Okay, this is unprecedented. Not only did this show get me to post on a Saturday, I also made a rant 5 parts long. That’s so long. But W: Two Worlds is worth it! If I had the time to cut this rant down and make it concise I would, but hopefully breaking it up and putting searchable headers made it manageable. So let’s get down to business: did you like the ending?
Okay guys. The ending. If you haven’t finished the drama you aren’t allowed to read this section. In fact, I think I’m gonna do that fancy “highlight to read” thing as an extra precaution. Are you sure you want to read it? Alright let’s go!
I have… intense feelings about the ending. Not necessarily mixed feelings, just a lot of them. First of all I want you all to know I loved it, whichever way it ended. I’ll give you a runthrough of the events as they are generally accepted, so we can all be on the same page when we get to my theory.
Start with the last episode. Yeon-Joo says she can’t choose between her Dad and Chul–that she wants it all. Chul thinks that’s a bit naive, but goes along with it for the moment. He asks her to draw them a way out of their fortress house, and the two make their escape in a newly created car. (Interjection here, my heart pretty much broke when he said he loved her in the car. That’s something she’d been so weighted by in earlier episodes, and it felt like a goodbye when he said it here. Oof). Chul stashes her and her father at a motel and goes to confront our Assemblyman baddie–bad idea! Bad idea! He manages to save his friend and then totally fails to see the shot in the chest coming from our sketchy backstabbing politician. Bleeding and disoriented, he fights his way out of Han’s lair and escapes in his car. A weary, near-unconscious call to Yeon-Joo later, he’s waiting at a bus stop for her to come and pick him up. Cue the saddest scene ever as she watches him look up and see her… before falling to the ground. She disappears from the manhwa and we see the little “The End” sign in the corner. That’s it. The end.
Su-bong reads the ending and drives to pick Yeon-joo up from the roadside, taking her promptly to the emergency room. There’s a fun encounter with Crazy Dog (where meta fan meets W fan, haha) and then we get back to Yeon-Joo–whose first thought now is for Daddy Oh. Did he make it back? Where is he? Since Chul died, he must have survived right? But he’s nowhere to be found and there’s no way for the webtoon to continue: the last magic-tablet copy disappeared when the webtoon ended, like everything else from W. Su-bong voices over as time passes, explaining that Yeon-joo was the only one unable to accept that the webtoon had ended–Chul was dead. We see her try to draw her father into existence on a new tablet, to no avail. Su-bong continues to narrate:
Aaaaand back to the last W-comic chapter. We watch as Daddy Oh pleads to be freed, succeeds, and proceeds to draw out a scene in Assemblyman Han’s office. Han watches in horror as a gun draws itself into his hand, a suicide note appears on his desk, and he raises the barrel to his head. His assistants run in when they hear the shot just as Daddy Oh erases the tape he drew over Han’s mouth. I… really have mixed feelings about Daddy Oh. He draws a photo of himself and a note, then drives to the roadside where Chul and Yeon-Joo are meeting. Su-bong jumps in again here to explain that the webtoon didn’t end because Chul died, but because both villains died (Han when Oh shoot-suicides him, Oh when he went against his construct and helped Chul).
In fact, Chul never dies. He’s saved by his hyung and the paramedics, spends a year in prison to prevent any “JK not really the webtoon’s end” scenarios and goes back to the real world. He picks Yeon-Joo up from her miserable vigil in the rain at his “death” site and takes her to the hospital, where he cuddles in bed with her and reassures her he’s alive. He lies and says Daddy Oh is alive, giving her the note and photo Daddy made–and they sit outside watching the sunset. She asks if it’s really over, and he says yes. He kisses her for a long while and she leans against him while in the corner of the screen “the end” glows brightly. The end.
~ ~ ~ (FROM HERE ON OUT, YOU’LL NEED TO HIGHLIGHT TO READ).
Okay guys, this is serious. Was it a happy ending? Here I will present my two scenarios to you–both of which I think are plausible endings to W, both of which I love… one of which also breaks my heart. Happy first, though.
We take the ending at face value, stories really do end when the bad guys go away–not when our Main Character dies or goes away. Chul needed to stay to ensure the webtoon would really end forever, thus releasing them all from the clutches of whatever powered that link between their worlds. He remains autonomous and leaves for the real world, where I have mixed feelings about his lying to her about her father. But it’s a happy ending–and I would love it for that. I love it because it was so simple, so ordinary, so without flair. Because that’s what the characters wanted. Because that’s what they’d fought for during these 16 episodes, and it’s finally what they got. Because it followed the rules of the drama and the world and gave them that sense of normality. In episode 15 they said we would be surprised by the ending–and I think that’s pretty shocking. To give the characters the satisfaction they needed by not making it mindblowing rather than explode the viewers brains more for their own enjoyment. I would definitely be surprised if that’s really how it ended. But… but… that chyron in the corner. I just can’t let it go. Everything in this drama, every detail, is there for a reason. Everything. Someone mentioned world hopping often happens in the rain–in all of Song’s dramas–and I’m still working to figure out why, but I know it’s gotta mean something. So when you stick chyron in the edge of my screen that screams “Something else is going on here” to me.
And so here’s my theory, and I’m sorry if you cry: Chul is really dead. Yeon-Joo couldn’t save him, Daddy Oh didn’t save him, he died. Because that’s when stories really end–not because the bad guys are gone, but when there’s no reason to follow the main character anymore. And the entire second half of the episode? It’s Yeon-Joo’s creation. The drama has shown no qualms in the past about giving us false realities: dream sequences, should have happeneds, possible outcomes. And that’s exactly what I think this is: a creation of Yeon-Joo’s. I don’t think the ending is real at all. I think Chul died on that road and Yeon-Joo never could accept it, like Su-bong said. It showed her drawing, and I think that was the start of her false ending. Perhaps she expected her dad to show up at first… but then I think she made her choice. I don’t know if she drew herself into a new webtoon with him, or if none of it is real and this is all just a what-if, or some combination of the two… but I don’t think we got our real happy ending, folks.
Why? Well, because of the chyron, for one. I’m all for happy call-backs to earlier episodes, but this show isn’t one that does that just for fun. The references always carry meaning, generally something bittersweet. And then there’s the lighting. I hadn’t been very good at telling the lighting between W and the real world since the beginning, but even I thought the lighting in the last scenes was a bit too “webtoon-y” to be real. And that was on the first watch of the episode. Then there’s her ring–it disappeared when she left the webtoon. She shouldn’t have had a ring–but she does when Chul reappears. Perhaps he simply got her another one (or she did) but I’d like to think she drew it there. That’s where it belongs after all. And finally, the camerawork. I’ve always appreciated the difference in styling between the real world and W. Lighting I can’t tell–camera styling, I can. When in W, the camera work had a distinct comic-epic feel to it. There were scenes I felt like had just come to life from a manhwa. And in the real world it always felt very normal–no fancy artsy stuff there. So then you give me Chul walking in the epic webtoon rainy slow-mo walk–and the stunningly simple, warm sunset scene–and you make me suspicious. What am I really watching?
Either way the drama ended, I’d be satisfied with. One requires a few hours of crying, but I could still accept it–I always did wonder how they could ever be together. Well, maybe the answer is they aren’t.
~ ~ ~
Super sad stuff, huh! I love the ending because it’s open to interpretation like that: each path stays in line with the rules of W, but they’re so very different. Like the ending to some Pratchett novels, you’re left wondering about the ending. It drives you nuts, but I love it. And I I loved W–so much! So much! It was a joy to write this rant, spill all my feelings into a few blog posts. I’m seriously grateful to you all for reading it, and you should look forward in anticipation to the gallery next Thursday–I don’t know how to make gifs yet, but I might try and learn for this drama.
Thanks for reading!
PS. there’s a great article on DB translating an interview with Writer Song. I don’t know if the ending I’ve hypothesized is what she intended, but really it doesn’t matter. For purposes of the work, the writer is dead (it means my interpretation is just as valid).