[Alternate Endings] A proper sendoff and a new beginning for Lookout
by Guest Beanie
We had two submissions for Lookout, so here’s your chance to choose your own adventure for how it should’ve ended! –girlfriday
Hello, Lookout, you beautiful, tragic thing you.
First of all, some context about what this show did to me: I’ve only ever cried once while watching a K-drama. Once. I know, I’m heartless. When I finished watching Lookout I wrote 5,473 words on it over two days, I cried 3 times while writing that, and this submission involved three word documents and several handwritten notes. To say I got emotionally attached would be an understatement; I have a very large hole somewhere in my heart for this show and its characters, and the ending that could have been.
There are the obvious things I would change: Like having your main character, a very broken but brilliant man, have a plan B, C, and probably D, as well as a plan for after the trial of the crazy person who tortured his father almost to death that doesn’t just involve reopening the case, but a course of action that sees that case followed through to its completion, and nobody turns themselves in till everything is solved and our teenage psychopath is in juvie.
Or like having a seasoned detective of 20 years decide to believe the psychopathic little @#$% in the interrogation room and kidnap your fugitive best friend and take her to an abandoned construction site and hold her at gunpoint, that you do it only because you’re bluffing and you’re trying to catch the bastard. Or, I don’t know, having the daughter of a detective who is locked in a rooftop maintenance room with a fake bomb realize that if you throw a fire extinguisher at a window, it breaks, and allows you to escape. *coughs* Who me? Salty? Nooo…
And then… there’s Do-han. And I think he deserves a different ending entirely, because of who he is as a character and how he’s written.
Do-han was not a character you were supposed to like, at the beginning. He was supposed to be a dick. I knew he was not always nice, but I just got drawn into how many masks he had and how many sides he was playing and how he was still a man who could feel empathy and guilt, but after everything he’d been through, he’d kind of drowned himself, given everything of himself to see someone brought to justice. I just loved everything about him. I loved that he basically drove himself mad over the ten plus years he’d been planning his revenge. I loved that he was smart, and cunning, and sometimes mean. I loved that he was so frakking broken. I hated that he was so broken.
And yeah, when you look at it, him dying seems like a cop out, but there was no way they could write his arc any other way in 16 episodes, and also there were a million hints that he wasn’t going to have a happy ending. Do I wish I could’ve seen his redemption onscreen, yes, but he’s a tragic anti-hero. “You crush someone’s life so that you can achieve your goal, and you don’t even realize that it’s wrong,” Su-ji said to him once. He did; he’d just squashed it almost entirely so he could do what he thought he had to do.
I loved that the drama explored what can drive a person to do that. This wasn’t about winning through turning the other cheek; this was about how a man had been so destroyed, he let himself get to the point of no return, and then someone came into his life and they both started to think differently. He started to care for her and the team, when he probably hadn’t cared for anyone in a long time, maybe even forgotten how, and yet he’d hurt her too much to ever hope for anything more.
I saw a few comments on the chemistry between Do-han and Su-ji and how it wasn’t exactly romantic, but something more—a love between humans. Yes. Whoever said that, you hit the nail on the head. I think they learned to love one another in this way, because they were human and they understood each other, and for no other reason. I do think this could’ve been explored more, and better. At the end, I think we were robbed of some powerful Su-ji/Do-han moments. There was so much more we could’ve tapped into with those two, and an ultimate confrontation about forgiveness was not given either. True forgiveness is grace and grace is given, never earned.
On the one hand, I can see the redemption story of how they get out of prison, and how they climb out of the abyss together and it’s beautiful. But on the other hand, I see Do-han’s tragedy and how his self-loathing was too deep, and that the only way out was death, and that the way his arc was written, there was no happy ending. There was no way out because he was too far in, and that’s why I love it, and that’s why it’s sad because he’s such a damn tragic character.
So therefore, I would’ve written Do-han’s forgiveness into the show. I think that’s what his character needed to be truly rounded off, and for me to be satisfied. Death was inevitable, but what would’ve been REALLY beautiful, really powerful, what would’ve made this all so much better (because after everything he still didn’t forgive himself or think he would ever get Su-ji’s forgiveness), I would have him save her because he ultimately does care for her, and then at the end, have her forgive him when he’s not expecting it nor deserving of it.
She runs down the stairs and holds him in her arms, with ragged breaths and sobs, just like that, to see him there dying for her… And then at the hospital late at night, after the doctors have given up hope and he opens his eyes and says, “I’m sorry,” she holds his hand and realizes that despite everything he’s done against her, he’s still human and he’s as broken as her. She sees that he needs her forgiveness and that it can be given, because that’s mutual love and respect and thankfulness between two humans, and she says, “I forgive you.” He cries, and she wipes away the tear as he flatlines and then he can rest in peace.
His dying would’ve bought everything into focus for her. She would’ve realized that she cares for him and loves him in their crazy twisted way, and then later we could’ve had the church scene where she remembers him as a person she loves.
That’s what I was hoping for and expecting as an ending, but I didn’t get it. That’s what was there in the characters anyway—somewhere where the characters exist beyond canon, that’s what I saw in them. I just needed her to forgive him, not because he’d earned it, but because she wanted to give it. I needed her to say it to him and for him to hear it. And I think if she’d done that, he would’ve been able to forgive himself too.
To end this on a happy note, in an alternate universe somewhere, Su-ji and Do-han are the most badass prosecutor/detective duo ever (with some low-key skinship scenes to make the most of their chemistry) and Bomi and Kyung-soo get married and have five super nerdy kids and they turn a three-story bathhouse into a vigilante den. One floor is entirely for the computers.
I wrote this in Eun-joong’s point of view because I’m a disgusting, self-indulgent prick.
When we got news that Do-han—no, Kwan-woo now—had woken from his coma, we were elated. Su-ji had been muttering over how she couldn’t forgive herself if he had died for her (that’s not how it works, Yoo-na would hate him if he went to heaven just for that one good deed). Kyung-soo and Bomi both agreed that it would be too soon for him to push daisies, and Priest Jang simply gave a slight, enigmatic smile before informing us not to alert anyone else of this.
Understandable, really—knowing the press, it would once again blow up over their father’s case, and with how volatile their father could get, they were afraid the negative attention would upset him. “Just pretend he’s dead,” he had implored us, “For both my sake, as well as his. He wanted to, anyway.” From my seat beside him, I swore he had rolled his eyes at the final statement and inwardly agreed… knowing how overdramatic he was before, anyway.
Of course, with every miracle, there was a little drawback, as we soon learned at the hospital. Kwan-woo had broken his neck at the 5th vertebrae, but he wasn’t completely paralyzed—with enough physiotherapy to wake his muscles up from the coma, he would soon be able to regain use of his arms and eventually (hopefully) walk again. While Kyung-soo and Bomi went inside the ward with Priest Jang, I watched Su-ji linger outside, hesitant to go in. “You want me to come with?” I offered, but she merely smiled and jammed her hands into her pockets, and looked back at me with a relaxed grin that I belatedly realized I hadn’t seen for years.
“I feel relieved it happened,” she responded, her eyes drifting to the glass panel where we could both see Bomi trying to smother Kwan-woo with her favorite giant bunny plush, “He has a lot to make up to me and Yoo-na. Might as well start now. Death’s too cheap for a guy like him.” At the last line, though, Su-ji tittered in laughter, but her eyes brimmed with tears—and I knew why. I knew her too well, and it was obvious what weighed on her mind. Our feelings remained knotted and conflicted over Kwan-woo, but as long as he was around, I figured Su-ji could at least work with him past her grief.
The next few months passed like a whirlwind, everyone trying to help Kwan-woo get comfortable in their ways. Bomi brought plushies and continued to drown him in them while grumbling (he hated it), linking him to a bird’s-eye view of Seoul on her closed-circuit surveillance system and showing him all the bars he had missed while he was asleep. Kyung-soo played League while sitting on Kwan-woo’s bed, letting him control one side of the keyboard with his working fingers so that he could get engaged as well. Priest Jang caught Kwan-woo up on their father’s current status, as well as general current affairs, often engaging in small-talk with his stepbrother.
I, in the meantime, gave him intel on various prosecutors and he continued to make fun of my fashion sense—it still annoyed me to no end that his first words post waking up were, “That suit and that gel part again? Hyung, you’re way too predictable,” while he wheezed in laughter. Su-ji’s visits, though, were short, often peppered in awkward silence as they exchanged the barest of pleasantries before eventually going quiet once more, having little to say that wouldn’t end up hurting the other. Su-ji had often been one to keep her negativity to herself, and it didn’t seem like Kwan-woo was going to make the first step to reconcile either.
I confided in Kwan-woo about this as I pushed him through the garden, and he gave an incredulous laugh before fixing his gaze at me. “You’re so naggy and sappy,” he complained, before his tone changed to a whisper of seriousness, “I know you like her, and I sympathize, but I… well, I basically killed her daughter. You’re not expecting me to make the first move.” His eyes drifted to the side of his chair, staring staunchly at the flowers in silent self-reproach, and I immediately regretted pushing my personal feelings about this situation onto him like this.
We sat in silence for the longest time, before my phone went off with news of the case I had been chasing down—the son of a judge who had gone undetected after he had murdered a man by accident and pushed the crime onto a bystander. Kwan-woo listened to my conversation with interest, before chuckling softly to himself. “Hyung, hyung, hyung,” he tutted condescendingly, “Why don’t you seem to learn? It’s easy to pull the rug out from under this guy. We just need the right method, if you know what I mean.”
Tilting his head to the side slightly, his face cracked into the unhinged grin I had grown to miss, the same grin he had when he was due to rain hell on those he had devoted himself to bringing down. I had long forgotten how much I missed that grin. We exchanged knowing smirks before I tossed him my Bluetooth so that he could listen in on the call and give his thoughts on how to bring down this felon.
The real games were only about to begin.
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