“Cheat on Me If You Can” has wrapped up its run last night and did so with a shocking cliffhanger that leaves more questions than answers to the viewers.
So what just happened? And can “Cheat on Me If You Can” ending be explained? Let’s explore it below and talk about why I thought the ending was needlessly left ambiguous.
Below is a quick recap of the highlights of “Cheat on Me If You Can” episode 16, the explanation of the ending, plus my review.
The quick recap
The housekeeper ahjumma turns herself in and falsely confesses to the crime. Yeo Joo is aware that she’s lying and is doing so to protect her because she thinks she’s the killer. The ahjumma went to Baek Soo Jung’s house, saw her body and saw Yeo Joo’s signature perfume bottle and assumed she’s killed her because her husband was cheating on her with Baek Soo Jung.
Meanwhile, Mi Rae visits Woo Sung to file a divorce suit against her abusive husband demanding 200 million dollars in settlement. He goes crazy.
Woo Sung finds out that ahjumma turned herself in and visits her, she tells him that she’s gone there because she was afraid Yeo Joo would find out he’s cheated on her. Yeo Joo hates cheating men because of her father.
The next day, Yeo Joo concludes that the ahjumma hid the murder weapon to conceal the crime. She meets the ahjumma and eventually tells them where the weapon is, they lift the fingerprints and find a match with CEO Yoon Hyung Sook, she’s arrested.
Assemblyman Park Jae Geun threatens Ma Dong Kyun and tells him to acquire the upcoming book at all cost.
After she’s arrested, Yeo Joo faces Yoon Hyung Sook who tells her to keep her husband in check if she has so much time on her hands revealing he’s balled his eyes out at Soo Jung’s funeral.
Soo Ho asks Yeo Joo to teach him how to write, and meanwhile, Yeo Joo finishes her novel titled “Cheat on Me If You Can,” Soo Ho advices her against this because it needs more touch-ups. She goes to give the script to Mr. Ma who publishes it and gives a copy to Assemblyman Park Jae Geun, he tells him it’s not about the secret prayer room.
After Mr. Ma leaves, Assemblyman Park Jae Geun is told that their real names were used in the novel, he throws a fit and files a lawsuit. It turns out that the published novel was Soo Ho’s not Yeo Joo, but it was published under her name, which explains why its messy and needed touch ups. Eventually, the Assemblyman is arrested.
Turns out, Yeo Joo also knew that the cover Mr. Ma was using was fake; she also knew that Soo Ho was a part of the NIS.
Woo Sung is out drinking and thinking about the near death experience he’s had with a sign that almost fell on him. As he’s out of the bar, he’s kidnapped by a bunch of thugs who work for Mi Rae’s ex-husband who wants him dead.
He wakes up the next day with poor recollection of the previous night. He remembers he was beaten, and remembers Soo Ho holding a knife saying ‘Yeo Joo asked him for a favor,’ he had escaped the gang and gone to two men asking them to kill his wife, he wires them 50,000$ unaware of the actual truth.
He decides to confront Yeo Joo while eating breakfast the next day and asks if she’s done this because he’s cheated on her, Yeo Joo is stunned to find this out and asks him if he’s been cheating, he’s flustered. Turns out, he confused the gangs for being hired by his wife and thought that Soo Ho was out to kill him in her place.
Soo Ho had gone there to save Woo Sung and fought off the bad guys as requested by Yeo Joo. Woo Sung also finds out that his wife has been protecting him this whole time by agreeing to allow him to get into politics, since people would have more difficult time threatening him if he was an assemblyman.
Woo Sung goes to his office and announces he’s done with women and even throws away his phone.
Yeo Joo says goodbye to Soo Ho since he’s done being her assistant after she published the book. He says he’ll resign from the NIS and was considering opening a convenience store with his severance pay. He asks her if he should. She awkwardly avoids answering his question and asks him about his jacket, he says he’s got it from Dokko island and tells her to come with him next time if she wants, she says, ‘are you hitting on me?’ He looks her straight in the eyes and says ‘can I do that?’ she replies, ‘no, I am busy.’
Later, she gets a call from the private detective who tells her he’s been asked to kill her, the person who requested this was her husband. She wonders why he’d want to do that, and the private detective asks if she was aware of his cheating spree. She is stunned.
At night, Woo Sung returns home with a flower bouquet. He goes to a room and sees the contract he drafted with his wife being printed all over the place, if he cheats, he dies. This is a similar scene to what had happened earlier on in the drama. His wife surprises him from behind and stabs him. She smiles.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” ending explained
There are two possible explanations to the ending, one being it was merely Woo Sung’s exaggeration and the knife used was fake, and the other being that it was real. The ending doesn’t provide enough context to discern the truth from imagination which explains why some were frustrated.
Explanation no. 1
Due to her troubled childhood, Yeo Joo hates cheating men, those who believe the ending was real believe she’s done it because she is now convinced her husband wants her dead. Despite the fact that he ordered the hit based on a drunken assumption and series of misunderstandings, he didn’t try to see to who exactly did wire the money resulting in Yeo Joo finding out the hard way and killing her husband fearing he’ll kill her first.
Despite how the show humanizes her character and attempts to explain why she’s so cold-hearted, there was always this understanding between them, if he’s caught cheating he’ll die. His facial expressions are an indication that he’s in pain which could be because he was stabbed with a real knife, however, was he stabbed in a place that’ll kill him in minutes? or did she miss the vital spot?
Explanation No. 2
It was merely Woo Sung’s exaggeration since he’s basically told her he’s cheated on her. She isn’t that dumb to kill him that way in their house and since she is so clever, she wouldn’t want to kill him inside this house but would attempt to find a different way to get rid of him so no one would find him. Or, she might have been just overly exaggerating and wouldn’t have killed him if he’s cheated but used this to scare him.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” is sort of the indication of how much kdrama writing has been shifting in the past year or so. From a writing perspective; which I’ll focus on mostly in this review; I’ll discuss the screenwriter obsession with including as many plot-twists as possible.
With the rise of dramas such as “Penthouse,” which relished on over-the-top plot-twist and dramatics, “Cheat on Me If You Can” screenwriter seems to want to capture that element of surprise but ends up sacrificing what could’ve easily been a wonderful drama.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” script often felt like the screenwriter was desperately trying to include as many twists and turns as possible, and in the end sacrificing the overall continuity of the plot for the sake of the ‘reveals.’ A couple of well-developed plot-twists will always triumph too many who are done just for the sake of shock.
Some plot-twists could’ve been excluded or just revealed as facts in order to help better build up the main ones that occupy the main plot-line of the drama.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” is an immensely interesting kdrama, however, its not as well-written as it initially promises to be. You can tell the screenwriter thought of the main points well before the drama even aired judging by how the drama comes full circle around the end of episode 16, but her decision to sideline here and there, introduce characters who are somehow connected to each other only to further the plot but not provide enough explanation truly derailed the drama.
So many questions have been left unanswered and I don’t think [aside from the final scene] any of them were intentional. Yeo Joo is connected to some people somehow and it’s never explained why they know her.
Yeo Joo is portrayed as extremely smart but throughout her pursuit of finding her friend killer, she somehow misses the main mark at least dozens of times. How could what you claim to be an intelligent woman who crafted a lot of what happens around her be so oblivious to her husband’s cheating?
Some of you reading this will argue that she’s purposefully blocked that from her sight because of her trauma, a valid point only if it had been explored properly, that Yeo Joo actively tried her best to look the other way ignoring any potential signs that he was cheating. But throughout the drama, the husband is on his toes deathly afraid of getting caught, she even interrogates him and questions him on multiple occasions about his whereabouts.
Also, the reason why Woo Sung is a serial cheater is never properly explored even when the drama is about dying if you cheat; the main plot point is never fully explained or explored which leaves a huge gab and frustrates viewers.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” should’ve been revised a couple of more times by other people close or around the screenwriter, you can tell the mistakes she’s made aren’t so much intentional but the results of being too immersed in what she’s writing. As somebody who writes as well, I relate in that regard. When you’re so immersed in writing something you often concentrate on delivering certain points while ignoring some others you set up as well. Such errors can be detected if the script is read by an objective third personal who has no relation to the writer or the story, so they can properly pin point a lot of errors.
“Cheat on Me If You Can” ending still felt rushed even though the screenwriter took her time setting up certain reveals and some of them still felt very shallow and devoid of substance. The ending should’ve clearly explained whether he dies or not, the way she goes about it is reminiscent of an early episode and the editor deliberately blurs the lines between reality and mere fiction up until the final minutes. This felt so unnecessary.
It’s also as if the screenwriter is afraid of having two leads being terrible human beings, just because someone cheats doesn’t mean they should die, and given how Yeo Joo does her best to find who killed her friend, would she actually kill her husband? The screenwriter goes to great lengths to explain Yeo Joo and why she’s like this, but then introduces contradictory personality traits that wouldn’t exist in a normal person.