Perfect Wife: Episode 20 (Final)
Although Eun-hee seems to be on her best behavior, Jae-bok knows her better than that and braces herself for the worst. With Jung-hee determined to sacrifice himself for his family, it could be up to Jae-bok to do the rescuing yet again. But with Eun-hee descending further and further into her madness, will it be possible for them all to survive her final play to win Jung-hee’s heart?
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Eun-hee comes upstairs at the same time as Jung-hee comes downstairs, both responding to Bong-gu’s impatient ringing of the doorbell. Eun-hee lets Jung-hee answer the intercom and talk to Jae-bok, who asks if everything is okay. Jung-hee says harshly that she’s making a big deal out of nothing before cutting off the video feed.
Playing the understanding fiancee to the hilt, Eun-hee says that Jung-hee should have let Jae-bok in, but he just tells her to stop cleaning the basement and get some rest. He goes to his room and considers texting Jae-bok an apology, but he deletes it without sending.
Brian takes Jae-bok to speak to his father, where she pleads with him to put Eun-hee back in the hospital for her own good. She begs him as a fellow parent to think of what’s best for his child and not to act out of guilt for not being there while she was growing up. She even tells him that her own children are in danger, but her words fall on deaf ears. He doesn’t say a single word and only pages his men to escort her out.
Jae-bok calls Bong-gu after her failed attempt, and though he tries his best to sound perky for her sake, they both hear the weariness in each other’s voices. Bong-gu insists they meet at the office to cheer each other up, and after they hang up, we see that he’s at the site of Na-mi’s accident, still struggling to accept her death.
Jung-hee continues logging his observations of Eun-hee, noting that she flips between manic and depressive moods. His mother, who is living in the house with them, seems to be a particular trigger with her bossy critical ways. After one incident when Jung-hee’s mom criticized the way Eun-hee organizes her freezer, Jung-hee witnessed Eun-hee chopping meat into a fine paste while in a sort of fugue state.
Jung-hee writes that Eun-hee doesn’t express her anger as she used to do, but he can sense that her insanity is evolving. He adds that he’s afraid of her, but if he wants to protect his children and atone for his wrongful actions, then he has to stop her.
He writes a bit more in his observation diary, particularly about how much he misses his kids and how he wishes he’d appreciated how good life was when his family was together. He locks the diary away in his safe, which he keeps in his desk drawer at work.
Jin-wook and Hae-wook miss their dad as much as he misses them, so they decide to pay their dad a surprise visit at work. Che-ri finds them waiting for the bus and invites herself along, saying bossily that she doesn’t trust them to go alone.
Eun-hee cleans Jung-hee’s room and takes advantage of the opportunity to snoop. She doesn’t find anything until she feels around his nightstand drawer, and she pulls out a crumpled photo of Jung-hee with Jin-wook and Hae-wook.
She remembers showing him her new wall of his photos, and that he’d thanked her for loving him this much. He’d crushed that particular photo in his fist and told her that he doesn’t need anyone but her, but now she realizes with annoyance that Jung-hee was actually saving that picture.
She goes to the office to see him, arriving just after the kids. Luckily Jung-hee sees Eun-hee in time, so he pushes Hae-wook’s hug away and jerks his hand out of Jin-wook’s grasp. He snaps at the children angrily for coming here without notice, which shocks them.
Eun-hee approaches, greeting the children sweetly, but she’s knocked off-balance when bold Che-ri asks how she got released from the hospital so soon. She recovers enough to answer when Jung-hee asks why she’s here, and she invites the children to have dinner with them.
Jung-hee cuts her off sharply, asking her to wait in his office while he takes the kids home. The children are subdued and upset in the car, so Jung-hee pulls over to talk to them. He hugs them close and apologizes, telling them (kindly this time) not to come to his office anymore.
Eun-hee does some more poking around in Jung-hee’s office, and her gaze falls on the drawer holding his observation diary. But Jung-hee returns to find her innocently standing by the window waiting for him. She turns down his offer to go for a drive, saying evasively that she has something to do at home.
Before she leaves, Eun-hee tells Jung-hee that she wants a small wedding at home. He says he’ll go along with whatever she wants, but when she hugs him happily, Jung-hee looks terrified.
Che-ri decides that her mother needs a tiny push in the romance department, so she invites Sam-kyu over for a heart-to-heart. While she waits, she thinks about Jung-hee hugging his children and apologizing to them, and she wonders if that’s what having a dad is like.
When Sam-kyu arrives, Che-ri asks him bluntly if he truly likes her mom, or if he’s not really serious. She says that Won-jae definitely likes him, and that she thinks he likes her mom the same way. Sam-kyu confirms that he does, so Che-ri asks him to take the lead, since Won-jae is bad at dating.
She has some words of advice for him such as being financially responsible and becoming more well-read, but her main concern is that he settles things with Hye-ran for good. Sam-kyu looks nervous, but when Che-ri adds shyly that she’d like for him to become her dad, he’s utterly charmed.
Bong-gu and Jae-bok stay at the office late working on a case. Bong-gu gathers his courage and asks Jae-bok if she’ll do something for him if they win. Distracted, she agrees without even knowing what he wants.
She calls Jin-wook to check on things and learns that the kids went to Jung-hee’s office today, surprised to hear that he sent them away. Jung-hee stops by later to ask Jae-bok to keep the children away from him, but no matter what he does, Jae-bok refuses to believe that this isn’t an act he’s putting on to protect them.
She tells Jung-hee that Eun-hee may be laying low right now, but sooner or later she’ll figure out that Jung-hee is faking it, if she hasn’t already. She offers to help him get free of that house if he’ll help her find evidence that Eun-hee met with Na-mi on the day Na-mi died.
Jung-hee arrives home to find Eun-hee seeing his mother off on a European tour. He was supposed to take her to the airport, but he claims to have forgotten and had a few drinks, so Eun-hee is forced to make the drive. His mother complains to Eun-hee about her messy freezer as they leave and, thinking about Jae-bok’s request to look for evidence, Jung-hee heads to the kitchen.
He paws through the freezer, and way in the back he finds a package containing a pair of heels and a phone. He charges the phone, and when he sees that it was Na-mi’s, he bursts into frightened tears, faced with proof that Eun-hee was with Na-mi when she died.
Jae-bok and Won-jae talk that night about Che-ri asking Sam-kyu to be her dad, and Won-jae sighs that she doesn’t know where Che-ri gets it. Hye-ran saunters in and says she gets it from her mom, who was a big matchmaker back in school.
Won-jae tries to insist that she doesn’t like Sam-kyu, but when Hye-ran gets a call from the hot trainer at work asking her out, it becomes clear that she’s moved on. Jae-bok tells Won-jae to stop being stubborn and just date Sam-kyu, since it’s obvious that they like each other.
Neither of them hears the second half of Hye-ran’s phone conversation, where she thanks the hot trainer for calling at exactly the right time and telling him to forget everything she said about a date. Awww, it was all just an act. She’s such a good friend.
Eun-hee comes home from the airport suspicious and goes straight to the freezer. She finds the shoes and phone still there and breathes a sigh of relief.
Happy again, she shows Jung-hee the tuxedo she bought for him for their home wedding. He’s barely holding it together, but he manages to ask when she wants to have the wedding, surprised when she suggests this coming Saturday.
The next day, Bong-gu and Jae-bok are elated after winning their case. Bong-gu reminds Jae-bok (in his adorable trying-to-be-casual-and-failing way) about her promise, which she barely remembers. She asks what he wants and he rattles off, “Let’s date officially,” like it’s no big thing, but then he turns the most hopeful puppy eyes ever on her as he waits for her answer.
When it looks like she’s going to turn him down, he stops her and says that the only answer he’ll hear is “yes.” He says that he’ll give her some time to think of a cool way to accept, then he literally runs out the door. PFFT.
Bong-gu goes to talk to Jung-hee about dating Jae-bok, which is so cute I can’t stand it. He asks for Jung-hee’s help putting Eun-hee in the hospital for good, afraid that Jae-bok won’t have the time or energy for romance until everything is settled.
Jung-hee asks if Bong-gu is thinking about marriage, to which Bong-gu seriously admits, “Probably.” Jung-hee says that it would mean becoming Jin-wook and Hae-wook’s new dad, adding that he thinks Bong-gu would be good at it. Awww.
After their talk, Jung-hee takes his kids out for lunch. He apologizes again for being angry at them before, but little Hae-wook pipes up that she understands he’s just busy. Jung-hee asks them to obey their mother and for Jin-wook to be a responsible son, then takes a long, sad look at his children.
Jung-hee had told Bong-gu all about the kids, their likes and dislikes, and how to get close to them. Bong-gu had told him not to worry, to just get clear of Eun-hee and meet a healthy woman of his own. But he can’t shake the feeling that Jung-hee was acting very strange.
Jae-bok goes for a walk, mind whirling from Bong-gu’s request to date him, and she grumbles about his terrible timing. But then she thinks of all the times he’s been there for her, providing whatever she needs, and she can’t help but smile. She looks up and there he is, standing right in front of her.
He quips that she looks like she’s in agony, asking if his question was too difficult before offering to give her the correct answer. She starts to talk but he interrupts her again, this time with a hug. He says that this is the best answer, and tells her to stand still if it’s a “yes.”
The longer she stands there, the bigger Bong-gu’s smile grows, as he chants, “Yes… yes… yes…” in her ear. Jae-bok pulls back, but only to look up into his face and smile before going back in with a hug of her own. YES!!
The following Saturday, Jae-bok prepares for her first official date with Bong-gu. Won-jae and Sam-kyu try to pretend that their “outing with the kids” isn’t a date at all, while Hye-ran and Jae-bok roll their eyes at each other, heh. Hye-ran brings Jae-bok a package containing a pretty flowered skirt from Bong-gu.
Eun-hee finally visits her mother in prison to tell her that she and Jung-hee are getting married today. She asks if Hyung-sun has something to say to her, and Hyung-sun ashamedly looks away. When she looks back, she sees the teenage Eun-kyung in front of her, and she starts to cry.
Hyung-sun apologizes for abusing her and Brian all those years ago, sobbing that she wanted to be a good mother but she didn’t know how. Eun-hee’s expression never wavers, though a lone tear does fall before she walks out for good.
Bong-gu calls Jae-bok when she’s late for their first date, grouching at her when she says she has to run by the office. He hangs up to take another call, and Jae-bok finds another package outside the office door, this time addressed to Bong-gu. She leaves it on his desk, but gets curious when she sees the SJ Construction logo on the wrapping.
She opens the package to find the shoes and phone that Jung-hee found in Eun-hee’s freezer. She calls Bong-gu but his line is still busy, then she takes a call from Jung-hee. He speaks in a monotone as he stares at his reflection, all spiffed up in his wedding tuxedo.
He ignores Jae-bok’s questions about the package, instead saying that she was his first, only, and last love. He wishes for her to be happy and hangs up, then goes downstairs to where his bride is waiting.
Jung-hee and Eun-hee sit at the table in their wedding finery, and Eun-hee sweetly asks about her shoes and Na-mi’s phone. Uh-oh. Jung-hee tells her that he sent them to Bong-gu, and Eun-hee says it’s good that her mother can clear her name now.
But her face goes blank as she repeats Jung-hee’s note from his diary about stopping her psychotic behavior. As it turns out, she did find the diary when she was in his office and had read the whole thing with growing fury.
Eun-hee quietly accuses Jung-hee of using her, and he tries one last time to convince her to go to the hospital for treatment. In response, Eun-hee throws her wine glass across the room angrily.
She pours herself a new glass of wine and says it’s time to start the wedding, indicating that he should drink, too. Eyeing his wine glass suspiciously, Jung-hee asks if the nightmares will end once he drinks it. Eun-hee softly and ominously tells him, “No. Then our complete love will begin.”
Thinking that the only way he can end this ordeal is to die, knowing that Eun-hee would follow him soon after, Jung-hee takes a drink. As he waits for whatever she put into the wine to take effect, he tells Eun-hee that she’s a sad woman.
Smiling beatifically, she says that on the contrary, “I’m a happy woman. I can finally be with you forever.” Jung-hee’s eyes roll back and he falls forward onto the table, unconscious.
Worried about Jung-hee, Jae-bok heads to Eun-hee’s house, calling Bong-gu on the way to tell him about the package, and Eun-hee’s visit to her mother. He says he’s going there too — he’s been having Eun-hee followed, and he just learned that she bought a wedding dress. With all of the information pooled together, they decide that something strange is going on.
Bong-gu arrives at Eun-hee’s house first and waits for Jae-bok on the stoop, but he’s knocked out cold by Eun-hee’s spy before he can even move. Jae-bok goes on alert when she finds Bong-gu’s car in front of Eun-hee’s house, but no Bong-gu.
She lets herself in through the half-open gate and goes into the house, then finds herself confronted by the cheerful Eun-hee in her wedding dress. She happily invites Jae-bok to the wedding, but Jae-bok ignores her and says that they have evidence proving she was there when Na-mi died.
She asks where Jung-hee is and starts to head upstairs, but she stops when Eun-hee calls out to her. Her pause allows Eun-hee’s spy to sneak up behind Jae-bok and knock her out with chloroform.
Jung-hee wakes in Eun-hee’s basement, which is decorated to look like a sick, twisted wedding hall. He’s seated in the throne, bound hand and foot, and Eun-hee is there lighting candles, ready to start the wedding.
She’s descended so deeply into her delusion that she doesn’t seem to register Jung-hee call her insane. She tells him that they have a surprise guest, and she pulls a curtain aside to reveal Jae-bok, also tied to a chair and just waking up.
Eun-hee takes her bouquet and begins reciting her wedding vows, politely asking Jae-bok to be quiet when she demands to be released. She tells Jung-hee to say his vows, but he just gasps that she really is a psycho.
Again she doesn’t seem to hear, she just pleasantly offers to say his vows for him. Jung-hee stops her at the part about loving her, denying that he feels any such emotion. He yells that he’s disgusted by her, but she only smiles and finishes the vows.
She sighs that their guest is too noisy and offers Jae-bok the drugged wine. Seeing Jae-bok threatened, Jung-hee changes his tune, promising to do anything Eun-hee asks if she’ll stop. Eun-hee mocks his concern for Jae-bok, then grabs her head to force-feed her the wine.
Jae-bok manages to knock Eun-hee to the ground, where Eun-hee starts to laugh maniacally. She picks up a candelabra with several lit candles and calmly and methodically begins setting all of her “K&H” banners on fire. Smoke fills the room as Eun-hee says sweetly that they’ll all die together.
When Eun-hee flits close to Jae-bok’s chair, Jae-bok lashes out with a mighty kick, which knocks them both over. The fall knocks Eun-hee unconscious when she hits the wall, and also loosens the ropes tying Jae-bok to her chair, so she quickly frees herself. She runs to Jung-hee and starts trying to untie him.
Upstairs, the rising smoke wakes Bong-gu, and he finds himself in a corner with his hands tied. He kicks over a vase and uses the broken edges to free himself, then follows the smoke to its origin at the basement door and uses the piano bench to smash the lock.
He finds Jae-bok just as she frees Jung-hee, so she hands him over for Bong-gu to lead outside. She goes back for Eun-hee, who is still lying on the floor, and she wrestles her to a sitting position. When Eun-hee sees Jae-bok in front of her, she gets this evil grin on her face, and clamps her hands down on Jae-bok’s arms.
As Jae-bok struggles to free herself from Eun-hee’s homicidal grip, Bong-gu comes back into the room and sees flames eating away at a beam directly over the women’s heads. He runs to Jae-bok and wrenches her out of Eun-hee’s hands just as the beam falls, right where Jae-bok was standing half a second ago.
He drags Jae-bok from the room as she fights and screams Eun-hee’s name. But Eun-hee doesn’t seem to care that the house is burning down all around her, she just stares at the flaming “K&H” banners and smiles happily. As the room fills with fire and smoke, Eun-hee laughs.
Bong-gu gets Jae-bok out of the house safely, carrying her the last short distance to where Jung-hee is recovering. The three of them sit on the lawn and watch Eun-hee’s grand house burn.
One year later.
Bong-gu drives to an adorable little house in the countryside to find all of their friends on the lawn having a party. He presents Jae-bok with a massive bouquet of flowers and joins everyone in a toast to Jae-bok’s new house.
As they settle in to eat (Che-ri makes her mom blush whenever she calls Sam-kyu “Dad,” hee), Jin-wook gets a call from Jung-hee. He apologizes for not being there since he has a show today, and she wishes him luck.
As Jung-hee sings for his small audience and the housewarming party goes into full swing, Jae-bok narrates that she and Jung-hee survived the fire, but Eun-hee died. She says that nobody talks about those days anymore, but they left deep wounds behind. To heal those wounds, they all try to live and love each other harder now.
I had a feeling it would end this way. With Eun-hee refusing to either get real treatment or let go of her obsession, there was really only one way to stop her. But in a strange way, I’m glad that the show didn’t end with Eun-hee in prison, or rocking in the corner in an insane asylum. Jae-bok’s nightmares began when Eun-hee was supposedly safely locked away, because instinctively she knew that Eun-hee was never going to stop, and that it was only a matter of time before she got out and came after Jung-hee and his family again. So it was fitting and right to see Eun-hee literally consumed by the flames of her madness. It was the only way Jae-bok would ever have real peace.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed, and not discussed much, is how many different kinds of love were depicted in Perfect Wife. There was the obvious, such as the fading love between an estranged husband and wife, the eternal love between a parent and child, and the rock-solid loyal love between friends. But the show also explored some more unusual types of love, like romantic love that grows slowly from friendship (Bong-gu and Jae-bok), brand-new puppy love (Jin-wook and Che-ri), and even the love that Jae-bok felt for Eun-hee as nothing more than a fellow human being. Even in her terror over Eun-hee’s mental illness and fear of what she might do, Jae-bok never stopped trying to help her — first by appealing to Eun-hee herself, then by going to her family members for support, and at last by risking her own life to try and save Eun-hee from the burning basement. One of my favorite things about Jae-bok was her deep and endless capacity for all kinds of love, and the way that she never stopped loving someone once they found their way into her heart.
But the most obvious and frightening type of love that the show spotlighted was the love that turns evil and twisted in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to love in a healthy way. Eun-hee’s love for Jung-hee was such a sick thing, more of an obsession than real love, because it cared nothing for Jung-hee himself. Unlike Jae-bok, who was always willing to sacrifice herself for those she loved, Eun-hee saw Jung-hee as an object to be possessed, regardless of his own feelings. She was willing to do whatever she had to do, and hurt anyone she had to hurt, to have him. A healthy person would have learned from their traumatic childhood and grown up to be better, but Eun-hee was only capable of seeing love as something she was owed by the world, to be taken by force if not freely given, because she was denied it as a child. I don’t doubt that a lot of Eun-hee’s dysfunction came from the way her mother treated her and Brian as children, but I appreciate that the show made a point to say that that’s no excuse for her behavior.
On a happier note, I’m so excited that Bong-gu and Jae-bok got their happy ending. No two people were ever more perfectly suited for each other. And as much as I’ve loved the fact that Jae-bok always did her own rescuing, thank-you-very-much, I also thought it was very fitting that Bong-gu got to rescue her in the end. A big reason her marriage collapsed was because Jae-bok was so capable, she never let Jung-hee be responsible for anything (not that I blame her). But the threat of Eun-hee had been wearing on her for a while, causing her nightmares and fatigue from the sheer weight of the stress. That’s when Bong-gu finally got to come in and support her by allowing her to rest and count on him. And just being able to close her eyes and let Bong-gu be in charge for a while must have been a major relief for Jae-bok. Theirs will be a much more balanced, healthy relationship, which is a good thing, and Bong-gu literally saving Jae-bok from Eun-hee’s clutches is just another point in his favor — that when things get down to the wire, Jae-bok can count on Bong-gu to be there, providing whatever she needs (even if that’s just a cheerleader while she gets on with doing her own saving).
Perfect Wife is one of those shows that I wasn’t initially very excited about, since I didn’t know much about it and had no idea what to expect. But now I think that going into the show blind is a big reason I’ve enjoyed it so much, because I had no expectations or preconceived notions about what it would be. It wasn’t perfect, but as dramas go, I think I’ll remember this as one of the most entertaining, because you just never knew what was going to happen next. Every episode brought with it a fun discovery or exciting surprise, making this show a wonderful experience for me from start to finish.
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- News bites: January 14, 2017
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