Memorist: Episodes 15-16 (Final)
Our team is finally closing in on their quarry, but they find that they’re up against something much bigger than they expected. The final showdown will be as emotional as it is dangerous, and the winner will be determined, not by the strongest or smartest, but by the one with the purest heart.
EPISODE 15: “Flesh and Blood”
While escaping Assemblyman Bang’s press conference, Chief Gu pushes Dong Baek out of the way of Chun Ki-soo’s speeding car and ends up thrown across the parking garage himself. Ji-eun is forced to drive away with Dong Baek, leaving Se-hoon to rush Chief Gu to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Sun-mi finds the building where Joon-seok’s wife, Soo-kyung, was being held captive by the Eraser. But by the time they arrive, kidnapper and victim are gone.
While he’s unconscious from the backlash of reading assemblyman Bang Joon-seok’s memories, Dong Baek dreams of another time when Chief Gu was in the hospital after being injured. Dong Baek had overheard Chief Gu’s wife urging him to stop putting himself in danger for Dong Baek, but Chief Gu had argued that Dong Baek was like his own child. Dong Baek had gone in and started calling Chief Gu “Dad,” making everyone laugh.
Ji-eun takes Dong Baek back to Jae-gyu’s house, where he’s been hiding out. As soon as he wakes he asks about Chief Gu, and Ji-eun says he’s out of surgery but still unconscious. Dong Baek jumps out of bed, but he promises he’ll stay put and tells Ji-eun to get some rest.
Chief Sohn from the NIS confronts Seok-do and tells him to dial down his intensity for arresting Dong Baek. He says it’s his job to catch criminals, so Chief Sohn says that she knows of another criminal who covered up for the chief prosecutor and got a victim killed. Deputy Chief Lee arrives and blows off Chief Sohn, but she says ominously that things won’t go as he wants.
Deputy Chief Lee and Seok-do are on their way to see Pil-seon, and they assure her that the Eraser and Dong Baek will be dead soon. Deputy Chief Lee asks Seok-do to guarantee Pil-seon won’t be indicted, and at first he hesitates, but eventually he caves to pressure.
While watching himself on TV pleading with the Eraser to return his wife safely, assemblyman Bang Joon-seok smirks in a way that doesn’t look very loving. Secretary Seo doctors his bruised face, and he asks if she and Young-kang have been plotting to kill him. Joon-seok calls her cheap for being with a lowlife, and sneers that it’s a shame because he was considering her for his second wife. Gross.
Dong Baek remembers Cho-won, his first love, and how she used to wish she could read memories, too. He’d told her that it’s not so great, and that he knows a lot that he wishes he didn’t know. Cho-won had offered him her hand and her positive thoughts of him, making him smile.
She’d been convinced that he would someday make the world a happier place with his ability. Dong Baek wonders if the world really can change, then he decides to make a video statement.
Elsewhere, Bang Joon-seok’s wife Soo-kyung begs Fire Chief Soo to spare her life, but he says that the pain he’s suffered from the loss of his daughter twenty years ago feels too unfair. He tells Soo-kyung that his daughter killed herself while he was out of town, but later he found out the truth.
His daughter, Ah-young, had been in the woods taking pictures when she was approached by Joon-seok and his cronies, obviously under the influence of something. They had said she had to pay a toll for trespassing on Joon-seok’s family’s land, then had kidnapped her to a remote trailer and taken turns raping her.
Young-kang’s brother, Young-dae (he was Ah-young’s boyfriend), had found the “party,” and when he tried to save Ah-young, he’d been beaten, burned by Joon-seok, and tossed off a cliff to his death. Deputy Chief Lee and Chun Ki-soo had found the boys, with Ah-young still in the trailer, but all Deputy Chief Lee had done was slap Joon-seok and tell him to get a grip unless he wanted to rot in prison.
To make matters worse, Deputy Chief Lee and Ki-soo had enlisted Ah-young’s doctor and therapist to tell her that she didn’t resist enough, and not to tell her father what happened. Ki-soo delivering the news that Young-dae had died was the final straw, sending Ah-young into an emotional tailspin until she wanted to die.
Sun-mi visits Dong Baek to tell him that Deputy Chief Lee gave the order to shoot to kill if anyone saw Dong Baek at the assemblyman’s press conference. She tells Dong Baek not to blame himself for having so many enemies, and that she wants him to know who to watch out for.
She gets a call from her situation room with a tip on Fire Chief Soo’s location, so she and Dong Baek head out. They task Ji-eun with delivering Dong Baek’s video statement regarding the truth about the Eraser to her agency, and she refuses to release it until they promise to air it without alteration.
Her boss says that they create the truth, and she wants to create a truth that will get rid of “that mutant.” (Somehow that sounds like the opposite of the truth to me…) They resort to the threats that usually make Ji-eun cave, but this time she stands up for herself and walks out of the room. Good girl!
Sun-mi and Dong Baek arrive at the warehouse just as Deputy Chief Lee is sending in the SWAT team. Sun-mi says that the location seems too obvious and sure enough, the SWAT team doesn’t find anyone there. Sun-mi directs Dong Baek to another possible location — the spot where Ah-young killed herself twenty years ago.
They find Fire Chief Yoo there on the roof in the Eraser outfit, with a suitcase on the railing beside him. Sun-mi asks where Soo-kyung is, and Fire Chief Yoo points at the suitcase, which they now realize is dripping blood. He says she’s still alive but that they’ll have to take her from him.
He says that the more you try to help people, the more the world turns against you, which both Sun-mi and Dong Baek have experienced. He adds that the world doesn’t need scumbags like Pil-seon, her son, or the corrupted police and prosecutors, but a true leader who can inspire fear and bring about real justice.
Sun-mi whispers to Dong Baek that something is off — the Eraser always punishes people in the way they offended him, and pushing Soo-kyung off the building would break his self-imposed rules. She realizes that Soo-kyung isn’t in the suitcase and Fire Chief Yoo isn’t the Eraser, so Dong Baek calls his bluff.
Dong Baek rushes Fire Chief Yoo and grabs him for a scan, then he yells to Sun-mi that Soo-kyung is somewhere on a lower floor. She runs down to rescue Soo-kyung, while Dong Baek stays on the roof and orders Fire Chief Yoo to tell him who the real Eraser is. Fire Chief Yoo insists that he’s the Eraser, screaming that Dong Baek’s methods will never change the world and he’ll always be an outsider.
A bullet slams into Fire Chief Yoo’s shoulder, then another hits Dong Baek in the ribs. Dong Baek watches as Fire Chief Yoo topples over the side of the building to his death, then he faces his shooter — Ki-soo. There’s another shot, but this time Ki-soo goes down… it’s Chil-gyu and the guys! Ki-soo staggers, then turns his gun on himself.
Dong Baek’s video goes live online, and in it he lists Joon-seok’s sins and his mother’s coverups, then he names names, including Deputy Chief Lee and Ki-soo. Ji-eun’s boss orders her to take it down, but Ji-eun says that the truth is the most important thing to a reporter and gets herself fired. Se-hoon is with her, and he’s impressed by her quiet strength.
Deputy Chief Lee is with Pil-seon and Joon-seok when they see the video and learn that it’s gone too viral to be taken down. Deputy Chief Lee tries to slink away, so Pil-seon has her bodyguard stop him, only for Deputy Chief Lee to pull his gun on them. He reminds Joon-seok that he warned him of this very thing twenty years ago, then cuts ties with their family, saying that he’ll take care of things his way now.
Two weeks later, Dong Baek is still unconscious in the hospital after being shot. He surprises Sun-mi by being awake when she visits, and she tells him that based on his video, there will be a special prosecution for Pil-seon and Joon-seok. He’s disappointed that he had to be gravely injured to make this happen, and he wonders if he has to die to be truly loved.
He heads back to his hospital room and finds all of his guards dazed, their memories erased. The Eraser has been there, and he left a note on Dong Baek’s bed saying If you want to know the truth, let’s meet where it all started.
Dong Baek knows exactly where to go — the warehouse in Shimbae. When he arrives, the Eraser is already there, and this time it’s really him. He turns to face Dong Baek and takes off his mask, revealing himself… herself… to be Secretary Seo. She says, “I will start by telling you the truth, Dong Baek. My little brother.”
EPISODE 16: “The Power of Memories”
NIS Chief Sohn gives Sun-mi a dossier on a woman named Sung Joo-ran, a telepath that the NIS believes is the Eraser. She’s been living in Bang Joon-seok’s home as Secretary Seo, and she’s lured Dong Baek to the Shimbae warehouse. She tells Dong Baek that she’s not only the Eraser… she’s his sister.
At first he doesn’t take her seriously, but Joo-ran calls him by his real name, Sung Ju-ho, and offers to let him read her memories. She tempts him by offering to return his lost memories, and he decides to take the chance. They clasp hands, and it all comes flooding back to him — their childhood in Shimbae, including how their mother knew about their abilities and the fact that Joo-ran was best friends with Ah-young, the fire chief’s daughter.
Joo-ran hadn’t heard from Ah-young in a while when her friend called her from the hospital and asked for help in a shaking voice. Joo-ran had sneaked in past Ki-soo and given Ah-young the tape recorder she’d asked for, and when she’d seen the condition Ah-young was in, she’d offered to take away the memories, but Ah-young had said that erasing the memories wouldn’t erase what happened.
At Ah-young’s funeral, Joo-ran had accidentally bumped into Ki-soo, and in his memories she’d seen the truth of what happened to her friend. She’d known who she needed to kill, beginning with Ah-young’s doctor and therapist.
She explains that she experienced the same pain and weakness as Dong Baek does when he overuses his abilities, but she saw it as a fair price for justice. One day she’d received a package that Ah-young sent before her death, containing the recorder Joo-ran had brought her.
When she heard what her friend had suffered, Joo-ran had made Jae-gyu bring Deputy Chief Lee to the warehouse, intending to kill him along with Ah-young’s attackers. She’d lured Joon-seok’s friends there with a promise of “fun,” and she’d been disappointed to learn that Joon-seok was studying overseas. But she’d followed through with her plan, erasing their memories and leaving only fear behind, then abandoning them to die there.
While Joo-ran was out, an intruder had broken into their house looking for Ah-young’s recorded message (likely sent by Pil-seon, who knew of the package). Dong Baek and their mother came home, so he had killed Dong Baek’s mother with a claw hammer right in front of the boy. Dong Baek had escaped and run to the warehouse, his safe place, only to walk right into the middle of another bloodbath.
Joo-ran had read Dong Baek’s memories and saw their mother being murdered. Seeing so much death had been too much for the little boy, and Dong Baek finally learns the truth of his memory loss… he actually has the same abilities that Joo-ran commands, and is able to read, erase, and manipulate memories, and he had erased his own memory that night.
Meanwhile, Joo-ran had reached the end of her strength after erasing the memories of so many all at once. She had collapsed, and had been picked up by NIS agents, who had been watching the family.
Joo-ran has finally caught their mother’s murderer, and she offers Dong Baek the opportunity to kill him. But Dong Baek turns the gun on her instead, sobbing that she’s spent so much time in the minds of monsters that she’s become one herself (carefully not calling her “noona,” which you can see stings her).
She grabs his gun hand and holds it to her heart, yelling for Dong Baek to kill her if she’s a monster. He doesn’t, so she takes the gun and shoots their mother’s murderer without the slightest hesitation. She sneers that Dong Baek is weak, but he argues that protecting people and not losing themselves is what makes them strong.
For just a moment, Joo-ran looks moved, but then she sets her jaw and points the gun at Dong Baek, saying that the one who survives is the strong one. But Sun-mi and Chief Sohn enter the warehouse, and when Joo-ran sees them, she points the gun at her own head.
A shot rings out and Joo-ran drops the gun, injured. Chief Sohn tells her it’s time to stop this, but Joo-ran levels her gun at her. She’s shot again, this time more seriously, and Dong Baek catches her as she falls.
At the hospital, Dong Baek’s doctor says that even though Joo-ran’s injuries aren’t life-threatening, her reckless usage of her abilities means that she’s dying. In private, Chief Sohn explains to Dong Baek that the NIS have been watching him and Joo-ran, and that they kept Joo-ran isolated for twenty years for her protection.
She says that Joo-ran’s health suffered every time she used her powers, and they’re concerned that the same might happen to Dong Baek. She offers Dong Baek the same “protection,” but he says angrily that he and Joo-ran aren’t assets or zoo animals, and he refuses to negotiate.
Chief Sohn promises to request that all of the records regarding the two of them are destroyed, so long as Dong Baek takes everything he’s learned about this to the grave. Dong Baek doesn’t trust her, but he says he’ll try.
In the hospital, Chief Gu finally opens his eyes. Se-hoon is right beside him, and he smiles to hear that Dong Baek is out there catching the bad guys like always.
Dong Baek sits with Joo-ran, and when she wakes, she whispers that he’s too sweet for his own good. He makes her smile by calling her “noona,” and says she used to be sweet, too. He says she didn’t have to kill everyone, but she counters that if she hadn’t, those people would be living peaceful lives.
Dong Baek says she could have used her ability to reveal the truth, but Joo-ran says that memories are powerless to punish anyone. She takes his hand and gives him a memory that she says will help him decide, though the effort causes her great pain. Dong Baek puts his hand on her forehead and takes away all of her painful memories, and Joo-ran’s expression finally relaxes into one of peace.
Before he’s arrested, Sun-mi finds Deputy Chief Lee at the hospital with his family. He recalls how young she was at her first interview, and she thanks him for advocating for her. She tells him that he’ll be charged with nine counts of abuse of power, and he says almost jovially that he won’t go down easily.
She asks him for evidence to take down Pil-seon, and he says he wants something in return. Sun-mi bows and walks away, and moments later, Chief Byun personally arrests Deputy Chief Lee.
Dong Baek goes to his old home, which is exactly the way he (now) remembers it. He calls up the memory that Joo-ran gave him — she’d read Joon-seok’s memory while helping him with his jacket, and learned where he kept the old camera with the video of Ah-young’s rape. She had watched it one time, sobbing for her lost friend, then had left it in a drawer for Dong Baek to find.
Armed with solid evidence, Sun-mi and her men arrest Pil-seon (I love how Sun-mi just waves Lawyer Im, who used to be Big and Scary, off like a gnat). Pil-seon sails out like a queen with nothing to fear, but Sun-mi and Se-hoon are nervous because Dong Baek hasn’t shown up.
At the station, Deputy Chief Lee is allowed to speak to Pil-seon in an interrogation room. He says he’s decided to pay for his crimes after hearing his son say that he believes he’s a good man. He’s provided the police mountains of evidence of Pil-seon’s, Lawyer Im’s, and Joon-seok’s crimes. Sun-mi tells Pil-seon that she’ll be in prison for a very long time, but Pil-seon continues to assert that she’ll be scott-free soon.
Joon-seok is outside the station, and he calls Lawyer Im, but Lawyer Im can’t help him. Dong Baek stops Joon-seok from driving away and shows Sun-mi the video of Joon-seok raping Ah-young (and conveniently bellowing his own name in triumph), giving her enough evidence to arrest him on the spot.
In a delightful turn of events, Seok-do is arrested for covering up Lawyer Im’s scandal, delaying Dong Baek and resulting in Ye-rim’s death. Lawyer Im tries to scuttle past the cops, he’s arrested as well.
Dong Baek finally learns that Chief Gu is recovering, and he bursts into his hospital room sobbing like the big emotional baby that he is. Chief Gu complains loudly, but he submits to Dong Baek and Se-hoon’s hugs, secretly loving it.
Sun-mi turns in her resignation, having decided to change careers and become an attorney. The police teams surprise her by giving her a standing ovation on her way out, and they tell her how much they respect and admire her. She thanks them for overlooking her youth and arrogance, and they exchange salutes and hugs.
Dong Baek steps into Sang-ah’s husband In-tae’s hospital room and restores his memories. His doctor is still worried about the side effects of using his powers, especially after his sister’s death. But she admits that his most recent tests came out normal, and Dong Baek says that regaining his memories and using both the taking and the giving parts of his abilities has brought stability.
Pil-seon and Joon-seok are given long prison sentences, and when they appeal, their sentences are lengthened, ha. Ji-eun reports on their trial at her new job as an anchor, making her old bosses seethe in frustration. Double ha!
Being the weak-spined slime that he is, Joon-seok is unable to face the prospect of two decades in prison, and he takes his own life. When Pil-seon hears the news, she writhes on the floor of her cell in agony, fulfilling the prophecy that Jae-gyu made so long ago: “You will die a brutal death. You will face the most pitiful death!”
Sun-mi opens her own office, and Bong-kook, who’s still nursing a crush on her, takes a huge paycut to go work for her. Dong Baek and the guys come to congratulate her, followed quickly by some of the guys from the police team and Ji-eun. Se-hoon gets teased for his obvious interest in Ji-eun, but he just grins at Ji-eun and declares that he’ll make it happen.
Dong Baek and Sun-mi go for a walk alone and Dong Baek says he’s been reflecting on how he’s been living his life. He says that he’s been scanning people’s thoughts and feelings along with their memories, and that he’s been reckless because he thought of his ability only as a tool.
He preens when Sun-mi compliments him on his personal growth and says he’ll keep using his abilities, he’ll just be more mindful about it. Sun-mi holds out her hand to shake, and unlike when they first met, Dong Baek takes it.
Some time later, Dong Baek listens to a radio report by Ji-eun on his way to a crime scene. She talks about a new telepathy law, and the fact that the police force is forming a telepathic investigation team to handle violent crimes, which will naturally be lead by Dong Baek.
In the woods, a woman’s body was found with stab wounds to the torso. Her husband is nearby, kneeling in the dirt and wailing in grief. Dong Baek leans down to comfort him, but he freezes… then sighs and tells the husband to knock it off.
He tells Se-hoon and Chief Gu to hurry to a certain hotel room to catch the husband’s mistress and accomplice in his wife’s murder before she catches a flight out of the country. The husband starts to sling insults at Dong Baek, and he gets Dong Baek’s foot in his face.
Dong Baek fights the cops who try to pry him off the husband/murderer, screaming that the guy deserves a beating. Oh Dong Baek, never change.
Brace yourselves, I’m going to be very unprofessional for a moment:
I told you so, I told you so, I knew the Eraser was a woman! I feel so vindicated right now. I even predicted that the Eraser was related to Dong Baek, though I wasn’t expecting a sister. But it makes total sense now why the Eraser was so fixated on Dong Baek, and how and why Dong Baek lost his memory. He witnessed both his mother’s murder and his own sister committing mass murder on the same night, and his fragile young mind just wasn’t able to handle it, so he erased his own memories. I’m happy for Dong Baek that he got his memories back, and that he was able to make peace with his sister regardless of what she’d done. He was even able to use his regained powers to make her ending peaceful, proving that mercy is always better than revenge.
I do wish we’d learned who the Eraser was one or two episodes sooner, because the telepathic siblings would have made such an interesting study in how two people with the same abilities made such different choices in how to use them. Dong Baek didn’t have access to all of his powers for most of his life, but what he had, he chose to expose to the world and use to help others. On the other hand, Joo-ran used her abilities for revenge on those who got away with their crimes, yet both siblings were convinced they were doing the right thing.
And I can even almost understand why Joo-ran made the choices she made — if nobody else was going to hold accountable those with enough power to buy their freedom, then who better than she to mete out the justice that the system refused to? That’s not to say that I think she was right in becoming the Eraser, but in her circumstances and at her young age, it’s kind of understandable that she would make the decisions she made, even though only using some of her abilities is what killed her. But Dong Baek was right in that she could have used her abilities in a different way, made better choices like he did. Sadly, his influence came too late, and Joo-ran didn’t have time to atone for her mistakes. Though honestly, I don’t think she would have — she had the same strong integrity as Dong Baek, and would have probably accepted her punishment without shame.
Although, as I previously complained, I would have liked Memorist to have had more downtime so that we could get to know the characters better, I do recognize that Dong Baek and Sun-mi, at least, were still characterized very well. We may not know much about them personally, but they were still interesting, complex, and endearingly flawed characters. Sun-mi’s upright, rigid rule-following was nicely balanced by Dong Baek’s tendency to be flippant and lash out at perpetrators. I love that they didn’t change each other by forming a relationship but followed their own individual personal growth. They were content to just complement each other, and they even often defended the other against detractors and spun their flaws as strengths. I’m happy that Sun-mi was able to find a career that could afford her more room to relax, and that Dong Baek stayed right where he was and continued being a problem as well as an asset to the police department.
I do have some lingering complaints about the show, mostly in terms of plot inconsistencies that were never addressed. The main thing that confuses me is, if Joo-ran loved Dong Baek so much, why did she, as the Eraser, make so many demands for him to die? I think she was trying to goad him into action the same way she did at the end, to join her in her crusade, but it was never really explained. And I still think there were way too many twists and turns and misdirects — about half as many would have been fine, and freed up some time for more character moments. It’s only due to the charisma of the actors that the characters were as interesting as they were, because as I said before, we were only given facts about them and very few insights into who they were as people. But other than that, Memorist was a lot of fun to try and figure out, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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