Alice Episode 16 (Final) Recap
Tae Yi’s voiceover “Love is patient, love is kind, it protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.”
The old man, aka Teacher, tells Jin Gyeom this is his chance to seize time. Park Jin Gyeom (Joo Won) declares he could care less. Jin Gyeom declares he’s going to reset everything. He’ll save everyone killed because of the old man. Then he’ll kill the old man. Jin Gyeom says the old man started this and he’ll end it.
The old man puts his gun to Jin Gyeom’s head. Lights flash. Jin Gyeom is gone!
Jin Gyeom wakes in a tunnel. He picks up his gun. He sprints to the entry.
Yoon Tae Yi (aka Park Sun Young) (Kim Hee Seon) offers her 19-year-old son breakfast before he goes to school. Jin Gyeom sits and eats.
Kim Do Yeon (Lee Da In) waits outside Jin Gyeom’s house. When he exits, she asks if he made his mother seaweed soup like she taught him for her birthday. Jin Gyeom says no. He says he has no gift for her either. Do Yeon says after school she’ll help him pick out a gift and cake so he can surprise his mother that evening, which has a full blood moon. Do Yeon teases she’s pretty. Jin Gyeom walks away. Do Yeon catches up with him. Jin Gyeom’s mother watches them walk to school.
Jin Gyeom calls his mother but she doesn’t pick up.
When Jin Gyeom’s mother returns to the house, she sees 1 missed call. Professor Seok calls her.
At Professor Seok’s office, Tae Yi tells him to disregard her earlier words and their research. Professor Seok asks why she’s suddenly changed her mind. Tae Yi says she thought time travel would be a positive way for people to deal with grief and correct regrets. But she’s realized that people need the hard experience of grief and regret. Tae Yi says time travel has created greed and obsession. Professor Seok believes Tae Yi is right and promises to help. Tae Yi says she has to do this on her own.
Jin Gyeom arrives at his house and calls to his mother. She’s not there. He rushes out.
Captain Go closes the case against the 19-year-old Jin Gyeom. He’s surprised when Jin Gyeom appears and calls to him. Captain Go asks who he is and where he is from. Jin Gyeom says Captain Go was the only one he thought could help. Captain Go takes him to an interrogation room and asks if he’s from the future and who sent him. Jin Gyeom says no one sent him. Captain Go asks if he’s there because of his mother. Captain Go says he won’t kill his mother. Jin Gyeom knows that. Jin Gyeom says in the end his mother and many more will die. Jin Gyeom asks if Captain Go knows where the Teacher is. Jin Gyeom says he doesn’t know where or who the Teacher is. Captain Go takes a call from his wife. He tells her he’ll call her later. Jin Gyeom apologize for coming. Captain Go tell him leaving with his mother is what Jin Gyeom should do. Jin Gyeom counters that his mother won’t want the world to change just for him. Jin Gyeom says if he runs, those that have died will never return. Captain Go asks if he’ll be one of the dead that can’t return. Jin Gyeom says no. He assures Captain Go he and his wife will be safe. He asks if he can hug Captain Go. Jin Gyeom hugs Captain Go and says he’s missed him. Tears stream from his eyes. Captain Go is surprised by his emotion. He asks if he was close to Jin Gyeom in the other dimension. Jin Gyeom says that Captain Go stayed by his side after his mother was killed. Jin Gyeom says he must protect his mother now. He vows to bring everyone back.
Jin Gyeom’s mother purchases food for dinner. Jin Gyeom watches from across the street. He notes he has no time travel rashes.
19-year-old Jin Gyeom leaves the bakery with a cake and Do Yeon by him. She tells him to apologize to his mother about the suspicions regarding her friend’s death. Jin Gyeom says his mother will understand. She teases a smile out of him and leaves.
Tae Yi returns home and sees the moon in the sky. She enters. Jin Gyeom stands outside the house. Tae Yi sees the cakebox and card from Jin Gyeom on the table. 19-year-old Jin Gyeom agrees to light the candles on his mother’s cake.
Jin Gyeom stands outside his mother’s house, gun drawn. The moon is now blood red.
Jin Gyeom’s mother can’t cajole him to go with her. She leaves the house. She smiles as she looks at the blood red moon. Jin Gyeom watches her walk away. After she buys a bottle of soju, she’s surprised to see the drone in front of her. She drops the soju and behinds to run. Jin Gyeom follows. The drone follows and tracks her. Tae Yi tries to evade the drone but she can’t.
19-year-old Jin Gyeom leaves the house.
Professor Seok sees Tae Yi running away. Jin Gyeom runs into him. Professor Seok grabs Jin Gyeom and say his mother asked him to be here tonight and stop her son if he came. Tae Yi told him that her death cannot be stopped. She didn’t want Jin Gyeom hurt. Jin Gyeom says he must catch him. Professor Seok says that Jin Gyeom can’t save his mother. He advises him to leave. Jin Gyeom says many people will die. Professor Seok draws his gun, points it at Jin Gyeom’s head, and declares he’s going to stop him. Jin Gyeom sees the sigma sign on Professor Seok’s wrist.
Tae Yi watches the drone track her as she runs home. She calls for Jin Gyeom but he’s not there. She senses someone. She turns. It’s the old man. Tae Yi says he came anyhow. She’d hoped the book of prophecy was wrong. She asks if he searched for her for so long that he aged. She calls him my son. The old man says there was a time he was her son.
Professor Seok puts his hand on the trigger and says trusting Captain Go was a mistake. Professor Seok didn’t realize Captain Go would give up his wife to save Jin Gyeom. Captain Go arrives and puts a gun to Professor Seok’s head. He asks what “give up his wife” means. Professor Seok claims this is a misunderstanding. Captain Go tells Jin Gyeom to go to his mother. Captain Go arrests Professor Seok. Jin Gyeom finds his mother’s scarf.
Jin Gyeom’s mother says she didn’t know he’d turn out like this. The old man says she’s the one that opened the door. He says he’s killed many. Jin Gyeom’s mother states this is her fault. She says she’ll pay. She asks him to leave Jin Gyeom alone so her son doesn’t turn out like him. The old man says Tae Yi turned her son into a monster. Jin Gyeom rushes into the room gun drawn. He declares he’s not the old man. Jin Gyeom’s mother grabs his gun and orders him not to shoot. She declares they’ll both die if Jin Gyeom kills the old man. Jin Gyeom doesn’t care. His mother begs him not to do this. Jin Gyeom tells his mother to move. The old man says he once tried to save her too. Jin Gyeom doesn’t care. He tells the old man he’s a monster who came to kill his mother.
The old man says Jin Gyeom doesn’t really know who Tae Yi is. He asks why she stayed in 1992. The old man says Tae Yi say the book of prophecy in 1992. She realized the power her baby would have. That her baby’s death would close the door of time. That’s why she stayed, so her baby would live and the door of time would stay open. Jin Gyeom and the old man both say “my mother would never do that.” The old man says Jin Gyeom won’t save his mother tonight and will forever looks for a way to save her for years, just like he did. Jin Gyeom doesn’t believe him. The old man says he turned into a monster, Jin Gyeom will turn into a monster.
Flashback…Tae Yi writes a goodbye note to MH stating she has to stay to let this baby live. She takes the book of prophecy; taken from Dr. Jang’s house.
The old man says stopping the baby’s birth is the only way.
Flashback…the black hooded man approaches Tae Yi. She demands to know who he is. The old man reveals his face. Tae Yi doesn’t recognize him. The old man tells her to close the door of time or she’ll die. The old man says Tae Yi must do this. Tae Yi demands to know who he is. The old man says he’s someone that shouldn’t exist. He tells her to abort the baby. He warns once the baby is born, the chance to close the door of time goes away. The baby shouldn’t be born, the baby must die. Tae Yi pulls her gun. She doesn’t know who he is, but no one hurts her baby. She tells him to move. The old man says she’ll be killed by her son. He says he’s there to save her. Tae Yi declares her baby won’t kill her and she’ll raise him well. She tells him to move. The old man insists the baby is a monster that cannot live. He draws a knife and approaches. Tae Yi shoots him in the shoulder. He drops the knife and falls to his knees. Tae Yi says he’s the one that must die.
The old man says that was his past experience with Tae Yi and Jin Gyeom’s future. Jin Gyeom declares this isn’t his mother’s fault. She didn’t know who the old man was. The old man questions that belief.
Flashback…Tae Yi strides past the bleeding old man. He calls her Mom. Tears run down his face. She says no, it can’t be. She leaves the room. The old man cries.
Jin Gyeom asks his mother if is true. The old man says his mother knew the consequences and still gave birth to him. Her love is a pretense. Their mother’s actions doomed them to live lives they didn’t want or deserve. The old man says Jin Gyeom is the only one that can understand his pain. He’s giving him a chance to avoid the pain. The old man says their mother must die. Tae Yi agrees. She tells Jin Gyeom to kill her. She says this is her fault. She’s responsible for what happens to him. Jin Gyeom draws his gun on the old man. He says if he them both, everything will end. Tae Yi grabs Jin Gyeom’s gun. The old man asks if Tae Yi will kill him again. He tells her to kill him. Tae Yi says she lived her life in guilt and fear. She wanted to do everything to save them, but could do nothing to save her sons. They’ll disappear if she closes the door of time. The old man says that choice means the world she created is more important than her sons, because they’ll turn into monsters.
Tae Yi cries that a mother’s love for her child overrides everything. If she can’t exist, then as long as her sons are okay, she’s okay. She turns to Jin Gyeom and says it is time to stop. She looks at the old man. She turns the gun on herself and shoots. She falls to the ground. Jin Gyeom holds her will she bleeds out. Jin Gyeom asks why she does this when it isn’t her fault. Jin Gyeom’s mother apologizes that he was born as her son. Jin Gyeom says she was a wonderful mother and he was lucky to be her son. He never wants anyone else for a mother. She dies. The old man says this isn’t want he wanted. He yells at Tae Yi asking why she died instead of him. Jin Gyeom says their mother died to save them. Jin Gyeom says their mother sacrifices everything for them.
Jin Gyeom lays her gently on the floor. He picks up the gun. He aims the gun at the old man. He tells him to remember and suffer for eternity. He shoots the old man in the head. The old man drops to his knees and reaches out to his mother. He vaporizes and disappears. Jin Gyeom looks at his mother.
Alice begins to collapse in a wormhole. It is wiped off the earth.
1992…Jin Gyeom’s mother returns home with her shopping. She sees the cake box and card from Jin Gyeom. 19-year-old Jin Gyeom lights the candles for his mother. Jin Gyeom watches from outside and sings to his mother while the 19-year-old Jin Gyeom sings to his mother. Tae Yi makes a wish and they blow out the candles together. Jin Gyeom cries and wishes his mother happy birthday.
Tae Yi goes out to get some soju. 19-year-old Jin Gyeom says he’ll go with his mother. She stops as they walk. She claims she forgot her wallet and asks him to get it. Jin Gyeom goes back to the house. Jin Gyeom thinks he kept his promise to protect her. He knows his 19-year-old self will have his mother for a long time. He lets her scarf fall to the ground. He vaporizes and disappears. Tae Yi finds her scarf outside the house. She picks it up. Jin Gyeom’s voiceover “don’t worry about me. Live happily. That’s enough for me.” She wraps the scarf around her neck. 19-year-old Jin Gyeom gives her the wallet. She hugs her son. The moon is full but not blood red.
2020…Tae Yi wakes and find her sister cooking in the kitchen. Her sister grouses she just got back from Germany without gifts. Tae Yi looks at her phone but doesn’t find Jin Gyeom’s number. Her sister doesn’t know his name.
Tae Yi hurries to the house but it is locked. The homeowner isn’t Jin Gyeom. She says she’s lived there 7 years.
Tae Yi hurries to the police station. No one knows Jin Gyeom. OK knows her but doesn’t know Jin Gyeom. OK says he knows Tae Yi because she’s the daughter of the eatery Crime Squad. He says their captain is there.
Tae Yi’s father, sister, and Officer Hong serve food. Tae Yi rushes in. She finds Captain Go and Officer Ha there. They don’t know Jin Gyeom. Captain Go doesn’t remember arresting a teenager. Tae Yi’s mother apologizes for her daughter’s behavior. Tae Yi can’t believe Captain Go doesn’t remember Jin Gyeom.
Tae Yi finds her coworker in her office. She remembers her coworker being killed. She realizes the time reset has happened and the time travelers are gone and everything is okay…but Jin Gyeom is gone. She cries. She remembers moments with Jin Gyeom. Her sister says she’s different after returning from Germany. Tae Yi says she was someone else but now she’s herself. She says she met a cool guy on her trip that she can never meet again.
Tae Yi says everything is okay, but no one remembers him. She promises him she will do her best to be happy to make his sacrifice worthwhile. She wears the necklace he got her.
Tae Yi teachers her class. She looks in the hallway for Jin Gyeom but he’s not there. A reporter waits to speak with her. It’s Do Yeon. Tae Yi introduces herself. In her office Do Yeon asks if time travel is possible. Tae Yi says it is possible but should never happen. Tae Yi admits she used to want it but doesn’t want it anymore. The past should stay there. Do Yeon says that sounds like an architect she interviewed several days ago. That gets Tae Yi’s attention.
At the architect’s office, Jin Gyeom sketches. He explains what he wants to his client. She loves that he likes preserving the past. Space can be life itself is his tag line. She looks at his drawings. One of the drawings is his old house. He admits sometimes he draws from memory or déjà vu.
Tae Yi arrives and learns Jin Gyeom isn’t there, he’s at a construction site.
Jin Gyeom talks to the client at the construction site. Tae Yi arrives at the construction site. She’s shocked when Jin Gyeom walks toward her. He sees her. He doesn’t know her. He passes her. Tae Yi calls him detective. He turns. She says her name. He asks if he knows her. She apologizes for mistaking him for someone else.
Tae Yi’s voiceover “I won’t be disappointed. If you don’t know me. That means you are living an ordinary life.”
She walks away. Jin Gyeom watches her go.
Jin Gyeom looks at the drawing of his old house, there’s a woman in front of the house. He works on a drawing of the woman. He sketches Tae Yi. He remembers seeing her.
Tae Yi stands outside the house. She remembers Jin Gyeom promising that he wouldn’t sell the house. She remembers her promise to come to him in the future.
Jin Gyeom rushes to the house. When he arrives, she’s still there. Tae Yi turns and sees him. She calls him detective. Jin Gyeom says he’s sorry he made her wait. They smile.
The episode was the tale of two halves. Writer Kim Kyu Won divided the finale into two parts – before time reset and after time reset. Before time reset focused on two sons, the old man and Jin Gyeom, and the push pull between them about whether their mother had to die or if they had to die. The encounter between the Tae Yi and her two sons twisted and turned so I wasn’t sure how it would end up. Jin Gyeom decided to reset time by killing his older self after his mother killed herself in self-sacrifice for her sons. The critical question – was Tae Yi selfish for not killing her son(s) and allowing time travel to occur? She didn’t want to kill her son. She was willing to sacrifice herself to let him live. After the time reset, Tae Yi returned and realized that Jin Gyeom didn’t exist as the Detective who was so dear. Jin Gyeom was now an architect who had bouts of déjà vu. He drew his old house with a woman in front of it. He drew the woman, Tae Yi. He realized she was the woman he saw outside the construction site. He rushed to his former house and Tae Yi was there. He apologized for making her wait. The inference was that they knew each other.
Park Jin Gyeom (Joo Won) killed Teacher. Teacher was the black hooded old man, Jin Gyeom from another time dimension. The old man blamed their mother for not stopping their births and allowing their lives to be messy and painful. Jin Gyeom was clear. His mother wasn’t to blame. Neither son agreed with the other. Tae Yi took matters into her own hands and killed herself. Then Jin Gyeom did the same and killed the old man. Teacher = old man = Jin Gyeom wasn’t dreadful choice by Writer Kim. But the old man himself wasn’t worthy of my empathy. He talked a lot. I felt nothing. I wish I’d seen a glimmer of Jin Gyeom in the old man then maybe he’d seem connected to Jin Gyeom and Tae Yi. Even though he said he was Tae Yi’s son and she agreed, it felt hard to believe.
Yoon Tae Yi (Kim Hee Seon) sacrificed herself for her sons…one last time. Last episode the flashback showed Tae Yi was killed by the man in the black hood, the old man. When Jin Gyeom arrived and the two sons squared off, Tae Yi felt guilty for making their lives a wreck. But she didn’t regret giving them life, so she lived with the consequences. She paid the ultimate sacrifice and killed herself to save her sons. I wish there had been some kind of flashback with a young old man and Tae Yi to explain his backstory and make him matter more.
How did I do on my wish list for the final episode?
A reset is a must. GRANTED. When Jin Gyeom killed Teacher after his mother killed herself to save her sons, time reset. Alice disappeared. The world reset. Jin Gyeom was gone. Only Tae Yi remembered him. She missed him terribly and searched for him. She finally found an him in the form of an architect who worked to preserve the past. But Jin Gyeom didn’t recognize her until the déjà vu moment when he sketched Tae Yi. Then he raced to find her waiting at his old house. She greeted him and he knew her. While it was nice to see all the characters after time reset doing well, it was clear Jin Gyeom was the glue of this series and without that character, the reset world wasn’t as interesting. Therefore, the first half of the episode was much more interesting.
I rank this episode as almost terrific, 8.5 on a 10-point scale.