The Empty Suitcase
Graceful Friends returns this week for its penultimate episode, one that neatly starts wrapping everything up all of our sub-plots while leaving just enough to drag this one out to 17 episodes. Whether this one actually needed that long to tell the story being told however, is another matter.
We begin episode 16 of Graceful Friends with an ominous scene that appears to foreshadow toward the future. It’s not initially clear but it involves Jae-Hoon being followed and stabbed. It’s another twist in the tale but for now, leaves little clue over who’s responsible.
Meanwhile, the truth surrounding Kang-San blackmailing Ae-Ra is leaked. Only, Ji-Wook already knew. It didn’t dissuade his feelings toward her and as he steps up and embraces the girl, he tells her she can lean on him.
While Yoo-Bin recovers at hospital, Goong-Cheol receives a call confirming they’ve tracked down the driver. Well, technically tracked them down anyway. It turns out Yoo-Bin was hit by a stolen car. The driver was drinking and died on impact so the police have no one to charge.
At the same time, Jung-Hae receives a package at work with a note and an accompanying key. This, as we soon find out, is the key to Hae-Sook’s bar.
Kyung-Ja and Hyung-Woo come to blows over Ji-Wook, prompting Hyung-Woo to march up and confront his son over his choice. He slaps the boy and tells him he’s had to cut ties with his Mother because of this relationship.
No matter what, he needs to convince Kyung-Ja to accept them. As we soon find out, this goes deeper than that given Hyung-Woo has needed the same sense of validation from his Mother.
Eun-Sil and Choon-Bok continue to dance around the truth…until he leaves his bag behind and she notices his medication. This, unfortunately, sees her find out the truth about his dementia in a crushing way.
Back home, she tries to be supportive. Only, he instead asks for a divorce and concocts a story that he’s dating his dance teacher. She knows the truth though and simply throws her arms around him, telling her husband everything will be okay.
Meanwhile, Goong-Cheol and Jung-Hae discuss Hae-Sook and find out she’s gone. All the group head down to the bar and find a note left behind by her.
Within that note, she tells them about her happiest moments and asks for one last favour – go and see Professor Ku and beg for forgiveness. They do just that and say their goodbyes to Hae-Sook, who’s now passed away.
On the back of this, we cut back in time and see the event involving the murdered professor in real time. Hae-Sook is assaulted by the teacher who threatens to blackmail her. Man-Sik is the one who hits the killer blow and that’s when the rest of the boys find the body.
They all stood by Man-Sik’s side and conspired with him to cover this up. Hae-Sook however is taken to the station as the prime suspect. Following this, all the evidence linking Jae-Hoon to Kang-San’s murder has been destroyed with Hae-Sook. Because of this, the case has been closed for now.
Back at Hae-Sook’s bar, Goong-Cheol and Jae-Hoon discuss the murder together. He tells Jae-Hoon to get a fresh start and never to see him again. As the two go their separate ways, Goong-Cheol and Jung-Hae talk and decide to end things amicably with their marriage. As they try to salvage what they once had, Jae-Hoon’s life comes crashing down as he loses everything.
We then cut forward 1 month to find the boys up at Hae-Sook’s place. They debate whether to take it over themselves or sell the property. Jae-Hoon however slips down a dark path and starts drinking heavily. The only one by his side now is Mo-Ran.
She confirms that Hae-Sook was the one who took the suitcase to try and save him. Just before she leaves to head back to the US, she asks him to contact her if he manages to sort his heart and his head out. On the way out, she whispers something inaudible to him. That, as we later find out, is confirmation that Hae-Sook took an empty suitcase. It was actually Goong-Cheol who had the evidence all along.
The Episode Review
So the case is now wrapped up and we get….no satisfying resolution. No one is jailed and no one has had any real judicial consequences against them. For now at least. It appears as if Goong-Cheol was the one who tidied up the crime scene but why? What would the motive be around this?
Having said that, Goong-Cheol has the evidence now and he could go to the police and reveal all. Only, he wasn’t wearing gloves at the end of the episode so I’m doubting whether he’ll do that. His fingerprints and DNA must be all over the murder weapon.
Elsewhere, most of this episode deals with the subplots raised across the season. Both Choon-Bok and Hyung-Woo receive some closure this time while Hae-Sook’s conveniently tied passing wraps everything up with her nicely.
We’ll have to wait and see how this finishes but Graceful Friends has really petered out recently. I can’t put my finger on exactly when but what began as an intriguing, tightly written murder mystery has just sort of fallen into mediocrity.
The drama is good but it’s also quite far from the lofty heights those early episodes hit which is a bit of a shame. Still, let’s hope the finale ends things with a bang.
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