The Game Towards Zero Episode 16 (Final)
The police search for Joon Young. Kim Tae Pyung (Ok Taec Yeon) tells Detective Seo Joon Young (Lee Yun Hee) who is trapped in a coffin that they will find her. Starting to run out of battery, she assures Tae Pyung she’s okay but they should limit their phone calls. Tae Pyung urges her not to pass out. He vows to find her. Tae Pyung tells Chief Nam and Team Leader Han that Joon Young’s battery is low.
Do Kyung’s mother begs her son to reveal where Joon Young is. Do Kyung pushes her hand away.
Lawyer Lee reports to Tae Pyung that Joon Young is likely not buried but could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Tae Pyung says he can’t talk to her with the low battery.
The police have eliminated certain areas and start on other areas.
Tae Pyung grabs Do Kyung and demands he tell them where Joon Young is. Do Kyung says nothing. Tae Pyung shares that he knows about Do Kyung’s first murder of the bully from the orphanage. Tae Pyung apologizes for foretelling his death. Tae Pyung knows Do Kyung became a medical examiner to redeem himself.
Flashback…Do Kyung and the bully discuss his plan to become a medical examiner. The bully points out Do Kyung will kill himself so why bother. Angered by the rude reminder, Do Kyung strangles and kills the bully.
Tae Pyung points out if Joon Young dies, he won’t be the only one in pain, Do Kyung will be too. Tae Pyung points out suicide is Do Kyung’s way of running away from what he’s become. Tae Pyung begs Do Kyung to reveal Joon Young’s location. Do Kyung says he’s impressed that Tae Pyung tried to understand him, but he only wants to die. Team Leader Han and Officer Bong pull the sobbing Tae Pyung off Do Kyung who vets back in the police van.
Joon Young struggles to stay away and alive.
The police search. Chief Yang notes that Do Kyung and serial killer Kim Hyung Soon used the same methods. That gets Tae Pyung’s attention. Tae Pyung asks why Kim Hyung Soon put his victims in a coffin.
Officer Joon and Officer Bong take Do Kyung to the police station. Kim Hyung Soon is waiting for him. Kim Hyung Soon chuckles seeing Do Kyung bound up. Do Kyung ask why he’s here. Kim Hyung Soon says a woman Do Kyung liked in a coffin and going to die.
Chief Nam, Officer Joon and Officer Bong watch and hope Kim Hyung Soon will break Do Kyung’s fantasy of revenge for his father.
Kim Hyung Soon shares that his mother hid in a coffin to escape his father who beat her. Kim Hyung Soon says he didn’t know his mother was dead because he touched her hair. Kim Hyung Soon asks if Do Kyung cut a lock of hair. Kim Hyung Soon asks if Do Kyung will kill her again if she survives. Do Kyung tells him they are nothing alike. Kim Hyung Soon asks if Do Kyung put her in a coffin so she could be saved. Do Kyung asks why Kim Hyung Soon killed the 7th victim. Kim Hyung Soon lies that he’s never murdered anyone. He points Do Kyung has murdered multiple times. Kim Hyung Soon asks who Do Kyung felt when he put the woman in the coffin.
Flashback…Do Kyung shuts the door on the coffin.
Kim Hyung Soon says the woman is calling for help now. Kim Hyung Soon says his victims called for help. He laughs. Do Kyung tells him to shut up. Kim Hyung Soon tells Do Kyung he’s just another murderer. He leaves. Do Kyung remembers Joon Young telling him that he’ll be remembered forever as a murderer. Tears fill his eyes.
Tae Pyung thinks about the logistics of the area that Do Kyung put Joon Young.
Tae Pyung calls Joon Young. He asks if she can hear the horn. He drives around and beeps the horn asking if she can hear. Joon Young doesn’t answer. Tae Pyung continues to drive and beep. Joon Young hears the beep. Tae Pyung says he’s close. Tae Pyung sees the row of trucks. He bangs on them and asks if Joon Young can hear him. Joon Young says she’s sorry. Joon Young says she loves him. She falls unconscious. Tae Pyung starts open the trucks.
At the police station, Officer Bong reports Do Kyung identified the truck where Joon Young is held.
Tae Pyung continues to open trucks. The team arrive and tells Tae Pyung the license plate number. Officer Ji finds the truck. Tae Pyung opens the truck. They see the coffin. They open the coffin. Joon Young is unconscious. Paramedics are there and administer oxygen.
At the emergency room. Joon Young flatlines. They pull Tae Pyung away. Tae Pyung wonders if this is how Joon Young felt when she watched him unconscious in the emergency room. He stares at the tracker necklace.
Officer Bong and Officer Joon question Do Kyung. He admits to everything.
Tae Pyung admits to his crimes and goes to court.
Tae Pyung testifies against Do Kyung.
Do Kyung testifies against Tae Pyung.
Joon Young is in a coma.
In prison, Tae Pyung looks at the group photo. He still can’t see Joon Young’s death. He worries he’s still responsible for her death. He decides to make voice recordings for her so she can hear her voice.
Lawyer Lee visits Tae Pyung and takes the recordings to Joon Young.
Outside the prison, the reporters cluster around the police bus that brings Kim Hyung Soon. Tae Pyung’s voiceover states though Kim Hyung Soon never admitted to murder, people called him a murderer just like Jo Pil Doo.
Do Kyung testifies he saw Kim Hyung Soon kill someone and called Chief Nam but wasn’t believed. The prosecutor asks why he didn’t call the police again. Do Kyung says he wanted to kill himself. Chief Nam testifies that Do Kyung called him but didn’t believe him. Chief Nam says his mistake cost many lives. Tae Pyung’s voiceover states Kim Hyung Soon couldn’t be tried for his crimes because the statue of limitation had expired but the families could sue him for compensation. The sentence is given, Do Kyung is sentenced to life in prison. Tae Pyung’s sentence is tempered because of his willingness to sacrifice his life and help the police to 4 years in prison and 5 years’ probation.
5 years later…Lawyer Lee meets Tae Pyung outside the prison. He remembers moments with Joon Young. He misses Joon Young.
Joon Young’s voiceover “We never what will happen. He sent me letter every day. Some days he was cherry, sometimes gloomy”. Joon Young is awake! Lawyer Lee tells her about Tae Pyung’s time in prison. The guards and prisons wanted to know how they’d die. But he claimed he couldn’t see death anymore. He claims the fall removed the ability. Lawyer Lee says his time in prison was peaceful. Lawyer Lee shares that once Kim Hyung Soon and Do Kyung met in prison. They glared and stared. As Kim Hyung Soon is led to a nearby cell, he chuckles. Reporter Han is stoked that his story about Kim Hyung Soon and Do Kyung being at the same prison got many views. Captain Lee says Reporter Han won’t ever learn. Reporter Yi sighs. Captain Lee suggests Reporter Yi teach new reporters the right way to report news. Lawyer Lee gives Joon Young Tae Pyung’s last letter from 2 weeks ago. Lawyer Lee says Tae Pyung stayed by her side once he was released from prison. Lawyer Lee thanks Joon Young for waking. She leaves Tae Pyung’s bedroom. Joon Young reads the letter “It’s been a long time. I’ve been through much after meeting you. I understand why Teacher Baek chose that death and left me with those words. I think he knew I was the reason for his death. And yet he accepted and loved me. He knew Do Kyung and I would meet one day”.
Tae Pyung sits next to a still comatose Joon Young. The letter continues “When I was unconscious, you wanted me to make too. Sometimes I went to the station to help the team”.
Tae Pyung helps the team crack cases.
The letter continues “Helping made me realize you saw people die like this every day. As difficult as life is death is hard too. That’s why I was attracted to you. I never shared my feelings with anyone else. I wanted to see you constantly because you understood me. I’ll always be by your side. I love you.”
Tae Pyung goes the prison. Do Kyung’s mother is in the waiting room.
Tae Pyung visits Do Kyung. Tae Pyung asks if he wants to know about Joon Young. Do Kyung asks why he’s there. Tae Pyung states that Joon Young is awake and will have to relearn how to walk because her muscles aren’t strong. Tae Pyung tells him not to kill himself. He tells him to live. He says Joon Young wouldn’t want him to kill himself. Do Kyung nods his head.
Tae Pyung arrives home. Joon Young wheels out to him and smiles. Tae Pyung smiles and kneels in front of her. He thanks her for coming back. They both say they missed each other.
Joon Young works with a physical therapist to relearn how to walk. It’s not easy. One day she’s able to stand and turn with the walker.
Everyone claps when Joon Young returns to the police station. Officer Ji and the rest of the team greet her warmly. Joon Young teases that Team Leader Han looks better. Officer Bong says they are wearing couples’ rings. Officer Joon brags his latest blind date ate well and paid for the meal. Everyone laughs. Joon Young says she never called her back. Officer Joon can’t believe he got dumped. They all laugh again. Tae Pyung voiceover states everyone deaths are changed and now they are living the life they want.
The news reports the Kim Hyung Soon is sentenced to death. Chief Nam is relieved. He shows Chief Yang the picture he has with Joon Young’s father. Chief Yang pours him a drink. They clink and drink.
Tae Pyung enters a jewelry store. He shows the tracker necklace. He asks the tracker be replaced with a diamond.
Joon Young goes to the prison. She meets Do Kyung’s mother exiting the prison. She shares the Do Kyung won’t see her yet. She apologizes to Joon Young on behalf of Do Kyung.
Do Kyung agrees to see Joon Young. He says he didn’t think she’d visit him. Joon Young says he may have some humility as he having a hard time looking at her. She tells him to live the rest of his life like this. She tells him no to kill himself and live the rest of his life with the guilt and desire for atonement. Do Kyung promises to do so. Joon Young says she had Chief Nam as a father figure. She wonders if he’d had the same, they might not be here. She tells him goodbye. She leaves. Do Kyung still clutches the phone.
Do Kyung returns to his cell. He sits alone and considers Joon Young’s words. Do Kyung wonders if he had a father figure and support, would things be different?
What could have been…Do Kyung’s mother stands up for her son and begs the crowd to let the justice system prove her husband is not guilty. The crowd sees Captain Lee and demands to know why he’s lurking. Afterwards, a young Do Kyung asks if his father is guilty. His mother says his father would never do that. Do Kyung’s father rushes into the room. Do Kyung leaps in his arms. Chief Nam follows into the room. He apologizes to the family for the error with the circumstantial evidence.
Do Kyung thinks “if that had happened, we wouldn’t have met like that. I’m sorry”. Do Kyung cries.
Tae Pyung finds Joon Young catching up the day before she returns to work. He says they are going to take a road trip. He tells her to change into the clothes he left on the bed. Joon Young finds a pretty box on the bed. The note says “let’s go on a date today. Get changed and we’ll go”. Joon Young finds the clothes.
Tae Pyung stands outside the bedroom. Joon Young steps out in the lovely dress he picked out. She smiles. He smiles.
At their beach, watches Joon Young look to the sky. He walks to her with the necklace in hand. He tells her he has something to give her. He opens his hand and shows her the necklace. He says the tracker is gone. Joon Young smiles and asks him to put it on her. Tae Pyung does so. The emerald is lovely. They look at each other and smile. Tae Pyung’s voiceover “I can see Joon Young’s death. But her smile and spirit are deep in my heart and will let leave me.
Death scene…And old woman now…while rocking on a sunny morning, Joon Young passes away peacefully.
Tae Pyung tells Joon Young she’s beautiful. She thanks him. Tae Pyung says they should take a walk.
Tae Pyung’s voiceover “I don’t know if I’ll die first or she does. But I knew I was in her heart”.
Joon Young takes Tae Pyung’s hand and tells him she loves him. Tae Pyung tells her he loves her. They walk down their beach.
You can’t know every moment of life just because you know the end. If we live everyday in the happiness, we feel now the bad days will be bearable.
Final shot is our couple walking on the beach.
Quiet and satisfactory ending to this series. Writer Lee gave Do Kyung the opportunity to turn from his evil ways. Eventually, Do Kyung told where Joon Young was allowing her to be rescued, though she was comatose for many years. It was fair that Tae Pyung was sent to prison. He bought a bomb with the intent to murder. Do Kyung was sentenced to life in prison. Kim Hyung Soon was sentenced to die. The legal details on the alternate path, the statute of limitations was past, was unclear to me. In the end, that death scenes that Tae Pyung could see weren’t absolute. They could change if people changed. That’s a fair conclusion.
Detective Seo Joon Young (Lee Yun Hee) lived and learned to walk again. Joon Young never panicked but was comatose by the time she was saved. It took years for her to wake, conveniently after Tae Pyung served his prison term. Writer Lee showed the struggle to regain the strength and learn to walk again. Well done. In the end, this couple prevailed. We learned Joon Young died a peaceful death in her old age, but we don’t know if she and Tae Pyung are together until the end. I liked the ambiguity. Tae Pyung’s point was well taken, he only sees the moment of death and the life lived to get there is a mystery.
Kim Tae Pyung (Ok Taec Yeon) saved the woman he loved. Tae Pyung was on the right track when he drove around honking his horn asking if Joon Young could hear him. It made the moment of her discovery not the perfect ending. Just like Tae Pyung, Joon Young was comatose. Tae Pyung rightly served time for purchasing a bomb and setting off the bomb with the intent to murder. I liked Tae Pyung making voice messages for Joon Young. I liked Tae Pyung NOT using his ability in prison. I liked Tae Pyung visiting Do Kyung and telling him to live. I liked Tae Pyung replacing the tracker in the necklace for a gem. I liked that our couple ended this series on their beach, determined to enjoy the time they had together.
Goo Do Kyung (Im Joo Hwan) finally told where Joon Young was. Do Kyung did this off camera after Kim Hyung Soon talked and taunted him. That was a terrific scene. It could have been a powerful moment on camera for Do Kyung to realize his humanity would be gone if he allowed the woman he loved to die. Im Joo Hwan could have done a moment like that justice. Instead, he got the moment when Do Kyung imagined what would have been IF he’d had a strong mother and IF Chief Nam admitted his falsification of evidence. That was the perfect note to end on this character. Do Kyung and his family were destroyed by the false charges against his father. I cannot accept his murders or cruel actions as acceptable. They were not. But Writer Lee salvaged as much as possible of this character in the final episode. More than I thought possible.
How did I do on my wish list for the final episode?
* Tae Pyung and the team save Joon Young. GRANTED. Joon Young was saved though she was comatose for 4 years. The best aspect of this series was how the police team evolved to be supportive and loyal while facing their own deaths and they never stopped doing the right thing. They were nice cops, but unfortunately Writer Lee didn’t make them the brightest ones.
* Minimal screen time for Do Kyung. PARTIALLY GRANTED. Throughout this series, this character was difficult to watch, having every advantage, and enjoying the pain he metered out under the guise of revenge for his father. But Writer Lee allowed a poignant moment where Do Kyung wondered what if things hadn’t unfolded as they did, which Im Joo Hwan underplayed, to give this character closure that rang true.
I rate this rate this episode as very good, 8 on a 10-point scale.