Despite the neatly tied ending, "Mask"'s finale didn't truly end cleanly. There are too many "could-have-beens" and ideas that were proposed, but never seen through to fruition. So much of the ending was smiling at the camera for ages or making sure that each villain received his just deserts. What it did do right was show Ji-sook and Min-woo living mask-free and as themselves without being fettered by lies and deceit.
Ji-sook decided to come clean and reveal the truth, to remove the "Mask" for which the show is named. The final showdown during which she pegged Seok-hoon as the mastermind behind all that was evil was exceedingly anti-climactic. A press conference, really? There was no true battle between Seok-hoon and Min-woo, nor between Seok-hoon and Ji-sook. It was all so underwhelming that it ventured on the boring.
The intrigue of the episode centered around Mi-yeon, the morally gray yet exceedingly understandable wife of villaneous Seok-hoon. Until the bitter end she was tragic, so in love that she stuck by Seok-hoon no matter what he did. She ruins her life for him, and ends it for him. He damaged her beyond hope, and yet how she hung on to him hungry for his love until her last breath was the true tragedy of "Mask".
That and how Seok-hoon finally realizes how much she means to him. When everyone abandons him, Mi-yeon sticks by him and dreams of happiness. The past few episodes we've seen her move him to watery eyes, but never to tears. She's been getting to him, and she finally does, but it is too late. He pushed her too hard and too far. He lost the one person who truly accepted him despite everything for a revenge that was futile and only hurt. Only Mi-yeon's death was powerful enough to draw him out of his all-consuming revenge.
Ji-sook's family ends up happy with the restaurant of their dreams. So much of the last few episodes focused on sappy romantics and should've instead focused on how her family pulled itself together after hard times. It would've made the reunions and celebrations much more sweet. Min-woo's family doesn't learn and grow quite as much, which is realistic.
Overall, the quality of "Mask" degraded as it progressed. The acting remained stellar, especially on the parts of Yeon Jung-hoon and Yoo In-young who made two rounded characters out of dialogue and plot that was, especially near the end, flat. But the acting could not save the show. It had its high points, especially near the beginning, but Min-woo and Ji-sook's characters flattened out while the mystery and suspense became forced. Mi-yeon was the truly winning character and her death struck the largest chord within.
Would I watch "Mask" again? Probably not. Was it worth the watch? I believe so. A single time through wouldn't be a waste of time.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mask" Episode 20 (final)"
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