Hellbound – Season 1 Episode 5 Recap & Review

The Decree

Episode 5 of Hellbound begins with Youngjae reflecting on So-Hyun’s words and how his son may well be a sinner. Of course, he’s also conflicted over Sodo, which he begins to research online. It turns out Sodo was actually a sacred area where religious rituals were held. Fugitives who fled there were also immune to arrest. Midway through this, the director shows and distracts him.

Meanwhile, Yoo-Ji heads over to visit a guy called Yeongseok, who’s the latest victim that’s going to be taken to Hell. Interestingly, he finds another business card here, this time for Sodo Laundry Service and decides to investigate further.

Youngjae also gets investigating, recognizing the man from the fishing spot as Hyeongjun. He immediately leaves the building, and hurries down to Hankuk University, where he finds the Professor in his office.

He happens to be part of this secret organization, determined to keep those who receive their decrees quiet. This also helps prevent New Truth from getting what they want. Thanks to the power this group has, it’s the best they can do for them right now.

The group tend to scour through the New Truth app for their targets, as Hyeongjun proudly proclaims that they have members everywhere. Even those within tech companies and the police force; rebels fighting back in the shadows.

Apparently half the world are now followers of the New Truth but of course, we haven’t actually seen any of this take place on-screen. Thanks for that four year time-jump!

The New Truth have a brand new headquarters too, and it’s here where they take Yeongseok for a public demonstration. The VIPs are there, watching silently while this man is made an example of by Chairman Kim Jeongchil. He brings the man’s family in and they watch in stunned silence as the man is killed by the Hell beasts. Viewer ratings are also up to 89% for this too, with broadcasts watched heavily across Korea.

The video of Yeongseok’s confession incriminates Hye-Jin though and, specifically, her ties with the Sodo firm. It was her we saw in the previous episode and Jeongchil is beside himself. He decides against getting the police involved though and remains determined to make them pay. He tasks Deacon Yoo-Ji with this, who in turn decides to bring Arrowhead onboard too.

While Arrowhead start to interrogate a family connected with Sodo, Yoo-Ji sits out in the car and expresses his concerns over the program. He thinks they should be doing more to reform children of sinners, while this whole demonstration over a lowly sinner seems a bit extreme.

Meanwhile, Hyeongjun and Youngjae drive together, discussing the implications of the New Truth decree being wrong. Hyeongjun likens it to an earthquake, pointing out how anyone can be affected. Eventually they make it to the headquarters, where Hye-Jin is there to greet them.

Together, they discuss New Truth’s concealing evidence and, more specifically, Jin-Soo. With Jin-Soo dead, if the public actually learned that his days were numbered and he received a decree too, then it could blow things wide open. Unfortunately there is no evidence like that so Hye-Jin calls on Youngjae to provide compelling evidence that the decree is wrong.

Hye-Jin wants Youngjae to broadcast his baby’s decree to the whole world. If the masses see an innocent baby is on the list of those about to die, then it could well make them question New Truth’s lie.

Interestingly though, it’s Hyeongjun who actually convinces him. His daughter received a decree while they were traveling to the beach, and without any warning she was killed in front of him. It’s a harrowing story, and one that sees Youngjae agree to the terms.

When Youngjae heads home, he finds So-Hyun a mess and Toughie crying. So-Hyun blames herself for what’s happened, pointing out how sinful her own mother was as reasoning for what’s happened to them. So-Hyun is distraught and it’s at this moment where Youngjae decides to bring up the subject of broadcasting Toughie’s decree.

Meanwhile, Hyeongjae is attacked while out on the road by Arrowhead thugs. They eventually knock him out, leaving him tied to a stretcher and taken to an abandoned warehouse. Using a guy called Geunbae as bait, they throw Hyeongjae into the incinerator and let him burn to death. Geunbae is next and their bodies are found hanging from the highway as a reminder of their sins in the morning.

In the wake of all this though, they also manage to gain the address for Hye-Jin’s HQ, and Arrowhead arrive in their numbers.

Hye-Jin is ready though and sets a trap. Deacon Yoo-Ji has seen enough and decides to intervene, just as an incredibly shaky and difficult to watch action sequence with Hye-Jin takes place. Honestly, the camera is all over the place. Anyway, I digress. Eventually it leads to Hye-Jin slipping away, straight out into an alleyway and to safety before she’s caught.

Following the burnt bodies being discovered by the media, news breaks about Hyeongjae being part of Sodo. Furthermore, Arrowhead issue a statement too, mentioning how the pair were sinners and deserved to be punished. They also show Hye-Jin’s picture and declare her the leader of Sodo, making sure there’s nowhere she can run to.

Hye-Jin rings Youngjae and tries to convince him to broadcast the video. When she learns he’s not with So-Hyun, she expresses concerns. And rightly so. It turns out So-Hyun has actually taken Toughie to the New Truth headquarters. Oh no…

The Episode Review

The penultimate episode to Hellbound sets up this struggle between New Truth keeping this lie going and Sodo tying to expose the corruption for what it is. Through all of that struggle though there’s absolutely no mention of the government or how the wider world has been affected by these demons.

We get a blanket statement that half the world now believe New Truth but surely, in this age of social media and technological advances, there would be more than one baby or innocent life sacrificed with this decree. When you actually stop to think about it, the whole worldbuilding and logic around this idea completely crumbles.

Look, I know you need to go into this and suspend your disbelief a little but when the worldbuilding is this broken, it’s very difficult not to poke holes in what’s happened off-screen. Instead, what we get then is this struggle between a cult in charge of everything and those rebels operating in the shadows, with little exposition to explain what’s happened in between.

I’m sure some talented writers online could fill in the blanks but it just seems unnecessary when this season could have portrayed that slow dread of rising to power and using fear to do just that. Taxi Driver, as an example, managed to do this within the realms of political power struggles and manipulating the masses, but here it’s far less elegant.

Hellbound has been a little messy but the overall concept is undeniably gripping. Let’s just hope the finale can tie up some of these loose ends.

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You can read our full season review for Hellbound here!


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