With Hong-joo mostly out of the way, "Mirror of the Witch" is able to proceed without a villain. Which is to say, instead of having to fight an intractable conspiracy, Jun and Yeon-hee simply solve problems and make wishes come true. This is immensely more satisfying than the skulduggery that has categorized so much of the drama's plot until this point. In context it's not clear whether any of the potions are actually magical at all- it's more about the behavior they provoke.
Which naturally leads to the last candle and...you know, if Hong-joo had just led with that restriction instead of coming up with complicated plans to do things her way by force, she probably would have been a lot more successful. Given the generally repentant nature of her character here, actually, I was (and still am) wondering whether Hong-joo herself lit the candle. Sure she's been a bit of a jerk, but her final moments are practically poetic, albeit undeserved. Hong-joo could have benefitted a lot from a more ambiguous portrayal.
Jun and Yeon-hee fortunately do not need that much. Their happiness this episode is well-deserved, sweet, and generally heartfelt. This is the romantic chemistry that can be used to convincingly set off an entire drama series, and I'm sad less by the plot arc of the final episode as I am by the fact that "Mirror of the Witch" did not make good use of its runtime to delve into the Jun/Yeon-hee relationship. We only got brief glimpses like this in between unnecessarily complicated plot twists.
And the final one, after the second time skip, is the most baffling of all. When I'm left asking questions like "so are they dead or did they solve that problem with magic or is a metaphor what's going on exactly" that's a pretty good sign that a drama is prioritizing warm fuzzy feelings over putting effort into an ending that actually makes sense. How could a drama so obsessed with explaining all its most minor plot points fail at something so basic?
Well, "Mirror of the Witch" has mostly just been a long run of failure punctuated by brief strong performances before they get smothered by the next turnabout. So I guess in the end it's not that big a surprise for the drama to end on a similar note, offering little more than a sad reminder of what might have been if only the story could have been more effectively condensed. Ah well. It could have been worse.
Review by William Schwartz
"Mirror of the Witch" is directed by Jo Hyeon-tak, written by Yang Hyeok-moon and features Yoon Si-yoon, Kim Sae-ron, Lee Sung-jae, Yum Jung-ah, Kwak Si-yang and Jang Hee-jin.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 20 Final"
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