Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 2/5
An ending to a TV series can make or break the integrity of the entire show. A satisfying conclusion can elevate a series from good to great and there’s plenty of shows that have done just this over the years. By contrast, messing up the final episode or season, undoing character arcs or leaving things wide open with no clear resolution can reduce a series from enjoyable to disappointing in a blink of an eye. Unfortunately Vagabond falls into that category.
With an open ending and question marks over whether this one will be renewed or not, Vagabond stumbles at the last hurdle, delivering an open ending with multiple plot threads left unresolved and a bitter taste in the mouth for anyone that’s become invested in this show.
The story itself resolves around stuntman Cha Dal-Geon. With a close relationship with his nephew keeping him going through the tough moments in his career, Cha’s world is turned upside down when the plane his nephew is on crashes to the ground. With suspicions surrounding a mysterious man on the flight and coded messages with the co-pilot, the plot thickens and it soon becomes apparent that this crash was no accident. With a conspiracy going all the way up the chain of command to the President, what follows is a twisty-turny thriller, spread across both Morocco and Korea, as Cha teams up with NIS agent Hae-Ri to get to the bottom of what’s happening.
Vagabond, like Jack Ryan and 24 before it, is the sort of show that benefits from switching off and not thinking too hard about what’s going on. There are a few plot holes here, along with a couple of questionable character decisions, but across the season there’s a whole host of high-octane action sequences that help elevate the series. From car chases and shoot-outs to tense sniper evasions, Vagabond throws everything, including the kitchen sink, at keeping the series as exciting as possible.
Cha and Hae-Ri do a great job fronting the series together too and across the season their relationship grows and deepens as they begin trusting and looking out for each other. If I’m honest, I think the show would have been stronger without the romance that springs up between them, especially given some of the montage segments late on in the show, but it’s not too much of a deteriment to the good chemistry the two share on-screen.
The rest of the cast do well too though, including Jessica and Edward Park who play the two figureheads locked in a dangerous power-struggle, while the various players involved in the conspiracy itself have a fair few moments dotted through the series that allow them to shine. I won’t divulge what these are of course for spoiler purposes, but suffice to say the different characters are given a good amount of screen-time together.
Some of the action is well-rehearsed too and there’s some great choreography throughout the show. Unfortunately the camera work does leave a lot to be desired. Numerous segments use a dizzying array of quick cuts, shaky camera movements and zooms that combine to make these moments harder to depict what’s happening on-screen than they should. There are some nice aerial and crane shots throughout the show but unfortunately when it matters, the action sequences suffer rather badly.
Vagabond is a difficult show to review in its current state. On the one hand, this Korean drama is an exciting thriller with plenty of twists and turns dotted throughout the episodes that make for an unpredictable and highly enjoyable watch. At the same time, the way things are left here, with multiple plot threads left dangling and no resolution to any of the major plot points, makes it hard for me to advise people to check this one out. If this is renewed for a second season then Vagabond is absolutely worth diving into but despite a fun ride, Vagabond falters where it really matters, pushing this down from great into the realm of mediocrity.