Our Beloved Summer‘s finale holds few surprises, but it caps off the series in a poignant way that will be a satisfying resolution for fans.
This recap of Our Beloved Summer season 1, episode 16, “Our Beloved Summer”, contains spoilers, including a discussion of Our Beloved Summer’s ending.
Call me cynical, but I can’t help feel as though the Our Beloved Summer finale was a bit contrived. To say it hit virtually every expected character and plot beat, it gave everyone a surprisingly easy time on the way there. Perhaps the showrunners felt like all the drama had been dealt with in previous episodes, and the climactic hour should instead be a kind of coda. That’s what it felt like, anyway. The drama introduced here feels mostly out-of-nowhere, with Ung’s sudden desire to study architecture in Paris forcing Yeon-su into a difficult decision that she didn’t really need to make. All’s well that ends well, obviously, but a part of me thinks that perhaps this whole hour – or at least big stretches of it – wasn’t strictly necessary.
Our Beloved Summer season 1, episode 16 recap
Ung has a lot to be grateful for, which is addressed here. I said in my recap of the previous episode that, in the context of Ji-ung’s life, Ung has had it comparatively easy. He has a family that unconditionally love him, the woman of his dreams – finally! – and a great deal of career success. His eagerness to travel and study abroad has been set up in the last few episodes, but it still feels like a late, unnecessarily awkward development given how long he spent reconciling with Yeon-su and how much effort they’ve both put into establishing a new normal.
Of course, Ung asks Yeon-su to go with him, and Do-yul offers her a position on his Paris team just to conveniently make the decision easier for her, but it isn’t until NJ points out that Yeon-su must really love Ung to put his life ahead of her own that he even stops to consider the predicament he’s putting her in.
Yeon-su’s grandmother is back home at this point, but still, it’s a big ask considering her recent medical issues. To be honest, it’s a big ask in general, and clearly not one that Ung had thought through, which is why I was glad when Yeon-su said she wasn’t going. The fact they decided to carry on a long-distance relationship with both of them doing what they felt was best was obviously intended as proof of how much they’d both grown, individually and as a couple. But I’m still not buying it. Ung’s motivation seems especially bizarre – he’s already successful, why does he feel such a pressing need to make something of himself?
Our Beloved Summer ending
Our Beloved Summer makes a big deal of Ung leaving, of his father being upset about it, of him severing connections with his birth father before he departs. We see snippets of them being happy in their new arrangement. All seems well. But to facilitate the episode’s big emotional moments Ung has to come back, so he does out of nowhere, confessing his love for Yeon-su in the process (this is treated as a much bigger deal than it needed to be – isn’t it obvious they love each other?). Again, I find myself asking what the point of him leaving in the first place even was?
Because so much attention is devoted to all this, Ji-ung’s relationship with his dying mother is glossed over – he implores her to fight her illness so that if he can ever bring himself to forgive her for his abandonment, they can start afresh – and his lingering feelings for Yeon-su aren’t really addressed either, while Eun-ho and Sol-i getting together is barely touched upon, though I suppose it was inevitable.
It does all build to a nice conclusion though. Ung eventually proposes to Yeon-su, and in the epilogue, we see Ji-ung approach them with an idea – since their previous documentary is trending again, wouldn’t now be a good time to shoot another one? Everything comes full circle in a poignant but ultimately predictable way, capping off a sweet but, again, ultimately predictable series.
You can stream Our Beloved Summer season 1, episode 16, “Our Beloved Summer”, exclusively on Netflix.