A review and analysis of the epic disaster that was 'The Penthouse 3'

Updated on Oct 08, 2021 10:45 AM IST  |  107.3K
The official poster for 'The Penthouse 3'
The official poster for 'The Penthouse 3' (Pic credit - SBS Drama)

On September 10, 'The Penthouse 3' officially concluded its run, and 3 seasons and 48 episodes later, the grandiose makjang drama fizzled to nothing! Despite the overall amazing ratings and number one run throughout its course, the series was panned across the board by audiences and critics alike. It has been 10 days since the series ended, and we assume everyone has watched all three seasons, if not please stop reading any further as we discuss, debate and dissect the epic disaster that was 'The Penthouse 3'.

The third season began where we were left at in season 2, Joo Dante (Uhm Ki Joon) dressed as an old man, planting a bomb in Logan Lee's (Park Eun Suk) car. The bomb blast kills Logan Lee on the spot as a horrified and devastated Shim Su Ryeon (Lee Ji Ah) can barely fathom what is happening. Joo Dante smiles slyly and leaves, planning his grand return to the penthouse and Shim Su Ryeon's life! The next 14 episodes (a 2 episode extension) are spent trying to dramatise and over-exaggerate a threadbare plot into something Nolan-Esque (they throw in a Joker reference too).

We have tragic (read: dramatic) deaths, the illogical resurrection of dead people and characters behaving in the most inane and absurd manner, that you might start doubting your intelligence and intention of watching this series at all! But as a viewer and a fan of 'The Penthouse' series, there is a glimmer of hope that ultimately it will piece itself to a fitting finale. But alas, it wasn't the audience's day at all.

In the last episode, Shim Su Ryeon throws herself into the water as Cheon Seo Jin (Kim So Yeon) looks shell-shocked! As authorities scramble to the scene, news reports confirm that Su Ryeon is yet to be found and with the situation gaining massive traction in the media, Cheon Seo Jin's case is a high-profile one. In the court, Cheon Seo Jin continues feigning ignorance, claiming she has amnesia. However, her daughter Eun Byeol testifies against Cheon Seo Jin and claims that she’s responsible for both Shim Su Ryeon and Oh Yoon Hee’s (Eugene) death.

Eun Byeol feels guilty as well, blaming herself for her mother's misgivings and proclaims that she will never sing again. With a necklace holding a sharp point, she slits her own throat and collapses to the ground in a heap. With Eun Byeol bleeding out, Cheon Seo Jin is sentenced to life behind bars. If you recall, Cheon Seo Jin had done the same to Oh Yoon Hee when they were university students, and now to see her own daughter do this to herself is sweet karma!

The series takes a three-year leap. Ma Ri is rewarded for her kindness and she’s now moving over to the penthouse suite of Simoon Palace. Kyu Jin is arrested yet again for indulging in some shady behaviour. Joo Seok Kyung has been doing pretty well for herself too, working part-time in a restaurant and also tutoring potential students for a singing career. Her relationship with Seok-Hoon is still good, and although he continues to send over money, she’s actually working hard and grafting rather than skimping a living. It is quite a wholesome redemption arc, to be honest. The spoilt brat who declared to her father that she can't stand being poor is actually working hard to earn money today!

We meet Ha Eun Byeol as well. She looks happier and calmer, teaching a bunch of students in a choir at the church. Her overbearing mother off her back is a big relief for her sanity as well. We also meet Cheon Seo Jin. At the Cheongju Women’s Penitentiary, Cheon Seo Jin is granted a special 3 day leave given she’s been diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. She’s given a slip of paper, allowing her to travel over to Seoeun Jeil Church where she is allowed to meet her daughter Eun Byeol.

Cheon Seo Jin shows up to see her but doesn't dare show her face to her daughter. She hangs her head in shame as she stands atop the motel roof and ends up taking a handful of pills, hoping that Eun Byeol doesn’t live like she does. As she dies, Seo Jin’s operatic singing helps her pass away, as viewers witness the bittersweet conclusion for a really prolific character of the series. Cheon Seo Jin has always burdened her daughter with dreams and aspirations she couldn't fulfil, and that took a toll on the poor girl, so when she finally witnesses her daughter looking happy and cheerful, she realises it's time to leave. The terrace is like a stage and like a true Prima Donna, she lets death take over her, realising that she cannot possibly repent for her gruesome behaviour in this lifetime.

It is also poetic justice in a way that Oh Yoon Hee never got to meet Bae Rona before she died as well as Cheon Seo Jin.

Bae Rona gets everything she truly deserves! After a brutal attempt to murder and dealing with her mother's tragic death, she is now a rising soprano in Italy! She and Joo Seok Hoon (Kim Young Dae) meet for pasta (a throwback to season 2) and seal their relationship with a sweet kiss (the only couple we rooted for).

We get a brief moment with Joo Dante as well, when a mysterious old beggar appears in front of Seok Kyung and holds her hand asking if she has eaten. It is obvious that Uhm Ki Joon was called to play a cameo.

Finally, we get to know what happened to Shim Su Ryeon and Logan Lee as well! It is revealed in the end that Logan Lee and Shim Su Ryeon are actually dead. Shim Su Ryeon couldn't bear the guilt of so many deaths and decides to jump in the water voluntarily, conveniently blaming it on Cheon Seo Jin! Logan Lee's cancer relapses and he eventually dies, reuniting with Shim Su Ryeon in the afterlife! In the end, the two drive away in heaven together.

The ending was a sheer disappointment and made us wonder if it was a result of the weight of the series' cult popularity that forced the writer to write such an abysmal ending or was it pre-planned? Shim Su Ryeon's death is the most disappointing character arc as it not only glorifies the idea of taking one's own life, but it is also against the grain of her motherly character. Would Shim Su Ryeon think of taking such a drastic step, leaving behind her children, Bae Rona and Eun Byeol? Probably not.

The character's motive to die is questionable than the act of death itself. The Shim Su Ryeon viewers are familiar with would have at least ensured for her children's future security before making such a strong decision. A more fitting end would have been perhaps, Shim Su Ryeon dividing her wealth and property amongst her children and leaving notes of wisdom and learning for the impressionable minds.

Post which, she sends Bae Rona, blue roses, which signify a miracle! Once she sees her children safe, happy and settled in their new life, she and Logan Lee can drive off to an undisclosed location to now live the rest of their lives together in peace and quiet. Logan Lee is recovering well from the aftermath of the bomb blast and is keen to start a new life with Shim Su Ryeon. She pays her final respects to Oh Yoon Hee, Ha Eun Cheol and Min Seol A, who bless her from the heavens, as she decides to pay back the society with good and kindness. That would have been a more fitting ending for Shim Su Ryeon and Logan Lee, alas, we can only dream of now!

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ALSO READ: 'The Penthouse 3' concludes with number one viewership ratings across the board

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