Bye, Bye Mama!
The finale of Hi Bye Mama is here and what an emotional roller coaster this has been. This last chapter was no exception and while it gives a good conclusion to most of the main story lines, some of the ghost plot resolutions feel contrived and could have been fleshed out more. Still, the cast do an excellent job with this drama, with a special mention to Kim Tae-Hee who gave an impressive performance throughout, as well as Seo Woo-Jin playing the adorable Seo-Woo.
The season finale of Hi Bye Mama starts where it left off with Yu-Ri telling Gang-Hwa that if she lives, Seo-Woo will carry on seeing ghosts and wants to put an end to it so that she will do whatever she wants to do in her life. Gang-Hwa can’t accept this though and wants to know if there is another way for her to live. She tells him it is her decision and didn’t want to make him feel guilty again.
In the charnel house, Gwi-Soon and Hye-Jin talk about the other ghosts who have left as the exorcist has sent everyone else up. Sang-Bong was up first as he had no more regrets. Mi-Ja joins them and they talk about her son who drinks and is struggling with his life.
Back in her room, Yu-Ri is clearing some of her things. Her mother comes in and Yu-Ri asks why she kept all of her things. Eun-Sook tells her that it is full of memories of her and it would have felt like she had never been there. Yu-Ri then promises that she will always live in her heart.
The next day, Gang-Hwa waits for Yu-Ri and asks her again to find a solution. She tells him that there is none and reminds him of the freezer accident. She then heads to the charnel house where Mi-Dong shows her her mother’s wish, making her realize that she is the one responsible for her return. Knowing what would happen if she stays, Yu-Ri tells her she will leave and has also realized that her return was a gift.
She next heads to see her best friend to tell her the decision. Hyeon-Jeong protests but her best friend asks for her help as she needs to leave with a smile. Hyeon-Jeong is unable to hold back the tears and sobs in Yu-Ri’s arms. Hyeon-Jeong later tells her that that Min-Jeong is divorcing Gang-Hwa. Yu-Ri protests and wants to go and talk to her but her best friend stops her as she insists that it is between them.
Yu-Ri arrives at the school and is surprised to see that Seo-Woo is there already. Suddenly, the little girl gets sick so Yu-Ri rushes her to hospital. The doctor tells her that she is fine just as Min-Jeong arrives as well. Yu-Ri rushes to catch up, trying to convince her not to go as Gang-Hwa and Seo-Woo need her. She finally reveals that she is only back briefly and will die again soon. Min-Jeong is shocked by this so Yu-Ri tells her this is the reason why she told Gang-Hwa not to tell her.
In the charnel house, Eun-Sook sees Gang-Hwa there as well after he spoke to Mi-Dong about Yu-Ri. As they sit together, she tells him that she has the same dream everyday where Yu-Ri says goodbye and leaves. She then wonders if her daughter came back to say goodbye but if she is, she will do it with a smile for her.
Gang-Hwa arrives in hospital to see Seo-Woo. Min-Jeong talks to him about how he used to always thank her which made her feel like a stranger. He explains that it is because he didn’t want to have regrets anymore. She then tells him to give Yu-Ri a good send off and then they can talk about their divorce.
In the evening, Eun-Sook makes wild seaweed soup for Yu-Ri. She explains that she brought so much when she was pregnant and asks if she was with her the whole time. Yu-Ri doesn’t reply so Eun-Sook realizes that she was and they cry in each other’s arms.
Yu-Ri makes a list of things she wants to do. The first one on her list is to keep her promises so she meets with Gwi-Soon, Mi-Ja and Hye-Jin in a restaurant where she gives them talismans to taste the food. Mi-Ja decides that it is time for them to go and Yu-Ri promises that they should all meet in another life. Next on her list is returning favours as she takes Pil-Seung out to have a home cooked meal with her family. She spends a day with Seo-Woo then another one with her family, saying goodbye to them all.
Gang-Hwa, Geun-Sang, Yu-Ri, Hyeon-Jeong and the children go camping together. Hyeon-Jeong gives Yu-Ri a letter from Min-Jeong telling her not to blame herself for their divorce as they had problems before. In the letter, Min-Jeong says goodbye and thanks her for being a good friend. She tells her she is glad that she is Seo-Woo’s mum and promises to protect her.
Later in the evening, Yu-Ri tells Gang-Hwa that she is glad she can leave smiling this time. She explains that she wanted to be a mother to Seo-Woo like her own was to her but since she can’t, she wants him to be a father Seo-Woo can always count on. He tells her that his biggest regret is not being able to grow old with her, even if they would have argued every day. He thanks her for leaving Seo-Woo with him as she is the best gift. She tells him to live his life to the fullest and to smile when he thinks of her. In the morning, Yu-Ri tells her daughter to always smile and in the next life, to always go to mummy. As they hug, Seo-Woo calls her mum.
She then meets with Mi-Dong and thanks her for everything. Mi-Dong is glad she was able to say goodbye to everyone but now is the time to say bye to herself as she hands her a mirror.Looking at her reflection, she does just this. She then walks away while talking to Seo-Woo and Gang-Hwa in her head. She tells them that once they go up, if they say yes to both questions asked by God, they will return as humans. The questions are: “Were you happy with your life?” and “Were other people happy because of you?” She then tells them to meet in the next life.
We then cut to see a teenage Seo-Woo sitting on a bench amongst cherry blossom trees, very similar to the ones Yu-Ri walked in when she finally left. She is reading a book called “Petal falls but the flower endures” where she keeps a picture of the day they all went to the amusement park together with a message from Yu-Ri on it. She then gets picked up by her father who is still with Min-Jeong and sees that they have been living happily while keeping Yu-Ri’s memory alive, which is where the series ends.
Hi Bye, Mama might not be as memorable as Crash Landing on You or even When the Camellia Blooms but it still brings together a decent story, one tackling some very emotional and important themes. The series also kept us guessing up until the end as to what would happen to poor Yu-Ri. The twist from the last episode sets the scene really well for the finale as all the pieces felt into place for our heroine. She finally realised what she needed to do and took her return as a gift.
It was nice seeing her being able to say goodbye to everyone around her and it really felt like a good conclusion for all the different characters. The biggest one was when Seo-Woo finally called Yu-Ri “mum” and I must admit that I wasn’t able to hold back my tears during this scene.
One disappointment though was how rushed some of the ghosts’ stories felt over the last few episodes. They were put on the back burner and the conclusion given to them felt a little forced to me. Apart from that, Hi Bye Mama ends its runtime with a very strong and, as expected, very emotional episode. It might not be the best Korean Drama of the year but it is still well worth watching and bows out with a strong finale, despite a few issues.