Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 17
The heat gets turned up for everyone and a lot of plotlines hurtle toward crisis and/or confrontation, which may suck for them but at least makes for an eventful hour. We’re heading into the final hours of the show, and some of the story threads start to get tied up (or around our characters’ necks, as the case may be) while others remain, as yet, ambiguously open. It’s life or death stuff, for more than one person. (Although mostly for one person.)
EPISODE 17 RECAP
At the port, Black escapes having his brains smashed in with a sledgehammer just in the nick of time, as police vehicles arrive and send his attackers scattering.
Sun-jae watches from a distance as Black smashes the lock to the shipping container. That’s when police officers swarm in to apprehend Black, although Woo-jin jumps in and shoves them away, saying he’s not their guy.
Thus Black is allowed to open the container, and he steps toward the casket inside with dread, opening the lid with trembling hands. Kneeling before the open box, he breaks down at the sight of his father’s icy corpse and cries that he’s sorry.
Teacher Baek orders his henchmen to keep Swan cooped up in the house, but she argues back that she did nothing wrong—information regarding Chairman Cha’s corpse should naturally be reported to the police. She warns him to beg for forgiveness for his deeds, and that she would have been spurred to revenge too.
Teacher Baek loses his temper, saying that there’s no place for her here if she’s going to doubt and betray him. He rescinds their father-daughter reunion, and orders her out of the house.
Swan’s mind flashes back to that childhood memory when she’d seen her father holding a gun, and the recollection makes her steely. She answers that she has no reason to leave this house, and that even if he cuts her off because he hates her, she’s still his daughter. Even if she looks distinctly unhappy about that.
Black and Woo-jin are surprised to learn that the police were tipped off about the shipping container’s arrival by someone else, and that the case has been taken over by a special investigation team. The lead detective joins them to report that the cause of death has been determined to be two gunshots, and an autopsy will confirm whether drugs were in the chairman’s system.
Black hands over the bloodied family photo his father had been holding when he died, having already tested the blood and confirmed that it was his father’s. That suggests that Dad survived the first gunshot, and the second did him in. (A flashback reminds us that Killer had fired the second shot from a distance while Sun-jae and Baek had stood over the dying man.)
Black senses something fishy about this investigation and asks the lead detective how they’d known to go to the port—who was their informant? And then, Teacher Baek walks in to claim that credit.
Swan replays that childhood memory in her mind, and this time we see that she’d hidden herself in a kitchen cabinet after seeing her father with the gun.
When asked how he knew which container the body would be in, Teacher Baek produces a text message from Director Nam, who’d given him the container number and asked that it be conveyed to Black. That’s convenient, and we see how easy that message was to forge, typed by Baek’s henchman right after killing (I’m presuming that body is dead) Director Nam.
Our guys know Baek is lying through his teeth and hotheaded Woo-jin hurls accusations at him, but Black just calmly asks the detective to track down Nam and reopen his father’s investigation.
Teacher Baek congratulates Black on getting the case reopened. Black asks what he ought to do when he finds the people who killed his father, and Teacher Baek replies that he’d kill the culprits if it were him. Black vows to do just that.
Teacher Baek warns Black to stop using Swan, and Black asks where she is. He gets taken to Baek’s house, where he notices the really very freakishly large number of elephant paintings hanging around. Teacher Baek explains his wife’s admiration of them, and Black recalls Swan knowing random facts about elephants too.
When Swan steps into the room, Black takes one look at her split lip and reacts in fury, taking it out on the henchman for not protecting her. Oddly, Swan steps in and apologizes meekly for Black’s outburst, tugging him away quickly, though the reasoning becomes clear when explains recovering childhood memories here. She feels that staying here will trigger more, and resists his urging to leave.
Then she asks after Black’s father, and it’s her turn to comfort him as he admits that he can’t forgive that wrong. She hugs him and says soothingly, “I know. Don’t say anything. I know.”
At home, Mari flinches upon coming face-to-face with Sun-jae and drops her glass, which shatters on the ground. She asks if he has anything to do with Chairman Cha’s corpse, and Sun-jae does a remarkable job playing the martyr, saying that she’d like that to be true so she could divorce him (never mind the fact that it is true). Mari presses him for the truth, and he replies, “The truth is that I love you.”
She scoffs, but he asks her to say she loves him too, even if it’s a lie, in which case he’ll let her go. Mari remains silent.
With the media in a frenzy over this latest twist about Chairman Cha’s murder, Sun-jae meets with the prosecutor general to offer another bribe, this time to close the investigation quickly. Teacher Baek hears of Sun-jae’s movements and decides it’s time to honor his promise to get Killer out of prison.
Killer’s pretty happy with that news—only to find himself the next victim of a locker-room assault. A band of prisoners traps him in the room and take turns punching and stabbing him—a familiar scenario, and the lead attacker reminds him that he’d done this to Black.
Killer asks who ordered the attack, and the leader replies that it’s the man who promised to get him out of prison—he just hadn’t clarified that he’d be leaving prison dead.
As Killer lies there gurgling to death, he remembers Black visiting him in prison, warning that he’d die because of the secrets he knows.
VP Seo fumes in his interrogation room, but when the prosecutor adds Killer’s murder to his charges, the indignation turns to fear as he realizes how deeply his frame job goes.
Black confers with Woo-jin about the evidence pointing to VP Seo’s guilt, and Woo-jin asks if there’s any way to get evidence that points to Teacher Baek and Sun-jae instead, clearing his father. Black recalls the fountain pen recorder, although it’s in Sun-jae’s possession. Their best bet right now, he decides, is to get the two baddies to turn on each other and reveal the other’s crimes. Black also instructs Woo-jin to visit his father once he’s transferred to lock-up to prod for clues.
Mari drops by Team Black headquarters, and her old housekeeper is embarrassed and apologetic to be found here. Mari is more concerned with speaking to Ji-soo, who receives her a bit coolly, even though she doesn’t blame Mari for crimes she didn’t commit.
Mari tells Ji-soo not to forgive, however: “Not me, not Sun-jae, and not Baek Eun-do either.”
Mention of Teacher Baek has Ji-soo snapping to attention, because she’s been wondering all this time who Sun-jae’s accomplice was. Mari hadn’t realized that Ji-soo was in the dark, and she worries about making a slip.
Black takes Swan shopping and picks out a black dress for her for his father’s funeral. Swan declines out of guilt, but Black tells her she has to come, since he’d promised to show her to his father. He tells a story from his childhood when classmates had heard of Sun-jae’s father being in prison and mocked him endlessly for it. It had been Black’s father who’d said that holding a child accountable for his parent’s wrongs was a foolish thing.
The funeral is held, and Swan shows up after all, to Black’s relief. As he stands before the open casket, Black makes it a point to pull Swan with him, introducing her to his father as the woman he loves. He promises, “I will live happily at Swan’s side, then go to meet you.”
Swan bows and addresses the chairman in her thoughts, telling him she carries a debt against him, and will repay it to Black and Ji-soo. Black draws her to him consolingly, and Mari watches sadly from the sidelines.
And then, Teacher Baek shows up. That’s nervy of him.
Swan tenses, though Black takes her hand reassuringly. He keeps a stone face when Teacher Baek pays lip service to the deceased, as does his henchman… and aha! Ji-soo starts in alarm to recognize his voice. She grabs her brother’s arm, though doesn’t say anything aloud in front of them.
And then, Sun-jae appears, bold as brass and causing a stir among the guests. Black allows his entry, while his teammates marvel at Sun-jae’s shamelessness.
But to everyone’s shock—except perhaps Black’s—authorities arrive to arrest Sun-jae for embezzlement and corruption. Black seems to have anticipated this and makes it a point to grab Sun-jae and urge him to see the chairman’s face before he leaves.
He forcibly steers Sun-jae to the casket, shoving his face right up to the edge. Speaking quietly so they’re unheard, Black demands the name of his father’s killer, and Sun-jae insists it wasn’t him. He looks rather ill, and after a moment of watching him, Black lets Sun-jae go.
Then as Sun-jae is being led right past him, Black reminds Teacher Baek that he’d said Sun-jae was the killer. Sun-jae shoots Baek a startled look, and Baek looks dismayed to be outed like this. Muahaha. Let the infighting begin. Or continue, I guess. Keep fighting, baddies!
Baek has enough presence of mind to realize Black is doing this strategically, though it doesn’t keep him from sweating bullets.
Mari tells Swan that she hadn’t expected her to come to the funeral, and explains that she may have slipped up. Ji-soo doesn’t know of Swan’s parentage, but now she knows Teacher Baek’s name.
Swan says she intends to tell Ji-soo of her parentage after Ji-soo’s surgery, not noticing that Ji-soo has stepped into the hallway. At mention of Swan being Baek’s daughter, she stumbles in shock, falling to the ground.
Black hurries to his sister’s side to help her up, but his arm fails him at the wrong moment and sends her falling back down. In the commotion, nobody notices except Woo-jin, who tries to make sense of it.
Ji-soo wails to her brother about how angry and wronged she feels, and Black starts to tell his sister that Swan is just Swan, and that her parentage doesn’t matter. But to his surprise, Ji-soo cries that it doesn’t matter to her about Swan—it’s her brother who’s too pitiable. She begs him to run away with Swan and live freely while he can, and Black realizes she knows about his health.
Around the corner, Woo-jin hears their conversation, and while nothing has been said explicitly about Black’s condition, he looks like he’s putting the pieces together…
Ji-ryun joins Swan to try to console her, but she’s doing a pretty good job bucking up on her own, saying that it’s better that Ji-soo knows. She’ll focus on reporting on Sun-jae’s crimes, since that’s the only thing she can do, and Ji-ryun praises her for her attitude. Black joins her there, and they share a quiet moment as he takes her hand.
As Ji-ryun walks by, Woo-jin trips him, pointing out to an indignant Ji-ryun that stumbling usually requires a cause. So what’s Black’s cause?
Ji-ryun doesn’t say anything, but his silence is pretty telling when Woo-jin guesses that Black is dying, and that Swan doesn’t know. It makes him indignant, but Ji-ryun says that if the baddies were to find out, it would endanger what time Black has left.
In custody, Sun-jae is told that it’s not simply embezzlement that has him here, but also the stolen bid from the gas project five years ago. His composure slips when he’s told that they’ve uncovered more to the story than merely VP Seo’s involvement.
An(other) emergency meeting is held for Sunwoo Construction, where Black takes the lead in voting for Sun-jae’s ousting. Mari’s the first to raise her hand, and soon the every board member joins her, making for a swift firing. Black is voted the new president.
Teacher Baek comes up chuckling to congratulate him, and informs him that Swan has officially been entered into the family registry, making her legally his daughter. He says he’d like to help Black become chairman of the corporation, for his daughter’s sake.
Black says that he hopes Baek will honor those words, given that he reneged on the same promise to Sun-jae. It’s a pointed reminder that he knows of their alliance, since that’s the conversation captured on that pen recorder.
Sun-jae hears of his firing while in custody and instructs his secretary to contact his friends in high places to get him out of here. Unfortunately, they’re out of contact, likely due to Teacher Baek’s interference. Sun-jae stews at the thought of Baek and Black working together against him.
At home, Mari chafes under her father-in-law’s hovering and snaps at him, which makes him snap right back. Dad argues that whatever Sun-jae did, he’s still her husband, and reminds Mari that she married him of her own accord. She wasn’t forced, and she benefited from his actions too—so it’s hypocritical of her to stand on her morals now, like Sun-jae was the only one who did anything wrong. (His argument isn’t without some merit… except that we have to remember how completely batshit Sun-jae is, and can’t really paint him and Mari with the same brush on this whole murder-subterfuge-takeover business.)
Black takes Swan out for a fancy celebratory dinner and presents her with his new business card as head of the company, wanting his kiss reward for making good on the wager. She promises one later, and they toast.
Sung-min interrupts their date with a call, getting jealous and snappish to hear Black saying how much he likes Swan. He reminds him that it’s bad for his health to get his heart racing and his blood pressure up, and forbids skinship.
Ji-soo’s heading to Japan soon for her surgery, so Swan pays her a last visit. Ji-soo admits to being afraid to see Swan when she recovers her vision, in case it reminds her of Teacher Baek, and Swan assures her that it’s okay if she hates her, merely wishing for a successful surgery. Ji-soo blurts, “Stay with Ji-won oppa. If he’s happy, that’s enough for me.”
Ji-ryun asks Black about his condition worsening, and Sung-min’s alarmed to hear that it’s not just his hand that’s failing him, but also his leg. Both men urge Black to get himself checked out, overriding his insistence on pushing forward while they’ve got Sun-jae cornered.
Sun-jae, meanwhile, continues to rot in his interrogation room, first laughing at the thought of his enemies teaming up, then fuming impotently.
His henchman asks about Teacher Baek’s plans to let Black have Sun-jae, and gets a metaphor in return: When fishing with cormorants, you let the bird into the river with a string tied around its neck. The bird will try to swallow a fish, but be unable to because of the string, and when it spits out the bird, all you need to do is pick up the discarded fish. Sun-jae is merely his cormorant, to be used until he’s of no use anymore. He adds that Sun-jae’s not the only one—and eyes a photo of his daughter.
At Black headquarters, the housekeeper avails herself of the fancy massage chair until Sung-min fights with her over it, and lands awkwardly on her lap instead. May walks in and exclaims, “Oh my god!” Gye-dong exclaims, “Oh my eyes!” HAHA.
Then Black and Ji-soo walk in, and Sung-min runs around insisting it’s not what they think, only to have the housekeeper pretend it is.
Sun-jae’s father drops in to see Black before leaving Seoul, and asks him if he remembers that time when the boys were ten, and Sun-jae had called Dad crazy. It’s the flashback we’ve seen before, when Young Sun-jae had run from Dad, who was out from one of his prison stints, and begged for the chairman to save him from the crazy man trying to take him away. Dad had been deeply hurt, but went along with it and barked like a rabid dog.
Dad says now that Sun-jae was right, and that it’s because Dad was crazy that Sun-jae grew up that way. He tamps down his hurt even now as he makes growling noises, and entreats Black to forgive Sun-jae.
Sun-jae’s interrogation goes nowhere with him refusing to say anything, and finally he demands to speak with the prosecutor general, who’s listening from behind the observation glass. The prosecutor general looks uneasy as Sun-jae storms up to the window, glaring right at him, yelling that he won’t go down alone. He tells the man to pass along the message that nobody can escape this unscathed, and that he has that fountain pen in his possession.
The prosecutor general relays those words to Teacher Baek, saying that Sun-jae seems unpredictable and wondering what that fountain pen is. He says the case is growing out of control: If Baek pins the chairman’s murder on VP Seo, Black won’t stand for it, but if he pins it on Sun-jae, Sun-jae will reveal things. But Teacher Baek instructs the prosecutor general to release Sun-jae, now that he’s felt the suffocating chokehold.
Sung-min finds Black unconscious from another episode, and this time takes him to the hospital for a CT scan. The news isn’t good, and all signs point to brain implosion sooner rather than later. Black is frustratingly calm about this, and Sung-min begs him to either get surgery or go away for some peaceful rest.
At Panda News, Woo-jin remains distracted with his knowledge of Black’s illness. Swan cheers up to get a call from Black, who lies that he’s in his office while sitting in his hospital bed. They make plans to meet after work, but Woo-jin orders her to work late or get fired.
Mari feels the burden of her father-in-law’s accusations about ditching Sun-jae, and makes a call regarding visiting him, just as she’s surprised at home by prosecutors flashing their badges.
Sun-jae is let out of custody, and stiffens to see Teacher Baek outside to greet his exit. That’s when a car pulls up with Mari in custody, and Sun-jae now realizes that the cost of freeing Sun-jae was ensnaring Mari.
Teacher Baek smirks that this was the best he could do, in the face of being threatened with Sun-jae’s recording.
Sun-jae had transferred assets in Mari’s name in creating his new company, which makes Mari the likeliest scapegoat in securing Sun-jae’s release. So now, he presents him with the choice: Sunwoo Group, or Mari.
Woo-jin stays in the office late with Swan that night, until he finally gives in and dismisses her, sighing that he really must like her a lot to do this. He breaks the news to her about Black’s health and urges her to be with him, sending her running to meet Black.
She races over clutching her carved wooden compass, while Black waits for her holding his golden one. When she arrives, he notes her teary eyes and tells her that he’s unwell, and that Sung-min said he didn’t know whether he had a day left, or a month.
So he smiles with tears in his eyes and opens his arms wide to her.
Well, finally! We all knew how this was going to unfold—that either Black or Swan or both would push each other away stupidly for a while, and then they’d finally be honest and embrace reality—so the sooner we got here, the better. I would have rather we got here even sooner, but hey, at least we didn’t wait till the finale and only get an epilogue of happiness. Silver linings, y’all.
There were a number of nice moments this episode, although as with everything about this show, it was hampered by the elementary execution. I won’t belabor that point since it’s so obvious by now, but as one example, I did really enjoy the dual compass bit at the end, because the compasses have been referred to consistently as ways back home—sometimes that came with the implication of separation, when Swan sent Black off home thinking there was no place for herself there, or when they’d hold onto their respective gadgets thinking of each other.
So it’s poignant that the compasses now would lead them to each other, just at the moment when they finally overcome the last of the reasons driving a wedge between them. (Or at least, the moment was totally poignant in my mind while I rewrote the drama simultaneously as I was watching it, picturing a version that was better directed and delivering more emotional impact. I know I can’t be the only one who does this.)
It’s interesting how in my alternate-reality version of Goodbye Mr. Black, it’s the romantic relationship that gets drawn out and developed, because narratively it’s got all the parts there to be more engaging than it is. In the actual drama, though, it’s Sun-jae who consistently leaps out as the most interesting, even most emotionally engaging, because that performance feels real and invested. The others are doing what they can, but Kim Kang-woo makes me believe he’s that character, full of insecurity and fear and conflicting emotions. I did think it was crafty of Teacher Baek to get Mari involved like that, because Mari drives Sun-jae more than anything else, more than fear or greed or power. And it’s also not a point that I expected of the show, so I was pleasantly surprised by it.
But with a week left to go, I ‘d really just like to see Black go ahead and do something about his damaged brain already, because as effective as it is to watch him struggle with his deteriorating body, from a plot standpoint he wasn’t really doing anything about it. He kept shoving it aside as something to be dealt with when it came—not in denial (which would have been more frustrating) but in a fatalistic sort of way that made us feel sad for him but had the effect of withholding so much from the people he loves. That’s often my beef with these terminal-illness stories: Let the people make their own decisions about what they’ll do with the truth—don’t deprive them of that opportunity. And despite what Sung-min says, I’m really all for those decisions to involve skinship. Lots of skinship. All of the skinship!
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 16
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 15
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 14
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 13
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 12
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 11
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 10
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 9
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 8
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 7
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 6
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 5
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 4
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 3
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 2
- Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 1