Vigilante – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Heaven’s Net

Vigilante episode 1 starts with a court hearing and the judge’s ruling. This is the case of a woman who was mercilessly beaten to death by a goon in front of her son, Kim Ji-yong. According to the judge, this is the second time the accused has beaten someone. However, since he has shown remorse and didn’t intend to kill the woman, he is sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. 

The son silently watches the ruling as tears of anger drop from his eyes. He can still vividly remember seeing his mother beaten to death. He raises his head and meets the accused eyes, who proceeds to mock him as the police drag him away. 

The accused, Choi Sung-soo, is still at it twelve years later. He follows a bus driver and nearly beats him to death for reporting him to the police. The passengers watch in shock as he rips the CCTV camera and alights from the bus. He heads home but notices a hooded figure following him. He starts approaching the hooded figure, screaming expletives, demanding to know why he is being followed. 

The hooded figure calmly asks why such a criminal is roaming about freely. A fight ensues, which leaves Sung-soo beaten to a pulp. The light shines on the hooded figure as he beats Sung-soo, and we learn it is Ji-yong, the son of the woman beaten to death. Later, he calmly walks home and stares blankly ahead when he gets home. Based on his demeanour, he has no regrets, and we can’t help but wonder if he killed Sung-soo. 

The next day, we meet Ji-yong at the Police Academy. He is currently attending a lecture by Professor Lee Joon-yeob. Ji-yong seems like a model student. He is close to two guys, Min Seon-wook and another friend. On the weekends, they head home, and the two try to recruit Ji-yong to go clubbing with them, but he says he is busy.  

On his way home, Ji-yong casually helps an old grandma with her cart, and she gives him some sweets. He gets home and watches the news about a man named Kim who broke into someone’s home and attacked him when he was asked to leave. Sadly, the court ruled in favour of Mr Kim and rejected the arrest warrant issued by the police. This ruling sparked heavy criticism from citizens, and Ji-yong looks further into the case. 

After learning more about the case and Mr. Kim’s criminal history, he heads toward the victim’s house. He finds Mr Kim and his accomplice threatening the house owner for reporting him. They open the house’s window and start peeing. Seeing this sends Ji-yong into an angry fit, and he beats the two men to a pulp.

Throughout the weekend, Ji-yong keeps busy, attacking criminals that the court lets slide. He confronts a rapist doctor and gives him an ultimatum to quit medicine and change. 

In the meantime, Choi Mi-ryeo, a broadcast reporter at Repo25h, asks her boss to investigate some interesting violent crime statistics. She has noticed that there seems to be someone taking the law into their hands and attacking criminals who escaped retribution thanks to absurd court rulings. She asks to follow the case and do a story on it. At first, her boss is hesitant, but Mi-ryeo threatens to take her tip to another broadcast station. Once she gets her boss’s approval, she gets to work immediately.

At the police academy, Seon-wook, Ji-yong and their other friend argue about their homework. Professor Joon-yeob had asked them to discuss why most cold murder cases are not solved and whether it has something to do with reforms.

Ji-yong argues that criminals will commit crimes, but it is not up to the police to retaliate even after the court gives an absurd ruling. On the other hand, his friends argue that criminals don’t easily reform either way. They are surprised that Ji-yong is not siding with the victims. 

Later, the three have lunch and watch the news about Mr Kim being beaten by the vigilante. Mr Kim asks for the police’s help to find the man who beat him, but the victim thanks the vigilante for helping her. Seon-wook says he is pleased with the vigilante since he is a dark hero. Ji-yong says nothing and tries to hide his hands since he got bruised while beating Mr Kim. He, however, still keeps tabs on the news about the vigilante. 

Speaking of the news, the story of the vigilante starts creating buzz for the broadcast channel, and they decide to double down on it. Mi-ryeo is even more excited and ready to hit the ground running. She has already realised that the vigilante works on the weekends and is hopeful something will happen to get the vigilante’s attention during the week. 

Unfortunately, nothing buzzworthy happens. Mi-ryeo convinces her boss to do a  story on an old case known as the Si-yoon case. She insists they reveal the culprit’s identity and wait for the vigilante to take the bait. The culprit attacked Siyoon, a student at the park and raped her. He later claimed temporary insanity. 

He was only sentenced to seven years while the victim suffered stigma from the case and was even forced to change her name. The broadcast incites anger, and citizens track down the culprit, Jeong Deok-heung, who was recently released. They start camping outside his apartment, demanding justice. On the other hand, Mi-ryeo and her boss wait for the vigilante to appear so they can record the incident. 

Concurrently, Ji-yong and Seon-wook are tasked with helping Professor  Joon-yeob with his profiling app. After watching the show on Repo25h, Ji-yong uses his access to criminal files while working with Professor Joon-yeob and investigates Deok-heung more. Professor Joon-yeob remains oblivious to Ji-yong’s intentions and assumes he is simply working hard.

Meanwhile, Deok-heung sneaks out of his apartment late at night, and Mi-ryeo secretly follows him. Deok-heung drives to the Incheon Port. The next morning, the police are alerted that Deok-heung cut off his electronic anklet and is on the run. They assume he might be on a stowaway and is planning to flee the country. They quickly rush to the port as the public heavily criticises them. 

Back at school, Ji-yong is distracted by the news update but manages to answer Professor Joon-yeob’s question right. At the port, Mi-ryeo is pissed since the police might take all the credit if they get Deok-heung before the vigilante. She wants to get a clip of the vigilante punishing the sex offender. Sadly, the police search the whole port and find nothing. As a precaution, they send two police officers to guard Siyoon. Unfortunately, due to low manpower, one officer is summoned back to the port. 

On his way out, he notices a deliveryman and checks to ensure he is not Deuk-heung. After confirmation, he drives off, leaving his partner behind. Sadly, Deuk-heung was hiding in the building and attacks the deliveryman. He then takes the deliveryman’s helmet and approaches Siyoon’s house. A fight ensues between him and the officer at the door, and the latter tries his best but is stabbed two times. 

Siyoon opens the door to check the reason for the commotion and is shocked to see Deuk-heung. The officer asks her to run for her life as he tries to fight Deuk-heung off. 

As the officer is already weak, he cannot hold off Deuk-heung, who takes off after  Siyoon. He chases her down the fleet of stairs and corners her. 

Elsewhere, Mi-ryeo figures out that Deuk-heung will go after Siyoon and quickly leaves the port, heading to Siyoon’s house. The police follow her out of curiosity. 

Back at Siyoon’s apartment, Ji-yong arrives to find Deuk-heung about to kill Siyoon. He violently beats him while Deuk-heung begs for mercy. His pleas fall on deaf ears as Ji-yong remains unmoved.

Later, he quietly leaves the scene and is nearly hit by Mi-ryeo, who is on her way to the scene. The police arrive to find the culprit dead and try to secure the scene. However, Mi-ryeo sneaks past them and is happily shocked by the crime scene. 

The episode ends with Ji-yong walking home while Mi-ryeo marvels at the crime scene. The vigilante made Deuk-heung write an apology message on the wall. The message reads, “Heaven’s net, I am sorry. Forgive.” Ji-yong narrates he plans to fill the void left by absurd laws. He will serve his own justice. 

The Episode Review

The first episode makes for quite an enthralling watch. We are introduced to Ji-yong and learn why he became a vigilante and lives a double life. As a child, the court’s ruling on his mom’s case was impactful. Twelve years later, he finds his mom’s killer still committing horrible crimes with no remorse. This is his trigger, and thus, the vigilante is born.

However, Ji-yong is also particular about who he punishes. He only punishes the criminals who show no remorse. For him, these people deserve to get punished, and he is ready to give them a slice of his take on justice. 

Based on this first episode, we are in for an exhilarating show that will make us question our moral compass. Ji-yong is a dark hero, but is he right to take justice into his hands? Is this justice or retribution? The more you think about it, the more grey the areas get! 


Next Episode

You can look forward to a full season review when this show ends!

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