06/24/2024

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‘The Atypical Family’ Contrives A Happy Ending – But Not A Complete One

The post ‘The Atypical Family’ Contrives A Happy Ending – But Not A Complete One appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.

The Atypical Family contrived a happy ending in Episodes 11 and 12, which, thanks to the time travel gimmick, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But it also left plenty on the table in terms of important unanswered questions. Despite the usual limited series designation, Season 2 might be on the cards.

Gwi-joo’s Potential Death Casts A Long Shadow

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The finale is haunted by the specter of Gwi-joo’s upcoming death, predicted by his soothsayer mother, who is rarely ever wrong. There are some key details all tying back to Gwi-joo’s efforts to save Da-hae from the fire in her past, with a tell-tale mark on his neck seemingly proving his demise inevitable.

The word of the day is “fate”, and the concept powers the entire ending of The Atypical Family. Are the broad sweeps of our lives predetermined? Can we change our destinies? What happens that changes not just who we are but where we might end up, and is it possible for events, relationships, and most importantly people to divert the course of our lives?

Yi-Na’s First Dance

As ever, The Atypical Family melds its high-concept storytelling with simpler human drama, and Yi-Na’s first dance performance at her school is where these two threads begin to coalesce.

Yi-na has had a difficult run of things throughout Season 1, with her coming-of-age arc intertwining with the much more complicated time-traveling love story at the show’s core. With Gwi-joo’s neck injury causing a lot of panic for Da-hae, he wants to keep it quiet until after Yi-na’s performance.

For a brief moment, Yi-na’s anxiety increases when it looks like Gwi-joo might not make it in time – he’s on the phone with a former colleague in the fire department about the fire 13 years ago – but he arrives with the rest of the combined families. Yi-na has all the support she could hope for, and she delivers a great performance.

Immediately after the dance, Gwi-joo rushes off. The time has come. Gwi-joo’s father hurries to tell Ga-hae that in Man-heum’s dream, the fire occurs in Yi-na’s school.

Who Starts the Fire?

It’s Ji-han, Dong-hee’s former fiancé, who starts the fire at the school.

Dong-hee breaking off the wedding has sent Ji-han a bit mad, and he threatens Dong-hee that if she doesn’t accept him, he will burn her house down. Naturally, she thinks he’s bluffing, and calls him some unsavory things – such as a coward – before departing.

However, after she leaves, Ji-han inadvertently sets the room on fire. It spreads very quickly, eventually trapping Yi-na and Da-hae, who manages to find her.

Does Gwi-joo Survive?

Gwi-joo arrives in the nick of time to save Yi-na and Da-hae. He instructs the latter to get his daughter to safety while he takes the opportunity to travel 13 years into the past to save her.

The ending of The Atypical Family suggests that Gwi-joo has died, showing his family mourning him. Five years passed after the incident at Yi-na’s school, and the assumption is that Gwi-joo died 13 years in the past, saving Da-hae.

That would be appropriately romantic, I think, but it’d also be a little too tragic for this show, so there’s a cheeky narrative get-out-of-jail moment at the very end.

In the future, Da-hae has a five-year-old son. And the toddler, of course, has a superpower. Conveniently, it’s the power to bring things back from the past. So, Da-hae shows the kid Gwi-joo’s picture, hoping that he can use his power to bring Gwi-joo back.

And he does. The Atypical Family ends with Gwi-joo and Da-hae reunited, and it’s a happy climax that nonetheless leaves a few things unaddressed. Will we see more from the Bok family? I’d say it’s unlikely right now, but you never know how things might turn out.

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