The Best Hit: Episodes 31-32 (Final)

It’s time for us to bid Hyun-jae and the rest of the gang farewell and see how every choice made have shaped the course of their lives. Not everything in this last chapter ties up into a neat little bow, but The Best Hit reminds us that life is what we make it, even if some things come in full circle. It won’t be easy saying goodbye to the characters who have made us both laugh and cry at every turn, especially Hyun-jae, who deserves two thumbs up.

 
EPISODE 31 RECAP

Hyun-jae wakes up in a hospital bed wondering what happened, since the last thing he remembers is riding the plastic sled down the staircase in 2017. He sits up just as a doctor and a nurse come in to explain that he must’ve lost his footing on the staircase and some Good Samaritans saw him lying unconscious in the street outside of the building.

He’s told that he’s been out cold for some time, and the nurse chimes in that she thought Hyun-jae was dreaming about the 1988 Summer Olympics because Hyun-jae kept murmuring “Woo-seung, Woo-seung” (meaning “victory”) in his sleep. Thankfully, he doesn’t appear to have suffered any serious injuries.

He’s told that his head is bandaged due to the bruising, and is confused when the nurse reveals herself as a fan and shyly asks for his autograph. The doctor chides her for the request, only to ask for one himself on his daughter’s behalf.

Later, Hyun-jae processes this information in the bathroom, where he wonders aloud: “Does this mean everything that happened was a dream?” He raises a hand to cover his face and avoid recognition when he sees the sticker picture on his arm. He removes his bandage and sees that he’s still sporting the same haircut from 2017. Phew, not a dream.

Another doctor recognizes Hyun-jae on the way back to his room, mentioning that he isn’t scheduled for treatment today. Hearing that his test results won’t come out for a few more days, he asks, “I came to the hospital yesterday?” Remembering that there were two copies of his music notebook and personalized watch, he wonders if Other Hyun-jae still exists and learns that today is June 17, 1994—the day he went missing.

After changing back into his 2017 attire, Hyun-jae and discovers that his watch is ticking again. It’s already the afternoon, so he rushes out of the hospital room and calls Kwang-jae, who isn’t pleased to hear Hyun-jae’s voice on the other end.

Hyun-jae assures him that they’ve already made amends “sometime later,” but right now he needs Kwang-jae’s help and asks to meet. Kwang-jae refuses and tells him to sleep it off, and then returns to his conversation with Young-jae, who asks if that was Hyun-jae.

Kwang-jae denies it, but he’s clearly distracted as Young-jae says he’d like to shift gears and put out a ballad album. Noticing that Kwang-jae’s mind is elsewhere, Young-jae snaps him out of it and asks how it’s possible for him to keep thinking of Hyun-jae whether or not he’s present. Kwang-jae insists that’s not true, but then cuts their meeting short and rushes out.

Wondering if those two are up to something, Young-jae follows Kwang-jae to a cafe and slips into a booth. Hearing Kwang-jae mention Hyun-jae’s claims of “going off the grid for awhile” tells us that their previously final phone conversation took place recently, but Hyun-jae is happy to see his friend and can’t help cracking up at Kwang-jae’s ’90s hairdo.

Kwang-jae tells him that his hair and clothes look strange too, and then Hyun-jae gets right down to business: “There’s someone I need to urgently find—Yoo Hyun-jae.”

Kwang-jae is understandably puzzled at the idea of Hyun-jae trying to find himself and gets up to leave. Hyun-jae stops him, saying that he knows this sounds strange, but he believes that Kwang-jae can find “Yoo Hyun-jae” through his wide network of contacts.

But Kwang-jae points a finger back at Hyun-jae, exclaiming, “I’ve found him. He’s right here!” Hyun-jae lets out a frustrated sigh, then goes for a different angle: there’s an imposter running around claiming to be “Yoo Hyun-jae.” Over in his booth, Young-jae complains that he can’t hear anything.

The imposter story gets Kwang-jae to ask around and confirm that the Yoo Hyun-jae doppelganger stopped by the studio and was headed down to Paju due to a family emergency. Wondering what that could be, Hyun-jae asks to borrow Kwang-jae’s car.

As Kwang-jae hands over the car keys, he wonders why Hyun-jae always manages to coax him into doing things for him. Hyun-jae returns a smile: “Because you’re my only friend,” and runs out, unaware that Young-jae is trailing behind him.

Hyun-jae beelines for the studio, where an employee approaches and asks if he left something behind. Evidently Other Hyun-jae left minutes ago saying he needed to attend to his deceased parents’ graves. Hyun-jae turns back to ask if he’d mentioned anything about a lake and learns that the same lake where Other Hyun-jae’s car was found isn’t too far from the studio.

We cut to that lake, where the frail-looking Other Hyun-jae is on a boat and spreads his parent’s ashes into the water. He bids them farewell because he won’t be able to tend their graves anymore. Coughing, he tells them not to be too upset with him since he’ll be joining them soon enough.

A storm rages as Other Hyun-jae sits in his car and sheds tears while listening to the radio reporting on the impending double typhoon. He launches into another coughing fit and reaches for his meds, but that does little for his cough, so he angrily chucks the bottle away.

He’s startled when someone climbs into the car and sees his own face. It’s Hyun-jae, who exclaims, “So there was another Yoo Hyun-jae.” Telling Other Hyun-jae not to freak out, Hyun-jae stumbles through his own introduction: “I’m you! Or should I say that you’re me?”

Hyun-jae settles on introducing himself as Past Hyun-jae from 1993 who traveled to the future on a stormy night and returned to 1994. He laughs at how absurd this story sounds, but admits it’s a bit comforting to confirm that Other Hyun-jae came here to send his parents off since he anticipated the worst.

He explains that Other Hyun-jae will go missing tonight, so he wanted to prevent him from coming here at all costs, but didn’t anticipate that they would meet this way. He figures that some moments of destiny are unchangeable. Other Hyun-jae reaches over and touches Hyun-jae’s face to check that he’s real, and when Hyun-jae pulls him off of him, he asks, amazed, “You’re saying you’re me?”

Hyun-jae says it’s true and elaborates that he started to understand why this all began when he read the note Other Hyun-jae left in the security deposit box. He even points out the plastic piggy bank in the backseat to cement his point and protests that he knows this because he came from the future. Well, from the past to the future back to the past, but we already know that.

He reminds Other Hyun-jae of that stormy night when they won the Golden Cup, which Other Hyun-jae remembers as the day he cuts ties with everyone because he thought that money belonged to him. Other Hyun-jae asks how Hyun-jae is living with “that person,” then asks after Bo-hee and Kwang-jae.

Hyun-jae says that’s a long story, but cheerily shares how Kwang-jae, Bo-hee, and CEO Lee all live together in a future where Young-jae is successful. Speaking of whom, Young-jae is hiding behind the bushes in the storm, unable to figure out who the other person Other Hyun-jae is with.

Hyun-jae reassures Other Hyun-jae that their fans remember him for decades into the future. He suddenly checks his watch and sees that it’s minutes to midnight, then sees his own face start to disappear from the sticker picture. He mutters that he doesn’t have much time left, but then Other Hyun-jae asks for more information about Ji-hoon.

Other Hyun-jae is proud to hear that Ji-hoon grew up to be a great kid: “Of course, he’d be great, if he’s my son.” Hyun-jae agrees that Ji-hoon is frustratingly upright, humble, and clever and, and that he’s enough of a good performer to stand on stage. A small smile peeks through Other Hyun-jae’s lips when he hears that Ji-hoon inherited his smarts and attended Seoul University. “I miss them,” Other Hyun-jae declares. “Kwang-jae, Bo-hee, and Ji-hoon.”

A sudden clap of thunder and flash of lightning spooks them both, which Other Hyun-jae attributes to the typhoon. Hyun-jae asks if it’s a double typhoon, and Other Hyun-jae confirms that it is. Other Hyun-jae doesn’t know what time it is because he left his watch at home, but Hyun-jae checks his watch and asks how long it will take them to get to World Agency. Oh, are you planning on sending Other Hyun-jae into the future?

He has no time to explain and says they need to hurry. But the car won’t start, so Hyun-jae says they can take his. Young-jae sees both men leaving, then sneaks into Other Hyun-jae’s car to grab the music notebook. Ah, so that explains how he has the notebook in the future.

12:40 AM. Hyun-jae and Other Hyun-jae zoom down the highway in the rain. They arrive at the World Agency building seconds before the rain suddenly stops. 1:17 AM. Hyun-jae says they don’t have much time and need to get up to the roof.

Hyun-jae runs up the stairwell while Other Hyun-jae wheezes behind him. Hyun-jae grabs a wood plank and tells Other Hyun-jae to go first because this ride could send him to another reality. He hurriedly explains that riding down the staircase was how he landed in the future and urges Other Hyun-jae to go.

Other Hyun-jae hesitates, so Hyun-jae grabs his arms and tells him that this illness he’s suffering from is curable in the future. Other Hyun-jae releases himself from Hyun-jae’s grip and replies with a deep sigh: “I don’t want to. This is my time. Think about it, I’m the Yoo Hyun-jae who resides in this world. If the future you claim is true, then there are things I need to take care of here.”

Hyun-jae’s eyes well up with tears as Other Hyun-jae continues, “If there are things I need to finish here, then I want to do that here. So there was a reason why I was doing all this. If you happen to see Ji-hoon again, give him this.” Other Hyun-jae hands Hyun-jae a bead bracelet as tears spill down Hyun-jae’s cheek. He ekes out, “But you’re dying.” With a smirk, Other Hyun-jae says he won’t go down that easy and reminds Hyun-jae that there isn’t time.

1:20 AM. Other Hyun-jae tells Hyun-jae to return to the time he needs to be in. “And… thanks for coming,” he finishes before pushing Hyun-jae down onto the wooden sign and shoves him down the stairwell. Fade to black.

Sometime in the near future, Kwang-jae yells at the boys to hurry up lest they show up late for their first appearance on a weekly music show. MC Drill is a bundle of nerves, and the idol girl group are jealous that their hoobaes get to appear on TV.

Mal-sook comes running out before the boys leave and thrusts a piece of paper at Ji-hoon. He wonders if this is his first autograph request, but she declares she wants an autograph from every member of a different idol group. Heh. She adorably gives him a bandage, saying that it’ll protect him, and once the van leaves, she and Bo-hee (whom she now calls “Mom”) head inside to eat.

At the broadcasting station, MC Drill exchanges awkward greetings with the other singers while Kwang-jae is on the phone talking to the endless line of PDs who seem to love the duo. The boys marvel at their group name Jay-B written outside of their dressing room, and Kwang-jae chuckles that Grandpa really did pick out a great name for them.

Kwang-jae bows out to take another call while the boys psych themselves up for their performance. Just then, someone plucks out an earbud from Ji-hoon’s ear—it’s Hye-ri, whose girl group is widely popular.

Told that MC Drill is exercising because he suffers from stage fright, Hye-ri slaps him on the back and tells him to command the stage. After she leaves, Ji-hoon asks if those words helped. MC Drill gripes, “No, my back just hurts!”

Later, Jay-B is called on stage, and MC Drill and Ji-hoon exchange a fist bump before making the walk toward the auditorium filled with screaming fans.

We cut to the World Agency office, where Woo-seung, who is now a team leader and the only employee, tells the caller that Kwang-jae isn’t at his desk. Moments later, MJ waltzes and sighs that he’s going through a songwriting dry spell.

MJ plops down in Kwang-jae’s chair (heh, some things never change) and asks if Woo-seung can give him any songs she’s written since he knows that she’s currently studying music composition. She teasingly asks if he plans on releasing it if she does, and the jab hits him where it hurts.

He decides to get something to eat, then pops back in to check if Woo-seung has heard from “Master,” meaning Hyun-jae. Slightly flustered, she replies no.

 
EPISODE 32 RECAP

Woo-seung returns home that night and greets the photos of Hyun-jae on her nightstand and curls up in bed with the doll he won for her. She’s eating dinner alone when Ji-hoon swings by to drop off a folder from Dad containing a music notebook by a famous songwriter that should help her in her music composition studies.

She already knows of Jay-B’s debut performance today and invites him to eat with her, but he declines, determined to focus all his energy into Jay-B right now. He leaves her to eat, and tells himself that he did a good job back there.

It’s only when Woo-seung is alone again do the tears finally fall, and she asks a photo of Hyun-jae if he’s eating and faring well.

Kwang-jae isn’t happy when Young-jae drops by the bakery. He selects the most expensive cake available for him to buy, and when Young-jae reminds him that Star Punch is still hurting from losing MJ, he’s told he should’ve treated the star artist better when he had the chance.

When Bo-hee joins their conversation, Young-jae is still sweet to her and tells her to call if Kwang-jae messes up. Kwang-jae quickly nips the pleasantries in the bud and declares that he’ll temporarily be using one of Star Punch’s recording studios. Despite Bo-hee’s insistence that Young-jae has a soft heart, Kwang-jae is okay with sticking to the occasional thorny exchange with him.

He later retires to the bedroom, where he straightens the wedding portrait of him and Bo-hee hanging on the wall. Aww. He still remembers the night he intended to propose to Bo-hee and asked an employee to hide the ring in the ice cream.

Kwang-jae kept a close eye on Bo-hee with every spoonful of her dessert, but she eventually reached the bottom and there was no ring. It’s in his, isn’t it? Upset, he had another spoonful and felt himself swallow the ring. HA.

Unable to cough it back up again, he told her that they needed to go to the hospital, where Bo-hee saw the ring in Kwang-jae’s x-ray scan. Kwang-jae then took the tablet and got down on one knee, saying that he’s “swallowed” these words for twenty years and even swallowed the ring. He promises to make her happy and says, “Marry me.”

Bo-hee took another look at the scan and told him: “Thank you. And my answer… is yes.” The doctor congratulated the happy couple, and Kwang-jae jokingly asked if they could extract the ring from his body tonight.

In the present, Kwang-jae asks Bo-hee if they should’ve held a wedding ceremony since they’ve also legally adopted Mal-sook. But Bo-hee wants to wait until they can have a big fancy wedding and tells him that he needn’t work at the bakery since his World Agency duties keep him plenty busy.

She also wants to be a good mother and wife before putting out another album. She makes Kwang-jae promise to do his best whenever that time comes.

As Woo-seung exits a convenience store that night, she catches a glimpse of someone who resembles Hyun-jae. Shocked, she cries out “Thumbs Up!” and runs after him, but then loses him when he turns the corner. Crying, she wonders why Hyun-jae hasn’t returned and if he’s already forgotten about her.

The next day, a triangle kimbap a boy accidentally leaves on top of her planner at the cafe reminds her of Hyun-jae again. A man bumps into her on the street, causing the files in her arms to spill onto the ground.

She bends down to pick them up when someone places a pair of headphones over her ears. She looks up to see Hyun-jae in the flesh and she drinks in his presence for a few seconds before diving in to kiss him.

Hyun-jae fills her in on his latest adventure as they take a stroll through the park and sit on a bench. Hearing Woo-seung ask about Other Hyun-jae makes him feel like she’s talking about another person, though he agrees that he and Other Hyun-jae aren’t quite the same since they lived through different experiences.

He admits he doesn’t know what happened to Other Hyun-jae and guesses that was because Other Hyun-jae didn’t want everything to change because of him. He asks how she’s been doing and doesn’t mind if it’s a long story because he’s got all the time in the world now. Calling himself a great storyteller and listener, he leans in to hear her story.

She’s happy that he didn’t get lost on his way back, and Hyun-jae says he thinks this is the year he belongs in. He then shows her the sticker picture which acted like a compass on his trip to and from the past.

Woo-seung makes him a homemade dinner and tells him to stay here until he has a place of his own. He doesn’t want to inconvenience her like that again, but she insists that it’s fine and that she trusts him not to cross a line.

But Hyun-jae’s mind can’t help but wander while Woo-seung takes a shower. He tells himself not to harbor naughty thoughts, but keeps glancing at the bathroom door. He tries to distract himself with mobile games, but then we see him standing outside of the bathroom door.

He suddenly snaps himself out of it and scolds himself (“Yoo Hyun-jae, you’re better than this!”), then tries to work out his, er, frustration until she exits the bathroom. He’s unable to even stand and curls up into a ball away from Woo-seung when she bends down and points out how worn out he looks.

He flinches at her slightest touch and he mutters that he just won a battle against himself. Saying he needs to visit Kwang-jae, he stalks out of the apartment. Hee.

Hyun-jae shares a beer with Kwang-jae and barks that he won’t ever travel through time again because the last trip nearly killed him. As for his illness, Hyun-jae shares that his fangirl-turned-doctor is helping him with treatment, and they smile over the idea that his fangirls are all adults now.

Kwang-jae asks Hyun-jae to work at World Agency, where he can train the singers and work as a songwriter. It occurs to him that Hyun-jae is still young enough to still perform on stage if he wanted to, but Hyun-jae is ready for a life outside of the spotlight.

Apparently Grandpa is being proactive about his Alzheimer’s and working out on a regular basis. He also attended Mal-sook’s school picnic today and vowed to win all the prizes there. Oh thank god he’s still alive. Then Hyun-jae asks why Kwang-jae helped him so much over the years, and when Kwang-jae says it was because he was his road manager, Hyun-jae correct him: “You were more than that.”

Kwang-jae admits that Hyun-jae seemed lonely like he was himself, and that thought helped him put up with Hyun-jae’s temper. Hyun-jae scoffs when Kwang-jae says he should address him as CEO Lee, saying that he’s a freelancer. Kwang-jae isn’t surprised and tells him, “Don’t go anywhere far away again, Yoo Hyun-jae. Let’s grow old together now.” Hyun-jae smiles and promises to do just that.

Ji-hoon happens to see a figure pass by the practice studio, and then questions whether or not MC Drill truly suffers from stage fright because he appeared to be a natural performer. MC Drill can say the same about his friend and they strike their group pose… which turns into a wave when a group of female hoobaes walks in.

After dance practice, MC Drill heads out to meet some friends and promises not drink tonight. Ji-hoon turns to head upstairs and sees Hyun-jae waiting for him on the staircase. They exchange awkward pleasantries as Hyun-jae congratulates Ji-hoon for making his debut and confirms that he’s back for good and with Woo-seung.

Hyun-jae confesses that he met Ji-hoon’s father and wanted to explain Other Hyun-jae’s reasoning for the choices he made. Over drinks, Hyun-jae says he told Other Hyun-jae all about Ji-hoon and his dream of becoming a singer. Ji-hoon asks what his father said, and Hyun-jae replies, “He was proud, of course.”

Then Hyun-jae hands over the bead bracelet Other Hyun-jae asked him to relay, and Ji-hoon puts it on next to the watch Hyun-jae gave him. They agree to get along from this point forward and laugh over how strange it is to be living in this time together.

Hyun-jae returns home to find Woo-seung waiting up for him outside. She admits she was nervous that he’d disappear again, then asks for his arm and writes “Woo-seung’s slave Hyun-jae” with a little heart to ensure that he won’t ever leave her again. He grumpily says he’ll get back at her for this, and then they head back inside together.

Hyun-jae keeps to his word too, because one day when Woo-seung returns home, he pops his head out of the next apartment calling out, “Part-timer!” She jumps a foot to see him there and he cheerily said there happened to be a space available here, so he took it. He promises to be a good neighbor and not disturb her before dipping back inside, only to pop out a second later and ask what’s for dinner tonight. Hah.

He swoops back in and pops out again for a third time and suggest that they eat out. She laughs and calls him weird, but he smiles and calls himself truly great.

They end up having a drink with Ji-hoon and MC Drill on the rooftop, and the boys confirm that they moved into another apartment, which means the rooftop studio is currently empty. Hearing that the creative songwriting juices aren’t flowing for Woo-seung, MC Drill jokes that she’s better suited for a civil service position.

She does promise to give her first good song to the Jay-B boys, though, and the four friends raise their cans together, screaming, “Thumbs Up!”

As a montage of the series plays, we hear Ji-hoon’s voice narrate that they drank and were merry that night: “We don’t know if our time right now seems like much of anything. Everything we have might be nothing and trivial, but as a great poet once said, ‘The most magnificent poem hasn’t been written yet; the most beautiful song hasn’t been sung yet; our best days are the ones we haven’t lived yet.’ So that’s why the present and everything we do is precious. We still have our best hit coming.”

 
Epilogue

Hyun-jae sets up the rooftop studio and carefully peels his sticker picture taken with Woo-seung off of his music notebook and attaches it to his keyboard. Satisfied, he heads outside, where Woo-seung sneaks up on him. As a World Agency employee, she knows that he moved back to this rooftop, then asks how he could run away from her. Hyun-jae counters that her apartment building was way too expensive, and when she asks if he isn’t going to run away again, he assures her: “I can’t go anywhere without you.”

He asks how she can walk around with something on her face. Confused, she asks if there actually is something there. He answers, “Right here,” and pulls her in for a kiss.

 
COMMENTS

I hope you all stuck around for the blooper reel that rolled during the credits and saw Ra PD sneak up on the actors and softly tell them, “That’s enough.” Hilarious. Even though The Best Hit wasn’t the variety-drama hybrid genre I hoped for, it warms my heart to think that the cast and crew had a blast on set. I really enjoyed the merry-go-round of cameos and the 1N2D callbacks that enhanced the viewing experience in the beginning of the series, as well as learning all the fun bits of behind-the-camera trivia, like how Cha Tae-hyun was credited by his character name from The Producers (Ra Joon-mo) because he felt awkward about using his own name and even wore an “LAPD” snapback on set.

Ji-hoon’s parting monologue perfectly sums up the overall message of hope The Best Hit aspired to convey. Every person has dreams they have chased, put aside, or were lucky enough to achieve, and we could see those varied forms in the lives of our characters. There’s a part of me that wishes the writing could have fired on all cylinders on that front because it was those poignant character moments that tugged at my heartstrings and left me in an emotional mess. I felt for the big and small sacrifices Kwang-jae made over the years, the many opportunities he let slip by, and rooted for him when he finally made a decision for himself. Ji-hoon’s surprise rap in his audition still stays with me weeks later, and I liked that he took one last shot to try and make his dreams come true and bring his bro, MC Drill, along for the journey.

I wish we got more from Woo-seung’s storyline and learned more about what she wanted out of life since she spent most of the series living paycheck to paycheck, then fell in love with Hyun-jae and was able to keep her head above water from that point forward. I also respected Bo-hee’s decision to be a wonderful mother and wife for the time being because anybody—be it a wife, mother, husband, dad, grandparent, or legal guardian—who dedicates their time to maintain a harmonious family environment don’t get enough credit for all the hard work they put in day in and day out.

As for the finale, I was relieved that Hyun-jae didn’t lose his memory upon his return to the ’90s. While we also knew that the memories Hyun-jae made and the experiences he had in 2017 changed him into a different person, I appreciated that the story cemented the idea that he was a different person when he met Other Hyun-jae. In that vein, I suppose I was angrier toward the end upon learning some of the choices Other Hyun-jae made, and yet if he didn’t make some of the choices that he did, then there’s a chance that the time-traveling Hyun-jae couldn’t have set things right in 2017. But then that begs this existential question: What was it about Hyun-jae that Fate decided to intervene and send one of his selves into the future while leaving another version behind (and perhaps leave him to die a lonely death?) Or is it not as cruel (but still tragic) if Other Hyun-jae decided to stay behind so that at least one Hyun-jae gets a happily ever after?

Perhaps it’s better for our sanity to stick with the Hyun-jae we’ve gotten to know over the course of this series. His reconciliation with Ji-hoon made me yearn for all the possibilities Hyun-jae could’ve had as his mentor than his rival in love, since I really did love all the relationships he made and repaired in 2017. Knowing Ji-hoon’s true parentage became less important as the story dug more into Hyun-jae’s disappearance, and regardless of whether or not Other Hyun-jae was Ji-hoon’s biological father, I do see the importance of Ji-hoon getting emotional closure so he can move on with his life (even if it is kind of weird to think that if it was true, and that Hyun-jae and Woo-seung got married, she’d technically be his stepmom).

Even with its flaws, I found some joy in the show’s overall breezy tone that gave us delectable subplots and a loosely strung main storyline. What I loved most, though, was the music—not only did all of my favorite artists lend their voices to the soundtrack, but the song lyrics in the anthem tunes and the rhymes in the rap are wonderfully inspirational and spur me to believe that the best days in life are yet to come.

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