The Spies Who Loved Me: Episode 16 (Final)
The truth can’t be kept from our quick-witted designer. While dealing with the loss of someone important, she decides to live life for herself going forward. She soon discovers a new passion, although it’s not something her ex-husband would pick for her. Embarking on a new adventure, the exes work together to crack another case.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Ah-reum takes the two identical wedding bands to her jeweler who confirms that the one from the reservoir was recently rush-ordered by Derek. This gets Ah-reum thinking and she searches up how to assume a new identity, then realizes that Derek is alive.
A motorcyclist cuts off Ji-hoon’s path in an alleyway, hopping off and flippantly greeting him with, “Happy to see me? I came back from the dead.” Derek thanks Ji-hoon and explains that the only way to end the investigation was to disappear…so he did.
Ji-hoon chastises Derek for putting Ah-reum through so much, but the ex-spy insists that she would’ve gone through worse had he stayed. Ji-hoon calls him out for being a selfish jerk and urges him to come to his senses. “You think you can live a normal life after abandoning your wife?”
Circling back to an old conversation, Derek shares that wearing his first disguise made him unsure about a career in espionage. However, going undetected while using his own face was thrilling and he could see himself taking on different identities for the rest of his life.
While that may be true, Ji-hoon knows that Derek loves Ah-reum and can’t understand why he’s throwing something so precious away. Life is meant to be shared with the people you love. There’s sadness in Derek’s eyes as he says that protecting Ah-reum is his way of loving her. He agrees that he doesn’t know the feeling of losing someone he loves, but he’s about to find out.
Ji-hoon is beyond frustrated and decides to arrest him after all. Derek isn’t sure whether he’s joking or not but makes a run for it at the last second. Ji-hoon manages to pin Derek against the wall but doesn’t lock him in handcuffs.
Ji-hoon’s promise to help Sophie start a new life will now be extended to Derek. This means that Derek can never show up again. Appreciative, Derek asks Ji-hoon to help Ah-reum out when needed. Ji-hoon warns Derek not to think about those he’s leaving behind. “Just live a lonely life without any shame, you jerk,” he says gruffly.
There’s unspoken camaraderie as they steal final glances at each other. Derek thanks Ji-hoon and rides away, passing Ah-reum’s car on his way out. When Ji-hoon returns to Gulliver Publishers, she’s already there, waiting.
Ah-reum jumps right into it and pulls out the identical rings. “Derek’s alive,” she claims. When Ji-hoon insists that Derek is dead, Ah-reum astutely points out that there’s no solid evidence that links the body to him. She feels betrayed thinking about how many tears she shed for him. “How could he be so cruel?”
She’s resolute in her belief that he’s still alive because only Derek would be able to tie up the loose ends of the investigation so neatly. Ji-hoon says that if he were hypothetically alive, then Derek must’ve thought it was the only way to end everything. Ah-reum knows that’s true, but she’s still livid and has decided to forget him from this moment forward.
“They say marriage buries love, but that’s wrong. It’s love that turns marriage into a grave,” Ah-reum muses. By trying to accept who Derek was out of love, she was slowly killing herself. Exhausted, Ah-reum explains that she merely came to look Ji-hoon in the eyes to see whether Derek is alive. Now that she knows, she doesn’t intend to probe any further and will move on for her own sake.
When she gets up to leave, Ji-hoon calls out, “If you feel like you’ll collapse from this, just let it happen. I’ll be there for you.” Later, Seo-ra shares that she’s also suspicious about Derek’s death but believes that they should leave the case as is. With finality, Ji-hoon declares him dead and that the case is closed.
Back at Areumdan Dress, Ah-reum measures a dress shirt and recites Derek’s measurements by heart. She knows him so well, yet doesn’t know who he really was inside. Ah-reum’s not sure they would’ve truly gotten to know each other even if they grew old together.
As we watch Derek hold back tears after making his choice, Ah-reum says in voiceover, “Derek Hyun. I was going to get through this together with you, but you had different plans.” Ah-reum tried her best up until the end and has finally reached her limit.
Two Years Later.
The dress shop is bustling with business again and Ah-reum is as capable as ever. When a client hesitates choosing the sleeveless dress she truly loves because her fiancé prefers her with armpit hair, Ah-reum talks her into following her heart. The groom-to-be is mad that Ah-reum convinced his fiancée to shave, but the designer reasons that the hair will grow back thicker and longer next time. Pfft.
While working in the back room of the shop, a courier knocks on the door to deliver a package. Ah-reum is reminded of a time when Ji-hoon showed up in a suit just months after Derek’s “death.” He broke the news that he would be stationed in Europe for two years and would be flying out that night.
Ji-hoon wanted to check up on her, likening it to how people check on their house before leaving for a trip. He took out a pincushion ring and slid it onto her finger.
Ah-reum was taken aback by the suddenness of it all but Ji-hoon reminded her that he never gave her much notice in the past either. She diverted the conversation to his undone shoelaces and wished him well on his travels.
Outside, Ji-hoon smiled down at his shoelaces. It’s said that loose laces meant someone was thinking about you so he liked to imagine that person was Ah-reum. Through different terrains and seasons, Ji-hoon continued to tie his shoes loosely until we catch up with him in the present day.
He’s back in Korea (with his laces done properly) as the new chief now that Jin-min has been promoted to Police Commissioner. Hee, Jin-min’s wife still doesn’t believe that he’s in the force and thinks he’s cosplaying in a police uniform.
The agent-turned-chief is put to work immediately and takes a call to confirm that the US Department of Justice is requesting the extradition of a Mr. Ham. He then heads straight to Areumdan Dress. When Ah-reum hops into her car, Ji-hoon tails her and ends up at the PPL soup restaurant.
Ji-hoon is utterly confused when she meets with a young man whose face is covered with a cap. Ah-reum sneakily places a USB in a cup and slides it over to the man, leaving without finishing her lunch. Ji-hoon confronts the guy outside, surprised when Young-gu turns around.
The three of them end up back inside the restaurant for a proper meal this time, but Ji-hoon ignores their questions about his return to Korea and barks, “Why were you two meeting and looking suspiciously like a rich lady trying to catch a cheating husband?!”
Ah-reum corrects Young-gu on his habit of calling her Ji-hoon’s wife, and Ji-hoon spits out his water when Young-gu reveals that Ah-reum is his informant.
In fact, she’s their top source of information and has helped take down a drug ring that used her dresses to smuggle goods. Ji-hoon leaves Ah-reum with a gift for her and Du-rae, then makes Young-gu follow him.
They arrive at Gulliver Publishers where the shelves are stocked with copies of Dating Sutra by Cupid Gu. Young-gu brags that he sold over 50,000 copies already – way more than the 500 travel books Ji-hoon sold.
Adding fuel to the fire, Young-gu criticizes Ji-hoon’s choice of gifting Ah-reum with duty-free perfume. “You can’t win her heart back like that,” he claims. Having heard enough from Young-gu today, Ji-hoon is ready to beat him up.
The surprises don’t end there though, because Seo-ra shows up and links arms with Young-gu, acting all lovey-dovey. They introduce him to the team’s new recruit named Tae-gu, who uses Ji-hoon’s old helmet for his own courier disguise.
Ji-hoon sets up a meeting with informant Kang Dae-bong (Ah-reum’s codename) and they’re both on edge when she enters his office to discuss the case on hand. Ji-hoon drops the formalities first and tells her to stop putting herself in danger.
“I was in more danger when I was around you,” says Ah-reum, who considers this a hobby. Sure, it’s dangerous, but so are activities like scuba diving and mountain biking. Ji-hoon wonders if she’s doing this to shock him, but she counters that nothing can be more surprising than their first encounter in this office.
He pleads with her not to be an informant and Ah-reum is disappointed that he can’t separate his personal life from his professional duties. He asks if she truly likes this work and she nods, “I think I was born to do this.” She has great wedding industry connections, drives well, and is a sharpshooter like him.
Ji-hoon wonders if he pushed her down this path, but Ah-reum insists she found it herself and doesn’t like that he’s treating her like some cheating wife. She suggests that he submit an official request next time he requires her services and leaves on her own terms. Once she’s out the door, Ah-reum gasps that he looks different in his new suit and almost felt attracted to him.
The team debriefs the newest case targeting a Hong Kong party-girl-turned-broker named Veronica Jang. She’s the wife of a Singaporean billionaire and was involved in various incidents, including one where she bribed a US diplomat to leak the country’s defense secrets.
The Buzz Wing Club holds secret meetings for rich and influential Asian couples and their next meeting will be at the DDK Hotel in Seoul. All attendees can be potential buyers, but Interpol has their sights set on CEO Wang Jin Ryong and her husband, who have been buying up islands across Asia.
Ji-hoon’s concerned with only one thing: why do they need an informant? Seo-ra explains that Dong-ran was invited to the meeting this year and agreed to help out. Her cousin Dong-joo is the chief secretary of DDK Hotel and can easily mingle with club members without raising suspicions. It just so happens that Dong-joo looks similar to Ah-reum.
Pfft, Ji-hoon yells that they look nothing alike and insists that Seo-ra goes instead, while Young-gu can play her husband Logan Park. Logan speaks four languages and is six feet tall so only one person on the team fits the bill. Ji -hoon. He protests that he’s a chief, but the thought of Young-gu or Tae-gu playing Ah-reum’s husband shuts him up.
Ji-hoon visits Ah-reum’s office and spots the duty-free bag sitting on her desk unopened, like Young-gu predicted. Ah-reum wonders what he’s doing here after lecturing her earlier in the day. Ji-hoon admits that he’s still processing the fact that she enjoys this line of work and notes that this will the first time they’ll be partners in something they both like, since they both hated marriage to begin with.
After briefing Ah-reum on the latest mission, she requests a different agent to act as her husband. She lists off a few reasons: he was lacking as her real husband, he doesn’t have classy eating etiquette, and can he even ballroom dance?
To prove his skills, Ji-hoon gets up and spins her around. Ah-reum runs out of excuses and admits that she heard a rumor from Dong-ran. The couples at the club are known to swap partners. His eyes widen, “You knew that and were planning to go with Young-gu?”
Du-rae enters the office and is surprised to see Ji-hoon looking more handsome than before. After he leaves, Du-rae warns Ah-reum not to get involved with him again – dresses get ruined whenever he’s around.
Ji-hoon returns later that night to study their target. They’ll be playing newlyweds, so Ah-reum permits physical contact. Ji-hoon gets serious and asks, “How far?” He complains that putting an arm around her shoulder or linking arms doesn’t suit a newlywed couple, but she warns him not to kiss her.
Getting back to the subject matter, their target is Veronica and her husband Henry, whom they’ll have to watch closely. They also identify potential buyers who may cut a deal with Veronica: CEO Wang Jin Ryong, Philip Chang (the chairman of a horseracing club), and the Genie couple.
Taking a break, Ji-hoon whisks Ah-reum onto her office floor to practice dancing. He instructs her to stand tall and gaze into his eyes, but their moment is interrupted by the sound of Du-rae’s voice. They scramble to gather the paperwork and hide in the dress room.
Ah-reum forgot that today was cleaning day – all hands are on deck and the staff are here to tidy up. They make a run for their secret room to avoid getting caught and occupy themselves with their phones. He covers her with some fabric when she dozes off and by the end of the night, they’re fast asleep next to each other.
Young-gu tells Ji-hoon that Veronica will definitely close a deal during the club meeting, as she’ll be leaving the day after. He’s concerned when it comes to Ji-hoon’s performance since he wasn’t a great husband to Ah-reum. Learning that Ji-hoon doesn’t even have a wedding ring prepared, Young-gu hands him the one he left behind at the office.
Ji-hoon heads to the jewelry shop but can’t find a matching ring for Ah-reum. Thinking back to when they’d originally bought them, he had promised to buy Ah-reum a nicer ring for their 10th anniversary. She’d commented that her fingers would get thicker and wrinklier with age, but he said he’d just propose again.
Ah-reum brings Ji-hoon into the fitting room, handing him a suit for their big day. She smiles to see that it fits perfectly. Ji-hoon gives her a rosary ring since the Dong-joo couple got married at a Catholic church. “I vowed to never touch another wedding ring,” Ah-reum says.
She gave Ji-hoon’s ring to the Salvation Army and threw Derek’s out the window while driving. Ji-hoon asks about Derek, but Ah-reum doesn’t tell him that she once saw him at a hotel lobby. She recognized him despite the fact that he disguised himself with grey hair, but he was gone the moment she looked away.
Ah-reum searched around but was unable to find him. When she returned to her seat, she found an apple with a pin stuck in it. In voiceover, a future Ah-reum wonders what would’ve happened had she turned around that day…it would’ve changed everything.
To answer Ji-hoon’s question, Ah-reum claims that she hasn’t heard anything since the incident. She barely thinks about him these days and believes that if he were alive, he’d probably be traveling. Ah-reum thinks of herself as someone he met during his travels.
Even if they had stayed together, Ah-reum’s not sure they would be able to completely understand each other. She claims that she’d be able to pass by him if they ever meet again.
On the day of the operation, the Gulliver team poses as hotel employees and sets up surveillance in one of the rooms. Ah-reum sews a hidden camera into the button of her outfit and places a fake gun into her purse.
When all the couples in question are accounted for, Dong-ran introduces Ah-reum as the hostess of the party. As per Buzz Wing Club tradition, Ah-reum has prepared little fortune slips that a bird will pick from for each member. Veronica is up first, and she’s not happy with hers: “Check your pocket. You will lose something important.”
When the next fortune is drawn, Veronica slips away from the group so Young-gu is tasked with following her. Ji-hoon takes over as host when CEO Wang makes a move, so Ah-reum can follow her out. The CEO seems to be clear – she merely takes a call from her mother.
When Mrs. Lim (the wife from the Genie couple) leaves her seat, Dong-ran takes over so that Ji-hoon can situate himself between the remaining men. Mrs. Lim finds Veronica in the restroom and they exchange pleasantries while adjusting their broaches.
Ah-reum interrupts their deal by entering the room, immediately noticing that they are both wearing spider broaches. She bumps into Veronica, causing the pin to drop. Ah-reum gets to it first and offers to help Veronica put it on but instead, reveals the memory card hidden inside. “Be careful, I think you lost something important,” she says.
Mrs. Lim makes a run for it and Veronica uses the distraction to hit Ah-reum with her purse. The women grapple for the broach, drawing blood as it digs into Ah-reum’s palm. Victoria gives up on the broach and runs away after tossing Ah-reum to the ground.
Seo-ra overhears Mrs. Lim making a distress call and radios Young-gu to restrain the husband. By the time the Genie couple reaches the ground floor, the Gulliver couple has already apprehended them. Woohoo!
Ah-reum closes in on Veronica and they enter the art gallery to continue their fight. Veronica’s husband Henry finds them biting each other so he smashes a wooden table, poised to attack Ah-reum with the sharp leg. Ji-hoon arrives just in time to kick Henry away, but the man takes out a gun. Although Ji-hoon easily disarms him, he gets pinned to the ground.
Amidst the chaos, Ah-reum yells, “Yeobo,” and tosses her gun in his direction. Henry gets to it first thinking he has won, but Ji-hoon just laughs, “That’s an air gun.” By the time Dong-ran comes waltzing in, Ah-reum and Ji-hoon have the couple tied up and are grinning at each other.
Ji-hoon and Ah-reum share a glass of wine, congratulating each other on a job well done. They decide to have the bird read their fortune. Ah-reum’s fortune is: “Don’t lend money to a friend. You’ll lose a friend.” For Ji-hoon, it reads: “You’ll buy a house this year.”
Unsatisfied, Ah-reum picks a second one: “Bring yourself back to the happiest moment in your life.” She wonders when that was, but Ji-hoon looks at her with so much love in his eyes and answers that it’s this moment right now, together. Smiling, they lean forward and kiss for the first time in years, finally finding their way back to one another.
Overall, that was a really fun final episode that felt like a first episode. It reminded me of Ji-hoon and Ah-reum’s first meeting in Jeju, where he saved her from being scammed by the con artists. It’s really impressive how Yoo Inna was able to convince the audience that she was whole heartedly in love with Derek when they were together, yet the chemistry with Ji-hoon was still off the charts. While I wish we were able to get even one extra episode of Ji-hoon and Ah-reum being unabashedly in love, I’m quite satisfied with the finale of this series.
I think Ah-reum was able to find peace in her heart knowing after seeing concrete evidence at the hotel that Derek is still alive. She had very strong suspicions, but that apple and pin made it fact. Derek gave Ah-reum time to heal before letting her know that he’s okay, which I think was the right choice. Usually, leaving a loved one because they’re “better off” that way is considered being a Noble Idiot. In Derek’s case though, Ah-reum really did fare better without being drawn deep into his darker world of espionage.
Their marriage ended in a messy way, but taught them both valuable life lessons. I love that Ah-reum lives for herself and does things on her own terms. It’s important not to overlook everything for the sake of love, which people often do without realizing that it’s hurting themselves. Compromise and sacrifice are normal in a relationship, but there comes a point where it becomes unhealthy to try and accept every single flaw in a partner.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that Ah-reum is an honorary Interpol agent and top informant. She’s an absolute natural at this and watching her run the show with Ji-hoon gave ultimate power-couple vibes. If she was able to bring down the Big Boss of Helmes, the rest of this would be easy for Ah-reum. I love that she was able to find joy in this newfound hobby without being influenced by a significant other.
Ji-hoon was always the one I was rooting for although admittedly, I didn’t see how they would possibly find their way back together. There’s so much love, regret, and longing dripping from his eyes whenever he lays eyes on Ah-reum. That final look he gave her before they kissed at the end…ahhh! I melted. They barely knew each other the first time they got married, but they understand one another on a deeper level now. I have no doubts that they will cherish this second chance that they’ve worked hard for, and take with them the many lessons they’ve learned about communication and fostering a positive relationship. They had undeniable chemistry throughout the show’s run, and I selfishly wish that we could get one more episode where they can just be adorably in love!
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