We’re finally at the end! It took a bit too long to get here, but I definitely appreciated the last episode. The last half-hour was a bit slow, but it gave me enough time to say goodbye to the characters. What’s also great is that the drama had a big enough ensemble that you didn’t need to know what happened to every character in the end, but you still got to see everyone’s happy endings.
And so, here we finally tackle the last two episodes.
Sang Chul won’t take no for an answer, because he really needs her as part of the family. The children need her. One wonders if his “needs” is for a woman he can call his wife, or just for a permanent housekeeper. He asks her to disregard her mother-in-law’s request, and to come back to the family whenever she’s ready. Bok Nyeo needs time to think, and to ask her husband and son for their blessing.
Later, Na Young visits the children with a cake at hand and a teddy bear that came as a gift from the bakery. She invites the children to come over the following morning to their grandfather’s home for breakfast and cake. The kids wonder why, not realizing it’s their mother’s birthday. They have all been preoccupied with the thought that their father proposed to Bok Nyeo and that she may become their new mother.
At the same time, Grandpa is putting the moves on Manager Hong and inviting her to move in, but she refuses for fear of being perceived as an ambitious former housekeeper. Umm… okay. because people really care about the “complicated and potentially controversial” love lives of grandparents.
On the morning of Sun Young’s birthday, Sang Chul wakes early to greet her picture over the fireplace before heading to work. Almost ironically, it’s he who remembers.The kids only think about getting a free breakfast from their aunt, which depresses Na Young. She even made seaweed soup in commemoration of her sister’s birthday, and the kids still don’t get the hint.
Na Young goes to find Bok Nyeo at Happy Company to confront her about Sang Chul’s marriage proposal. With the help of a yakgwa cookie, Na Young blurts out that she doesn’t like Bok Nyeo, and she doesn’t like how the children are forgetting their mother so quickly. As their maternal aunt, she’s supposed to step in and be their surrogate mother. Bok Nyeo understands her concerns, and reassures her that once she leaves the house, everything will return to its rightful place.
After a bit more of thinking, Bok Nyeo accepts Sang Chul’s proposal. He’s thrilled, and asks her to get settled with the family first, since he’s busy at work. She promises to head over the next day, which gives him enough time to hurry home and tell his children the good news.
The children are ecstatic at the news, and when Na Young comes to visit they share the good news with her. This only makes Na Young more worried: Didn’t Bok Nyeo say she was leaving the family? The following morning she asks to meet Dong Shik because she wants to marry him. WHAT? He’s as flabbergasted as we are at her sudden request. It turns out Na Young is feeling quite neglected in her family. Her nieces and nephews don’t care about her or her sister; her brother-in-law is marrying the woman she dislikes; and her father is busy with his own romance with Manager Hong. Dong Shik is her last shot at finding someone who needs her.
As much as Dong Shik harbors a crush on her, he finds her tactics unbecoming. He rejects her – painfully – and Na Young is forced to find love through a dating agency.
That same morning, Bok Nyeo finally arrives at the Eun household as the new mother. The kids are delighted to see her join their family and Hye Gyul asks that she put her amethyst stone in the family stone box. Bok Nyeo does, and at the same time takes out their mother’s stone. Now that she’s the new mother, they won’t need their old mother in the box.
As their new mother, Bok Nyeo changes her hairstyle to a half-ponytail and starts cooking less side dishes. As the new lady of the house she must take care of the household budget and so refuses to indulge the children with so much food anymore. The kids are all a little startled by how much Bok Nyeo has changed. Mr. Shin can’t believe she’s changed when he hears of this new, stricter Bok Nyeo but his wife can. After all, a mother can’t be as indulgent as a housekeeper.
Han Gyul doesn’t comment much on Bok Nyeo’s new personality, since she and Woo Jae have another issue at hand. They’ll need Mr. and Mrs. Shin to go help Soo Hyuk get out of his father’s grasp. Soo Hyuk unfortunately had to bring his father to the music agency to sign the contract, where his father embarrassingly started demanding food and an exorbitant price for the contract signing. Mrs. Shin marches right into the meeting room and pours the spicy noodle all over Soo Hyuk’s father, shaming him publicly for selling his son out. Woohoo! It results with the music agency telling Soo Hyuk to return when he’s a legal adult, and doesn’t need his father’s signature anymore.
Back at home, Bok Nyeo quickly gets everyone up to shape by forcing them to clean up after themselves, finish their homework, and help with the chores. She picks up the picture of Sun Young and threatens to throw it away since a household should not have two mothers. The children are aghast that Bok Nyeo is telling them to forget about their mother. Bok Nyeo orders them to leave the house if they refuse to listen to her, so the kids head on over to Grandpa and Na Young’s place.
The kids are so shocked by Bok Nyeo’s change in character that Han Gyul wonders if Bok Nyeo is trying to teach them a lesson. You don’t say…
When Sang Chul hears of Bok Nyeo’s harsh comments, he heads home to talk to Bok Nyeo privately, where he catches her watching Heirs – HAH! Suddenly, she’s a whole different person – a woman who just married a father of four. A woman who says, “Honey, I’m so sad. If you wanted me to be their mom, you should have gotten rid of the photo (of his first wife) before I had to tell them. You still think of me as a housekeeper, don’t you?” Whoa. While her argument is sound (sort of) it’s also really strange coming from Bok Nyeo, who isn’t like other women.
The following day, the kids have returned home, and for homework Sae Gyul writes a letter to his father thanking him for everything he’s done. The assignment was for him to write to his mother, but since his mother is dead, he addresses the letter to Sang Chul instead. Bok Nyeo takes offense and orders him to write the letter addressed to her. She then scolds Sae Gyul for terrible penmanship and Han Gyul for wearing her uniform skirts too short. When Han Gyul protests, Bok Nyeo asks, “Do you want a mother, or a housekeeper?” A housekeeper would say nice things only, while a mother would scold and teach her children to grow up into mature and healthy adults.
Sang Chul hears from Dong Shik that Na Young is acting out of character and getting married to someone she doesn’t love. He sits her down at a cafe, and Na Young admits that she’s acting this way because of Bok Nyeo. She finds Bok Nyeo to be a strange and potentially dangerous presence to the kids, but she has no place to tell Bok Nyeo to leave. Instead, Na Young will remove herself from the picture.
Na Young’s comments make Sang Chul suspicious of Bok Nyeo’s recent behavior, and wonders if she’s trying to convince everyone that she should not be their mother. Bok Nyeo tells him to cancel the registration form if he doesn’t want her as a wife. Clearly, she’s not afraid of “losing him.” Grandpa ends up calling Sang Chul and Bok Nyeo over to his house for help. He can’t figure out for the life of him why Na Young is suddenly getting married. Sang Chul and Bok Nyeo go over to a wedding dress salon, where Na Young is picking out her dress, to talk to her.
Meanwhile back at home, Han Gyul finally looks at the calendar on her phone and realizes that she and her siblings missed their mother’s birthday. Suddenly it all clicks, and she realizes why Aunt Na Young made seaweed soup that weekend.
Bok Nyeo insists on speaking to Na Young privately first, who’s decided to live her life without emotion. She won’t care about the man she’s married to, and she won’t care about the kids. Bok Nyeo: “Do you really mean that?” Na Young says she does, and suddenly Bok Nyeo slaps her in the face. What?! But one slap’s not enough! Bok Nyeo slaps her again, and again, and again… She slaps Na Young a total of five times across the face before Na Young grabs her arm and screams, “Stop it already!”
And Sang Chul comes rushing in to see Na Young grabbing Bok Nyeo by the collar of her jacket.
Na Young is pissed. Why the hell is Bok Nyeo slapping her, and why is she going back on her word of leaving the family as she had promised? Bok Nyeo reminds her to get mad, just like now. Na Young should get mad, and should express her feelings more often.
That’s when Na Young realizes she just got punked. Bok Nyeo was trying to help Na Young all along! She apologizes to Sang Chul and promises to be a much better aunt to the kids from now on. At the same time, the kids are feeling very guilty for having forgotten their mother’s birthday, and for having hurt Na Young’s feelings.
Bok Nyeo catches the children apologizing to the picture of their mother and starts acting like the bitchy stepmother: “Why do you care about your dead mother’s birthday? What about my birthday?” She takes all of the kids to the riverside and forces them to choose between their dead mother and her. Bok Nyeo takes out the mother’s stone and threatens to throw it in the water, since their mother did nothing for the children and selfishly killed herself.
Han Gyul stops her from throwing the rock and insists that their mother was not selfish (which is a different tune from earlier in the series). She and her siblings have realized that their mother probably regretted her act of suicide at the very last moment when she thought of her children, and by then it was too late. In that sense, it was an accidental death. The kids don’t ever want their mother’s stone thrown away, and so they all choose their mother over Bok Nyeo.
Sang Chul arrives at that moment, wondering what’s going on. Bok Nyeo forces him to choose between his late wife and her too, and Han Gyul tells him that they’ve all chosen their mother already. Since they’ve made their choice, Han Gyul tells Bok Nyeo to leave. Bok Nyeo lets out a small sigh of relief and agrees. She will leave them now, and they can’t take back the decision.
Suddenly, Han Gyul realizes what Bok Nyeo was doing all along. Perhaps she pushed them to this breaking point because she wanted the children to proclaim that they’ll never abandon their mother or forget about her. Sang Chul also makes this realization at the same time and runs after Bok Nyeo to confirm it.
Bok Nyeo only has one question for Sang Chul: Why did he propose to her when he never loved her? Clearly he wanted her more as the children’s nanny than as a wife and mother, and both of them are still holding on to their late spouses. Sang Chul admits that he thinks about and worries about Bok Nyeo a lot, but it’s definitely not love. Since he doesn’t truly love her, he agrees that he’ll have to let her go. He cannot say “I love you” when it’s just a lie. Sang Chul does ask Bok Nyeo for one favor, that she give the children a proper goodbye by staying on until Christmas.
Na Young visits the house later, and the children apologize for overlooking their mother’s birthday. But it’s all okay – Na Young is now a new woman and she’s not going to let the children get off easy next time they do something wrong!
Christmas season rolls around, and Sang Chul is busy shopping for his children’s presents. Remembering how cold Bok Nyeo’s hands were, he purchases a pair of gloves for her. Bok Nyeo is now back working as the housekeeper, and Hye Gyul is still trying to make her smile. Na Young can’t get a refund for the wedding hall she already booked, so Dong Shik tells her to just postpone the date to a year from now… with him as the groom instead. Aww! Unfortunately the Christmas season also dredges up some painful memories for Bok Nyeo as she remembers her son’s gifts from his father – the cap and the watch that she now wears every single day.
The kids help Bok Nyeo bake a cake and proceed to take a picture of all of them together – Sang Chul included. Not even for a photo will Bok Nyeo smile, so the kids do their best to make her laugh with some weird dancing and funny faces. Bok Nyeo has to bite back her laughter but she still doesn’t laugh!
Finally it’s dinner time, and the kids invite her to sit with them at the table. It’s her last night at the Eun household, so Bok Nyeo acquiesces. Hilariously, her stomach starts growling the loudest. The kids ask if she wants anything for Christmas, and Bok Nyeo simply wants her amethyst stone to keep. Hye Gyul is loathe to give her the stone, as it might mean Bok Nyeo will leave her forever. If Bok Nyeo is to truly leave, in exchange the family wants to see her smile just once. If she really has a new lease on life and is trying to move on from her family’s deaths, then it would be best if she could smile.
And finally, slowly and haltingly, Bok Nyeo smiles. It’s a thin, toothless smile full of sorrow and hope. Honestly, it’s not that beautiful as others claim it to be, but for Bok Nyeo to smile at each of the children and Sang Chul and finally release the burden of her mother-in-law’s curse it’s a beautiful moment.
Han Gyul makes her promise to take care of herself and not do everything she’s ordered to just because it’s an order. Doo Gyul and Sae Gyul look forward to the day when she can give them compliments for their achievements in cooking and education respectively. The family is in tears as they ask Bok Nyeo to keep in touch, to turn to them if she’s ever having a hard time, and to please smile from now on.
That evening, Bok Nyeo promises to sleep with Hye Gyul for the night. The kids want to play cat’s cradle with her one last time as a group before bed time, and because they all manage to go through all the figures without breaking the string they manage to preserve this happy memory.
As soon as Hye Gyul falls asleep though, Bok Nyeo tucks her in and prepares to leave. Sang Chul is waiting for her outside, as always, and gifts her the gloves that he bought. Bok Nyeo then goes to the Happy Company to bid Manager Hong farewell. Poor Manager Hong – she becomes such a mess that the following morning she seeks out Grandpa for some comfort over having to say goodbye.
The next day, Sang Chul and the kids prepare to go to the bus terminal to say their goodbyes. However Hye Gyul is nowhere to be found! Sang Chul sends the other three kids to the bus terminal first to say goodbye, and then does another sweep of the house. He finds Hye Gyul hiding in the laundry basket. Hye Gyul doesn’t want to say goodbye because she thinks that if she doesn’t show up at the terminal, Bok Nyeo won’t leave.
Bok Nyeo is happy to see Han Gyul, Doo Gyul, and Sae Gyul at the bus terminal but it’s very clear that she’s really looking for Hye Gyul. Unfortunately it’s time for her to board the bus…
The bus pulls away from the terminal and starts driving away. Suddenly Bok Nyeo hears Hye Gyul calling out her name, running on the sidewalks after the bus. Hye Gyul trips and falls, and Bok Nyeo gets the bus to stop for a moment. She rushes to make sure Hye Gyul is okay.
Hye Gyul: “I’m not going to cry anymore. I’m going to bravely let you go.” She hands over the amethyst stone and makes her promise to come back and put the stone back into her box of family stones. Bok Nyeo also has a gift for the little girl: an origami rose with the message “I like Miss Hye Gyul very much.” Aww…. *sniff*
Hye Gyul makes Bok Nyeo promise that if she were ever to come back, she must ring the doorbell three times. And then, the two of them embrace tearfully and lovingly.
One Year Later. Yep – we got that time jump.
It’s Christmas time again and the Eun family are still thinking about Bok Nyeo and where she might be. Hye Gyul regrets that she was never able to properly tell Bok Nyeo that she liked her very much as well, and prays that Bok Nyeo will come back soon.
At school, Han Gyul, Woo Jae, and Soo Hyuk are still friends. Soo Hyuk is back in school as his deal with the entertainment agency fell through. Woo Jae’s family also adopts Soo Hyuk as another son so that he doesn’t have to deal with his father anymore. That also means that these “brothers” are still fighting for Han Gyul’s affection.
As for Manager Hong and Grandpa, their romance is blooming in full force, and boy is it slightly embarrassing to see these 60-year olds acting like they’re in their twenties. Okay, it’s a bit cute. But also a bit embarrassing. Sang Chul’s company finally gets back on its feet financially, while Song Hwa is finding happiness volunteering for charity in a different country. And Dong Shik and Na Young are preparing for their wedding. In just one year, so much has changed.
Early one morning as the family prepares breakfast, the doorbell rings. Everyone stares towards the door with bated breath. It rings a second time. Everyone’s eyes widen. Could it be…?
It rings a third time.
Hye Gyul runs to the door and opens it crying, “Miss Bok Nyeo!” But it’s not Bok Nyeo. It’s a new neighbor next door who just wanted to say hi and give some rice cakes. Hye Gyul accepts it with disappointment, but just as she’s about to close the door she sees someone else standing outside the gate.
It’s Bok Nyeo!
Hye Gyul runs to kiss Bok Nyeo and tell her that she really likes her a lot. It’s nice to see that Bok Nyeo has heeded Sang Chul’s wish up until now, and is smiling more. Sang Chul then says, “Bok Nyeo, never leave us again.” Bok Nyeo replies, “Is that an order?” Sang Chul: “Yes it’s an order.”
Bok Nyeo: “I will obey your order.”
Thoughts and Comments:
I really liked the ending of this drama, and I think it’s mainly because of how the episode gave us ample time to say goodbye to Bok Nyeo. It was a bit rushed because she went from being the evil stepmother to the kindly housekeeper leaving for an unknown location in an instant, and if you weren’t paying attention you might have missed it. But at the same time it gave us enough closure for her character. She did everything that she promised to do and it was simply time for her to heal.
In general, I liked the weirdness of this drama. Bok Nyeo was intriguing and mysterious for a good reason, as it turned out that she was a damaged person who couldn’t fully heal after the loss of her family. Her robotic antics really cracked me up, and her form of tough love was really fun to see play out for each child. I wasn’t as drawn to the children as I was to Bok Nyeo’s way of handling them. They were all spoiled brats in one way or another, especially the eldest Han Gyul, that I didn’t really care for their mini character arcs. I only cared about how Bok Nyeo would deal with their issues because the real comedy/drama came from how she solved these problems.
But then they introduced Do Hyung/Ji Hoon and they put Bok Nyeo’s backstory front and center and I felt that it ruined the weirdness of the drama. Do Hyung was equally mysterious but not as intriguing, and he slowly chipped away at Bok Nyeo’s oddities because we discovered the root of her antics. Do Hyung tried to play mind games with the other characters in the drama but he never fooled the audience, which made watching him even more tedious. I found myself wondering why no one could see through his blatant lies. His presence also slowed down the story quite a bit because of all the effort he went into romancing Bok Nyeo and her enacting her vengeance. He was a very important character to Bok Nyeo’s storyline, but I wish they introduced him earlier and sped up their story. This series could have been 16 or 18 episodes, but just got stretched a bit too much to 20 episodes.
But I didn’t mind the last episode being slow. It really gave all the characters the closure they needed to say good bye to Bok Nyeo and see a glimpse of the woman she used to be. I love that they finally got her to smile, and I love that she left the family so that she could heal. It became quite clear that she couldn’t be near that family for long, but as a final favor to Na Young stuck around for a bit longer just to remind the children of their priorities. I almost wish I knew where she had gone and what she did in that one year, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Bok Nyeo just had to find peace within herself so that she could choose the next step in her life without any burdens. Though she is still going to get ordered around by being a housekeeper, it’s most likely that she’s going to follow the orders because she wants to, not because she is obligated to.
I can’t say that this drama was perfect. There are definitely some pacing issues with this drama and with the way the characters are depicted. (Han Gyul’s character annoyed me the most because she should have been the most mature one and understood her parents’ situation since she was going through a very similar situation herself. She also tried too hard to grow up, which became annoying because she’s so clearly not an adult.) There were also a lot of extraneous characters whose presence diminished or disappeared completely as the drama wore on. For example, in a small attempt at tying up all the story threads into neat bows, an old rival co-worker at JK Group joins them in the new company because his boss, the sleazy Manager Choi, left the company after the director’s daughter ran away from the altar with her ex-boyfriend. A little bit of comeuppance for a character that never reappeared.
We also get a glimpse into the Oh Family where Mrs. Oh files a complaint against her husband at his network’s ethics department regarding his philandering ways. She’s not going to go down easy, especially when he made flippant remarks about who should take over raising Uh Jin. Because of that, Mr. Oh suddenly goes back on his word and takes his son and (ex-)wife camping, trying to prove that he’s actually a capable father.
We also never see what happens to Do Hyung and his so-called life-threatening disease.
There are definitely some holes that were hurriedly covered up with band-aids and it did detract from the drama as I watched those scenes play out. But in reality, the only draw for me in this drama was the character of Bok Nyeo, and what crazy thing would she do next.
Verdict: 6/10 – a promising start, but then a long winding road to the end. Nevertheless, a weirdly watchable drama.