It’s all come down to this moment — someone has to take responsibility for the deaths of Jae-hyun and So-hee, but what if the wrong person is being blamed? Justice is difficult to find when the powers that be are working against you, but Joon-oh and Bong-hee refuse to give up on clearing Joon-oh’s name. With faith and love on their side, they fight to the bitter end, determined to see the truth revealed no matter what it takes.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
In exchange for Bong-hee’s freedom, Joon-oh turns himself in, but he stubbornly refuses to answer any of Prosecutor Lee’s questions. Once he’s nearly driven Prosecutor Lee to the brink of madness, Joon-oh offers to talk in exchange for a chance to speak with CEO Jang.
The plan is to drive a wedge between CEO Jang and Tae-ho, who made a deal together. CEO Jang confessed to everything, allowing Tae-ho to go free, and in exchange, Tae-ho agreed to get rid of Jang’s killer-minion, the only person who knows that CEO Jang tried to kill CEO Hwang.
But Tae-ho hasn’t made a move yet, and CEO Jang is beginning to feel as though he’s been duped. The timing is perfect for Joon-oh to exploit his paranoia, so once they’re alone, he asks CEO Jang if he’s seen or even heard from Tae-ho lately. He says that Tae-ho seems to have forgotten his promise, then adds that CEO Hwang has regained his ability to speak, prompting CEO Jang to try to leave the room.
Joon-oh grabs him and growls in his face, asking if he really trusts Tae-ho with his life. The cops quickly rush in and break up the two, but Joon-oh has accomplished what he set out to do. As CEO Jang is led back to his cell, he feels even more insecure about Tae-ho than ever.
Prosecutor Lee settles in to question Joon-oh again, but Joon-oh innocently claims that he never promised to confess. He says he’ll just go to trial, angering Prosecutor Lee so badly that he nearly has a stroke, heh.
Everyone gathers at Bong-hee’s place, where Tae-young tells them that Joon-oh’s going on trial is actually a good thing. It means their previous testimonies are nullified and gives them a chance to officially tell the truth. Prosecutor Jo will be acting as Joon-oh’s lawyer, having suddenly and conveniently changed jobs (and there’s a funny self-aware moment when Ho-hang is confused, and they tell him to just go with it).
Tae-young wants to call CEO Hwang as the first witness, but Byung-jae points out that he’s still pretty fragile. They agree to have Ho-hang talk to CEO Hwang and see what the boss wants to do.
In an attempt to drum up supporters for her campaign, Chairwoman Jo visits a small local restaurant, but the restaurant owner wants no part of her. No matter how hard Chairwoman Jo schmoozes, the owner sneers at everything she says, mentions the terrible job she did with the Special Investigation Committee before kicking her out.
CEO Hwang looks like he feels a lot better when Ho-hang asks him about testifying in Joon-oh’s trial. But he grows emotional at the thought, which sets off a severe coughing fit, so Ho-hang rushes him back inside the hospital. From a short distance away, Tae-ho watches and smiles a nasty little smile.
Chairwoman Jo resigns from the election, and she’s so focused on her problems that it’s a shock when she learns that Joon-oh turned himself in. Prosecutor Lee asks her to be a witness in the trial, thinking that her testimony will hold a lot of weight since she was the first to accuse Joon-oh of murdering So-hee. Chairwoman Jo tries to decline, but Prosecutor Lee refuses to take no for an answer.
Alone in his jail cell, CEO Jang thinks about Tae-ho’s promise to get rid of the evidence that he tried to have CEO Jang killed, including the man who carried out his orders. When Joon-oh had CEO Jang in his grip, he’d told CEO Jang that Tae-ho and Killer Minion seemed to be getting along famously when Byung-jae saw them together.
Former-prosecutor-turned-lawyer Jo tells Joon-oh that they’re closing in on Killer Minion, and that they believe that catching him will secure CEO Jang’s cooperation for their side. He passes along the world’s most awkward “Fighting!” from Bong-hee, which cheers Joon-oh immensely, and it’s even cuter the second time he does it.
When the day of the trial arrives, Tae-ho is called as the first witness. He testifies that, while stranded on the island after the plane crash, he personally witnessed Joon-oh kill So-hee.
He states that he grew worried when So-hee went out walking alone one night, so he went to find her. He describes watching Joon-oh brutally strangle So-hee from behind, while we see the truth: It was Tae-ho who killed her.
Prosecutor Lee questions Tae-ho about his previous claim that Joon-oh also tried to kill the other survivors. Tae-ho keeps to his story, saying that Joon-oh did it because they all knew he murdered So-hee. Throughout his testimony, Joon-oh just watches Tae-ho like this is the most entertained he’s been in ages.
When it’s Lawyer Jo’s turn to cross-examine Tae-ho, he asks Tae-ho to describe in detail how Joon-oh killed So-hee. Tae-ho fidgets and says that he didn’t see it that clearly, which contradicts his earlier statement that it wasn’t very dark when he witnessed the murder.
We flash back to a meeting between Tae-ho and Prosecutor Lee, who’d shown Tae-ho a copy of So-hee’s autopsy report. Prosecutor Lee found it interesting that So-hee died from strangulation, but there were no fingerprints on her body.
Tae-ho knows that’s because he used his jacket to cut off So-hee’s airway, but without time to think of a plausible explanation, Tae-ho is at a loss. He’s forced to say that he doesn’t remember exactly how Joon-oh killed her.
Next, Lawyer Jo asks what Tae-ho was doing while he watched So-hee being murdered, and Tae-ho answers that he was frozen in shock. The way Lawyer Jo breaks it down — that Tae-ho claims to have clearly witnessed the murder but can’t offer any details, nor did he try to help So-hee — makes Tae-ho’s whole story sounds vague and full of holes.
In another flashback, we see a meeting between Joon-oh, Lawyer Jo, Tae-young, and Bong-hee, where they planned to twist Tae-ho’s testimony in just this way in order to invalidate his statements. Lawyer Jo planned to lead him into making a mistake, and Tae-young had explained that it’s easy to do when someone is lying, because the things they say won’t add up.
Ho-hang leaves the courtroom just as Lawyer Jo makes a special request to add a witness, explaining that they weren’t sure if they could testify until today because of personal reasons. Prosecutor Lee asks the judge to disallow it, saying that those personal reasons make the witness’s testimony untrustworthy, but a doctor’s note confirms that the person is capable of giving a statement.
The doors at the back of the courtroom swing wide open to admit Ki-joon, Ji-ah, Ho-hang… and CEO Hwang. Yay! The look on Tae-ho’s face is priceless.
Though he’s still coughing from a bout with pneumonia, CEO Hwang is determined to testify. He whispers that not only is Joon-oh innocent, but that he tried his best to save as many lives as possible on that island. Moved almost to tears, Joon-oh watches his old boss with this beautiful mixture of admiration and pride on his face.
Looking scared, Tae-ho stands and leaves the room. He spots Chairwoman Jo in the lobby — she came to give her testimony, but after seeing CEO Hwang, she never went into the courtroom. Since the rosecution has no other witnesses, court is adjourned for the day.
As Joon-oh’s being led out, CEO Hwang finally looks up at him and gives him a tiny encouraging smile. Joon-oh smiles back at him, telegraphing his profound gratitude through his eyes.
Later, Tae-ho tells Prosecutor Lee that he saw Chairwoman Jo in the building during the trial. Prosecutor Lee worries that they lost an important witness, so he tells Tae-ho to go visit CEO Jang and to make it good, or else CEO Jang might just testify against him.
When Bong-hee visits Joon-oh later that day, he asks if CEO Hwang is okay, since he didn’t seem well. She says he was sick but is recovering, and it was very important to him to be there to testify. She adds that Tae-young and Lawyer Jo are meeting with CEO Jang later and encourages Joon-oh to stay strong just a bit longer.
Tae-ho does visit CEO Jang, explaining his absence by saying that he was waiting until he could bring good news. He tells CEO Jang that he’s located Killer Minion and plans to “take care of him” soon. But when asked where the man was hiding, Tae-ho gives a vague answer, which CEO Jang notices.
Tae-ho also tells CEO Jang that CEO Hwang’s health is worsening, so he won’t be able to tell anyone about CEO Jang’s guilt. But we’re shown that CEO Jang also met with Tae-young recently, who’d told him that they still haven’t found Killer Minion, yet they can still put him behind bars on CEO Hwang’s testimony.
He’d even brought CEO Hwang into the room to face CEO Jang, and CEO Jang had been too ashamed to look his old boss in the eye. All this means that CEO Jang now knows that Tae-ho is lying to his face, though he doesn’t let that on.
Tae-ho seems to know that he blew it, and when he gets in his van, which Killer Minion is driving, he tells him that he thinks CEO Jang will testify for Joon-oh’s side. Of course, Killer Minion’s solution is to offer to kill CEO Jang, and since Tae-ho likes the sound of that, he says they’ll come up with a plan.
When the friends are confused as to why CEO Jang would agree to testify for Joon-oh, Tae-young explains that CEO Hwang met with him the previous day. CEO Hwang had gasped that he’d love to tear CEO Jang to pieces, but he’d promised to be lenient if CEO Jang testifies that when Tae-ho was rescued, he’d confessed to CEO Jang that he killed So-hee.
Prosecutor Lee informs Tae-ho that CEO Jang will go on the stand tomorrow, which will mean big trouble for them both. He asks if Tae-ho can stop CEO Jang, and Tae-ho gets that familiar murderous look in his eye.
As he sits alone in his cell that night, Joon-oh imagines Bong-hee sitting there with him. She tells him the same things the real Bong-hee always tells him — that she misses him and worries about him. She says he’s doing well and asks him to endure it for just one more day.
The next morning, both Joon-oh and CEO Jang are led to transport vehicles to take them to the courthouse. CEO Jang sends Joon-oh a teeny smile, and they pull out. On the way they pick up a tail, Tae-young, but before they get into the city, Tae-young’s car is cut off by another car full of thugs.
Killer Minion comes out of nowhere and pulls in front of CEO Jang’s vehicle. The van careens out of control, causing both it and Joon-oh’s car to crash. Killer Minion gets out of his car and heads for CEO Jang’s van, stopping on the way to take a look at Joon-oh. Joon-oh is unconscious and bleeding badly from a head wound, so Killer Minion keeps moving.
Tae-young fights off the three thugs and calls Bong-hee. He tells her that he was attacked, and when Bong-hee says that Joon-oh hasn’t shown up, Tae-young says he’ll look for him. The friends at the courthouse are frustrated because Prosecutor Lee won’t allow the police to look for Joon-oh, but Bong-hee thinks of someone who can help.
Killer Minion pulls CEO Jang from the van just as Tae-ho exits their car. CEO Jang is forced to kneel in the road, and Tae-ho asks if he really plans to testify for Joon-oh. CEO Jang chuckles that he knows Tae-ho betrayed him, but Tae-ho doesn’t accept that excuse.
He reminds CEO Jang that he wanted to confess after Jae-hyun died, but CEO Jang said he’d take all the responsibility. Tae-ho looks pained as he says that he just wants to live a normal life, so he was forced to use violence to stop people from blaming him for Jae-hyun’s death. Well, I guess that’s one way of looking at it?
Crying now but with a steady voice, Tae-ho says that if he has to go down, he’ll take CEO Jang down with him. Then he hauls off and punches CEO Jang to the ground.
The person Bong-hee had in mind to help is Chairwoman Jo, and she snaps that Chairwoman Jo owes them this after the Special Investigation Committee turned into such a fiasco. Bong-hee says that if Chairwoman Jo had taken their side at the beginning, none of this would be happening now. She gives Chairwoman Jo one last chance to do the right thing.
Chairwoman Jo grudgingly admits that Bong-hee has changed a lot, and she makes a call. Whoever it is, she asks them for a favor, an Investigator Oh has a little celebration behind her back.
Joon-oh comes back to consciousness, and the first thing he sees is CEO Jang on the ground with Tae-ho’s hands around his throat. Tae-ho is crying and screaming as he squeezes the breath out of CEO Jang, blaming him for making him this way.
Joon-oh stumbles out of the car and screams Tae-ho’s name, and when Killer Minion comes at him, he manages to punch him hard enough to knock him out. Tae-ho seems to snap back to reality and lets go of CEO Jang.
Joon-oh yells that Tae-ho is just trying to cover up his mistakes and grabs him as he asks, “Will you keep killing people and running away all your life?” Tae-ho’s expression goes from defiant to sorrowful as Joon-oh crumples to the ground in front of him.
Joon-oh looks up at Tae-ho and asks if this will make him happy. He says that life was easier on the island when they didn’t have to care what people thought of them, and admits that he was happier there. Joon-oh softly begs Tae-ho to let it go, and with tears streaming down his face, Tae-ho falls to his knees.
Joon-oh says that they can’t go back to how things were, but he promises to stay by Tae-ho’s side like he’s always done. Tae-ho falls apart, sobbing and asking how he turned out like this, and the two friends sit together as the police arrive. Tae-ho bows his head in acceptance, while Joon-oh smiles at him sadly, but also with pride.
Bong-hee narrates that those who deserved punishment were punished, and we see Prosecutor Lee arrested for his part in the cover-up. Tae-ho stands trial for the murders, with Joon-oh standing by him as he promised.
Some time later, all of the friends gather at Bong-hee’s place to paint her rooftop, though they spend more energy painting each other than the furniture. Somehow even Tae-ho is there, looking nervous, but Joon-oh makes an effort to help him feel comfortable.
At one point, while everyone is playing, Joon-oh steps in poop, and everyone teases him like he stepped on another land mine. They all head inside leaving him standing on the poop except for Bong-hee, who warns him not to pick his foot up or it will smell even worse.
Joon-oh looks pleased that she stayed to keep him company, then pouts that she’s not wearing the necklace he gave her. He points out some paint near her mouth, shyly reaching out to wipe it off himself. When that doesn’t work he says there’s something else they can try, and starts to lean in. Rawr.
Bong-hee is all about this idea and even puckers up, but just as Joon-oh works up the nerve to kiss her, their friends all burst back outside, and they fly apart guiltily. Apparently Byung-jae forgot about an interview he scheduled for Joon-oh, so Joon-oh gamely tries to act dignified in front of the camera while covered in paint, replete with Ho-hang running around in the background like a lunatic.
Tae-ho is also interviewed, and while he tries to offer a sincere apology, Ki-joon keeps sneaking up behind him and smacking him in the head. Ji-ah and Bong-hee also get in on that action, because it never, ever gets old.
Everyone gets a chance to be on camera, and their interviews range from silly to heartfelt. Even CEO Hwang speaks, stating that they’re still searching for Yeol and they refuse to give up on finding him. You’re not the only one.
Eventually they finish painting the wall and stand back to admire their handiwork — but Bong-hee and Joon-oh pronounce it a disaster. Everyone blames everyone else for ruining the paint job, then they pose for a group photo as one big happy family.
Well I have to say, I had higher hopes for this finale after the last few episodes seemed to be building us up to something huge. While I’m not exactly disappointed with the show as a whole, the ending leaves me with a lot of questions and confusion. First of all, for a show that did a pretty good job keeping us on our toes, all of the big emotional moments in the final episode fell a bit flat, having all been telegraphed way ahead of time. The moments were still enjoyable, such as CEO Hwang’s testimony and Tae-ho’s final confrontation with Joon-oh, but we lost a lot of the emotional punch because we could see it all coming half an episode away. Between that and Chairwoman Jo and the prosecutors’ complete lack of motivation for manipulating the murder evidence, you get a show that cut its own legs out from under it in terms of suspense and impact. And that last part is such a shame, because even I can think of a few reasonable and plausible potential motives right off the top of my head, so it’s not like the show wrote itself into a corner with no way out.
Also, I’m still scratching my head over the way many of the characters’ stories were left sort of unfinished. The most egregious offense is Tae-ho’s stupidly easy return to the Light Side, prompted only by Joon-oh asking him to stop and earning him total forgiveness and friendship from the very people he spent months trying to permanently eliminate. It just, it makes no sense — this is the guy who killed three of the survivors’ closest friends and (probably) a reporter, attempted to kill most of the rest of them, got caught when he tried to kill yet another person to cover up the first few murders, but I guess he was sorry, so all is forgiven? And apparently, he doesn’t even serve any jail time? I’m sorry, but no, that’s not how it works. That is not someone you just let back into your life for the sake of adorable painting shenanigans.
And while I’m complaining about things that make no sense, how hard would it have been to give us some closure on Yeol? Okay okay, I admit that he’s not coming back, but it makes me sad that once they got back from the island he was just never mentioned again, except for a throwaway comment at the end. In fact, Yeol isn’t the only thing in the show that just got forgotten — whatever happened with Joon-oh’s drunk driving charges? I was expecting him to be exonerated for that. I still want to know why So-hee had a false memory of being on the roof with Jae-hyun when he died. And what was it with the monotone clothing during the first few weeks of the show? I notice that in the final scene, everyone was wearing monotone again, but now it was splashed with bright color. I feel like the show was trying to make a statement there, but I just can’t figure out what it was. Maybe that their lives were flat and boring before, but now they’ve been through tragedy together so life is bright and cheerful? I dunno.
But despite my complaints, and they are numerous, I did enjoy Missing 9 quite a lot during its run. As many things as it did wrong, it also did a lot of things right, mostly in terms of casting, which was pretty much perfect. The characterizations were fantastic, the music was exceptional, and none of the castaways suffered from the same inconsistent personality issues as the bad guys back home. They all stayed true to themselves, and even after mostly changing for the better during their four-month island ordeal, they all acted predictably within their personalities. I really fell in love with all of them, and when I think back on Missing 9, it’s the people that will mostly stick with me.
Joon-oh in particular was such a rich, complex character, played to perfection by Jung Kyung-ho. His arc from a down-and-out, insufferable, self-important actor to the guy who turned out to have more love and forgiveness in his heart than anyone was really beautiful to watch. He believed in the goodness of people even when faced with all evidence to the contrary, and even when there was nobody in the world to love and forgive him in return. But Bong-hee saw the good in Joon-oh and teased it out, just by being steadfast and loyal, something that none of his show business friends would do for him. And her belief in Joon-oh is what saved him, both literally and figuratively, and allowed him to safely become the wonderful guy he always hid inside. If nothing else, Joon-oh’s journey to himself made Missing 9 well worth watching. We could all take a lesson from Joon-oh and Bong-hee’s friendship — in this world, as long as you have someone to love and who loves you, you can endure anything.