Have you ever held your breath for an entire week? Because that’s what I did after last week’s episode of Hyena decided to end with Geum-ja backed against a wall fending off a knife!
Fortunately, the finale put me out of my misery and tied up a substantial plot point in the process. With just one more episode left, I was wondering how the drama would handle Geum-ja’s relationship with her stepfather, so I was surprised (and a little disappointed) when he stumbled upon Geum-ja’s attack and got stabbed while the assailant was trying to escape.
Don’t get me wrong, the irony of him getting stabbed instead of Geum-ja wasn’t lost on me. I guess I just expected a little bit more? Narrative-wise, his initial appearance signified a big change, so him getting stabbed at random and dying off-screen seemed lackluster. The way he looked at Geum-ja after she told him off in episode thirteen led me to believe there’d be some kind of retaliation. So when we didn’t get that, I felt robbed.
At the same time, I know that Hyena is a nuanced drama, so that could’ve been what they were going for. In real life people don’t always get the apology they’re owed or complete closure, but they find the strength to move on. That’s our hyena, Geum-ja, and I love her for it.
Can we also talk about two scenes directly following the knifing?
When Geum-ja and Hee-jae are at the hospital getting her hand treated, and he begged her to stop getting hurt and she replied with “The scars on my body show me what I’ve been through,” I almost threw down my Apple TV remote and clapped. What a line! I’m going to miss her so much. She’s a diamond in a sea full of cubic zirconia female leads, and I applaud Kim Roo-ri (Hyena’s screenwriter) for her characterization.
A lot of dramas have strong female leads on the surface, but when you dig deeper it’s a facade constructed to hide gaping insecurities.
The same couldn’t be said about Geum-ja. Yes, she had her vulnerable moments, because she’s human. But her personality didn’t change when Hee-jae began liking her. In a lot of dramas where the assertive female lead falls in love, she gets “softer” and gives a big part of her agency to the male lead. Sometimes she even takes a backseat in her own narrative.
Geum-ja never changed, because an alpha female was her true form and not a facade she was ready to toss after falling in love.
Again, that’s not to say, I didn’t enjoy seeing her leaning on Hee-jae from time-to-time. Which brings me to my favorite scene in the finale! I couldn’t believe Hee-jae was camping outside of Choong in case Geum-ja needed him!
The way he rushed into the office after hearing her screaming because of a bad nightmare was too cute! I haven’t choked a pillow due to excessive cuteness since…Crash Landing On You! But that was a romance. I didn’t expect to squeal during a legal drama where both leads are alphas (and the female, the Queen of Alphas). I was pleasantly surprised.
It was also funny seeing Geum-ja squashed into the side of the couch while Hee-jae lay on a table. I had to hit rewind a couple of times to see if I was seeing straight. That couldn’t have been comfortable.
As far as the mystery surrounding who killed Seo Jeong-hwa, I liked how it was handled even though the reveal didn’t necessarily surprise me. A few episodes ago, I pegged either Song Pil-joong or Chairman Son as the murderer, and it turned out to be both of them! Well, kind of.
On the night in question, Jeong-hwa did in fact spike Ha Chan-ho’s alcohol with sleeping pills, so she could sneak out and pay the Chairman a visit in his VIP suite. She’s got blackmail on the brain, because she needs money to skip town with her actual lover Ha Joon-ho (Chan-ho’s half brother from the beginning). But things don’t go as planned.
When Jeong-hwa threatens to reveal the slush fund Chairman Son has via Artsky, he ends up losing his temper and flings her into a glass table. However, that’s not what actually kills her.
In a panic, the Chairman calls Song Pil-joong, who arrives with a clean-up crew for the “mess” (because that’s what a human life amounts to in their eyes). He leaves the room like the spineless jellyfish he is, only for Pil-joong to realize “the mess” is still alive! Jeong-hwa cries out for help, but in a moment of complete depravity, he covers her nose and mouth with a handkerchief and murders her.
The clean-up crew then moves the bloody rug and Jeong-hwa’s body back to her suite. And that, my friends, is how Ha Chan-ho came to be charged with her murder.
It’s also how Pil-joong hires someone to attack Geum-ja. He pays one of the guys on the clean-up crew to do it. Poor fool probably thought it was going to be an easy job.
Most of this is seen on the CCTV footage Geum-ja coerces from the dirty cop who originally hid it, and she confirms the second set of unidentified DNA found under Jeong-hwa’s fingernails belong to Pil-joong. With both pieces of evidence and Chairman Son’s self-serving testimony, Pil-joong’s plans are foiled. Him and Kevin Jung can no longer gain control of Issume (Ha Hye-won deserves it anyway) and he gets formally changed for Jeong-hwa’s murder along with a litany of other crimes.
I must say, it was quite satisfying watching Pil-joong get handcuffed in front of everyone at Issume’s shareholders’ meeting, then witnessing Geum-ja wipe the smug smile off his face in the interrogation room.
It was an enjoyable finale, even though I can see some people complaining about most of the action happening at the beginning of the episode. We just have to remember that Hyena’s a smart show first and foremost, so it makes sense that the last big scene would be Geum-ja outwitting the main villain.
If you’re big on romance, this drama may not be for you, because it focuses mainly on Geum-ja’s journey and the cases she and Hee-jae take on. But they have an aggressive chemistry (that’s the best way to describe it) and bicker nonstop, so there’s a lot of fun and flirting to be had. And a happy ending.
Overall, I really enjoyed Hyena. It was funny, sharp, and fast-paced. Geum-ja is also one of the most unique female leads I’ve come across in a long time. I’m really going to miss her, but I know she’ll be waiting on Netflix any time I need some legal advice.
Watch Hyena on Netflix!