Since I started with reviewing the finale, it’d be easier for me to do my episode reviews backwards – from episode 15 all the way to the premiere. Let’s see I have the stamina and determination to finish writing on all the episodes!
It is unfortunate that the pace is slowing down, given that it’s always better for shows to end on a bang. A lot of criticism of the series centres on how it started off very strongly but tapered off in terms of pace and plot twists towards the end and more importantly, it started to make less sense too as the writer seemed to rely a lot more on the magic laptop to push the plot forward.
For me, the important question as always is whether there is important work with the characters being done and the answer remains yes, even till the very end.
In the home stretch of the series, the focus on Seong Moo’s storyline becomes amplified. This is critical to the series as his story needs to come to a closure as well. So in this episode, we see that he’s been teleported into the webtoon world where he’s tormented by memories of the killer. Not just tormented, he even becomes the killer at times – but worse than that, he realizes he has to kill to ensure his survival as a character in the manhwa.
What I liked about this development was two fold. Firstly, it allowed Kim Eui Dung to display his amazing repertoire of acting skills when he transforms from Seong Moo to the killer. His facial expression really inspires so much fear and dread! Secondly, it’s a continuation of the redemption storyline for him as he learns to overcome the control of the killer within and eventually bring happiness to Yeon Joo. I assume this was why he was brought into the comic for a final episode, because he would play a critical role in its ending. This “twist” in Seong Moo’s storyline because it added an element of tension to the whole episode which would have otherwise lacked because the Congressman just isn’t quite as menacing and complex as a villain.
As the series comes to its end, I am increasingly convinced that what Kang Chul had to contend with after he killed the killer was not the Congressman but really destiny/fate itself and how that functions within the rules of the manhwa. The rule of the revenge thriller where the hero and villains cannot both have a happy ending is the biggest hurdle that our protagonists need to overcome going into the finale.
Kang Chul is, however, tired of fighting already and tired of being the lead character. In this episode, he no longer shows the drive and sharpness of mind that we saw earlier when he returned to the world a second time and devised a plan to defeat the killer. Instead, what we see is almost a defeatist attitude when he removes the ring from Yeon Joo and decides to stop fighting for the one thing that represented his free choice. This is undoubtedly a stupid decision, which I am glad Yeon Joo reverses in the finale, but it does show how defeated and exhausted Kang Chul has become. After trying repeatedly to fight against his destiny, he seems to have lost the will to do so in the end. His decision to leave the ending in Yeon Joo’s hands is also representative of that exhaustion.
Yeon Joo, on the other hand, still continues to display some fighting spirit and a keen awareness and determination for that happy ending through playing by the rules of the comic. She tells Doo Yoon to drop her off once she knows that Kang Chul because she knows she will be in danger. She questions Kang Chul’s decision to run away from prison because he can never get a happy ending if he keeps breaking the law. She devises the plan to add on a video camera to the torturing scenes so that there will be evidence against the Congressman. She’s still retains that fighting spirit in working towards the happy ending.
I loved the ending of the episode, which was a nice way of mirroring how we are anticipating the finale yet I wonder also of this was a barbed comment by the writer to viewers of the show who fell away in the second half because they could not make sense of what was happening. Nonetheless, this was a well done penultimate episode, not perfect but pushing the storyline ahead sensibly.
Few other comments:
- Glad that So Hee managed to get a happy ending and free herself from being tied to Kang Chul’s fate
- There should have been more of Soo Bong in this episode! Love that guy!
- My theory is that all that happens to Seong Moo in this episode doesn’t actually appear in the webtoon because it would be too much of a contradiction to suddenly have him appear as a character again. This theory seems consistent with the finale where we aren’t actually shown scenes of him in the final episode.