REVIEW: Magical, stirring Encounter finale

It was unquestionably magical, not only because Marco (Park Bo-gum) and Pauline (Song Hye-kyo) finally found that moment of unconditional love, but with how that #EncounterOfALifetime was brought to the screen.

The pacing and buildup was riveting, apart from the breathtaking cinematography and touching OST, as it made the heartwarming drama surely connect and resonate with the viewers, feeling second by second what each character went through leading to that snowy, endearing scene by the playground swing.

It wasn’t actually supposed to have happened, when Pauline had decided to move away from their relationship given how much the life she had been living took its toll on Marco. And it was quite heartbreaking to witness how Marco still longed for his beloved, as he would plead and begged Pauline not to leave him, making viewers ultimately feel his anguish and heartache.

Yet on the Encounter finale aired on Friday, September 27, Pauline realized how much she herself could not live without Marco in her life. Troubled and burdened by her “decision” to push Marco away, Pauline seemed unable to keep her longing for the man who truly made her happy.

And when Marco dropped by her office to leave her pair of shoes he said brought them together in Cuba, leaving a note in the shoebox that he wished to the heavens that this would eventually lead her back to him, Pauline could not take it any longer. She rushed out of the office, abandoning her affairs of the day, to seek her true love.

On that snowy night, Pauline knew where she could find him. On that hillside playground they frequent, she indeed saw Marco dazed with his deep sorrow thinking he could no longer be with her. And she approached him, with tears in her eyes, asking him what he would do if the playground was no longer there.

As he realized Pauline was actually there, Marco was shocked, bewildered yet so full of joy and astonishment that the ridiculously beautiful woman he had fallen in love with, despite all the hindrances and difficulties that had threatened to tear them apart, indeed came back.  Tears fell as they embraced, with Pauline apologizing that she could no longer leave the man who brought happiness to her life. And for Marco, it was touchingly and satisfyingly alright. And they kissed.

They would vow not to leave each other, no matter what. Years passed and they would revel in their company, with each making do with their own worlds and backgrounds as they accept and love each other wholeheartedly.

As they brought up the long-held plan of hiking towards a treacherous summit, Marco told Pauline he’d defer it, until after they get married. Her face lit up, beaming with Marco’s revelation of having that chance encounter in a faraway land turn into forever.

Similar to most Korean dramas, Encounter again pierces yet touches the heart with such savviness, glossiness, and utter, impressive effectiveness. This dreamy and endearing love story of a handsome, easy-going, jovial middle-class chap and an ultra-rich, insanely gorgeous lady several years his senior was truly one for the books. While most would not have expected such a tandem could elicit much interest given their age gap and how Hye-kyo had been endlessly identified with her ex-husband and co-star Song Joong-ki, it was how the show built the relationship from the ground-up that made their pair yet another kiligfest.  Add to that Hye-kyo and Bo-gum’s exceptional, soul-stirring acting chops that really made us all feel for them—from having that love that is unthinkable at first to one that is undeniable and in the end, unbreakable.

Netizens were likewise delighted.