Business Proposal: Episodes 11-12 (Final)
All good things must come to an end, but will our archaeopteryx and leading lady have a fairy tale K-drama finale? Grandpa’s keen on separating them, but maybe our heroine can win him over with her charm and love for his grandson.
EPISODES 11-12 WEECAP
As expected, there was more to Hari’s conversation with Grandpa than what was shown last week. The extended scene reveals that she was able to come clean about all the subterfuge, and Grandpa’s resulting cold dismissiveness stems mostly from his concern that her association with Tae-mu will create rumors and sully Tae-mu’s reputation.
Since their relationship was all a lie, he tells her to cut ties with Tae-mu to avoid any potential fallout. Before she can admit that she and Tae-mu are now in a real relationship, though, Sung-hoon calls with word that Tae-mu was involved in an accident.
Hari follows Grandpa to the hospital — in a taxi because he rudely doesn’t give her a ride — where he buckles down on his opinion of her, even after Tae-mu – who’s barely injured from the car wreck, by the way – explains that he’s dating Hari for real. Tae-mu even drops the L-bomb, but Grandpa cannot overlook Hari’s lies and deception.
Tae-mu argues that he was the one who blackmailed her to participate in their fake contract relationship. If Grandpa wants to blame someone, he should point fingers at Tae-mu. And, Tae-mu threatens, if Grandpa won’t accept the woman he loves, then he can kiss his dream of great-grandbabies goodbye. It’s Hari or the highway, Grandpa.
Young-seo picks Hari up from the hospital, but on the way home, it starts to rain. Hari, remembering Tae-mu’s PTSD, asks Young-seo to pull the car over so she can run back to the hospital… in the rain… without an umbrella. So, of course, she’s soaking wet when she rejoins Grandpa and Sung-hoon in the lobby. On the bright side, her obvious concern for Tae-mu and sprint through the downpour softens Grandpa’s glare — slightly.
She finds Tae-mu standing at the window, where he appears calm despite the rain. As he gazes at the skyline and the view of N Seoul Tower, he’s reminded of his childhood, of his father calling the tower a Christmas tree, and of the time his parents came up with a convincing lie that extended the number of years he believed in Santa.
The trip down memory lane inevitably leads to discussing the car accident that took his parents’ lives. Although the tone is serious, the flashbacks are theatrical and stylized in such a way that’s reminiscent of some of the drama’s earlier scenes (e.g. Hari’s interpretation of their fake rainy day meet-cute), which helps blend the tragic subject matter with the light-heartedness of the drama.
Tae-mu — predictably — ends his tale of woe with an admission of guilt, having blamed himself for their deaths. If only he hadn’t insisted that they drive through the torrential rain so that they could spend his birthday at the theme park! But our unconventional heroine comforts him in an equally nontraditional way: by asking him if he blames her for his recent car accident, too.
“Of course not!” he objects, and because he’s so distracted trying to reassure her, he fails to notice her smile. See, she tells him, your parents wouldn’t want you to blame yourself for their accident, just as you don’t want me to feel responsible for yours.
After unintentionally falling asleep at Tae-mu’s bedside, Hari returns to work the next day and finds that she’s at the center of a scandal — all thanks to that fart kazoo Yoo-ra. In typical jealous girl fashion, Yoo-ra believes Hari is the one who lit her dumpster relationship on fire, so she takes to the interwebs and posts a tell-all comment. She exposes both Hari’s seven-year unrequited crush on Min-woo and her secret relationship with Tae-mu, and people jump to the conclusion that Hari is two-timing.
While Grandpa and Sung-hoon keep Tae-mu in the dark about all the rumors so he can recover peacefully, Hari weathers the gossip storm and professional repercussions. Thankfully, her team members have got her back, and Kevin channels his own inner archaeopteryx to shut down a pair of employees who are insulting Hari’s looks and integrity. Hari is overwhelmed by their support and gathers them for a group hug, choking poor Kevin in the process.
Young-seo also does her part to keep the rumors from reaching Hari’s parents’ ears, but she racks up a massive bill when she offers to cover the tab for all Mom and Dad’s customers as a means of distraction. As Young-seo cries over her 450,000 won receipt, Hari reveals that she’s not going to hold Yoo-ra accountable. Hari feels that she’s partially to blame for Yoo-ra’s jealousy and insecurities. (I understand taking the moral high ground, Hari, but Yoo-ra’s actions affected your professional reputation! Sic Young-seo on her!)
Back at the hospital, we’re treated to some bromantic fan service as Sung-hoon helps Tae-mu put on his sweater. The intimate, almost-but-not-quite-a-back-hug moment is interrupted by a nurse, who bashfully scuttles away to give them some privacy. Alone again, Tae-mu playfully whispers in Sung-hoon’s ear and tickles him under the chin because Sung-hoon’s mini freak-outs are the most adorable thing ever. (Well, writer, if you want me to abandon my OTP ships, this is how you do it.)
With his cell phone confiscated, Tae-mu sneaks away to use a payphone and call Hari. He pouts that she didn’t come by to see him, and — oblivious to the stress Hari’s under — Tae-mu admits that he’s happy Grandpa now knows about their relationship. He’s on the verge of broaching the topic of marriage when the payphone cuts their conversation short.
Without any coins on hand to call her back, Tae-mu returns to his hospital room, where he overhears Grandpa arranging for him to return to the United States. Tae-mu assumes it’s a plot to separate him from Hari and stresses that he will not be breaking up with her.
What if — hypothetically — someone finds out you’re dating an employee, Grandpa asks. But Tae-mu is confident their relationship can survive. After all, people won’t gossip if he marries her. Grandpa is startled by Tae-mu’s declaration, but he quickly returns to his glowering and grumbling as Tae-mu begs him to approve of their relationship.
Tae-mu’s appeal didn’t work, and the following day, Hari is summoned to the chairman’s office. Since Grandpa failed to send Tae-mu overseas, he tries to separate the lovebirds by transferring Hari to one of the company’s remote factories. Or, she can hand in her resignation. Those are her options.
Hari, however, responds to Grandpa’s offer with a giant hell-to-the-no. She’s worked too damn hard for the company to quit, and — in case he hasn’t glanced at her company profile — she lists all her many accomplishments to prove her value. So take that!
Next we see Hari, though, she’s regretting her outburst, and while she wanders aimlessly around Seoul to calm down, Tae-mu finally finds out about the scandal. He removes his own bandage — ‘tis but a flesh wound — and returns to the office, where he beelines straight for Hari’s department. He’s panicked to discover she was summoned to Grandpa’s office and hasn’t returned.
Once again — seriously, this is getting old — Grandpa forewarns the dangers of dating Hari. Beware the fragility of Tae-mu’s reputation as company president should he be caught dating a mere employee! The scandal! The board of directors!
Well, to hell with the board of directors! If they want me to resign, Tae-mu says, then I’ll resign, but stop messing with Hari.
He storms out of the office, but he still doesn’t have his cell phone. He tries to locate Hari at her home first, and Mom and Dad are understandably confused when “Kevin” shows up asking for Hari, who should be at work with him. To complicate matters, Tae-mu addresses them as his in-laws, and Mom becomes outraged at the thought of her daughter dating a man in his forties.
Ha-min steps in to defend his rich brother-in-law and lets Tae-mu borrow his cell phone. Tae-mu escapes and uses his newly acquired cell phone to leave Hari a voicemail. When she returns the call later, she’s at N Seoul Tower, and he rushes to meet her.
He takes her back to his place, where things get steamy. Their romantic evening starts out innocently, with a gentle back hug which turns into a tentative kiss. But then – oh my Goblin! — Tae-mu pushes her against the wall and increases the passion. Things continue to escalate until bow-chicka-bow — wow! — is this allowed on Korean television?
While Tae-mu was being formally introduced to Rachel and Samantha, Young-seo and Sung-hoon have dinner with her father. Things go surprisingly — suspiciously — well. So well, in fact, that when Young-seo finds an engagement ring in Sung-hoon’s glove compartment, she wonders why he’s waiting.
So what does our shy and sexy secretary do? He pulls the car over, vents his frustration that she’s always beating him to the words he wants to say, and gets down on one knee. Yay! One of our couples is engaged!
But the celebration is short-lived. Young-seo’s father calls Sung-hoon and demands that he break up with her, not knowing Young-seo overheard the entire conversation.
Although Sung-hoon still feels dejected the next day, Young-seo is calm and resigned, having accepted that her parents are crappy people a long time ago. Fortunately, she’s surrounded by many other wonderful friends, including Hari and her family, who have prepared a birthday meal for her.
Speaking of Hari’s parents, Mom doubts that Hari really spent the night at Young-seo’s. Dad assures her that Hari is a “good girl,” but Mom counters that she was a “good girl,” too, when she lied to her parents and went on that trip with Dad when they were younger.
Her intuition is proven correct when they return to the restaurant and spot Tae-mu dropping Hari off at home. Mom immediately goes into attack mode, but her temper is quelled after a sneaky online search yields Tae-mu’s net worth.
Hari’s father, however, remains quiet, even after they sit down to drink and celebrate Young-seo’s birthday. Sung-hoon proves himself to be an observant wingman and advises Tae-mu to speak with Hari’s father alone, so Tae-mu follows Dad when he excuses himself from the table.
The two men have a touching heart-to-heart, as Dad shares how ashamed he is that Hari couldn’t pursue her dreams growing up because their family didn’t have enough money. Dad’s biggest concern with her dating Tae-mu is how their relationship will expose Hari to people’s judgment and ridicule. Tae-mu admits that he would be lying if he swore Hari wouldn’t get hurt, but he promises Dad that he will protect her with all his might.
Tae-mu may have won over Hari’s father, but Young-seo decides to cut ties with hers. She arrives at his office and hands in her resignation. She’s not an object for him to possess or control with his money, and her parting words are a reminder that it was her birthday, which he clearly forgot. He looks appropriately scolded.
At home, Sung-hoon is supportive of her decision, but what will she do now? She’s always wanted to start her own business, and there’s no time like the present. It might be a little difficult because her severance pay isn’t the ideal amount to get a start-up off the ground, but it turns out Sung-hoon is quite the saver and investor. There are a lot of zeros in his bank book, and he insists on helping her.
Meanwhile, Grandpa continues to be obstinate and fakes a medical emergency in order to scare Tae-mu into being more compliant, but Grandpa’s lie is exposed before he even gets the chance to emotionally manipulate Tae-mu. Hari sees the situation as an opportunity to win Grandpa over, so she volunteers to take care of him at the hospital.
Grandpa does his best to maintain his cranky, disapproving façade, but Hari’s effortless ability to engage him in conversation has him slipping. He’s impressed by her knowledge of fish and wants to regale her with tales of his fishing expeditions, and when Hari begins singing along with the television program they’re watching, he taps his pineapple-socked feet along to the tune.
Hari still feels like a failure, though, because every time she made some headway, he just as quickly crossed his arms and resumed his glowering. Her failed efforts are a blow to her ego, as she prides herself on being a nursing home idol who can charm the socks off people over sixty!
Tae-mu is consoling her when the doctor joins them and explains that the tests he ran as part of Grandpa’s fake illness revealed a legitimate problem with the stent in Grandpa’s chest. Unfortunately, there’s no way to safely repair the issue in South Korea, and if Tae-mu wants to extend Grandpa’s life, he needs to seek treatment overseas.
Tae-mu asks Hari to join him in the United States because he can’t stand the thought of being away from her, and he would also prefer to have her by his side for moral support. Hari declines the offer, though. She knows if she follows him the gossip and speculation will only increase, and she can’t place that added burden on him when he’s already worried about Grandpa.
Thankfully, our couple agrees to navigate a long-distance relationship instead of having a last-minute finale breakup. Even so, I grit my teeth when the one-year-later text pops up on the screen, and the drama does everything to show us just how much life in Seoul had changed over the last year.
Hari’s hair has grown out, and she now occasionally wears glasses. Kevin, who has upped his fashion game, is managing his own team, and even though he acts tough around his subordinates, he’s still an aegyo-using softie around Eui-ju, his wife.
Sung-hoon has taken the year off from work while Tae-mu is in the states, and he’s become the perfect house-boyfriend to Young-seo. That’s right, they still aren’t married, but I assume it’s because they are putting their money towards Young-seo’s start-up company and holding off on the wedding ceremony.
Hari’s parents are doing well, too, but Mom is growing annoyed with Tae-mu, who hasn’t returned to South Korea as quickly as he’d promised. She suspects that he has another woman, and her speculation is perfectly timed with his latest scandal: that he’s dating a cellist.
At first, Hari is trusting and dismisses the scandal as fake news. But then he doesn’t answer her calls or her texts… Welp, that’s enough for Hari to cash in some of her vacation time, pack a suitcase, and adorn a you-will-regret-cheating-on-me-because-I’m-so-pretty outfit.
As she loads her suitcase into the trunk of a nearby taxi, Tae-mu emerges from the backseat. She’s deliriously happy to see him, but then she remembers the scandal and slaps him in the chest. Tae-mu explains that he was on the plane back to South Korea — to surprise her — when the scandal broke. The scandal was a lie leaked by the cellist’s parents, who disapprove of her real boyfriend.
After the misunderstanding is cleared, our favorite couple takes a walk among the cherry blossoms, and Hari asks if Grandpa approves of their relationship yet. Of all the things to remain unchanged over the past year, of course it’s Grandpa’s stubbornness.
But it seems Grandpa has come around with time because he gave specific instructions to Tae-mu: Don’t come home unless Hari accepts “it.” The “it” in question is a gorgeous engagement ring. (Oh my! Are those little raindrops around the band?!)
Hari is surprised by the sudden proposal, but Tae-mu reminds her that he’s a man who hates wasting his time. Since he can’t stand spending any more time apart, they should get married. Hari lets him place it on her finger, but as they walk away – happily, together again – she teases that she never said yes.
Well, Beanies, I wish I could say that I was happy with how our story wrapped up, but I’m not. I went into the finale trusting that Grandpa’s anger was either an act or would be resolved quickly, so I was disappointed that his uncharacteristic behavior was neither of those things. The longevity of his disapproval zapped the life and humor out of our final episodes, and I feel deprived of a proper farewell with one of our most beloved characters.
The drama also lost sight of its cheeky self-awareness. Through most of its run, Business Proposal was a pastiche, taking beloved K-drama tropes and exploiting them for our comedic benefit. It was gloriously self-aware of the rom-com genre and unapologetically celebratory of its roots, which was a large part of the drama’s charm and appeal.
Unfortunately, towards the end, Business Proposal stopped doing what it did best and started taking itself seriously in the worst way possible — like a Nicholas Sparks novel that should be shelved under romance but somehow winds up in the literature section. In our final two episodes, we got a scandal, a jealous ex, a sick loved one, a last minute couple separation, and a time-skip. Did any of these tropes spark joy or bring something new to the table? No, they detracted from an otherwise happy ending.
I could go into greater detail about how I think this drama should have wrapped up, but I won’t do that here. Instead, I think I’m going to take advantage of our current Theme of the Month and do a little ending fixing. I’ve enjoyed “squeecapping” this drama so much that I’m going to be a little self-indulgent and say goodbye on my own terms.