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The Atypical Family: Episodes 11-12 (Final)

Our atypical show wraps up its 13-year-old arc on a happy — or on a less than satisfying — note, depending on which side you stand on the divided opinion about the drama’s conclusion. But the show had a good run, albeit confusing at times, and we watched our characters grow and become better versions of themselves. Most importantly, they seemed satisfied with the ending they got, and maybe that’s all that matters.

EPISODES 11-12

The Atypical Family: Episodes 11-12 (Final)

Gwi-ju and Da-hae make up after last week’s noble idiocy, and he promises that he’ll spend a long, long time with her in the present before returning to the past to save her. But when they return home, Yi-na can barely face her dad because the news about his impending death rocks her to the core. And though Da-hae promises that she will save Gwi-ju, Yi-na remains scared and unconvinced.

In a rare moment of sibling bonding, Dong-hee recalls her modelling days and how Man-heum’s “I had a dream the lead model got hurt” made her bail out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Unfortunately, the heels for the show were custom-made for Dong-hee, so the replacement model got hurt on the ramp. Dong-hee tells Gwi-ju that the accident wouldn’t have happened if she had ignored the dream and attended the show, and long story short: “Don’t let mom’s dreams stop you [from saving Da-hae].”

Dong-hee began to stress eat soon after the accident, but even now that she has lost all that weight, she still can’t fly. Gwi-ju reminds her that she used to be chubby back in elementary school, and she flew much better then. Long story short: Dong-hee’s weight is not the problem. The missing ingredient is her happiness.

The Atypical Family: Episodes 11-12 (Final)

Man-heum dreams about Dong-hee and another woman crying with their hair all messed up, and she assumes that they fought over Dong-hee’s fiancé. But since she has realized — and now regrets — that her dreams end up cursing her children, Man-heum refuses to tell Dong-hee so as not to ruin her wedding plans. Da-hae, on the other hand, is not about to allow her sister-in-law-to-be marry a cheat, so she blackmails Fiancé to cough up 200 million won or else. Da-hae expects him to call off the wedding, but when he surprises her with the money, it’s time for plan B: she and Grace arrange for Dong-hee to catch him and his girlfriend red-handed. Oops!

The wedding is off and Dong-hee gets to keep the 200 million won as payback for the money she lent him to open his clinic. But in an attempt to retrieve the bag of cash, Fiancé accidentally pushes Grace out of the window. Again, oops! Left with no other choice, Dong-hee steels herself — banishing self doubts and Man-heum’s voice in her head that she can’t fly — and takes off. Yaay! She catches Grace and the two ladies go for a ride in the air. All it took was a near-death experience for Grace to experience flying with Dong-hee as she always wanted. The universe really works in mysterious ways. Lol.

When Dong-hee and Grace eventually land, their hair has been tousled in the wind, and they’re crying in joy — like Man-heum dreamed. It dawns on Da-hae that there’s always more to Man-heum’s dreams, and she informs the family that Gwi-ju can still be saved. Phew! Yi-na overhears the conversation, and a subsequent heart to heart conversation with her dad finally puts her mind at rest.

Of course, it won’t be a finale without a redemption arc for Sauna Mom, so she returns the lottery ticket to Man-heum. Apparently, she also funded Fiancé’s 200 million won loan — and I think there’s no better punishment for the scumbag than owing a loan shark like Sauna Mom. As to why Sauna Mom has turned a new leaf, it turns out that losing Da-hae as a daughter is the most cruel punishment anyone could put her through, and she thanks Da-hae for staying alive and for being the daughter she didn’t deserve. Ermm…no comment.

Man-heum and Soon-goo also make up, and this takes Gwi-ju back to a family bonding moment in his childhood — where he spots little Da-hae in the background being bullied for not knowing how to ride a bike. Of course, they somehow had to have met in her childhood. Lol. Gwi-ju pushes Da-hae’s bike round the park, and it’s all fun and games until he comes in contact with pollen from a plant and develops a rash on his neck. Yep. That’s the red spot Da-hae saw on her savior’s neck 13 years ago. In the present, Gwi-ju learns that the rash will last anything from a few days to a week, meaning the time to save Da-hae is waaay sooner than they thought. And worse, if he can get hurt by a plant in the past, then the fire can actually kill him. Well, that’s not scary at all.

Gwi-ju and Da-hae keep mum about this so as not to distract from Yi-na’s dance competition, and the Boks and the Saunas turn up in their finest outfits to cheer Yi-na on. Yi-na’s nervousness spikes with everyone’s eyes on her onstage, and Joon-woo, as sweet as ever, says to keep her eyes on him. Soon, Yi-na is killing it on stage, and in a voice over, she tells Gwi-ju that she’s got friends she can look in the eyes now, she’s no longer invisible, and that she loves him. No, I’m not crying. Yi-na has fully come into her own, and my heart is full. Best of all, Ms. Popular — who performed with the group on Yi-na’s invitation — apologizes for locking her in the storage room, and the girls are friends again.

As the climax of our show approaches, everything begins to happen everywhere and all at once: 1) Dong-hee’s ex-fiancé lights romantic candles in one of the changing rooms at the competition venue to re-propose to her, but she turns him down; 2) Gwi-ju prepares to return to the past to save Da-hae — “because I choose to, not because I have to” — and they say their tearful goodbyes; 3) Ex-fiancé inevitably sets the room on fire — *facepalm* — and the fire spreads to the dance hall; 4) Man-heum belatedly realizes that this is the fire she dreamt about — not the one from 13 years ago. Whoa! I need a moment to breathe.

The sauna family assists in crowd control, Dong-hee flies to pull down the fire curtain onstage — in what is the coolest and most badass superpower move I’ve seen in this drama — and Gwi-ju temporarily puts off his return to the past. In the meantime, Da-hae braves her fire trauma to search for Yi-na, and Gwi-ju finds both of them crouched beside a falling wall. He steadies the wall and tells Da-hae to leave with Yi-na, and though she’s reluctant to leave him, she does as he says.

Afterwards, Gwi-ju returns to 13 years ago when Yi-na was born, and this time he thanks his late wife for bringing Yi-na to the world and for giving him this moment. For a second, the wife looks in his direction and it’s almost like she sees him standing there — just like Firefighter Sunbae “sees” Gwi-ju when he arrives at the burning school later on — and it makes me happy that Show has finally acknowledged Gwi-ju’s wife. This is totally my headcanon, and I refuse to think otherwise.

The Atypical Family: Episodes 11-12 (Final)

Before the competition, Gwi-ju dropped by the fire station to check out floor plans for the school building, and he’s able to locate the storage room faster on arrival. He manages to get Da-hae out through a window and onto the fire rescue mattress — but not before giving her the family’s ring. “Remember, this isn’t the end,” he says. “It’s the beginning.” Unfortunately, the building explodes with Gwi-ju still trapped inside, and since he couldn’t make it back to the present, his body is not recovered from the competition venue. The Boks hold a funeral for him without a body like Man-heum dreamed, and life goes on.

We time skip to five years later and Dong-hee’s ex is in prison, Dong-hee and Sauna Uncle are an item, and Grace is still failing her acting auditions. No one said living an honest life is a walk in the park. Heh. As for Da-hae, she has gotten over her fire trauma, and she’s no longer alone. That’s right, Da-hae and Gwi-ju had a baby! Wow! Those two judiciously utilized the short time they spent together. Lool.

Our story concludes with the introduction of baby NU-RI’s superpower: he can bring lost things from the past to the present. And what better to bring back from the past than his father? That’s right, Nu-ri brings his dad back from the fire/the dead/whatever universe Gwi-ju was stuck in, and I have no comment on this. I’m sure there’s an explanation out there that makes sense, but I’m not going to overthink anything. Gwi-ju is back alive, it’s a happy ending, and that’s all there is to it.

I could go on and on about things I didn’t like/understand about this drama, but that’s probably on me and not the show. I’m not its target audience, and that’s fine. One thing I actually liked — apart from Yi-na’s story — were the cooking and eating scenes. Right from Soon-goo making seaweed soup for Yi-na in the premiere week to the many mealtimes the Bok family shared in the finale, the food scenes brimmed with warmth, love and care, and served as an avenue for bonding and reminiscing over happy times. I’m always hungry watching food scenes in dramas, but I felt filled up watching little acts of service like Soon-goo turning off the stove for Da-hae, and Gwi-ju returning to the past to learn a family recipe. Okay, I lied. I actually wanted to eat that braised pollock. Heh.

Overall, The Atypical Family did well in its exploration of a number of themes: familial relationships; greed, and how it can ruin families; finding happiness within oneself rather than from external sources; overcoming painful pasts and moving forward, among others. The show also made an interesting choice with its presentation of majorly flawed and unlikable characters. And unlike I thought in the first week, I actually didn’t mind them as much as the weeks went by. I do cast a big side eye at everyone being handed a redemption arc, deserved or not, but if this is Show’s way of highlighting that we are all deserving of a second chance, then okay.

The Atypical Family: Episodes 11-12 (Final)

 
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Yeah I too didn't like how certain characters got redemption arcs not everyone needs it. I am also an not satisfied with the ending. From where exactly and how did Nu Ri bring Gwi Ju back? Otherwise I actually enjoyed the show. Here's my review:
https://allthatdrama9201424.wordpress.com/2024/06/11/the-atypical-family-spoiler-free-review/

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Someone on Tumblr noticed one of the rings didn't disappear. We were wrong about it oops.

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I think she brought him back from the original fire (when Da-hae was in school). There was time to grab him before the building collapsed or exploded or whatever happened.

I'm okay with the redemption arcs because we didn't really have any villains. Everyone was just really flawed, like real people. I wouldn't even call the story redemption arcs - it was just them growing up and getting their stuff together more.

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Er... *he brought him back. He meaning Nu-ri

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I guess my first thought was that sounds dangerous. But we don't know anything more about the kid's power so I guess it's fine.

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His superpower need not be the same as his Dad, he does not need to leave the present and seem to be able to retrieve from the past by just looking at a picture. So ok. Yes, unexplored but ok with me.

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I agree about the redemption arcs. I also saw it less about redeeming them and more about showing all aspects of their personalities. For a while, we only saw their darkest, weakest, and most selfish sides. But that made sense, because when the story starts, everyone is in a kind of crisis and we learn the extent of how and why as the story goes on. Then, later, when some of these things are resolved or more time simply passes, we see the stronger, more positive and loving aspects of each character. The drama therefore showed growth and complexity to my mind, not insta-redemption.

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Pretty sure Gwi-ju was brought back from the exact moment Da-hae is falling out the school window and the science lab exploded. So, for him, it's like no time has passed, but in the present/future five years have passed.

As for the how my personal headcanon is that Nu-ri just has to think of a time/object and it appears. Mom asked him to bring back daddy from "5 -- no wait 18 years ago," and the only version of daddy that applies to is the one who "died" in the past rescuing Da-hae from the fire. Given there seems to be some divine intervention with all of their powers, I'm going to assume that the same supernatural force assisted Nu-ri in bringing back his dad.

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I think you can see a bit of Nu-ri's hair still appear in the background with Da-hae in the foreground. So he stays on this plane of existence and just I-Dream-of-Jeannie Gwi-ju from the moment of the explosion to the present.

And what a dangerous power for anyone to have. Like what he looked at a painting of some Joseon King and pulled him into the present. History would be changed. And then we'd get some timeslip, fish-out-of-water comedy sequel.

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History would be changed. And then we'd get some timeslip, fish-out-of-water comedy sequel.

I think we can infer, based on how Gwi-ju's powers work, that our characters are living in a universe where whatever changes they've made/will make to the past have already occurred and impacted their present and futures. Case in point: Da-hae surviving the fire in high school. The present didn't change when Gwi-ju went back and saved Da-hae because they were already living in a timeline where he'd saved her in the past. We can assume Nu-ri's powers work similarly because of his missing ball, which likely went missing in the first place because future him stole it from the past and brought it to the future.

So, hypothetically, if Nu-ri kidnapped a Joseon king, it will have no impact on the landscape of modern South Korea because our characters are living in a timeline where said king missing hundreds of years ago. Hijinks would certainly happen in the present, though, if a Joseon King was brought to the future.

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But Gwi-ju also just has to think to travel back. "No time" to go back doesn't make sense, because he can just evaporize.

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And then he turns up all smiling and relaxed and is not wondering who that boy is.

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Thank you for the review.
While definitely not perfect some moments in the drama were well done.

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Thank you for reading it :)

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🫰

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I know many of y'all don't like my comment about the redemption arcs but the whole toxic character is forgiven arc is something that kdramas tend to do a lot.

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They didn't even give enough time to develop the redemption arcs. Mama Bok toxicity brushed away, Grace almost getting Dong Hee killed getting forgotten, the shark lady's sudden maternal feelings for Da Hee, etc could be acceptable if it had taken it's time.

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I think this writer is not for me, I only liked Marriage, Not Dating from her and it was because the leads had a really great chemistry.

In this one, I didn't like the characters, the romance felt forced, the alcoholism and eating disorder were badly addressed, the powers didn't really make sense, the fiancé guy was badly written, how everybody is forgiven at the end like nothing happenned...

Yi Na is the only character I cared about. She deserved a better father and it's not one afternoon that should have changed everything, the neglicting lasted for too long. The poor girl lost her mother in a car accident she lived too and now her father in a fire. Saving your new wife or spending the rest of your life with your daughter, it seems he never asked himself about it. Joon Woo was her only real support. He didn't use her, he just cared about her. They were super cute together. Moon Woo Jin and Park So Yi did well in this drama.

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This is the writer from Marriage, Not Dating? Weird, I hated that drama!

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Well said. He never hesitated once before leaving his daughter to the unknown.

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WUT??? Married Not Dating was written by the same?
like you, i'm surprised.

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It becomes a little less weird when you learn that the same writer also laid the egg named SHY BOSS.

At least ATYPICAL FAMILY was better than SHY BOSS.

MARRIAGE NOT DATING is and remains one of my favorite romcoms. However, this writer can be held up as a perfect example of the saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same spot (not scientifically true BTW).

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Oh, my heart!!! 💓

With such a (largely) satisfying finale, I suspect this show will have a time travelling effect on me as well. I will now look back on the frustrations I had in the early eps and remember them fondly instead - like a pain that cannot hurt me anymore as I know it will lead me (in a closed time loop) to the joy of these ending beats.... sigh.

THE GOOD

* The idea of the son's superpower saving his father was a clever way to deliver an ending that no one could predict, and whilst it felt a little deus ex machina, the genetic powers of the Boks were set up well enough overall for me not to care. 🤷‍♀️

(I was concerned about a 5 year old travelling back to a raging inferno, however (!) 😨😱but I decided to imagine that his power works differently and he doesn't have to physically be there to retrieve things.... or something)

* As someone who has to admit to falling for our Sauna Bro, Hyung-tae, increasingly with each ep (the bubble wand, the stunt driver moves, the tiara supporting I-na at her dance concert!,etc💖) I liked the idea of him and Dong-hee getting some non-toxic loving.

He was the total opposite of her vile ex, a man who promised the world and delivered nothing, instead being a man of few words, but many actions. (A spin-off/season 2 where we get to see their superpowered kid as well would be hilarious).
But the D-H/Grace ship was one for the ages, so I'm glad they got to fly together - and looked a lot better doing it, TBH.🤣😍

* And in terms of relationships it was really joyous to see our OTP finally cooking with gas💓. As someone who had found their previous physical interactions quite forced, I really believed they were a couple in love here.💕 The chemistry was 💥

THE BAD/FRUSTRATING

* Why were we cheated out of a more fulsome ending with a full family reunion? Why do some K-dramas have 2 whole eps of tying up loose ends with heaps of filler and others just cut you off at the knees!

They obviously struggled with the idea of showing I-na as an 18 year-old (hence the old 'back of her head' moment), but with a wig, no glasses and make-up I think that could have worked...

* I also had to fast forward through Da-hae's endless dialogue when Gwi-ju was literally HOLDING UP A WALL, because people being inert in crisis situations makes me want to throw things. Just move out the way, woman, and get the unconscious child out of danger!! (to be clear, this ridiculous behaviour (blocking) is the director's fault, not the actress)

* Whilst we're on crisis situations, after Mama Bok realised there was going to be a fire in the theatre, why on earth were they all still just sitting there??? (I mean, I realise the story needed them there so they could see the fire curtain getting stuck, but just make the timeline work, people!)

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Probably the biggest element I struggled with overall was the show presenting it as 'romantic' that Gwi-ju was willing to lay down his life for the woman he loved but seemingly never considering that he was also a single dad making that decision with a child who was already traumatised from watching her mother die and thinking it was her fault... sigh.

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I’m not convinced mama Bok’s power is useful at all. She doesn’t see things in full context and therefore her power gives everyone anxiety. I know the drama was trying to portray how everyone has their own ability to respond to the future/premonition. But again as much as Gwi-ju wants to stay in the present, he’s always pulled into the past or the future. If Gwi-ju didn’t know he’ll possibly die by saving Da-hee from the past, and if he didn’t know the scar on his neck was an indication it was nearly time to do the rescue, wouldn’t he have been better off?

Would he have attempted to do the rescue before the recent fire? Or at least wouldn’t Gwi-ju be able to spend time with I-na and Da-hee without having any anxiety about how much time he has left? In not knowing his destiny/fate he’s not making a choice between I-na or Da-hee.

I did however like the culmination of the recent fire being the catalyst of why he went back in time. He was going to “die” anyway, trying to save present day I-na and Da-hee, so why not save past Da-hee? Here I felt he wasn’t choosing between them, he was trying to save them both and therefore didn’t make a choice, or at least that’s how I interpreted it

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I think if he made the decision to go back and save dahee bcs he knew he was going to die in the present anyway, it would be ok. but we know he had decided to go back way before that, even if the present fire never happened. even after finding out he could die from the fire. and as far as I know, the whole "I will find a way to go back to you" was always more hope than real knowledge - none of them thought there was a way for him to come back from the ""dead"" until dahee conversation with her son

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I don’t disagree with your point, he made the decision to go back to save Da-hee’s life even if it meant he will die. However, before the scar on his neck there was no rush. I can understand the frustration, that as a single dad he is willing to die and leave I-na. Tho just how mama Bok’s premonition lacks any context, I think it’s unfair to blame Gwi-ju of knowing some version of a fragmented future. When in reality he made the decision to time travel because he was already dying in the present to save both I-na and Da-hee. It’s why mama Bok’s power is the worst in my opinion and I would still argue it’s more of a curse.

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I saw that differently. I think Gwi-ju understood that there was no avoiding the truth of his mother's dream, at least in the present. But he was determined to make sure that dream wasn't the final, absolute word on his existence. So he had to save Do-dae (how could he not have, really?) but he felt that he could and would find a way to return to her and his daughter. And he ultimately did.

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Yeah, i think something in him just knew it was time to go back. This drama has this theme of embracing and not running from your fate

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But overall, a round of applause for a triumphant ending that was genuinely surprising, but still believable (in the world of the show). There was so much joy in these two eps as well as suspense and tension- it was a crazy ride.

Massive thanks to @unit for the amazing recaps, and to all you wonderful beanies who have enriched the experience so much with your commentary.💖

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So IMO the show has been incredibly consistent with Da-hae's trauma response: she always freezes. And, as frustrating as it is to watch, that is also incredibly realistic. I just took her response in ep 12 as another instance of that.

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Thanks for your insights as always re trauma and PTSD. It helps explain the directing choices and made me appreciate this drama more.

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You're welcome! I actually really appreciate how this drama highlighted the freeze response, which gets less attention in popular culture

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Totally valid point but I would say that:

a) We had seen Da-hae overcome that to go back into the fire to find I-na (which was a much scarier situation)
b) It didn't seem as if she was frozen so much in that convo, just that she wanted to keep talking to him... which I was happy for her to do, once I-na wasn't at risk of being crushed by a wall:)

c) Mama Bok and the others didn't have that issue, so it doesn't explain why they all stayed in the theatre.

For me, these are issues with direction, not with representing the reality of trauma responses.

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Part of it was Kdrama stretching a few seconds of action into a few minutes, but I also remember a lot of her inaction was her pleading with Gwi-ju that she couldn't leave him. So imo that's still consistent with the freeze response.

I did find her running back to I-na a little fakey given her usual reaction to fire, but I think that was supposed to show her growth, that she now cares about someone enough that it overrides her avoidance.

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this whole show felt like one of those write a line, fold and pass on challenges we always used to do. and it had to rhyme. no it does not make sense and I would have preferred Sauna mom to be punished & Dong Hee to end up with Grace in a sismance - she really doesnt need a man. and what about Da Hae saving gwi Ju? it wasnt exactly...
but yeah I guess this was a line by line story challenge and I wouldnt be surprised to learn it actually happened on a screenwriters get-together as a social game. not surprised at all.

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Since that building was promised to the first one to get married, and SK doesn't allow same-sex marriage, they needed a man.
She liked him well enough, but after having described exactly how she liked take-away food to be treated, she did all the opposite while flying him around. The real love and flirt was still between those two "crying women with messy hair".
But I, too, would have liked it better if the show had just shown that, and just made Sauna Uncle a ... wrestling instructor, or even better, he would actually be a great nanny; Kind, patient, strong.

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I am more awed by the fact that I stuck around and returned to it almost every week! I-Na was the only one I cared about. I didn’t care much about the romance as I thought they lacked chemistry. And I basically loathed everyone else. Even the grandpa for being such a doormat all his life.

I suppose tying up loose ends are hard in a time travelling saga. Why was he stuck? Where was he? Did time flow a different way for him? Anyway I guess I am glad that it ended in a positive note.

The music was great though. I loved it!

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He was stuck because he didn't do the obvious thing and use his evolving powers to take Dong-hee back with him and deliver Da-hae (fainted, so she wouldn't remember that part) out of the nearest window in Dong-hee's hands, and then go to the present and then back again, but on the ground, meeting Dong-hee and bringing her back.
I hate time skips but it got way worse because Yi-na lost her dad for the rest of her childhood (13 to 18 years are pretty important years, and she had been without him for so long already) and he completely missed out on his son's baby- and toddler years.

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Did I want more closure? Yeah. Am I satisfied enough with this ending? Also yeah. Someone on Reddit said that the love they created was what saved him, and I thought that was really beautiful.

This is going in my top five all-time favorite dramas. At some point I'm going to rewatch it, because I'm sure I would get new things out of every viewing.

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Also, any idea when they slept together? I think the beach. It was strongly implied, even if it showed them fully dressed later on...

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Definitely the beach. I also think they continued to have a sexual relationship for the remainder of the time together as they were clearly shown to be sharing a bed.

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They were sleeping together (they shared a bed) in the house too. Just a day or two before he got the red mark.

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I think this series had great potential but turned out rather bland in the end.

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Thank you for the recap and thank you for leading us on this atypical journey of past, present and future confusion. Although, if we are choosing I'll be on the side of a "good end" especially since we got to see happy, smiling faces all around. 😀😀😀

I'm impressed and awed (as usual) with how beautifully you have expressed your thoughts about the show and its themes. 👏👏👏 🫰

We knew even before the drama aired that Dong-hee will lose weight. Although not a fan of the entire arc, the fact that the drama took the time to state that happiness (not weight) is the key to using one's superpowers was much appreciated. I'm strangely excited for an OTP I never thought of or expected - Sauna Samchon and Dong-hee. 🤣🤣🤣👌

No comment for Mamas Sauna and Bok. 🙊

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"I'm strangely excited for an OTP I never thought of or expected - Sauna Samchon and Dong-hee. 🤣🤣🤣👌"
_____________________

Me too 🤩
I enjoyed the few minutes they shared.

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There was no foreshadowing or hint - I don't remember if they ever interacted but seemed so perfect. 😍

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Appreciate those who didn't like it - fair enough - but I really did.

First off, I loved the central idea. An atypical family, at first due to their superpowers but latterly due to their loss of the idea of family. Each member becomes so lost in self-absorption and regret that they become a collection of individuals wandering through life rather than a team. Their journey back to true family via Da-hae’s introduction was enthralling and twisty as much as endearing and moving. Genuinely good central premise for a drama.

Then, I liked the central characters. Everyone was broken, everyone saw some sort of redemption, everyone still remained flawed (maybe not In-a…), everyone grew to accept the other’s flaws and even to wryly appreciate them. I really liked sauna mum’s reasoning for helping Dong-hee take revenge on her worthless ex-fiancé: we can’t let him be a bigger scammer than us. So wrong yet so right at the same time.

Next, I really liked the rebuilding of the families. Gwi-ju learning how to properly express love to In-a and In-a allowing herself to be seen – and wanting to be seen – by her dad was a great arc. Man-heum remained an unlikeable character for the vast majority of the drama, but when she finally came to realise that what she sees isn’t the full picture and could be interpreted differently, she slowly started to rely on her husband and trust her children. Dong-hee and Grace, more than Da-hae, in bringing the two families together was so deeply satisfying: they muddled through to a place of true friendship and respect. Da-hae’s healed relationship with her “mum” felt a little quickly realised but actually made sense. Although the relationship between Gwi-ju and Da-hae was central to the story and I loved it, it was just one part of a whole – and perhaps not even the most vital one. I cared about the other relationships going on.

I loved what they did with Gwi-ju and Da-hae. Gwi-ju’s arc from “I have to save people” to “I can’t save people and am useless” to “I will choose to save those I love” was beautiful to watch. Even though we had some new rules of time-travel thrown at us in the last episodes (why did Gwi-ju’s past travels suddenly light up? Why did he get stuck in the past?), they didn’t grate very much which speaks to the power of the central arc. 5-year-old son bringing dad home was a well-thought-out final scene for me: truly loved that as the end point.

And I have to rave over the OST BGM! It was put to such good use and was perfect in aligning the viewers emotions with the characters’ journeys. First time I actually went on a hunt for a BGM link (it’s: here ) just to re-listen to the instrumental pieces, which were stunning.

Park So-yi and Moon Woo-jin stole every scene they were in: I choose to believe In-a and Jun-woo were still together in high school! Jang Ki-yong’s hair drove me to distraction at points but redeemed...

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...but redeemed itself in ep12 with the running (he runs so elegantly and the hair finally understood its role!) Chun Woo-hee was superb; convincing in every aspect of her role but superlative when she was scamming. I didn’t always like or agree with her character, but I understood her.

Different, quirky and a gem. Loved it.

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omg, thank you for the link to the BGM music! I really enjoyed this drama, and I think the way it was filmed and the mood set by the BGM played a big role. Moreso than the superpowers of the characters, the music was the thing that really added the magic and fantasy.

I really like the rebuilding of the families too. I was getting choked up seeing the Boks actually sit together for dinner.

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Agreed 100% with the BGM. I think two of them are really good and vibing enough with the drama.
This is my first Woo Hee's drama and yes, she is quite convincing and does have a quirk charm. Still couldn't pinpoint about Jang Ki Yong, I definitely couldn't love him in this drama or his other project 🙃.

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why did Gwi-ju’s past travels suddenly light up? Why did he get stuck in the past?

I wondered about that, too. Maybe because those moments in the past become reality for both him and everyone else there? This is the time travel in which he takes effective action that has lasting consequences - saving Da-hae, disappearing in the school fire - instead of being unable to interact with anyone (except her). Because it’s a real intervention in the past that affects many people, not just Da-hae, they see him and he can interact with them as well.

Or maybe it just looked prettier and more dramatic that way. 🤷🏼‍♀️

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My theory is that he became more emotionally connected (including but not limited to happiness) as he began to realize that he wasn't helpless and was actually able to change things. This enabled his power to grow and develop so he can now manipulate the past, not just revisit it.

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Yes, emotionally connected makes sense as teaching Da-hae to ride a bike lit up too. Could also be faith-in-himself to do good and "save" people from the misery they were in. Both would be the opposite of where he started.

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Maybe to show the combined blessing and curse of his powers evolving. Apart from giving him the red mark it also made him vulnerable to the past (so obviously, he should just have gone sooner!)

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I struggled with this show a bit during the first two episodes, as the characters were so unlikeable, I didn't see chemistry between the leads, and the writing seemed confused. But as things progressed, I felt like the show addressed and resolved all of my issues, and it ended up being one of my favorite dramas, if not of all time then certainly of this year. It's not for everyone, but I think even its critics would admit that it takes an original approach to a lot of common tropes, has a stunning OST, and stayed true to its internal logic, themes, tone, and style throughout.

I LOVED the final two episodes. Truly, there wasn't anything I would have changed. I loved Dong-hee falling for Sauna Uncle and looking cool as hell flying up to pull down the fire curtain. I loved Yi-na learning to be comfortable in her own skin and with her own gifts. I loved Gwi-ju having that poignant moment in the past/present with his ex-wife. I loved the reveal that Sauna Mom was thinking of Do Dae and not her biological daughter when Mama Bok tried to trick her about a dream she didn't actually have (but it ended up coming true anyway). I loved seeing Nu Ri and Do Dae together, and that ending, to me, was just perfect. I guess it's not hard for me to accept that their son was ultimately able to bring Gwi-ju back, whether by the force of his or the entire family's love. And finally, I ended up loving Gwi-ju and Do Dae together, believing that they found the ideal partner in one another. I even enjoyed the time skip, because I think the characters needed that five year period to settle, focus on the lives they wanted to live, and then be reunited with Gwi-ju.

I do have some nitpicks. For example, I never warmed to Mama Bok, and still think the actress was miscast. Dong-hee's ex was a one-note loser, and I thought the writer could have come up with a way for the fire to start other than involving him. I also was very distracted by the fake looking wall with the clock (or was it supposed to be some kind of facade built for a play or something?) that ultimately fell on Gwi-ju. If it was supposed to truly be one wall of that building, there's no way he would have been able to hold it up and it wouldn't have fallen in a single piece like it do.

But overall, this show made me cry, laugh, and feel joy for these characters. That's all I really want in a drama.

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Pretty sure that wall with the clock was a piece from a set, which makes me question how it was as heavy as it seemed to be.

Mama Bok was the worst. And why did they perm her hair so she looked like the bride of Frankenstein? Was that a deliberate reference, do you think?

Also, speaking of hair, I do wish they had styled Gwi Ju's hair just a little bit so he wasn't peeking out from under that shaggy fringe like he was hiding under the bed all the time. I like long, shaggy hair, but with a little bit of definition. He has such extraordinary facial features, I wish they hadn't been covered quite as much as they were.

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But actress Goo Do Shim have original hair like that, not a digital perm. Many drama that she belted came the same hairstyle. Perhaps it is convenience for her.

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Interesting. You're right, she does always seem to have curly hair. But not always frizzy like it was in AF.... Hmmm.

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I think the wall was decoration or atrezzo 🤔

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Clearly, I am a target audience because I loved this show. This brought me back to kdramas and to DB even. I love that the show was brave enough to show flawed and unlikeable characters, and yes, even I-na and then build their characters along the way. I dont think the show was aiming for redemption for any character but mostly aiming for growth. Which is fine by me. I am tired of the usual glossy characters

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..so this atypical show is the right show for me at this point.

As to Gwi Ju being stuck in time, actually he wasn't. He immediately travelled to the future, courtesy of his son, at that very moment.

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But he lost the years with him as a baby and toddler, and he lost those five teenage years with Yi-na where she would have alternated, as teens do, between being a child and an almost-grown-up. Those are tough years, but also lovely years. And they are the last before the kids don't need you anymore and you become a mere nice-to-have thing in their lives.
And he had only just connected to Yi-na. She was only her father's child for about half a year or so.

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I guess just like @unit, I am not the target audience. The drama is a mystery fantasy about the fire from 13 years ago that didn't care much for the character development (I am not buying sudden growth happening in the penultimate/finale week. Sorry)

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I loved this drama since the beginning but imo it got better from the fourth episode.
Coming from the same director than Mirror of the Witch, I knew (or wanted) the ending to be very special. And it was. I really liked these final episodes. They were very touching.
Now that I understand Nu-ri's power, the ending is quite clear. Gwi-joo couldn't come back to the present because Nu-ri took him directly to the future.

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But if Gwi-Joo could come back, he deprived himself and Yi-Na of their father for 5 years ?

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I guess it is an issue of parallel timelines. Nu-ri brought Gwi-ju back just minutes before the explosion (like how Da-hae was saved from the fire though Gwi-ju hadn't time-traveled yet) but the others had to go through the five years before the reunion.

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He still missed out on Yi-na's last years as a child and his son's years as a baby and toddler. I think that's a pretty big deal.
And to me, that part was definitely a second-rate ending.

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That's sad. That's why I said there would be no perfect ending.
But at least he came back thanks to his child.
I'd pay to watch what happened just after the ending. A moment he was thinking he was going to die, and the next he was at home with a child he doesn't know holding his hand.

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But Isa, there could have been a much more perfect ending ... easily!

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The rules of his powers were very random. Da-He could live 30 years old without any issue, so why it became suddenly urgent to save her at this moment? He could have lived until 80 years old and getting back at this moment being ready to die after living a great life with his family.

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Totally agree with you. Just because he came back doesn't make up for the time everyone lost out on

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@kurama

I quote you: "Da-He could live 30 years old without any issue".

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That's my main doubt. Could she? I thought the same but it seems they (Gwi-ju and Da-hae) were sure he had to save her before the red mark disappeared. If not... would she vanish?
So if he hadn't helped her to ride a bike when she was a child, could they have lived happily forever? 🤔

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I meant she perfectly lived before he knew he had to save her, before they knew each other. But the writer added some elements with no logics accelarating the process. But it was very random.

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Do you mean coming back to a happy moment before saving Da Hae?

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I meant that Nu-ri went back in time to just before the building exploded. Actually, I don't know if Nu-ri's time travelis limited to happy monents or just depends on the object/person he wants to retrieve.

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I think that Nu-ri brought him back just before the building exploded, as you said.
But he probably doesn't travel to the past. He just makes something or someone appear.

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Coming back to the present.

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I forgot to say that the OTP, Gwi-joo and Da-hae ended up having much more chemistry than I thought.
Even thought the couple was weird in the first episodes, now I can believe these two characters are in love.

But the cutest pair are Ina and Joon-woo ❤️ Amazing actors.

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I saw a lot of chemistry from the moment he looked at her spitefully, while she - no aegyo at all, deliberately provoking him - downed a water-sized glass of soju in one take.
Not that I find drunken lovers romantic - ew! - but these two tsundere people, outtsundering each other - that was explosive!

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Thanks for your summaries! I will tell you one thing I LOVED about this show. The writers actually saved some of the resolution of the main plot lines for the last episode! I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. It was excellent! Even though I had hoped to see the flying scene we got in episode 11 in episode 12.

I am never disappointed by redemption arcs, because I like to see character dynamism. Were these arcs believable? Well... yes and no. In the world of dramas, people who are as awful as those two moms or that two-faced friend usually can't be redeemed. In real life, a lot of parents fail to express their love for their children in a way the kids can feel. A lot of 12 and 13 year old girls are jerks who can become better people. So that's OK. It feels better to me that In-a got to have a boyfriend and a best girl friend, especially considering the circumstances.

Seeing the two families together celebrating the little girl was very enjoyable for me.

As far as the problems of the time travel mechanisms--I thought the writers were consistent enough within their weird magical world.

The only thing that bugs me was the sismance between Grace and Dong-hee's kind of boring resolution. "I'm going to make your brother my boyfriend and we'll still be friends," isn't as good as letting the two characters who have chemistry *with each other* be the ones to wind up together. Not to say that Sauna Samchun couldn't have chemistry with her. Whatever, Grace and Dong-hee did fly together and that was super sweet.

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I actually loved what they did with Hye-rim because all along I've been convinced she isn't that bad, just self-centered. I mean, when you think about it most of her "offenses" were things she didn't even do, rather just thought. I-na was the one who had access to the thoughts and acted on them when she didn't have to (and part of her arc was realizing the latter).

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I did hate on Hye-rim after she locked Ina in, but when Ina approached the ostracized Hye-rim in the cafeteria, I started to think she wasn't that bad. Ina is a pretty good judge of people even without reading their minds, so I trusted in her.

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Even when she locked her in (which she shouldn't) it was clear that it was the wound she had received while reaching out to Yi-na (who then scratched her) that made Hye-in react on her worst impulse; she felt rejected for no reason, and hurt.
I know, it didn't make it okay, but to her it felt like it was Yi-na who started it.

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That's a great point and Hye-rim did make the point in their stairwell heart-to-heart that she had also wanted to get close to Ina and she wanted Ina to like her, but Ina's reactions felt like rejections from her perspective.

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Exactly! It was so nice that in the future, Hye-in could be allowed to think embarrassing selfish or petty thoughts sometimes - without acting on them - and still be friends.
Terry Pratchett has written so well in A Hat Full Of Sky about allowing your conscience some credit for the work it does to keep us decent human beings in spite of emotions of envy and pettiness or contempt towards others. We are better than our worst impulses.

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In my mind Grace loved flying with Dong-hee, so clearly they are the better match but hey what’s a kdrama without a love triangle 😉

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Or a throuple this time, maybe?

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That there should be romantic love between Sauna Uncle and Dong-hee seemed completely out of the blue and taped on in the last minute.
What really happened was of course that he was an okay solution for Dong-hee to get married and get that building, while the chemistry was still between Grace and Dong-hee, including Dong-hee's attitude of always being hard-to-get.
I have giffed about it, if you want to see it.
(It's on my fanwall, and also, there will be a link in comment #18 or thereabouts under this recap, when the DB staff gets around to checking it for scam)

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Hooray! I agree with all the comments about the ending being rushed--would have liked a good deal more on how Gwi Ju got back, what he was doing for those 5 years (or was it just a frozen instant for him), a more satisfying reunion with everyone, not just Da-Hae, etc., but overall this show really worked for me. They figured out clever ways to handle the time travel paradoxes, the problems with precognition, and all those other things that are so often really poorly managed in dramas.

My favorite characters, as usual, were the supporting ones--Dong Hee, I Na, Grace, and Sauna Samchon. More of them, please!

I have now seen Jang Ki Yong as romantic lead twice and I am still not convinced. Every time he kisses the FL I get the feeling he's steeling himself, then swooping in before he can chicken out. The one exception was the scene at the beginning of Ep. 11--that one felt natural. However, kissing aside, I did really like him in this. I'd like to see him do something where he has to get angry and/or mean, then I'll be fully on board with him as an actor and not just a model.

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I've always found Jang Ki Yong to be rather stiff or aloof in his performances, but I liked how he embraced some of the comedy in this role.

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Agree. The scene where he and Grace first meet at the gym is brief but kind of hilarious--the way he just moves to a new bench and then lies down with a vacant look in his eyes is subtle but funnier each time I watch it (which is a lot because it's the teaser scene on Netflix).

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I like him in this messy, unemployed, haven't-changed-my-hairstyle-since-2010 look. I feel like it suits him much better than the neat guy who looks like a model.

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I think the same :)

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I'm currently watching My Ahjusshi and Jang Ki Yong plays a bad guy there. And he gets very angry 😅

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ATYPICAL FAMILY felt like it looked into my soul man, especially the ugly parts. Gwi-ju as much as I find him uncomfortable, he was basically a mirror of myself (thank god I don’t have a child to fuck up). The addiction aspect, the recluse behaviour, letting the present slip by numbing oneself. All of the frustrations I left with Gwi-ju, I felt with myself. I think one of the most relatable portrayals of addiction I watched personally, it neither glorifies it nor goes to the extreme stereotyping that the media usually depicts.

I think my one nitpick is that Gwi-ju didn’t go through withdrawal. Considering the years and frequency of using alcohol, firstly it would be dangerous to go cold turkey but no amount of love, romantic or otherwise is gonna stop the withdrawal process. It might help with the motivation tho. Alcohol isn’t my personal addiction story, however I do very much sympathise with anyone dealing with this, the easy access, especially living in a culture that glorifies heavy drinking.

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my only complaint is episode 12 feels sooooo rushed, there is no time to actually dive into character's emotions and everything moves so fast. i think with this type of genre, with this many characters ,12 episodes is too short let's normalize 14 episodes in kdrama (because honestly 16 episodes are still too much most of time)

i keep wondering why Gwiju couldnt go back to the future, but im gonna go with the most simple answer: he cant because his son summoned him right after he saved Dahae. Because if he lost his power he couldnt go back watching the date with Dahae in cafe (or restaurant?)
Overall this is a solid drama and im surprised how the writer wrapped this up tbh, well thought with a little bit of twist of new character. Im so happy with the ending.

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oh and something that bothers me more than it should: Bok NurI's superpower. Summoning something and SOMEONE from the past is an amazing superpower, but the drama didnt (more like couldnt because no time left) explain the restriction about his superpower (like Gwiju only can go back to his happy time, Yina should look directly into eyes to listen the minds) maybe he only can summons something that belongs to him?

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I was a bit annoyed that he could go to a past he didn't live. everyone's power had something to restrain them and nuri's seems to be a free for all thing.

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i dont think he could go back to past, summoning is (maybe) the more accurate term in this scenario. Maybe he needs specific time and specific object to summon, thats why he could summon his father after Dahae give the specific time and object.

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you're probably right.

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The finale week felt like it needed an extra 30 minutes - at least. If it was on TVN instead, could have extended the the final 2 episodes a bit even though I roll my eyes at how TVN are drunk on having movie-length episodes sometimes.

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I loved this drama, and Dong-hee's ending, (honestly, if you look at how she flew with Grace, ane how she flew with Sauna Uncle, it was obvious where the romance was), An Yi-na getting her friend back the way she did was great, while I totally agree with Unit that Sauna Mum suddenly crying and hugging the girl she had locked up, beaten, made to be a honey trap and quite recently ordered killed was a uhmmmm ending.
More than anything, the way Gwi-ju survived was lame, especially since is could so easy have been much better: As his powers were developing, he should take Dong-hee with him to the past, and instead of dumping Da-hae out the window, he should have delivered her in Dong-hee's hands for a safe landing.
We could even include a story that someone saw him explode in the fire (Man-heum, if no one else) but that really, it was just the usual way he dissolves when he goes back in time of home to the present.
He didn't have to stay away for five years - apart from me hating those time skips, then Yi-na really did not deserve to not have her dad to be with and slam doors at now that they had just found each other. You can have parents and friends without being spoiled, actually!
Also, he and his little boy should have had each other - does he need to be so absent even in good times? And there was no reason his son could get him when he couldn't himself.
I don't know it this is some kind of tantric drama-writing, where you build up to a super ending and then just ... don't do it. Right as we could have the kulmination with cooperation between the siblings, Dong-hee making it possible for Gwi-ju to come home in time, everybody bonding extra, preferably cooperating with Grace and Sauna Uncle ... everybody just had a funeral and then folded towels and went on with nothing exciting happening, like Sting apparently can, if you like your culmination to be non-existent. Sigh.
Well, But Dong-hee's story was fantastic, especially since she obviously married Sauna Uncle to get the building, and because he is kind, and transports stuff carefully, but any real harmony and sparks are not between him and her, for sure.
If you doubt my words, you just need to see how she treats him exactly like she doesn't like her food to be treated.
Anyway, I giffed about it, here: https://www.dramabeans.com/activity/p/1592847/

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Gwi-joo's powers were developing but one thing is bringing back an ice-cream to the past, and another one is a person 😅
If he could take a person to the past, then the power of travelling in time wouldn't be something so special. Everybody could go to the past with him.

But as this is fantasy, she (the writer) could have thought of something like that, and I wouldn't have complained.

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In fact, that would be a better ending, but I'm quite satisfied with this ending too.

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"Tantric drama-writing"? My new favorite descriptor!

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Initially, I found the ending just okay. Not satisfactory and not unsatisfactory, but ended up liking it more after sitting on it a little bit longer.

I expected a superpowered way to bring him back and that's what they gave me, so I'm glad the family can be together. And his son plucking him out from the past made sense as to why no one found Gwi-joo's body in the present nor in the past. I think the drama did a good job of committing to the loop while offering their characters' a bit of agency as well. And I liked how the drama characters eventually didn't end miring themselves in the past. But they are also themselves - flaws and all.

I think the finale week could have used an extra 30 minutes to flesh out some bits that felt rushed. Like I think we could have used an extra scene of watching Sauna mom turning a corner. And I wish we got to know more about why Gwi-joo's powers changed. Is it just the universe priming him for the big time loop?

I enjoyed this drama a lot. And I got a kick out of how awesome the scam against Dong-hee's ex was. They got him to fork over money to repay Dong-hee for the clinic she opened for him AND he's in debt to Sauna Family (even though he's in prison now and has no income).

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I'm fine with the ending though it felt more like a cop out rather than a twist. No need to try to make sense of Nu-ri's superpower even though imo it's the most interesting out of them all. I love the romance, i just don't get how gwi-ju and da-hae fell in love in the first place? i think this drama is one of the case of "12 ep is too short to tell the story but 16 would drag it out too much". Great performance by all the cast, OSTs are catchy, the scenes are captured very well. I boiled it down to the writing for the flaws of this drama. I'll rewatch this drama but maybe only the last 5 EP

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They had matching spite levels.

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The mental gymnastics required to accept Gwi-ju's return to the present at face value aren't particularly strenuous, but I think it works both as Gwi-ju literally coming back and as a metaphorical return in the person of his son, who has similar powers and reminds his mother of him. And of the two possibilities, I prefer the latter. There is no escaping (certain aspects of) fate but Gwi-ju fulfils his destiny on his own terms, and the sacrifice he makes is a meaningful choice that is worthwhile to him, even if he doesn’t know Da-hae is pregnant. The little boy will always bring his father to mind and is a physical, genetic continuation of Gwi-ju's existence. Neither possibility spares his family (poor I-na!) having to deal with losing him, whether for 4-5 years or forever. Do they have any reason to believe he'd still be alive somehow?

The parts I would argue with are mostly too much walking and talking in the face of fiery death. Like, several minutes of palaver when stuff is exploding and falling all around - twice. It reminds me of the way kdrama characters fall off buildings and it takes 30 seconds or more for them to hit the ground, while the people around them have time to react, think, plan, and execute some response. (Although the way that happens in this show is hilarious.) Those scenes could have been compressed. But that's a quibble, and one could argue that in a show that bends and stretches time for life do-overs, it echoes Gwi-ju's experience of time being both an endless loop and too short to save someone. The show got the big things right. And both families turn out not to be so atypical after all - they have the same mix of conflicts and failings and support and love that a ‘typical’ family does, and make the same parental sacrifices and mistakes and good choices.

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This show is just like some relationships... You can't fully understand them, you hate them sometimes, but yet you love them and they keep you wanting more!

Exactly how I felt while watching it... I still don't understand the time travel bits, but everything else was so darn compelling that it held me in thrall for its entirety. It's in my top shows for just this reason - that not everything was shown or told, and that made all the difference - I could use my imagination to fill in the blanks.

The acting from the support cast- Sauna mom, especially - superlative.

A huge, huge, shout out to the amazing cinematography, art direction, production design.

And like I've always said, the music director needs to sweep ALL the awards... The music on this show, honestly, needs to win Emmys... The score and ost was phe.no.men.al.

This drama is going to stay with me for a long time to come.

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I wish they released the full OST with all the background music.

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Wow! That was fast! Thank you!

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It was a very human series, albeit quirky, where all characters are depicted with imperfections and several undergo transformations. For the most part, their redemptions were justified. The conclusion was fine—it was happy, though somewhat brief (sudden?). Additionally, the show featured brilliant offbeat and sometimes playful music, which complemented the scenes perfectly.

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