After a month-long run, “Lies Hidden in My Garden” is all wrapped up. Just when it seems like the show has no more secrets left to reveal, it pulls out all stops for a massive finale that gives both main leads what they were looking for. Only, one of them has no idea about what the other has planned.
Warning: spoilers for episodes 7-8 below.
1. Joo Ran contracting Sang Eun to kill Jae Ho
Moon Joo Ran (Kim Tae Hee) knows the truth about her husband Park Jae Ho (Kim Sung Oh) murdering Lee Soo Min (Yoon Ga Yi), and worse, that her son Park Seung Jae (Cha Sung Jae) saw all of it. A change comes over her like something’s been unstoppered. She goes from anxious and jerky to very calm and poised. Meanwhile, Choo Sang Eun (Lim Ji Yeon) has figured out that Soo Min was at Joo Ran’s house right before her death and is pretty certain that Jae Ho killed her. She’s in dire financial straits and is about to blackmail Joo Ran for cash, so she’s bewildered when Joo Ran approaches her first.
Joo Ran’s rationale is that Sang Eun basically got away with killing Kim Yoon Beom (Choi Jae Rim), so surely she can do it once more. She’s prepared to pay Sang Eun 500 million won (approximately $393,900) and gives her 200 million won (approximately $158,000) up front to do it. Sang Eun is hesitant, but her family’s money woes rear their head, and she gives in. That’s something we’ve seen often with Sang Eun. Joo Ran hides behind her husband, but Sang Eun is chained to them. She’s sick of her drunk brother making her pay his debts and tired of her loveless mother who just wants her to pay her medical fees. But she’s used to doing what others want, and so she prepares to kill.
2. Joo Ran betraying Sang Eun to Jae Ho
The plan is for Joo Ran to build a history of domestic assault by Jae Ho: to confide in her neighbor Oh Hae Soo (Jung Woon Sun) about the possibility of Jae Ho having killed Yoon Beom. Next, Joo Ran needed to get Jae Ho to purchase a coal briquette to create the illusion of suicide. Finally, she has to drug his smoothie, after which Sang Eun would enter the house when he’s asleep and drive Jae Ho to the same reservoir she pushed Yoom Beom in. Joo Ran would meet her via a different route, and the two of them would stage his suicide due to the supposed guilt of having murdered Yoon Beom.
Only, when Sang Eun enters the house, Jae Ho isn’t asleep. He’s wide alert, stabs her with a syringe, and beats her up. Joo Ran merely watches as Sang Eun is beaten and tied up. Sang Eun regrets ever stepping foot in the house or trusting Joo Ran. We flash back to Joo Ran coming clean with Jae Ho about Sang Eun knowing that Soo Min was killed in their home. Jae Ho’s immediate reaction is that they must get rid of Sang Eun together—for Seung Jae’s sake, of course. Joo Ran doesn’t say anything and agrees, going along with it all. It’s hard to figure out what side he’s on, and even Joo Ran doesn’t seem to have figured it out—until she asks Jae Ho one final question.
3. Joo Ran killing Jae Ho
The death of Joo Ran’s sister has been the singular greatest trauma in her life. It’s what made her shut down from a bubbly, happy person to a closed-off, fearful one. The worst part is that her sister died while taking care of Joo Ran’s apartment while she was on a trip. Joo Ran’s mother blames her for the death, and Joo Ran, lost in grief, starts to do the same. Jae Ho manipulatively proposed at her sister’s funeral, saying that he would be her protector. And Joo Ran stopped thinking for herself on that day. She didn’t know how to trust herself anymore and hadn’t worked through any of her trauma. Over the years, it just became easier for her to trust and follow what Jae Ho said instead of thinking for herself. Things only got worse after she attacked Seung Jae’s teacher. And knowing what we now know about Joo Ran’s dead-on instincts, she was probably right about him being dangerous.
But the one thing she’s wanted in life is for her child to not have to go through the same mental torture she did. So when Jae Ho puts the blame of Soo Min’s death on Seung Jae—even though he killed her—Joo Ran can’t stand by. She sneaks Sang Eun a knife to break free. As Jae Ho prepares to bury Sang Eun, Joo Ran asks him why he lied to her about killing Soo Min. Jae Ho tries to deny it and gaslight her until she reveals that Seung Jae saw him do it. He finally bursts out that he did it for Seung Jae. When Joo Ran asks him why he never told her the truth, he yells that it’s because she would leave him.
He yells that he did it for them as a family, and Joo Ran refuses to believe him. She knows that Seung Jae is in pain over having to keep this terrible secret. So she attacks Jae Ho. Sang Eun’s free at this point and tries to do the same, but both women are overpowered. Jae Ho loses it and belittles Joo Ran, pointing out that she sat back while he did everything for her. He seems to love her in his own twisted way though because he cries while attempting to kill her. Luckily, Hae Soo sees Sang Eun begging for help and calls the police. Sang Eun smashes a window, and Jae Ho gets distracted, allowing Joo Ran to push him down the same flight of stairs where Seung Jae pushed Soo Min. And Jae Ho’s dead in a flash.
4. Sang Eun realizing that Joo Ran freed her
The police arrive, and the matter goes to trial when Joo Ran admits everything. Only, her confession comes as a shock to Sang Eun. Joo Ran confesses that Jae Ho killed Yoon Beom and Soo Min and that she teamed up with him to kill Sang Eun once it came to light that his actions could be unveiled. Sang Eun doesn’t understand why she would pin Yoon Beom’s murder on Jae Ho. She visits Joo Ran in prison while she awaits trial.
Sang Eun is certain that Joo Ran was planning to kill both her and Jae Ho to be rid of all of them. But Joo Ran just smiles. Sang Eun realizes that Joo Ran planned on going down by herself to leave Sang Eun and her child a good life. She lied to the police about planning Sang Eun’s death out of guilt for enabling Jae Ho and turning a blind eye to his actions for so many years. With Yoon Beom’s death classified as murder now, the insurance companies pay Sang Eun a lot of money, enough to start a better life. Joo Ran is sent to jail for a short time (for her role in supposedly attempting to kill Sang Eun), and they exchange a brief glance before parting.
A year or so in the future, Sang Eun works at a cafe. She’s no longer dour and withdrawn but bright and buoyant. And Joo Ran is out of jail and at peace with herself for breaking free of her husband’s control and reclaiming her identity and conscience. She lives in the house with the garden that she loved so much, with her son, a working friendship with her mother, and a strong friendship with Hae Soo. Both women are finally free.
This was a pretty poignant ending. I wish we had more of a glimpse into Joo Ran’s relationship with her mother, seeing as it seems to have informed so much of her trauma within her marriage with Jae Ho. But Kim Tae Hee sold this character, taking us through Joo Ran’s vulnerability and quiet strength. The show explored how people can be a cage and how difficult it is to break loose of those cages after they’ve developed over long periods of time. Joo Ran’s and Sang Eun’s husbands spent their lives trying to convince both women that they were worthless and had no strength in them. And that was the biggest lie in this show. It was their desperate determination that allowed them to take those first tentative steps toward a better future.
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she fangirls over Ji Sung, and spins thrillers set in increasingly fantastic worlds. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “See You in My 19th Life,” “Delightfully Deceitful,” “Revenant,” “Lies Hidden in My Garden,” “Numbers,” and “King the Land.”
Looking Forward to: “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Demon,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.
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