And the finale is here at last, and for the first time ever I ended up skipping through a lot of it. It pained me to do so given how much I’d enjoyed Cheese but the last thing I wanted was to watch the same old conflicts play out in the same way (a love story is about the journey! But I’ve seen this journey a dozen times! In better ways and with better integration into the plot!). I wanted to skip the random melodrama and focus on the good parts. Only…there weren’t many good parts about this episode. To be frank the whole thing leaves me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. So I’m just going to list the seven things I hated about this finale and why even the few good parts were frustrating. Because all I had to say after watching this was…
Okay, maybe a few cusses too. 1) Awesome acting, crappy cutting
Forget Yoo Jung’s dad’s idiocy. Forget Cheese trying to humanize him last second with that final conversation with Jung. Forget the whole ‘she could die!’ drama. What comes after is the worst use of good material I’ve seen in years. Inho trying to help his sister, Inha’s vulnerability, shame and fear, Jung’s realization that he has to change, all of these are such powerful individual arcs but were slapped together for the finale. Even worse, the acting was brilliant and made me tear up more than once. Just thinking of how well this could have been done pisses me off. For example, take that very moving movement Inho stood in front of the piano and began to play. This is the most important moment for his character, the culmination of his arc, the first step in the new life he’s worked hard to build (and the one scene where we should see him with the piano) and it suddenly cuts to Seol and her family. Not that we shouldn’t see Seol and her family, but the random cut slices through building emotions, and certainly left me disoriented.
2) And the main character is?
Moreover this was Seol’s story. It was always meant to be her story. But she barely featured in this finale with the focus on tying up Jung, Inha and Inho’s stories. It’s highly unfair given how brilliantly Kim Goeun’s been playing her. Sure she got the epilogue at the end, but hearing her talk about her Minsoo and Young Gon reminded me of how long it’s been since we saw them, but how little has changed for Seol. It’s as if the conflict in her life went stagnant just in time for Inho’s conflict to pick up, leaving us with an epilogue where the heroine doesn’t get to muse over the series as a whole, but over the first 9-10 episodes. And that’s a damn shame.
(No it’s not! Plus, Seol goes to see Inho off but doesn’t go to see Jung at the airport? I call bullshit)
3) Character arc assassination
I’m not a ‘slice of life’ person. Real life is depressing enough as it is, and one of the reasons I love dramas and books so much is because it plays with real life in a way real people can’t. That being said, Cheese began as slice of life and for some reason, I loved it. The scenes I mentioned on Jung choosing to find himself and change, Inha’s breakdown, Inho regaining his life? I loved them. I loved how bleak, but faintly hopeful they felt, even while I hated how realistic they felt. These character arcs felt realistic and painful and I was excited to see where we were going to go from there (with 20 minutes left!). But nope. The next time we see Inha she’s as screechy as ever, as though her mental breakdown has gone and passed, and she has no need to grow and mature as a human being anymore. Is she living off Jaewoo? Did she go to secretary school? What happened??? We may never know. Those glorious painful moments the episode gave us in the first half, suddenly fall flat. The same goes for Jung. What happens now? Yes, he e-mailed Seol, and I honestly got so excited because he sounded so happy in the voiceover, like he’d found himself. But nope. We don’t get to see him grow, or how far he’s grown. That’s it. We just have to assume that he meets with Seol and they rekindle their romance. Or that she ends with Inho, who she’s apparently been ignoring despite being in the same city in the same country. I don’t understand. But let’s face it. The only one who got a complete character arc was Inho. We saw him go from a boy mistaken as a hobo, to a ‘world-famous pianist’. Cheese in the Trap? Nope. You’ve been watching The Nearly Tragic tale of a Boy and his Piano.
4) Jung’s conflict
I wondered this with Lee Min (from I Remember You) as well. Am I a psychopath? Because I seriously have trouble understanding why Jung has to change. He compares himself to his father. But he is not and will never be his father. Jung took things out on people who had hurt him, or hurt others. He never took things out on someone completely innocent, like his father did with Seol. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a perverse sense of satisfaction at watching Oh Young Gon and Minsoo and Sangchul get what they deserved. Because people like that don’t change unless someone kicks them in the pants. Meanwhile, those around them have to deal with their idiocy. I have so much trouble understanding why Jung is in the wrong for taking the sort of revenge, we’d all like to take in Seol’s position. I understand that you can’t micromanage your social world completely, or even 50% of it. You’ll have to deal with and work with people you dislike, and disagree with and you can’t just run around planning revenge for all the stuff they’ve done to you. Learning to co-exist is also necessary. But Jung only intervened when things had escalated. Stealing, bullying, harassment, blatant dislike, those are what he reacted to. I think he needs to change in terms of pride, and looking down on everyone. I also think that he needs to let things go if they aren’t personal (he did punish people for things they did to others like that TA). I also think that he needs to find a way to let out all those emotions he’s been keeping repressed, not just in front of Seol but in front of others, but I don’t think being able to have your back and others’ backs with people like Young Gon, Minsoo and Sangchul is a bad thing. I have so many issues with the show’s resolution of Jung’s arc for his reason. They’re changing something that doesn’t need to be changed, and not focusing on what he should change. And the issues he should change (pride, letting things go, unstopping his emotions) need to be done with other people. He can’t work through it himself! But nope. The show wants him off on an extended soul-searching vacation. Perhaps they’re doing this to his character to make up for not inviting Park Haejin to Phuket.
5) Seol’s life
I hated every second of Seol’s commentary in the epilogue, watching her go in and out of life in her company like nothing more than an automated zombie. I wanted to see her happy, even if without Jung. I didn’t expect to see her so empty. Just look at this line
I understand her growing bitter over Yoo Jung’s lack of communication (so would I, three years is a while, I’d have moved on with Inho. That would have been a better ending than this crap) but the last thing I wanted was for her to turn into an office automaton. Seol had the makings of a leader. She was beginning to stand on her own feet and 3 years later puts us at her being 2 years into her job, and she’s already been promoted! I just expected to see her more happy. On the other hand, Bora and Euntaek sure are happy! Yay?
6) Flashbacks and voiceovers
I know they were meant to evoke a sense of nostalgia, of showing how far Jung and Seol had come from their initial poor impressions of each other. But they just pissed me off because all the happiness and solidarity die within minutes. It’s like watching someone bake cookies, and ice them in front of you, and while you’re licking your lips, they lift the tray and smash all of them, stomping those poor cookies to the ground. Why tease me with happy Jung-Seol if we’re not going to get happy Jung-Seol? Looking at it depressingly, you could see it as Seol narrating it from the future, in a Jung-less life, thinking back to her first real relationship (not sure if the boy from church really counts lol) which didn’t work out. And I wouldn’t have a problem with this realistic ending (I mean, I would hate it, but it’s realistic, so I can’t complain) if it weren’t for the fact that this show was never set up that way to begin with. How annoying.
7) Inho and Jung
Watching Inho apologize, Jung handing that book to him, and his reaction to it, nearly made me cry. Best scene in the episode next to Jung and Seol’s silent hospital communication. But that’s all we see. There’s no mending of that relationship. No going forward. The best way for Jung to get rid of his scars is to make peace with his past, not leave it behind. Inho, unlike Inha, has proven himself as straightforward, and even Jung has some level of grudging respect for him. They don’t have to have a bromance, but a quiet friendship is best. For heaven’s sake, if Jung’s going to avoid the Baek siblings for life, he’ll have a hard time doing it because of Cheese’s epilogue. Seol and Jaewoo clearly run into each other often, meaning she does see Inha quite a bit. What if Jung hypothetically rekindles his relationship with Seol, and is waiting for her after work when Inha shows up for Jaewoo? Is he supposed to ignore her and negate all character growth? This show just writes its own plotholes, seriously. Having Jung rekindle his relationship with Inho, while learning to accept Inha the way Inho and Seol do would have been so much better.