My Liberation Notes: Episodes 15-16 (Final)
We’ve reached the end of our story, but our characters’ stories are far from over. Although it’s not the type of drama to give us happily-ever-afters, we do end on a hopeful note. Some character arcs felt more resolved than others which might’ve been intentional. This is a drama that’s all about the journey, not the destination. And what a memorable journey it’s been.
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP
We pick back up with Mi-jung and Gu rediscovering the comfort they shared, falling back into their habit of sharing whatever’s on their minds. Mi-jung and Gu continue seeing each other regularly, although Gu hopes to part ways before he sinks further and shows her the worst of himself. No matter who he becomes and how far he falls, he wants Mi-jung to know that he really, truly likes her.
Gu’s alcoholism is getting so bad that even Chairman Shin talks to him about it, noting that it’s now impacting his work. He urges Gu to get help before it ruins him. Rather than going to rehab or getting more therapy – it seems like he half-heartedly tried that before but didn’t make much progress – Gu talks to Mi-jung.
He tells her that he drinks to quiet the voices of those from his past who haunt him when he’s sober. His anger consumes and exhausts him, so he starts and ends the day drinking. It’s also a form of punishment, never allowing himself to be happy.
Mi-jung can relate to his anger, understanding what it’s like to exhaust yourself by hating others. She’s spent so long hating her ex that she now doesn’t even want him to pay her back – she’d rather keep having someone to blame and direct her anger toward.
She’d even planned on ruining his wedding, but before she could do anything, Gu called and asked to meet. Mi-jung says it’s like he was stopping her from hitting rock bottom, protecting her.
Gu does eventually ask about Chang-hee, which is kind of sweet. I love the begrudging relationship he has with him, like he’s an annoying little brother who he can’t help but kind of like. It seems Chang-hee has been doing quite well for himself. He’s now the owner of a convenience store after trying and failing to start a business.
He even managed to pay off his father’s debt. Chang-hee didn’t want it to affect his dad’s relationship with his new wife, so he worked hard to repay the loan. That leads to Chang-hee finally getting to hear his father compliment him and acknowledge his hard work. Je-ho is still stoic, but he’s more sensitive and forthcoming with his family now.
Things are going less well for the siblings on the relationship front. Chang-hee and Hyun-ah recently had a hard breakup. Chang-hee attributed their relationship struggles to the fact that he’s doing well – Hyun-ah needs someone she can fix. Chang-hee ends it with the promise that, if she ever wants to come back and he’s single, they can try again.
As for Ki-jung, she’s struggling in her relationship with Tae-hoon. Sun-kyung and Yu-rim still haven’t accepted her, and the tension is infecting everything. The couple decided to marry when Yu-rim is 20, but it’s hard to say if they’ll be able to hold out until then. Although they love each other, it’s clear they both feel like a burden to the other. Despite that, they keep pressing forward.
Tae-hoon, especially, seems unhappy and even depressed. He’s still feeling trapped, and the family tension is weighing on him. On the bright side, the Liberation Club is back in business! They meet up again after a long time and reflect on what they accomplished.
While the club lady feels more liberated, Tae-hoon doesn’t – nothing really changed. Mi-jung argues that, even if not much has changed, enlightening themselves about their own issues is progress. They decide to keep meeting and continue striving for liberation. Yay! I love this little group.
Mi-jung may not be fully liberated yet, but she’s on her way. After reading her old diaries from childhood, she realizes that she’s always had more passion than she gave herself credit for. She looks so much more content with her new job and her life in general. She even manages to be civil when running into her ex who finally apologizes and promises to pay her back.
Meanwhile, Chang-hee continues to help take care of Hyun-ah’s ex Hyuk-soo who is barely holding on. In Hyuk-soo’s final moments, it’s not his mom or Hyun-ah but Chang-hee who is by his side. Chang-hee notes that it’s always like this – he was there for his grandparents and his mother in the end, too. He holds Hyuk-soo’s hand and offers comforting words, sitting with him until he passes.
Chang-hee has observed multiple times that he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. That once again holds true when he goes to attend an art history lecture but ends up in the wrong room. He chuckles when he realizes it’s a class for people preparing for a funeral director license. Chang-hee smiles and stays for the lecture, looking like he’s just maybe found his purpose.
Elsewhere, Gu deals with trouble at the club. His work hyung has racked up quite the gambling debt, and his debtors come to the club to collect. Gu barely manages to fight them off, but his hyung takes the money and runs.
Gu puts into practice Mi-jung’s advice to welcome those who have wronged him rather than holding onto anger. He calls his hyung and admits he’s now one of the people he curses when he’s sober, but he’ll welcome him back when they meet again. Gu then takes his personal stash of cash and heads out (to repay his hyung’s debt?).
In voiceover, Mi-jung reveals that she wrote in her Liberation Notes that her life is divided into before and after meeting Gu. (He agrees). As Gu walks along the street, he again takes Mi-jung’s advice and notes the little things that make him momentarily happy, trudging forward step-by-step with a smile. Mi-jung continues she feels lovable now, and her heart is only filled with love. We end on Mi-jung smiling brightly.
That’s the end?! I expected an open ending, but I’d hoped for more resolution. Gu’s life is still a toxic mess, and he never got the help he needed. One thing that bothered me was how lightly the drama treated his alcoholism. Gu had a serious and dangerous problem that required therapy or rehab, not just a shift in perspective. While I loved his and Mi-jung’s connection, she shouldn’t have to be his therapy. It’s not fair, healthy, or sustainable.
I also felt Ki-jung’s arc fell a little flat. Where was her growth? She still made thoughtless, prejudiced remarks and seemed to judge her worth by her relationship status. Don’t even get me started on that unhealthy relationship with Tae-hoon where no one looked happy yet, for some reason, the drama seemed to expect me to root for them. I wanted more for both Ki-jung and Tae-hoon’s characters.
On the other hand, I really liked where we left Chang-hee. I loved the unexpected move of him studying to become a funeral director, which is a great fit for him. He seemed the most adrift of the siblings, and I’m happy he found direction.
And then, there’s Mi-jung who I loved from start to finish. Watching her blossom into a happier, more confident version of herself was so satisfying. By the end, she’d let go of a lot of her anger and made room for more love in her life. And how great is it that her Liberation Club lives on, giving her and each of them the support to continue on their journeys?
While I can’t say I loved each of our characters’ endings, I did love spending the past eight weeks with all of them. It wasn’t always an easy watch, but there was a raw beauty to witnessing these imperfect characters navigate the messiness of life and find their own version of liberation.