The end of episode 15 just kept getting sadder and sadder with each happy moment. I kept thinking, “Will this be her last photo? Is this her last dance?” It was a great sequence (even more so because I love YJ’s mom so much) but it certainly pulled on the heartstrings!
If I’m honest, I was a bit disappointed with the middle episodes of SOAW, so I’m thrilled that the last three were so great. For a while it felt like an endless cycle of angst and moping, and I started getting deja vu every time I saw the OTP crying. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with them or understand their motivations, but the density of those scenes resulted in a deficiency of what makes this drama special (at least to me). What always hits home the the most when I’m watching is SOAW’s ability to be inspiring and uplifting, and once that aspect of the show was missing, I keenly felt its absence. Happily, the show not only brought back its theme of positive thinking and living each day to to the fullest, but even finished on that note.
The character that got to me the most in the last two episodes was definitely Yeon Jae’s mom. I admire how quickly she took control of her grief so she could support her daughter, and the scenes of her smiling and laughing always choked me up the most. I’m sure it is far more difficult to make the decision to be happy as the mother than as the sick child, and every moment YJ’s mother was on screen was completely heartwarming. One of my favorite such moments was when she suddenly walked into the hospital with a smile on her face. Could YJ ask for more?
I also adore YJ’s new step father. I appreciated how quickly he took responsibility for the two women and filled a fathership role without overstepping his bounds or being pushy. And how sweet was their mini-wedding? They both looked great, although I’m not sure what Ji Wook was thinking with that jacket.
My only disappointment with the last two episodes was that we still had to put up with this man!
Really? You think you need to send your granddaughter’s ex-boyfriend out of the country in order for her to cope? No wonder she grew up to be so spoiled and emotionally unstable. Although I wish that Se Kyung’s plotline had been tied up a bit earlier, I appreciate that some of the earlier episodes showed her vulnerable side and how she had been hurt in the past, so I was able to swallow her reconciliation with YJ more easily.
And then there was my favorite SOAW character: Eun Seok. I almost even started to cry when he asked for the dog back! I think that he experienced the most growth throughout the series, and of all the episodes I liked 14 the most. Hee Joo was consistently delightful, and the moments leading up to and following her death were handled perfectly (even though they made a mess of me). Those scenes acted as the finale to ES’s transformation, and I think his breakdown in the hallway was possibly the most heartbreaking scene in the entire drama.
Usually I either despise second leads, could care less about them, or ship them 100%. In ES’s case, I felt none of the above. I simply admired him for fighting through his emotional constipation to always do the right think and support the woman he loves, while never asking for anything in return. Not once did he try to steal her away from JW or act inappropriately. He was so focused on her benefit alone that even consistently tried to get YJ and JW together, and I’m sure that he will go down in history as one of the most selfless k-drama characters ever. That being said, Ji Wook’s acceptance of ES and the mutual understanding that they share on YJ’s behalf is almost as touching.
My favorite part of the finale was the finale to the finale. It has always bothered me that YJ basically had an expiry date, and I loved that the drama finished on such an uplifting note while remaining realistic and not doing anything too miraculous. Amazing cancer miracles certainly do occur, but it wouldn’t feel right within the context of a drama.
What I appreciated the very most was YJ adding to her bucket list. Is there any better attitude to have? I love that she refuses to feel like her life is finished, and will continue to experience new things and edify others. You shouldn’t have to be dying to value to each day like YJ, and that is the underlying impression that this drama has left me with. We’ve all heard expressions such as “live each day like it’s your last” a thousand times before, but few things drive that point home as well as SOAW has. There are many other shows out there that are more enjoyable or better written, but how many of them really affect us and have the ability to change how we live out each day? I think that SOAW deserves recognition for that quality alone, and I feel lucky to have watched it.
What a great year for dramas this is turning out to be. I feel certain that everything else this year will be terrible, just to balance out the scales.
Since it’s the end of the drama, of course the videos of the day are SOAW MVs! The first is short but snappy, and the second is fantastically constructed although it mostly focused on episodes 11-13. Credit to vsRegina for both.