Memorials: Episode 15
Her job may be in jeopardy, but that doesn’t stop our heroine from doing her best to keep her promises. As she struggles against yet another attack from smug politicians more concerned with their next term than the people they serve, our heroine is reminded why she started down this path in the first place.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Se-ra confronts Chairman Jo with the notice of an upcoming hearing for her dismissal, vowing to fight back: “Because there’s something I must do that only I can do.” Unimpressed, Chairman Jo points out she’s failed at everything she’s tried to accomplish (saving Sarang’s name, relocating the memorial, exposing the environmental effect report). He concedes they’re great endeavors… but not everyone is interested in the good cause: “And that’s why… you continued to fail,” he smirks.
Gong-myung confirms Se-ra was summoned by “the people,” meaning Mawon residents signed a petition. Yong-kyu doubts anyone went door-to-door but admits the other reps can be meticulous when setting someone up, just as they’d done when they ousted Se-ra as chairman. Cut to both Idiot Trio member Shim and Dong-chan hosting rallies defaming Se-ra as boxes of recall petitions pile up at the Mawon Central Election Management Committee.
Pissed, Gong-myung storms into Chairman Jo’s office. He agrees Se-ra losing the chairman seat given by the Aeguk Conservative Party seemed fair and he’d always known Chairman Jo appointed her solely to oust Chief Won. However, Gong-myung argues Se-ra doesn’t deserve to lose her job. Unfazed, Chairman Jo coolly reminds Gong-myung he’d declared Se-ra more than qualified to act as chairman and vowed to make sure of it… and yet this is the result.
Gong-myung guesses Chairman Jo was irritated over the memorial but rather than confirm or deny it, Chairman Jo says the reason doesn’t matter. He tells Gong-myung one has to sell everything to get what the want: “That’s how I got this far. Can you do the same?” He walks out, leaving Gong-myung fuming.
Over in Hee-soo’s office, she reads through the accusations against Ser-ra suggesting she’d spent taxpayers’ money for “personal use,” asked a local bank to hire her friend, and allowed Mom to conduct “inappropriate activities.” Hee-soo tuts she’d predicted this and Se-ra whines she should’ve warned her. Hee-soo encourages Se-ra to find a solution… and keep her distance. Hee.
At home, Dad brandishes a newspaper, headlining Mom’s attendance at local events as a Marketing Director and demands an explanation. Mom mutters she wanted to make a good impression for Se-ra’s next election and needed to pay off the 50,000 dollar debt. Catching the slip, Dad explodes, only growing more furious when Mom reveals Se-ra ran for district rep in order to pay the debt. He faints from frustration and after confirming he’s only unconscious, Se-ra sighs.
Meanwhile, Gong-myung mulls over Chairman Jo’s words about selling everything to get what you want and places a call. He apologizes for the hour and asks to discuss Se-ra. Turns out he was speaking with Assemblyman Bong and when they meet, he apologizes for his rude comments the last time they’d spoken.
Bong waves it off, conceding his vote regarding Se-ra’s dismissal was void and Se-ra would’ve given him the files against Chief Won in person, not left them on his desk. Furthermore, he agrees he may have been using Se-ra with the excuse of giving her a chance and agrees to help Gong-myung protect Se-ra’s position.
Pouting heavily, Se-ra peels Granny an apple in the hospital. Granny tells her to either stop pouting, or not visit. Se-ra grumbles Granny signed the consent form when Chairman Jo visited and asks why she agreed. Granny says Chairman Jo told her they were in the same boat and she’d thought she should be grateful someone else offered to look after the memorial since her days are numbered.
Se-ra whines at her for the comment, arguing Granny was energetic enough to chase her over the memorial. Barely holding back tears, Se-ra snatches Granny’s bag and places one of her business cards inside with a note for someone to call her if anything happens to Granny. Granny retorts a business card doesn’t make sense when Chairman Jo says she’ll be losing her job.
Granny orders Se-ra to stick it out until the end and Se-ra promises to keep her job until her contract expires. She asks why Granny was at the construction site the night she’d lost her phone and Granny admits she’d wanted to steal the memorial and put it in her garden. She offers Se-ra some apple to cheer her up, but teasingly snatches it away before Se-ra can take a bite and Se-ra finally bursts into tears.
At the comic book shop, Se-ra and Gong-myung discuss the upcoming hearing with Han-bi and Ja-ryong. They’re startled when Woo-young bursts inside, furious over Se-ra’s public recall, and shouting at each in turn. With a scream, she charges and Se-ra opens her arms wide for a hug. She promises Woo-young she won’t get kicked out as Woo-young holds her tightly and sobs.
Another accident at Smart One City’s Area 6 site is reported and the Idiot Trio ask Chairman Jo if they should allow Q Construction to continue the job. Chairman Jo snaps they’ll stay on in order to keep quiet about the accidents, declaring Smart One City is now everyone’s brand and they’re all responsible for selling it.
Peddling her juice back at the real estate office, Se-ra speaks up when she hears some women discussing the recent accidents at Area 6. The agent assures them it isn’t a big deal and when Se-ra balks at his audacity, she’s promptly thrown out.
That evening at Sunset Land, Gong-myung applies a pain patch to her injured wrist as Se-ra fumes. He tells her to focus on her own predicament first, but Se-ra confidently announces she’s keeping her job and wants to keep her promise. Gong-myung says the protesters stopped calling and don’t expect anything but Se-ra snaps all they can do is give up hope. Gong-myung apologizes and agrees to work together.
Stifling a smile, Se-ra says she won’t believe words and waves him over. Scooching close, Gong-myung gives her a peck on the cheek. Se-ra tells him to try again and he gives her a quick kiss on the mouth. She sniffs there’s three chances for everything and grinning, Gong-myung kisses her for real. Se-ra praises him on a good job and they laugh together.
Back at the comic book shop, Se-ra tells Assemblyman Bong she wants to solve the laborers’ complaint first. Woo-young growls that’s not the issue, but Gong-myung believes they’re related. Assemblyman Bong says during the by-election campaign, Se-ra explained why Mawon needed someone like her so now they must prove Se-ra is needed in Mawon.
Cut to the next assembly meeting with Assemblyman Bong bellowing from the podium that it’s a waste of tax money to hold a recall vote for Se-ra. He argues they should set a good example and allow the younger generation a chance. Chairman Jo barks at Bong to set an example himself and that he’s warned him many times.
Assemblyman Bong is unable to answer and scrunches his face in frustration. Afterwards, Hee-soo asks why he spoke up for Se-ra when the residents are the ones to vote. Assemblyman Bong agrees, but says it starts with the representatives. She asks what Chairman Jo meant by warnings, but Bong cheerfully refuses to tell her.
At the shop, the friends review the complaints against Se-ra: the taxpayers’ money Se-ra used to fund nonprofits, the ridiculous claim she influenced Woo-young’s hiring at the bank, and Mom… which Se-ra admits she can only apologize for. Hee. Se-ra promptly posts to social media that she refutes the recall reasons (except Mom) and posts a notice for the vote date.
Dae-cheol and Gong-myung look pointedly at Yong-kyu and he snaps neither of them works for the district assembly and should stop loitering in the kitchen. Gong-myung says he came for a reason and when he approaches the sink, Yong-kyu throws up his hands and barks at Gong-myung to stay back: “I signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), so I can’t help you anyway.” He scurries away and Dae-cheol muses he’s four fifths on their side.
Someone approaches Ja-ryong outside the comic shop and he brings Se-ra a flash drive. Suspicious, she moves to confront the man, but Ja-ryong says he drove away. Se-ra checks the contents and finding a folder dedicated to Chairman Jo, calls Min-jae to ask why he’s giving it to her. Min-jae replies she’ll need it and he’d meant it when he wished she’d finish her term. He adds he’s returning to his family, telling her to take care and thanks.
The day of the vote, Se-ra braces herself to go in. She’s surprised when Gong-myung joins her, saying he took the day of. Se-ra whines he shouldn’t waste a precious day off but Gong-myung says he should use it for someone precious. He asks what she was going to offer in exchange for his fear the night he’d run away from home. Smiling, Se-ra answers “courage” and nodding, Gong-myung slips some “courage” into Se-ra’s hand.
At the meeting, Chairman Jo allows Se-ra a statement. Taking the podium, she introduces herself and says she doesn’t want to part with her colleagues and Mawon residents and says today is the worst wrongful dismissal she’s encountered. Recalling Chairman Jo’s words people won’t agree with great causes, Se-ra asks why the public should care when they work from dawn to dusk just trying to survive: “They sent us here to work hard in their stead.”
Reading the note Gong-myung had given for “courage” – “For the many Gu Se-ras in this world” – Se-ra repeats former candidate Eun-sil’s sentiment that Se-ra’s election opened doors for ordinary people to try and tearfully announces she can’t close that door herself. She vows to work hard to make up the money spent on this vote and asks for the chance. Only Gong-myung reacts, but his applause puts a smile on Se-ra’s face.
Everyone waits anxiously for the results of the vote and just after 11pm, Gong-myung calls to inform Se-ra the majority of voters were against kicking her out. He says she can return to work tomorrow and offers to pick her up from the office but Se-ra opts to go alone. Walking home, she takes her heels off only to quickly put them back on when she sees Dad waiting up ahead.
He cutely denies waiting and when Se-ra cheerfully guesses the bag in his hand is makgeolli, Dad shakes his head and bends down. He pulls slippers from the bag and says Se-ra’s feet surely hurt after wearing heels all day. Se-ra blinks back tears as Dad helps her change into them and they start walking arm-in-arm.
Se-ra admits she wanted to forget today but Dad says the days you want to forget are the ones you must remember and tells her to be thankful to the residents who voted to keep her. Dad asks if she saw Gong-myung and Se-ra quips she wanted to spend time with him and Mom tonight. Pleased, Dad grumbles at her not to fib and then declares it nice to walk with his daughter.
Later, Gong-myung waits anxiously on the overpass. Se-ra calls out to him and he breaks into a grin as she runs into his arms and kisses him. By morning, she isn’t at the breakfast table and Mom nervously reasons she must be tired. To her surprise, Dad says to leave Se-ra be, and suggests from now on they not do anything to hurt Se-ra.
Mom looks shameful, but Dad sighs this is his fault for quitting as a civil servant. He knows Mom was scammed just trying to get their finances back on track and says he feels guilty towards Se-ra. He offers Mom the rolled omelet she likes, and we flash back to 2002 as Dad sits with the Mawon Disciplinary Committee following the Sarang Resort fire. Dad offers to take responsibility and when the men argue it wasn’t his job, Dad says he was in charge.
At work, Se-ra brightly greets her fellow assemblyman and receives only annoyance in response. She muses it’s like her first day all over again and sits down, flipping through Assemblyman Yang’s journal as the meeting begins. Her eyes bulge at a note on Assemblyman Heo and she calls him to the roof.
He sputters he’s heard about her antics and starts recording their conversation but pales when Se-ra asks why “bury” was written next to his name. She ticks off the land’s owner, the suspicious accidents, and “bury” next to his name as the points in a rotten triangle and Heo dives for the journal, ripping it up and tossing it off the roof before Se-ra can stop him. He swears he’ll get rid of her first and leaves.
That evening, Se-ra recounts the incident to Gong-myung and he questions why she had Yang’s journal in the first place. Se-ra coughs it just happened to end up in her things. Rolling his eyes, Gong-myung asks to see it but Se-ra admits Heo threw it away and she couldn’t find it. Gong-myung decides to focus on Se-ra’s assumption Heo buried waste at the Sarang Resort site.
Ja-ryong pipes up someone would’ve noticed noisy garbage trucks going back and forth so the next day the couple corners Dae-cheol with a slew of noise complaints. He recognizes them from three years ago and says Assemblyman Heo called and said the land was part of Smart One City, so he stopped following up.
At the next meeting, Se-ra presents the suspicious facts of Granny and Yong-kyu’s father’s health and connections to the site. Dong-chan barks there aren’t enough samples to compare and Se-ra smiles that’s exactly why the environmental effect report should be revealed immediately. Dong-chan sinks back down and Se-ra smirks at a frowning Chairman Jo.
Woo-young and Han-bi petition for signatures to reveal the environmental report as the Idiot Trio urges Chairman Jo to boot Assemblyman Heo. Dong-chan curses Se-ra but Assemblyman Shi argues it’s their fault for forcing Se-ra into a corner instead of persuading her. Chairman Jo says they need to divert attention and dismisses the men. He hands his phone to his secretary, saying there’s a recording from February 20th.
At the shop, the friends organize the signed petitions and Woo-young pulls out her phone to appeal to the women in her mommy chatgroup only to find Assemblyman Bong’s name. The next day, Chairman Jo smiles at the headlines reading Bong was involved in Yang’s hit-and-run, declaring he’d witnessed and ignored the accident.
Flashing back to February 20th, Assemblyman Bong had confronted a drunk Yang having grown suspicious Yang was Chairman Jo’s mole in the Progressive Party. Yang denies any involvement with Jo but Bong argues Yang publicly opposed Sarang’s renaming only to then order the village leaders to get residents to sign petitions for it. Yang declares it a conspiracy and Bong asks about the bribes he took.
Yang denies it and disappointed, Bong vows to sue. He walks off and Yang calls to report to Chairman Jo but Jo feigns ignorance of their alliance. Yang sees Bong’s car ahead and chases him down, threatening to say he’d split the bribes with Assemblyman Bong and sneering he should’ve been a better judge of character. He walks away and tells Chairman Jo he’ll do the same to him just before a car speeds past Bong’s and runs him over.
The car drives away and Bong grabs his phone and dials the police… but seeing Yang drag himself onto the sidewalk figures he can handle himself and drives off in a huff, unaware Yang’s phone is still lying in the middle of the road.
In the present, Hee-soo cries over her mentor’s fall and that evening, Se-ra reads through the note Bong had sent with her cactus when she was elected chairman. Later, she sits with Gong-myung at the bus stop and looking at the broken sign says she’s not worrying, she just can’t give up. She vows to complain until it’s fixed and when she pulls out her phone, Gong-myung takes the photos for her.
The next day, Assemblyman Bong’s seat is empty and Hee-soo arrives late. Se-ra is also absent, and she struts through the comic shop with her friends, all clad in trench coats. Se-ra narrates that 2 seasons pass, and she’s again nominated Queen of Green Vegetable Juice sales. It’s now spring and as she and Gong-myung stare up Chairman Jo’s campaign banner, she holds his hand comfortingly.
That evening, Se-ra meets with former candidate Eun-sil and announces she wants her to run for Chief of Mawon Office. Eun-sil says she’d just be a politician wannabe who’s already failed twice running against three-time representative, Chairman Jo. Se-ra says opportunities don’t come easily, so they should make their own: “Life… is about three attempts.”
Epilogue Se-ra asks Assemblyman Bong why he’d chosen to give her a chance after she’d failed on the revised ordinance and supplementary budget. He says if she didn’t have the will to work, his words would’ve meant nothing. He adds that one day she may feel everything he said was a lie, but he hopes she’ll remember that if you have just one person on your side, you can keep your beliefs alive: “I wish that… you become someone who keeps someone else’s beliefs alive.”
Awww… Assemblyman Bong may not be infallible – and certainly made some mistakes he’s lived to regret – but I do like the advice he gives to Hee-soo and Se-ra and what this final piece suggests going into the finale. Se-ra has the potential to be a strong force of good in the political world, but as we saw with her brief stint as Chairman, she still has a lot to learn before she can wield a position of power effectively. It felt right when she’d previously opted to step aside and support Hee-soo as the next chairman (before the Conservative Party intervened) because even she recognized she wasn’t quite ready for it. I fully believe she can get there if she wants to, but I also wouldn’t be dissatisfied if she chose to remain as a representative and focus on championing complaints. When it comes to the hallmarks of a politician, Se-ra doesn’t covet showmanship nor is she interested in change, rather she aims for preserving and protecting that which is threatened.
I love that Eun-sil has not only made a reappearance, but the context in which the show has reintroduced her to the plot. Se-ra running for chief or chairman and taking down Chairman Jo could’ve been an adequately satisfactory ending, but I feel it would’ve been an unrealistic win and ultimately a disservice to the story and characters built thus far. I like the idea of the final campaign battle being fought with someone else at the forefront. It shows that maturity Se-ra exhibited when she’d chosen to forgo running for chairman and supporting Hee-soo as well as allowing her to return the favor Eun-sil offered during her first election. Rather than Se-ra battling everything alone, I love that she’s instead inspiring others to help build that better tomorrow.
One of the most charming things about this show is its ability to subvert expectation and the conventional drama pattern and going into the final episode, I’m excited that I can’t fully predict how this delightful show will end. Will Chairman Jo get his comeuppance, or will he finally have an epiphany and work towards redemption? Is there more to be revealed about the Sarang Resort fire or was it just a horrible tragedy? Can the Smart One City project be salvaged, or will it be shut down? Will Se-ra adopt Granny? Honestly, as long as the ending is happy and filled with smooches from our couple, I’ll be satisfied… but I have a feeling we’re in for a great sendoff to what has easily become one of my favorite dramas, not just for this crazy year, but all time.