Andante’s final two episodes contain the most heart-wrenching moments as we conclude the family’s story. Overall, Andante was interesting with its different outlook on death, and how this helped developed the characters into more compassionate people. However, certain instances during the final two episodes felt rushed, awkward, and unsatisfying despite that they did come back around to conclude the father’s story.
The finale focuses mainly on Shi-kyung (Kai) and we come to lack any further development for Shi-young (Lee Ye-hyun.) Lee Ye-hyun portrayal of her is still memorable as she was able to handle both the dramatic and comical scenes having her character stand out against the main protagonist. Sadly, we don’t get to see her relationship with Ga-rum (Baek Chul-min) develop like we did with Bom and Shi-kyung, and even in the end they seem more like best friends than a couple. If anything, she acts more as a rock for Shi-kyung as he deals with Bom’s (Kim Jin-kyung) passing.
Bom’s story comes to an end when she decides to leave behind her friends and family not wanting them to see her life deteriorate and wanting them to only remember her during happier times. However, despite her mother agreeing to take her in, we don’t see her repair their relationship like other characters have done through the season. While her mother does feel guilt for having rejected her for so long, she still must be coerced, as an another “favor,” to take Bom in and drive her to say good-bye to her adopted family.
Additionally, like Shi-kyung, the audience doesn’t get to be with Bom during her last moments, and in the very next scene her death is implied when her mother calls Shi-kyung sobbing. It’s a shocking and abrupt moment, and doesn’t seem fair to Bom’s already tragic life that she doesn’t get to spend her final days surrounded by loved ones or that her mother only shows any sort of emotion until after her death. Kim Jin-kyung, a novice at acting, does a decent job at portraying Bom’s character although she did sometimes fell flat when it came to emotional scenes.
Although Bom’s conclusion was depressing, it does set up the story for Shi-kyung’s friends to come to his aide. Along with family, Andante has also brought up the importance of friendship. His classmates all join Shi-kyung during his punishment by jogging with him around the track at school, and letting him know that he won’t be alone in grieving for his girlfriend’s death. Shi-kyung finally takes a moment to scream and cry — letting out the anger and sadness he was holding in since Bom’s death and can move on to help resolve the urgent issue with the hospice.
Seeing Shi-kyung come back to life and embrace his former go-to attitude is great to see despite having another rushed story-line in which he must save the hospice. He manages to quickly resolve the hospice’s issue by showing the hospice owner, a greedy and former idol that one of the patients was the dedicated president of his former fan club. This doesn’t really mesh well with the show’s theme with family resolutions, and it’s upsetting that the owner didn’t think all the other patient’s lives would have been worth saving even before he was reluctantly introduced to his devoted fan.
After the previous events are wrapped up, the story finally circles back around to their father’s disappearance and their inability to accept it. Shi-kyung’s father’s body is found, and the characters can finally properly grieve for him having not known conclusively before if he had died. At the same time, their grandmother (Sung Byoung-Sook) is stuck in the past, with progressing dementia, and is re-living the days before Shi-kyung’s father left for Africa. The family decide to rewrite history by going on the trip they never got to on all while Shi-kyung is pretends to be his father for his grandmother. Because of this, she’s able to give Shi-kyung’s “father” the meal she made him all those years ago before his trip. In this instance, the writers portray dementia too simplistically as their grandmother is suddenly able to remember who Shi-kyung and the others after the trip.
However, grandmother’s memory loss parallels with Shi-kyung as he also regains his memories after reliving their lost past, and can now keep his father alive by remembering their precious moments. Originally, he had blocked out his father due to the pain of missing him. This is also how he copes with Bom’s death as he thinks frequently of her and even begins to speak out to her for advice like he initially did with his father in the previous episodes.
At first, Kai seemed like a miscast for this character, but his acting improved as the story progressed, and he held his own against veteran actors like Sung Byoung-Sook. He was able to bring about Shi-kyung’s goofy and care-free attitude through his smiles and a sometimes squeaky voice, but was able to tone it down for more somber scenes.
In the closing scene, we’re treated with a heart-breaking scene of Shi-kyung sitting on bench with Bom who is happy with a warm glow, exactly how she wanted to be remembered, only for the camera to pan around and show he’s sitting alone. However, Shi-kyung still smiles as he’s sitting next to the tree where they first met, and Bom’s smiling and bright picture sits by it. This exemplifies the K-drama’s tone, and central theme with death and the power of memories.
Andante is a K-drama about first-loves, family, friends, and learning to cope with death. It takes a different look at the finality of life, and shows how it can bring people together, help resolve issues, and teaches people to keep their loved ones alive through their shared moments.
The last two episodes were awkward and devastating at times, but overall, Andante is a must-see K-drama of 2017 because of how uniquely it tackles the trauma of losing a loved one.
(Images via KBS)