A generally somber episode that focuses on departure before a shocking ending leaves plenty of room for theories ahead of next week’s finale.
This recap of the K-Drama Netflix series Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 14 contains spoilers.
Twenty-Five Twenty-One season 1, episode 14 recap
We begin with Min-chae rummaging around for her mother’s next diary, wondering what happens next in the story. Smartly, she ends up googling the couple she is so invested in, relieved that Hee-do and Yi-jin never ended up embroiled in scandals, but curious over a video of the two from 2009. There, Yi-jin is the anchor of UBS, and is interviewing the gold medallist Hee-do. It is a rather awkward encounter, and seems to subtly imply that the two had not connected for a while. We do get another nugget here too, that in 2001, Hee-do defeated her friend Yu-rim for a gold medal in Madrid, and that her rival ended up representing Russia as Julia Ko.
At that point, we cut back to February of 2000, and watch as the friendship group drink together. There, the fact that Yi-jin and Hee-do are officially together is established, with the juvenile conversations about who is too good for who shortly following. Before long, the fivesome are joyfully playing games, revelling in Yi-jin’s consistent failings before they drunkenly walk back to the journalist’s house. When there, they all tipsily discuss planned trips, ambitions, and who Yi-jin had made cry in his past. So, Yu-rim and Ji-woong decide to leave together.
Flashing forward, Ji-woong and Yu-rim get to listen to the confession she made to her parents that she has a boyfriend, with the musician vowing to break her father’s record on who can love her the most. It touches the fencer, who wishes him luck before resting her head on his shoulders. Shockingly, as the bus pulls away we hear the sounds of a “major accident,” one which involves the father of Yu-rim, who is slumped over his wheel, and later seen to be injured outside of the operating room. Then, the family of the other victim rush in, confronting the fencer’s father over what responsibility he will take while stating that he should die. Back at Yu-rim’s house, we see that the father has become a drunken mess over the incident, while the mother strains herself to try and find a solution to settle the case.
After some tears, the following day Yu-rim talks to coach Yang – who is jubilant about her impending return to the national team – about her need for money, stating that she is unable to sign the contract for the team that her mentor had introduced her to for that very reason. The youngster apologises, and we see at the bus stop just how shaken she is by everything. In due time, she visits Hee-do to open up, explaining solemnly that she has kept her promise to no longer dive. Elsewhere, Yi-jin visits the national team offices and ends up eavesdropping on a potential nationality change for the former Yu-rim, with his curiosity getting the better of him as he quickly decides to prod for further information.
At Hee-do’s house, Yu-rim talks in detail about her need for money, as well as her nationality change, explaining that she wishes to protect her family first and foremost. Meanwhile, we see Yi-jin attempt to locate the family to talk with them, Yu-rim’s father get threatened with jail time by the annoyed mother of the victim, and Ji-woong rush in search of his girlfriend to get information on the ordeal. The latter of the two is clearly heartbroken over the knowledge that his partner is going to move abroad, but consoles her seamlessly by expressing his pride, and even agreeing to arrange her farewell party.
Back at her home, Yu-rim informs her parents of her nationality change, insisting on using her solution to solve her family’s problems, while disregarding her parent’s attempts to stop her. “I want to put an end to this misery,” the fencer adds, sternly saying that she wishes for her family to respect her decision. Naturally, her parents weep, but it’s evident that they have conceded to following through with this plan. The next day, coach Yang accompanies the fencer when she is given her contract to change allegiance, with the mentor apologising that this is all she can do for her in this situation. She does inform Yu-rim that she is always available the moment any difficulties arise, though.
Afterwards, we see Yi-jin approach Kim Seong-ho (the man who had the contract), wondering if they can talk. We assume he is set to break the currently confidential news on TV, as when Yu-rim bumps into him on a walk, he appears upset. Still, the two talk candidly, and the journalist checks up on her before leaving abruptly. “Tell me what you have prepared,” she says reassuringly, knowing that he has decided to use the exclusive. Later on, Yi-jin explains to his former colleague that he will need to hurt the people he loves, disappoint them, and make them uncomfortable.
Elsewhere, Hee-do, Seung-wan and Ji-woong gather to prepare for the farewell party, with her boyfriend explaining that he wants them all to talk and laugh like they used to. Here, Hee-do also informs that he needs to tell his girlfriend the things he wants to say, as the musician will regret it should he not. And, while the atmosphere starts nicely, sentimentality swiftly kicks in when Yu-rim wishes for the friendship group to stay close even when she is gone. When a gift of heartfelt Russian phrases arrives, it is poignant, and some tears are shared amongst the youths. Meanwhile, Yi-jin prepares for his story to air, passing by the laughter-filled house devoid of energy. However, the group notices his absence, turning to the news channel so they can at least see him there, only to end up disappointed over what they see. The report is cynical, scathing even, and upsets everyone who is remotely linked to the situation.
As such, Hee-do tries to track her partner down, angry and hurt by his journalistic work. When she finds him smoking, she immediately begins a confrontation, and the two depressingly clash over what should have been done and whether their own relationship can continue, before he utters to himself that the latter point is a genuine worry of his. Concurrently, Ji-woong and Yu-rim walk together, and the fencer sticks a pin in any potential promises over their own relationship, wishing to allow herself the freedom to see how her own life plays out without “selfishly” holding on to her partner. But the musician takes issue with this stance, stating that he was already making plans to see her, and keep their relationship moving. “I don’t want you to live for me,” Yu-rim replies, causing upset to her boyfriend who still tries to insist that they walk together.
The following day, Yi-jin comes to terms with the damage he has caused, while Yu-rim packs her bags, standing in front of the gym reminiscing on the memories she made at Tae Yang High. As she makes one final fencing lunge, she is swarmed by the press, who all want to hear a comment from the soon defecting athlete. Even when Hee-do arrives the scene is still rife with reporters, and they wish to even get her thoughts. Fortunately, she ignores the scrum, heading into the gym to hug her friend tightly and be a source of comfort. A little later, they hatch a plan to distract the reporters, creating a decoy fencer, and lying to reporters about a press conference to gain the upper hand when escaping. When they succeed, they take pictures together prior to sharing a meal, creating a lasting memory of their eventful day in spite of public backlash, and an angsty restaurant owner.
During their meal, the two friends open up about how they will struggle to be apart, and Yu-rim confesses that she wants to stay in Korea, and be a Korean athlete. The two share an emotional hug, before we cut forward to the fencer’s departure at the airport, where she says goodbye to her family and friends. We also see Ji-woong risk his fears to drives, then skates, to the departure gate when he realises that his girlfriend is leaving that day. Fortunately, the two do find each other, and he wraps her in warm embrace before saying that he will be selfish and maintain the relationship, going as far as stating that he will accept misery if they can get through it together. Then, they kiss passionately.
On a bus, Yi-jin overhears people sideline Yu-rim as a traitor, later witnessing her posters get ripped from the walls they were proudly displayed on. In a tunnel, he breaks down crying, regretting what he has done as he sobs into the floor alone to the side of offensive graffiti. When he looks up, he sees Hee-do, who is ready to paint over the display, before we cut back to the 2009 interview. Yi-jin expresses gratitude there, and the two express that they will both give their unwavering support to each other. Then, after a tender narration, a bombshell is dropped. “Congratulations on your wedding,” the anchor says, implying that the two will eventually break off as the episode ends.
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