What a ride. What a magnificent ride. Just when I thought it impossible, Liar Game has outdone itself once more. I’m going to miss this show like crazy…during the interim months until the second season that is! (And yes, I think we can definitely say that there is going to be one).
Get ready for a super long analysis. There was so much sheer perfection in this episode, I’m surprised I managed to get anything written at at all! It wasn’t entirely about our three leads this season finale, as the bonds that sprung up during the course of the show proved sturdy. Our secondary characters rose magnificently to the occasion, proving NDJ’s philosophy with gusto. Jamie remains a scene-stealer, and I hope to see more of her next season as well!
We start off with NDJ being cornered in the bathroom by Director Jang, who spews his nonsense about KDY and HWJ working together. Seriously dude, do ratings and company capital matter so much to you that you’re willing to stoop this low? And I take back everything I ever said about NDJ’s sudden distrust of HWJ. Man, this show has a way with editing previews that puts me on edge.
(That look in her eyes though, she’s worried as heck)
Looking at her trepidation, it’s clear that this isn’t the first time thoughts of HWJ’s betrayal has crossed her head, but she’s continued to believe in him time after time after time. She clearly sees how much HWJ has done for her, there’s no question about that. But Director Jang’s words have a way of making even that warmth, sinister. The way she lifted her head, nevertheless, and continued to trust HWJ was beautiful to see and only testifies to her strength of character and the deep faith she has in this man. She even said as much, to a somber HWJ, who doesn’t do much to dissuade her.
(Is that seriously supposed to reassure her?)
Thus, it must have been all the more terrifying when he suddenly turned the gun on her. Time after time, when he pointed it her, her faith shook and shook until she gave up and pointed back. Not that it was easy for HWJ to do so, the relief in his eyes when the single bullet in his gun failed to fire each time, was palpable. And the horror, when it did fire was painful. It was shockingly heartwrenching to see NDJ shakily pull the gun on him citing the very words he’d given her “Reward trust, and punish betrayal”. And it’s clear that he doesn’t blame her one bit for doing so. And it’s pretty damn saddening, seeing them both on their own with no one to depend on, each unable to tell the other what they’re going through.
She was pretty much at the end of her rope, as was he. The tone with which he asked her to shoot him was devoid of all inflection. There was no way out for him. He couldn’t tell NDJ that her father had been kidnapped because there was nothing that would change. She’d simply stand there, being shot at, unable to retaliate for fear that her father would be killed. KDY would win and that would be that.
(Damn it, look at the helplessness in his eyes!)
But it’s even worse in this case with HWJ taking the fall, appearing as the true villain in NDJ’s eyes. Yet the fact that he doesn’t even think about choosing to save her father is what makes him so wonderful. He’s actively giving up on the very reason he joined this game, the truth behind his mother’s death, to save someone important to the girl whom he’s come to care for (I think we can take this as undisputed fact after that ending). That’s why we love you Professor Ha, stay gold.
But KDY isn’t just staying put either. I was never gladder than to find out that HWJ wasn’t on some noble mission to rid the world of KDY and had stolen a gun for that, though I freaked out at the prospect of KDY having given HWJ the real gun to have him shoot NDJ. I did wonder why on earth that staff member who saw KDY on the other podium, didn’t both reporting it. I mean, this is KDY, and they are competing for $10 million, perhaps you could have used your brain a little? But then, rationality intervened. That staff member has no clue of KDY’s true nature, for all she knows he could be making it up for the sake of the show (as Director Jang used to explain away our leads’ connection to the unknowing TV audience) she wouldn’t imagine that he was mental enough to bring a real bullet with him. As far as she knew, he was just your average quirky, oddball.
(See? He’s perfectly normal)
PD Lee, however, knows better. That woman is one sharp cookie and I loved that we finally got to see more of her this final episode. It’s a shame that a character so well-written and strong (that wrist-grab!) was under-utilized, but the blame for that lies squarely at the hands of the 12 episode format. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. If things hadn’t felt so short this time around, we’ve never have gotten our second season (I know I keep speaking of this as though it’s been confirmed, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s as good as. No really, it is. The cast said so themselves). Back to PD Lee, who finally gets to put her foot down on Director Jang’s sparrow-like face.I love how she doesn’t beat around the bush with HWJ and directly confronts him while managing to give some very good advice. And that pat-down, whew! *inhales deeply* I love this woman, she just goes for it without even hesitating twice. (What I would do to be in her place, honestly) Just the thought of patting down HWJ is enough to turn me into jelly (to quote from the second Hobbit film: “He could have anything down his trousers). She’s quick, astute and they damn well better bring her back for the next season.
(What ANY sane female would do around you…or at least dream of doing) Needless to say, her words go give HWJ pause though it’s clear that he had no intention of ever stepping over the border that separated him and KDY, not even one little toe. That’s sort of what I love about these people, you can’t be sure of their decisions, but you can definitely be sure of THEM, of who they are, and of who they will consistently remain.
And who better than NDJ and HWJ to demonstrate that? Her will has shone throughout these final episodes, being tested over and over again just as he has had to bear the brunt of much mental anguish: his mother and what she caused, his past, his crimes. They’ve grown, but they sure as hell haven’t changed. They’ve upgraded to better versions of themselves because of all they’ve been through and due to seeing each other’s philosophies in action. It is this basic nature that convinces NDJ to believe in HWJ once more. The moment she heard him angrily ask KDY why he’d killed her, sealed the deal.
This was HWJ, a man capable of revenge to such a degree that he’d gone to prison to avenge his mother. A man eaten up guilt enough to fail to tell her about his involvement in her father’s debt for fear that she may do the same. This man knew loyalty. To conspire with the same man who murdered her wasn’t in his nature. That was all she’d needed to know, all the reassurance she needed. And for the first time, this reassurance didn’t come from anyone’s aid, or having someone by her side, it came from within, from the part of her that cared for and trusted him. That encouraged her to do so once more. And so, in a moment so beautiful, it’s etched in my mind, she turns the gun on KDY. And proclaims her faith in HWJ once more. The relief in HWJ’s eyes is immediate, as is shock. He honestly didn’t expect her to come back, which sort of makes me want to hug him. Who wouldn’t come back, when you look so morose? When you’re this great a guy? (Have more confidence in yourself, beautiful)
(YAY! she gets him!)
But KDY carefully switches to the topic of their fateful past. Turns out, those masks dropped a long time ago. Their connection is less sinister than I’d have thought it (whew!) with their original personalities being what we’ve seen so far (so no evil DJ, whew!). HWJ’s mother is also not as sinister of a figure as I formerly believed. Yet despite all the havoc he’s wrought, one can’t help but feel for KDY. He was clearly a loner at the orphanage, before a much younger (and much more reckless) HWJ offered friendship.
It’s a relief to know that neither DJ and HWJ were a part of the Walden Two experiment and that nothing nefarious had happened to DJ’s memories but the regular disappearance of things we remember as we grow up. I find it interesting that both the young HWJ and LDY gravitated towards her though. Little HWJ in particular seemed rather taken with little NDJ and certainly was less shy about showing it.
I wondered, why her? Why not any of the other female children at the orphanage, what was it about her that made them accept her as part of their duo, even though she was clearly of a different nature than their razor-keen intellect. But that question was answered soon enough. Little HWJ’s game (standing on the well and pushing each other back and forth) was based on trust, on counting on the other person and believing that they’d care enough about your well-being to not shove you in the well. However, all the other kids thought it way too risky. The curious thing is that the risk lay entirely in someone letting go off you, therefore they clearly didn’t trust each other enough to hold the other person on top of the well. As such, none of the other children wanted to play little HWJ’s game. KDY was game, but they were quite similar in nature and their manner of thinking, and easily saw that the other wouldn’t let them fall off. But little NDJ, who would never have been able to solve that Rubik’s cube in twelve moves, wanted to play. Unfearing of the risks, she easily trusted little HWJ and KDY to not let her fall. Perhaps it was this trusting quality that drew them to her, and resulted in her becoming the third in their gang, the tag-along they didn’t really mind. The only other child they were close with besides each other. Until little KDY overheard that conversation that is.
…there’s a reason. And KDY changed in an instant. At first, I thought he was asking little NDJ to adress HWJ’s mom as her own to fill the loss felt by his departure. Then it turned out to be his way of twisting the knife, and assuring her that her father wasn’t coming back. And the twisted version of HWJ’s game that he plays is where we really see the roots of present-day KDY begin. No longer was it a game about trusting one another, but actively suspecting and betraying the other, of looking out for your own skin as you could be the one, the other person lets go of. It was a manifestation of a child’s pain and his need to know if he was truly wanted by someone, anyone. But he never got to find out. And the moment stayed with him for years, of never knowing whether he was the unwanted one. Walden Two took his mind, twisted it and shattered it, he never saw any more good in the world after that. His happy childhood was all that stayed. And so, he tries to find the answer, years later. Who would they have picked?
In KDY’s mind, HWJ’s mother’s crimes are two-fold, firstly not truly loving him as her son and secondly sending him off like that for money. Of the first crime, she is only guilty insofar as she’s human. Her biological son would undoubtedly mean more to her than the other orphans. To foster the impression that all the kids meant the same to her wasn’t exactly wrong either. But to actively hand over children for adopting in return for funds, is more than a little shady. I understand that the orphanage would have been closed were it not for the donations and she wanted to find them good homes, however, the latter should have been the priority not the former. To let a child travel that far to the US, without the proper background checks on the people adopting him, hell without even meeting the people adopting him and letting them get to know the child for a few weeks prior to adoption is wrong. As the entire orphanage ended up being shut down anyway, it was all for nothing as well. As it’s clear that she had suspicions of these people as well, but went ahead with things for the greater good, that is the wellbeing of the many children at the orphanage versus the one kid being tossed away. It’s that decision, and the cold heart that made it which KDY refers to as HWJ’s mother’s true face. It’s unimaginable for someone like NDJ to even dream of making such a decision, making NDJ actually a hell of a better person than HWJ’s mother.
And it’s this hell that HWJ’s mother’s actions resulted in that has haunted him for the entirety of his life so far. It’s frightening to even think of those who died in those experiments, and what KDY has gone through. It certainly makes him a hell of a lot more human though, and you can’t help but feel for him.
It’s interesting to see that all three children, HWJ, KDY and NDJ, started off with the same philosophy, believing that all you needed to do was trust one another. And it is arguably his mother that implanted that philosophy in them to begin with. It’s fascinating to see how each person turned out. HWJ slowly lost faith in humanity, beginning with the first lie his mother said, having understood on some level, just what truly happened to KDY.
KDY’s faith shattered much sooner, as we saw, and after having gone through hell for years, all that remained was anger, insanity and a massive God-complex. But NDJ remained the same, despite betrayal, and immense debt, she never stopped trusting. And it is this quality that sucks HWJ straight in, as he knows this is someone who’ll never betray him. On the other hand, it is this quality that KDY wants to destroy in her. And she surprising him time and time by failing to rise to his bait, we saw it in episode 9 in the Inspection room and we see it again when she trusts in HWJ no matter what.
The fact that it was her father that resulted in KDY being sold, was a shock and certainly explains KDY’s animosity towards NDJ as well. He wants to see her crumble, for her faith in the world to shatter just as his was, just as HWJ’s was. But as usual, he fails to account for her natural empathy, for her capacity to understand what someone’s going through, even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with their decisions. We saw it with HWJ, when she even lied about wanting revenge just to make him feel better, and we see it again, here. This is one girl he will never be able to break.
(I love her, I honestly love her)
It’s unsurprisingly then, to find that KDY was behind HWJ’s mother’s death. It’s a bit frightening to realize though, that HWJ essentially completed KDY’s revenge for him, by failing to save his mother and by killing the L Company CEO/ aka. the sleazy adoption broker. KDY is one sick bastard. More so for doing this.
(I LOVE the intensity of that glare! Where am I to get my HWJ fix after this? LSY is adorable as hell in real life, but I need some of this glaring too!)
Thank goodness for DalGoo ahjusshi, who endures being completely walloped and manages to save the day. It would honestly have been too tragic if NDJ won but lost her father and DG in the process. Thank you show. THANK YOU!!
But he isn’t the only one who risks everything. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. How do I love you? Let me count the ways: your beauty, your brains, your conscience, your unscrupulousness, your humanity. I really hope she remains in season two as, the show would really be lacking without her. This is the character who’s has the greatest arc throughout this deftly plotted, beautifully-written show. And every time I think that she’s at her peak, she goes above and beyond. You could see realization dawn in her eyes as the only option left, hit her. She played it off with her characteristic brashness until BD and GIG began acting as distractions.
Then you could see the sadness in her eyes as she got ready to make her move. She was throwing away everything by going over Director Jang, the sponsor that had gotten her this far. She was committing her final, greatest act of betrayal. And you could see that she knew there was nothing to gain, that she’d have nothing left after it, .
But she squared her shoulders and confidently strode on stage, a siren to the end. And gosh was she magnificent. Those few seconds were more than enough to give HWJ the impetus he needed to take KDY down. There was no need to hesitate any longer.
(To be more accurate, he says “this bastard”)
Just when I though we were all good, that damn bullet resurfaced. PD Lee is one sharp cookie, but even she was too late here and you could see the despair in her eyes as she realized how this was going to end, with someone as wonderful as NDJ in jail. For who would believe that the stakes were real and weren’t just created for the sake of a broadcast? Luckily NDJ’s very own guard-dog catches on and…takes the bullet for both of them ❤ (Thankfully in the arm or I’d have shot this show).
But can we focus on this face? This anticipation of death wasn’t what I’d expected of KDY. What happened to money raining from the sky? But the answer was right under my nose. This was it. This was his answer, who the unwanted one was. And that was all he needed. The fact that he considered himself a failed experiment was all the more saddening. He’d nothing left. And he seemed to know it from the start, setting it up so that either he’d die or HWJ would. This was all or nothing for him.
So why did HWJ save him? His purpose was threefold. First and foremost came NDJ, regardless of whether or not she’d have gone to jail, DJ wouldn’t have been able to live with herself if that bullet had killed KDY, regardless of whether he deserved it or not. Secondly came KDY, HWJ wanted to answer his question at last, to finish that game the way it should have ended those years ago, with no one letting go of the answer. With KDY not being the unwanted one. And you could see that KDY understood the unspoken message. Indeed, they truly have quite similar minds. The difference is in how they choose to use them.
And HWJ’s final purpose was, answers, HWJ knew that there was far more simmering below the surface, and he sure as hell wasn’t letting his only lead get himself killed. And as he discovers, something darker exists beyond KDY, the very people that turned him into a ‘failed experiment’ are emerging from the shadows, and HWJ is going to have a new enemy on his hands.
(Oh gosh, you poor thing. I actually really feel for him)
But this means that our DaJung won! Though that is not the face of a happy winner.
And finally, finally, finally, we get to our beautiful OTP. I am seriously going to miss these two (until season 2 that is). It’s going to be hard to find two people in any dramaverse that continued to stand by each other like this, come what may, no matter what was thrown their way, and who fought for each other and built off each other. Thankfully, we get plenty of adorable scenes between the two. Firstly, HWJ is ADORABLE in pajamas, and the wonderful staff member who makes clothing decisions made the brilliant decision to leave that shirt open (THANK YOU, THANK YOU) allowing some of LSY’s natural sexiness to ooze through.
That’s HWJ for you. He wakes up like this. Sexy, alert and intense.
And I love how DJ is naturally, the first at his side and has clearly been staying there for a while for Reporter Goo, and Detective Cha to have come and gone during her stay. I do feel a little deprived of seeing a tearful DJ as WJ is loaded into an ambulance, but hey, it’s all good show, now that you’ve given me THIS.
(YES YES YES YES YES YES, oh gosh I’m honestly so happy.)
And if seeing DJ play doctor (or nurse rather) with HWJ wasn’t awesome enough. We get THIS.
I love how he sort of can’t believe it’s true either. And I’m sure she knows that he doesn’t need help standing. I mean he got shot in the shoulder. I see what you’re doing there HWJ, any excuse for skinship. But just when I was about to start nosebleeding. THIS happens.
CSJ IS ALIVE. ALIVE YOU HEAR ME? Excuse me while I go sob in a corner. For a show based on lies, and people at at their very worst, I’ve never felt more warmth, friendship and quiet peace. That silent exchange between him and HWJ was beautiful. And I love how happy NDJ was at the sight. And then, I thought that things surely couldn’t get better, and what do I see but THIS.
OH MY GOSH WHAT??? DG AND JAMIE? Dear show, are you trying to kill me? Is that your nefarious goal? To have all viewers die of sheer joy? The picked radish and the queen of betrayal? I am so happy right now over this, it isn’t even sane. Alright show, surely, surely you can’t top that. Surely…ah hell.
(HE SMILED, HE SMILED!!!)
Oh my gosh the significance of this simple movement is mind blowing. There’s a mental and a situationary parallel. When they first met, she was in severe need of help, and she’d just tripped and twisted her ankle badly. HWJ then saw someone who needed help but who couldn’t be helped, hence why he pulled his hand back at the last. But that no longer holds true, she’s someone who’s helped him and trusted in him time after time, and she certainly needs no help standing up. But he offers her his hand anyway, acknowledging her as his equal, someone who does need his help to keep functioning in an traitorous world, in the same way that he needs hers to find hope in world, the single person who’ll believe in him no matter what. Their clasping of hands, is a reflection of their relationship, growing closer and closer until there’s no tearing them apart. And she gets it, taking his hand with a sweet smile.
(Man, she’s holding his hand tight, *sobs* this is beautiful)
*squeals with joy* I am dead, you hear me? Officially dead. Because this has to be heaven.
Time goes on for both, as HWJ gets rid of everything KDY related and finally lets the past go.
Then, I began to wonder if HWJ and NDJ are even keeping contact. Is this the dreaded open ending? Was that hand he offered her, a farewell? Then I see this.
Seeing as I’ve posted an incredible amount of screencaps already, I’ll refrain from posting the entirety of NDJ’s heartwarming speech and HWJ’s subsequent additions. But focus on that book she’s reading, The Courage to accept Hatred. Seem familiar? That’s because HWJ WAS READING IT EARLIER!
Question answered. There’s no doubt that they’re still in each other’s lives.
Oh gosh, how beautiful! And what a fitting closing speech for her, showing how much she’s matured while remaining the same wonderful person she’s always been.
And this is fitting of HWJ, who wonders whether his philosophy was right for an instant before he references DJ as “that one person” he must trust and therefore suspect everyone for. It’s a ‘fight the world’ sort of premise. While his original philosophy was to remain a lone wolf untrusting and uncaring with anyone and everyone, he has someone to protect now, and to keep that bond with DJ, he needs to be prepared to care, to take action, to actively suspect everyone. And his question is rhetorical as we know which choice he made.
It’s a perfect ending, giving us a sense of closure while waiting for their new beginning, as everyone restarts their lives. Everything seems perfect, warm and fuzzy until HWJ’s phone rings. It’s Liar Game calling.
OH MY GOSH THIS IS BASICALLY A WRITTEN CONFIRMATION OF SEASON TWO. Oh my gosh I CAN’T EVEN *inhales and exhales repeatedly* OH MY GOSH! We cut to all the other eliminated contestants and see that rather than returning to daily life, they’be been rounded for the real Liar Game. A masked figure appears who is almost definitely KDY, and THEN a figure strides in uttering a familiar phrase “I have a way to win.” OH MY GOSH!!!
Wait…the THIRD ROUND? What was the second round then?
*screams in joy*
IT’S HA WOOJIN!!! (But what the hell have you done to my husband’s HAIR? What is with KDramaland and that hair!! Get rid of it HWJ! Now!)
I can’t contain my happiness, and joy at this essential confirmation of a second season with our same cast. Our three leads appear to be returning for good as well, so I honestly can’t wait for more (and for Kim SoEun’s hope for a lovescene to come true!)
Ugh I wish time would pass faster!
(Yup, this is from when HWJ ‘fixed’ NDJ’s watch)
It has been an utter privilege to watch a drama of Liar Game’s caliber. As an aspiring writer, seeing such a perfectly executed story from start to finish, is inspiring and energizing. Three cheers for the staff, the PD and the screenwriter that put so much love into perfecting this work of art. And of course for the wonderful actors and actresses that brought this world to life so vividly, warmly and heartwrenchingly. I cannot wait for you all to return.
(gosh look at that adorable face!)
(You two! <3)
(I keep forgetting what a badass shooter Kim So Eun is in real life…)
(…and that Shin SungRok is actually a babe)
(I’m really going to miss the intensity of that stare! HWJ you perfect man you <3)
(No, I’m the one who’s grateful for such a great show!)
I actually don’t know how I feel about this ship xD For some reason they make an oddly striking pair.
(HWJ: Never. I’m her vicious dog, alright? She’s mine.)
We get it, babe, we get it.
As for final words: I think KDY says it all.