Little Women season 1, episode 12 recap – the ending explained

By Nathan Sartain
Published: October 10, 2022
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Little Women season 1, episode 12 recap - the ending explained


A fantastic finale that contextualizes key plot points, and brings well-deserved resolution.

This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Little Women season 1, episode 12 contains spoilers, including an in-depth discussion of the Little Women (2022) ending.

Unsurprisingly, the finale of Little Women was a memorable one. Whether it was through the fleshing out of lingering plot points, the flawless execution of Sang-a’s comeuppance, or simply the answer to where 70 billion won ends up, everything was thoroughly engaging. Once more aided by some stellar acting, this show has solidified its case for being the K-Drama of the year, and will certainly be in the picture when awards season comes around.

Little Women season 1, episode 12 recap

Resuming where we left last time out, Hwa-young testifies in court, admitting she embezzled 72 billion won to prove a point to Sang-a, who had used her for years to accumulate her fortune. Stating everything that happened was part of her own revenge plan, the orchid expert absolves In-joo of blame, but hides the facts of her previously assumed death for now. As such, In-joo receives a far more lenient sentence of a year and six months, with two years of probation. Outside, Hwa-young ignores the press, while Sang-a commits to cooperating with the investigation, saying there must have been a misunderstanding.

When home, In-joo pushes a waiting Hwa-young, dismissing apologies in favor of confrontation. The outcast insecurely wonders why she was picked to be involved in her friend’s revenge plan, unable to appreciate the desire for her to just live a good life with the money left behind. However, the mood softens when it’s established Hwa-young risked her life (ending up hospitalized) to try and save In-joo from Sang-a in Singapore, before the orchid expert requests that she is left to complete the rest of her schemes alone. Elsewhere, Do-il confirms his case was dropped while on the phone with his ally, who he wants to try and find In-hye alongside based on a potential lead he’s received.

At a press conference, Hwa-young sheds light on her fake death. The body double used was a woman she had met on a website two years ago, who wished to die, and had spent time crafting a look undistinguishable from the orchid expert. Hwa-young wanted to steal 70 billion won, let it slip to her workplace, then make it look like she committed suicide over emotional pressure. Yet this couldn’t happen, with one particular reason being that Sang-a actually killed the lookalike, staging the crime scene to her liking. With all this in mind, Hwa-young encourages a proper police investigation and nudges people towards her ‘Bookkeeper from the Future’ website which hosts a revelatory digital copy of the previously burned slush fund ledgers.

As Sang-a contemplates whether she can “ride out” this situation, In-kyung visits Jong-ho. The journalist wonders if she will receive Gi-seong’s memoirs from Sa-pyeong today, though we see this is unlikely given the fact the school principal has just been made the successor of Jeongran Society. Additionally, Sang-a is told by Sa-pyeong in this scene that she was never given a chance to lead the group due to her selfishness, and inability to “make a sacrifice when the crucial moment comes.”

Not taking too kindly to what she has been told, Sang-a stabs Sa-pyeong with a needle, with it also established she has put blue orchid solution in her father’s nebulizer. Fortunately, the school principal has enough in him to retaliate prior to his death, pulling the General’s daughter down to inform her she can never lead Jeongran Society because she’s “insane.” Following this, Sang-a tells Su-im to humiliatingly hang the elder’s corpse somewhere visible, so people know she did it. Meanwhile, it looks as though In-joo has ditched Do-il on their planned plane journey together.

When Sang-a debates Hwa-young on whether In-joo will arrive at the Father Tree in an attempt to save her friend, we watch as the outcast calls the police claiming she has been “blackmailed with abduction.” Returning to the General’s daughter, she almost breaks when Hwa-young explains living people can experience death too, with the Director also somewhat shaken by the knowledge that she was resented for how she treated her former employee upon their mother’s passing.

At Wonryeong School, In-kyung is whisked away by hired hands upon her discovery of Sa-pyeong’s hanging, while Jong-ho manages to flee from being nicked with a knife and cornered in his quest to find her. Concurrently, In-joo removes a grenade from a locker before heading determinedly inside Sang-a’s house. However, threats of detonating the weapon don’t phase the General’s daughter, as she is already certain the three people in the orchid room will be dying together once hydrochloric acid is released through the sprinklers. Though Sang-a is soon finally forced into teary-eyed vulnerability when it’s brought up that she killed her own mother, leading to the Director quickly trying to detach herself from guilt by claiming she only wanted her parent to return home. A flashback of the fatal scene shows a familial argument escalated into an accidental push, one which caused blood to pour from the head of Sang-a’s mother, who was later found hanging. The General’s daughter then replaced her late mum’s clothes while she was dead, confirming all her subsequent murders have been recreations of this event performed out of misguided grief.

After In-joo further exposes Sang-a’s behavior (this time it’s noted her abandonment of kittens when they’d view her as a maternal figure was a warped punishment of her younger self), alleging the Director only ever wanted to kill herself, the General’s daughter prepares for In-kyung’s arrival, which will allow for the commencement of the hydrochloric acid release. Yet the journalist doesn’t show, thanks to Do-il and Jong-ho’s perseverant intervention, while In-joo’s determined rescue of Hwa-young allows the two friends to escape the house alive. Shockingly, Sang-a manages to be punished amidst everyone else’s salvation, thrown into a water pit filled with acid which finalizes her almost tragic demise.

The next day, In-kyung reads the hospitalized Jong-ho a story from the General’s memoirs. It’s a positive one, explaining the cheeriness of soldiers destined for death when betrayed by their motherland, but there is some element of near-tragic intrigue too, as it’s evident in this book how much Jeongran Society believed the blue orchids found in Vietnam gave them life in spite of their secretive status as “ghosts.” Meanwhile, Gi-seon passes away.

Following In-kyung’s description of the “murderous monster” of the Jeongran Society on TV, Do-il heads out to Greece, unable to convince In-joo to go with him. “I’ll see you again,” the money launderer still says, comfortable in the feeling that he will one day be reunited with the outcast he became so entangled with. Later on, In-joo visits Hwa-young in prison, and it’s established in the two’s tender conversation that the convict is doing alright, slowly recovering from all she has been through. That, and the outcast makes a clear request that her friend keeps the profits from any sale of ‘Bookkeeper for the Future’ to start a new business later on in life.

As In-joo becomes aware she is the owner of the apartment with the Han River view Hye-suk showed her around, she recalls her late Great-Aunt’s words on the building. Additionally, the outcast emotionally reflects on where souls live, believing her life will change now she can live in a desirable place. Elsewhere, In-kyung dines out to commemorate a reporting award she has won and receives an offer to work at HTN news. Yet the Oh family’s middle child turns this down, which she later tells Jong-ho is down to her only feeling excitement about reporting the Jeongran Society case because she was with him while doing so. As such, In-kyung gets ready to relocate with her partner to study, clearly in love.

When In-joo tells her sister she will pay the tax on the gifted apartment by taking out a sizeable loan that can also help In-kyung’s overseas education, the two end up thinking about In-hye, who has failed to get in contact with them. As we see here, the budding artist is still firmly linked with Hyo-rin, though Do-il is now affiliated with the young pair too, as he used Sang-a’s daughter’s bank account to safely store the laundered 70 billion won.

Little Women ending explained

Narrating a scene, In-hye explains she always received a lot in her poor family, to the point she feared becoming unworthy of the love she received, unable to pay what she was given back. Recalling everything that’s happened, the artist wants to paint the faces she will “remember for the rest of my life,” before she returns to her family with a new face of her own.

For now, though, In-hye is busy dividing up her sibling’s cuts of the 70 billion won. In-kyung, who “loved studying so much that you wanted to die studying,” receives over $7.5million to help with her future education, In-hye telling the audience she will meet her sister again when she becomes a great reporter. In-joo, on the other hand, ends up with a bank balance of $23million as part of this divvying up, because she gave her youngest sibling everything, and was the owner of this laundered money in the first place. “Make sure you buy an apartment,” In-hye narrates, before adding: “I hope that one day you’d be able to eat, sleep and work, all for no one but yourself.”

After this narration finishes, we see how content In-hye is, the episode, and series, ends.

What did you think of Little Women season 1, episode 12? Comment below. Also let us know what you thought of the Little Women (2022) ending.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

Addition reading:

Ending Explained, Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV - Ending Explained, Weekly TV
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