Chicago Typewriter: Episode 15
I’m going to be honest: there aren’t enough words in the English lexicon to adequately describe how I feel right now. My heart is still caught in my throat, my eyes are swollen from all the tears I spilled, and my fingers are still shaking from this emotional rollercoaster that fired poignant bullets every damn minute. Let me warn you that this penultimate episode is not for the faint of heart, and even the steeliest of hearts is bound to be broken down by the hour’s end. Good luck, my friends.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Soon after Hwi-young and his comrades start firing into the crowd at the garden party, Young-min and his men arrive to return fire. Meanwhile, Soo-hyun slips away in her usual boyish disguise, but gets caught on her way to the rendezvous point by Young-min. Uh oh.
So instead of meeting her fellow independence fighters, she’s interrogated by Young-min, who is pleasantly surprised to have nabbed the organization’s sniper. She sticks to her story that she was paid off to carry that case on her person and had no idea there was a gun inside. But Young-min sees right through the rehearsed lie, explaining that he had her movements tracked the minute she arrived at the party.
He demands to know who the organization’s leader is, only for Soo-hyun to fire back that he chose the wrong person to question. But Young-min already has a working theory: either Hwi-young or Yul is the leader. What he knows for certain is that both men are in love with her and will come to her rescue.
Elsewhere, an injured Yul offers to stay behind and save Soo-hyun, only for Hwi-young to raise the point that the men they lost tonight were also their comrades. Every one of them made a choice when they decided to fight for their homeland, which includes fighting for their own lives, he adds.
He declares that they’ll stick to the plan to head to Gyeongseong Station and travel by train to Manchuria, but that’s when another comrade arrives with news that the train station and every checkpoint is crawling with police officers.
That comrade has no idea who their mole was, but Soo-hyun gasps when she finds out who it was. Young-min grabs Madam Sophia’s face to confirm if Soo-hyun is the independence fighters’ sniper. She nods.
After ordering the men to stay low and scatter, Hwi-young tells his worried friend that they must attend to his wounds. Since Carpe Diem is no longer safe, Hwi-young and Yul hide in a safehouse and learn that Soo-hyun has been caught and that Madam Sophia rat them out.
When Yul is prepared to go and save Soo-hyun, Hwi-young reminds him that his fresh wound will only expose himself and instructs him to put his gun down. However, Yul won’t be swayed: “If you don’t go, I’ll go alone.”
Hwi-young orders him to stay put, reminding him of their fallen comrades who participated in the bombings and committed suicide to avoid arrest. He reiterates the idea that people must choose what and where they sacrifice their lives for; Soo-hyun is no exception.
The ultimate aim of this operation was to escape Gyeongseong with the funds they swiped to prepare for their next battle. As survivors, they have an obligation to fulfill that mission, and the way to respect the comrades they lost.
Soo-hyun sends Madam Sophia a death glare when the latter arrives with food. She knocks the food away and asks how the madam can bring herself to eat after selling out her comrades. Madam Sophia warns her that these men will continue to torture her until she’s begging them to kill her—she may as well give up and let Hwi-young take care of the rest.
Soo-hyun asks how long she’s been working for their enemies and why she betrayed them. “You were like a mother to me!” she cries. Madam Sophia says she has a son she sent away soon after birth because she didn’t wish for him to be known as a gisaeng’s son, and now that boy is dying in jail, charged for murdering a Japanese officer.
She’s willing to do anything for her son because at the end of the day, he comes before any comrade or country: “Why should I save [a country] that has done nothing for me?!” Soo-hyun screams, “Then you shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place!”
Madam Sophia is called out, and Soo-hyun hollers that she won’t ever forgive her in this life nor in the hereafter.
Later that night, Hwi-young slips out for some air. Looking at his photo of Soo-hyun, he remembers her younger days when she was scarfing down food because she wanted the strength to earn her keep here.
He was impressed and teased that her unladylike behavior will prevent her from getting married. Young Soo-hyun happily proclaimed that she’ll marry her half-masked rescuer once she finds out who he was because she fell in love with him at first sight.
He brought up that story with her years later, when she was still shoveling food in her mouth. Hah. He rolled his eyes at her confidence of marrying someone who doesn’t even have a say in the matter.
He softly chuckled at the idea that she could be that attractive, then asks how she can stick to her plan: “How many husbands would you have if you married every man who saved you?”
Soo-hyun assured him that there was no need to worry because she would protect herself. Go you.
Hwi-young’s smile fades into tears as he remembers the kiss they shared, and the time he ran into her after she changed into her stage singer disguise. She stopped him to tell him about her masked rescuer who stubbornly never gave his name nor revealed his face to her.
She still remembered his advice to stay strong and not live in suffering, words she had since lived by. And even if she couldn’t marry him, she did want to thank him one day. “Are you sure you weren’t the masked man who saved me?” she asked.
Even though Hwi-young denied it, Soo-hyun admitted that she felt like he was lying to her and that saddened her. Hwi-young sheds tears as he remembers the time Soo-hyun asked him to promise her to do everything he couldn’t do for her in this life in the next.
Soo-hyun thinks of this same exchange and Hwi-young’s order for her to return alive. She silently promises to fulfill that vow.
Yul finds Hwi-young crying outside and jokes that the painkillers nearly knocked him out for good. Smiling, Hwi-young says he was afraid his friend would march out of there if he didn’t—plus, his friend’s life is too precious for such recklessness.
Yul chuckles at that and says he thinks their time together has come to an end—he’ll stay in Gyeongseong while Hwi-young leads their comrades into Manchuria. Hwi-young is against the idea, but Yul assures his friend that he’ll be safe enough here: “I’ll survive no matter what.”
He promises to let Hwi-young have Soo-hyun in the next life if his friend allows him to protect her in this life.
Later, Yul meets with Young-min and cuts right to the chase, asking where Soo-hyun is. He warns Young-min that his family knows important Japanese officials in the government, but Young-min doesn’t take the bait; money won’t be enough to release Soo-hyun.
Then Yul asks how he feels about exchanging Soo-hyun for the leader of the youth freedom fighters. Once Hwi-young learns that Yul has turned himself in, claiming to be the leader, he’s told that they must use this time to their advantage and that Yul’s family will surely save their son.
In the interrogation room, Yul firmly states that he doesn’t know the names of every member in his organization which was built on secrecy. Still, Young-min believes that Yul should at least know the key operatives in the organization, but Yul claims those comrades already lost their lives.
At that moment, Soo-hyun is brought inside, and Yul gasps at her battered state. Young-min orders her to identify Yul, and she replies, “The owner of Carpe Diem.” Young-min: “Is he your leader?” Soo-hyun: “I told you I don’t know who that is!”
Young-min slaps her, screaming how she got her orders then. As she’s taken away, she pleads with her eyes, telling Yul not to utter Hwi-young’s name. “You’ll do that, won’t you? You’ll hold out, right? Answer me, hyung-nim.”
Yul screams Soo-hyun’s name and despite his claims to be the organization’s leader, Young-min knows that isn’t true because the leader has never made the slightest misstep, but Yul checked his watch moments before the bombs went off.
Furthermore, Yul revealed his weakness by letting his emotions peek through and he was foolish enough to try and save a woman he loved by turning himself in. Young-min admits he was also a fool for taking the bait of an easy arrest, but then realized Yul’s decision to expose himself was uncharacteristic for the organization’s leader.
“So tell me, who is your leader?” Young-min bellows. Yul softly asserts, “I told you… it’s me.” As the son of an influential family, Young-min won’t dare to lay a finger on him, but warns that he’ll have his men continue to torture Soo-hyun if Yul doesn’t fess up.
The next day, Hwi-young meets with an employee who works for Yul’s family. He learns that Yul’s stubborn claims prevent Yul’s family from being able to pull him out of custody, Carpe Diem has been exposed as the freedom fighter’s hideout, the club madam has gone missing, and most importantly, Soo-hyun is believed to be the group’s sniper.
He keeps his emotions in check while he hears that Soo-hyun is withstanding torture. Back in the interrogation room, Young-min’s patience wears thin at Yul’s continued silence. He has Soo-hyun brought back in, looking worse for wear.
Next thing we know, Yul fills in the names of the deceased in the youth independence group’s organizational chart. He hovers over the box marked “Leader” but leaves it blank, and now Young-min has had enough.
Soo-hyun is brought in again, and Yul shakes upon seeing her bloody and bruised face. He and Young-min are left alone again some hours later, and Young-min decides that he’ll keep Soo-hyun here in this room.
She’s brought inside, blood dripping down her face, and a gun pointed at her head. Yul falls out of his chair while Soo-hyun silently begs him not to fill in that box. Neither of them speak when Young-min demands them to utter their leader’s name, so Young-min finally gets his hands dirty and takes the gun and points it at her head.
As Young-min wraps his finger around the trigger, Yul blurts out, “Seo Hwi-young!” Tears spill from Soo-hyun’s eyes as Yul repeats Hwi-young’s name and sobs.
Hwi-young is busy making plans for his comrades to flee Gyeongseong safely while he remains here, promising to meet them in Manchuria at a later time. When asked if he plans on trying to rescue Yul and Soo-hyun, he tells his comrade to lead their men to safety in his stead.
Despite that comrade’s willingness to have the entire group stay to help, Hwi-young says this is something he must do himself—he cannot risk any more lives. “Why do you try to bear all the burden alone?” the comrade asks. ‘S what I’m sayin’.
But Hwi-young’s mind is made up; he explains that he isn’t going to try and rescue Yul and Soo-hyun as a fellow comrade, but as an ordinary friend to Yul and a man to Soo-hyun for at least one day. The comrade agreed to let Hwi-young fulfill that promise to himself, but made him vow to return alive with Yul and Soo-hyun in tow.
Hwi-young runs down the mountain when he suddenly hear shots fired behind him. It turns out Young-min has raided the safehouse, and he orders his men to scour the mountain in search of Hwi-young.
But the group soon finds themselves under attack as Hwi-young fires at the captors with a “Chicago Typewriter” (a Thompson submachine gun). He then orders his men to stick to the plan, and his righthand man barely takes two steps before being shot in the back.
It’s Young-min and his men, and Hwi-young provides cover fire for his comrades until he’s out of bullets. Young-min is hit in the arm but hollers at his men to pursue, and Hwi-young runs until he reaches the edge of a cliff.
He stands there waiting until Young-min and the other policemen arrive, then shoots down his targets with his pistol. The officers hit him in the shoulder and leg before Young-min pushes his way through, grumbling that he needs Hwi-young alive.
We cut back to the present as Tae-min watches Se-joo fall backward from the rooftop. Down below, Jin-oh leaps into action. There’s a flash and Se-joo is suspended in mid-air before falling down to the ground again… and Jin-oh rolls out of Se-joo’s body. Omo, he actually pulled off human body possession!
Shocked, Tae-min staggers backward and flees while Jin-oh checks Se-joo for a pulse. Then Se-joo ekes out, “I’m not dead.”
He helps Se-joo sit up and explains that today was the first day he’s successfully pulled off human body possession. Se-joo notices him flickering in and out of existence, and Jin-oh marks that as a temporary side effect of overusing his phantom powers.
Suddenly, Se-joo remembers that Seol is still being held hostage. He agrees to go save Seol while Jin-oh goes after Tae-min and finds him shaking in his car.
Jin-oh tells him to get out of the car because it’s time that he pay for his crimes. Tae-min straps himself in instead and slams his foot on the accelerator, driving the car into Jin-oh, who disintegrates.
Se-joo gets an update on Sang-mi from his secretary by the time he reaches his car. He informs her that Seol has been kidnapped, so she relays the message that ensuring Seol’s safety is more important than arresting Sang-mi.
Sang-mi runs when she sees the police outside her apartment. Seol screams when she hears the cops banging outside the door, and they quickly burst inside to rescue her. She’s filled in on how Sang-mi is Se-joo’s stalker-fan’s younger sister and that her kidnapping was likely her way of exacting revenge.
Se-joo arrives at the scene, demanding to know if Seol is safe. Seeing her being led outside, he rushes to collect her in his arms. He’s so relieved to see that she’s alive and safe that he doesn’t notice the blood dripping down his head. He breathes, “What a relief that I wasn’t late this time” before he collapses.
He’s wheeled into the hospital, where he thinks to himself, “Soo-hyun… Yul… I remembered. I remembered how we parted.”
We cut back to the past as Young-min confronts Hwi-young at the cliff’s edge. Hwi-young raises his gun to his temple, saying that he won’t be captured alive.
Hwi-young growls that he’d rather honorably end his life here than to disgrace his cause by falling into the hands of his enemies… and then pulls the trigger.
Back in the interrogation room, Hwi-young shows up looking neat and clean in front of Soo-hyun. Oh god, I don’t know if I can do this. He bends down and caresses her face and softly asks, “It must have been tough… waiting for me, wasn’t it?”
She says no, and he apologizes for allowing her to be left alone and be tortured. But she says she would’ve died long ago if it weren’t for him—thanks to him, she was fortunate to live another ten years.
“Soo-hyun-ah,” he gently calls. “I love you. I’m sorry I was so mean to you. I’m sorry that I also pretended not to know how you felt about me. I won’t do that in my next life. I promise you.”
“Why do you keep talking about the next life?” Soo-hyun asks, tears rolling down her cheeks. “In my next life,” Hwi-young vows, smiling, “I’ll recognize you first. I’ll come back again. No matter what, I’ll come back to meet you. I won’t be late then.” He rises to his feet and turns away as Soo-hyun clutches her chest and howls at him not to leave.
Then we return to the cliff as Hwi-young pulls the trigger and falls to the ground. Blood drips from his temple as he reaches into his pocket to take out the photo of Soo-hyun and ekes out his final words: “I miss you, Soo-hyun-ah.”
Honest confession: I’m an emotional mess right now and currently ugly crying in front of my monitor. Even though I knew that our trio in the 1930s met a tragic end, I still wasn’t prepared for how seeing it firsthand would knock the wind out of my sails. Hwi-young’s last moments were so woefully beautiful that I’m still curled up in a ball, unable to think of the right words to describe them. How can you not love a man who is so noble to a fault that he would stay true to his beliefs and then watch him imprint the image of the woman he loves in his mind before he drew his last breath? God, just thinking about it again leaves me breathless.
As sorrowful as this penultimate episode was, there’s something so emotionally cathartic about getting an hour that hit all the right points. I felt like I was in a dream, watching Soo-hyun, Yul, and Hwi-young fight for themselves and for each other. My mind had a love-hate relationship with how sharp Young-min was in his interrogation methods: he knew that both Hwi-young and Yul loved Soo-hyun and knew that one of them would come to save her. Not only that, he caught onto the fact that the leader of the youth independence fighters was too careful and would never let his emotions compromise the mission. And then he used Yul’s soft heart to wrench the truth out of him.
While the objective, practical side of me wishes I could blame Yul for spilling the beans, the subjective, emotional side of me can’t do it because I could imagine the unbelievable mental torture it would’ve been to see the woman you love being beaten to a pulp. Now that we know he uttered Hwi-young’s name, I can’t help but think that that decision implanted a seed of doubt within Soo-hyun and slowly but surely drove her to shoot Yul later on. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was both angered and pained by the betrayal and learned that that was why Hwi-young and their other comrades were exposed. Who knows if she later found out that Hwi-young was planning on coming to their rescue and that spurred her even more.
Should all of that be true, it would make sense that Yul was tied to the typewriter for decades out of guilt until he could be reunited with his buddy in this life and get a chance at making things right. Could Jin-oh being there to possess his friend’s body and save him from death be enough to undo succumbing to their enemies in the past life? Would it write a new chapter of their lives?
I’m honestly a bit worried about seeing Se-joo getting wheeled into surgery because right at this moment, there’s no guarantee that he’ll come out of it to tell his friends what he remembered. Hwi-young’s dying as a martyr for their cause is where his memory (should) end, so now it’s up to Seol and Jin-oh to finish the tale. I trust that Sang-mi will be caught and Tae-min will suffer a painful death, so my full attention is focused on how this story of the past ends. Never have I been so nervous about reaching the last page of any story, but never has a tale captured my heart like this one. No matter what happens, I know that it can only come to a beautiful end.
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