In my review of episode 14, I mentioned all I hoped for was that Choi Yoo Jin’s story got a satisfactory ending. In that aspect, the finale certainly surpassed my expectations by delivering a semblance of a redemption arc that was heartbreaking and touching. It even brought tears to my eyes (and my wife’s too – LOL!).
This was far from a perfect finale, but I’m only going to elaborate on the two most glaring faults. The most severe fault was that Subway product placement segment, which was even worse than the one in episode 14 because it ended with so, so cheesily with Jeha saying “I love this place!”. Yikes! This will go down in the history of K-drama was the worst product placement ever. Kudos to Ji Chang Wook for even being able to pull off that line with a straight face.
Besides that, I really disliked the way Anna was portrayed in the past two episodes, which is a fault that has plagued her characterisation throughout the entire series. In this episode, she’s repeatedly being used the hostage and always so helpless and needy, continually calling upon Je Ha to reecue her. She barely does anything to save herself, except for kicking aside the hard disk. What happened to the courageous, resourceful and determined girl who was able to escape from the monastery repeatedly in episode 1? If she’s supposed to be one of the lead protagonists, shouldn’t the writer at least have given us more to admire her for? Up till the end, I was still hoping for her to do something mildly heroic, but we had nothing. Such a disappointment, really.
Coming back to what I liked about the finale, we finally got answers about what happened to Ume Hye Rin. This was very long overdue, but at least, it’s convincing and frames Yoo Jin’s descent into evil meaningfully. We learn that it was Yoo Jin’s father who is responsible for Hye Rin’s death, assigning one of his men to kill her in spite of Yoo Jin begging him not to do so. Yoo Jin wanted to save Hye Rin, but she was too late. She could have saved Hye Rin by calling 911, but she chose not to. She was aware that Anna was being held Master and behind the door but could not bear to look back and face Anna. Following that, she decided to tell Joon that she had killed Hye Rin, so that she could retain her hold over him. In fact she believed that she had killed Hye Rin because she had turned coldly away from her when she begged her to save her. While that story doesn’t redeem her from all the evil she does, it certainly provides a plausible explanation. I did wish though that we got more backstory into how she made the decision to send Anna to a monastery in Spain.
Leading from that, we have a quiet moment of acceptance as Anna continues to hold Se Joon’s tie to keep Yoo Jin’s wound from bleeding further even after Yoo Jin tells her she can stop doing so because she is her enemy. I appreciated that it was not overplayed and Yoo Jin did not go to the extent of asking for forgiveness, which would have been out of character. I also liked that her final decision to stay in Cloud 9 did not become over-glorifed as a sacrifice for the safety of all, but was a decision she made because she was tired of all the power struggles and preferred to end it all. While there was little interaction between her and Je Ha in this episode, his desperate plea for her to leave, crying out ‘Damn it!’ when she refused and then running to the bomb to see whether he could defuse it really spoke volumes about how he genuinely wanted to save Yoo Jin.
What we get a lot of in the finale is interaction between Se Joon and Yoo Jin. The scene of her apologizing to him was really so powerful and moving. She admits to not killing Hye Rin and that she was stupid for ever thinking that she had to prove to anyone she was happy. She apologises to Se Joon for having subjected him to a life of pretense. Although we don’t see him actually accepting her apology, that acceptance is shown through him finally passing the thumb drive to her and even more so by his final act of staying with her. I was really impressed by Se Joon’s final act of pulling the bomb into the glass chamber of Cloud 9 and holding Yoo Jin in his arms. It was a great moment of redemption. I’ve never thought much of him throughout, but this was a truly heroic and touching moment that redeems him in my eyes. All Yoo Jin’s efforts to bring him to where he is today were not in vain, as she finally, just minutes before her death, gets to experiences genuine love. Yoo Jin and Se Joon have had a very complex dynamic throughout the show, simultaneously loathing yet needing each other, and it was a nice resolution to their storyline.
Song Yoo-na puts in yet another masterful performance throughout the episode. It was so compelling to see her cold, hard exterior gradually soften, as she apologises to Se Joon, then reveals the truth to Anna and finally decides to end it all in Cloud 9. Even as her exterior cracks, she remains stoic, trying hard to prevent herself from breaking down completely. Her line just before dying about how Se Joon and her almost seem like a happy couple is delivered with a genuine, lingering smile that we’ve never seen from her, and it was so heartbreaking. Song Yoo-na has really taken the character of Choi Yoo Jin and elevated it to a whole new level; she will truly be one of Korean drama’s most remembered villains.
Besides Yoo Jin’s story, the plotting of this final episode was decent enough and the growing sense of danger was sufficiently convincing with Sung Won pulling out a gun, then Park Gwan Soo cutting off the energy supply and communication lines. While I certainly do not condone murder, I was glad that Chief Kim did not die and got her revenge on Sung Won. She has certainly been one of the more compelling characters throughout and I’ve always admired her for her loyalty and never doubted her competence.
As for Je Ha, I’m pretty sure nobody expected he would die, so there was no suspense at all regarding his fate. Unfortunately though, he did not have many strong character moments in the finale and was mainly the hero who saves the day. His whole Blackstone storyline was resolved so neatly, with him confessing the truth about Blackstone to the ICC and Park Gwan-So being forced to commit suicide. Je Ha and Anna do get a cute, laughter-inducing moment as he asks her why she pressed the button so quickly as he wanted to do it together with her. It was endearing indeed, but there really hasn’t been enough throughout the entire series for us to become truly invested in their relationship.
Ultimately, the K2 was a series that had an interesting premise, but failed to develop a substantial storyline or to flesh out its main characters. Even as a satire or commentary on politics, the show did not fully succeed as most of the characters were so one-dimensional and their competence varied based on what was needed to advance the plot. As the series progressed, my expectations gradually decreased and based on my lowered expectations, the finale more than delivered. In the grand scheme of k-drams, a drama that ends well is certainly better than one that starts off well. I’m glad the series is finally over and I’ll definitely be on the look out for Song Yoo-na’s next drama series.