United Effort to Accomplish One Thing: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread (Final)
United Effort to Accomplish One Thing takes an interesting turn in its final week, putting its full attention on wrapping up the mystery, and giving us the context for a strong finish. Rather than the shroud of mystery we’re used to, our final episodes are pretty straightforward, focusing on the why once we know the who, and giving us everything we need for a meaningful conclusion.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
We left off last week with a suddenly suspicious Bit-na, and Jung-wook’s huge reveal on live TV. While Bit-na’s mother works hard to prove her daughter’s innocence (which leads to a truly touching mother/daughter moment — I love these two actresses!), Jung-wook’s plot all but blows up in his face. At first, his statement that he was In-ho’s ghost painter drops jaws, but then it comes with a bit of a reversal: Hae-joon has released the audio recording from his father’s murder, and it’s pretty clear that Jung-wook is guilty as he flees from the stage.
Everyone at the house finds out about this pretty quickly, and Jung-wook marches into the house like a madman, ripping “his” paintings off the walls, confronting Sul-young over the documentation he has of their entire devious plan — and he leaves breadcrumbs for the younger generation, as well. For Hae-joon, the location of his father’s body; for Bit-na, the clues she needs to expose the other half behind the murderous plan: Sul-young.
There are a lot of things I enjoyed about this drama — like its slick way of passing us information, delivering twists, and sprinkling in some great humor. But hands down, what really sold this story for me was the richness of the characters. Rather than being two-dimensionally “good” or “bad,” we see so many sides to all of them through well-executed reveals. Especially our plotting murderers.
First, we see their plotting, and learn the details of how they carried it out. It’s been meticulously planned, from the identical letters that Sul-young delivers, to the nicotine injection by Jung-wook, to the terrible moment when In-ho goes into shock and dies an excruciating death. Good God, what a scene. It made my skin crawl to watch him suffocating, with Sul-young sitting there watching and crying.
It would have been easy to leave Jung-wook and Sul-young as horrible and disturbed people that decided to get rid of their tormenter. But our drama adds some flashback sequences that contextualize and throw light on our murderers. We see their torment, like Jung-wook guilty, threatened, and belittled all his life, and Sul-young, heartbroken after her miscarriage, and buried in hatred for her ex-husband. (The scene where she was weeping over the family portrait was one of the strongest in the dramas — my hat is off to Kim Jung-young.)
But what makes this drama great is that they don’t give us insight into our murderers until later. First, we’re left to dislike them, whether it’s Sul-young’s creepy plans and hateful ways, or Jung-wook’s infinite self-pity. Then, when the drama shows us more of them — their pain, their hurt, and their history — it adds so much dimension that we are left with pathos for their characters. These are not baddies we can write off without a second thought.
With our two murderers and their plot out in the open, what does our story have left to tell? I was glad that solving the murder wasn’t the end of our story — instead, we get a great final episode where all of our “innocent” housemates joins forces for one last hurrah. When we think of where we’ve come from at the start of the drama — so much conniving and back-stabbing amongst our characters — to where we end up at the close, it’s quite satisfying. Hae-joon becomes particularly heroic, telling Bit-na he has no interest in the inheritance. She agrees, and then Hae-joon shares a plan to ensure that no one gets the money.
Scam artist that he is, Dokko Chul has run off with In-ho’s painting and set up a fraudulent, money-making memorial exhibition. Rather than let this be the end of the tale, our characters (even Sul-young) come together to deliver a final stroke of justice. And even better — that justice not only means everyone working together (yay, cousins!), but everyone agreeing to render the entire fortune null and void.
We knew our characters were good at plotting and being suspicious of each other, but turns out they’re even better at working together. Their caper-like operation to pull a fast one on Dokku Chul was a great way to wrap up our drama.
Part of my brain was holding on for one final gasp of a twist as our drama closed — but instead, we got a strong moral at our finish line. Sul-young is calmly taking responsibility for her actions in prison, Dokku Chul is ruined, Hae-joon has been able to grieve and get closure on his father’s murder, and Mrs. Park moves on trying to find “detachment” (lol).
Our mother and daughter have also grown from this situation — Bit-na’s confronted her past, and her mother (now working as a part-timer at a convenience store, hah) is no longer mired down by her greed. They are lighter, happier, and more at ease. Bit-na and Sul-young were also able to resolve their fear and/or bitterness towards each other, and Sul-young leaves Bit-na with the wish that she enjoys her life, and not waste it in hatred like she did.
In the end, I suppose the final twist was that the fortune that everyone was vying for evaporated into thin air — and that they chose that solution willfully. While I don’t think I expected such an even-keeled ending from this drama, I actually like that they pulled a meaningful message from a dark tale of murder, money, and mystery.