Check out the previous episode review here.
I have this really bad habit.
Sometimes, when I am really enjoying a show – I don’t want it to end.
So I put off watching the last few episodes. If I’m reviewing it, I put off the reviews for some time until it’s too late and the next episode is already out. Oftimes I really am just busy with other things, but today I think I am actively procrastinating.
I meant to write the episode 14 review yesterday, but didn’t. Today, I meant to write episode 15 this morning before the series finale aired, but didn’t. Instead, I spent the morning browsing diy raised garden bed ideas out of cedar wood. I do need to eventually build one, but my seedlings have just sprouted and I can’t even bring them outdoors until mid-April.
So, why did I do this? Procrastination. Plain and simple.
Good storytelling is all about closure, however. So was this story, despite me not realizing until the penultimate episode.
All of these characters needed closure – every single one.
Park Sae Royi.
Jo Yi Seo.
Ohh Soo Ah.
Jang Geun Soo.
Jang Geun Won.
Choi Seung Kwon.
Kang Min Jung.
Even Detective Oh.
Due to the events of fifteen years ago, life suddenly stopped for some of these characters. For Sae Royi, the death of his father stunted his emotional growth. As he admitted, he used rage and anger to keep him going. And it did sustain him for over a decade, but Park Sae Royi’s friendships saved him. The love he has for Jo Yi Seo, even more so.
(Although, we won’t talk about Park Sae Royi needing to almost die, have a chat with his father in purgatory, and deciding to come back to life to realize he was in love with Yi Seo the whole time. We won’t talk about how Soo Ah already knew this, but kept it to herself. We knew that she was selfish, already….)
Jo Yi Seo needed closure that she made the right decision. That betting her life on Sae Royi was worth it, and the drastic changes it caused to her personality. At only twenty-four, she had matured. Far more than she would have if she continued to live selfishly. Or rather, self-servingly.
Yi Seo was able to achieve her dreams, and make a place for herself despite forgoing university. I haven’t seen the last episode yet, but I’m sure she also finally got with Sae Royi. Our girl has been putting in a lot of work with him, so if anyone deserves a happy ending – it’s her. Yes, he still doesn’t owe her anything – but he realized her worth exceeds any need for the company. Sae Royi realized that without her, he would have been stuck. He would have turned into a Geun Won without the love of friends, or family…which is what I.C. has become to him.
Speaking of which, I know I have Geun Soo listed above before his (half) brother, but let’s focus in on Geun Won for a moment.
The importance of familial love seemed to be central in this tale. I never realized the parallels between Park Sae Royi and Jang Geun Won until this last episode (ep.15).
Jang Geun Won has the world at his fingertips, but was not truly happy. He bullies the weak, but deep inside he is weak himself. The girl he likes, Soo Ah, won’t give him the time of day. Even when his wealthy Chairman father would bless the union.
Instead of being able to coast through life while experiencing nothing painful, the (right type of) person quite literally knocked him into reality. Since that day in high school, his life had gone downhill. The illusion of willful ignorance was gone. Geun Won now had to face consequences. He now had to be smarter than those who wanted to take him down. He was betrayed by someone he thought of as an older sister, Ms. Kang.
Geun Won realized his entire existence had been a lie, and it was too hard for him. So he snapped; the final straw being his father Chairman Jang choosing Jangga Corp over him. Over his firstborn, who he had never even properly hugged to show discipline.
Chairman Jang ruled under fear and domination. He expected obedience, not loyalty. He would rather discard an employee if they were not living up to his standards, instead of coaching them on how to grow.
On the flip side, we have Sae Royi. Also without a mother, his father was his only support. And thankfully, his father loved him. Dearly.
Park Sung Yul was a corporate man, but gave it all up for his son. He would not allow anyone to mistreat him, even his boss – despite giving away a prized recipe that saved his company. Since that reveal, I always wondered just how successful his small restaurant could have grown to become had his life not been cut short by Geun Won.
Because his father loved him, Sae Royi could continue on. Just when he was going to be fully consumed by revenge, it was cut short by another’s revenge. Being between life and death, speaking to his father, hearing him reaffirm how proud he was of his son – allowed Sae Royi to grieve for the first time in fifteen years.
Sae Royi finally cried his eyes out and let go of all of that pent up pain and anguish.
So that now, pride could not stop him from kneeling before old man Jang to save the woman he loved. It was still something worse than death, but he learned that in certain situations your pride has to be “give and take”. You have to pick your battles, and calculate your losses. In my opinion, Sae Royi kneeling was neither. If anything, it showed his growth as a person through this arduous, but fulfilling journey.
And showed just how much Chairman Jang has stayed the same.
Sae Royi kneeling before him was more excitement than he’s seen in years – here’s too hoping he doesn’t keel over just yet before serving recompense for his crimes.
In the end, Sae Royi achieved wealth, the approval of his father, and created a new family and sustainable goal that will live on after his death. Everything Geun Won never realized he could have had, or took for granted.
Soo Ah is still selfish, but the guilt finally got to her. It’s a nice gesture that she learned something at least between being a chauffeur, lapdog, and mop-up girl for Jangga, but a little troubling that she wasn’t going to play the blackmail card until the very end. As if she were holding out on some false hope that Chairman Jang didn’t actually tell her to her face that he despised servile people like her.
Or that she really didn’t actively participate and help him cover up a murder. Then having the nerve to be surprised when Chairman Jang plans on doing it again.
As if a murder cover-up didn’t work out so well for him the first time around.
Seung Kwon had to deal with his self-worth as an ex-con. Instead of fighting (at Hyun Yi’s behest) he used his new status to navigate the world. And hell, who wouldn’t believe the director of I.C. over some common thugs? I just can’t believe the madlad actually called the cops! I thought he was bluffing.
I liked his character a lot, that Seung Kwon. I’m glad he finally found a place in the world. Something that is fulfilling too, to boot.
Jang Geun Soo also struggled to find a place to belong. Always treated as less-than, he started to find himself working at DanBam. He made friends, before promptly betraying them for what he thought was love. He still isn’t fully there yet, but Yi Seo yelling some sense into him should have triggered something.
Detective Oh had to deal with his guilt in order to face Hye Won and fully support her dream. Ms. Kang needed to take a break from letting Jangga Corp consume her life, and form close relationships. Whether Detective Oh and Ms. Kang get together is their choice, but they both needed someone to rely on and got it.
I didn’t include Ma Hyun Yi or Kim To Ni because their arcs are finished. Hyun Yi needed to accept herself in society, and To Ni needed to find his family. Both were wrapped up nicely.
Well, I think I’ve sufficiently poured my heart out. That’s enough, for now. The new episode has already been out for about three hours at the current time of writing.
Going into the final episode, what were your thoughts? Are you satisfied with the character arcs we have gotten so far? IS there something you would have changed, if anything?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Itaewon Class reviews!
The Art of War by Sun Tzu