Rise Of The Males
Episode 17 (The Finale) of Graceful Friends finishes off this murder mystery with a rather disappointing and unnecessarily confusing ending. This Korean drama had a lot of promise when it first started but over the weeks it’s slowly run out of steam.
It’s such a shame too because there’s a lot of potential with this one. Sadly, that potential has squandered into something wholly forgettable.
The episode itself begins in Kang-San’s room where we see that he didn’t die from the trophy blow to the back of his head. The real killer is the one who smacked his head against the sink. And that man is… one of three possible suspects. This episode confirms who’s really responsible.
Back in the present, our various characters go about their morning. Kyung-Ja finally accepts Ae-Ra into the family. As we also see from the past, it wasn’t actually Kyung-Ja that slept with that Director. She organized for a trio of ladies to arrive and abuse this man into submission. When Hyung-Woo learns this truth, he rushes home in shock, telling his wife he loves her.
After getting dressed up, Kyung-Ja takes her husband on a surprise visit… to see his Mother. She’s living up at the temple and after making him some tea, admits the truth about how she feels. Her hatred was selfish but she tells him their relationship as Mother and Son is over.
As she stands up and walks away, he pleads with her to stay. She doesn’t but outside, Kyugn-Ja admits that the night of her drunkenness was actually to try and make his Mother stick around.
Meanwhile, Yoo-Bin returns home and the family all start cooking together. Although Goong-Cheol isn’t living with them anymore, he and Jung-Hae are at least on the same page for now. As they both say their goodbyes, they give a longing look toward one another.
Goong-Cheol and Jung-Hae take Yoo-Bin up to see the former’s parents. In the past, we see a boy run past and give Jung-Hae a yellow umbrella. Her “knight in shining armour” as she calls him. As we soon see, it was actually Goong-Cheol who did this. He always looked out for Jung-Hae and all of this stemmed from her crying infront of him one time on the bus. His first love has always been her.
After stepping outside, Goong-Cheol sits with his Father and they discuss what it means to grow old together.
We then skip forward in time to the grand re-opening of Hae-Sook’s bar (now called “Rise Of The Male”). As the guys rush around to make sure everything is okay, the girls discuss what Hae-Sook has left behind. However, there’s one person missing from the group – Jae-Hoon. Given what’s happened in the past it’s highly doubtful he’ll actually show up.
Outside the bar, Jung-Hae says goodbye to the girls and starts heading back home. Only, as she does someone walks past wearing a black hat.
Speak of the devil, Jae-Hoon arrives at the bar and confronts Goong-Cheol. “It was you wasn’t it? You took it.” He says in reference to the evidence. As he asks why, Goong-Cheol admits what he did and also forgives Jae-Hoon – after all he did save Yoo-Bin’s life.
Goong-Cheol also admits that he’s only doing this to make the man repent and blame himself for the rest of his life. As he walks away, both Hyung-Woo and Choon-Bok can only stand and listen.
This catches us up to the scene from last week as Jae-Hoon is stabbed by someone. As he clutches his stomach, he feigns being okay to a passing Jung-Hae who thanks him for saving Yoo-Bin. She also asks whether he really killed Kang-San. Although he lies and admitS to it, Jung-Hae senses something up. However, Jae-Hoon implores her not to press him further and walks away.
As Jae-Hoon stumbles back into his apartment bleeding profusely, the man who stabbed him happens to be Kang San’s lover, Joo-Won. While he bleeds out, Jung-Hae shows up and pleads with him to let her in.
We then skip forward in time to see Detective Cho retiring. However, he receives a call confirming that someone has stolen Kang-San’s body the night before. That person happens to be Jung-Hae.
Another time jump sees us skip forward 3 years later. Jae-Hoon arrives to pay his respects to Man-Sik. It appears the group have now resolved their issues and Jae-Hoon survived his ordeal with the knife. Goong-Cheol was the one who was in the room and covered everything up. It appears Goong-Cheol and Jae-Hoon have rekindled what they had and we receive a happy ending after all.
The Episode Review
It’s hard to know where to start with that finale. First of all we have the case itself. The Detective retiring means the Kang-San case is now finished but what’s up with Jung-Hae stealing the body? That might have got lost in translation but I don’t understand what happened there.
Did she burn it? Did she chop it up and use it for food at “Rise Of The Male”? Or did she try re-animating it ready for the premiere of “The Zombie Detective” next week?
Also, we have the sudden time jump forward on a cliffhanger. Seeing Jae-Hoon bleeding out on the floor and unable to get up – how was that resolved? Did Jung-Hae bust open the door? Did Jae-Hoon get up and let her in? Who knows.
That’s before even mentioning the main mystery itself which is really flawed. So my understanding is that Jae-Hoon tried to kill Kang-San but failed. Goong-Cheol planted security cameras in Kang-San’s apartment and would have, presumably, seen Jae-Hoon and Kang-San fighting together.
Then, he destroys all evidence and forgives Jae-Hoon because they’re males and go way back. Personally, I would have preferred Jung-Hae as the one covering this up and killing Kang-San.
Narratively this would have made a lot more sense and also brings it back to that original scene about Jung-Hae admitting to killing Kang-San in the police station. Goong-Cheol could have been a red herring all this time.
This drama really started off quite brightly but somehow managed to fall flat on its face at the end. The editing in the third act is a particular problem and story-wise this one has been really disappointing. What a shame. Unfortunately Graceful Friends does not deliver a very graceful or elegant finale.
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