The Veil: Episodes 11-12 Open Thread (Final)
As we reach the conclusion of our tale, our hero is finally able to put together the puzzle that’s long been unfolding around him. The hinge pin and missing piece in the equation — the rogue agent responsible for it all — quickly becomes a major part of our tale’s conclusion.
EPISODES 11-12 WEECAP
Ji-hyuk arrives just in time to save Deputy Director Lee from his demise, and learns an important bit of information that will set the rest of the drama’s action into motion: Baek Mo-sa is responsible for this attempted murder. Also, as confirmed last week , he’s basically the mastermind behind everything that went awry for Ji-hyuk a year ago.
And so, Baek Mo-sa quickly goes from tangential bad guy amongst a pool of bad guys, to the Big Baddie. Deputy Director Do is brought back to the NIS for her final mission: a special task force to catch Baek Mo-sa once and for all, a job which she takes quite seriously, having been responsible for his trajectory.
All our players join forces at this point, and it’s actually pretty satisfying to see them working together for a change, instead of in little factions against each other (viz., Do, Ha, Kang, and of course Ji-hyuk and Ye-ji).
The team locates Baek Mo-sa’s abandoned warehouse hideout, and quickly sets up a raid. While the plot here might not be terribly exciting, I did enjoy seeing Ji-hyuk work with other operators — particularly Chief Ha who I’ve grown way too fond of. The team shows their true professionalism and courage as they try to clear the warehouse even though it’s booby-trapped with bombs and soon results in a huge and deadly firefight.
Ji-hyuk corners Baek Mo-sa at one point, but he has a secret weapon that’s an important clue for later: he sets off an EMP that disables all electronic currents within a certain proximity. This means the team is without any kind of coms, and even their vehicles won’t work. Baek Mo-sa makes his escape, but not before a stand-off with Ye-ji, who’s trying to save Ji-hyuk’s life. Here we see a glimmer in Baek Mo-sa; he has the opportunity to, but can’t shoot the woman who’s just called him “Dad.”
Lest Baek Mo-sa become a flat villain with no narrative color, we learn more about his backstory and psychological condition, from his brutal experiences in prison, to how that torment caused his current dissociative disorder. It makes sense now, especially for Ye-ji, why her father doesn’t seem like her father. Still, like the beloved Darth Vader archetype, there is still good in him, and a shadow of the man he once was still exists.
Next up is what turns out to be Baek Mo-sa’s actual master plan, which Ji-hyuk, Ye-ji, and the rest of the team piece together just as quickly as it unfolds in front of them. At an NIS ceremony to honor fallen agents, a suicide bomber soon reveals an even bigger threat: Baek Mo-sa has invaded a major financial institution, and essentially forces the NIS choose between disabling an EMP device that will cripple the entire nation’s economy, or save the 30-something hostages he has trapped.
It’s all quite typical, and not that satisfying, to have our twisty tale culminate in a single act of revenge from a deranged agent — but if I look more at the ramifications and less at the plotting, I actually like it. Baek Mo-sa is damaged and deranged and wants to show the NIS’s callousness towards innocent lives (in the same way that he was betrayed). So the EMP versus hostages is more about the moral and ethical dilemma than the excitement of the set-up.
There are several reveals and reverses baked into this scenario, but of course, at its core, it was set up solely for Ye-ji’s character. Here she plays Luke Skywalker to her father’s Darth Vader, and her mere presence is able to change her father’s heart — he can’t sacrifice her along with the other hostages, and thus his plan is quickly overturned by our ever-awesome Ji-hyuk.
While the plot of The Veil (and particularly this “final battle”) got a bit more tired and predictable as we went on, I still liked how the drama was brought full circle. And The Veil’s ending was satisfying to me mostly because of the very K-drama-esque way it chose to wrap everything up — i.e., relying on our hearts, perhaps a bit more than our brains, to bring the story to its conclusion. And thus we have Ye-ji’s tearful goodbye to her father in the aftermath of the bloodbath that has just occured.
The drama’s twists and reveals might have lost impact over the course of the drama, but I do appreciate that it remained very much devoted to its thematic core around our NIS agents: the focus on psychological damage, how one’s morality is impacted, and how the question of losing your own humanity (or how close to that edge you can get ) is written into the job.
Perhaps that’s why, despite feeling a bit unsatisfied with how all the pieces fit together structurally, or why Ji-hyuk’s elaborate plan against himself was even truly necessary, I liked where the drama landed: with a nod at the heroes that actually live these lives, and their service to their country. A burst of patriotism and respect feels to me like quite a nice note to end on.
My favorite aspect of the story was of course Ji-hyuk and his journey. Namgoong Min was electrifying in this role (and has a new fan in me), but more than the twists breaking my brain, what I thought most effective was the portrayal of personal sacrifice and commitment that we saw in our larger-than-life hero. I admittedly never got tired of Ji-hyuk being a badass, getting the job done with no care for his personal safety, to the extent of being willing to jump on top of a bomb to protect those around him. Perhaps this is why Ji-hyuk’s story, when stitched to the examination of heroism and sacrifice, made me like the ending more.
The wrap-up was fun, too. Ji-hyuk and Director Kang are serving time for their crimes, and we meet Ji-hyuk after he has served his five-year sentence. He’s back in his old apartment, staring at the wall — everything and yet nothing has changed. He’s got letters from Ye-ji that he never opened until now, and then we see Ye-ji, soaring in career, and ready to contact Ji-hyuk after his release. If I’m not crazy, there’s a little something in the air between them, and shockingly, I don’t hate it.
But for our final sequence, we get a closing hero moment for Ji-hyuk, who’s called out of his cave to again serve his country. And so, despite all the scars and experiences in his past, he puts on the suit, slicks back the hair, and is ready to continue the fight.