Mother, Episode 16 [END]

TL;DR: Good job on sticking the landing. (Also, warning for a mention of anorexia.)

It is always a pleasure when a drama gives us a thematically appropriate and emotionally satisfying ending. In many respects, this episode was a slower one because it took the time to establish the stakes for its two-year time skip and provided us with fitting endings for many of the secondary characters. It didn’t try to come up with any last minute-twists or inject artificial drama into the situation. Instead it centered its finale on the most important question: could Soo-jin and Hye-na ever be reunited as mother and daughter?

Their final day together before the time skip was a touching one. I’m glad that the show carved out a few scenes for them to visit Clara yes, the subtitlers changed it in this episode one last time. Even though Clara did not recognize them, reconnecting with her allowed the show to remind Soo-jin (and the audience) of how happy/proud Clara was that Soo-jin had become a mother. That brief time spent with Clara—the first truly friendly refuge they had—was one of the best times of their fifty days on the run, and Clara was a huge part of what allowed Soo-jin and Hye-na to accept Soo-jin as a mother. It was a memory they needed to fortify themselves against their impending separation.

In an episode that was filled with highlights, one of my favorite things was actually the group home mother. She could have been tossed in as an unnecessary, heartless obstacle to Soo-jin and Hye-na’s reunion, but instead she was a reasonable, loving, thoughtful person. Of course she objected to the absurd idea that Soo-jin could adopt her kidnapping victim. Of course she would want Hye-na to be adopted by good parents when it became clear that Hye-na wasn’t thriving with her. Of course she would be alarmed by Hye-na’s eating disorder and want to do what she could to fix that. (Side note: WTF was up with that? Anorexia doesn’t get cured by a mother’s love. Either deal with it seriously or don’t shoehorn it in.) Of course she would lecture Soo-jin over her unsuitability as a potential parent.

So it meant a lot that the group home mother could look at Soo-jin and Hye-na, hear from each of them how much they wanted to be reunited, research the court case, and then seriously think about whether or not this was in Hye-na’s best interests. Offering that three-day weekend visit was a gamble on her end, but it paid off immediately and beautifully when Hye-na finally felt secure enough to refer to her as her mother.

(And that meant that Hye-na got three mothers, just like Soo-jin.)

Sometimes final episodes can feel extremely disjointed as they wrap up all of the character arcs, but Mother managed to give us a glimpse of basically everyone we cared about with minimal awkwardness. I’m thrilled that Yi-jin got to have her foundation after all and take care of children, and it was great to see that Hyun-jin had ditched the fast pace of a newsroom in exchange for slower, more thorough, investigative work. Hey, when you’ve inherited a ridiculous sum of money from your rich mother, you may as well take care of the vulnerable and expose societal ills. A+ work, ladies. I don’t know why Jae-beom got saddled with a restaurant, but at least Hyun-jin had decided to acknowledge him as her dad, so that was cute.

For all that Hong-hee reassured Yeong-sin that Yeong-sin truly had the mother title, it was nice to see that Soo-jin went to live with Hong-hee and that Hong-hee continued to operate a little barber’s shop. The growth of their relationship has been one of the highlights of the drama for me, so they made me very happy. Hong-hee’s excitement/happiness for Soo-jin’s new job opportunity was lovely—she really has always wanted what was best for Soo-jin.

You know what else made me happy? That Jin-hong and Soo-jin didn’t end up as a(n explicit) couple. I was worried that a possible romance between the two might derail the focus on Soo-jin and Hye-na’s mother-daughter relationship, but Jin-hong stayed solidly on the sidelines as a supporting role. I will totally take them as coffee-and-birdwatching buddies, please because I definitely want more aroace heroines in my shows.

Of course, the crowning jewel of the show was that Soo-jin and Hye-na were able to reunite as mother and daughter. After all the terrible things they went through, it’s good the show didn’t jerk them or the audience around by keeping them apart for longer. I thought it very sweet that Yi-jin offered to adopt Hye-na on paper if necessary and that Hyun-jin wanted to do a story about them to help sway public opinion again. (And HAH, Chang-geun looked so surprised when he saw the interview on tv.) They all came to love Hye-na during the brief time she was with them, and so it was great to see them all unite to try to get Soo-jin and Hye-na their happy ending.

Perhaps the two best moments during the reunion were when Hye-na said she had achieved her dream of having a loving family and the ending scene on the beach. It was a nice touch to put Soo-jin and Hye-na back there again, since the beach was where Soo-jin officially offered Hye-na a way out of her old life. The beach was the perfect place for Hye-na to reiterate her new identity and life as Yoon-bok and for them to finally be an inseparable family.

Thanks for the adventure, Soo-jin and Yoon-bok. I hope you enjoy your happily-ever-after.

By the Numbers

  • Letters to Yeong-sin: 3
  • Days evading police: 50
  • Random Subway product placement: 2
  • Bechdel Test: 16 episodes passed

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