Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 20 Recap (Final)

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Well. It’s now over. Fair warning before you click through: the ending matches the tone of the entire series, and even though so many things happen, it doesn’t really push forward very much. The beauty is in the introspection and the growth of the characters. And we get plenty of that in this episode.

Joon Young drops No Eul off at the hospital and asks the attending doctor to kill her. Since No Eul doesn’t want to live anymore, the doctor should do his best to kill her. Heh. I would take offense as well if my girlfriend flippantly says she’d rather die than recover over a fever. He sits outside the ER with No Eul’s phone and clothing, and sees a video that she filmed in the cabin while waiting for him. In it, she pretends to interview herself about Joon Young’s disappearance. No Eul asserts that she’s not worried about him being gone for five hours (when she totally is), and believes that someone will help Joon Young to a hospital if he fell ill.

But her greatest fear is to wake up one day and learn that Joon Young is no longer of this world, and to discover that she no longer can wait for him to come back. Clearly this show is not done with the water works, and Joon Young fights back his tears as best as he can.

Hopefully he will come to realize that he should get chemotherapy like his doctor has suggested all along.

Turns out No Eul is suffering from acute pancreatitis. Translation: it’s treatable. She’ll live. Doc is gonna have to kill her another time, and he has her discharged from the ER. They walk home together, and Joon Young covers her up with his coat and scarf and offers to carry her home. No Eul isn’t interested and hobbles down the road. Joon Young starts yelling into the ocean, “Please, let me live! I want to live!”

Joon Young has found the courage to speak up on his fears and resolve to get better. He still has things to do for his mother, whom he’s never been good to, and he wants to be happy with Eul after finally finding some peace with her. He’s scared, and he’s not ready to die. No Eul rushes forth and hugs him, crying and apologizing. There’s nothing for her to really apologize for, but in a situation where her heart is breaking there’s probably nothing else she could say.

Next thing we know there’s breaking news: the footage of Jung Eun (with her face blurred out) admitting that she caused the hit-and-run accident to Joon Young has been released to the media. The news shocks everyone in the Choi family, as well as Jung Sik and his family, because they didn’t expect that footage to come out online and make such a huge splash like this. Now there is a petition calling for a retrial. Furthermore, they did not expect Hyun Joon to willingly turn himself in for questioning to the police. Jung Sik has to hand it to Hyun Joon: the man that Young Ok used to love is not so bad after all.

Hyun Joon honestly confesses that he was commanded to cover up the crime by Assemblyman Yoon and had swapped out the evidence. He then dismissed a subordinate for disagreeing with his methods, which is the lawyer that Joon Young met. Meanwhile Jung Eun is rushing out of her apartment to the airport, ont he phone with her dad telling him to help fix it. After all, all she’s ever done is do what he says because “he knows best.” And now she’s just trying to get out of his way again so that he can resolve it.

Except it’s too late – the police have arrived just in time to take her in for questioning.

No Jik breaks down at the news, sobbing to his sister over the phone over the revelations of how their father died. Though he knew of it because of Nari, to know that the killer has been found and their father could now rest in peace is overwhelming for the young man.

It’s big news for Haru too, but she handles it masterfully. She knows now that No Jik lied about being gay to get rid of her because of her father, but she’s not going to push to get him back. Instead, she seeks him out after some time and asks for his number again. She plans to call him if she cannot find another man as good as he. No Jik smiles and gives it to her, promising to wait for that call one day. Haru has actually grown up well in this series, and is totally not annoying in this episode. I like that she recognizes that both need time to heal, and that both really like each other but the timing is just not right.

Joon Young confronts No Eul about the footage, knowing that she gave it to Hyun Joon and probably had no intention of ever releasing it on TV. No Eul admits that it was enough for her to know who killed her father, and that’s why she gave the footage to Hyun Joon. “If you let it slide, you are telling those people that it’s okay to act this way and live their lives that way,” Joon Young points out. But No Eul counters, “But your father didn’t cover it up. He could’ve, but he confessed to his crimes and is accepting all the punishment. That’s the world I want to live in.”

So see – No Eul is taking his advice to heart and really trying to build a world that she can tolerate living in.

Just then a delivery man arrives with a dog house – No Eul is arranging for Pororo to come live with them! (Spoiler alert, Pororo does not appear in this episode, but the mere mention of him makes me happy.) She wants to start getting closer to Pororo now if she plans to take care of him in the future. Joon Young is taken aback – isn’t she allergic? No Eul says she’s starting to take medicine to control her allergies, and will continue to do so if it ever gets bad. Besides, isn’t she more trustworthy than Gook Young?

They start painting a sign for Pororo’s dog house, and in the midst of it start smearing paint on each other’s faces. They laugh, they run, they tease, and in a voice over Joon Young reveals that No Eul likes to wake him up in the middle of the night and tell him about the life she’ll lead when he’s gone. At one point, No Eul runs upstairs to escape Joon Young, but he doesn’t follow her up. She grows worried that something might have happened and slowly goes down back to the kitchen. He grabs her from behind and hugs her, and then draws her in for a kiss. She was really scared for a moment, but Joon Young isn’t dying yet.

We also learn that Joon Young got a call from Hyun Joon after he went to the station to say that he was very proud to be called Joon Young’s father. It’s sad that we don’t get to see this actually happen though.

Back in the Choi house, Eun Soo throws a fit that Attorney Jang will not successfully represent her husband in court despite giving him so much money. With perfect timing, Hyun Joon returns home to announce that he will not have legal representation when he goes to trial. He wants all of this to just end by accepting his full punishment. He recognizes that he and Eun Soo have become monsters, and this is his way of trying to atone for their sins.

Eun Soo can’t handle this. She sacrificed so much and went through hell to bring him up from when he was dirt poor to now a man of power and wealth. Ji Tae comes home at this moment and overhears his mother reminding Hyun Joon about how poor he was, about how he couldn’t save his mother and get her a heart transplant in time because another person with power got it first. With every step they attained, something had to be sacrificed – even if it meant arranging a car accident to stop Ji Tae from making a press conference.

Ji Tae’s jaw drops. His own mother… that was the last thing he expected. Hyun Joon closes his eyes in pain, wishing she had never revealed herself. Eun Soo kicks Hyun Joon out of the house, wishing him to go to hell, and goes into her room. Ji Tae, with a breaking voice, tells his father that he relieves him of the promise to always stay by his mother’s side. He will take responsibility for his mother instead.

Hyun Joon assures him that he won’t break the promise. “I’ll stay by your mother’s side, even if that’s more hellish than hitting rock-bottom itself,” he says. Father and son break into nervous smiles. It’s almost sad but funny to see them commiserate over this, knowing full well how horrible Eun Soo is. Things have gotten so bad and are so out in the open that they can actually crack a joke about how shitty their lives are because of Eun Soo.

Ji Tae goes to visit No Eul to find her struggling in English with an international order for a blender. He takes the phone and helps her resolve the issue with no further struggles. Both are quite friendly with each other now again, but Ji Tae’s true purpose is to see Joon Young, who is home, but…

Joon Young comes out, calling No Eul “noona” and telling her that he’ll be going for a walk. He gives a short awkward nod to Ji Tae and walks off. “Did… Joon Young just not recognize me?” Ji Tae asks. No Eul grimaces – Joon Young’s memory has been going in and out the past week, sometimes recognizing her and sometimes not. Right now she’s been pretending that she’s an employee at the house and taking care of him, because he doesn’t know who she is.

Ji Tae follows Joon Young out on the pier a bit obviously. Joon Young finally stops and asks if Ji Tae knows him. “What kind of person was I?” he asks. It seems that Joon Young is aware that he’s lost his memories, and is willing to hear anyone who knows him out. Ji Tae says that Joon Young was an absolute jerk who thought he was so cool. In fact, he thought he was so cool he’d do everything in his own brash way, and it made cowards like Ji Tae feel even worse about themselves. But everything he did was the truth.

Joon Young, poor memory-loss boy, is confused. Is Ji Tae giving him… a compliment? Ji Tae is, and he adds that he hates him to the core. But because he hates him, he wants their paths to cross again. And when they do, Ji Tae swears (with tears in his eyes) that he will love him and treasure him like an older brother should. Joon Young: “Ew. No thanks. What’s with you man?” HAHAHAHA. Ji Tae was trying to have a moment here, man!

Young Ok is in the back of the kitchen cleaning dishes. She’s been constantly cleaning this entire episode while holding back her grief, as if she is constantly trying to wash away her sins and guilt. Jung Sik joins her in the back and puts a ring on her finger. “I picked it up on the floor. Wear it,” he says brusquely. Young Ok throws it away – why would she want a ring someone threw away? So Jung Sik puts it on her again and says he bought it. Young Ok once again throws it away. Even though Jung Sik is proposing to her, she cannot accept this. She cannot move on and cannot be happy when her son is dying.

Jung Sik tells her that she needs to wear that ring and visit Joon Young before it’s too late. There’s nothing she should feel guilty about for getting married. And, Joon Young had asked him to take care of his mom, so he’s only doing what Joon Young asked. By going to visit him, she would prove that everyone is trying to fulfill his last wishes.

Let’s take a break here because Jin Kyung crying is the most heartbreaking thing in the world, and skip over to Jung Eun.

Jung Eun is in jail when Ji Tae visits her. More like, she’s being held there until her trial, of which she is absolutely sure she will win and get away with murder. Her father is on the case, and he’s going to make sure that Ji Tae and his father are severely punished for their actions. She’s going to have revenge. Ji Tae is unnaturally silent, and she dares him to preach at her again.

Ji Tae only replies, “If I told you that you almost won me over once, would you believe me?” Eh? We flash back to when both were in high school, and Jung Eun had a terrible wig on her head. She offered to tutor him in English, but in reality she’s in his room because she’s amazingly smart and talented, and passed a rigorous interview with his mother to be worthy of being possibly his girlfriend. Ji Tae was charmed to meet her, and for a moment thought it might be fun to date her. But that was the only time.

He still has a shred of hope that she might be human and can go back to those innocent high school days when she was earnest, sweet, and… well, human. If so, he’d like her to do her time in prison. And when she’s out and has shown that there is some hope for her, Ji Tae plans to be around waiting at her side. No, Ji Tae, no!

Thankfully Jung Eun does have some pride left. She shrieks that she never wants to see him again and that she will never go back to him! She drives him away, and I think even though she’s pissed at his high-and-mighty act, it’s really the best decision for her. She needs to stop being so dependent on a man anyways.

Young Ok finally arrives at the cabin, only to find that Joon Young doesn’t recognize her. At all. Ouch. She swallows her tears and asks where No Eul is. He immediately believes that she’s a friend for No Eul, and tells her that No Eul’s gone out to buy some ingredients for curry because she messed up making yookgaejang. Young Ok offers to make it for him, and she calmly and expertly starts preparing the ingredients.

No Eul returns to the house in time to see Joon Young watching his mother prepare a meal. She doesn’t know what’s going on inside (whether he recognizes his mother or not) but she decides to fall back and hang out in the balcony, giving mother and son some time alone.

Joon Young relishes the yookgaejang, thinking it’s the most amazing dish ever. It is so good it reminds him of the kind his mother makes. And that’s when it hits him. Joon Young stops eating, and at first Young Ok fears that the food isn’t good anymore. But he grabs her hand and says, “Mother.” He recognizes her finally!

The two of them sit in the living room, and Joon Young apologizes for not recognizing his mother right away. He comments how pretty she looks, and Young Ok shows him the clothes Gook Young bought her, and earrings Man Ok gave her. And finally, the ring that Jung Sik proposed to her with. Joon Young smiles widely, happy to hear that his mom has found a way to move on. He apologizes for not being a better son, but she assures him he was. It’s been said that a parent should be happy with how good the kids were until three years old, and Joon Young was a perfect baby. He never cried, never got sick, ate, slept, and pooped well. And he was always happy to see his mother.

Joon Young bashfully comments how all of his mother’s praises make him seem like a decent guy. He apologizes to her regardless for disappointing her when he was older, but he did try his best to live as diligently as possible. Good Lord the tears are coming down in buckets…

Young Ok then says, “I’ll keep my doors open, so please come by whenever you miss me. When a flower blooms, or when the wind blows… When it rains or snows, I’ll think that you have dropped by. Thank you for being my son, Joon Young.”

I was really good about not crying this entire series, but freaking Jin. Kyung. She kills it and makes Kim Woo Bin sob like a madman that even I can’t help myself.

Meanwhile Ji Tae is back at KJ Group handling some business. In light of the corruption that took place, he and his mother will be stepping down effective immediately from managing the company. They will retain ownership by having a majority of the shares, but the management of the company will go to an outside professional company. Hyun Joon arrives at the meeting room to witness this and gives a big smile of approval. Then his secretary comes up with some bad news: Hyun Joon’s arrest warrant has come out! He might go to jail soon! Hyun Joon only smiles and asks his secretary to find a good place with yookgaejang to eat.

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That evening, No Eul takes a few selfies to send to No Jik since he misses his sister. Joon Young realizes that they don’t have any pictures together, and they start taking a few cute and goofy selfies. They retire outside to a swinging bench on the patio, and Joon Young is ready to fall asleep. He’s very very tired, but he doesn’t want to lie on No Eul’s shoulder because he thinks she’s going to wake him up again. She convinces him she won’t, and he lies down, but then she checks if he’s asleep. He murmurs in response, and she asks if he thinks she’s not pretty. He assures her, sleepily, that she is, and finally falls asleep.

No Eul asks once again if he’s really asleep, and Joon Young doesn’t respond. In fact… he might not even be breathing anymore. (I could have sworn I saw his chest rising and falling, but it could just be wishful thinking…) No Eul tells him that his family is all here for him, and that she will see him in the morning. But Joon Young… is dead.

Some time passes, and Gook Young and Man Ok have new hair styles. Gook Young is also now flirting with/dating Nari. They’re both busy cleaning up Joon Young’s place with CEO Namgoong when the latter discovers the camera with Joon Young filming himself. It’s when he first admits that he has the disease, and he asks the people watching this footage if he’s still alive. And more importantly, what is his girlfriend No Eul doing now?

Segue to No Eul talking to PD Yoon about taking a bribe from a pharmaceutical company to not reveal their dirty secrets. PD Yoon splits his bribe with No Eul, hoping that the money will buy her silence. It would have bought old No Eul’s silence, but now new No Eul reveals that she caught this entire exchange in a hidden camera in PD Yoon’s office. She’s going to expose it all!

She heads to the bus station, where there’s an old sign of Joon Young holding out flowers and a caption, “You worked hard today, Honey.” It brings a smile to No Eul’s face and she speaks to the poster as if Joon Young were really there. “See you again tomorrow, Joon Young.”

The End.

Some Thoughts

This show started out so well.

I look back at my excitement in the beginning and wonder where this show went wrong. And I think it happened halfway through the series. It started out as a predictable melodrama with hints of romantic comedy in it. It was definitely a color-by-the-numbers kind of drawing and something that didn’t need to get messed up. But somehow along the way the writer meandered and wasted time. I felt emptier and emptier as I saw the show rely on so many flashbacks to help tell a story that didn’t need flashbacks. I felt less engaged as the actors were left to mope and look wistful 90% of the time. I didn’t know what to hope for anymore as any chance of excitement was getting sapped away by indecision after indecision.

Even in the end, I felt like we were in a holding pattern, where big things could happen and we’re always at the edge of our seat hoping for it to happen, only to see it scaled back and not be that big of a deal.

I found myself hoping that Jung Eun could be a bigger, better villain but she ended up being weak and whiny. Maybe that was the intent, to show how Jung Eun is completely dependent on more powerful people around her. But it took focus away from her, the second female lead, when she should have had a more prominent role in the series. Joon Young never made his intentions towards Jung Eun clear, which allowed the writing to lose focus because he would waffle between No Eul and Jung Eun a lot and we would be left wondering exactly what his game was at. Ji Tae remained a consistent coward until he finally faced his parents, and he was someone who didn’t really change very much. He was disappointing in the beginning, and disappointing in the end because he took action a little too late. It was made worse by the fact that we never saw him truly succeed; yes he might have changed his father’s mind about the hit-and-run case, but he never got to claim a success in defeating his parents.

And as for No Eul, I have to admit that I think anyone could have done this role. It didn’t have to be Suzy.

While I’m glad that Jung Eun did end up in jail, it wasn’t enough of a punishment for me. I don’t feel completely satisfied or assured that she got punished, and I don’t feel like justice was served. We only saw Hyun Joon redeem himself, but that’s not enough to make me feel better or to think that Joon Young left the world in a better place. True, one case cannot change the world. But this is a K-drama world where it’s super small and everything becomes perfect in the end. If you’re going to kill off the main lead onscreen, then you gotta give me a really good payoff. I don’t care that No Eul sees Joon Young every day via poster, and I don’t care that everyone is happy and has moved on.

The real shining moment in the last few episodes for me were Jin Kyung and Yoo Oh Sung. I was so happy to see the two of them share a few scenes, and I was moved every time either one of them cried. They are so good at conveying the pain that parents must feel in seeing their son slipping away. The fact that Hyun Joon needed only five minutes with a regressed-Joon Young shows just how powerful the bond of being a father can be despite never being there to raise him. I don’t doubt that Kim Woo Bin is a fantastic actor (even though I do think he could have been given a better role to be the lead in a drama), but I do feel that Jin Kyung and Yoo Oh Sung pushed him further and made him more emotional as Joon Young. And that is why I respect these actors so much.

All in all, this was a very typical melodrama, but I think if it was only sixteen episodes it would have been tighter, better, and just as impactful. I won’t fault it for being a typical melodrama, but I will fault it for somehow losing its way in the middle and having a hard time finding its way back towards the end.

Verdict: 6/10 – fairly decent for the beginning, falls apart towards the end. Acting is great, but would love to see the younger main cast more challenged in their future roles.

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