Our Beloved Summer: Episodes 15-16 Open Thread (Final)
Our finale is here, and it’s time to follow our characters to the conclusion of their tale. For some this means confronting their scars, while for others it means embracing their dreams and allowing themselves to grow. But for all the closure and wrap-ups, the ending also gives us the satisfaction of knowing that the story isn’t over, even if our drama has wrapped.
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP
I’m having some mixed feelings about our finale — I found it delightful and satisfying, but it was also a bit light-handed and full of the tropes we know so well. And yet, the ending matched the tone of the drama and gave me enough to feel satisfied, so I’m not entirely sure why I’m complaining. Maybe it’s just the gush of ending week PPL, or the token time jump that have me a bit fatigued — even though Our Beloved Summer played both well.
It’s also the first point in the story where I started to feel a little annoyed with Ji-woong. I’ve felt for him deeply and loved his dilemma of being locked in his outsider/observer position, but this week he’s so deep in the thing he’s dug himself, that it’s starting to feel like a cage. And I feel locked up with him.
Thankfully, our PD comes in to help, as does the lovely Chae-ran, and Ji-woong pulls himself up, though slowly. First, a great scene with his mother (what a testament to facing one’s wounds), and second, after our time jump, a lighter and happier looking Ji-woong on the other side. Thank goodness for that.
The drama so often its episodes with Ji-woong that I always feel like I have to address him first as this precursor to our leads — but really everyone hits rock bottom before our drama ends. Yeon-su misses Woong’s cool night exhibit after her grandmother collapses and is hospitalized, and after this, she’s afraid she’s broken her relationship with Woong once again. She sits on his doorstep in tears in the snow. Yeon-su sure has changed!
Meanwhile, the exhibit is lovely to my eye, but it doesn’t go as Woong and Eun-ho expected. Not only does Nu-a reappear (ouch, Kwak Dong-yeon, why you so mean!) with some criticism that goes right to Woong’s heart, but a well-known art critic is even more harsh. The critic shines light on the “immaturity” of Woong’s art, and understandably he’s left broken. (Mostly, I’d argue, because he also knows he needs to grow.) And so, in Episode 15, basically everyone hits a personal nadir, and needs comfort and reassurance.
But just like life, dark and difficult moments are often necessary to lead us to the light, and just as Ji-woong finally confronts his mother, Woong also confronts his own inner demons (lies) that he’s only been living a borrowed life, and that he’s not worthy of the perfect parents that adopted him.
Once he and his mom finally talk this out, it’s as if something comes loose. Such a touching scene of comfort and love; his mother tells him from now on he should sleep peacefully, and indeed, his whole journey up and till now was about facing his abandonment and the many fears that caused in his heart. Now, he’s finally able to go abroad and grow his art, because his heart is healed and there’s actually space for that growth to happen.
It’s the same for Yeon-su. Though her grandma recovers and promises to live a long time (phewf!), the situation — along with the opportunity to go abroad with Woong — forces Yeon-su to reassess her life and her identity. In a really beautiful moment, she realizes that her life has never once been pathetic; instead, as she says, “the only person who made my life seem pathetic was me.” And so, with this new wisdom, Yeon-su is so much more confident in who she is. And with Woong’s long-awaited “I love you,” she’s become a more strong and whole woman.
So, each of our characters’ journey wraps up in a satisfying way, and we’re given just enough to know that they have grown and changed and we can leave them knowing they’re safe. I guess the complaint, if I dare to lodge one, is that this wrap-up required the over-used Europe disruptor, and the requisite time jump.
However, the Paris story element did take an interesting twist, as the show made it easy for Woong and Yeon-su to go together (thanks to the return of the [hot] Lee Joon-hyuk and his job offer). This is rare, as we know, because usually with foreign travel, it’s a forced separation, not a convenient mass migration. Still, Yeon-su decided to stay behind, which works for me, since it represents her contentedness with her life and identity. And it also makes sense that Woong needs to go, because he’s finally ready to grab a hold of life.
In the same way, I can’t get too mad about the two-year time jump, because we of course want to see what happens when Woong returns, and how everyone is after they’ve had time to heal. And while much has changed, much has remained the same. Sol-yi and Eun-ho are still dancing around each other until he finally makes a move (omg I love them so much); similarly we see Chae-ran finally confessing the obvious to Ji-woong, and while that’s left open-ended, at least it’s been said.
And our couple? They get their happily ever after. They not only get married (yay!) and move into Woong’s beautiful house again, but they’re approached to shoot a third documentary, covering their married life. And who wouldn’t want to watch that?
The married life docu is a fun wink to end on, but of course what makes it all satisfying is that we know our characters are healthy and happy. Yeon-su has accepted herself and learned to love who she is; Woong has faced his trauma and it shows in his art: he now draws people!
There were so many parts of this drama that I loved, and so many great messages and moments, but I think the one that remains with me the most is the documentary metaphor — that it’s the ordinary moments of life make our story. Sometimes we can’t see it because we’re in the middle of it, but the story is there, and it’s ours.