Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 16 (Final)
It’s time to say goodbye to our intrepid ghost hunters, and for once, I’m not ready! I love these characters, and the quirky little world they live in, and I’m absolutely not prepared to let go. Usually I’m happy to send a drama off and look forward to what’s next, but in the case of Bring It On, Ghost, I feel like I could happily follow the adventures of Bong-pal, Hyun-ji, and the Soondae Soup crew forever.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Monk Myung-chul banishes the evil spirit from Hye-sung’s body with his runed sword, and Hye-sung slumps to the ground. Myung-chul sees the spirit collecting itself, and he throws himself in front of Bong-pal, yelling to Hyun-ji to find the ritual bracelet — it’s the only thing that will truly kill the demon.
Hyun-ji locates the bracelet, but the spirit strikes Myung-chul and knocks him out. Hyun-ji tosses the bracelet to Bong-pal, who wraps it around his fist like brass knuckles, and turns to face the black mist. It attacks him, and Bong-pal slams his fist with the beads into the mist, and the evil spirit explodes in a shower of sparks.
Bong-pal and Hyun-ji don’t have much time to register their victory, because Myung-chul is badly injured. Bong-pal begs him to wake up, but the monk’s eyes remain closed. But just as Bong-pal dissolves into tears, Myung-chul gasps, “Bong-pal-ah.” He’s alive!
The monk asks for help up, and drags himself over to Hye-sung’s body. Against all odds the man is still alive, and Myung-chul pats his head, saying that he must have gone through a lot.
Regardless of the fact that it was the evil spirit who killed all those people, Hye-sung is arrested, and he sits in the ambulance looking like a lost, scared little boy. He’s loaded into the police car, with Bong-pal and Myung-chul looking on sympathetically.
Bong-pal asks what will happen to Hye-sung, since technically he’s a victim too, but Myung-chul reminds him that to others, Hye-sung is still a murderer. In order to let the demon inside in the first place, he had it in his heart to kill someone. But he was just a little boy!
Bong-pal escorts Hyun-ji home, but despite all of his help, her mother angrily tells Bong-pal that she said she didn’t want him seeing her daughter anymore. She holds him responsible for the danger to Hyun-ji, even when Hyun-ji tells her that Bong-pal wasn’t to blame.
With a look from Bong-pal Hyun-ji lets her father lead her inside, and her mother tells Bong-pal that they’re leaving town in the morning. She says that if he cares for Hyun-ji, he’ll give up on her. Bong-pal just gives her Hyun-ji’s necklace, and respectfully asks that she return it to Hyun-ji for him.
Hye-sung is questioned by Detective Yang about the murder victims, but he doesn’t speak — until a picture of his father is laid in front of him. With tears rolling down his face, he admits to his father’s murder, and the murders of the other three victims.
He’s still crying as he’s led to a cell, and his mother stops in front of him. He has nothing to say to her, and oof, he just looks so vulnerable and scared.
Back at Bong-pal’s place, Myung-chul self-medicates with soju, and Bong-pal makes him something to eat. He tells Myung-chul that Hyun-ji is still leaving tomorrow, and Myung-chul reassures Bong-pal that they won’t forget each other.
Hye-sung’s mother visits him in prison and asks why he confessed to the murders when he’s technically innocent, but Hye-sung says that he’s still guilty. He committed a sin in his mind by wishing his father dead, which allowed the demon in, and he blames himself for those people’s deaths.
He tells his mother not to come see him again and be reminded of such painful memories, but she refuses to agree. She says that she’ll come back every day until he forgives her, even if he won’t see her.
In the morning, Hyun-ji’s family is in the process of moving, and Hyun-ji calls Bong-pal to ask him to understand how her mother is feeling. He says that he already does, and tells her to study hard so that she can come back to college and they can be together again.
Hyun-ji slowly makes her way to the car, hoping that Bong-pal will come to see her off. But he doesn’t show up, and she and her parents pull away. As they leave, Bong-pal steps out from where he’s been hiding, just to get one last glimpse of Hyun-ji before she goes.
We see that she had asked him to come say goodbye, but Bong-pal had admitted that he was afraid he would try to stop her from leaving. He’d told Hyun-ji to go back to her life as soon as possible, and that they can be together if she gets into his university. When that happens, he wants to get her mother’s blessing for them to date.
And so, Hyun-ji slips back into her old life, spending all of her free time studying for the college entrance exams. Bong-pal, Chun-sang, and In-rang are a tight trio now, hanging out often with none of their earlier awkwardness.
Eventually the day of Hyun-ji’s exams comes, and she enters the building as ready as she’ll ever be. Bong-pal has the day of the results marked on his calendar, and he debates calling Hyun-ji that evening to check on her.
Hyun-ji finds a secluded rooftop to check the results, but before she gathers her courage to make the call, she looks up to see a ghost hanging over her head. She refuses to look at him which befuddles the ghost, and he leans in to try to scare her, but just ends up with a face full of Hyun-ji fury.
She gives the ghost a roundhouse kick and sends him slinking away, complaining bitterly that she has to do this today of all days. HAHA, I love this girl.
Hyun-ji makes the call, and when she hears her results, her face falls. She slowly walks home, and calls Bong-pal to apologize that she didn’t get into his school. Bong-pal is disappointed, but he quickly recovers and tells Hyun-ji that it’s okay, and she’ll get in next year.
Hyun-ji is sad because this is Bong-pal’s last year and she wanted to go to school with him, so he sweetly offers to take a semester off. Hyun-ji just laughs, and tells him to just get a job so he can settle down. He asks what he’s supposed to settle down for, and Hyun-ji gets all shy.
Bong-pal pushes for an answer, knowing full well what she means, but she tells him that if he doesn’t know, then he can just live his life alone. Hee. He relents and says that he’ll be living with her four years from now, after she graduates college. Hyun-ji plays coy, but she’s obviously pleased with his plans.
Bong-pal’s original economics teacher is back this year (it’s Shim Hyung-tak again, squee!) and he again assigns the class a group project. But this year, instead of refusing to participate, Bong-pal makes plans to meet with his team the following week.
Chun-sang is visibly upset when he finds Bong-pal on campus, and he drags Bong-pal back to the Soondae Soup club room. Since In-rang and Seo-yeon graduated last year, they’re the only two members left, and the club is in danger of being dissolved by the school. Chun-sang says that Bong-pal should be concerned as the future club president, but Bong-pal is hilariously unperturbed.
In-rang is now running Soondae Soup as an exorcism business (with Grandma’s money, of course), and a potential customer gets mixed up, thinking it’s a restaurant. Heh. Chun-sang works for In-rang handing out flyers, but they’re dangerously low on customers — as in, they haven’t had a single one. In-rang is on a bit of a boss power kick, and he orders Chun-sang to clean the office while he takes a break.
Myung-chul arrives at a large home to perform a cleansing, only to be informed that they were told he had lost his powers, and they’ve hired another shaman. The new shaman puts on a big dramatic show as she supposedly speaks to a ghost on the ceiling, then she spots Myung-chul and demands that he leave.
Myung-chul calls the woman a crook for claiming to be a thousand-year-old virgin shaman, and she rolls her eyes when he says that he’s a powerful monk. The shaman attacks Myung-chul, aiming to rip out what’s left of his hair, ha.
The two end up at the police station (where Detective Yang has been promoted to Chief), bruised and battered, and the shaman smacks Myung-chul in the face when he calls her a crook again. She attacks him again, and Detectives Kim and Yang jump in to pull them apart.
A pair of pretty coeds wheedle Bong-pal into attending their economics majors’ freshman welcoming party, where there is much drinking and revelry. The freshmen all stand to introduce themselves, but Bong-pal is barely listening — that is, until a familiar voice introduces herself as Kim Hyun-ji.
Bong-pal’s head whips around, and there she is, fielding questions from the very interested male students. One asks if she has a boyfriend, and Hyun-ji looks right at Bong-pal and says, “Yes, he’s here.”
Later Bong-pal and Hyun-ji talk alone, and he asks why she didn’t tell him she was coming to his school. She’d planned it all as a surprise, and Bong-pal admits that his statement that it would be easy to wait another year was a big fat lie.
He’s thrilled to hear that Hyun-ji is staying at her uncle’s place, which is pretty close to his apartment. They flirt with each other adorably, vowing to spend every day together, and Hyun-ji reminds Bong-pal that she’s his noona by a year so he has to obey her. HA.
Bong-pal walks Hyun-ji home and drops her off at her uncle’s place, and she runs back to give him a big hug. Bong-pal hugs her back and they both say how happy they are, then he sends her inside.
He gets a call from Myung-chul, and meets him at the police station, where he’s had to be locked up to stop the fighting. He smiles and waves at Bong-pal like he’s not behind bars right now, and Bong-pal bails him out.
On the way home Myung-chul defends himself, saying that there are certain ethics to uphold in his line of work, and that lady shaman was definitely not upholding them. Bong-pal suggests that it might be time for Myung-chul to stop working, since the job is so hard on him, and offers him a place to stay.
He’s already cleared out his spare room, and he asks Myung-chul to move in. He tells Myung-chul that he’s the only family he has left, and Myung-chul gruffly says that Bong-pal sure knows how to make a guy cry. Awww.
In an office building nearby, a woman works late into the night, and she hears a noise under her desk. She looks down to see a ghost screaming up at her, and she flees with the ghost right behind her.
Hyun-ji is invited to a group blind date the next day, even though she has a boyfriend. She knows Bong-pal would be upset, but she’s never been on a blind date before, so she lets the girls talk her into tagging along. Of course, the boys all zero in on Hyun-ji, as pretty as she is.
Bong-pal orders delivery and calls Hyun-ji, but she refuses the call. She texts him, saying that she’s working on some schoolwork with friends, so Bong-pal decides to head home. Hyun-ji has a good time on the blind date, though at times she seems a bit uncomfortable.
In-rang calls Bong-pal looking for Hyun-ji, and sends him a video when he says she’s studying with friends. It’s a video of Hyun-ji playing drinking games, which was filmed and uploaded by one of the boys. Bong-pal snarls at the video, and rushes out to the bar.
He storms in and stands glaring behind Hyun-ji, and when one of the boys asks who he is, he grins and chirps, “I’m her boyfriend!” Oh, she is in so much trouble right now.
She follows behind Bong-pal as he stalks home, explaining that she only wanted to go on a blind date just once. She says that she even told them she has a boyfriend, and that she was just there for the experience. She aims every bit of aegyo she’s got at “Bong-bong,” who snickers, then denies that he smiled.
By the time they reach her uncle’s house, he’s forgiven her, and she gets a text from her mother that she’s in Seoul. Hyun-ji tells Bong-pal to leave before her mom sees him, but instead Bong-pal takes her hand and determinedly knocks on the door.
Her mother is definitely not happy to see Bong-pal on the doorstep, but she clocks their entwined hands and lets him in. She serves tea and asks why he’s bringing Hyun-ji home so late, guessing that he wants to say something to her.
Bong-pal nervously requests that Mom give her blessing for him and Hyun-ji to date, and Mom points out that they’ve already been dating without her permission. Hyun-ji protests that they only just reunited, but her mom shushes her.
She asks Bong-pal if he’s seriously asking her permission, and if he’ll never see Hyun-ji again if she doesn’t give it. She says that she’s never liked the way he just appeared when Hyun-ji woke from her coma, so she’s not sure she can trust him. Bong-pal slumps in defeat, and says that he understands.
He leaves the house, and inside, Hyun-ji bounces with excitement — Mom gave her blessing! She admits that Bong-pal seems like a decent guy, and Hyun-ji goes on and on about how sweet and smart he is. Outside on the sidewalk, Bong-pal does a little fist-pump of joy, hee.
Hye-sung’s mother is still visiting him in prison, and this time he gives her a small jeweled pin that he made. His hesitant gesture makes her cry, and Hye-sung’s chin wobbles to see his mother so emotional. She apologizes for not coming to see him more often, and he says that he doesn’t resent anyone anymore. She takes his hand, and Hye-sung meets her eyes and smiles for the first time.
Myung-chul sends Bong-pal off to school and goes to empty the trash, where he runs into the head of the Residents’ Committee again. He defensively says that he’s here to throw stuff away, not pick through the garbage, and she huffs that she didn’t say anything. She starts to swan off but trips on a bottle, and Myung-chul gallantly catches her before she falls.
He gazes deeply into her eyes, then says that she has the face of a lucky person. Her cheeks go all pink, and Myung-chul whirls her back to her feet and leaves her with a somewhat-swoony wink.
Hyun-ji accidentally collides with a woman as she’s walking down the street, and the woman looks just like her ghost unni, Kyung-ja! Hyun-ji finds her familiar, but they’re interrupted by her very handsome boyfriend (who calls her Se-ri), and she berates him for being so late.
They’re joined by a second good-looking man who begs for Se-ri’s forgiveness, and she calls him clingy and reminds him that it’s over between them. The first boyfriend gets aggressive with the second boyfriend, and Se-ri just confidently continues on her way. I love that her living counterpart is such a femme fatale.
Bong-pal runs into Seo-yeon, and Hyun-ji sees them talking and wastes no time informing Seo-yeon that she’s “Oppa’s” girlfriend. She drops the smile once Seo-yeon leaves, and Bong-pal cutely asks her to call him oppa again. Hyun-ji just tells him to get to class, but she calls after him, calling him oppa just to make him happy.
As Hyun-ji eats lunch by herself, she overhears a girl complaining about all the pork on the menu. Hyun-ji mutters that the pork tastes better with kimchi stew, and suddenly a strange guy swoops down beside her to agree that the girl is insulting the food. HAHA, it’s Yoon Doo-joon as Gu Dae-young, and he launches into his trademark in-depth analysis of the cafeteria food (and now I’m hungry).
He introduces himself to Hyun-ji and asks if she’s joined any clubs yet, then invites her to join his club. Of course, the club called Let’s Eat, and their whole purpose is to eat and appreciate food together.
He’s interrupted by a dry voice from behind him, and he jumps up to see Chun-sang, who reminds him that he’s not allowed to do this in the cafeteria anymore. PFFT. He sends the chastened Dae-young away, and tells Hyun-ji not to trust such smooth talkers.
Hyun-ji asks the question I’ve been wondering about myself: If In-rang graduated, then why is Chun-sang still in school? Chun-sang hisses that it’s a secret, and asks her to talk with him after lunch.
HAHA, he and In-rang give Hyun-ji the same Soondae Soup presentation that they gave Bong-pal, who joins them and sighs that they’re at it again. This time they’re planning global domination, but Bong-pal and Hyun-ji sneak out before they’re finished.
The boys follow them out, and Hyun-ji says that she’s not planning to join any school clubs. Chun-sang admits that without Bong-pal, they haven’t been able to get any exorcism jobs, and In-rang begs them to help or his grandma will break Chun-sang’s limbs.
Bong-pal and Hyun-ji both say that they don’t really need the money, so Chun-sang changes tacks and plays to their sense of compassion for the poor suffering people. He even lays Spiderman’s famous line on them: With great power comes great responsibility.
Right on cue, In-rang gets a call about a ghost, and the boys bounce like little puppies begging Bong-pal and Hyun-ji to help. They decline again, but Hyun-ji soon reconsiders, saying that they could turn their ability to see ghosts into a way to help them. She says that they’re lost and trying to move on, and Bong-pal remembers all the ghosts that they helped together.
That night over dinner, he asks Myung-chul why he performs exorcisms when it’s hard, and doesn’t pay much. Myung-chul says that helping ghosts get over their grudges, and people get over their fears, is like helping the lost find their way home.
He says that he was against Bong-pal performing exorcisms because he was filled with resentment. With that attitude, it was impossible for him to see the good that exorcism does. Myung-chul says that not all ghost are bad, and asks if Bong-pal can bring himself to feel compassion for them. He says that if Bong-pal can lead the dead to peace, then it’s not a curse, but a gift.
And so the Soondae Soup crew head out to fight the ghost, all suited up and back in business. The enter the office building and Hyun-ji asks Bong-pal what changed his mind, and he says that he wants to know the reason they can see ghosts.
They find the ghost, and as she screams furiously at them, Bong-pal and Hyun-ji yell in unison: “Bring it on, ghost!”
A great ending to a great show — I loved seeing everyone move on and find their purpose in life, even if there are a few things I would still have liked to see. I’m surprised that Hyun-ji never did remember her years as a ghost, but there’s a certain satisfaction in the fact that she fell in love with Bong-pal anyway, and ended up right where she belonged, fighting ghosts with the Soondae Soup crew. I particularly enjoyed Kyung-ja/Se-ri’s appearance, and that we got to see that in a way, she’s living the life she always wanted, showered with attention by handsome men.
Okay, so I’m a teeny bit disappointed that Myung-chul wasn’t possessed after all, and that Bong-pal didn’t have to fight him. The final fight was over so quickly! That would have been an amazing struggle for Bong-pal, and made his final banishment of the demon that much more meaningful. He got off pretty easy, only having to throw one final punch, when it was Myung-chul who did all the spiritual fighting against the demon. After all that talk about Myung-chul losing his powers, and Bong-pal inheriting great powers from his mother, I wish Bong-pal had had a chance to really flex his psychic as well as his physical muscles. But when I think about it, Bong-pal has always been a man who fights ghosts with his fist, so it makes sense character-wise for him to be the one to kill the evil spirit with one mighty blow. Not to mention that Myung-chul’s putting his life on the line showed Bong-pal that he still has family who love him, even if they aren’t blood related. So it may not have gone how I would have written it, but it was still an ending that fit Bong-pal’s character arc well.
Before the show began, my biggest concern was regarding the level of acting performance we might be treated to, particularly with the match of Kim So-hyun and Taecyeon. I had every faith that Kim So-hyun would deliver her usual stellar characterization, and I was not let down. I believed her as a teenage ghost, and I believed her just as much as a 24-year-old young lady. The subtle shift she made from flighty to mature was deft and assured, never losing the core of who Hyun-ji was as a person, and I bought every second of her performance.
I was more worried about Taecyeon’s ability to keep up, because I’ve seen him in several dramas and while I do think he always turns in passable performances, the best thing I could ever say about him was that he’s awfully handsome. And the same holds true now, but something has changed, and his performance as Bong-pal was miles above anything I’ve seen him accomplish before. Sometimes the connection between actor and character just works, and it elevates both to a level that wouldn’t have been possible if another actor had tackled the role, and I think that’s what happened here. Taecyeon was able to tap into something that helped him become Bong-pal, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be able to go to his army duty on such a high career note. I can’t wait to see what he tackles when he returns.
The truly breakout performance, in my mind, was Kwon Yul in the role of Hye-sung/the demon spirit. He’s always just seemed bland to me in his previous roles, though to be fair, that could be attributed to the roles themselves being sort of milquetoast characters in the first place. But here he got to really stretch himself, and something about his angelic face with those dead, menacing eyes just gave me shivers every single time he was onscreen. I watch a lot of television (a lot), and it’s not easy to really, genuinely scare me, but Hye-sung managed to do it several times during the run of the show. Definitely one of the most frightening antagonists I’ve seen to date. And then the way he completely changed gears at the end, and seemed so remorseful and ashamed, he just twisted my heart in the best way possible. A truly impressive performance.
One of the things I appreciated most about this drama is how it used all of the drama tropes we’ve seen a million times, yet it wove them into the narrative in a way that made sense within the story. For example, Hyun-ji was hit by a Car of Doom, but instead of a random occurrence, it was a premeditated act by someone who was actually trying to kill her, with the aftermath framing the rest of the story’s direction. She woke with amnesia, but in this case it’s a known, expected side effect of being in a coma for so long. Bong-pal nearly succumbed to Noble Idiocy, but Hyun-ji put a stop to that right quick. Even their forced separation was built into the plot seamlessly — it made sense that her family would go home once she got better. What makes this show stand out wasn’t any deviation from the standard drama formula, but the fact that it made that formula feel fresh and new, and gave all of those tropes a believable purpose for existing in Bong-pal and Hyun-ji’s world.
Bring It On, Ghost is undoubtedly one of the big surprises of the year, as it quickly proved that it was more than just the usual frothy summer rom-com. Excellent characterization, dedicated and well-planned storytelling, and fantastic special effects (not to mention all the incredible cameos!) came together perfectly to deliver a drama that made me cringe in fear, laugh out loud, and even cry every now and then. It never became predictable and continued to surprise me week after week, and even managed to end with an epic all-out battle worthy of the intense buildup. tvN is making their mark as a provider of great television, and all I can say is, count me in for the long haul.
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 15
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 14
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 13
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 12
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 11
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 10
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 9
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 8
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 7
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 6
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 5
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 4
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 3
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 2
- Bring It On, Ghost: Episode 1