It's been a week since this episode aired, and it's taken me this long to be able to sit down and write about it. On first viewing, as the traumatic events unfolded and piled up, the disagreement, the prosecutor, the trial, the prison, I felt pretty sick inside. But as I rewatch today, I can see that it fits and that it's a good ending.
The drama is book-ended by mahjong. The group from episode one plays together again and Dean Min says, "Oh the luck isn't with me tonight." The Chairman replies," Where is luck, you just read the opponents wrong." Which is about as good a summary of the dean as you could want. Hye-won wins the game again saying, "I'd hate to die a dog's death," meaning a meaningless death. CEO Daughter says they thought Hye-won was a dog but she's a tiger.
Hye-won waits for Seon-jae outside his apartment. When he comes he is curt and tries again to get her to give up her schemes. She says she can win and he says she can't. Seon-jae texts Tone-deaf hyung to invite him to a quintet recital. Hye-won tells him to bring his goddess, but he says he doesn't want to talk about it. She looks disturbed. He didn't invite her.
20:22 - Dvorak's Piano Quintet No 2 in A Major. The quintet play their good-bye performance. They are all quitting
school, including Seon-jae. Students crowd in to listen and are
backed-up out into the hall.
Even though we don't see hands on the piano, his movements and expressions fit so well and are so good. After SLA ended I watched one and about a third episodes of Beethoven Virus just because it is about music, and couldn't stand it. Of course we know most shows have bad fake musicians and the reason we are watching this one is because of the piano playing in the preview, but SLA has really spoiled us and set the bar high.
Hye-won sits mulling things over at her desk, gets up and goes out. She barely opens Mme Han's office door, slides in, runs her hand over the big desk chair, then calls Mme Han to tell her the chairwoman's chair doesn't suit her very well. She goes home and wanders around alone, seeing Seon-jae everywhere: at the door when he first came to audition, at the piano, at the dining table. She knows Seon-jae is letting go and makes a decision.
She heads for the prosecutor's office, stopping off first at Seon-jae's to explain. She asks for tea and he has a new kind someone gave him. She explains what she's up to and comments she'll remember this moment with the tea. He tells her to remember it with her body and they kiss. The next thing you see is them sleeping, wrapped together with their heads and arms sticking out over the quilt.
At the prosecutor's office she hands over the red thumb drive, explaining that it contains Mme Han's files, those for the Chairman's money-laundering company, and the record of his payoffs to SIL Lawyer. She is giving the prosecutors enough evidence to put them in jail. Mme Han turns herself in because she doesn't like to get picked up by the cops. Ha. That means she has been picked up before.
45:18 - Chopin's Nocturne No. 1 Op. 62.
Prof. Jo plays this for Seon-jae, telling him to learn it and play it in competition. There is a small competition he can practice on before he goes to the big one in Italy. It will keep him busy and he can earn prize money.
In court Hye-won testifies that she did illegal things for money and prestige, but one day someone showing devotion to her by doing such a simple thing as wiping the floor for her to sit on made her realize what she had given up to get the things she had gained. This statement is kind of a surprise, because that scene was commented on a lot at the time. He was shown from behind. Everyone noticed his butt, and thought that's what she was thinking about. So humm. It didn't come across.
47:56 - Mozart's Rondo in A Minor - Seon-jae plays for Da-mi and Jang-ho, who were at court with him.
Interior of the cell block. Five women are sleeping on the floor of a cell. Hye-won is snoring so they hold her down and cut her hair as an initiation of sorts. She is taken aback but doesn't fight it. Her hair, which was once kept so smooth and under control, is now not only down but cut ragged. She has let go of her need to control and connive and is now taking life as it comes.
Seon-jae comes to visit. He is startled by her hair, but at her calm acceptance he puts on a good face and is cheerful for her. He has passed the Busoni finals, so it's been a little time. She says she is thankful to him for helping her to change her life, but he doesn't have to wait for her; he can forget her. He replies that after all they have been through, they should at least try to be together, whether it turns out to be one year or ten. Otherwise it would be a waste. And, he adds, she is a little pretty too.
1:05:54 - Mozart's Rondo in A Minor. Seon-jae starts every day playing this, with the handkerchief Hye-won gave him sitting on the piano.
The prison yard. She is sitting in the sunshine, by the chain-link fence. So different from all the dark and the shadows and the little bits of light peeking in through the blinds.Those perforated partitions we've been peering at her through all this time were a kind of jail bars, although she didn't realize it.
Seon-jae's apartment. Carrying a big backpack and pulling a small suitcase, he puts on his shoes by the door and says, "I'm going and I'll be back." He's on his way to the competition.
Hye-won sits by the fence again, enjoying the sun, looking out on the countryside, the distant mountains, and even the weeds. We remember Seon-jae saying he was like a weed and didn't need anything fancy. In a way, seeing out into the real world, she is free already.
This was a good show. It's so layered and rich and has so much going on. It fooled us in that instead of being a slightly racy story of a love affair with a little classical piano for bait, it turned out to be a story of redemption. A sophisticated woman mired in a dark world of graft becomes aware of what she has done to herself and turns towards the ray of light that is Seon-jae and his beautiful music. It would have been nice to see their reunion, but we know it is coming.
Thank you to the hard-working subbers at Viki, the people at Koala's Playground and others who did recaps, the SLA Jukebox people on Sikseekland, and the fans at Soompi who did analysis galore that enhanced so much the enjoyment of this drama.