Episode 16 of Awaken ends up having most of the elements I look for in a finale: the characters teaming up, high stakes, and bringing down the villain. It even manages to deliver one last misdirect, and an open ending that leaves me feeling hopeful.
After Jung-woo points out Oh Jung-hwan is in fact the president of White Night, him and Kim Min-jae take Jung-hwan to Soon-goo’s hideout. There Jung-woo finds out if he doesn’t take his pills every six hours, his aging will accelerate and he’ll die. It’s the perfect leverage to use to get the location of the secret lab, but things don’t end up being that easy for Jung-woo when Jamie gets kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip.
What we learned this episode
- Oh Jung-hwan is actually Ji Hyung-geun. This is one of the names on the piece of paper Jung-woo was looking at in the last episode. The name was also mentioned when he interrogated Son Min-ho at the beginning. I totally forgot about it!
- The formula Dr. Gong got from the VR glasses is real, but Jung-woo’s serum is needed for it to work. He purposely created the formula that way.
- There is more than one secret lab, so the best thing to do is destroy the shared network of information on all the computers.
- Even Jung-woo’s formula isn’t perfect, because Jo Hyun-hee still shows signs of aging on her arm.
- Jung-woo has DID just like Jamie and Jae-woong.
- He also has telekinetic powers (I knew he was like Jean Grey from the X-men).
- His alter ego is at least partially responsible for the blood bath at White Night 28 years ago.
Yes to everyone teaming up, and the villains getting what they deserve
I finally got the big team up I’ve been waiting for! And their plan was solid. Jung-woo, Hye-won, and Min-jae going to the secret lab to deliver Oh Jung-hwan, while Jae-woong and Seok-pil stay behind to work their hacker manage is definitely the best way to go about things. By targeting the decades of information and research White Night has collected over the years, they’ll never be able to build another lab and experiment on children.
I also love how all the villains get what they deserve. Son Min-ho and Oh Jung-hwan die, Dr. Gong goes to prison, and Jo Hyun-hee has to live out her life without agency and without working on her precious experiment. And since Jung-woo sends Ji-wook all the top secret info about White Night, everyone else in the foundation goes to prison too.
Yes to getting to see Jung-woo’s evil alter ego
We’ve seen glimpses of him, but seeing him fully in control of Jung-woo’s body is something to behold. No wonder Jung-woo tried so hard to keep him locked away. He’s murderous, ruthless, and even possesses telekinetic powers. He’s Dr. Jo’s monster and what Jamie was scared of. It was cool seeing him fling the bad guys around and control things with his mind, but he was also scary.
I basically took his appearance and the flashbacks to the night of the tragedy as confirmation that he made all the adults on the compound kill themselves and each other, while good Jung-woo just wanted one of them to help him and the other kids escape.
Yes (mostly) to the ending
So Jung-woo ends up sacrificing himself like we knew he would. He gets everyone out of the lab, and locks himself in it with a crazed Jo Hyun-hee. The bomb that Jae-woong and Seok-pil employed blows up, and everyone watches in shock and horror as the building goes up in flames. Jung-woo is presumed dead, but his body (along with Jo Hyun-hee’s) is never found. That’s when I realize he has to still be alive. Of course he is! If he survived walking through the fire (and subsequent explosions) at Son Min-ho’s house, then he probably survived this too.
The drama never explicitly tells us he’s alive, but the little clues it gives us, like Hye-won spotting one of Jung-woo’s lollipop sticks in Soon-goo’s ambulance, Ji-wook following leads to the island, and seeing the back and side of a man who looks like Jung-woo eating a lollipop (blue, this time) give us hope that he’s alive. I didn’t expect the drama to take that route, but I’m glad it did.
I’m also glad that Hye-won makes captain, and she and Jamie get a proper goodbye before Jamie goes back to the states. The only thing I’m kind of iffy on is the light the drama sheds on DID. It’s a very complicated and horrible disease, so the fact that the drama shows people who suffer from it going to jail (like Jae-woong) or self-isolating (like Jung-woo) almost seems to imply that they need to be punished for the disease. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’d rather have seen Jae-woong be rehabilitated in a hospital, and eventually going on to live a normal life instead of being punished for something he had zero control over. I don’t think it totally destroys the ending, so I’ll only mention it instead of give it a whole “No”.
With that said, it was the bittersweet ending I expected, but a little more sweet than bitter. I’m so glad I watched Awaken. It’s one of the best action/suspense dramas I’ve seen in a while. I’m going to put it right under Flower of Evil.
Awaken had a very unique plot, interesting characters, and stellar acting from Namgoong Min, Lee Chung-ah, and the rest of the cast. Seol hyun also did a good job toward the end. Her acting when Jung-woo locked himself in the lab with Jo Hyun-hee was really good. So, if you like action dramas that are light on the romance, but heavy on the sci-fi, give Awaken a shot.
More Awaken reviews
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 15
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 14
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 13
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 12
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 11
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 10
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 9 (With Full Series Breakdown)
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 8
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 7
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 6
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 5
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 4
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 3
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 2
- REVIEW: Awaken Episode 1
I am also pleased that every villain was arrested and got what they deserved in the end, thanks to Jung-woo’s digging. Oh Jung-hwan got a sad ending. Jo Hyun-hee, Jung-woo and Jamie’s mom, is the biggest villain. I am glad that she has to live like that. On one hand, I understand why they want to leave her fate (and Jung-woo’s) open ended. On the other hand, I do want to see a scene showing her suffering.
For the most part, the show maker has been very good in details. I was impressed to see there was a shot that showed Oh Jung-hwan’s body was removed and replaced with some white marker on the ground, next to Hye-won’s car.
While the ending is satisfying overall, there are a few things I wish they handled it differently:
1. Jaime – she was kidnapped and triggered the whole rescue mission, enabling the team to go in and destroy everything. I wish she would have played a bigger role. Also, as Jung-woo’s twin sister, and almost as smart as he is, I would expect her to be more concerned and would like to find out what actually happened to him, since his body was never found.
2. Hye-won’s returning to the force and her promotion are reasonable. I think she could have looked for Jung-woo herself instead of counting on Reporter Lee. But the fact that she didn’t, shows that she cares about the captain but not to the point she would throw everything away. There is still a deep feeling between the two, which makes clear in the secret lab, when she pushed away the soldier so that he missed the shot at Jo Hyun-hee. After all, she really understands who he truly is.
3. Did they forget about the old man and the old lady (presumably Oh Jung-hwan’s wife) in the final episode? They were shown in the last secret lab but they were no longer there in the final episode. I can only assume they were still there (in another secret room within that building).
Wholly agree with “Yes” to:
1. Shining the spotlight on DID and ethically dubious (if not outrightly immoral) experimenting on genetic engineering
2. Lessening the emphasis on romantic moments between lead actors without losing the depth of feeling
and “No” to:
3. Not highlighting the moral struggle – and actual sequence – of Jo Hyun-hee injecting the experimental drug on her unborn foetus(es) and the documenting of the effects, leading to
4. Not elaborating on the different talents which emerged from the orphans in WNV (White Night Village) and ignoring the possibility that more than 4 children (and adults) should have escaped the nightmare massacre 28 years ago (forgive me if I forgot how many years ago it was). Underdevelopment of Jaime’s character is inevitable because of this lapse.