Episode 1 of The Devil Punisher wastes absolutely no time setting up this fantastical tale to come. A brief introduction to our punisher Chung Kuei quickly switches to the present as we see our demon hunter in action.
A possessed man crashes his car on a bridge, prompting two people – claiming to be Zhong Kui’s assistants from the underworld – show up and tell this person he’s broken laws.
With crackles of lightning all around, Zhong Kui materializes on the road and enters the fight, turning the tide of battle as our possessive spirit appears. Together, the group manage to trap him inside a smartphone.
Down in the Underworld we get a glimpse of this fantastical world at work. Numerous doorways are backdropped by a brilliant white light. OblivionSoup is made for the spirits there, intending to be used to wash away any ill-feeling from their previous life.
It’s a humble, tranquil area… which is immediately broken by an over-enthusiastic worker arriving on a skateboard with mail. He hands it over to this girl called Meng Po, who finds out her application to retire has been denied.
As the lights dim, Zhong Kui returns through the portal with his group holding the captured Ching-Yuan. Meng is none too enthused to see them though, especially given she’s unable to change her path. The Sword Spirit takes offence to this though and the two start fighting.
Unfortunately they take their eyes off Ching-Yuan, who breaks free from his shackles and begins fighting the others. That fighting eventually ends with Meng being whisked back to the human realm with him.
Following this incident, a woman known as the Underworld Queen materializes before Zhong and tells him that they’re under strict lockdown. While Zhong heads up to Heaven, this woman takes control.
Three months pass as we cut to the Human Realm again. Meng Po happens to be with a kind old lady called Mrs Wu. Since coming down from the Underworld, she’s completely lost her memory and this woman has taken her in, happy to look after her.
For some reason though, Meng Po can still see spirits. She tries to reconcile with a group outside but it’s just the distraction needed for the police to show up. They draw up a ticket for her portable coffee machine, which is unfortunately confiscated.
In desperate need of a job, Meng heads online and tries to find a suitable place to work. Meanwhile her friend En-Hsi is out at the market playing as a con artist.
Meanwhile, Zhong Hui clutches the tiny fragment of the slip left behind by Meng in the Underworld. He’s not happy but does manage to track down the spirit that originally took Meng. Freezing time, he grabs it by the scruff of the neck and whisks him away to a secluded location. Unfortunately this cunning spirit suddenly teleports Zhong away thanks to some pretty powerful magic.
That inevitably sees him land right in Meng Po’s house where he sees her and smirks “I’ve finally found you,” before passing out. While he’s asleep on the sofa, Mrs Wu believes he’s from the triad given his all-black robes.
While they contemplate whether to phone the police or not, Zhong awakens and calls Meng by her number, 1087. Only, she’s obviously suffering from amnesia and doesn’t recognize him.
When Meng leaves, Mrs Wu promises to get him fixed up but the spirit disappears before she can. He instead materializes alongside the rest of his team who have joined him down on Earth.
They receive a Human Realm Pass from the Underworld Queen who gives them an ulterior mission – she believes there’s a mastermind between Ching-Yuan’s plan; there’s no way he acted alone in trying to blow up the bridge.
Promising to help them, she taps her ring and sends over the information – giving Zhong and his team until the time all 9 planets align to complete their mission. There’s 53 ghosts that have escaped and they need to capture every single one and bring them back before they cause trouble.
The next day, En-Hsi and Meng Po leave their apartment after hearing banging on the door. It’s their landlord and thanks to Zhong’s interference, she’s able to get away scot free without any problems.
As we soon find out, En-Hsi was actually trading sexual favours for a rent-free stay. Meng Po wants to file a lawsuit but En-Hsi refuses. While they walk down the street, En-Hsi mentions how she wants to be a journalist too and wound up spending her money on an education rather than rent.
While Meng is working, Zhong returns to the bakery where a grateful Mr Wu comments how worried she was about him. When Meng leaves the room, she even comments cheekily how he clearly likes the girl. Outside, Zhong adds Meng Po to his contacts as LMG1087.
At school, En-Hsi tries to hide her smirking while fellow student Chia-Chun falls asleep in class. Worried for her sister, Meng decides to head over and check up on her while she’s berated by the teacher. Thankfully Professor Lu arrives on the scene to charm them all.
Winning over the crowd, he takes En-Hsi outside where she’s forced to face the reality of what she’s ben doing. As she’s accused of being a scammer, Professor Lu vouches for the girl and promises to look after her from now on.
And she definitely needs looking after! When Meng Po picks her up from school, it turns out she’s been kicked out of her apartment. She didn’t pay rent for this upcoming month – despite the money given to her by Meng Po.
Together, they show up at a creepy hotel for the night but there’s a whole group of spirits that seem to be stalking the pair there. However, they soon change their tune when Zhong shows up and scares them away.
Inside the room though are 3 more spirits that happen to be playing mahjong. En-Hsi can’t see them of course but Meng Po quickly dispatches them.
That evening, Chai-Chu breaks up with his girlfriend. As he rides home, a strange ghostly whisper asks him to drive her home. This inevitably causes the boy to crash. As he lies wincing in pain, this woman in white approaches and smirks.
The Episode Review
As this new Taiwanese drama begins on Netflix, the fantastical tale wastes absolutely no time getting right to the heart of the drama. The supernatural elements are pretty good and there’s a decent amount of humour thrown in too.
The blossoming romance between Zhong and Meng Po gets off to a good start, with the stickers on the phone probably the comedic highlight of the entire episode.
Quite what’s in store for these characters next remains to be seen but this one looks set to be an enjoyable Sunday evening treat!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|