I’ve seen it all when it comes to finales: the good, the bad, the ugly. And the weird.
More often than not, a lot of finales are simply unsatisfying. They try to cram in one last conflict instead of using the time to tie up loose ends or showing us what’s next for the beloved characters we spent sixteen hours (minimum) getting to know.
It’s been a while since I’ve been this satisfied, but the finale of Crash Landing On You filled me up like a trip to a Brazilian steakhouse. Ri Jung-hyuk and Yoon Se-ri have had one of the most romantic and rewarding story arcs I’ve ever seen. It could’ve easily been your typical enemies-to-lovers scenario since the two are from countries with a tumultuous history. But I liked that the drama took a different route.
Jung-hyuk and Se-ri started out as begrudging allies, then progressed to confidants and eventually became lovers. That would’ve been great to watch on its own, but them meeting in Switzerland years earlier was the icing on the cake; the fruit on the proverbial patbingsu. The thought that Jung-hyuk saved Se-ri’s life before they officially met in North Korea gave me butterflies. And the writer was clever for having them meet in Switzerland, because it’s a country well known for its stance on neutrality. There was no better place to tie our lovers to.
But you know what didn’t give me butterflies? Goo Seung-joon and Seo Dan’s ending. I suspected Goo Seung-joon was going to be killed off, because I have a theory that in most dramas if a lead character does something bad enough (whether they have a good reason to or not) there’s some kind of consequence that involves jail time or death (V – ooh, good theory!). So because Seung-joon stole from Se-ri’s brother and lived “shamelessly” with revenge on his mind for all these years, the narrative punished him. It was still hard watching him get shot though.
I got nauseous with grief thinking about everything Dan had endured for love over the course of the drama. First Fiancé #1 (AKA Ri Jung-hyuk) falls for another woman even though she’s loved him since middle school, and then Fiancé #2 (Seung-joon essentially proposed) gets shot and dies right in front of her! This girl couldn’t catch a break! And what made it sadder was the show didn’t do the best job of fleshing out her character, so it almost feels like without a man she has nothing to live for.
Aside from her stern and strong-willed personality, and the fact that she went to an actual app market to download a cute fighting game, what do we know about her? What’s she passionate about? I could’ve missed it, but did the show even reveal what she studied in school? Did she want to take over her mom’s department store? Heck, what was her relationship with her father like before he died? All we were shown was her determination to marry one man and her love story with another.
I didn’t like Dan at first, but grew to care for her; I became invested in her happiness. That’s why I wish I knew more about her. I appreciated the cool imagery of her walking down the street with (what looked like) a cello strapped to her back after telling her mom she wanted to stay single, but it would’ve felt more believable if we’d seen her talk about music throughout the course of the drama or played it. Of course the cello could’ve been something Dan decided to take up after Seung-joon’s death, but I can’t help but feel we barely scratched the surface of a seemingly interesting character.
Aside from that small gripe, there was a lot to love about Crash Landing On You’s finale. It gave us so many memorable moments! My favorite had to be Jung-hyuk and Se-ri’s tearful separation at the demarcation line. The sweeping aerial shots, the tension between the North and South Korean agents, and Jung-hyuk’s raw determination when he shook off the men holding him and literally crossed the line to embrace Se-ri brought tears to my eyes.
I tend to roast scenes like this, because they usually come off cheesy, but there was nothing I could say this time. It was perfect. The love was genuine, even though the stakes were so high. When the agents finally managed to pull them apart, it almost felt…gory. Like they were ripping apart a beating heart.
That’s why I was glad some of the other memorable moments happened to be the bad guys getting what they deserved. The Military Director being taken out in the ambush he planned was poetic justice, and I laughed when Yoon Se-hyung (Se-ri’s evil second brother) and his wife got arrested, because hard proof of them plotting to keep Se-ri in North Korea, then trying to have her killed popped up courtesy of Seo Dan.
Sometimes dramas will try and make you sympathize with a villain at the last minute, but I’m glad they didn’t try that here. Yeah, it’s interesting to be offered an alternative viewpoint because no one is a villain in their own mind, but Se-hyung tried to kill his little sister over a position. It would be hard to get me to sympathize with that the way I could sympathize with the things Goo Seung-joon had done. Sometimes people are just rotten.
Fortunately, it wasn’t all about crime and punishment. We got to see a lot of beautiful things happen to the good guys. Mostly when it came to family and friends. It was a joy watching Se-ri’s newfound relationship with her mom. After spending a lifetime feeling unwanted, she deserved that warm, maternal love. Especially after losing Jung-hyuk.
I’m glad the drama didn’t end without us visiting our faves in the north one last time. It was sweet of Se-ri to create a skincare line in honor of Wol-suk, Young-ae, Ok-geum, and Myung- sook. They really did keep her sane while she was there— even though they drove her (and me) insanewhen she first arrived. Se-ri’s friendship with these four women was an unlikely one that only lasted a season, but spawned memories that’d last a lifetime.
With that said, I’m sure the women in the village will have tons of memories with Chi-soo seeing as he’s now the captain of the 5th Company soldiers. I cackled when Jung-hyuk announced the surprise. The promotion was well-deserved! I’m also glad Man-bok is out of the snitching game. He was someone I wanted to protect the whole time, and I was very worried he was going to be killed off as a way to make up for Jung-hyuk’s brother. But I’m glad him and his family stayed alive, and he got a new job that didn’t involve spilling secrets.
However, as the drama wore on and I saw most of the characters getting their happy ending, I started worrying about Jung-hyuk and Se-ri. How were they going to get theirs when they lived in two countries that pretty much forbade travel between each other? How would the writer pull it off? I was anxious, but just like Se-ri, I was soothed by the pre-scheduled text messages Jung-hyuk composed.
First of all, I didn’t even know it was possible to pre-schedule texts, so the fact that Jung-hyuk set it up for a whole year blew my mind. He knew Se-ri would miss him and possibly isolate herself, so he used technology to remind her to take care of herself and enjoy life. I can imagine him mulling over each text before writing it and choosing the best times for Se-ri to receive them. It must’ve taken a long time, but probably seemed like seconds to someone so dedicated (V – yep yep! Agree!).
I was relieved when Jung-hyuk’s last text was a coded one about meeting in Switzerland. By this point we knew he’d been discharged from the army to join the National Symphony Orchestra, so when Se-ri came up with the music scholarship that would send talented kids to study in Switzerland, the perfect cover for their relationship to continue was born.
I truly loved that scene of Se-ri paragliding in Switzerland and crash landing right in front of Jung-hyuk. Talk about full circle! And that kiss on top of the Swiss alps! They really went for it. Their lips were moving and everything.
I know there are people who didn’t feel like the ending was happy enough, because Jung-hyuk and Se-ri deserve to see each other more than a few weeks out of the year, but it made the most sense from a narrative standpoint. Jung-hyuk’s the son of a high-ranking official, so he can’t just run away with Se-ri. His whole family would be killed. And he can’t officially move to another country just because he wants to.
So him and Se-ri meeting in Switzerland every year was the best kind of ending. It’s been their safe zone for longer than they realized, and even though they have to say goodbye at the end of a few weeks together, they know there will be another hello. It was a happy, realistic ending for a beautiful drama about family, friendship, and love.