As we reach the end of “Our Blues,” the 20-episode long series, we have decided that maybe we only like “slices of life” when it isn’t too realistic. Not to put too rigid a box on it, but K-dramas have always incorporated a certain dreamy quality into their stories that has gained them the popularity they enjoy. While they are never fast-paced, they make sure that the viewer doesn’t disengage either. From the beginning, “Our Blues” has struggled with its pacing, being too slow. While the ending ties together the stories of all the characters in neat little bow ties, we couldn’t help thinking about how little we cared. And that is the sign of a show that does not work. Let us see what the final two episodes were like to better understand this perspective.
Do Jeong Joon’s Parents Like Young Ok?
In the finale week of “Our Blues,” we saw the winding up of three prominent storylines: that of Young Ju and Hyun; Jeong Joon and Young Ok; and finally that of Dong Seok and Ok Dong. Young Ju delivers a baby girl towards the end of this episode, and the new parents seem to have quite a smile on their faces at the end of their ordeal. When it comes to Jeong Joon and Young Ok, the latter is extremely nervous about meeting his parents. But Jeong Joon reassures her and tells her not to worry as his parents already know about her family. Young Ok is not convinced but decides to give it a shot and takes her car. She does so, thinking that if things don’t go well, she will be able to leave easily. When they reach Jeong Joon’s parents’ house, Young Ok is bothered by the fact that they don’t even smile at her. However, it turns out that the two just picked a bad day as the parents were not in a very good mood for reasons unrelated to the couple. At the dinner table, Jeong Joon’s mother had tears in her eyes as she told Young Ok that it must have been very hard for her because of her family. After this conversation, Young Ok eases up and starts conversing easily with them. Jeong Joon’s parents do like Young Ok’s and, by the looks of it, give them their blessing.
How Do Dong Seok And Ok Dong Make-Up?
When we first saw Dong Seok’s story start in “Our Blues” Episode 1, we thought it would be a love story between him and Seon A, and his aggressive, unlikeable personality was because of something related to that. But kudos to the makers for not taking such a washed-out route for the character and giving him a background that recognizes the nuances of generational trauma and what it means to overcome that for oneself. It starts with Dong Seok and Ok Dong missing their boat and taking a car to their destination. Dong Seok is trying to be civil, and he helps her with her seatbelt. She asks him to come with her to Madang Ri, which is pretty much at the edge of Makpo. After their visit to Man Su, they go to Jong U’s house, where they meet Dong Seok’s step-brother, and the tensions between them are very apparent. At the house, all of them except Dong Seok kneel down to pay respects to their late father. Jong U and Dong Seok don’t get along well as the former used to bully him and beat him up in the past. It doesn’t take long before they break out into a fight, with Jong U accusing Dong Seok of being a thief as he ran away from the house after stealing all the money. The latter claims that it is just compensation for all the bullying he had to go through at his and his step-father’s hands. Jong U claims that he pitied him, which is when Ok Dong intervenes and says that it was his own actions that caused his father’s death. He set off the chain reaction that resulted in her husband’s death from the shock of losing that money.
Later that day, Dong Seok asks his mother why she never apologized to him for being a silent spectator whenever he was bullied? Ok Dong replies that there was never any reason for her to say sorry, and this visibly angers her son. The next day, when they arrive at Madang Ri, which used to be Ok Dong’s village, they find that it has been turned into a reservoir. Towards the end of the day, Dong Seok, finally having had enough, snaps at his mother that this is the last thing he is doing for her. As they head through the forest to where his mother wanted to go, she ends up twisting her ankle. Ok Dong reveals her difficult childhood and tells Dong Seok how she lost all of her family in a very short time. She married and moved in with his step-father only to make sure Dong Seok had three meals a day and access to an education. Anything other than that was out of her power, which is why she could never intervene when he was being bullied. As she cries out of shame, she tells him to not give her a funeral after her death. Dong Seok has tears in his eyes as he finally starts to understand his mother’s actions.
‘Our Blues’ Season 1: Ending Explained- Does Ok Dong Pass Away? Do Jeong Joon And Young Ok Get Over Their Problems?
Having understood his mother, Dong Seok lets go of a lot of his anger. He wraps his coat around her and gives her a piggyback ride. Later, they go for some noodles, where they talk quite civilly, bordering on affectionate. There is more travel, with Ok Dong taking her son to Gusa town, where she first met his father. Dong Seok is determined to give his mother some happy memories and takes her to Mount Halla for a trip. He tells her that the death of her loved ones was not her fault and asks her about her happy memories. Ok Dong replies that she is extremely happy at that moment. That trip was a journey of healing for both the mother and the son. With their wounds behind them, Dong Seok takes her to the house he has been fixing for Seon A, where she is currently living with her son Yeol. At the house, Ok Dong tells Seon A that Dong Seok has a kind heart and blesses them.
Once she is back home, she fixes up some soup for her son and asks him to come over. But when Dong Seok arrives, he finds that his mother has passed away. He breaks down and admits that he never really hated her. All he wanted was to be able to be her son again. It is a beautiful moment of the complexity of human emotions and tugs at our heart when we realize how just a little bit of honesty and vulnerability could have saved all of them years of resentment. We can maybe find some closure in the adage that ‘all’s well that ends well.
Cut to a month later, the people of Jeju island come together for an athletic meet. Young Ok encourages Seon A to participate. It ends with a beautiful montage of the people taking the run, each of the groups’ representatives of the journey of their relationships. In an episode that was such a tear-jerker, the ending of “Our Blues” was so heartwarming and made us forgive the many moments of frustration we have experienced over the last ten weeks with these characters.
Final Thoughts- Why Doesn’t ‘Our Blues’ Work?
While the final episode of “Our Blues” ended by giving us all the feels, when we judge the show as a whole, our opinion is different. While we appreciate the variety from k-drama land, our expectations are high when it comes to them. And maybe that’s why we are doubly disappointed. A few episodes in, when we found ourselves struggling to care about the slow-paced storylines and the characters who we were just unable to connect with, we found ourselves lowering our standards of judgment for the sake of giving the show a fair chance. Even then, we just couldn’t get over the pace of the show. The problem with multiple storylines is that it detaches the viewer. We see a character having a problem and then getting over it in an episode or two. We don’t see character growth. Then they turn into minor players in everybody else’s story. And this dragged for 20 episodes, each of which lasted an hour. So the question is, how do we continue to care for so long when we are offered so little?
“Our Blues” should have stuck to just ten episodes. The show would have been a lot more entertaining with that. K-dramas lately seem to be struggling with this one problem: they have the perfect characters, perfect storylines, and perfect sets, but it all goes away because they just cannot decide on the appropriate length of the show. This is a sincere request to the makers of Korean dramas to please fix this problem as soon as possible. We love you and hate to see you waste your potential on the wrong formats. We will forget ‘Our Blues’ ever existed if you can make a show good enough to make up for it. Please do it.