Last: Episode 8
There’s dissension in the ranks as Tae-ho is given more power, and several of the Seoul Seven are unhappy that the newcomer is being favored — and they’re not the types to sit back and let it happen without a fight. But Tae-ho is discovering that money and prestige aren’t everything — he envies Jong-gu the people he cares about, not even realizing that he might have someone who fits that position himself.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Jong-gu recovers from the fight at Nara’s clinic, where she fusses at him to just call Mi-joo if he misses her that much. She asks how they met, and he’s suddenly lost in a memory… he’s at Heung-sam’s old base (which is now Tae-ho’s office) where a man orders him to chauffeur girls around and keep them from escaping. It’s an assignment to pay the man back for all the money he borrowed for his drug habit.
“The girls” are a handful of terrified young women, and Mi-joo, looking defiant. Jong-gu asks Mi-joo how old she is, getting a lippy answer in return, and Heung-sam tells him not to make trouble for Eun-ji’s sake. Later we see Mi-joo holding a client at bay with a broken beer bottle, and Jong-gu stops her from killing the man. He gets a cut on his hand from the beer bottle, and Mi-joo patches him up. Ha, his face when she asks if it hurts is adorable.
She casually asks why he’s never asked her where her home is or why she ran away, and he just says he’s in no position to judge. She surprises him by asking if he wants to run away with her, saying that he can’t always depend on drugs to get through the days.
He says there’s no use in running — just pay back her debt and then she can be free. Next we see them at the train station, Mi-joo begging Jong-gu to run away with her, and him saying they’d be on the run their whole lives.
In the present, Heung-sam is thinking of the same day and wondering if Jong-gu’s life would have been different had he run. He scoffs that it wouldn’t — if Jong-gu had run away, he would only have found himself in the same situation somewhere else. Tae-ho asks if that’s why he provided Jong-gu drugs, but Heung-sam looks thoughtful and says the exact opposite: “Ryu-sshi was my idol.”
In another flashback, we see young Heung-sam mesmerized as he watches Jong-gu giving a speech on television after winning a prize fight. He’d said that people looked down on him for not having money or education, but he’d become the champion anyway, and young Heung-sam was inspired.
As an adult under the thumb of the old boss, he’s knocked senseless for sending “the druggie” after Mi-joo instead of going himself. He slurs that Jong-gu will bring her back, and as the boss continues slapping him and he eyeballs a knife, Jong-gu does bring Mi-joo back.
The two men sit in the alley, and Heung-sam says that Jong-gu was his responsibility and Mi-joo is Jong-gu’s. Jong-gu asks what he would have done if they hadn’t returned, and Heung-sam just grins and handed him a bag of syringes.
He says that they’re the last ones — he grabbed them when nobody was looking. Jong-gu asks if he plans to die, and Heung-sam says he plans to become the best, and that if he does, he’ll take care of Jong-gu. Jong-gu says that the top isn’t great and he’ll just roll back down, but Heung-sam rejects that — he’s not like Jong-gu.
Some time later Heung-sam brings a large knife to the office, but he finds Eun-ji there being consoled by Mi-joo. The boss demands that Jong-gu bring his money or he’ll hand Eun-ji over to some woman named “Madame Pig.” Unwilling to see a child pay for her father’s sins, Heung-sam kicks over the space heater which starts a fire, and works his way over to Mi-joo and Eun-ji. They try to run but are grabbed by one of the men, and Heung-sam’s knife is knocked out of his hand.
Heung-sam is forced to fight the men hand-to-hand as the fire blazes higher and higher, and luckily Jong-gu arrives at the office. Everyone has run out but Eun-ji and Mi-joo, and Mi-joo shields Eun-ji with her body as a beam falls onto her back, burning her shoulder.
Mi-joo points to where Heung-sam lies unconscious, and Jong-gu tells Mi-joo to wait while he carries Eun-ji out. Heung-sam wakes just as Mi-joo succumbs to the smoke, and Jong-gu sets Eun-ji down out in the street. An explosion booms behind him, and he can only stare in shock, but luckily Heung-sam walks out of the burning building carrying Mi-joo on his back.
The four of them sit in the alley and Mi-joo eventually wakes, and Heung-sam gets ready to leave since he’s responsible for arson and two murders. Mi-joo stands and wordlessly follows Heung-sam, the hole burned in her coat revealing the bloody wound that will become the scar that haunts them all to this day. She stays with Heung-sam even though he tells her to get lost, having nowhere else to go.
In the present, Heung-sam is back in his penthouse and Mi-joo nurses him, but he’s more worried about who will take President Jung’s place now that he’s fled. He asks if she’s visited Jong-gu, but she says she’s keeping her promise and reminds him to keep his.
She asks if he really knows where Eun-ji is, and Heung-sam tells her not to worry — as long as she doesn’t waver, Jong-gu will get his daughter back. He can tell from her expression that she doesn’t trust him.
President Jung is indeed attempting to flee, but he’s cornered at the airport by Praying Mantis, who looks downright delighted (well, as much as he ever does) to have his chance to mete out some justice. President Jung offers Praying Mantis all of his money to let him go, but he knows he’s done for.
Tae-ho watches Nara at the clinic with a soft look on his face, then goes to see Jong-gu. He gives Jong-gu some money from Heung-sam, who takes the money but not without a few sarcastic insults at Tae-ho’s coming up in the world.
Tae-ho reveals that he knows that Jong-gu went to jail in Heung-sam’s place for starting the fire, and that Eun-ji was sent to live with a relative, which is when Jong-gu lost contact with her. He says that he can’t pay Jong-gu back for all his help using money, but he wants to help him find his daughter. Jong-gu just tersely tells Tae-ho to fix his own life.
Tae-ho gets a call, and rushes to Poison Snake’s “factory,” where he’s told that President Jung has been harvested. Poison Snake sneers that Tae-ho will be too, sooner or later. Tae-ho goes inside to find Praying Mantis finishing up his work, and he apologizes for not letting Tae-ho speak to President Jung first as Heung-sam promised.
But Jung did leave some “last words” for Tae-ho, and Praying Mantis pulls two playing cards from his pocket. Jung said that Tae-ho would know what they meant, and Tae-ho chooses one. This time it’s the King, and Tae-ho smiles triumphantly.
Heung-sam visits with Chairman Wang, looking quite unhappy about it, and apologizes for taking care of President Jung without permission. Wang says that he deserved it, but his comment that murderers will eventually meet that same fate doesn’t go over Heung-sam’s head.
Heung-sam agrees not to take up all of Jung’s business for himself, promising to parcel it out among Jung’s men fairly. He also vows that he can handle Han Joong Group’s project himself — Director Choi will soon be on the outs. Wang seems impressed that Heung-sam swore he’d get a piece of that business and now he controls the whole thing, but warns him that he’s dug his own grave.
The Seoul Seven are gathered together and Heung-sam makes a speech — they have all come here for different reasons and from different beginnings, but they’ve all lived the same way… determined to start a new life. They toast to their victory over President Jung, with Jong-gu and Tae-ho singled out as being particularly helpful.
Heung-sam tells everyone that Tae-ho will be helping him out a lot in the future, warning them to be mindful of that. The others object to Tae-ho receiving special treatment, since he’s the least senior and the maknae of the group, but Heung-sam reminds them that he created their seniority. They’re welcome to leave if they don’t like it.
Nara is happy to see Tae-ho’s friends at Granny’s restaurant, and even happier to hear they’re moving back in. Granny grumbles that the best of them died and now that “bear-like guy” (meaning Ship-jang, hee) is sniffing after her granddaughter. The guys try to cover that Tae-ho is really alive, but the Chairman is deep in his delusion and says that Tae-ho works at his “company.”
Tae-ho runs into Sergeant Bae in the club restroom, who picks a fight right there, but he’s drunk and Tae-ho takes him down with one punch to the stomach. Crocodile finds them like that, and Tae-ho laments that he can’t take the Seven down in the orderly fashion he’d planned, due to Heung-sam’s orders.
Mi-joo asks why Tae-ho is leaving so early, but he just asks her if she knows why Jong-gu even showed up tonight. It wasn’t to drink or because he was called — it was because he was worried about her. Mi-joo comments sarcastically on how empathetic Tae-ho is, and says she envies the woman whose name he called out that night she watched over him. Jung-min. c
Tae-ho is too late to meet his friends for dinner, but he greets Nara outside the restaurant with a smile. She pretends to be unaffected that he’s not dead after all, but Tae-ho apologizes anyway. Nara says he has no reason to be sorry towards her — she felt a bit deceived when she found out he wasn’t dead, but mostly she’s just glad he’s alive.
Knowing that she worked herself into the hospital, Tae-ho asks Nara to take care of herself. She asks if he’s the one who left her the flowers in the cup, and his non-answer upsets her. She says that she doesn’t care whether he’s dead or alive, but that he’s not to make her sick then offer the medicine. Also she’d prefer if he ate somewhere else from now on. Tae-ho sadly leaves, and Nara almost follows him, but stops herself.
Heung-sam sends his men off after their celebratory evening, and Poison Snake reminds him that Straw Cutter is getting out of prison next week. They laugh that he’s being released early due to good behavior.
Heung-sam noticed that Mi-joo was very cold to Jong-gu tonight, and he tells her to go be nice to him. Just because they have an agreement doesn’t mean she has to go to such extremes. She goes back in where Jong-gu is half passed out, and he asks what Heung-sam used to threaten her. Did he say he would punish one or both of them?
Mi-joo lies, but Jong-gu knows better — she disappeared for a few days, and now she’s cold and distant. She tells him that she went to Bali with a congressman, on Heung-sam’s orders, but says that she wasn’t forced to go.
Jong-gu asked why she’s changed so much, and Mi-joo just muses that she’s either matured, or become scared. She thought about their lives a few years from now if they left Seoul Station — they would probably start out happy, but end up dissatisfied with their boring lives and each other.
Jong-gu calls that out as an excuse, demanding to know the real reason she’s acting this way. Mi-joo says that she enjoys living luxuriously and having nice things, and doesn’t want to give that up for him. Damn.
Knowing this is still all lies, Jong-gu takes her by the wrist and asks her to go with him, now. Mi-joo frees her hand and tells him to wake up — Heung-sam can give her everything she wants, while he can’t. Jong-gu looks stricken.
He leaves to walk the streets, while Mi-joo drinks and cries. Nara tends her little garden, where she’s planted the flower Tae-ho gave her, despite saying that she didn’t care about him. And Tae-ho looks over the city, sad and alone.
Se-hoon and Jung-min are hard at work, having a friendly tiff over who knows her father (their boss) better. Director Choi barges in practically foaming at the mouth, having found out he’s been fired, but Se-hoon keeps calm and says that he should feel lucky he’s not facing criminal charges. He tells Choi to lay low after being fired, and that he’ll advise his loyal subordinates to resign.
Director Choi turns to Jung-min to plead his case, but she just says he’ll reap what he sows for his criminal actions. He warns her on his way out that everyone has their flaws, but Se-hoon seems too perfect. Obviously he’s hiding something.
Tae-ho and Heung-sam sit down to a nice lunch, where they go over the businesses that President Jung left behind. They’re joined by Se-hoon, and he and Tae-ho seem to recognize each other, but they don’t say anything.
Heung-sam mentions Director Choi’s firing, and Se-hoon says that he was in the way of the Mi Rae City project, so Heung-sam should be glad he’s gone. Tae-ho narrows his eyes at Se-hoon and excuses himself, and the two brothers are left to speak freely.
Heung-sam tells Se-hoon that when he said he found someone who reminded him of Se-hoon — this is the guy. He’s also the man who ruined his investment plan — wait, Se-hoon planned the Dae Bong Bio investment scheme? This is just getting deeper and deeper.
In the restroom, Tae-ho remembers the first time he saw Se-hoon, right after Jung-min dumped him, and the time he went to give Jung-min her ring and saw Se-hoon kiss her. When he gets back to the table he keeps quiet, just listening as Heung-sam and Se-hoon discuss the contract for bringing Heung-sam into the Mi Rae City project. He looks over the papers himself and pronounces the contract acceptable.
He does point out that Han Joong Group’s standards are too high, but they can get around that by creating a “shell” (fake) company based in another country. Se-hoon is impressed enough to suggest that Tae-ho meet with the chairman of Han Joong Group himself.
He asks if they’ve met before, but Tae-ho says he’s never seen Se-hoon in his life. He tells Se-hoon he’s just a homeless person whose business failed, and it’s thanks to Heung-sam that he’s even here today. Se-hoon congratulates Heung-sam on finding a good employee, but he eyeballs Tae-ho suspiciously.
Tae-ho sets his team to creating the shell company, and Hae-jin thinks it would be better to impersonate a company on the verge of bankruptcy. They notice that Tae-ho is awfully distracted and assume it’s because of Nara, and bicker cutely over whether they make a good couple.
Tae-ho goes out for some air and ends up at Nara’s garden. At the same time, Jong-gu practices his boxing to try to get the image of Mi-joo’s rejection out of his mind, but it’s not working until Tae-ho shows up with soju.
Tae-ho says that Jong-gu is lucky to have somewhere to go and someone to find, which is pretty sad. Jong-gu counters that he told Tae-ho that working for Heung-sam wouldn’t be easy, and Tae-ho says with a wry expression that nope, things are going just great. Jong-gu warns Tae-ho that just because Heung-sam needs him doesn’t mean he thinks he’s important, and Tae-ho sighs that he knows.
After pounding down an entire soju by himself, Tae-ho says that it was convenient for him to live alone, but now he’s got people he worries about. He feels sorry for his dead friend Min-soo, he can’t forget his ex-girlfriend Jung-min, and now he’s worried about all of his new friends as well.
Jong-gu understands Tae-ho’s conflict, wanting to do good when you’re forced to do bad, and agrees that trying to find a balance is difficult. He tells Tae-ho to choose, villian or hero — but if he’s going to follow in Heung-sam’s footsteps, he should leave Nara alone.
Tae-ho asks which side Jong-gu is on, now that he’s given up drugs and alcohol. He says that whichever side they choose, good or evil, they shoud be sure and make a happy ending. When that happens, they can share the rest of the soju he brought.
Tae-ho wanders past Nara’s garden for the second time that night, but this time he stops and calls her. He starts to ask if she wants to do something together after she gets off work, but another call comes in from Heung-sam so Tae-ho says he’ll call her back.
Heung-sam asks if he’s alone and whether he’s seen Sergeant Bae today, warning Tae-ho to be careful. Bae has been known to cause trouble. Just as Heung-sam starts to tell Tae-ho that Bae once made a man disappear who was climbing the ranks like he’s doing, Sergeant Bae comes up behind Tae-ho with a knife.
Just as he’s poised to stab Tae-ho, Praying Mantis knocks the knife from Bae’s hand, and uses it to stab Bae instead. Tae-ho can hear the scuffle behind him but never turns around, and Heung-sam tells him to come with Praying Mantis.
When the two get to the penthouse, Praying Mantis reports that Crocodile wasn’t there, and Heung-sam figures he put Sergeant Bae up to killing Tae-ho then hid somewhere. That seems fitting with Crocodile’s cowardly ways. Praying Mantis leaves to take Bae’s body to the “factory,” leaving Tae-ho with Heung-sam.
Heung-sam says that he likes Tae-ho because he’s precise — he returns Heung-sam’s lost things, and takes what he wants from others. He assumes there’s something of Heung-sam’s that he wants, asking if he’s curious about the Seoul Seven’s fortune.
He leads Tae-ho to his walk-in safe, and Tae-ho’s eyee nearly pop out to see all that cash. HA, Heung-sam has to snap his fingers are Tae-ho to get his attention. He tells Tae-ho that there’s an easy way, and a hard way to get this money — try to take it from him, or help him and he’ll leave it to him.
At the prison, a man walks out and bows to the guard for the last time. Meet Straw Cutter, the Seoul Seven’s Number Three, known for chopping his enemies into tiny pieces if they cross him.
I was wondering when we’d meet the last member of the Seoul Seven, and I have no doubt Straw Cutter’s return to Seoul Station is going to change everything. He seems like the most dangerous of Heung-sam’s men, mostly because we know almost nothing about him other than his love of dismemberment. It makes him an unknown quantity, and there’s no telling where this turn of events will send the story — though I suspect it won’t be anywhere good.
I admit that I haven’t thought about Tae-ho’s personal situation a lot at this point, which I attribute to the show itself holding back a lot of information about him. We really haven’t been told much about Tae-ho on a personal level, if you think about it. We know that before his downfall he was a swindler who worked the stocks to make money, that he had a superficial relationship with Jung-min, and that he’s intelligent. That’s about it. We don’t know what his hopes and dreams are, what he wants out of life, what he cares about. We know nothing at all about his family or friends, though it’s safe to say he probably didn’t have any or he could have turned to them for help when he became homeless. For a long while I assumed that was done on purpose, and that his character was mostly serving as a spotlight on all the people around him. I mean, face it, we know a lot more about Jong-gu and Mi-joo, Heung-sam and even Se-hoon, than we know about Tae-ho. And Tae-ho is a pretty closed-off person anyway, which makes it even easier as an audience to just assume that if he’s not saying something, he’s probably not thinking or feeling it.
But then there are these moments where Tae-ho will say something that seems to accidentally draw attention to himself, like when he said that Jong-gu is lucky to have someone to look for. Even though his daughter is missing and Mi-joo is pulling back from Jong-gu right now, he still has people in his life that he loves, people to think about and worry for. Tae-ho seemed in that moment to envy Jong-gu, because he doesn’t think he has anyone like that. Jung-min was more of a possession than a love interest, and though I think Tae-ho would happily and easily care for Nara if she let him, right now they’re not close enough for that to happen. I do think that Tae-ho is half in love with Nara already, just based on how soft his expression turns when he even thinks of her and how important it is to him that she know he’s sorry when he wrongs her, but I don’t think he knows what his feelings mean. He’s still hung up on Jung-min to a point, though it seems more like a habit — I don’t believe he ever had real feelings for her. But it surely adds to his confusion to think he loves Jung-min, and suddenly be feeling something real for Nara.
In fact, I think Tae-ho is just now discovering that he cares about people in a significant way for the first time ever, which is twisting him up inside. He’s so used to thinking about himself first and only, and now he’s got these people he’s beginning to care about, and he doesn’t know what to do. I can understand how that would weigh on someone who isn’t used to it — he’s annoyed and frustrated by the burden, at the same time as he feels compelled to do better for the sake of those people. Growing up can really suck.
I think the magic in Last is definitely all in the characters, and how much we’ve come to care about them. Even the shady, psychotic, murderous ones… okay maybe not Crocodile, that guy is a whiny whackjob. But even Praying Mantis, who we know nearly nothing about other than his devotion to Heung-sam, seems to come with a fascinating backstory and history even if we don’t know what it is (a special shout out to actor Kim Hyung-kyu, who plays the character with such perfection — I’ve never seen a blank expression mean so many things). The characters we know a lot about, we love and want to know more, and the ones we know little about, we’re dying to get to know better. I can’t think of another drama where I’ve been so fascinated by all of the players. Even the antagonists like Heung-sam come with such nuance and detail that we can find things to love about them, even as they prove themselves to be stone-cold killers.
Once again, I love the pacing of this show and how it never dwells on any one situation for too long. Just as we start to feel as though one situation is wrapped up neatly and wonder where the plot will take us next, Sergeant Bae is killed and Straw Cutter gets out of prison. I have no doubt we’re about to see a whole lot of shoving as the remaining Seoul Seven jockey for their new positions. Does this mean Tae-ho is now Number Six, even though he didn’t kill Bae (I have no doubt Praying Mantis isn’t interested in the job)? Who will step in to fill the empty place left by Bae? But mostly I’m worried for Tae-ho and his moral compass — he’s in danger of getting in so deep that he can’t ever get out, and losing himself and his newfound friends in the process.