Happiness: Episode 12 (Final)
The ending is just what I’d hoped for, devoting most of its time to sorting out the mess at the complex but leaving enough time for a final wrap-up. It’s been a fun ride with a surprising amount of heart and hope, one that’s all about connection and those by our side we often take for granted.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
As Sae-bom donates her blood, she again watches the video Yi-hyun recorded for her. She calls his phone, but it goes to voicemail. Sae-bom spots Seo-yoon in the hallway and ends up going with her to visit her mother.
Seo-yoon’s mother is lucid but doesn’t look well. She tells Seo-yoon that she caught a cold and makes her keep her distance so she doesn’t get sick before her surgery. Once Seo-yoon leaves the room, her mother says it’s thanks to Seo-yoon’s letter that she’s been able to hold on for so long.
She asks Sae-bom to keep looking after her daughter and then urges Sae-bom to leave. She can’t hold back anymore and turns, straining against her restraints.
Elsewhere, Tae-seok interviews So-yoon about the state of the apartment complex. He asks how many are currently infected and wants details about those who died from the infection.
Outside, Sae-bom promises Seo-yoon that she and Yi-hyun will visit her after her surgery. When Seo-yoon guesses that her mother is infected, Sae-bom assures her she’ll get better. But Tae-seok later tells Sae-bom that Seo-yoon’s mother probably won’t last much longer.
Tae-seok hands Sae-bom the last remaining vial of the treatment and observes that her antibody count is decreasing. They need this vial to create more of the treatment. When he says the commander is coming to take her to the lab, Sae-bom asks if he’s breaking his promise.
He’s not. He has Sae-bom sneak out in military garb to evade the officers who’ve come to retrieve her. They arrive as Tae-seok injects Young-in with the treatment and surround him with guns raised. Once he’s finished, he turns himself in.
On her way out, Sae-bom slips into Seo-yoon’s mother’s room. She takes out the vial and injects her with the treatment. She hears a gun cock and turns to find Ji-soo in the doorway, pointing her gun at her.
She berates Sae-bom for using the last of the cure, but Sae-bom argues she can’t be the only one with the antibodies. Yi-hyun has her, but Seo-yoon doesn’t have anyone, which is why Sae-bom decided to give Seo-yoon’s mother the last dose.
Ji-soo sighs but switches clothes with Sae-bom and sneaks her out. Sae-bom gives her quick hug and starts to leave, but Ji-soo holds her back. When Sae-bom hilariously thinks she wants another hug, Ji-soo pushes her away and clarifies that people will be suspicious if she’s unharmed. Although it was her idea, Ji-soo gets all nervous but eventually lets Sae-bom hit her in the face with the gun.
While Sae-bom escapes in the car Tae-seok prepared for her, Tae-seok gets an earful from the commander. Tae-seok explains that Sae-bom showed him there was a way to succeed without reducing people to statistics.
When she arrives at the complex, Sae-bom hands over the document Tae-seok prepared for her and is let in. She tries contacting Yi-hyun via the radio Tae-seok gave her, but there’s no response. In case Yi-hyun is listening, Sae-bom says she never realized how much he meant to her, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get to him.
At the command center, we get a peek into Tae-seok’s next plan. When Ji-soo covers for Sae-bom to the commander and says she likely went abroad, Tae-seok intervenes. He reveals Sae-bom went back for Yi-hyun and then drops a key piece of intel: there’s another antibody carrier in the apartment. He asks for authority to take over the operation.
Meanwhile Sae-bom gets Hyun-kyung and Soo-min to let her back in the apartment. When she asks about Yi-hyun, they go quiet.
We flash back to the previous day when Yi-hyun bit Andrew. Young-ok watches terrified from the doorway, but Yi-hyun comes to almost immediately. He calmly walks past her and down the stairs. Young-ok runs to Andrew and tries to pry the gun from his hand. Suddenly, he grabs her arm.
Hyun-kyung spots Yi-hyun, covered in both his and Andrew’s blood, as he goes back to his apartment. He lies exhausted on the couch but smiles when he looks at his and Sae-bom’s picture on the wall. He wakes to Hyun-kyung standing over him, worried.
In 601, Joo-hyung surreptitiously pops another Next pill while Sang-hee and Hae-sung are busy trying to figure out his password. Moon-hee comes banging on the door, begging for Joo-hyung’s help in saving her husband.
Sang-hee and Hae-sung insist Joo-hyung isn’t in and slam the door. When Hae-sung rounds the corner, Joo-hyung lunges at him and bites his arm, pretending to be infected. Sang-hee and Hae-sung go running into the hall and take refuge in Hae-sung’s apartment. While Joo-hyung bangs on the door, Moon-hee approaches him.
In 501, Yi-hyun wakes to Hyun-kyung and Soo-min bickering over whether not he’s infected. Ha, Hyun-kyung has outfitted her brother in a catcher’s mask in case he goes feral, but he claims his thirst has lessened. Yi-hyun anxiously asks about Sae-bom and is relieved to hear she and the others made it out.
He divulges that he bit Andrew and says he needs to catch him because if he’s still alive, he’ll be even more dangerous now. The siblings accompany him Yi-hyun to the roof, but Andrew is gone.
In 601, Joo-hyung watches the news (service has been turned back on) while Moon-hee feeds Se-kyu in the other room. Yi-hyun and the siblings pay Joo-hyung a visit, but he says he hasn’t seen Andrew or Young-ok. He keeps up the lie that he’s infected, but of course, Yi-hyun knows the truth.
Yi-hyun explains that not everyone who takes Next gets infected. He then pushes his way inside to check on the cleaning couple. Yi-hyun almost goes zombie in the presence of the bleeding Se-kyu but he manages to hold on.
He correctly surmises that Joo-hyung is keeping the couple there in case he turns and needs blood. Yi-hyun warns him not to step out of line or he’ll lock him in the basement. When Joo-hyung follows Yi-hyun out of the apartment, Moon-hee swipes the pills and feeds one to her husband.
Yi-hyun and the siblings next stop by Hak-je and Sung-shil’s. Hak-je insists they’re fine but asks them to look after Dong-hyun and tell him to come home. Yi-hyun warns him about Andrew and then heads for the elevator with the siblings.
A very disheveled Young-ok steps out of the elevator and warns the siblings to stay away from Yi-hyun. She then shares that Andrew is dead; she repeatedly bashed his head in with the bat after he raised the gun. But she still thinks his body is on the rooftop and refuses to believe Yi-hyun that the body is gone. When she goes up and sees for herself, she convinces herself Yi-hyun hid the body.
Downstairs, Yi-hyun leaves his sidekicks inside while he goes into the garage. He spots Dong-hyun in his car, bloody and crying. He’s been bitten.
Soo-min is amusingly afraid of the infected and wants to keep Dong-hyun out, but Yi-hyun lets him inside. Yi-hyun argues Dong-hyun has a better chance of holding out if he’s with his family, so Dong-hyun returns home in tears and apologizes to his father. Hak-je welcomes him back with open arms.
After taking the pills, Se-kyu feels better. He suggests pulling out the knife, which seems like a bad idea. Moon-hee gives him another pill, and he says that they shouldn’t leave this place empty handed after everything. “Let’s take this apartment.” And the bad ideas keep coming.
Moon-hee lures Joo-hyung into the room. Se-kyu slices Joo-hyung’s arm, but that’s all the damage he can do before Joo-hyung escapes. He runs to beg for Sang-hee’s help, even offering to give her his money. That gets her to open the door a crack, but when he reaches his bloody hand in, she slams the door on him.
Joo-hyung then runs to Yi-hyun for help. When Yi-hyun questions Moon-hee, she lies that Joo-hyung gave them the pills and said they’d heal the wound. Yi-hyun is sick of Joo-hyung’s drama and takes him to the gym, but he lets him take his laptop.
Sang-hee stares at the laptop intently as Yi-hyun and his sidekicks lead Joo-hyung to the elevator. Young-ok steps out and demands to know where they’re taking Joo-hyung. She shoots Yi-hyun one hell of a glare when he warns her to watch herself or he’ll quarantine her next.
In 601, Moon-hee and Se-kyu go through all the fancy jewelry and cash in the apartment while discussing how they could kill Joo-hyung and make it look like a zombie did it. Moon-hee gives Se-kyu another pill because of the pain; he wonders why he’s so thirsty.
Back in 501, Hyun-kyung thanks Yi-hyun for staying behind – she knows he did it partly to look after everyone. Yi-hyun sends them home, saying he’ll rest before looking for Andrew again. Hyun-kyung wants to help, but Yi-hyun admits he’s still struggling a lot and could be a danger to her.
While cleaning the apartment, Yi-hyun finds the radio, but it seems to be broken. Even so, he turns it on to ask Sae-bom if she’s well and say he misses her.
We jump back to the present, and Sae-bom is elated to hear that Yi-hyun is still alive and okay. Sae-bom shares that the lockdown will lift soon and runs home.
Meanwhile, Sang-hee tries to sneak into the gym office to steal the laptop, but Joo-hyung manages to grab her. Young-ok pops in and offers a deal: she’ll break his handcuffs if he helps her get rid of Yi-hyun. Even Joo-hyung thinks she’s lost it, but he looks tempted.
From his apartment, Yi-hyun hears a woman scream. He runs into the hall where Joo-hyung is holding a knife to Sang-hee’s throat. Young-ok sits on the floor and suggests they kill everyone and pin it on the infected. Yi-hyun yells that they’re the true monsters here.
Joo-hyung cuts Sang-hee’s arm, flinging the blood at Yi-hyun before shoving her toward him. Yi-hyun manages to resist the thirst long enough to push Sang-hee into the stairwell for safety. Young-ok’s laughter follows him as he runs back to his apartment.
While Joo-hyung bangs on the door, Yi-hyun hides under a blanket to try to regain control. But his hand is covered in Sang-hee’s blood, and his pupils constrict.
Sae-bom arrives during this madness, first running into an unhinged Young-ok in the hall as she says that she totally deserves to be rep. Sae-bom placates her and sarcastically says she’ll vote for her. Then, she heads for Joo-hyung as he bangs on the door and screams for Yi-hyun.
He tries to pretend he’s infected, but Sae-bom’s well-placed kick between his legs cuts that short. Sae-bom rushes inside and finds Yi-hyun huddled on the couch, fighting the change. She rubs his back and talks to him, assuring him that she’ll stay by his side. “Stay with me,” she says.
Yi-hyun finally starts to calm down and turns to look at her in amazement. She tells him she’s okay no matter what state he’s in and kisses him. They hold onto each other for a while.
Meanwhile, Tae-seok and Ji-soo head to the complex. She’s surprised to hear that their only evidence Soo-min has the antibodies is anecdotal: So-yoon heard from Hyun-kyung that his wound never changed.
In 602, Hae-sung ignores Sang-hee banging on his door and stares at his texts to So-yoon. Now that he’s lost her, he misses her and realizes how much she meant to him. She picks up when he calls, but only to tell him not to call again.
He quickly gets over his heartbreak and guesses he’ll settle for Sang-hee who still wants him. They get into Joo-hyung’s bitcoin account, but their celebratory expressions fall when they see he’s in the red. (So satisfying.)
According to the news Dong-hyun and his parents are watching, stock markets are crashing globally due to the virus. With all this coverage, the family is hopeful for a cure and that someone will soon save them. So they’re ecstatic when soldiers break down their door and lead them out.
Soo-min is taken away on a stretcher while he and Hyun-kyung swear he’s never bitten anyone. Tae-seok checks the bite on his neck – it’s not infected. He radios that he found the carrier and then orders Ji-soo take Yi-hyun and Sae-bom to the dorms.
The cleaning couple flips out when soldiers burst into “their” apartment and drag them away from their recently acquired possessions. Meanwhile, Yi-hyun and Sae-bom leave Joo-hyung and Young-ok on the roof. They decide to move Se-hoon’s body back to his apartment, so Yi-hyung goes to open the door to 1501. (Oh no, Andrew’s going to be in there, isn’t he?)
Yep, it’s Andrew with the gun. Yi-hyun refuses to call for Sae-bom and instead tries to wrestle the gun away. Sae-bom hears a gunshot and finds Andrew holding a gun to Yi-hyun’s head. He orders her to drop the gun, but Yi-hyun yells for her to shoot as he holds his stomach.
Sae-bom lowers the gun … and shoots herself in the arm. Newly infected Andrew quickly turns and advances on her, but Yi-hyun shoots him in the head before he can reach her. Sae-bom runs to Yi-hyun and cradles his head.
He’s barely conscious and tells her to keep being the good cop. Yi-hyun’s head drops. Sae-bom holds him close and wails. (If he dies after that gunshot wound while Andrew survived multiple wounds to the head, I am going to be pissed.)
We cut to an unspecified amount of time later. Young-ok and Joo-hyung stand trial for their crimes. At the dorms, we see that Seung-young is still alive. At the complex, a healthy Seo-yoon runs around the grounds and into Sae-bom’s arms. An equally healthy Yi-hyun wraps his arms around Sae-bom from behind. (Yay!)
Seo-yoon says she has somewhere to be, leaving the couple alone. They reminisce about last year’s lockdown, and Sae-bom asks when Yi-hyun started liking her. Yi-hyun says he always has and even became a cop because of her.
She nudges him, “So are you happy now?” Yi-hyun replies, “Of course, as long as I’m with you.” They both look happy as they playfully race home.
What a perfect ending for this drama. Despite the whole global-zombie-pandemic thing, the drama wasn’t grim or pessimistic in tone, so it was fitting that the villains all paid their dues and the heroes came out on top. The message here is hopeful: even when the world is full of negativity or outright villainy, it’s worth it to be decent and not compromise your values. Sometimes, a simple good wins story is nice.
This drama worked largely due to its characters and its straightforward story that didn’t take itself too seriously. I’m all for nuance and complexity, but there are times when you just want to sit back and enjoy a drama without having to think too much. This drama understood that and gave us a fun zombie-type tale that had more heart than nuance. It could’ve fallen flat but the character focus and short episode count kept it engaging. The good guys were easy to root for, and the bad guys were fun to hate.
Yi-hyun and Sae-bom were great leads who were easy to sympathize with. Yi-hyun was lovable from the start, kind and quietly strong. Sae-bom was brash and had a temper, but she was principled and willing to risk herself for others. She was a great mix of selfish and self-sacrificing in a way that made her feel like a real person. The drama really rested on Han Hyo-joo and Park Hyung-shik’s shoulders, and they carried it well. Not that I’m surprised – I already liked both of them. They infused their roles with heart and had great chemistry.
The side characters were well-acted too, and I appreciate that they were given their own arcs and time to develop. In particular, Bae Hae-seon was great as the uptight Young-ok who came unglued as the story progressed. There was just the right amount of camp, especially with the baddies, to be entertaining without feeling completely ungrounded.
I’d wondered throughout why the title was Happiness, but the last episode cleared that up. The characters who achieved happiness maintained their humanity (both infected and uninfected) in the direst of circumstances and came out the other side stronger. The lockdown revealed people’s true natures and what was truly important to them. Most of the residents showed themselves to be greedy, selfish, or even downright cruel. But a handful took the harder road that ended up leading them to happiness. It’s the embodiment of the maxim “you reap what you sow.” Those who put good into the world earned their happiness.
Honestly, I didn’t expect too much going into Happiness, but it ended up being a lot of fun. The tone was surprisingly light for the plot. It was more thriller than horror, which made it suspenseful but not particularly dark. This is a drama that I took more at surface value, not fixating on the details or expecting something overly deep. For me, watching Yi-hyun and Sae-bom navigate their unfortunate circumstance while growing closer and finding their own happiness along the way was enough.