Nevertheless: Episode 10 Open Thread (Final)
In our final episode, our heroine must come face-to-face with failure in both art and love. She’s hit rock bottom, but will she be able to rise from the ashes, much like her final project? Is there still room for her to be happy? Does she even want to be happy?
EPISODE 10 WEECAP
We made it to the conclusion, folks, and Nevertheless deserves a round of applause for doing everything I was hoping it wouldn’t, and giving us a conclusion that was meant to be satisfying, but proves anything but. The finale ties up loose ends, rides its metaphors into the stratosphere, and the story ends without ever really landing its message. I guess there was none.
We pick up where we left off last week, with Na-bi and Jae-un’s charged conversation in the rain, which ends in heartbreak for both parties. Well, we knew Na-bi was heartbroken over Jae-un, and has been for some time, but it’s news to us that Jae-un not only has a heart, but that it’s equally broken over finally losing Na-bi. The two mourn, sulk, and drag themselves through life for the first quarter of the episode.
As if we didn’t know that Na-bi was falling apart, we have her trusty final project to act as a metaphor to hammer in the point. A ceiling fan randomly falls in the studio, crushing her torso sculpture into literal shards — in other words, the drama is trying to tell us that Na-bi is broken, and her relationship is shattered, as is her hope in herself.
Na-bi’s piece has always been a metaphor for her relationship with Jae-un. Whether she was struggling to understand it (at the start of the drama), unsure of whether it was falling apart or being built (middle of the drama), or whether it smashed to the ground into bits (our climax) — the drama couldn’t have been more annoyingly clear about this connection. So, it’s only right that Jae-un turns up to help her put the pieces back together, literally and figuratively.
Instead of pouting, they’re now smiling, working together, and rebuilding the thing. They’ve effectively taken a mess and made it into a masterpiece. I will give the show credit here — the final piece is gorgeous in its industrial-yet-romantic state of half decay and half freedom. Where it gets annoying, though, is that we’re meant to overlay that onto the Na-bi/Jae-un romance. And boy, do we ever.
Jae-un tells Na-bi that she looks the happiest and the prettiest when she’s working, and his words hit her. Even after he’s “disappeared” off campus, Na-bi is strangely transformed by his statement, as if she never knew she loved art before. Her love for it is invigorated, and her resolve is also strengthened. But Jae-un is out of the picture, so things are still not 100% right in Na-bi’s world.
While she’s once again waffling in her misery, she finally looks at the notebook that went from Jae-un’s possession to hers only to find a sketch he drew of her. It depicts the first moment he saw her (the first awful gallery scene in Episode 1). This is meant to make us not only believe Jae-un’s words, but also become convinced of his true-hearted intentions towards her. So effectively, the entire drama has just been erased. All we did was take a meaningless, nihilistic trip through Na-bi’s uncertainty.
The class made it through their semester and they’ve all gathered at the final exhibition, wowed by the work of Sol, Na-bi, and others. Do-hyuk shows up to praise Na-bi’s talent. Na-bi is even praised by the professor (whose opinion is the only barometer of artistic success in this story). But something still isn’t sitting right with Na-bi.
Na-bi now has everything she wanted — except the thing she didn’t want, which is actually what she really wanted if she was honest with herself. And so, she’s finally put out of her misery when she returns to the gallery in the evening and finds Jae-un staring at the masterpiece they made together (*cue more heavy-handed metaphors*).
This concluding scene between the two is one of the worst I’ve ever sat through. Jae-un is tearing up because Na-bi has accepted him and asked if he wants to date. When he counters that she hates him, she agrees. Na-bi admits that hates him and she’ll regret this decision, but she still wants him by her side. “I know it will cause me pain again, nevertheless…” is our closing line. They kiss and look happy while I reach for something to throw at the screen.
Really, Show? So then what was the point of the last ten hours? I’m tempted to write a magnum opus about the epic fail this story has been, but for the sake of sanity, will scale it back into a few thoughts.
This drama did exactly what it shouldn’t have, taking the easy route of a playboy whose heart was transformed(ish). We spent the whole drama doubting Jae-un alongside Na-bi, and hearing nothing from his character, until the two final episodes. Here, some narration is casually thrown in to show us his feelings are, indeed, genuine. Hell, he even lets his butterflies free into the night. The butterfly metaphors that drench this story are gag-worthy at this point. We get it. He set them free like he set Na-bi free, and what do you know, she came back to him for more. So that’s one reading of the plot: what not to do.
My second reading is this: what if this story is really just an anti-feminist dissertation in fictional form? After all, it essentially tells us women don’t want to be happy, and will willfully choose the exciting playboy over the stable breadwinner.
Na-bi turns down Do-hyuk once and for all saying she’s choosing Jae-un despite knowing he’s “not someone that will make me happy.” Unpopular though it might be, I can’t shake the feeling that this story can also be read as a roast of the female psyche, or if that’s too strong for you, perhaps just Na-bi’s psyche.
The best option for the drama, of course, was to follow the original webtoon’s story, which we’re now free to talk about without fear of spoilers. In the webtoon, the reader gets actual storytelling satisfaction: we learn that Jae-un was indeed playing Na-bi the whole time to get back at his ex, and as disturbing as that would have been for a conclusion, how much better would all the parts have fit together? Na-bi would learn that her instincts were correct, and we the audience get the vindication we’re sorely missing in the drama version of this story. I much prefer this to the white-washed nothingness we land on.
These three opinions/options aside, I actually believe the drama thinks it nailed its point better than it did. I think it wants us to take this away: follow your heart no matter the consequences. However, it’s nearly impossible to take this as the moral of the story, because the story has done everything to undermine its own message.
And then there’s our epilogue. It’s hard to make an ending like this one worse, but nevertheless, our drama does just that with its epilogue. We watch Na-bi and Jae-un meet up on the street. Jae-un turns down some girls that have gathered around him [like butterflies], and the two walk off, deciding where they should go out to eat. Na-bi pauses when she sees Do-hyuk in a neighboring building, but the two walk on, talking random nonsense. Jae-un says they should raise a cat. But Na-bi says he’s not allowed any more pets — not even butterflies. They chuckle. I gag.
Really, Show? While some might be able to pull a more meaningful message out of this mess of a conclusion, I am unable to do so.
Na-bi’s momentary regret seeing Do-hyuk, to me, proves my point that this drama basically elevates unhealthy relationships and romanticizes self-destruction — instead of what they were probably going for, which is Na-bi owning her decision. Either way, they’ve completely alienated me from any lingering emotional connection to this story, and no amount of “happy” endings will be able to change that.