Revenant: Episodes 11-12 (Final)
Up against a deceitful spirit, our heroes race to the end of this long, winding struggle in hopes of stopping a decades-long curse. However, the spirit refuses to leave quietly and will do everything in her power to remain in this world, even if that means killing a few more people along the way. With each trap the spirit lays, our heroes must stay one step ahead or else fall victim to her unrelenting desires.
Picking up from last week, Hae-sang’s grandmother addresses the spirit by its real name, but the one who replies is not Hyang-yi but San-young. With Vice President Kim’s help, they deceived her about the date, and as a final warning, San-young tells the old lady to be careful since she broke a promise to an evil spirit.
That much closer to their goal, the team keeps low for the night until morning breaks, but Hyang-yi refuses to disappear without a fight. Taking over San-young’s body, she manages to get out by starting a fire, and the tide turns in her favor when it begins to rain. San-young realizes with mounting horror that Hyang-yi is roaming free and after the others.
Hyang-yi first targets Hong-sae, but our disbeliever has learned from his past and ignores the terrifying apparition of San-young standing outside his car. With no way to attack him, Hyang-yi switches to Hae-sang. Inside a moving subway, he hears a knock and runs for dear life before the doors open at the next stop. He manages to evade Hyang-yi, and San-young locks herself and the spirit inside her house before she harms anyone.
While Hae-sang and Hong-sae find the last object as well as Hyang-yi’s school records, San-young’s attempt to contain the spirit fails. This time, she goes after San-young’s mom, and nearly succeeds until San-young arrives and threatens to kill herself. Her plan works, but it costs San-young control of her body.
As his last act of vengeance, Vice President Kim allows Hyang-yi to meet with Hae-sang’s grandmother who, to the very end, clings onto life with no shame. She points out that she did not tell them about the other thing, but Hyang-yi smiles maniacally and replies, “How could you when you’re dead?”
We flash back to Hyang-yi’s story, and the fragments of memories from the objects blend together into a tale of a poor fisherman’s daughter who wished for a chance to escape her lot in life. As the actual second-born, Hyang-yi was chosen as the sacrifice, but when she learned of her fate, she sent her sister to face the gruesome death instead. Broken by the loss, Hyang-yi’s mom committed suicide, and not long after, her dad and older brother died in an accident.
Regretting her decisions, Hyang-yi tried to save her little sister by returning the money, but the shaman betrayed her and killed Mok-dan before her eyes. The shaman then turned Hyang-yi into an evil spirit, but the day she died, Hyang-yi used all her energy for one last attack against her captor. Alas, in her weakened state, she could not kill the shaman and died by her hands.
Back in the present, Hae-sang prepares to seal the five objects, but the last one — a broken jade hairpin — seems out of place amongst the others. He thinks Hyang-yi’s body could hold the answer to this riddle, so he takes Hong-sae to the best place to hide such a secret: his grandmother’s house.
Meanwhile, San-young regains control of her body, but Hyang-yi remains present by her side. Hugging San-young, Hyang-yi asks if they could just stay together because she likes her, but San-young tells her to return to her family. As if accepting her fate, Hyang-yi asks San-young to find her body and give her a proper burial as a final request.
San-young calls Hae-sang to tell him about Hyang-yi’s proposal but tells him to ignore it. However, at that very moment, Hong-sae finds the missing piece of the hairpin on Hyang-yi’s corpse, and they fall into her trap.
On the surface, San-young appears fine, and even her shadow has returned to its original form. In reality, though, finding the last object allowed Hyang-yi to latch onto the body and switch places, trapping San-young within the mirror world. While Hyang-yi plays the role of devoted daughter, San-young’s mom sees through the deception and begs the spirit to let San-young go.
Enraged by her rejection, Hyang-yi orders San-young’s mom to kill Hae-sang, but she merely slashes him, unable to actually commit such a heinous crime. Hae-sang learns from this encounter that San-young is the shadow, which means sealing the objects now will only harm her. He wonders what they can do, and an answer comes from an unlikely place: his grandmother.
Before she died, Hae-sang’s grandmother cut her finger as a dying message, and Hae-sang recalls the fact that the shaman used a finger to host deities when making juvenile ghosts. Armed with this knowledge, Hae-sang and Hong-sae turn everything upside down to find the finger inside his grandmother’s house.
In the middle of their fruitless search, Hong-sae receives a message from San-young’s mom, asking for help. Once the two leave, Hyang-yi arrives at the house to steal the finger, but suddenly, Hae-sang appears behind her. Having seen through her trick, he used her own trap against her and takes back the finger to burn.
Hyang-yi screams at him to stop, claiming that San-young wanted to die anyways, but Hae-sang tells her that the decision to live is solely San-young’s to make. As he grabs a lighter, Hyang-yi breaks a lamp over her head and threatens to kill San-young with her. Unable to risk the chance, Hae-sang sets the finger on the ground, and Hyang-yi stabs him as soon as his guard is down.
She walks away, thinking that she won, but her body abruptly stops and bruises appear on her wrist. Looking towards the mirror, Hyang-yi sees San-young staring back at her and wonders how she survived. While trapped, San-young realized that the one killing her was herself, and once she came to this realization, she refused to die. Hyang-yi begs her to stop, but San-young forces her to light the finger on fire, finally putting the evil spirit to rest.
Free from this nightmarish experience, San-young resumes life with a renewed vigor and spends time with her mom and best friend. She also starts working at the café where Hong-sae visits her regularly. He asks how her condition is, and San-young tells him that she could lose her vision completely in the next couple of years. In the meantime, she will take things slowly and decide what she wants to do.
As for Hae-sang, he finds himself no longer tied to his past and donates his entire inheritance after his grandmother’s death. While out on a field study with his class, he invites San-young to the festival as well since she still sees ghosts, and shares with her an experience he found comforting amidst the usual supernatural horrors.
While the fireworks go off, San-young notices how happy everyone, both the living and the dead, look under the lights. Hae-sang agrees and hopes that San-young can find happiness, too. One by one, those who have passed leave a final parting message to the people they loved, and San-young stares up at the fireworks as her vision turns dark. Rather than being scared, she composes herself, determined to keep living.
The final story about Hyang-yi depicted a young girl who may have been selfish but was far from evil. Unlike Hae-sang’s grandmother who had no redeeming qualities — though I enjoyed her ending and how she remained vile to her death — our evil spirit wasn’t always so heartless and greedy. She was more misguided than anything else, and in her eyes, she was always relegated to second place. Never the one people chose first, except for the time it brought her misfortune, Hyang-yi is a victim of her circumstances who then chooses to cause more harm out of spite and bitterness.
The final episode illustrated how much she craved love, but in the end, she could never achieve it by stealing it from others. Through her story, the show created a villain the heroes needed to defeat but also a psychological obstacle they needed to overcome. It wasn’t just about Hyang-yi as a ghost but what she represented to them as individuals. For Hae-sang, it was the sins of his family, and for San-young, it was a reflection of herself and the darkness within. What Hyang-yi longed for so deeply to the point of killing others was simply a chance to experience life, and in a way, San-young was able to appreciate her own life because of the evil spirit’s twisted desire.
The show delivers a relatively happy ending as our trio all survive to greet another day. San-young learns to rest and live for herself while Hae-sang finally lets go of his guilt and regains a sense of hope. The message of the show was aimed at those like San-young — young adults struggling to even breath under all the pressure — and while her story may be idyllic in certain regards, I appreciate the creators for reminding its audience to be kind and patient with themselves. While there were a few things that felt underdeveloped or a bit convenient, in the grand scheme of things, I thought the show was fast-paced and thoughtful. The attention to detail from the writing to the directing made the show shine, and I loved how much care was put into everything, particularly the lighting and set designs.
I would be remiss to not heap praises on the acting, especially for Kim Tae-ri who simultaneously spooked and amazed me every week. She had a difficult role to portray, but she went above and beyond my expectations. She was the star of the show from start to finish, and I absolutely adored her performance as San-young. Oh Jung-se was also delightfully wonderful as the stoic and lonely Hae-sang, and if Kim Tae-ri took my breath away, Oh Jung-se stole my heart. He molded Hae-sang into such a sympathetic and lovely hero, so fallible and broken yet utterly resolute and admirable. He showed that true bravery does not come from a lack of fear, and even the weakest person can stand up for others in the face of danger. While Revenant may not be for everyone, this scaredy-cat thought it was a fun show that diverged from the usual K-drama fare and offered a unique tale.
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