Regardless of how a person sees themselves, there always comes a time when you have to make a choice — stick to what you should do, or take a risk and do what you know is right? It’s an easy decision for some, and when lives are on the line, not taking a stand can be the most dangerous choice of all.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Dae-young knows, when he sees that Shi-jin has left behind his uniform and dog tags, that he’s gone off on his own. Meanwhile Shi-jin calls the Abu Dhabi prince’s man and calls in his second favor — he needs a helicopter.
Dae-young goes to see Myung-joo, and she’s surprised to see him in civilian clothing. He tells her that nobody can find Shi-jin or Mo-yeon, but they correctly assume that Mo-yeon’s been kidnapped and Shi-jin has gone off on a “solo operation.”
He reminds her of her comment that his gift was on the way, and asks if he can collect it now. He gives her a gentle kiss on the forehead, then hands her his dog tags. She knows that this means he’s going to help his friend, but all she says is for him to come back safely.
Dae-young recruits three other soldiers for what he calls Unauthorized Black Operation, informing them that this will be done out of uniform, and there’s a high chance they may not come back alive. He offers them a chance to bow out now, but none of them take him up on it. Team Alpha is back.
Shi-jin gets to Argus’s home base alone and slips inside, taking out the guards who spot him and bypassing the surveillance cameras. He’s surprised when the first people he sees are a roomful of children, but he motions to them to stay quiet and keeps moving.
Argus gets confirmation that the deal with North Uruk has gone through, and Mo-yeon watches as he retrieves the diamonds from his safe. He tells his men to “dump everything that doesn’t fit in the suitcase,” meaning the children, but Shi-jin neatly dispatches the goons who come to dispose of them.
One soldier uses a child as hostage, but just as he’s about to shoot Shi-jin, another shot is fired and the goon drops dead. It’s Dae-young and his men, and Shi-jin’s look of shock is priceless. Dae-young asks what he’s doing here all alone raising his hands to the enemy: “I was intimidated thinking I was alone. Now I’m welcoming my friends with open arms.” Ha.
Shi-jin resumes his place as Alpha Team Big Boss, and orders two of the soldiers to get the children out immediately. Dae-young and the fourth soldier (call name Snoopy) are to come with him to rescue the hostage.
The chief of security isn’t happy to hear that Lieutenant General Yoon let Alpha Team go off on their own, but Yoon firmly defends his men. The chief is worried that their operation could get in the way of the CIA’s operation going on at the same time, and wants to let them handle the hostage rescue as well.
But Yoon takes offense when he starts talking about press control, and tells him that he doesn’t care about politics or the media. He cares about his men, who are willing to give their lives to carry out their duty for a country that won’t even recognize their sacrifice. He will take responsibility for whatever happens.
Everyone descends on Myung-joo to find out where Mo-yeon and the soldiers went. She just tells them that she’ll be rescued no matter what it takes, and that they don’t want to know what that means.
Shi-jin and his men wait until Argus takes Mo-yeon out of the building, heading towards their agreed-upon meeting place. He tells Argus that he’s secured a retreat, and asks for the hostage to be released. But the moment he sees Mo-yeon with a cut on her lip, he loses his calm demeanor and raises his gun…
… but then he realizes that Mo-yeon has explosives strapped to her body and Argus is holding the trigger, and Shi-jin orders his men to stand down. The helicopter shows up right on time and Shi-jin has leverage again, and he tells Argus to let Mo-yeon go or his ride won’t land.
Argus is at a disadvantage when he doesn’t understand Korean, and he points his gun at Mo-yeon’s head when she snarks that Shi-jin and his men are discussing the weather. Shi-jin shoots the gun away, admitting that yeah, he’s probably crazy to do that, “So don’t scare her, don’t touch her, and don’t talk to her.”
He offers himself as hostage instead, but Argus is happy with the pretty lady accompanying him. Snoopy finally sees something important — the transmitter on Mo-yeon’s shoulder. If they can disable it, they disable the remote that Argus is holding.
Shi-jin lowers his gun and speaks directly to Mo-yeon, apologizing for being so late. He tells her to stand still, and asks if she trusts him. “Don’t you dare move.” Then he points his gun straight at her, and fires.
It’s a perfect hit, and the remote detonator is disabled. All hell breaks loose as Dae-young starts to fire on Argus’s men through a window, and soon they’re all down, including Argus himself.
The explosives strapped to Mo-yeon are still live however, and on a countdown. Snoopy works quickly to disable them, while Shi-jin tries to distract Mo-yeon. He reminds her of his joking about the land mine, when she’d told him to bring an expert — well, Snoopy is the expert.
Sure enough, they get the vest off her with thirty seconds to spare… but Snoopy couldn’t disarm the bomb. He flings the vest as far as he can while Shi-jin shields Mo-yeon, creating an impressive boom. But before they can even recover from it, Shi-jin’s man alerts him that Argus isn’t dead, and he’s reaching for his gun.
Shi-jin only has time to fling himself between Argus and Mo-yeon, and pushes her to the floor. Still lying there, he covers Mo-yeon’s eyes, telling her to forget what’s about to happen. He doesn’t stop shooting until Argus is dead.
They use the helicopter to fly back to the base, and Shi-jin reports to Lieutenant General Yoon that the hostage is safe and the target is dead. Yoon informs him that there will be no reward, but also no punishment.
This makes the chief of security angry again, and he threatens to make an official report that Yoon ordered this operation. Yoon agrees that he should do just that, but the chief of security’s smug satisfaction is wiped away when the President arrives.
He’s quick to tell the President that he opposed this whole thing, and requests that Lieutenant General Yoon be punished. Yoon agrees to take full responsibility, but the President disagrees. Why should he be punished for a successful rescue mission?
Despite still being weak, Myung-joo runs out of her hospital room when she hears the helicopter land on base. She’s caught when she stumbles on the stairs by Dae-young, safe and sound.
Mo-yeon finds Shi-jin sitting alone looking at an old, worn photo. He sets it on fire, sadly watching it burn.
Mo-yeon does have a slight gunshot wound on her shoulder, which Ja-ae patches up for her. Sang-hyun tries to joke her into a good mood, but Mo-yeon finally gives in to her frightening ordeal, and cries.
Things are mostly back to normal the next morning, with the shirtless soldiers entertaining the squealing nurses. Today Sang-hyun pulls Dae-young aside to complain, but Dae-young just grins at him and keeps going. Hee.
Things are a little strained between Mo-yeon and Shi-jin, but she finds him to ask after Fatima. He says she’s being treated at Corps Command and will be fine, but Mo-yeon isn’t so sure. She says that Shi-jin seems to lie to her a lot, such as when he said the Haunted Village kids were safe, when truthfully Argus had them.
Shi-jin explains that he didn’t want her to worry, but Mo-yeon wonders what else he’s lied to her about. He thinks about other white lies he’s told her, in the interest of protecting her, but he says to her face that there have been no other lies. She immediately knows that that, in itself, is a lie.
She explains that she understands that these aren’t lies she can complain about, and she even knows that his jokes are carefully placed to avoid telling more lies. But she’s scared that he’ll go on joking, and she’ll go on knowing why, and eventually that will be the sum of their conversations.
Crying now, Mo-yeon says that she just wants normal conversations, like everyone else. Shi-jin says that she can say those boring things to him, that he wants to hear everything she has to say. She knows that he does, but she can’t say inane things to someone who shields people from bullets.
Shi-jin voices his worst fear — does she want to break up? Mo-yeon answers that she just wants to know if he’s someone she can deal with. She turns to go, while Argus’s words ring in her head, how Shi-jin is a great guy, but he has a lot of secrets, and someday he’ll never come back.
Shi-jin goes to the airport to see Argus’s body delivered to the U.S. Army. The same American soldier he once fought now approaches him, thanking him for the “gift” of all the paperwork they’ll have to do, and Shi-jin offers a wry apology. But the soldier says that it’s a good day when a failed operation results in paperwork, and not lost lives.
It’s time for the Haesung hospital team to finally go home, though none of them are as eager to leave as they used to be. They perform their last rounds, visiting Myung-joo first, who is looking much healthier. Young-soo is also recovering, though more slowly, and Mo-yeon lets him know they’re not happy with his behavior putting them all in danger.
She tells him that he’ll be deported to Korea soon for punishment, but the jerk can only whisper, “My diamonds….” She lets him know they’re gone for good, enjoying his stricken reaction.
A fax comes in for Chi-hoon with some test results, and Min-jae asks if he can take them to him. Chi-hoon is in quarantine so he’s surprised to see Min-jae there without safety gear, and Min-jae just casually flips him his test results — negative. He’s not sick, and he can go home.
Min-jae quietly admits that he’s glad Chi-hoon won’t die, then gets adorably upset when Chi-hoon doesn’t react right away. He snaps at Chi-hoon not to say thank you or apologize, because he won’t either, but it’s clear that he’s not truly angry anymore.
Chi-hoon heads out for some fresh air, and has a year scared off his life when his little friend pops up out of nowhere like he always does. He gives the boy a gift of sneakers, though he doesn’t understand when the boy says that what he really wants is a goat, ha.
He asks the boy his real name, and when the boy keeps repeating that he wants a goat, Chi-hoon latches onto the word and thinks his name is “Jadi.” This whole conversation is adorably hilarious.
Mo-yeon can’t stop thinking about Shi-jin and how he shielded her from Argus’s bullet, and we see that the photo she saw him burning was the one he’d taken with Argus when they were friends. Shi-jin had cried bitterly, mourning his lost friend, unaware that Mo-yeon was only feet away.
She had seen his tears then, and the ones he let fall when he was forced to kill Argus. As Shi-jin had cried that night, it was Mo-yeon’s turn to shield him, covering his eyes with her hand and telling him to forget.
Now she goes to talk to him, asking him to make coffee and meet her outside. He does, but when he holds out a cup of coffee for her, Mo-yeon steps into his arms and hugs him. He stands there stunned, still holding both cups of coffee awkwardly, while she tells him calmly about her day.
She steps back and says that from now on, she’s just going to tell him even the smallest things. She’s decided to make this work, so he may as well learn to cope with her chattering. But she asks Shi-jin for one favor, to allow her the right to worry about him.
What she means is that she can’t worry about him every time he’s away, so she asks that he let her know when she should be worried. Shi-jin nods, so Mo-yeon steps back to ask one more question. Which will he choose, her or his country? She says she’sll only ask this once, and he answers that it’s her.
She grumbles anyway, wondering what he’ll do about his country then, and he quips that his country doesn’t get jealous. Ha. This time Shi-jin is the one pulling her in for a hug, and he promises that he won’t let anything happen to worry her. They stand there cuddling, happy.
Dae-young finally relaxes when Myung-joo starts demanding food, and he promises to buy it all for her back in Korea. She gives him back his dog tags, with a sweet little “I love you.”
Dae-young and Shi-jin attempt to make samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) for Myung-joo and Mo-yeon, which sends Private Ki-bum into a frenzy of fussing at their clumsiness in his kitchen. The ladies love it, though they hilariously attribute the great taste to Ki-bum’s interference.
Their conversation somehow turns to the man they had a falling out over back in school, and the boyfriends wisely keep their mouths shut while Mo-yeon and Myung-joo verbally duke it out. Myung-joo claims that he said he was only friends with Mo-yeon, though Mo-yeon swears they had been officially dating.
They finally realize that they’re arguing over an old boyfriend in front of their current boyfriends, and those boyfriends don’t look at all happy about it. Suddenly the tables are turned, and it’s the men who get to pepper the women with questions, while the women lie through their teeth.
Mo-yeon finds Shi-jin in his office, and her plan to pretend to be sick to gain forgiveness fails spectacularly. She decides to just call her old flame then, since Shi-jin won’t talk to her, and he flips the phone from her hand the same way he did when they first met. But this time Mo-yeon catches it deftly, and tells him to listen up.
She says that she likes Yoo Shi-jin better than any guy she’s ever met. They totalled three cars together, fell in the ocean, fought a disease together, and she even got a gunshot wound from him. “Even so, I like him so much. Because he was never cowardly, he was always honorable, and he was handsome at all times.”
Shi-jin is grinning against his will by the time Mo-yeon is finished, and he agrees to talk to her. She says that she’s going to see Fatima the next day, and wonders if she could ask Daniel and Ye-hwa to be Fatima’s guardians. Shi-jin doesn’t think they’re good choices since they tend to move around a lot, but he has another suggestion.
So in the morning, they take Fatima to meet the bar waitress, Valentine, and Shi-jin tells her that when she helped him by giving him information, Fatima is the girl she saved. Valentine agrees to watch over her, and even Fatima seems happy with the arrangement. She thanks Mo-yeon for all her help, and promises to keep in touch.
Later Shi-jin asks Mo-yeon what she wants to do when they get home (a hot bath), and he asks her if she’ll give seeing a movie with him another try. She agrees, looking forward to doing normal couple things like movies and coffee dates, instead of getting kidnapped.
Shi-jin tosses her something — it’s the stone they took from the secluded beach. She’s touched that he still has it, and he takes her hand, saying that she did well (while in Uruk). They kiss as the sun sets.
The women enjoy their last morning view of gorgeous men, and they notice a new guy in the lineup. HAHAHA, it’s Sang-hyun in only a pair of shorts, and he high-steps cheerfully while saluting Ja-ae — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
As the medical team pack up to go home, they all stop to observe their last siren call, remembering those who died in the earthquake. They pose for a group photo with the soldiers, and soon, they’re back home in Korea.
I can’t say I’m sad to see Argus go, since as I said, I never found him much of a frightening threat. It seems to be the case with much of the conflicts in this show — they’re good ideas, and the execution is fine, but I just haven’t felt much actual fear that anyone was in real danger. The one exception was when nobody knew who was sick with the M3 virus or if someone could die, but even there, everyone turned out just fine after a minimum of worry. There’s just something missing when it comes to the conflicts in the show, with the exception of the romantic conflicts. At least those are well-conceived and seem real and immediate, and since that’s really what the show is all about, I’m happy to accept it and let the lukewarm outside threats fall by the wayside.
I’m happy to see such a positive resolution to the major conflict between Shi-jin and Mo-yeon — could they find a way to be together in spite of their differing ideals? I love how being together in Uruk has allowed them both to see exactly what the other feels about life and death, and also to come to a better understanding of their own moral compass. Shi-jin has learned that there can be something he places above his country, and that there are ways to compromise so that he can do what he needs to do, and be an honorable soldier and a good partner. His character arc hasn’t been as flexible as Mo-yeon’s, since he’s naturally given less leeway to bend in light of his career path, but he’s definitely more accepting of Mo-yeon’s stance of “life before all” than he used to be. By making the choice to blatantly defy orders and go after her when she was in danger, he showed that he understands her position and is willing to act on it when necessary. And what I really love about Shi-jin is that, even when doing what must be done, he’s not unaffected by it. Being forced to kill his old friend caused him a lot of pain, and it’s that humanity that keeps Shi-jin grounded.
Mo-yeon has changed even more drastically, and seems like a whole different person than when she and Shi-jin first met. She’s seen why he has to sometimes follow orders blindly, and she now understands why Shi-jin occasionally has to lie to her. But she knows now that it’s not from a moral failing of his, but an attempt to protect her, so I love the compromise she constructed. At least, if he must lie to her, he can let her know whether this is a time to worry or not, so that she doesn’t have to spend her life in a constant state of high alert, wondering if she’ll ever see him again. It’s a good system, and one that will allow them to love each other without butting heads over the small stuff.
It’s interesting, because this episode felt like it could have served as a finale episode. All of our love lines are established, their work in Uruk is done (for both soldiers and medical team), and the bad guy is vanquished. But in a way I’m glad that we’re going back to Korea, because it will be just as interesting to see if their newfound relationships can survive the day-to-day minutae of civilian life. It’s easy to maintain that sense of romantic tension when literal lives are in danger, but when the worse thing you have to contend with is that the barista got your coffee order wrong? It’s a whole new set of challenges out there.
But I’m looking forward to seeing what the final two weeks of the show brings, as all of our players settle back into their lives. Not one person, soldier or medical team member, came back from Uruk unchanged, and I think it’s going to be fun watching them readjust to life without the constant threats hanging over their heads.