Andrew: I have to say the trailers really diminished the emotional impact of this episode because we knew Yeon Joo would get shot. Perhaps it was deliberately done to prevent outcry from the fans but imagine how much more powerful it would have been if her shooting came as a surprise. However, the way we got there was so exciting and fascinating that I finished the episode just amazed at how the show still manages to shock us after 13 episodes. It was also at the point that I decided this was a show worth introducing to my wife and we started watching the series together from start to end!
Jasmine: this guy is hardcore. He not only got me hooked but he re-watched every single episode with me.
Andrew: I really loved how the episode balanced both light hearted and funny scenes in the first half with tense and gloomy scenes in the second half.
Jasmine: actually, I watched that whole saccharine sweet first half with a sense of dread. Kang Chul staging his perfect death (although it was smart of him to use the phone call between the two villains) and the ensuing happy ending, encapsulated by them doing going on dates in matching pink sweaters, did not square with the revenge thriller genre and I was expecting it to be upended at any moment.
Andrew: The transition in tone was also very well done, starting from the scene where Yang Chul sees Soo Hee till his realization that he may be summoning comic book characters out into the real world.
There’s a great sense of dread when we return to the scene with Yeon Joo and her “dad”. Kim Eui-Sung puts up a masterful performance as his expression suddenly changes and expresses his disappointment that Kang Chul isn’t there. What’s impressive is also how the colour drains out of the show in the second half and from the bright cheery colours of the first half, the second half is dark and gloomy.
The episode ends with a sense of despair as our protagonists have made at least three attempts by now to bring about a happy ending – first with Yeon Joo saving Chul from drowning boats; secondly with dream reset and Chul working with dad to give the villain a face and finally, when that failed, with Kang Chul gaining control of both worlds and putting the killer in prison. However, all three times failed and the consequences got worse each time.
The greatest obstacle the protagonists need to overcome is not the killer or even Assemblyman Han but the rules of the comic world. This also ties back to Yeon Joo’s version of a happy ending, where the emphasis is not so much on Yang Chul clearing his name but really in the fact that he’s no longer the protagonist of the comic and bound by its rules. In her version of the comic book’s happy ending, there’s no happy resolution to her relationship with Kang Chul. All the romance takes place outside of the comic world because she has recognizes that the world of the comic W cannot accomodate her romantic happy ending. It can only at best bring about a happy ending for Kang Chul’s revenge storyline.
As the episode ends, the killer has finally been eradicated and with Yeon Joo dead, Seong Moo is now back in the author’s seat again. What is his version of the happy ending? In the version that he was earlier planning, he chose to end it with Kang Chul and Soo Hee reuniting again, completely writing Yeon Joo out of the story. He could do so previously because of the dream reset which effectively also meant Yeon Joo wasn’t a real character in the manhwa. However he can’t do so now because she’s re-entered the manhwa world and become a comic book character because of Kang Chul’s recognition that she’s his wife. The happy ending for W can no longer just be about Kang Chul but needs to accomodate Yeon Joo as well.
As I write my episode reviews, I am also re-examining my thoughts on the finale and there are some aspects I am becoming less satisfied with. Will save those though for another time.
All in all, this was an excellent episode that was well paced, thought provoking and fun. Loved the scene with Crazy Dog and also the scenes of Kang Chul getting to know Yeon Joo’s parents. From this episode on, I was also very glad that my wife got equally hooked on W and we had many late night marathons catching up on old episodes and geeking out on the show together!