Episode 16 Review: Mr. Back (2014) – END
And so Mr. Back reaches the end! I would like more episodes because its aesthetic devoured me, but i am really glad it was a 16-episode drama, i am afraid it would drag a bit if it was more episodes and it was just fine the way it unveiled its storyline. Everything went according to plan with Mr. Back neither losing its pace nor feeling rushed, its natural pace was omnipresent from the very beginning to the very end. To my eyes it turned out to be a wonderful Xmas drama intertwining with the very spirit of the days which breathes love and a chance to offer yourself an internal renewal in order to become a better person. And many of our figures, main or supporting, progressed well and changed themselves in the best way they could. I liked how Mr. Back blended really well characteristics of two religions with all the challenges of the four pains and eight sufferings Choi Go Bong had to go through while trying to acclimate himself in the blissful Xmas period. And the Beauty and the Beast references weren’t random, they paced really well with the four truths and eights sufferings and the “beast” managed to go through all his struggles and cleanse himself through the mutual love he shared with the “beauty”. Along with the references to Charles Dickens’ famous novella A Christmas Carol and its main figure, Ebenezer Scrooge. Symbolism is one of the key words behind Mr. Back, all the aforementioned characteristics breathe through its very own air and forge a beautiful entity. Mr. Back was one of the most meaningful dramas this year with exceptional acting and a scenario that was not as lighthearted as it might seemed at times, almost all the time there was always a deeper meaning, even when you were bursting into tears of laughter. Just some sparse thoughts, my main opinion will reflect through the overall review for Mr. Back in which i will try to be more analytic when it comes to thoughts presented in this paragraph, but also some others that wondered in my previous reviews/recaps, as for now, let’s travel once again in the world of the 16th episode!
The 15th episode closed its curtains with a 20-minute magnum opus of emotional grandeur and affection and after this it transferred us on Choi Go Bong’s darkest moment when time froze and the final message arrived. The first 18 minutes of the 16th and final episode present the time between the last minutes of Go Bong and Ha Soo at the special hand puppet birthday event and the moment the last message arrived. During the end, the 15th episode skipped a day and went fast forward to the last message scene in order to prepare the audience of what will follow and raise the suspense. Ha Soo’s birthday was on the 23rd of December and the first 18 minutes present our characters’ Xmas Eve. Ha Soo informs Go Bong about the Xmas event that will take place at the resort, an event Ha Soo prepared and she’ll be expecting Go Bong to make his appearance. It’s the event in which Dae Han will offer the Go Bong’s appreciation plaque to Shin Hyung as an honorable guest and part of the family, in other words, Go Bong himself, for the few people that know his real identity that still remains an untold secret when it comes to Ha Soo.
Go Bong’s standing on a bridge, he’s staring at the starlit sky lost in his thoughts. The fear of the unknown is omnipresent and he’s holding the elixir doctor Kim had given him. Whether it will work as poison or medicine is still unknown and borderline plans are not acceptable. Four noble truths and eight sufferings, the pain of not getting what you want. He’s willing to accomplish them one after the other and he throws away the elixir. Later on he visits Dae Han’s room and he replaces the late chairman’s memorial picture with recent photos, happy ones, full of beautiful memories and wonderful people, father-son pictures and pictures from the trip they had with Ha Soo and Ji Yoon. Go Bong is proud of his son and it’s being reflected on the oceans ready to flood the surface of his face.
Yi Gun doesn’t seem satisfied with the turn of events and demands some answers from Ji Yoon who strictly disagrees with selling the resort to foreigners. Caring for the company and the employees is her business and business is good. Yi Gun doesn’t feel complete with her answers and he finds Dae Han, he grabs him from the jacket. It’s not the most coherent move he could come up with at the resort’s reception since employees and guests are around, a director acting this way in front of the chairman, nay! Everyone understands that he’s pissed off and the more he loses his temper the more we can realize that nothing’s going according to plan. The once supreme director Jung can’t think of any other wise moves, all he can do is succumb to the last resort of revenge, involving Ji Yoon in the overall maelstrom. He’s definitely not honoring his pants! Shortly after Dae Han informs Go Bong that everything went well with the foreign investor and that he won’t proceed with the arch plan he had agreed alongside Yi Gun! You know whose son he is! Go Bong reassures Dae Han that he’s fine and that he shouldn’t worry about him, but you know whose father Go Bong is! The preparation for the Xmas event goes on and Ha Soo’s running around for the last details. She meets Go Bong outdoors, Go Bong’s waving at her, but he notices that his hand has aged all of a sudden. He tries to escape before Ha Soo notices him, but it’s not possible! She reaches Go Bong but he asks her to keep going on with the event matters, he promises her that he’ll find for her the meteor bracelet that fell off her hand while she was crossing the street. In the meantime back at the company Yi Gun’s most exquisite plan takes place, prosecutor Yang asks Ji Yoon to follow him in order to answer some questions about a lawsuit.
Go Bong visits Ha Soo at the tailor shop and brings over another present for her! Santa brings toys even to crying children and Ha Soo has cried a lot recently, she deserves another present! A song’s playing at the radio that reflects his thoughts when it comes to his feelings for Ha Soo, he’s just staring at her working on a suit and he can’t hold back his tears. It’s not just another suit, it’s predestined for him with his name stitched on the its interior pattern, just like the old days. The name is Choi Shin Hyung. In the past, one suit changed his life and made him successful, at the present, as Shin Hyung, will this suit change his life anew even though the signs are worrisome? He’s steadily breaking down, it’s probably the last time holding her in his arms, Merry Christmas sounds so distant, it’s the echo of a forthcoming tragedy, an unwelcome farewell. Only the melting crystals in his eyes know what he’s going through. Go Bong’s heading towards his room whereas Ha Soo’s back at the company. She opens her present that doesn’t really feel like one. The crystal snowball with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast decoration is a beautiful memory they shared at the cosplay party, but the Xmas card tears her apart. Go Bong’s sorry for making her sad and for being unable to keep his promise, on top of that, he’s sorry for falling in love with her. The air’s ominous and the end feels near, all she can do is rush at the Gold House. And we reach the ending part of the 15th episode, Go Bong’s lying on his bed as the last message arrives, it’s payback time.
Petals start falling on Go Bong’s bed, his door’s locked and Ha Soo can’t enter the room. She’s breaking down in tears unable to do anything. The transformation has finished, Go Bong returned to his 70 years old body. Dae Han finds Ha Soo and brings the keys, but Go Bong’s nowhere to be found. She finds the glasses she had fixed for the late chairman and the candy she had given him. Go Bong’s words from the Xmas card start echoing differently and she’s searching for him at the store where he grabbed for her the stuffed puppy. Memories are flooding her very essence and a heartfelt poetic narration dances among the scenes filled with remembrance.
When rain stops on the long hill
Green from the pasture is more noticeable.
As I send them away
A sad song comes to mind.
We add tears of farewell
To the blue ocean every year.
By getting to know you
I realized things in this world
Weren’t so irrelevant.
I learned to appreciate
Being born into this world.
As I love you with all my heart
I love the world where people live.
When I see a wild flower on the street…
The days of when you were there with me…
And the day when i put my head on your shoulder…
Just like the sun sets on the ocean
We were happy together.
Go Bong’s watching from a distance and messages her that she should head back home and informs her that he’ll attend the event tomorrow. At the same time Dae Han and Gyung Bae are trying to find Go Bong. He texts Dae Han that he’ll be expecting both of them at the Gold House.
Dae Han and Gyung Bae return at the Gold House, the figure waiting for them at Go Bong’s armchair has grey hair. They want to take him at the hospital and have the surgery done, nothing’s over yet and they’re severely worried. He reassures them that he intends to proceed with the surgery on Xmas day after the event at the resort reaches its end. He has to be there, it’s a promise he made to Ha Soo. Later on that night Dae Han’s fallen asleep and an affectionate and powerful scene takes place. Go Bong’s lying by his side and stares at him full of love as he’s singing his favorite song. Just like the 34 year old Go Bong looked odd and older since he didn’t know how to send a cellphone text, it was fun witnessing Go Bong with the meteor bracelet and the 34 years old Go Bong’s clothing, he looked like a 34 year old player trapped inside a 70 years old body!
The final preparations for the Xmas event are taking place. Ha Soo’s worried and texts Go Bong, she’s really expecting him at the event. Gyung Bae’s taking Go Bong at the resort, he’s frightened that something might go wrong and bombards Go Bong with his worried thoughts, Go Bong reassures him that he’ll reach him by the time the event is over to take him to the hospital. Gyung Bae’s still not aware that Go Bong has thrown away the elixir doctor Kim had given him and the time limits are thin, he’ll be expecting Go Bong at the car. The wolf company, Young Dal, Mi Hye and In Ja are at the elevator and they’re having a discussion concerning the latest events. They’re either going to jail or doing community service is the only option to avoid it! Classic In Ja, had she known that, she’d have taken out more money to Germany! Suddenly the elevator’s electricity goes off and it gets in an emergency state. The doors open and… Go Bong’s ghost appears! He wants them to act properly from now on, otherwise he will return to haunt them! Boo! A hilarious scene! Go Bong’s expressions are priceless! The wolves are scared to death and after Go Bong leaves they make sure everyone saw him. They did see him and they intend to be good children from now on, they don’t want to deal with the afterlife, especially Go Bong, real life’s problems are more than enough!
Ji Yoon got sued by the prosecutor, but Dae Han has a plan. Go Bong fixed the necessary papers to prove that the contract was terminated in the past and, of course, it has the late chairman’s signature on it! Everything will be fine for Ji Yoon. At the same time Yi Gun gets informed that prosecutor Gu is heading towards his office. Meanwhile, the event’s taking place. Its purpose is to create beautiful memories for those attending it and bring happiness to people’s lives, so many of the guests share their loving thoughts towards their parents. It’s Dae Han’s turn to reflect his thoughts on the purpose of the event and speaks with love about his father and praises his business skills, Dae Han himself has a lot to learn in order to reach his father’s grandeur. Go Bong’s watching from a safe distance, but Ha Soo notices his figure, she’s searching for him but he’s nowhere to be found. Prosecutor Gu and his men arrest Yi Gun, before leaving the office he hands over to Ji Yoon all the necessary plan papers she will be needing in order to help the company become more prosperous in the future. He asks from Dae Han to take care of Ji Yoon, his malicious reign has reached its end, although he had a moment of clarity before leaving the company for the last time. Later on Ha Soo hears the news that Choi Go Bong’s name has been cleaned and she’s happy. But Dae Han and Gyung Bae must find Go Bong. Back at the Gold House, instead of Go Bong, they find letters waiting for them on the Xmas Tree. He regrets all the things he’d been missing for decades, but he’s grateful that he managed to catch up with everything he’d been missing in such a short time, it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s all about quality and the moments they shared together were powerful. Go Bong’s proud of his son and he wants him to remain a wonderful man no matter how many difficulties may lie ahead.
Ha Soo starts to relate memories, objects, words together and she reaches a silent conclusion, the one Go Bong was trying to tell her, the one he’d been hiding for a long time. She rushes to the rooftop where beautiful things happen, this time it’s going to be different, but not indifferent. She calls him by the name he met him the for second time, Choi Shin Hyung, she calls him by the name she met him for the first time, Choi Go Bong. It had passed by her mind, but it didn’t make any sense just like it doesn’t even at this very moment. She wants an explanation, something, anything that would make her understand. It’s heartbreaking, he’s so sorry for not letting her know the truth, he wants her to let time heal her wounds and her memories, he wants her to forget. She can’t simply forget, she can’t let go of all the unique memories he offered her, of all the memories she created for him, to her eyes he still is Choi Shin Hyung and i’m glad that the team behind Mr. Back made him look like 34 years old again, for her eyes only, because at that current moment he was Choi Go Bong. The kiss on his forehead while holding his hand was heartrending, it felt more like welcoming him in her memories rather than saying goodbye. And so Choi Go Bong steadily vanishes by the time she opens her eyes, leaving her all alone in the same kiss stasis. The meteor keepsake from Dae Han’s mother remains on the spot, she holds it in her hands and makes her wish, that she’ll wait and pray for him, until he comes back.
Dae Han’s having his speech in front of the directors of the company, he doesn’t try to convince them about anything this time, he’s more determined than ever and he delivers the signals of the company’s future course in a representative way, he’s spot on and specific. He’s the rightful owner of Daehan Resort and as a chairman he looks ahead of his time in order to make the company blossom. Ji Yoon’s face is pleased with his presentation and she concurs with her smile, but among the directors a familiar figure appears and feels satisfied with Dae Han’s maturity and determinism, it’s Choi Go Bong who cherished a bit of his son’s grandeur in its birth pangs. Shortly after, the place where he was sitting is empty again and later on inside his room Dae Han says to his father’s memorial picture that everything went more than fine today, being praised is more than welcome. His smile unfolds accomplishment and an internal connection to his father, even though he’s not present, the bond they formed the previous period can’t be erased. The messages for Dae Han and Gyung Bae weren’t the only ones, there was a message for the Milky Way, Eun Ha Soo as well and Dae Han delivers it. And yes, she finally gets her answer, everything he felt for her was for the first time, a pure love unaffected by space and time.
One year later the Milky Way Eun Ha Soo encourages herself to smile! Dae Han talks to his father’s memorial picture. The picture has changed, it’s the one Go Bong had taken when he went at the photographer with Gyung Bae. Dae Han’s face feels bright, it’s the foundation day! A mysterious call from Gyung Bae appears and tells him that he found him! He found Choi Go Bong! He’s referring to someone with similar characteristics that was found with memory loss on Xmas day, the same day Choi Go Bong went missing. He’s staying at a nursing home for the elderly and takes care of them. Since they couldn’t find any information about him due to the memory loss they kept him there. Dae Han made his decision, from that moment and on, since Choi Go Bong is dead, he will be Choi Shin Hyung, Dae Han’s brother who was raised in Canada. And Gyung Bae’s going to assist him, just like he did for Dae Han’s father! Gyung Bae, working for the same man for two generations! But this time… Shin Hyung is different, he’s more tranquil than apnea! So Gyung Bae won’t feel his outbursts anew, but he wouldn’t mind either! Shin Hyung notices them and talks to them, Dae Han tells him that he came to find his brother and when Shin Hyung asks the name of his brother Dae Han says “Choi Shin Hyung” and holds Shin Hyung in his arms to his ultimate surprise!
Ha Soo at the present has a higher position in the company’s hierarchy, she’s the one teaching the new employees when it comes to events, starting from Xmas oriented ones. Shortly after Dae Han asks her to go somewhere nearby, by the time she enters the room she can’t believe her eyes. The whole decoration is an ode to precious memories emphasizing on her relationship with Shin Hyung. She’s losing herself in the contours of a dream she cherished up to one year ago, until she notices someone that had just entered the room. And that’s when the real surprise begins, the man is Choi Shin Hyung, but he doesn’t remember anything. She doesn’t feel well, she’d wish he remembered, but… but. He wants to introduce her a method that will make her feel better, koong koong da, koong koong da, koong koong da! She’s the one who taught him this method and she feels relieved that he remembers at least that. And she introduces herself, she’s the Milky Way, Eun Ha Soo and she’s got all the time to tell him everything he wants to know, about himself, about herself, about themselves, about all the beautiful moments depicted on the photos. He wonders, was he in love with her? She was the only one he ever loved and all the pieces of the puzzle will be completed anew now that they’ve got each other again simply because “if you earnestly wish for it, a miracle could happen, in the name of love.” Dae Han’s keepsake in Ha Soo’s arms lived up to its expectations in realizing her wish, just like it did realize Dae Han’s wish in front of the Xmas tree right before giving the keepsake to Go Bong at that time, he wished for a miracle for his father and here he is, simply because “if you earnestly wish for it, a miracle could happen, in the name of love.”
And some cut scenes! Young Dal, In Ja and Mi Hye are doing their social service! A pleasant sight to Dae Han’s eyes, for them it’s a burden, but it’s far better than being behind bars! And let’s not forget, they would never want Choi Go Bong to come back and haunt them! And… a scene i desperately wanted, it’s a few seconds long, but… but! It’s a kiss between Dae Han and Ji Yoon and i’m grateful for that, even if it’s just for a few seconds in the cut scenes, Ji Yoon deserved that kiss!
Migratory birds follow the wind to fly home.
An ocean follows the waves to get to the horizon.
Stars follow the moon to get to dawn.
I was thinking of following the blue sky and go to the Milky Way.
PS. A song that reflects my thoughts on the Koong Koong Da couple in the most representative way: