Orange Marmalade: Episode 12 (Final)
If you want to create a brave new world, someone has to be willing to put themselves out and say, “Here I am, please accept me.” Luckily, there are some pretty brave kids willing to do just that, whether for themselves or for their friends. Orange Marmalade set out to make a statement about the world and what it means to be different, and I think it did that in a wonderful way. No matter who or what you are, we are all worthy of love and happiness.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Jae-min recovers his memories in a rush, and not just the ones from this lifetime — he also remembers meeting and falling in love with Ma-ri in his previous life. He tells her that she wouldn’t believe him if he told her, but Ma-ri says would believe anything he says. Jae-min tells her that his puzzle pieces finally match, and pulls her in for a hug. He thinks to himself: In my memory from a long time ago… Ma-ri… you were there.
Jae-min himself unpacks Ma-ri’s bag back into her locker as the whole class watches, then takes her hand and walks through the school hall for everyone to see. Only Shi-hoo and Ah-ra don’t follow them out to see the new couple make their feelings public.
They go to the fountain where they made wishes before, since Jae-min wants to remake the wishes. He admits that last time, he was so flustered to be with her, he only pretended to make a wish. Ma-ri says that this was her wish — to come back here with him again, and Jae-min promises to bring her here any time she wants.
She thanks him for accepting her as herself, and internally he apologizes for not doing it sooner. He thinks that she doesn’t even know how long it took the two of them to get here, and promises never to wander from her again. They both make new wishes, and he asks what her wish is so he can fulfill it — his wish was to make sure their wishes all come true.
Ah-ra’s mean girl sidekicks confront her for the truth: Is Shi-hoo really a vampire? She doesn’t want the school in an uproar over it, but it’s too late, since several other girls overheard her admission. By the time they get back to class, the kids have all scooted their desks away from Shi-hoo’s desk. He picks up his things and walks out without even looking at Ah-ra.
Ma-ri tells Jae-min that she always wished she weren’t a vampire, until she met him. She wanted to be honest about her life, and felt it was the only way to be honest with him. Jae-min apologizes for being so self-centered, but Ma-ri just says that she has a dream she wants to fulfill — to play music, with him.
She’d always played her music alone, but when she was in the band, she realized how much better it was to perform with others. For the first time, she realized how much she wanted to have friends.
Jae-min again watches the video of Ma-ri explaining the meaning behind the name “Orange Marmalade,” and how it means that nobody will be thrown away even if they’re different. He finds the business card of the music producer, which he’d saved.
Ma-ri visits Shi-hoo at his new job and thanks him for everything, and he just asks if she plans to keep going to school. This time when she answers in the affirmative, he’s not angry, and just chucks her chin. Ah-ra joins them and the store manager calls her his girlfriend, and Ma-ri and Shi-hoo have this adorable silent, ”Girlfriend?!” “Yeah, whatcha gonna do…” exchange.
In private, Ah-ra apologizes to Shi-hoo for outing his secret, and asks him to come back to school. The next day he braves the kids’ frightened stares, but Jae-min stops him to talk. Shi-hoo is all, “What’s with all the thanking lately?” but Jae-min tells him to just accept it without complaining.
Jae-min starts to ask why Shi-hoo is dating Ah-ra if he likes Ma-ri, and Shi-hoo compares himself to vampire bats, who will throw up the blood they’ve eaten to save a starving bat. He thinks that species’ who drink blood have a loyalty to each other that way. He jokes that an omnivore wouldn’t understand, and Jae-min actually laughs.
Out of the blue, Jae-min suggests they get the band back together. Shi-hoo says he’s not interested, and changes the subject — it’s probably crazy inside the school right now. He’s right, as news that there are actually two vampires attending classes sweeps through the halls.
The parents are freaking out, and the teachers are bombarded with calls, worried that he’s not only a vampire, but a bad influence. Ah-ra’s father calls Teacher Han, representing the parent committee on the Shi-hoo issue. They’ve put it up for discussion at the next school council meeting.
The kids are busy getting the band back together, and all the other students admit they’ve missed playing music together. The only obstacle is the producer’s objection to vampires in the group, but Jae-min has an idea.
When they head back to class, they find the entire classroom standing in the hall, and Shi-hoo and Ma-ri alone at their desks. The class refuses to go in when Jae-min tells them, and accuse him of liking a vampire. He readily admits it, but Shi-hoo has had enough and leaves again.
All during class, Ma-ri worries about Shi-hoo, who fills his day by working. The kids have drawn slurs on the steps where Ma-ri eats lunch, and Jae-min and Ma-ri clean it up while Jae-min asks where she got all her courage. She says that she thought, if the students saw her eating out here every day, it would get boring and they’d become immune.
Jae-min tells Ma-ri that all the kids have agreed to play in the band again, even Shi-hoo, which makes her happy. But she’s worried about the school council meeting, and Jae-min assures her they’ll think of a way to smooth things over. He feigns a headache so he can lay his head in her lap, and admits that he didn’t eat the vitamins she gave him because they were too precious. No, you’re too precious.
Ma-ri takes her dad his lunch at work, and gets a call from Soo-ri, who says that she’s happy she didn’t transfer schools. She even thanks her for burning her hand while saving Soo-ri from being burned, and Ma-ri invites her to meet her at the cafe.
There’s a little awkward moment when Soo-ri orders a shaved ice and forgets that Ma-ri can’t share it with her, but Soo-ri shakes it off and even asks about seeing Ma-ri eat food when she first came to school. Ma-ri says that she can eat food, but then has to throw it up quickly or she can’t breathe. Soo-ri figures it must be nice not to eat and gain weight, which is such a teenager train of thought, ha.
Ma-ri’s dad watches the girls from the register, his voice going all wibbly when he tells Jae-min’s mom that his daughter has her very first friend. Mom remembers her from the hospital when Jae-min was hurt, and notices that she’s carrying the purse that Mom picked out.
She asks Teacher Han if he knew about Jae-min and Ma-ri, and figures out that Ma-ri is the reason Jae-min started playing music again. She admits to being a bit selfish, that she’d been disappointed when she realized Jae-min likes a vampire.
She knows how hard it is to love a vampire, and she thinks she understands now why he lost his memories for a while — loving Ma-ri must have brought up his trauma from when his mother married a vampire, and it was too much for him to bear. But she determines to support him in his love and his music, though Teacher Han tells her the music might be difficult since the kids are all worked up over Shi-hoo.
The parents have petitioned to have Shi-hoo transfer schools, and the principal tries to assert that he hasn’t done anything wrong, and that a forced transfer can only be done as disciplinary action. The parents argue that Shi-hoo is plenty delinquent, though it’s obvious that they just can’t handle the thought of two vampires at the school.
Suddenly, the non-vampire kids from Orange Marmalade crash the school meeting, and Jae-min tells the school board that all kids have the right to learn without discrimination, even vampire kids. Ah-ra adds that the school has a duty by law to protect minority students. She points out that the students claiming they can’t study because of only two vampires is pretty ridiculous, but the school board replies that they also can’t ignore the students who feel scared in class.
Waiting in the music room, Shi-hoo tells Ma-ri that he think she should leave school — he doesn’t have a compelling reason to be here like she does. She argues that she won’t run away, and he shouldn’t, either.
As a last-ditch effort, Jae-min asks the school to allow them to form a special class, even temporarily. The four of them will be in a class with the vampires, and prove that having vampires in class with humans isn’t a problem. Jae-min argues that it’s just that vampires are unfamiliar, so if the students see that they aren’t so different, they’ll change their thinking.
With long faces, the four human students file into the music room to tell Ma-ri and Shi-hoo the bad news — they have to spend the day cleaning their new schoolroom. The school board agreed! They get to use the music room as their classroom, and Ma-ri and Soo-ri celebrate while Shi-hoo actually cracks a smile.
That night, Jae-min tells his mom that he’s going to stop seeing the psychiatrist, and that any remaining gaps in his memory can stay that way — he’s happy the way his memory is now. He also plans to be in the band again, which makes Mom happy, and he shyly promises to play music for her. Sweet.
Teacher Han is the new class’s homeroom teacher, and he makes a point to tell them that he respects and supports them. Jae-min talks to him about wanting to live alone again, now that he’s recovered, and Teacher Han figures they couldn’t all four (including Shi-hoo) live together, and says he’ll tell Jae-min’s mom.
Jae-min tells him they’re starting up the band, and asks Han to be their teacher supervisor again. Han agrees, and reminds Jae-min how Ma-ri described his blood as being sweet. He must be going somewhere with that, but we don’t hear what he says next.
Jae-min meets with the music producer, who expresses concern about managing a group with two known vampires. Jae-min suggests that they compete in a televised competition, and the producer points out that if they make it to the show’s top ten finals, their vampire members will be outed to the press. The backlash could be huge. Jae-min says they can overcome it with music, and change how people think. But he knows that the producer can give them an even louder voice, and asks his help.
We get a cute little montage of the class alternately studying, and practicing their music. They audition for the show, and pass the first few rounds to make it onto the live show.
Of course, Ah-ra’s mean girl sidekicks are jealous of the time she spends with the band, and wonder what is it they’re practicing for so hard. Ae-kyung, the lead mean girl, has another friend who’s going to be in the show, and she spills the beans about Orange Marmalade having two vampires in the band.
Ma-ri’s parents cheer the band on the day of the live show, and even Shi-hoo throws an awkward little arm-heart. Ma-ri stares dreamily at the stage and tells Jae-min that she feels like she’s standing at the entrance to the world. He says there will be a lot of trials coming up, but they promise each other not to regret any of it.
Shi-hoo can’t help but feel a bit of residual jealousy as he watches them holding hands, and Ah-ra blocks his view with her own hand. She points out that her hands are pretty too, and he just calls her a princess. Ha.
A loud scream draws all the contestants, and they find that someone has thrown blood all over the dressing room (and Ae-kyung’s friend looks awfully smug). At least it’s not human blood, but the show is saying they can’t start recording because of the band. The other contestants are refusing to record, out of fear.
Shi-hoo says it’s not the whole band, just him and Ma-ri, but Jae-min retorts that that means it’s because of the whole band. Shi-hoo wants to give up, but Ma-ri refuses to run away. Jae-min says it’s not running away, just looking for another entrance.
So they try another entrance, and later on they set up a little street concert next to Ma-ri and Jae-min’s fountain. In voiceover, Jae-min says their first concert didn’t even have twenty audience members, but the important part was that the band, as humans and vampires, stepped into the world together.
Little do they know, the music producer is watching from afar, impressed with their ability to blend different worlds in such a wonderful way. He tells his assistant that he started his company to unite the world through music, but he forgot about that in his desire to be the best. He wonders if it would be too reckless to give these kids a chance.
And then, they’re in a music studio recording their debut song. They debut online, and Ma-ri and Shi-hoo’s vampire status causes some hateful comments. But the few positive comments give them hope, and they practice even harder. Slowly, their music starts to win people over, and Jae-min narrates that he thinks people’s thoughts are always open to change.
Shi-hoo’s boss starts to fire him for being a vampire, even though she admits he’s a good employee, but a bunch of fangirls come in the store to goggle at him. They squeal when he admits he’s a vampire, bouncing excitedly about how cool he is, and say they’re not afraid of vampires anymore because of him. His boss happily allows him to keep working there when the girls ask his help picking out hairpins.
The band performs every week at the fountain, as as time goes by, their audiences grow. During one concert, a drunk man causes a scene and screams that the vampires make him sick, but not one audience member joins in. He’s escorted away, and the band picks right up where they left off.
Soon more and more vampires go public (ha, and there’s Jung Yong-hwa, lead singer of CNBLUE, the band Lee Jong-hyun plays for in real life), and the VCA director says it just proves that people’s thoughts are changing faster even than the laws. The first stage of the Coexistence Project is declared a success, meaning that even more vampires will be revealing themselves soon.
In addition, amnesty is given to nineteen vampires who have been receiving punishment under the old laws… which means that Shi-hoo’s parents have come home. They see each other for the first time in years, and Shi-hoo cries, speechless, as his mother hugs him.
Jae-min and Ma-ri go on a picnic, and Jae-min asks why she didn’t tell him what it means when a person’s blood seems sweet to a vampire. Apparently, it’s like Fate telling them this is their intended mate. With a grin, he asks if that’s true, and Ma-ri says she didn’t want to depend on Fate. And even without it, they ended up together.
She makes him some toast with orange marmalade, and he narrates that his girlfriend likes orange marmalade as much as he does, even though they’ll never eat it together. While he eats, she drinks her synth-blood, and Jae-min wipes a bit off the corner of her mouth. He leans in for a kiss, as he narrates that they’re just a little different.
A cute, satisfying ending to a cute, adorable show. I really feel that, taken as a whole and as an independent production, Orange Marmalade was a sweet show with a good message. I know a lot of viewers had some disappointment that it didn’t follow the manhwa more closely, and because of that, I’m glad I made a point to avoid the course material before recapping the drama. Taken on its own, the drama was pretty good in my opinion, though I do feel it could have been improved with showing the different timelines in a different way. I completely get what the show was trying to do by putting the previous-lifetime backstory in the middle the way it did — but by deviating so much from the manhwa, THEN throwing the history into the middle, I think it was just a bit too jarring for many viewers. I applaud the writer’s desire to do something different (especially given the theme of the show, that different is good), but I think you run into trouble when you deviate so far from people’s expectations without warning. I believe that the show would have been much better received if we had known what to expect with the pacing.
That said, I did like all three sections of the show, and felt the show told the story it set out to tell in a really interesting way. The characters were compelling, and for the most, part well-acted (special shout-out to Lee Jong-hyun, who truly exceeded all expectations and has made me look forward to any future dramas he may choose to do), and I enjoyed all the relationships and how they grew and evolved. So much so, that my only real complaint is that we didn’t get to see more of the six friends growing and bonding together. I don’t say this often, but I really think we would have welcomed another couple of episodes, if it meant that we could have seen more of the kids getting to be friends. But with limited time, it chose to focus on the message, and I liked the message that being different isn’t bad and that people have to change their preconceptions if the world is to become a better place.
I’m happy that Jae-min did finally seem to have changed his attitude towards the vampires, and truly accept them. I love his newfound willingness to throw himself into uncomfortable situations to prove that the vampires aren’t dangerous. First he took responsibility for Ma-ri, even when he still didn’t like vampires but just knew that singling them out wasn’t right. Then he offered to take class with them, to show everyone that they aren’t dangerous. That’s how you change the world, by being willing to step up and prove that change isn’t bad or wrong, and in fact can improve things. Saying the words is good, but you have to put your money where your mouth is, as it were. And when Jae-min did that, I finally felt as though he had changed, and that he wasn’t just saying that it’s wrong to discriminate, but was willing to put himself out there as proof. But I also appreciate that he learned that running headlong into opposition isn’t always the right way — sometimes you just need to back up and look for another entrance.
Most of all, I really appreciated the overarching theme to the show, which is reflected in the title of the band, Orange Marmalade. Vampires may not be real outside of the dramaverse, but it’s true that nobody should be thrown away for being different. Our differences make us special, and that specialness can combine to make something truly wonderful. The vampires in the show could represent anyone — people of a different race, or who behave different from what’s considered “normal,” or people with mental or physical disabilities, or even just people who think differently. What’s different about a person is not what’s important — what’s important is that we are all worthy of respect and acceptance, and that our difference make us wonderful, not bad or scary. And the truth is, we all have something different about us… with some, it may be something obvious like our appearance, and for others it may be something more internal. But everyone has something that makes them unique and special, and that’s to be celebrated, not vilified.
So, I may be in the minority on this one, but I really enjoyed Orange Marmalade, and I’m gonna miss these kids. It was a mostly light, sweet summer romance that I’ll think of fondly when I look back on it, and I’ll remember it with tenderness. And now, I’m going to go read the manhwa, and I’m sure I’ll love that just as much!
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 11
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 10
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 9
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 8
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 7
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 6
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 5
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 4
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 3
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 2
- Orange Marmalade: Episode 1