Episode 16 of Kairos begins with us hearing exactly what happened on that fateful phone call between Ae-Ri and Seo-Jin. It turns out Seo-Jin was on the phone to Ae-Ri for the final minute of his life before he plunged to his death. The audio recording he has was sent back to Ae-Ri in October before he died.
Thankfully, his death was not in vain. This does, however, put both Ae-Ri and Seo-Jin from October in a tricky position as they need to leverage this evidence at an opportune moment.
Ae-Ri and Seo-Jin sit together and go over the text messaging timings before heading to work like normal. Ae-Ri finds herself becoming increasingly paranoid when she realizes that they’ve approached the day she’s supposed to die. Have they done enough to prevent this?
Ae-Ri is understandably jittery and even more uneasy when she tries to ring Seo-Jin and finds out his phone is switched off. Gun-Wook approaches though and lends her a sympathetic ear, telling Ae-Ri he believes they’ll get through this and win.
Do-Kyun makes his decision, showing up at Hyun-Chae’s Father’s place and stabbing him in the chest. As the two fight, their skirmish leads to time repeating itself as both Do-Kyun and Hyun-Chae’s father lie dead in a pool of their own blood. The police get involved and start investigating the case, ringing Seo-Jin and letting him know what’s happened.
As news spreads onto the news, both Ae-Ri and Hyun-Chae see what’s happened but obviously time has changed given Do-Kyun is not supposed to be dead on this date. Hyun-Chae scrambles over to Do-Kyun’s house where passports happen to be sitting on the table for her and Da-Bin. A note accompanies it simply reading “Leave this place.”
Song-Ja is cleared to leave the hospital but before that, Seo-Jin shows up to speak to her. Time is starting to fall apart now as she receives flashes from the future where Ae-Ri has died. She immediately rings Ae-Ri and the pair realize they’re running out of time and need to make their move now.
Chairman Yu is wise to what’s happening around him and has been using Taek-Kyu as his lackey to find the true location of the documents. With Seo-Jin’s bluff called, Yu receives a call from Song-Ja who claims to have the package; this throws a big spanner in the works as he didn’t expect this. She too is obviously bluffing but Yu falls for the bait and agrees to meet that night at the construction site.
It all rests on this final meeting as Ae-Ri waits outside while Seo-Jin heads inside to speak to Yu. Ironically, Yu cracks the same joke about the stairwell as he did in last episode’s November timeline.
This time though, instead of being thrown over the edge police show up at the building and prevent this from happening. Seo-Jin is forced to thwart Taek-Kyu’s threat as he tries to stab him. Thankfully Detective Choi stops this just at the right moment as Taek-Kyu frustratingly slips through their fingers.
With him gone for now, Chairman Yu is taken down to the police station. His voice recording from November holds up as evidence now and because of this, he’s indicted and thrown into jail.
Yu immediately gets hold of his lawyer’s phone and rings Taek-Kyu, tasking him with killing Jin-Ho. All of this now results in a mad scramble to try and wake Jin-Ho up to stop this nightmare before it’s too late.
Eventually Jin-Ho opens his eyes and begins whispering. Before they can decipher what he’s saying, Taek-Kyu shows up brandishing a knife determined to kill off the evidence. Only, Taek-Kyu is tasered and subsequently arrested. It turns out the files were with Ji-Soo’s ashes all this time – Park never actually took the files from Jin-Ho’s house after all.
Yu’s court case goes ahead and Jin-Ho rocks up in court to hand over the original project files from Seo-Jin’s Father. With Yu arrested and held on a life imprisonment charge, this nightmare finally looks to be over.
Jin-Ho’s involvement in all this – especially the kidnapping of Da-Bin – sees him apologize to Seo-Jin before turning himself in to the police. Hyun-Chae is taken down to the station too, arrested on her kidnapping attempt. Seo-Jin visits her and decides to take custody of Da-Bin, handing over divorce papers for her to sign too.
With everything she had slipping through her fingers, Hyun-Chae’s release from prison dissolves any happiness like ash as she stumbles through the rain aimlessly by herself.
Meanwhile, the rest of the characters meet and enjoy their time together. Soo-Jung receives a call from someone asking to give them their phone back. (Uh oh, not again!) Anyway, the team decide to start living every minute together rather than focusing on that fateful 10.33pm time.
With everything looking up, and all our characters finally on the right track, the finale bows out with one final look at a phone screen reading 10.33. During the epilogue though, a phone on a table suddenly rings.
The Episode Review
Kairos bows out its finale with a surprisingly solid and satisfying conclusion that rounds out all the big plot points and character arcs in a really compelling way. Chairman Yu finally gets his comeuppance while Hyun-Chae’s greed sees her receive some poetic justice as she’s left all alone with no one else to turn to.
One of the big themes this season has been redemption. This is especially evident here as we see Jin-Ho face up to his part in the crimes and Gun-Wook even repaying Ae-Ri, courtesy of the lottery numbers.
All these little moments help to build up Kairos as one of the more solid Korean dramas this year. In fact, this is one of those thrilling underrated gems that people will look back on in years to come and wonder quite how more people weren’t aware of it.
Sci-fi dramas can sometimes live or die by its ending (hello, Memories Of The Alhambra and Alice) but here everything just slots together in the most satisfying way possible. In fact, Kairos is easily one of the best dramas in 2020.
In a year that’s brought us so many heavy hitters, it’s a shame that Kairos finds itself so far down the list. Still, this has been an enthralling watch from start to finish and well worth checking out.