Kairos: Episodes 15-16 Open Thread (Final)
In a powerful finale, Kairos delivers everything we were expecting and more—a satisfying, emotionally resonant resolution of our heroes’ journeys so far. As always, the attention to detail and excellent performances bring this story to vivid life. These characters have burrowed into my heart, and I’m sad to say goodbye.
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP
With Kim Jin-ho comatose in both timelines, Present Ae-ri and Seo-jin focus on taking care of Jin-ho’s daughter, Ji-ah, and bringing down the Lieutenant Park, the policeman who killed Seo-jin’s dad, attacked Jin-ho, and is their main suspect for Ae-ri’s murder.
Fortunately, Ji-ah confesses to Ae-ri that she saw the attack from her bed, and bravely identifies Park. He’s put behind bars, saving Ae-ri’s life.
In the future, Chairman Yoo bails Taek-kyu out. Realizing that they can’t wait for Jin-ho anymore, Future Seo-jin comes up with a dangerous plan. He convinces Yoo he has The Recording, meeting him at an abandoned rooftop for the exchange.
In a nice echo of his father’s actions, Seo-jin prompts Yoo to admit that he purposely exploded Taejung Town to benefit his company. He’s chillingly blase about it, saying that he only gave meaningful deaths to people who would’ve died anyway.
Disgusted, Seo-jin reveals his bluff, and that he recorded the conversation. Yoo’s men throw him off the top of the building. Over the phone, Present Ae-ri and Seo-jin listen in horror, but they’ve recorded Yoo’s confession.
Seo-jin’s alternate memories reveal Hyun-chae and Do-kyun’s betrayal. He tells Do-kyun about Hyun-chae’s past and warns him that he’ll die at the hands of her father. Do-kyun confronts Hyun-chae’s father anyway. Both men die this time, too.
Their plot thrown off by all the changes in their timeline, Seo-jin and Ae-ri move up the schedule for the rooftop confrontation. They stop Yoo’s men from killing Seo-jin, and their recording is enough to have him indicted.
Jin-ho wakes up and testifies at Yoo’s hearing, playing the elusive original recording, which seals the deal.
He apologizes to Seo-jin for the kidnapping plot, and turns himself in, which means Hyun-chae is charged, too. Seo-jin informs her that he’s divorcing her and taking sole custody of Da-bin.
Ae-ri and Seo-jin finally have that gathering they’d planned, taking their families on a joint camping trip. 10:33 loses its power, becoming like any other minute of the day.
Y’all. What an excellent finale week. My only complaint is that now this show is over, and I won’t get to see Seo-jin and Ae-ri solving mysteries and beating the bad guys together every week. I was wondering what on earth the show could pull out in its finale that would surpass what we’ve seen before—it seemed like a straightforward issue of tracking down The Recording and passing it to authorities.
But they really went for it with Seo-jin sacrificing his own life for the sake of justice. What a gut punch, and a beautiful mirror to his father’s bravery 19 years ago.
It was a brave writing choice to kill both protagonists in the course of the drama, giving it even greater stakes just when the story might have begun to lag or feel repetitive. Ae-ri’s death not only motivated Gun-wook to team up with Seo-jin, it brought her mother on board, and revealed Lieutenant Park’s continued involvement as Yoo’s minion. And Seo-jin’s death allowed them to go all out in getting Yoo to confess, trusting themselves to be able to intervene before it was truly too late.
I love how it demonstrated the deep level of trust between our heroes, the incredible teamwork and friendship they’ve built up over time. The two timelines collapsed into one once Seo-jin no longer existed in the future to talk to Ae-ri, ramping up the tension to a fever pitch for the finale. (I keep saying this, but the directing is SO GOOD.)
I wasn’t sure at first why Seo-jin warned Do-kyun, and the drama never quite reveals his motive, but I wonder if it was a show of mercy toward Hyun-chae. Perhaps he felt some pity once he saw how devastated she was by Do-kyun’s death, and heard about her abusive childhood. She was willing to quietly leave Da-bin and Seo-jin’s lives. But I kind of love that the show leaves it ambiguous. The scene near the end when Seo-jin goes to visit Hyun-chae in jail is perfect. He doesn’t hold any more anger toward her, but he doesn’t have patience for her self-pity either. She was the architect of her own destruction.
At the moment he finds out the truth about his wife, when Ae-ri asks Seo-jin if he regrets becoming connected across time with her, Seo-jin replies, “Whether in the past, present or future, I never expected a life without pain. But I’ve come to know that there’s no hope unless I face the truth.” Exposing and dealing with painful truths certainly seems to be the thesis of the drama, and the purpose of the connection across time that Ae-ri’s dad somehow allowed them to have. That’s echoed nicely at the end of the drama, when they both acknowledge that they no longer need to know the future. The kairos has fulfilled its purpose; they’re both happy to live in the moment now with their loved ones.
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