The Final Proof
Episode 16 of Melancholia propels us forward in time. Yoon-soo is teaching again and is even recommending Seung-yoo’s book to her students. The time skip doesn’t reveal much else, however.
How do Yoon-soo and Seung-yoo convict Noh Jung-ah?
Yoon-soo and Seung-yoo compiled several pieces of evidence. Vice Principal Choi gave Seung-yoo information on Ms. Noh’s preferential treatment of the students in her Global Talent Class. Yoon-soo persuaded the Sammu Academy director to come clean about Ms. Noh’s scheme to use school development funds for her personal gain. Even Ji-na acts against her mother, releasing pictures of the Global Talent Class textbooks online, which contain answers to school exams.
With all of this evidence in hand, they go to the press.
Does Seung-yoo clear Yoon-soo’s name?
After Seung-yoo releases all of this information to the press, he announces one more thing. Someone would like to testify to the alleged sex scandal that occurred four years ago. He then beckons Ye-rin to the podium.
After much careful thought, Ye-rin finally decides to own up to her mistakes–for her brother’s sake. She apologizes publicly to Yoon-soo and admits that the teacher was wrongly framed.
What happens to Ms. Noh?
The evidence against Ms. Noh proves to be insurmountable. Nothing indicates that the Ahseong director receives jail time though. However, she is fired from the Ahseong Foundation Board.
With these events, Ms. Noh experiences her most intense breakdown yet. Later, she’s shown to be staying in what appears to be some sort of mental institute or hospital.
What is it that Professor Ji has been working on?
In the past several episodes, Professor Ji has been scribbling on all the paper he could find, though Yoon-soo and Seung-yoo were never able to interpret his writings.
Lately, he’s been more relaxed. He’s content to spend time with Yoon-soo, Seung-yoo, and a recovered Si-an. That is, until he peacefully passes away.
When going through the professor’s notebooks, Seung-yoo discovers that he had been working on a brilliant, albeit unfinished, thesis. He decides to continue his work, and Yoon-soo promises to cheer him on.
How does Melancholia End?
Skipping ahead three years, Yoon-soo is a teacher again and Si-an is about to receive an award for mathematics work she’s doing at Princeton.
Seung-yoo has been off the grid to work on Professor Ji’s complex thesis. But he’s communicating regularly with someone online who goes by “Hardy.”
“Hardy” is Yoon-soo. She’s taken up sending maths questions to online students again, just as she did in episode 1. Her favourite is a student who goes by “3cut.” By corresponding with “3cut,” she’s unwittingly been helping Seung-yoo with his thesis.
When Seung-yoo finally completes his work, he returns home. He is supposed to meet this “Hardy,” but he instead finds Yoon-soo. He proudly hands her his thesis, which lists himself, Professor Ji, and “Hardy” as contributors.
In the final scene of the show, the camera pans over a room with framed pictures of Seung-yoo, Yoon-soo, and Si-an. It pans out to the porch, where Seung-yoo kisses Yoon-soo.
The Episode Review
Melancholia wraps up long-standing storylines of drama and intrigue with a perfect bow–too perfect for comfort, even. We get to witness some satisfying “full circle” moments (i.e. Ye-rin’s confession, Seung-yoo and Yoon-soo solving maths together again). Yet it’s all weighed down by the show’s overworked plot points and unbelievable characters.
Ms. Noh is a case in point. The stalwart villain of the series makes quite the spectacle out of her own demise. Her portrayal in the finale just cements the fact that, despite her domineering presence, Ms. Noh is little more than a caricature. Show writers truly cheated her character, turning what could have been an interesting character study into a much more lifeless narrative: the downward spiral of a mad woman.
If you were hoping for an intricate conclusion to either the political intrigue or romance, I’m afraid that, while it provides more than sufficient closure, Melancholia disappoints on both counts. The show has a lot to offer for those who love tales of scandal. But a complex drama and a compelling love story? Those things, it is not.