It has been 14 episodes of waiting for this confrontation—and it’s finally here. We’ve watched our protagonists go on journeys of healing together, gotten to know their agonizing childhoods that have given them trauma, and stared at the face of a terrible fate awaiting them. Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji), Kang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), and Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se) have just begun calling each other family, only to find out that a twisted secret ties their worst childhood memories together. Will their relationship be able to stand this secret coming to light? Most importantly, will Moon-young be able to endure her ties to the murder of Kang-tae and Sang-tae’s mother?
Head Nurse Haeng-ja (Jang Young-nam), or Do Hui-jae, Moon-young’s mother head into an intense confrontation after she kidnaps Sang-tae. We get to witness the extent of Moon-young’s mother’s obsession with her daughter and the extent to which she goes to control her, and frankly, it’s terrifying. She even goes as far as to recount how she murdered Kang-tae’s mother to his face, an act that enrages him so much he almost strangles her with his bare hands. That is, until he reminds himself that she’s Moon-young’s mother, despite everything. But the story of his mother’s death is so sad, because it sounds so random and anti-climatic in comparison to the suffering the brothers went through.
If I’m being honest, this sudden twist with Do Hui-jae has made very little sense to my mind. I knew a final confrontation with Moon-young’s mother would be in one of the finale episodes, but connecting it to nurse Haeng-ja’s arc seems like a cop out on the writer’s part. There hasn’t been adequate explanation of how Do Hui-jae escaped her husband’s house after being fatally injured, why she went under the knife to get herself a completely new face, and why she waited over a decade to re-enter Moon-young’s life. I’d have much preferred any of the theories going around on fan communities involving a delusional sister or a hallucination.
Still, the sequence of events after Do Hui-jae attacks Kang-tae had me on the edge of my seat. From Moon-young’s unexpected entry, Kang-tae blocking her attempt to attack her mother in a mirror of their first meeting, him fainting in Moon-young’s arms, that brief moment where it looked like Moon-young had frozen under her mother’s influence again, and finally, Sang-tae saving the day by attacking Do Hui-jae just as she was about to attack Moon-young. Phew. That was some ride we went on. To probably no one’s surprise, my favorite bit was Sang-tae smacking Do Hui-jae’s head for daring to attack his little brother and sister. Hyung to the rescue!
Do Hui-jae gets arrested but still manages to lay down one last trap for Moon-young. And despite the best efforts of the Moon brothers, Moon-young ends up falling into it. This trap is the classic K-drama trope of breaking up with someone because you think their life will be miserable with you in the picture—except in Moon-young’s case, it actually makes a lot of sense. She has just found out that her mother murdered the mother of the man she loves and caused lifelong trauma for his brother. It is natural for her to take the blame for the misery that keeps descending on the brothers. But what she fails to see is that she’s a part of the group now.
And so, despite the heartbreak and the hurt, the Moon brothers sweetly resolve to wear Moon-young’s stubbornness down in their own ways. Kang-tae tries with persistence, reminding her that she’s not her mother, making excuses not to move out, and even yelling at her, which results in hilarity. Sang-tae, on the other hand, just says “over my dead body” to the idea of moving out and leaving her all alone. In a lot of ways, he gets through to Moon-young in ways even Kang-tae can’t. He becomes the glue that holds their little family together, and it’s the sweetest thing.
Moon-young’s grief and guilt is so great that not only does she try breaking up with Kang-tae but also makes the decision to retire from writing. Manager Lee (Kim Joo-hun) rightly worries, pointing out that writing fairytales is how she connects with the world, and if she stops writing, she might just die. This is how, in the sweetest plot twist in the world, we see everyone in the show—Joo-ri (Park Gyu-young) and her mother (Kim Mi-kyung), Manager Lee, Jae-su (Kang Ki-doong), Seung-jae (Park Jin-joo)—team up to cheer Moon-young up. They remind her of her goodness and worth, and that she has people who love and support her. We get another glimpse into what could have been an amazing dynamic—Jae-su and Moon-young—when they drink together and badmouth Kang-tae.
There is a sense of finality throughout this episode—from Moon-young finally wrapping up the chapter that is her mom, to Dr. Oh deciding to retire from the hospital, Kang-tae resigning, and the brothers planting a tree for their mother in the premises. Sang-tae is the star of this episode—he not only heroically saves his family from a threat and refuses to leave Moon-young alone to suffer but also offers some hope to her when she needs him the most. He announces his dream of becoming an illustrator just as she has announced her retirement and also shares his sketch of Kang-tae smiling in his sleep while thinking of her. This, I feel, is going to help Moon-young the most—a reminder that she has been a source of happiness to Kang-tae.
All the grief and hurt in the episode crescendos in the final scene, where it unexpectedly turns into hilarity. Kang-tae confesses his love to Moon-young in the exact same way she did in the initial episode—by yelling at her, several times. Kim Soo-hyun should do a comedy next because I was guffawing out loud at this scene. We end the second to the last episode with an almost kiss between the two lovebirds—which is a good enough build-up to the finale episode that I’m sure will give me the proper happy ending I want to see. There are so many questions that remain unanswered, and some really questionable arcs, but right now, I just need to see my favorite family well-settled, trauma-free, and happy.
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