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Showtime Begins!: Episodes 15-16 (Final)

As the time for goodbyes draws near, our characters prepare to take their final bows. But when every ending leads to a new beginning, is it ever really the end?

 
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP

With two out of three ghosts’ final wishes satisfied, there’s only one employee’s story left to resolve: Sang-goon’s. We already know he left behind a wife and a piano-playing daughter, and as we’d expect, they’re what tie him to this world.

Sang-goon’s daughter has taken piano lessons since she was very small, delighting both parents with her talent. While Sang-goon was still alive, she’d promised to become proficient enough to play a particular piece for him, and he’d taken on extra work as a replacement driver to buy her a piano. One night, his very drunk customer had grabbed the steering wheel, sending them swerving into oncoming traffic – and that’s how Sang-goon died.

Now his daughter believes she’s responsible for his death, since he took the job to pay for her piano. Overcome with guilt, she swears off the instrument, despite having a competition the next day. With Cha-woong’s help, however, Sang-goon is able to visit her in a dream, absolve her of guilty feelings, and encourage her to keep playing.

But, in all honesty, this storyline fell a little flat for me. It came out of nowhere, resolved itself too easily for its own emotional weight, and left me confused about its message. Is she carrying on with piano because she loves it and needed to have that love restored, or out of obligation to do it for him? And why should we care?

However, Sang-goon’s final wish does give Cha-woong the chance to prove how much he’s changed, because for the dream visit to work, they need a talisman written in blood, and Cha-woong doesn’t even hesitate a moment to offer his, even though it means multiple finger pricks.

With that taken care of, it’s time for the ghosts to say goodbye. Throughout Dong-chul and Mi-young’s posthumous wedding and the ghosts’ actual departure, Seul-hae is the one who seems the most heartbroken.

Cha-woong, on the other hand, remains upbeat, keeping it together until everyone is gone. Then, in arguably one of the most touching moments of this entire finale week, he sits in his dark, empty house and breaks down in sobs.

That leaves us with just the problem of Cheon-moo to deal with, and somehow it both plays out predictably and goes completely off the rails. For starters, once the shamans and Choi Geom finally realize Cheon-moo is still at large, they determine that Choi Geom isn’t strong enough to take him on alone, so Cha-woong volunteers to let Choi Geom possess him and combine their strength.

Unfortunately, he decides to un-learn a lot of the lessons he and Seul-hae have learned about partnership and breaks up with her without explanation, hoping to protect her from harm. She’s unwilling to give up on him, however, which fuels Cheon-moo’s impatience.

After Seul-hae unsuccessfully tries to talk sense in to Cha-woong, Cheon-moo gives her an ultimatum: choose him or die. Hee-soo, trapped deep inside, fights to stop him, throwing himself in front of a moving truck in a last-ditch effort. Seul-hae leaps to save him, and they both end up in the hospital, banged up but alive.

In another show, that might have been the end: Hee-soo sacrifices himself to save Seul-hae, taking out the evil spirit, and we move on to the happily-ever-afters. Not so with Showtime! Instead, Cheon-moo leaves Hee-soo in the hospital and possesses his father, the police chief. Then he kills the elder woman shaman and frames Cha-woong for the crime.

Cha-woong flees to his childhood home, where Ye-ji performs the ritual to meld his and Choi-geom’s souls. They’re ready to face Cheon-moo now, but Cheon-moo has already captured Seul-hae. And just before Cha-woong reaches her, Cheon-moo possesses her body.

He causes Seul-hae to attack Cha-woong, and though Cha-woong overpowers her, he can’t bring himself to hurt her. Instead, he offers himself to Cheon-moo for a new vessel. Cheon-moo agrees, forcing Choi-geom out, and Cha-woong impales himself on Choi Geom’s sword.

At last, Cheon-moo is destroyed. Strength fading, Cha-woong declares Choi Geom’s treachery atoned for and releases him.

But then Cha-woong’s soul appears to leave his body and travels back in time to Princess Cheon-hwa’s chamber the night before she and Poong Baek died. She offers the heavens her life if it will buy Poong Baek’s innocence, asking that in her next life, she be allowed to serve her people as one of them and to love with full measure.

Seeing Cha-woong, she realizes he must be Poong Baek’s reincarnation. Though she understands from what he says that she and Poong Baek will die the next day, she doesn’t waver from her determination to go after him, trusting that her prayers for their next lives have been answered.

Cha-woong’s soul is returned to his body, just as Seul-hae wakes and fears him to be dead. They hold each other tightly, and then we head into the epilogue.

Hee-soo recovers, and Seul-hae urges him to rejoin the police force when he’s ready. His father, meanwhile, pays for his crimes in jail, as Ye-ji’s cop boyfriend has worked behind the scenes to uncover the truth.

Speaking of Ye-ji, these episodes especially made me wish she’d had a much better arc. There’s so much that could have been done with the contrast between Cha-woong, the naturally gifted shaman who refuses his role, and Ye-ji, the less-talented shaman who truly loves the profession and wants to proudly own her family’s legacy. Instead, her scenes were almost entirely annoying filler.

Anyway, back to the epilogue. Choi Geom reaches the throne of the Jade Emperor, only to be scolded for exploiting the Cha family and posing as their general spirit – and is ordered back to earth to atone for that sin.

Cha-woong keeps performing, with a new trio of assistants. (Are they more ghosts? It’s unclear.) He and Seul-hae get married (offscreen, sadly), and five years later, their son’s friends have some very familiar mannerisms and styling. Looks like our ghosts have been reincarnated. And I guess Choi Geom wasn’t sent back as a spirit this time… but as the newest member of the Cha family.

Cha-woong starts to realize his son reminds him of someone, but decides not to think too much about it. And I can’t blame him, because that’s kind of the best way to enjoy this finale: don’t think too hard or look too closely.

Overall, I think I appreciate what Showtime’s ending was trying to do more than what it actually did. Many elements that I loved – like Cha-woong being spared for Cheon-hwa’s sake – weren’t given the time or buildup they needed to fully land.

Others – like the three elderly siblings who may or may not have been our ghosts helping Cha-woong in his greatest need – were fun and sweet, I guess, but didn’t really mean anything.

That said, does the less-than-stellar conclusion ruin my enjoyment of the whole? Not really, but it does make me a little sad for what could have been and now will never be.

 
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Did we watch the same episode? Sang goo's daughter specifically said that she saw her mother's journal that explained what happened that night and how she felt it was her daughter's fault that Sang goo died in that accident. That is why he went into her dreams and told her to play at the recital so he can see her complete the piece before he went to Nirvana.

The crew for him were humans as they were all wearing the same outfit/uniforms. Cha woong lost his ability to see ghosts when Choi went to Nirvana.

I cried the last two episodes. I mean, a true, cartartic cry. The only time I appreciated the noble idiocy of Cha woong ending things. He knew Seul hae and her determination and intelligence were going to be front and center and he did not want her to die in front of him again in their current life together.

Ye ji's progression was the writing on the wall the entire series. It was going to take a serious issue for her to show maturity and that is what happened. Considering she is a shaman, she could have gone darker but stepped up and knew what needed to be done.

I like the show overall from the leads to the supporting cast as well.

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somehow it both plays out predictably and goes completely off the rails

Sigh. Kdrama. Happens a lot.

A rather disappointing finale. No need for me to repeat what the recap said.

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I'm sorry to say that I had left the train after the last episode, feeling abandoned by the conductor. I'm happy to say, though, that I grew up with the book Tootle the Train, so thanks to @mistyisles for the recaps and reinforcing the lesson that one should STAY ON THE RAILS NO MATTER WHAT!

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Oh my gosh thanks for the vivid childhood nostalgia trip and flashback 🤣

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Oh wow, that's a childhood memory I'd forgotten about! 🤣

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It fell flat somehow. It will dawn upon me at some random moment, obviously after posting this comment, but not now (Critique cell is knocked out for whatever reason).
Just one thing that made me laugh out loud was the police chief's possession by the evil spirit. Lol at the jerky head movements. It was chilling when the OG Full Moon Murderer did it, alright with Hee Soo but they really should've gone another route with Police chief.
Also, LOVED the Shaman ritual scene for the beauty/aesthetics of it only.
I also would've liked it more if they did the princess's special talk with the heavens when they were disclosing the past storyline and kept Cha Woong off-screen. The reveal in this episode could've been the last piece of the puzzle, fitting in, instead of a whole new thing.

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*Me wondering where Cha Woong's OP Poong Baek powers and Seul Hae's mirror powers went in the final episode or why after their reunion in the cave she was left alone for so long in perfect vicinity to the Evil Spirit... 🙄🙄🙄*

I had to skim these last two episodes alas.
Don't particularly have much more to say rn. Hope Writer-nim's next show is better because I still think she has a lot of really good potential.

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I wonder if writer's seek feedback or the producers/ directors just go with whatever has been penned down by the writer. The finale would have been much better even if they had gone with some spell fight instead of this disappointing soul switching.

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Lol greatly depends on the team behind the show.

Some writers have more autonomy, some have none at all and it's mainly up to the director what gets put to screen.
Some writers actively choose to improve their craft, some don't care because they're popular and can get jobs anyway. (the latter is not applicable here as she's still a newbie writer really)
Some dramas have lots of adlibs and go off script or add stuff that can often enhance the script (though ofc not always), this is usually dependent the director and the director's relationship with the actors.
Some dramas are written week by week (a terrible idea imo), a lot are only shot week to week, and ofc some are "pre produced" (which hilariously has less effect on the overall quality of dramas than you'd think).
Some writer/pd teams work well together, some are constantly at tension w each other and so the work suffers. Some PDs are not good at putting script to screen, others are excellent at it even if the script is lacking in some or many ways.
Some directors overwrite writer's decisions at the end, some writers quit because the PD wants to take it a different direction, some writers retcon their own writing midshow...
Man the list goes on.
And sometimes it's much easier than other times to pinpoint the cause of an issue as a viewer.

I've never liked the directing of this show, and I don't think I can say who or what was more at fault with this finale- but I've always found it overall lacking in proper execution, and sensible narrative structure.

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I am 95% through episode 15 and at this point I'm wondering why this isn't the final episode?

With the ghost trio gone I really don't care even more for the evil spirit shenanigans.

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I was past caring about this series at the episode 9 mark. Not just neglecting to finish watching but actively disliking the series.

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Though the last episode was confusing and a little disappointing, it had the comedy and fluff I needed to get through exam season so I'm really happy I caught it while it was airing. I can see myself rewatching it a lot (barring the last couple of episodes).

I'm also a fan of both Park Hae Jin and Jin Ki Joo a lot now and will be going back to their older dramas. They were memorable as second leads (in Love From Another Star forever ago and Splash Splash Love respectively) but I couldn't get into their other dramas like Man x Man and Come and Hug Me.

I also wish the second leads had more interesting arcs after seeing the last episode; I think Jang Ha Eun (Ye-Ji) and Kim Jong-Hoon (Hee Soo) did a great job with the little they had to do.

Though I think Mystic Pop-Up Bar was stronger overall, this show also had a great cast and a lovely set of characters and will be one of my favorites from 2022.

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Just... Don't watch Forest. Lol
Would definitely recommend Secret Life of My Secretary for JKJ though.

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It's funny but I watched Forest recently for the first time and I enjoyed it more than the Showtime Begins! even though I would not say that Forest was a better drama.

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Oh my gosh. *chokes* I'm sorry I just... I... uhm... how were the clams?

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Could the ending have been better- yes- but I liked it. I thought too that Ye-ji was neglected as a character but at least we got to see her being accepted as a daughter in law- which is much bigger that you might think.

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The finale was very disjointed and the scene of Cha Woong's soul returning to the past and having a talk with the princess was very weird. The message that her sacrifice was acknowledged and because of which Cha Woong isn't dead was also very confusing. I wouldn't have bothered if they had a standard fight with spells because atleast we would have been done with it in 10 mins max, but this switching souls scenes felt over the top and everything landed far from being enjoyable. The ghost trio helping Cha Woong as old people also took away whatever love we had for them in the previous episode. It was unnecessary. All in all I will recommend this show to others and ask then to skip the 16th episode except for last 10 mins. 7/10

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"And I can’t blame him, because that’s kind of the best way to enjoy this finale: don’t think too hard or look too closely."

You have summed it up perfectly

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It was a fun and nice drama in some parts and I really didn't care for some of the other parts.

Is it just me or do a lot of dramas this year with a seemingly good run have a weird ending?

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Well considering this is something kdramas in general have always suffered from... 👀😂🤭

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This was one weird finale. The show started out with such incredible potential…and then what? *Sigh* @mistyisles put it best when they said the ideas were better than the execution. I think that sums up the show overall very well, actually.

Well, I hope the writer does better next time. She certainly has the talent, but Showtime wasn’t her best work.

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Seems like I’m in the camp with most of the other comments in that I didn’t feel the ending was particularily good. The evil ghost storyline had already worn out it’s welcome and the show really was at it’s best when it was going for fun or solving a case of the week (who knew that’d be something I’d be wanting…).

Still, our leads were great, the side characters were fun, and besides a lackluster ending I really enjoyed the show as a whole. Another show I won’t likely rewatch in the future, but don’t regret giving my time to it for these 8 weeks.

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For me this show ended in ep 15 and it was a nice ending.
Loved the show, I'm gonna miss our squad.

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My issue with this drama is that the past story brought nothing to present one. The characters didn't need it for their evolution or their love story. The fact that an evil spirit killed her father and made his grand-father as a villain was enough.

The villains (the cop chief and the spirit) were badly written, I never knew if they were supposed to look scary or funny, but at the end they were completely meh. The reason for the spirit was stupid too, he barely knew the Princess and her death was completely on him...

The best parts were the ghost's shenanigans, they were funny and Jin Ki-Joo, I just love her.

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Way too much going on in the last two episodes. It made for a messy end to a show I enjoyed throughout. Removing the clutter of the evil spirit would have made room for a more developed ending that I could have invested in more...I mean, how many people needed to be possessed in that final episode? Also, I would have preferred a wedding rather than a time jump to the kids, but that's just me. Another fail in execution for a kdrama as mentioned previously, keeping things simpler could have delivered a more satisfying ending.

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High ratings for this on another site, so I'll go with the POSITIVES for me. Top of the list is the adorkable dead trio of ghosts! They made me laugh a lot and also gave this drama heart. If I re-watch, I'd replay only the times these three helped his magic act by dancing around him, flinging fire in the air or placing cosmetics in his hand to film that Ad. Wonderful. The plot was straight forward so everyone knew who the EVIL SPIRIT was early on, and even when he jumped bodies, you never had to guess, although it might have added a lot more tension to wonder whose body he'd jumped into. The first person he possessed was the scariest and I would have actually been fine to watch him go the distance with the spirit until he took over the nice 2nd lead detective. The outstanding actor in this was our female lead, Jin Ki Joo, who showed her hidden skills not just for comedy but also for giving us a powerful, physically strong woman, yet staying unashamedly feminine, while mixing plenty of human vulnerability into her 'badass-ery'. Loved her character.
The NEGATIVES? Nothing unusually bad, however the writer often made characters do impulsive things that brought them closer to danger when they usually know better than that. I mean why would our smart detective see her ex-crush turn into a monster and try to kill her, but then, when he looked like he was hurting, she took steps towards him, putting herself in danger. Not a smart cop move and inconsistent. The ending wrap-up between the historical lovers from the past was an unnecessary waste of time especially in the last episode for me. So was the Ghost General's sentencing in the Afterlife, other than the pleasure of watching the cameo actor do a great job of the Jade Emperor. But nothing for me in the ending tie-ups for the supporting characters was meaningful except for the new lady Shaman and her boyfriend being accepted by the mother. But I actually did rather enjoy the final moments with our couple and was was tickled by the antics of the ghost trio having been reborn as kids. Great touch.
OVERALL: The Scriptwriter, Ha Yoon Ah has 'Mystic Pop Up Bar' as her one well-known credit, and is listed as Staff in the Production rather than as 'the' writer. Before, a writer was the star asset for a Kdrama production, but I sense something slipping when they are now termed staff. And maybe that’s another factor that held me back from gushing over this. The newer writer wasn’t quite able to keep the lens of her perspective as wide as the worlds she was embracing at the beginning, especially from the past to the present. I think maybe continuity was flawed in some characters too. Not sure, but there was something missing that kept it from being great. Perhaps it was Cha-woong’s character that morphed too quickly from being so vain, selfish and cowardly at the start, into a gentle smitten kitten that...

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I agree with you: "don’t think too hard or look too closely."

One of the most adorable kdrama endings with the reincarnations of our ghost family as little kids. They were perfectly cast! Seul-hae must have gotten pregnant like the night after the showdown. Wouldn't blame them. I'm glad Cha Cha-woong attempted to find the elderly trio to invite them to the wedding. That sort of thoughtfulness really gets me.

I was frustrated when the final week tried to separate our OTP. As in any show or movie where there is a big scary bad guy roaming around, stick together!!! And the virtual golf PPL was egregious.

As for how the showdown all went down...it really highlighted the writer's weakness with writing antagonists. She tried to do more here than in MPUB( where the bad guy was pretty much a stock character), but it ended up wasting screen time.

Overall, the writer's strengths are really in the family-bonding, sweet moments and creating protagonists that you can warm up to. And also adding a little whimsy. The OTP had perfect chemistry in acting and in writing. And I really appreciate dramas that let supporting characters shine. Yeji's moment with Yong-ryul's mom made me cry.

A fun watch, but doesn't really live up to writer's preceding drama and should have been shorted to 12-14 episodes.

One random note: it's almost like an unintended commentary on society when a guy acts out of character by being asshole-y and creepy/abusive (possessed Hee-soo) is less suspicious than a guy acting nice.

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Overall I enjoyed the show. Could have done without the sudden noble idiocy at the beginning of episode 16 but 🤷‍♀️.

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