“Samseong-dong, Hyochang-dong, Gocheok-dong” limps to an unsatisfactory and slightly aggravating conclusion.
This recap of Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 12, “Samseong-dong, Hyochang-dong, Gocheok-dong”, contains spoilers, including major ones for the Thirty-Nine ending.
Well, that was disappointing, wasn’t it? To be honest, and as I expressed in my recap of yesterday’s penultimate episode, I’d pretty much given up on the idea of Thirty-Nine majorly course-correcting during its finale. I expected some genuinely poignant moments, and I think it delivered some of those, and I expected a high standard of acting and production, which the entire season has had consistently. But I didn’t expect any of the longstanding issues to be addressed, and they weren’t. The show limped to a perfunctory finish still boasting all of the usual problems.
Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 12 recap
These problems include but aren’t limited to: A mishandling of tone, an unnecessary focus on Mi-jo rather than Chan-young, the complete side-lining of Joo-hee despite her actually raising this explicitly, an inordinate amount of time devoted to characters and subplots that didn’t end up mattering in the slightest, and episodes that were much too long.
At least it ends. There’s a lack of resolution here and there, but for the most part it felt like the concluding chapter of the story, which is exactly how it should have felt (and quashes any hopes of a second season.) The episode begins, naturally, with Chan-young right on death’s door, trying to figure out with Mi-jo – and not Joo-hee, obviously – who she wants to be at her funeral. She gets to meet them all ahead of time, give a pretty thoughtful speech about making sure they all get medical check-ups, and the whole thing’s quite lovely. Eventually, in the spring, Chan-young dies.
Honestly, to give Thirty-Nine some due credit, I think it does a decent job of putting across that idea of frantically checking your phone in anticipation of bad news, knowing the end is near but not knowing precisely how close. When that feeling dissipates, though, with the news of Chan-young’s passing, the show then bizarrely speeds right past it rather than lingering in the pain and the sadness. And that might seem a morbid thing for me to lament the absence of, but seriously – this is a show about loss, and after spending twelve episodes building towards that loss, not allowing us to really feel it is such a waste of time.
Thirty-Nine ending explained
In the near future everyone seems mostly okay. Hyeon-jun’s restaurant is doing fine, as is Joo-hee’s nail salon, and So-won has made her peace with her adoptive father. Chan-young’s film is out and is a success, but there’s a bit of a to-do when Mi-jo breaks a promise by not seeing it, instead electing to go out with Seon-u instead. She later explains it away to Joo-hee – from whom she has predictably drifted away, despite promises being made in that regard too – as a form of grief, but it seems selfish either way.
Speaking of which, Chan-young arranged for a package to be delivered to Mi-jo – by Joo-hee, just to add insult to injury – whenever she was feeling down, and it contains a USB flash drive with a personalized message thanking her for everything and even taking a little sly dig at Joo-hee as well! As more time passes and Mi-jo starts spending more time with Joo-hee, I was raging, honestly. The conclusion is that both of them miss Chan-young, which is fair enough, but after the way Joo-hee has been treated throughout, I wouldn’t be giving Mi-jo the time of day. Let’s hope this show is properly over and done with so a second season doesn’t mean she has to.
You can stream Thirty-Nine season 1, episode 12, “Samseong-dong, Hyochang-dong, Gocheok-dong” exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on the Thirty-Nine ending? Let us know in the comments.