Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 12 recap – adding necessary layers

By Nathan Sartain
Published: March 20, 2022
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K-Drama Netflix series Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 12


An episode that adds necessary layers to the story by adding a focus on characters who operated on the periphery of the plot.

This recap of the K-Drama Netflix series Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 12 contains spoilers. 

Read the recap of the previous episode.

Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 12 recap

Picking up where we left off, we see Hee-do and Jae-kyung vocalise a plan to visit their father’s cemetery more often, and observe a seemingly newfound closeness as they warmly talk in the car. However, it’s short lived, as before long the mother gets annoyed over the idea that her daughter would not go to college, but rather join a sports team for the sake of money. The next day, Hee-do discusses her potential college fate with Yu-rim, disappointed over the idea of having to score well (for her standards, at least) in a test to have any chance of attending one.

Next, coach Yang shouts at Ye-ji over her alleged “rotten” mindset, something which upsets the young girl who is currently doubting whether she wants to fence or not. “I feel like I’m wasting my time in the gym,” she says, wishing to explore other avenues instead. After some comfort, Ye-ji wonders what would happen if she just stopped attending training. Meanwhile, at UBS, Ji-woong delivers the picture of Hee-do to Yi-jin.

Back in the fencing gym, coach Yang disputes the idea of Ye-ji’s quitting, stating that managing her kind of mindset is part of her job. Hee-do sticks up for her friend, though, explaining that giving up can be a challenge too. Those words don’t work, but Yu-rim’s insistence that she will not train until their colleague is allowed to leave the team sparks a strike of sorts. “Actions speak louder than words,” Hee-do acknowledges, joining her fellow athlete in their protest.

Flaunting the same t-shirt worn by a famous prisoner, Ji-woong ends up physically assaulted by Mr. Seo. This stirs Seung-wan into anger, as she loudly makes a stand before phoning the police to report the corporal punishment incident. In turn, it all blows over into a meeting which leaves the student on the back foot, as the police confess they can’t do anything about the situation, and go as far as expressing their sympathy towards the violent teacher.

Shortly after, Yi-jin stumbles across the policeman delivering an interview to a shady reporter, discussing the corporal punishment report. He decides to intervene when hearing Seung-wan’s name mentioned, yet finds himself frustrated when his neighbour doesn’t pick up the phone. As such, Yun-seong, the KBY reporter, ends up finding the student and requesting an interview. Fortunately, Yi-jin does prevent the story from gaining legs, interrupting the conversation by claiming Seung-wan is his cousin, and explaining the abusive nature of the teacher, as well as the counter argument to corporal punishment, to the journalist. At the bus stop, the two fake cousins then talk together, with the student feeling stupid over almost being hoodwinked, but expressing thanks towards her friend.

In a meeting, Ye-ji attempts to absolve Yu-rim and Hee-do of blame for their strike, wishing to take on the responsibility. Coach Yang does take some issue with this, though, in addition to the girl’s instance that she be able to quit. There is a compromise to be found, however, as if the student can reach the quarter-finals at the nationals, she will be allowed to leave the club. “Prove to me how determined you are,” coach Yang bluntly states before leaving her office.

Taking the fencer under their wing, Yu-rim and Hee-do begin to train their friend in the hopes that she will be able to quit via achievement. There seems to be a nugget left in these scenes, as it’s obvious that Ye-ji starts to enjoy the sport she became detached from once more.

As the friendship group watch the fencing documentary on the hangout TV (and Ji-woong gets frustrated that he ends up missing his TV debut due to a satellite outage), Yi-jin branches out in the sports department, covering a baseball game in Daegu. It doesn’t exactly go well at first, with the smudged ink in his notebook leading to an awkward delivery in his report, but when the journalist recomposes, the improvement in skill is clear. Later on, in a hotel foyer, Yi-jin ends up pleasantly surprised by Hee-do’s French skills after she turns into a translator of sorts when helping an anxious man trace his suitcase.

Following on from Hee-do quelling some drunken spectators, the fencer rants to Yi-jin about her frustrations when people say they can do better than athletes. They continue to spend some time together, with the fencer even going as far as to make up a story involving Yu-rim needing milk to extend their conversing. As they walk together, Yi-jin ends up marvelling at Hee-do’s maturity, and states that she’s a different person to who she was the year prior. “I want to stay by your side and watch you grow into a great person,” the journalist adds.

When Ho-jin finds Yi-jin and asks to speak to him, he pulls a stunt centred around wanting to get back with Hee-do to “sound out” the journalist’s feelings for his ex. He speculates that it was Yi-jin who caused the two to break up, and we see a flashback where the fencer admits that she thinks of someone else more than Ho-jin. As the two men continue their back-and-forth, Yi-jin gets emotional, ranting that his friend deserves the best experiences, and that he knows what she is doing. In the background, we see that an emotional Hee-do has eavesdropped on the conversation.

The next day, Ye-ji achieves the feat of getting to the quarter-final, pleasing coach Yang, and more importantly, herself. When told that she may as well compete in the rest of the tournament given it’s her last day as a fencer, Ye-ji still requests that she withdraws, stating that she doesn’t want to potentially take away an opportunity from someone more desperate. Then, she quits, and expresses her desire to try baking. It touches coach Yang, who asks the former fencer to remember this day, and shakes her hand in thanks for her work.

At school, Seung-wan ends up summoned to the counselling office of the school by the violent teacher, and her “pirate” radio show recording, where she exposes Mr. Seo by name, is played in front of her. According to school regulations, she should be expelled, but the staff member throws a patronising bone and says that instead of expulsion, she can just write a sincere apology, read it out in assembly, and be done with it. However, Seung-wan refuses this, citing her shame in the school, and drops out. “I’m sorry,” she later says to her mother when explaining the ordeal, and why she cannot yet learn to be flexible.

When dropping the news of the fact she’s dropping out of school to her friends, Ji-woong takes immediate issue, rushing Seung-wan to the rooftop. He pleads with her, but the stubborn woman doesn’t soften her stance. Thus, Ji-woong begins to blame himself, saying that she is perfect, but that he always ends up putting her in trouble. That’s the very reason Seung-wan is friends with him, though, and she explains so before consoling the crying boy.

Next, Seung-wan’s mother storms into the school staff room, hot-headed and ready to confront Mr. Seo. She does so in brittle fashion, demanding the papers to sign off on her daughter’s departure, and sternly threatening that if the violent teacher doesn’t apologise to Ji-woong, an official complaint will be filed to the Parent’s Association. Later on, Seung-wan emotionally leaves the class or the final time, hearing of her importance to the cohort, and just what kind of impact she’s made.

As Seung-wan does officially depart, she encounters Ye-ji, who she shares an immediate rapport with, and who helps her climb over the locked gates. Then greeted by cake held by Yu-rim and Hee-do, the two quitters consider their futures, throwing their now redundant uniforms in the air while shouting how they were fed up with the things that held them down.

Flashing forward to CSAT day, Ji-woong and Hee-do embrace their friends’ well wishes, ready to take on the exam that could define their future. There is something ominous here though, as the narration states that from here, “everything started to change slowly,” something which includes the world as they prepared for the year 2000, and the whole Y2K ordeal.

The ending

At New Year’s Eve, the quintet of friends hang out in Yi-jin’s room, wondering what would happen should the world end. It leaves the group worried eventually, as everyone departs to spend their “last moments” with family. That is aside from Hee-do, who stays back with Yi-jin due to the fact her mother is working late in case of a news flash. Watching the news, there’s a tension in the air, and the journalists asks whether there’s anything his friend would like to do in case of the world ending. “Not really,” is the initial answer, but Hee-do soon goes in for a kiss which extends into the new millennium. “I guess I also wanted a change for myself,” she says, before the episode ends with the two gazing into each other’s eyes.

What did you think of the K-Drama Netflix series Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 12? Comment below!

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