry that the ending would be unsatisfying, or even — gasp! — boring. But the ending scene, and the circular, same-but-not-same sequence at Tae Joo’s apartment, was unexpectedly touching.
No matter how you see these people — however you may dislike the choices they’ve made and the pain they’ve inflicted from their selfishness — each person eventually chose to take the better path. Tae Joo chose not to take Hye Rin’s wealth, not for his own sake but for hers. Joon Hyuk let Eun Soo go, and did not pursue the path of blackmail and coercion of his adopted father. I loved that each couple chose to break up NOT because of feelings for other people, but because of the inherent failings of the relationships. Tae Joo and Hye Rin were going to fail regardless of whatever happened with Joon Hyuk and Eun Soo, and likewise for the other couple. I’m relieved that Tae Joo’s liberation from his job — and the chokehold of promised riches (at the price of his personal dignity) — came of his own volition, and was a choice independent of his feelings for Eun Soo.
Furthermore, everyone went on to live relatively fulfilling lives, even after they’d all lost their respective loves. Because life goes on, and you deal, and if you’re very, very lucky, you get a second chance.
This was a mature, thoughtful, challenging drama, which caught me completely off-guard and won me over with its insights, its emotion, its realism, and its understated, naturalistic but powerful acting. Que Sera Sera will not suit everyone’s taste — but for those of us who fell in love, I’m confident it has left a lasting impression.