“Coffee drips down a drop at a time. The first drop is the most delicious and deep. The last drop is the most bitter. You must never put the last drop in.”
This narration opens episode 10, and going by the analogy, we have come to the final part of story. Let’s see if the last drop is indeed the bitterest.
After 9 episodes of twists and turns, i fully expected to have one final twist in the finale to trump nine’s cliffhanger since that was one hell of a revelation. It was so shocking that i nearly forgot about Ogasawara-san discovering an elusive-yet-crucial lead to solve the mystery. I refused to believe that’s the cause of Hirosawa’s death, all i could hope was for it to be yet another red herring.
The thing about a drama whose plot revolves around one big mystery is that the final impression viewers will have of it hinges on the truth. A predictable or unbelievable one wouldn’t be good, but mostly it is a lot simpler than predicted. Reverse has done a great job making me fully invested in the story and doubting almost everybody. I’ve had several possibilities behind Hirosawa’s disappearance, none of which came close to the real cause. So, while it was unexpected, i can’t say it was in a good way.
Starting from the stabber. It took Fukase and Co. forever to figure out that Miho-chan was the avenger, but like the original blackmailer, it is relatively easy for Ogasawara-san to identify the stabber even with almost zero leads. Murai does have an inkling too, but i don’t get Murai Papa’s right-hand-man’s motive. I mean, it’s explained that it is eventually to advance his political career, but i still don’t understand how they could single him out, or why he texted the warning message to Fukase only when he wasn’t the only one digging the truth. Also, that he went that far to keep the case unearthed made me think there’s something big about the case they’ve covered.
So, the ‘ladybug 30’ keychain remains the last clue to crack, and luckily it’s quite a special item owned by a limited number of people. And while Ogasawara-san tries to track and question the possible perps, Fukase discovers a numbing information that very likely brought Hirosawa down, that could make him the murderer after all. Hirosawa having an anaphylaxic reaction to soba was a fact known by his parents and Miho-chan only and Fukase unknowingly sweetened the coffee he prepared for his buddy with…what else? Soba honey.
Seriously, this reveal felt so random and messed up. First off, i cannot fathom Hirosawa’s decision to keep his allergy a secret when it’s a life-and-death kind. Secondly, i don’t think soba honey is as potent as soba itself, right? Third, i wonder why this twist is included so late in the game, and the only explanation is to make homeboy responsible for Hirosawa’s demise too. Up to this point, he is the most innocent, but if this were actually the culprit, he would then be the most guilty.
Well, who could’ve predicted coffee and honey to play such a crucial role in this drama? Coffee isn’t only Hirosawa’s favorite drink, and honey isn’t merely his preferred sweetener, because when combined together, they can be a killer mixture. Quite literally.
That’s why i watched the finale with a lot more apprehension than anticipation, crossing my fingers that there’d be something else which offed Hirosawa. Good news is Fukase wasn’t the last person who saw Hirosawa; it was the mountain thieves who robbed the neighboring villas and ended up hijacking the car. (Wait. It isn’t a plot hole after all, huh?! It was indeed impossible for one person to leverage the car out of the snow.) Bad news is the soba-honeyed coffee did paralyze him and caused him to lose balance and fall off the edge. The stolen car crashed onto the guardrail and was set on fire and pushed down the cliff to destroy any evidence. The rest is history.
What an anticlimactic truth.
I guess writing Hirosawa off in those thieves’ hands would still be a letdown, but having him die this way was a disappointment. I’m not saying i’d rather have one of the foursome do it, but the amount of coincidences was a bit too much. From the outset, it looked like a perfectly planned crime; in hindsight, it was a series of unfortunate events. That said, we cannot really be sure what exactly happened, though. There’s barely any confrontation i doubt they remembered Hirosawa clearly, or saw him falling out of sight. In this case, the fact that he died due to soba honey cannot be ruled out, and Fukase is the ultimate culprit, albeit unintentional.
In the end, Fukase’s biggest mistake isn’t in not stopping him, but not going with him. I cannot say it’s a pure negligence since none of them was willing to accompany him in case he’s stopped by the police. They also deliberately omitted the drinking part, thinking it was the cause, and lived the past 10 years guilt-ridden in varying degrees. The burden they shouldn’t have carried had they been completely honest during investigation… or so i thought. As it turns out, Hirosawa might not die due to car crash but their biggest fear still stands. Each of them, now including Fukase, played a part in pushing Hirosawa to meet his end.
Eventually, they come clean to Hirosawa’s parents, and while the mother is understandably hysterical, the father is calm as ever. (He even bigheartedly tells them to come again, which effectively opened my waterworks.) They get the closure they’ve sought for a decade, although way bitterer than anticipated. I cannot blame the mother for not forgiving the foursome; she trusted them and they betrayed her like this. I agree with her: fessing up now, after all this time, will only appease their guilt and won’t change anything. I don’t even know how they’re gonna atone for their grave mistakes after learning the truth. What’s the point of it all, really, when this is what happened.
If anything, by confronting the past with honestly, friendless Fukase is able to gain four new friends and get himself a girlfriend. He also manages to secure a new job that suits his interest and capability. For the other three, it forces them to reevaluate their life view, correct their attitude, and make decisions they can live with. Asami remains a teacher, no teacher/student affair as feared. Tanihara gets reinstated and the bully senior is called out for his power harassment. Murai hands the divorce paper to his wife, setting both free from the unhappy political marriage. Ogasawara-san who has barely done anything journalist-like opts for another career change. Hirosawa’s parents are now able to live with a peace of mind. Everyone has their happy ending.
As a human mystery drama, Reverse does a great job laying the foundation, throwing the questions, building the tension, pacing out the pieces, and fleshing out its characters. It piques my curiosity from the get go and keeps me engaged for most of its run. There’s a good reason behind every action that i could sympathize with. Despite the mystery part, nobody is evil; they make mistakes because they’re imperfect human, and they learn from it, sometimes through the hard way. And despite the multiple red herrings, the initial suspicions remain valid. It’s a good drama, anticlimactic ending notwithstanding.
“If you could go back to the past, when would you go back to?”
Director: Tsukahara Ayuko, Yamamoto Takeyoshi, Murao Yoshiaki
Production: TBS, 2017
Cast: Fujiwara Tatsuya, Toda Erika, Tamamori Yuta, Miura Takahiro, Ichihara Hayato, Koike Teppei, Kadowaki Mugi, Takeda Tetsuya
Genre: Human mystery, J-dorama (10 Episodes)