365: Repeat the Year: Episodes 21-24 (Final)
Big respect to 365: Repeat the Year for delivering a finale with plenty of logical answers, surprising twists, and an ending I think we can all agree fits perfectly with the tone of the show. The few travelers left still have a lot to accomplish as their reset year nears its end, but I don’t think any of them expected things to get so complicated and dangerous. And then, of course, there’s a decision to be made… do they continue their lives, or reset again and try to fix their mistakes a second time?
EPISODE 21-22 RECAP
Ga-hyun runs into Sun-ho outside her house, and she struggles to pretend she doesn’t know he’s the killer. Thankfully, he just asks about her talk with Shin, then heads to his trophy room and sighs heavily, thinking about how suspicious Hyung-jo is of him.
When Hyung-jo gets to Ga-hyun’s house, he’s beside himself with worry for her safety. She says she’s okay, and his eyes fill up with tears as he tells her she was right — Sun-ho is the killer. Hyung-jo collapses to the floor and sobs with grief, and there’s nothing Ga-hyun can do to comfort him.
Ga-hyun returns to Jian Clinic to ask Shin more questions about her time-traveling activities. At first Shin pretends not to understand, but when he says that Hyung-jo told him everything, Shin asks if Hyung-jo mentioned his reason behind resetting.
Sun-ho demands to know what Shin knows of his future. Shin says that nobody escaped their fate, not one of them, so he should at least be safe until they’re all dead. She gives him one hint — a picture of a stranger on a motorcycle, saying cryptically that “it happens every time.”
That night, Sun-ho sets out to confront Hyung-jo. There’s a tracker on the burner phone Sun-ho gave Hyung-jo, but he left it behind in his hideout to misdirect Sun-ho while he turns himself in to the police. Sun-ho returns to the station and sees Hyung-jo, but Hyung-jo walks right past him without acknowledging his presence.
Shin’s assistant, Ji-hyun, shows up at No-seob’s cafe, but before anyone speaks Ga-hyun bursts in and accuses Ji-hyun of taking the crime scene photos. She says that they’re proof that Ji-hyun might be an accomplice, but Ji-hyun just glances guiltily towards No-seob. Hmmm…
No-seob is closing up the cafe later when Sun-ho suddenly leaps on him, demanding to know why Hyung-jo turned himself in. No-seob gasps that he doesn’t know anything, and Sun-ho tightens his grip on No-seob’s throat.
A few minutes later, Ga-hyun texts No-seob asking if Shin has contacted him. She gets a response that his wife has taken a bad turn so he’ll contact her later. It’s actually Sun-ho on No-seob’s phone, still sitting beside the cafe owner’s body.
Ga-hyun goes to see Shin and finally asks the question she should have been asking a year ago… how would the travelers overcoming their fates benefit Shin? Seeming to speak truthfully for the first time. Shin says that she needed something to pass the time, and it was comforting to watch others who also have no hope.
Ga-hyun counters that as someone desperate to save someone, Shin was terribly cruel to the travelers. She says angrily Shin didn’t reset for her daughter, but because she can’t bear to move forward without Young.
Shin goes to Young’s room, and the little girl is still angry with her for breaking her promise to ride a train. Shin says that they’ll ride a train as soon as Young is well, but the little girl pouts and refuses to go to the hospital for treatment tomorrow.
Shin says it would break her heart, so Young hugs her, and Shin says despondently, “I only live for you, Young-ah. I don’t care as long as you can stay here with me. I will live through this. I’ll make sure I live through this time.”
Sa-kyung approaches Ga-hyun to ask if she knows what Hyung-jo is hoping to accomplish by turning himself in. Ga-hyun says that Hyung-jo had to get inside the station in order to get Jae-young’s phone from the evidence room. She says that Jae-young’s ever-present headphones have gone missing, but that they have GPS, so if the killer kept them, the phone’s tracking app should lead them right to him.
Sun-ho hears Ga-hyun through his bugging device, and he hurries to his trophy room. He starts dismantling Jae-young’s headphones, but suddenly the door opens and Hyung-jo walks in.
We back up a bit and see that Hyung-jo found Sun-ho’s bug not long after he planted it. He and Ga-hyun had figured out that Sun-ho was keeping a memento from each murder, and they’d decided to use the bug to trick him into leading them to the evidence.
Even Captain Heo had sent Sa-kyung to talk to Ga-hyun, so that Ga-hyun could mention the GPS tracker in Jae-young’s headphones. She had also given Sa-kyung a USB that Ji-hyun had passed to her, which contained CCTV footage proving that Hyung-jo arrived three minutes after Jae-young recorded Jung-tae’s murder.
So Hyung-jo was set free, and he’d followed Sun-ho to his hideout. Sun-ho correctly guesses that this was all a setup. Hyung-jo punches Sun-ho and they grapple for a moment, then Sun-ho points his gun at Hyung-jo and growls that he has to kill him. Hyung-jo keeps approaching him, so he shoots.
Sun-ho is so horrified at having shot Hyung-jo that when Hyung-jo gets up (he has on a bulletproof vest) and backup comes in to arrest him, he barely even reacts. Back at the station, Hyung-jo asks why he killed those people, and Sun-ho says honestly that he really had no reason.
With a smile full of unnerving pride, he tells Hyung-jo of his first murder. He’d just been promoted to lieutenant, and he’d hit a young man on a motorcycle while driving home. At first his instinct was to help the man, but he’d been infuriated when the man called him “Detective” despite the fact that he was wearing his new uniform, so he’d bashed the man’s head in with a rock.
Sun-ho is delighted by the fact that he was able to disguise most of his killings so that they weren’t even flagged as murder. He marvels all but one person he killed this year were Hyung-jo’s fellow travelers, except the deliveryman who turned out to be another traveler’s replacement.
He says that he started believing the time travel story, and figured his victims were just destined to die. He even confesses that he framed Hyung-jo for the murders in the hopes that Hyung-jo would be locked up and he wouldn’t be forced to kill him, too.
Hyung-jo nearly breaks down hearing that, but he thanks Sun-ho in a calm voice, because he’s regretted resetting just to save a murderer. Sun-ho asks what he means, but Hyung-jo just growls that he’ll have lots of time to think about it in prison.
He goes to Ga-hyun’s house and talks wistfully about when Sun-ho made lieutenant and bragged that he’d be a good cop, but that’s actually when the killing started. Ga-hyun says that Hyung-jo proved there’s no perfect crime, but Hyung-jo tells her that she did that, and he gives her a sweet smile.
Hyung-jo informs Shin that he’s arrested Sun-ho, and that now she has her answer to whether people can change their fate. He vows that her days of experimenting on people are over, and that he’ll do whatever it takes to stop her from resetting again. Shin only says that things will be interesting from now until the reset date.
Ga-hyun walks Maru, and when she gets home, Hyung-jo is waiting on her steps with a birthday cake and a couple bracelet/collar set for her and Maru. She tells him to bring his copy of Hidden Killer next time so she can finally autograph it.
As Sun-ho is being taken for transport to prison, he makes a comment to Hyung-jo about No-seob. Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun realize they haven’t heard from No-seob in a while, so they go to the sanitorium. They’re told that Hwang No-seob isn’t the guardian of a resident, but a director from Samo Pharmaceuticals who comes several times a week to run clinical trials with patients.
On top of all that, CCTV footage from the sanitorium shows No-seob and Ji-hyun talking together. The receptionist tells Hyung-jo that Ji-hyun is No-seob’s secretary. It starts to become clear that No-seob is behind everything and is using Shin to deflect attention from him.
Sure enough, Shin enters “her” office at Jian Clinic, and No-seob is sitting behind the massive desk as if he owns the place. He says it’s time to start preparing for the next reset, and that he’s considering getting another person to help.
Meanwhile, Sun-ho is in transit to prison when a man on a motorcycle cuts off the bus, which fishtails and hits a barrier. It comes to a stop on its side, so Sun-ho is able to unlock his cuffs and escape. When Sun-ho takes off the motorcyclist’s helmet, he chuckles to see that it’s the man from Shin’s photo. He takes the motorcycle and rides away.
Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun go to Samo Pharmaceuticals, where a man leads them up to No-seob’s office and gives them a box. They open it, and what they see inside makes their eyes widen in shock.
EPISODE 23-24 RECAP
Before Shin learned about the possibility of resetting, No-seob had approached her with information about the same train wreck she used to lure in her travelers. She had taken him up on his offer to go back in time, and had woken up next to her daughter, who had recently died.
But because of the reset, Shin is forced to suffer through Young’s death on the evening of every December 21st. It had worn on her, but No-seob had promised that if she keeps resetting, eventually they’ll find a way to save Young’s life.
Disturbingly, he’d told her to have fun in the meantime, watching people die. He’d given her a file about Sun-ho being arrested as a serial killer, and said that Sun-ho would escape and kill two more people. It had been No-seob who gave Shin the idea to get rid of Sun-ho early in the year, then gather the victims and all reset together.
No-seob left a box in his office at Samo Pharmaceuticals, knowing that Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun would come looking for him. Inside is a familiar-looking envelope, of the kind that Shin used to “warn” the travelers of their upcoming death, with a message inside: The clockwork of time disturbs the silent dawn. They don’t have time to wonder what it means, because Hyung-jo gets a call that Sun-ho has escaped.
No-seob tells Shin that he’s thinking of getting someone else to help them prepare for the next reset. Sun-ho walks into the clinic right on cue, and we see that when he attacked No-seob, he hadn’t killed him. When No-seob woke, he’d offered Sun-ho a chance to erase his sins by going through the reset.
While Hyung-jo goes to the station, Ga-hyun runs home to look through her book Pieces of Destiny for the quote on the card. She finds it in Chapter 1, Volume 9, which means that either she or Hyung-jo will die on January 9th, only two days before the reset.
At Jian Clinic, Hyung-jo tells Shin that he knows No-seob is behind everything, and he arrests her for concealing a criminal. During questioning, Shin says that Sun-ho was at the clinic but that she told him to leave. The CCTV cameras were conveniently blank that day, so Hyung-jo guesses that No-seob was there, too.
When Shin won’t tell him where Sun-ho and No-seob are, Hyung-jo threatens to keep her for the maximum 48 hour hold. She panics because tonight is the night Young always dies, but when Hyung-jo holds firm, she still won’t answer. Hyung-jo suddenly realizes that she’s protecting No-seob because she can’t reset without him.
Sun-ho is with No-seob at a remote cabin, where No-seob tells him to stay until the reset. He tells Sun-ho that at one time he’d tried to die, but instead he woke up one year in the past, and that’s how the resets started.
Ga-hyun watches Ji-hyun let herself into No-seob’s cafe and take a small box from behind the counter. No-seob calls Ji-hyun and tells her to administer the drug in the box to Young, but she refuses to harm the girl. No-seob says darkly that she will, because she always does ~shudder~
She obeys, and enters Young’s hospital room to inject the drug into her IV bag. Luckily Ga-hyun followed her and stops the IV drip while Ji-hyun runs away. But when Shin arrives (having finally caved to Hyung-jo’s questions), she sees a familiar sight — her daughter surrounded by doctors trying to save her life. Except that, when the minute arrives when Young always dies… she doesn’t. Ga-hyun changed her fate.
Ga-hyun tells Shin that dying was never Young’s fate, but that No-seob instructed Ji-hyun to kill her in every reset. Shin has a hard time believing that, since No-seob always helped Young with his clinical trials, but Ga-hyun says he needs Young to die in order to make Shin go through the reset.
Ga-hyun confronts No-seob at the cafe and tells him that they know he lied about everything. He admits it, saying that it’s thrilling to watch people die when he’s the only one who knows it will happen. Ga-hyun asks if it makes him feel like a god, and he thinks about it, but he says that a god wouldn’t warn them about their deaths in advance.
Shin finds Ji-hyun and asks if it’s true that No-seob told her to kill Young. Ji-hyun wails that No-seob promised he would take her to see her own daughter, who died three years ago. Shin tells her something that No-seob never revealed — he can only reset one year, so he isn’t capable of taking Ji-hyun back far enough to see her daughter again.
She confronts No-seob, who justifies killing Young by saying that she won’t live long enough for a cure to be found, and that he’s preventing Shin from making the wrong choice not to reset. Horrified, Shin argues that that’s her decision to make.
But Shin agrees to keep resetting with No-seob so long as Sun-ho is left out of it. No-seob claims that he never intended to bring Sun-ho, and is only stringing him along to ensure he kills Hyung-jo. No-seob gets a call from a mole at the police station that Ji-hyun reported him for instigation to murder, and that there’s a warrant out for his arrest.
It’s January 8th, three days before the reset and one day before Sun-ho’s next murder. Hyung-jo’s plan is to catch No-seob and keep him on 48-hour hold to prevent him from resetting. Ga-hyun recalls that No-seob mentioned being from Mujin, which is close to the reset spot, and Hyung-jo confirms with Sa-kyung that someone reported seeing No-seob in Mujin.
Hyung-jo heads to Mujin, leaving Ga-hyun behind. She thinks about her last conversation with No-seob, in which he’d revealed that Hyung-jo will die while trying to save her. She had checked with Shin, who’d told her with genuine regret that she still needs No-seob in order to be with Young. Ga-hyun had rebutted gently that Shin doesn’t know what Young’s future holds, but that she’s preventing her daughter from having any future at all.
She had called in a false sighting of No-seob in Mujin, to make sure that he was far from her on the day he’s slated to die. As he’d left, she’d said, “Let’s survive no matter what,” and they’d shared one last fistbump.
That night, Shin calls Ga-hyun and warns her to get out of her house, saying that this is the only time she can help her.
Luckily, Ji-hyun calls Hyung-jo and tells him that No-seob is at Jian Clinic. Hyung-jo shows up and threatens to arrest No-seob if he doesn’t tell where Sun-ho is. No-seob just says there’s a reason he only left Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun one card — they die at the same place, on the same day.
Ga-hyun tries to take Shin’s advice, but Sun-ho is waiting just outside her door. He forces her back inside and calls Hyung-jo, ordering him to rip up the arrest warrant for No-seob and come to his apartment. Ga-hyun calls out to him not to come, but Sun-ho disconnects the call.
Sun-ho knocks out Ga-hyun and she wakes up at Hyung-jo’s place. Sun-ho tells her that in the original timeline, she and Hyung-jo became friends, and were growing interested in each other while he acted as a consultant for her manga series. Sun-ho had used Ga-hyun as bait — he’d abducted Ga-hyun, then had texted Hyung-jo a picture of her unconscious body.
When Hyung-jo arrived, Sun-ho had tried to shoot Ga-hyun, but Hyung-jo had covered her body with his and taken the bullet. Ga-hyun had woken up to find Hyung-jo’s body on the floor, and Sun-ho had shot her, too. In the present, Ga-hyun tells Sun-ho why Hyung-jo reset. Sun-ho says he knows how much Hyung-jo loved him, so he’ll be careful not to get caught next time.
When Hyung-jo gets home, he finds Ga-hyun on the couch, bleeding from a stab wound to the torso. She’s barely conscious, but she can see Sun-ho approaching Hyung-jo from behind, so she uses the last of her strength to fling herself on top of Hyung-jo. She takes the knife meant to kill Hyung-jo, giving Hyung-jo time to kick Sun-ho away.
The two men fight, and eventually Hyung-jo wins and handcuffs Sun-ho. He begs Ga-hyun to hang on until the ambulance arrives, and she gasps that next time, she’ll give him that autograph. Then she’s gone, and Hyung-jo holds her body and sobs.
The next day, Shin is shocked to see Hyung-jo alive and well, living proof that fate can be changed. He informs her that he’s going to reset again, but Shin says that she’s decided to stay in the present and see what her daughter’s future holds.
She apologizes for her wrongdoing and warns Hyung-jo that a whole different kind of pain might await him if he resets, but he says he doesn’t care. Shin tells him that she only knows part of the way to the reset point, because No-seob always made her take a sleeping drug for the rest of the journey.
No-seob had told her that the road forked at the end of the tunnel, and that one side leads to the reset while the other leads to death. Hyung-jo makes his way to the fork and chooses the right side, which leads him towards the mountains instead of the ravine. No-seob is forced to reset alone without Shin or Sun-ho, and he takes the left fork.
As Hyung-jo drives, he thinks about Ga-hyun saying that she hopes to someday meet a friend like him, who would travel through time just to save her. He thinks to himself, “You have me. I’m on my way.”
Time flows backwards, and No-seob makes it back to 2019. He crosses paths with Hyung-jo, who barely acknowledges him, but later Hyung-jo walks into No-seob’s office at Samo Pharmaceuticals, revealing that he successfully completed the reset. As it turns out, it didn’t matter which fork he chose because they re-converged, forming the road that led to the ravine and the reset.
He arrests No-seob for falsifying data in order to get approval for a clinical trial. No-seob growls that he won’t be found guilty, but Hyung-jo says that he will spend a year in jail fighting the charges, so he’ll miss the next reset: “You will never be able to play with people’s lives again.”
Next Hyung-jo breaks into Sun-ho’s trophy room while most of the trophy cases are still empty. He completely takes Sun-ho by surprise and arrests him for murder, stopping him before he can kill any of the (former) travelers.
Hyung-jo runs into Ga-hyun outside her house, and he’s moved almost beyond words to see her alive. She recognizes him from the news reports of Sun-ho’s arrest, and he pulls himself together and pretends they’re meeting for the first time. He “recognizes” her as Maru and says he’s been trying to get her autograph.
He turns to go, but Ga-hyun stops him to asks tentatively if she can consult him regarding her story. Hyung-jo agrees in exchange for her keeping her promise to give him an autograph.
I really gotta say, this is one of my favorite drama endings of all time. The show itself had a few issues with storytelling flow and continuity (well, the story was fine, it’s just that the way it was delivered wasn’t always easy to follow), but the way it was wrapped up was just ~chef’s kiss~ perfect. I loved the shock of realizing that the traveler who seemed the most innocent and helpful turned out to be the one behind it all. I just thought that the way it all played out was so exciting, with No-seob being the true villain (and wow was he a sicko, killing a little girl just so he could reset and amuse himself watching people die). It was awesome to see Shin turn on him and help Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun, realize that what she’s been doing was wrong on many levels, and ultimately decide to move forward and let fate take its course.
I think it was realistic that Ga-hyun was unable to survive the year, but she still proved that fate can be changed by saving Young and then sacrificing herself to save Hyung-jo. Her sacrifice enabled Hyung-jo to catch Sun-ho, then reset again and put everything right. And it wasn’t explicitly said, but by catching Sun-ho early, Hyung-jo saved all of the travelers’ lives, making him a true, if now a bit weary and jaded, hero. One of my favorite things about this drama is the relationship between Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun. They evolved so naturally from strangers, to friends, to partners, to loving each other enough to give their life for the other (though they never got a chance to declare their feelings). This all took place as everything else was happening, and it was never the main focus of their interactions, but you could definitely sense how their feelings changed over the course of the year.
And that’s another thing I love about the ending of the story — we were told that in the original timeline, that Hyung-jo and Ga-hyun met and were colleagues who became close enough that they died together at the end of the year. It was the timeline in which Shin arranged for Sun-ho’s death, causing Ga-hyun and Hyung-jo never to meet, that was the anomaly. So when we see them talking at the beginning of the new, and hopefully last, reset, and Ga-hyun asking for Hyung-jo to be her consultant, you know that their relationship was always meant to be. Now they can let it unfold without the shadow of their deaths hanging over them.
In fact, I found all the characters interesting and complicated, which is quite a feat considering how the show was only twelve hour-long episodes, so we didn’t get to know most of the characters too deeply. Our main leads were delightfully complex, none of them all good or all bad (with the one notable exception of No-seob). Hyung-jo was the most straightforwardly good of the travelers, but even he had his moments of weakness. I absolutely adore Ga-hyun, who was never afraid to speak her mind and is honestly one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever recapped. Even Shin had a soft side, and Sun-ho truly did love Hyung-jo in his way — you could see that moment when he regretted the pain his murders caused to his former protege. This is all due to the fantastic acting done by the entire cast, who took the story to a whole new level with their rich characterizations.
I do think that some of the plot points were a bit forced… by that I mean that logic was set aside in order to create suspense or misdirect the audience into thinking something was true that wasn’t. One good example is how it took the main character, a well-respected detective, almost a year to ask Shin questions that he should have asked her from the beginning. Another example is the way Shin did seem to delight in the travelers’ murders, when it wasn’t even her plan in the first place and all she really wanted was more time with her daughter. There were also a lot of inconsistencies… who was driving the limo during the travelers’ reset if only No-seob knew the way and he was in the back with the others? And if Ga-hyun was in a wheelchair in the original original timeline, then how was Maru with her, since he was lost at the time of her accident? I can’t say I’m willing to completely overlook these obvious storytelling contortions just because the ending was satisfying, but the story ended with such emotional success that they won’t be the main thing I think about when I look back on 365: Repeat the Year.
- Premiere Watch: 365: Repeat the Year, A Piece of Your Mind, Welcome, A Couple’s World, Unique Chef Moon, Rugal
- Lee Jun-hyuk, Nam Ji-hyun return to the past in new teaser for MBC’s 365: Repeat the Year
- Cast of 365: A Fate-defying Year gather for script reading
- Nam Ji-hyun considers 365: A Fate-defying Year with Lee Jun-hyuk