She came in fighting and she went out fighting, damn it. ***Hereby ends the non-spoiler portion of this post, FYI. So if you haven’t finished all eight episodes of My Name, the addictive new K-Drama that’s currently taking off on Netflix, but have found yourself searching for answers, turn away from this webpage now.***
For those who, like me, have arrived at the end, you’ll agree that the final notes were as heartbreaking as the series’ premise itself. Our main character, Yoon Ji Woo, was on a mission of revenge. And even though you know that sort of quest so rarely ends well, as the series is wrapping up, it seems like Ji Woo might, just maybe get a happy ending. Or, at the very least, a noble one. But you know what they say about assumptions: it makes an ass out of you and me and also a beautiful policeman partner dies.
Ji Woo, the daughter of a “known” gangster (slash undercover cop), is an outsider to everyone around her. On her darkest day—her birthday, no less!—her father is shot and killed right in front of her. She witnesses the murder via a door peephole, which her father is holding closed so she can’t get hurt. Devastating, right?
But the most brilliant plot parallel in the series actually goes back further than that Episode One murder. For that, we head back to the opening credits. There, we see as Ji Woo is effectively kicked out of her school, she makes it known that she’s one hell of a fighter, knocking out the school’s knife-wielding bully. We don’t see that badass of a fight sequence again until the end, but for all the police training and mob trials Ji Woo had to go through to infiltrate the underworld ranks and avenge her father’s death, there was this suggestion that she already had all the skills she needed.
The series culminates in Ji Woo facing off with Mu-jin, her father’s former best friend and the drug lord responsible for her father’s death. After sleeping with her partner (and genuine good guy), Pil do, Ji Woo considers what it might be like to give up her double life, to let go of her determined plan to avenge her father. But while driving down the street, Pil do is shot squarely in the head at a traffic stop with Ji Woo in the passenger seat. A hit job orchestrated by the very gangsters she’s working with. The beloved police officer dies in her lap. Ji Woo takes his gun and sets off to finish what she nearly gave up.
And here begins the bloodbath. In a nearly overwhelming montage, Ji Woo singlehandedly takes down an army of henchmen defending Mu-jin. Blood, bullets, knives—gang’s all here. Literally, a gang is all here. She takes an elevator up to Mu-jin, who is waiting for her, ready to give her a speech about how her father was someone who hesitated. He says she’s become the same, and that’s when Ji Woo gives the speech of the series. Putting down the same type of gun used to kill her father, she explains that her hesitancy to kill Mu-jin stems from her hope to live like a human, with legitimate relationships. But by taking the one person who showed her grace and love, he forced her hand. Now she, she says, she’d rather live as the monster who kills him than anything else.
After a grueling knife fight, Ji Woo seems all but left for dead until she turns Mu-jin’s own knife on him, plunging it into his gut. He tries to fire the gun at her, but there are no more bullets in the chamber. Ji Woo stabs him in the chest one final time and watches him die. In the epilogue, we see that she has lived her visit her parents, who can now both be honored for the legitimate police officers they were. In the final moments of the series, Ji Woo remembers the joy she had with Pil do before turning away and leaving the cemetery.
In short, it turns out there is incentive in bringing a knife to a gun fight. And for your own protection, do not pick a fight with Ji Woo because you will not win. All eight episodes of My Name are currently streaming on Netflix.
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