Because of the extremely disappointing ending of last week’s God’s Gift episodes, I laid in hope that the following week would hopefully spring a surprise alternate ending. Unfortunately, my prayers were not answered.
God’s Gift seemed to have been aiming for an open-ended Inception-esque ending, putting the ending up in the air for the viewers to debate — did the splash signify Dong-chan‘s death, or is it intended to mislead us in that direction? While open-ended endings can sometime work, this one felt clunky, especially considering it was rushed in five minutes. Dong-chan somehow suddenly realized that the prophecy was referring to him and Saet-byul, which seemingly led to his decision to kill himself in the river (this interpretation seems to be the most likely). Considering that this is a defining moment for the entire series, we don’t even see Dong-chan’s dilemma to make this choice; it just seems so randomly placed to deliver a twist, in a terribly unsatisfying way.
The cast gave stellar performances — Lee Bo-young as the hysterical Soo-hyun, Kim Yoo-bin as the adorable Saet-byul, Jo Seung-woo as the perceptive Dong-chan. Everything seemed set for an outstanding series, but the one thing lacking was the shortage of character developments. Soo-hyun’s character remained as the frazzled and impulsive mother, Ji-hoon didn’t improve his fathering skills, the one character that actually had an engaging and churning character arc, was put to death.
And seriously, considering that Dong-chan (and Jo Seung-woo) was likely the one and only highlight of God’s Gift, the one thing the viewers wanted, was a happy ending for our shining knight in armour. At this point, I don’t really care if the ending is cliched or lame, he deserves a happy ending and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that he didn’t get it. For a series so intent on finding the bad guys, I’m surprised we don’t get the chance to see them actually get their comeuppance. This is such a classic case of the writer trying too hard to be different, but it merely falls flat on itself.
Probably the most heart-wrenching arc for the last quarter of the series, was the revelation of the truth about Dong-chan and Dong-ho’s past. Your brother taking the fall for you thinking you were guilty? Oof. Your brother bursting into happiness when he found out that you were innocent and he took the fall for you in vain? Double oof. Both actors pulled off the emotional roller coaster throughout the series phenomenally, and it’s a rewarding moment to see Dong-chan realize the enormity of what his brother has sacrificed willingly for him.
And it just hurts me to think that Dong-ho won’t even get to live with Dong-chan when he is released from jail. The writers purposely left it ambiguous as to whether it’s Woo-jin or Dong-chan who receives Dong-ho outside the jail, but I’m thinking it’s probably Woo-jin as an atonement for Yong-gyu. The series built up this tearjerker about this broken family, and just when we think they are finally going to be reunited, things take a turn for the worse. The brothers’ mother really has the worst life — one son incriminates the other for a murder he didn’t commit, and a family reunions is imminent, this son sacrifices his own life to save Saet-byul.
Speaking of which, Dong-chan’s relationship with Saet-byul was one of the most adorable things about the drama, and it makes sense that the writers thought it would be the most shocking to have Dong-chan as the original murderer of Saet-byul. The framing of Dong-chan as the murdered felt too far-fetched to be believable, and I think God’s Gift didn’t need to resort to this to give a shock factor. It’s as if we were set up for an mindblowing answer to the whodunnit, but the solution fell short of the expectations.
It’s unfortunate that God’s Gift felt into the live-shooting trap, and started to churn out sub-par episodes as the series went on. It set itself up with many questions that should have been answered, but they just didn’t get to answering it. The whole premise of the show — the time travel and prophecy — was so briefly mentioned that I still don’t really understand what was going on. 90% of my issues with God’s Gift stems from its crappy last episode, which failed to answer questions or deliver a satisfying closure. Dong-chan deserves a hero’s welcome (or funeral at least), but all we got was him being accused as Saet-byul’s murderer before going out with a watery splash. There are some viewers out there who theorize that the splash in the water was Soo-hyun going into the water to save Dong-chan as a parallel to how Dong-chan saved Soo-hyun from drowning. And while it’s a stretch for me to buy that, I’m willing to hang on to any thread that will let me believe that Dong-chan is alive.
While I wish the last episode could be erased from my mind, God’s Gift is a drama I would still watch again. If anything, it introduced me to the charismatic and suave actor that is Jo Seung-woo. He carried the show and took the character of Dong-chan to its greatest potential — he was practically made for it. God’s Gift started out on a strong note, and it’s a pity it started getting too excited with weaving this overly complicated web of characters and events and eventually got ahead of itself. Complexity is good, but forced complexity does not have the same sleek chicness as its more genuine counterpart. Unfortunately, that’s the bait that God’s Gift fell for. Still, this drama was one of the more suspenseful, fast-moving, and intelligent series out there — complete with a winning cast and a swoon-worthy male lead. If anything, Jo Seung-woo was the real God’s Gift here.
Now, time to read some fanfiction for alternative ending.
(Images via SBS)