Memories of Alhambra Finale: tvN K-Drama utilizes obscure ‘video game’ concept for a happy ending [Spoilers]

Memories of the Alhambra
Park Shin-hye and Hyun Bin star in tvN K-drama, Memories of the Alhambra. Image Credit: Total Variety Network (tvN)

Memories of Alhambra — the unique K-drama airing on the Total Variety Network (tvN) starring Park Shin-Hye and Hyun Bin — recently aired its penultimate and final episodes. In order to achieve its “happy ending,” it utilized an obscure “video game” concept.

Using “video game” concepts out of the blue for a happy ending

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead! Skip to paragraph after next image to avoid!

As we know from the 14th and penultimate episode, the reason why the Next AR game is able to kill people is a bug in its system. Ironically, the bugs are certain players which include the main male protagonist himself, Yoo Jin-Woo (Hyun Bin).

So in order to reset the game and remove the bugs, the game needs to be concluded. We eventually find out that to beat Next, the player has to deliver the key to Emma, the non-playable character designed from Jung Hee-Joo (Park Shin-Hye).

Once Emma has the key, she will reboot the game and delete any bugs that are not originally part of it. Since Yoo Jin-Woo is recognized as a bug, Emma is actually killing him to reboot the game. This in itself is a cruel irony as Jung Hee-Joo and Jin-Woo love each other in real life.

As shown in the video above, Yoo Jin-Woo evades his death by forcing himself free from Emma’s grasp. Without spoiling too much, he reluctantly goes back to Emma for her to “beat the game.”

Flash forward to the future a bit, the Next AR game is live and extremely popular. With the bugs deleted, there are no more issues of players dying in real life. It is assumed that Yoo Jin-Woo was also killed when the game reset but Jung Hee-Joo believes he is still alive as no body was found.

During a conversation between Jung Se-Joo (Chanyeol of EXO), the creator who developed Next, and Choi Yang-Joo (Jo Hyun-Chul), the head of R&D at J One Holdings, we learn that Se-Joo survived without harm because he was the “master” at the time. He created an invisible dungeon that made him invisible (and possibly invincible) to others.

Viewers who thoroughly caught the details of when Yoo Jin-Woo beat the game, his HUD said he became the “master.” Ergo, he could do the same thing to protect himself that protected Jung Se-Joo earlier in the K-drama.

Jung Hee-Joo learns that Yoo Jin-Woo is alive when she overhears a couple of Next players talk about how they were saved by a fellow user using guns. They argue that no user should be able to use guns as the game came out a couple days ago and only level 50 players have access to such weapons.

Hee-Joo realizes the only player left who can access guns is Jin-Woo. She asks for the whereabouts of the player with guns and hastens her way there.

As we get closer to Jung Hee-Joo’s destination, we see a couple of players struggle with enemies only to be saved by a darkened individual with a handgun. We can only assume said individual is Yoo Jin-Woo.

Memories of Alhambra ends on a high note but not at its best

It is good that Memories of Alhambra concluded uniquely as it did not stick to any K-drama tropes of happy endings. It actually went a different direction for both main protagonists to have such.

However, it might have been a bit “too much” for the demographic watching as it did end on a high note, but not its best.

According to AGB Nielsen Korea, the final episode recorded 12.383 percent viewership rating in Seoul and 9.933 percent in Korea.

That is still high for a Korean cable network K-drama, but it wasn’t the K-drama’s highest. It’s highest viewership rating in Seoul was 13.592 percent for the 12th episode and 10.025 percent in Korea for the 14th episode.

What is next now that Memories of Alhambra is over?

Hyun Bin and Park Shin-Hye will move on to their next projects now that Memories of Alhambra is over. As for the time slot it previously occupied, it will be taken over by tvN’s newest K-drama Romance is a Bonus Book starring Kim Na-Young (Fugitive: Plan B) and Lee Jong-Suk (While You Were Sleeping).

Take note this series is Na-Young’s return to K-dramas in ten years.

As for anyone interested in watching Memories of Alhambra, for American viewers, the entire series is available exclusively on Netflix. Take note a subscription to the streaming site is necessary to watch it.

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