Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 16 (Final)
It’s the end of this crazy time-travel-but-really-alternate-realities wormhole where some things are left the same while other things are changed. You can never be sure what kind of consequences your present actions may have in the future, but at least you can rest assured in the notion that there are some things you can change now, which is what’s important at the end of the day. Well, this day here and now anyway; I can’t tell you if it’s the same thing in a different universe.
But no matter what universe you’re in, the numbers remain the same as Mi-rae’s Choice ended its run with a 4.1% in ratings.
SONG OF THE DAY
Jin – “너만 없다 (Gone)” [Download]
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Everyone waits expectantly as Shin goes on air, faced with the dilemma to choose between two different scripts. He looks up after an agonizingly long pause… and reads off the one without the humidifier controversy. On one hand, that’s a relief, but your principles, Shin!
The crew is disappointed and Mi-rae turns off the broadcast. The pair of reporters wait for Shin after the broadcast with dismay, but he walks right past them.
Oppa learns that moving Ajumma in her currently unconscious state is potentially dangerous, yet leaving her here doesn’t seem like a great option either.
Se-joo asks if there’s something he doesn’t know surrounding Ajumma’s sudden collapse and wonders if Mi-rae actually believes the ajumma’s dubious time-travel story. Mi-rae knows it sounds ridiculous, but says Ajumma feels like a long-lost twin, so seeing her in distress pains her too.
Mi-rae seeks out Sandwich Board Man at his home, where he shows her his meticulous records of his son’s illness and death. He’s grateful that she would even listen to his story and doesn’t care about protecting his anonymity because he’s already lost his son. How sad. What angers him is that those businessmen still profit from their unethical deeds, calling them murderers.
Ajumma Mi-rae wakes in the hospital and has to be physically restrained from leaving until Oppa and Mi-rae arrives. Both Mi-raes jump at the sight of each other—Mi-rae is shocked at her future self’s gray hair and Ajumma is surprised… seeing herself? Wait a minute, are we dipping into amnesia territory?
Sure enough, Ajumma insists that she’s in her thirties, refusing to believe that she’s middle-aged. The doctor confirms that it’s degenerative amnesia due to trauma; the good news is that her memory could recover in time (unlikely) but she’s also susceptible to dementia.
We backtrack to Oppa’s earlier conversation with the Black Men, who informed him that the other Kim Shin is waiting for his wife to return. Apparently he’s still alive and well, thanks to a life-saving surgery after Ajumma left for the present.
So Mi-rae sits beside Ajumma’s bedside, wondering what was so traumatic that her future self would want to protect herself by forgetting it all: “Or is it because you don’t want to go back [to the future]?”
Mi-rae and her brother are invited to lunch with Chairman Lee and Se-joo, and the chairman wastes no time to suggest that they settle on a wedding date, what with the engagement rumors floating around and all.
She assumes that Mi-rae will need to be properly groomed for marriage, like cooking or floral design, but she’s surprised to hear that Mi-rae has already mastered those skills. Oppa is all for the kiddos to be married and suggests they go the formal route with an engagement party.
It isn’t the kind of reaction Chairman Lee was expecting, but she reluctantly complies. She asks why Ajumma didn’t join them and Mi-rae informs her that she’s in the hospital.
At the same time, Ajumma Mi-rae wonders where her diary has gone and where Shin hasn’t dropped by her room with flowers today.
The demonstration continues at NTN, to which Shin asks if Hee-kyung was trying to distract him with fancy parties and golf dates to prevent his participation. She defends that it isn’t, but that’s when Yoo-kyung suddenly pops in for a visit, introducing herself as Shin’s ex. Ha.
She’s here to ask for his help with her overseas scholarship application, and Shin can’t help but be impressed at her ambition. She beams at that and jokes that Shin should have liked her rather than Mi-rae.
She asks if Shin is really okay with Se-joo and Mi-rae’s impending engagement, but before he can answer, he gets a frightened call from Ajumma Mi-rae asking him to come visit her.
Mi-rae finally informs Se-joo about her previous meeting with his grandmother after lunch, to which he asks if Mi-rae can really quit her job. He says that he’s just kidding, since he respects that Mi-rae will only be happy if she’s working.
His voice turns serious to ask if she’s ever given any thought to studying abroad. She hasn’t and he lets the matter drop for now.
At the hospital Ajumma runs to hug Shin the moment he walks through the door. Thankfully he’s already been filled in on Ajumma’s condition and learns how they first met and gotten to know each other in her timeline. She grows nervous, saying that he sounds like someone who’s never heard this before.
He tells her that they’re both trying to run away from their pasts and paths, and it rather feels like they wound up where they started. Ajumma Mi-rae replies, “The fact that we’re trying to escape our own fate means that we’re still at the mercy of our own fate.”
Shin is approached by Sandwich Board Man at work to expose Taeguk Group aka the one responsible for the toxic humidifier sterilizers, but Shin turns it down. Mi-rae doesn’t have much luck at her job either, the tiny network lacking the power to put it on the airwaves.
Looking over the other script, Shin thinks back to the father’s pleas and Ajumma’s teary confession of her own son. An older gentleman calls out to Shin, blaming him for ruining his life. He’s Future Shin, isn’t he?
Shin asks if he was affected by the humidifier scandal, but the older man laughs back: “Can’t you tell? I’m you, from the future.”
To be more precise, he’s the future Shin who kept his mouth shut for the past thirty-five years, and he regrets that decision every day. He led a successful and prominent career and wanted for nothing, at the cost of his wife’s death and he lost touch with everyone close to him.
Future Shin hasn’t heard Mi-rae’s name in a long time, and he’d always wondered if he would have made the same decision if he went back in time to that fateful day. A tapping sound interrupts them, and when Shin looks back, he finds his future self gone.
Another tap alerts Shin back to the newsdesk just in time for broadcast, which both Mi-raes watch in the hospital room. Ajumma is moony-eyed for Shin, but Mi-rae has had enough and asks if the memory lapse is just a ruse.
She parrots Ajumma’s own words back at her to say that she’s trying to escape reality right now, but Ajumma only blinks back, perplexed.
It’s time for Shin’s ending statement and he initially misses his cue, lost in thought. Then Shin looks up to report one more scandal as he informs the public about the toxic humidifier sterilizer. Ajumma Mi-rae jumps up in shock while Sandwich Board Man smiles in gratitude at home.
Shin apologizes for not addressing the news sooner and rallies for public support as Ajumma Mi-rae says in a panicked voice that they have to stop him, her memory now returned. But she’s in such distress that she needs to be given a tranquilizer.
He walks off set where he promptly runs into Hee-kyung and asks her if this means he’s fired and in debt now. She tells him that it’s worse than that because she’s extremely disappointed in him. Why do I find that so funny?
But that’s the least of his worries as he recites another clause in his contract that states it’s his job to report the facts, and leaves.
Mi-rae returns to Ajumma’s room to find her crying, and that’s when she learns that the other Kim Shin is still alive. Her immediate reaction is relief but Ajumma bows her head in shame. Mi-rae says she can just ask for forgiveness from her husband, but Ajumma replies that she’s also ruined Shin’s life in this universe, too.
So Mi-rae stays up all night researching Taeguk Group and their humidifiers, and pitches the idea to her brother for tomorrow’s broadcast. Oppa defends that that move is media suicide, but Mi-rae reminds him of how a drop in an ocean could change the world just a little.
This is the hope their show has been hoping to find, Mi-rae presses, and asks for his help. She also approaches Writer Bae and Yoo-kyung as well, and they both agree even though it means putting their careers on the line.
The men on the team are more reluctant, but they change their tune once they hear how Shin’s career is doomed because of this ordeal. Heh, I like how it takes an extra thwack upside the head to get the rookie announcer on board.
When Se-joo turns down the proposal, Mi-rae asks if he’s been threatened by Taeguk Group since the news report, but we know that it’s Grandma’s firm hand behind the order.
Se-joo explains that Taeguk is a major advertiser they can’t afford to lose, and exposing them would put everyone’s jobs at YBS at risk. He in turn ask if she’s pressing the issue because of Shin, but Mi-rae answers that it’s her principles that are driving this manner.
She thought Se-joo would be on the same page. “Because you’re different than the chairman.” Those words weigh on Se-joo’s mind for a long while, and then he calls to give the okay.
It looks like Shin was fired after all as he arrives at his office to find it already occupied by a new resident. He smiles as if both amused and relieved.
The Pandora Box team goes ahead with the humidifier story that leaves the corporate higher ups fuming. The protesters cheers while Shin watches the broadcast with relief as Yoo-kyung stresses the importance of journalists defending their own.
The broadcast is a success and the newspapers and the internet is abuzz with praise for Shin’s strong conviction and dedication to the truth. Needless to say, Chairman Lee is furious and demands to know how her grandson will take responsibility for such a ruckus.
She blames Mi-rae for his wavering heart and yells that she should have fired Shin years ago. But Se-joo won’t run a company where he’d be ashamed to show his face to employees and hands in his resignation.
Se-joo meets with Yoo-kyung outside, who tells him that she’s received the journalism scholarship. She’s headed for the States soon, and asks what Se-joo will do now that he’s unemployed.
She accurately guesses that he’ll spend some time in Jeju and takes his silence to mean that Mi-rae won’t be accompanying him. Then she asks if things would have been different if Se-joo had met her first—would he have fallen in love with her instead? He says he would have.
Mi-rae is called in to see Chairman Lee, who immediately demands that she break up with Se-joo. Slamming his resignation letter on the table, she accuses Mi-rae as the responsible party for her grandson’s ruin.
When Mi-rae refuses, she throws in the threat of blacklisting Shin from the industry as well. Mi-rae rises at that moment to say that she believes one’s feelings cannot be swayed by power nor money and leaves.
Mi-rae invites Se-joo for a home-cooked meal, and doesn’t answer when he says that the setting makes it feel like they’re newlyweds. They both have something to say to the other, and Se-joo asks to go first.
He informs her that he quit his job and plans to study abroad. Thanks to the recent broadcast, he’s realized that up to now, he’s always done things he must do. Now he plans to pursue what he wants to do and learn to build his own great broadcasting network.
He asks if Mi-rae is willing to accompany him, and she apologizes that she won’t be. She feels sorry for always being on the receiving end of his kindness, and that she wasn’t able to give him anything in return; she fears that she’ll hate herself if she stays by his side.
She plans to take some time to work on herself to become someone better. She’s not asking him to wait for her because she understands he could end up with someone else. Slipping the ring off her finger, she asks that he considers giving this back to her if his feelings don’t change in the future.
Se-joo tells her to keep it and Mi-rae gets up from her seat to break the tension. He then rises to give her a backhug, and she places a hand over his.
It’s finally time for goodbyes as Ajumma Mi-rae wearily informs her younger self that she’s going back. She’s suddenly looking years older by this point and dismisses the warnings that the journey alone could kill her, saying that she’ll die anyway if she remains here.
Mi-rae asks if she can’t stay a few more days, but Ajumma says that she wants to be by her Shin’s side to the end. She has to go back to apologize to her husband who’s waiting for her.
So Mi-rae and Oppa accompany Ajumma and Black Man No. 2 (because the first one strangely disappeared) back to the elevator. Oppa gives her one last hug and smiles when she nags him to take care of his health. Ack, these two.
Then Ajumma takes her younger self by the hands and tells her not to suffer by time-traveling like she did and take care. Crying now, Mi-rae thanks Ajumma for coming back to the present. “Thank you for making me into a better person.”
Mi-rae places a key in Ajumma’s hand and explains that it’s the key to Pandora’s Box. She says that she’ll bury a chest in their yard, so Ajumma must make the journey to find and open it. She doesn’t know what she’ll put it in yet, but she’ll decide on something.
“Even though you can’t change the past, you can always change the present.” Mi-rae says. With that, Ajumma climbs into the elevator and they both shed tears as the doors close between them.
As Shin leaves NTN, he’s moved by the protesters show their support for him. He turns around to see Mi-rae, and the two go for a walk. She asks teasingly how it feels to end up the way Ajumma had predicted, and he answers that he’s okay with it, given how much he’s helped others.
He thanks her for the broadcast and says he planned to come see her, but she deflects it by assuming he meant it as a professional courtesy. She informs him that Ajumma has left to be with her husband who’s alive, and Shin is relieved to hear it.
Mi-rae says that doesn’t mean she plans to date Shin—why who would want a man with a mountain of debt? He asks if she would when he’s debt-free, and she answers that she’s not sure.
Mi-rae tells him that she’s going to let the future worry for itself now and wonders why anyone has to determine their future in the present. At that, Shin smiles and tussles her hair, saying that she’s all grown-up now.
Then they each take their separate leave as they walk away in different directions.
3 Years Later. Christmas Eve. Yoo-kyung now headlines her own show as the MC and wraps up her interview with special guest Mi-rae, who’s now a bestselling author. Afterwards, Yoo-kyung asks if she has any special plans tonight.
Mi-rae doesn’t answer and Yoo-kyung jokes that she has so many invitations out the door. That’s when Jokey PD says he’s available tonight and both ladies skedaddle. HA.
Se-joo arrives at the aiport and his secretary asks if there’s a special reason why he returned to Korea a day earlier than expected. He says there’s no particular reason, but there is somewhere they need to go first.
Oh yay, Oppa is now happily married and his pregnant wife (carrying their second child) appeals to Mi-rae to persuade him out of leaving for yet another overseas trip for his documentary show.
As for Writer Bae, she teaches a broadcasting class and drops the hint that she’s friends with the famed Writer Na Mi-rae, which earns her an impressed response from her students. Her lawyer husband meets up with Shin, who thanks him for taking on the case against NTN.
It looks like Shin has his own journalism show now and though he’s invited to join them for dinner, but he politely declines because he already has plans.
Mi-rae walks into a bookstore and rifles through a book entitled—you guessed it—-Mi-rae’s Choice. Moments later, Shin walks in to pick up the same book. Not one to be left out, in walks Se-joo to grab a copy of his own.
As she passes by both men without notice, we hear Mi-rae’s previous narration in voiceover that one hopes for a Christmas miracle and holds onto the feeling that this year will be happiest Christmas of one’s life.
Mi-rae exits the store with the book in hand, only to double back. She suddenly stop in her tracks and smiles.
Epilogue. In the future, we see Ajumma Mi-rae digs up the chest that her younger self told her about. In it are pictures of a handsome young man. Aw, is this little Geon all grown up?
She flips through the pictures that document his life in reverse from his teenage years to his childhood to Mi-rae holding him close as a toddler. As Ajumma holds onto the last photo, another male hand clasps over hers.
Despite the rocky opening that started off this hour, I rather liked this sweet epilogue, even if it doesn’t follow any alternaverse rules that give me more migraines than they’re worth. The photos contained in the time capsule gives Ajumma the hope that her son Geon is alive and well in another universe and timeline. It’s a sweet present that Mi-rae can provide to give our time-traveler closure and to convey the message that even with her endless meddling, she was still a part in changing Mi-rae’s life for the better. I’m warmed by the fact that not only did Ajumma make it back to her future, she’s also reunited (and I presume, reconciled) with her Kim Shin whose hand I also assume is his at the end.
As with most dramas, I have to suspend some belief that the child in the photos is Geon, since I don’t think Ajumma would have had the same visceral reaction in her hands if it were Mi-rae with another child. Naturally that begs subsequent questions of the boy’s father and whom Mi-rae chose at the end (which I’ll get to). I do think it was a deliberate choice on the show’s part to leave this open-ended by not showing us who he was both when Mi-rae returned to the bookstore and that final photo of her and her son, even if it left me even more confused than ever. And just because it was deliberate doesn’t always make it a good one. Yet because I do believe that it is Geon, I’m inclined to believe that present Mi-rae did eventually end up with present Shin.
There is, of course, another infinite batch of possibilities thanks to our multiverse theory that vary from marrying Se-joo to marrying neither man to a slew of others based upon the various decisions our characters were faced with at every turn. But what I can gather at the end is that although Ajumma Mi-rae initially arrived as the same person as present Mi-rae (with a few added years), it was that very moment she arrived in the present when their paths diverged. So I can see the show’s initial aim to place emphasis on the choices present Mi-rae would make, and how that fell apart as Mi-rae became less of her own agent of change (of her own life in another timeline. Oy, the headaches) as the story progressed.
As for the ending itself, I am aggravated that it just… stopped. We don’t get anything past a closeup of Mi-rae, and I paused for a good minute, thinking, “…then what? And why?” and it’s as if the show answered back: “Oh, you wanted more?” In a sense, I feel cheated out of both romances between Shin and Se-joo as they were built up (and sometimes torn down) as we followed along the series, only to have the story giving no resolution to either at the time of the ending, making us as viewers do the guesswork on our own. And while I’m usually okay with open endings, this is one case where I was scratching my head and resignedly concluded that it wasn’t worth another headache.
The past few episodes aren’t without its hiccups, what with the original Kim Shin being alive, giving Ajumma Mi-rae a main reason (apart from her ailing health) to return to the future and loosely constructed love triangles to string us to the end. As for present Shin, I did like that he got a wakeup call from his own self about the consequences of choosing not to disclose the story and even with that, the words I assume comes from a manifestation of his own conscience. Then we saw that Shin can also have a positive impact on others. Despite his stubborn thinking that he has to forge his own path and that he tried to push Mi-rae away because he was afraid he would bring her down with him, there are people who are there to put their necks on the line and support him, including Mi-rae.
I do like how the women still managed to pursue their own dreams with Yoo-kyung clearly ahead of that pack. She’s one character whom the earlier phrase that she needn’t depend on a man truly applied, studying to go abroad on her own and to provide for her family with her own strength. I thoroughly enjoyed her as a female second lead and left a little left wanting for her friendship with Se-joo.
So even with its odd turns in its story and often comical time-travel authorities to even more confusing time-space boundaries, I’m still reminded of the heartwarming moments between Oppa and his sister from another universe. But you can bet I’m never going to hope that another me comes back from the future to tell me that she wants to fix ONE thing in my life, that’s for sure. She can stay in her own universe.
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 15
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 14
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 13
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 12
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 11
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 10
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 9
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 8
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 7
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 6
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 5
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 4
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 3
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 2
- Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 1