‘Parasyte: The Grey’ Ending Explained & Full Recap: Is Pastor Kwon Dead Or Alive?

The Netflix series Parasyte: The Grey, is finally out; to be honest, I was nervous before I started watching it. Be it Netflix or any other production house, they have been notorious for botching live-action adaptations, but again, Netflix gave us One Piece. Based on the manga Parasyte, this series presents itself as a spinoff from the original story set in Japan. This series presents an original story set in South Korea, rather than a half-boiled imitation of the manga. Quite obviously, the Netflix adaptation draws its parallel but then sticks to its own narrative. Even though I wouldn’t call Parasyte: The Grey a work of art, despite its shortcomings and the cringe-screenplay at times, it is entertaining nonetheless. One of the key aspects this adaptation did not miss was the depiction of the existentialist themes the manga had portrayed.


Spoilers Ahead

What are Parasites? 

The Parasites are an extraterrestrial species that descends upon Earth from outer space. Their origin is unknown, but their behavior resembles that of a virus. Much like an RNA strand infiltrating a cell, a Parasite invades the brain of its human host, replacing it and effectively taking over the body, ultimately killing its host’s consciousness completely. Once again, like viruses carrying a genetic code with a single objective, Parasites are born with a single objective: to take over human brains. Before infiltrating a body, they resemble Earth larvae, yet they possess extraordinary agility and can swiftly take control of a human host. After merging with the host body, they can shapeshift and take various abstract forms, especially for combat purposes. The only possible way to identify Parasites is by plucking a strand of their hair. If the person is a Parasite, the hair will disintegrate into several pieces as soon as it is plucked. 


What is the plot about?

The plot centers around Jeong Su-in, a young woman working at a supermarket in Namil-gun, South Korea. Growing up, Su-in’s mother walked out on her and started another family because of her father’s abusive behavior. After her mother’s departure, Su-in’s father took his anger out on her, prompting her to have him arrested. This act of self-defense backfired for the young Su-in, as the conservative Korean society ostracized her for having her father arrested. The only person who did show her compassion was Kim Cheol Min, the police officer who responded to her complaint. Cheol Min was like a father to Su-in and the only family figure she had in her life. 

In the present day, leading a pessimistic life, Su-in gets into an argument with a psychopathic man, who then follows her on her way home. The man pushes her off her scooter and then proceeds to stab her multiple times. Su-in tries to outrun this man, but before he can kill her, the man dies as a result of being split into two halves by an unknown force. Turns out that by the time Su-in had been stabbed, a Parasite larva had entered her brain and killed Su-in’s pursuer. Unlike other victims of this Parasitic invasion, Su-in retains her humanity. The story shows Su-in’s journey as a human-parasite hybrid along with Seol Kang-woo, a former gangster, evading the grasp of both the other parasites and human authorities determined to hunting her down. 


Why does Su-in retain her humanity?

Typically, when a Parasite larva infiltrates a host’s body, the human inside is lost as the Parasite then assumes their identity. However, for Su-in, things are a bit different. The parasite who entered her body merged with her brain, but by the time it did, Su-in had almost bled to death. The parasite inside her spent its energy trying to heal Su-in’s injuries, but in doing so, it was unable to replace her brain completely. As a result, Su-in and the parasite, Heidi, co-exist in Su-in’s body. Heidi is actively aware of the real world as a part of Su-in’s brain, but when she takes over the body, Su-in becomes unconscious. 

In the manga, Heidi’s counterpart was Migi (右), meaning ‘Right,’ as the parasite merges with Izumi Shinichi’s right hand. Migi could not merge with Shinichi’s brain because Shinichi was wearing headphones during the incident, preventing the larvae from entering his brain. Su-in learns of Heidi through Seol Kang-woo as part of Heidi’s plan to connect with her host. Heidi instructed Kang-woo to convey its message to its host so that Su-in could learn about the parasites and ensure their mutual survival. Following this revelation, Su-in and Heidi correspond with each other by writing notes when either of them is in control of the body. Since Heidi did not completely merge with Su-in’s brain, she can only take control for 15 minutes every few hours. Heidi automatically takes over the body when Su-in is under threat of being captured or killed. 


Why do the Parasites create the Organization?

Parasites are simple organisms that only wish to ensure their survival and feed on humans. They cannot reproduce either, and even though they are physically stronger than humans, they have no way of increasing their numbers. Seeking answers, Su-in and Kang-woo infiltrate a meeting at the Organization’s base at Saejin Church. At the meeting, The Pastor, the de facto leader of the Parasites, addresses the crowd about how the only strength they have is to unite against humans. He and other parasites fear humans and the capabilities of such a rather physically weak species. It is against the nature of the Parasites to make a social organization, but in the human world, they start to evolve. Like any organism, the parasites fear death, and to prevent their extinction, they decide to form an organization for themselves. 

Why does Team Grey pursue Su-in?

Team Grey is an organization comprising Korean Special Forces personnel led by Choi Jun-kyung. Following a massacre caused by a murderous parasite at a music festival, Team Grey was created to counter the parasite threat to humanity. They have one objective: to eliminate every single parasite in South Korea. Choi Jun-kyung was a key figure in starting this branch of the special forces. She saw her husband turn into a monstrous being and massacre people, which is why she created this organization to prevent this from happening to other people. Team Grey now employs the parasite inside Jun-Kyung’s husband, even though restrained and tortured, to track down other parasites. They call this parasite ‘The Hunting Dog.’ 


The Team Grey division works with the utmost efficiency, employing one of the greatest strategists in South Korea to help catch the parasites. They even collaborated with the local police detectives, Chol Min and Kang Won Seok, on the case. It is only through Chol Min that Jun-Kyung figures out that Su-in is a parasite and sends her forces after her. After the Hunting Dog, Jun-kyung’s husband, is killed, Jun-Kyung seeks to capture Su-in against her will to turn her into the next Hunting Dog.

Who kills The Hunting Dog?

Amidst Su-in’s pursuit by Team Grey, it is revealed that Kang Won is working with the Parasites. He was an agent for the Pastor, spying on Team Grey and reporting their secrets to the Parasites. Kang Won had spent his life in mediocrity and was tired of it. A frequent visitor to the Saejin church, Kang Won was already acquainted with the Pastor when he was human. After becoming a Parasite, the Pastor was found out by Kang Won. The Pastor then subdued Kang Won and proposed to him that he wanted to be in control of a human organization instead. He offered Kang Won to aid him in doing so, and in return, Kang Won would be offered a high post under the Parasite’s authority. When the Pastor finds out about the Hunting Dog, he immediately realizes the threat the Hunting Dog poses to the Parasites. He orders Kang Won to murder it. To do so, the Pastor creates a blade resembling their tentacles, which makes it look like the Hunting Dog was killed by a Parasite instead. 


How does Kim Cheol Min die?

Even though Kim Cheol Min was a part of Team Grey, he did not agree with Jun-kyung’s plans to use Su-in as the next Hunting Dog. Cheol Min was convinced that Su-in had retained her humanity. He had known her since childhood and had saved her from her abusive father. He believed in Su-in despite everyone treating her like an emotionless parasite. Before Su-in is supposed to be transferred to the Team Grey HQ, he finds a window to rescue the girl. He borrows help from Kang-woo, who disguises himself as a special forces agent, assigning himself as Su-in’s guard. However, before Kang-woo can get her out, the plan to move Su-in to the HQ begins. 

On their way to Team Grey HQ, the convoy transporting Su-in is ambushed by the Parasites. Fending off the Parasites and the Team Grey personnel at the same time, Kang-woo and Cheol Min finally rescue Su-in. Kang-woo hurriedly escapes from the scene with Su-in, while Cheol Min, unaware of Kang Won’s true intentions, accompanies Kang Won in his pursuit of Su-in. Instead, Kang Won takes a detour to a farmhouse, where he reveals that he is indeed working for the Pastor. Meanwhile, Su-in sees that Cheol Min and Kang Won, who were driving right behind Kang-woo’s car, have driven off the road. Fearing for Cheol Min’s safety, she rushes to the farmhouse. However, by the time she arrives, in a fight with the Pastor, Cheol Min fatally shoots the Pastor’s human body. The Parasite leader removes its alien head from the body and, in turn, beheads Cheol Min, killing him in front of Su-in. The Parasite then merges with Cheol Min’s body instead. 


Why does Kyung-hee betray the Pastor?

The Pastor was not a simple-minded organism like the rest of his kin. He had questioned his purpose and evolved into a being who started to understand the human condition. He employed a human as his lieutenant to learn about human expressions and the complex nuances of human languages. He wanted to become as formidable as he deemed his foes to be. This thirst for knowledge and power made him more dangerous, especially when he had learnt the Machiavellian ways of the human world. 

During Team Grey’s raid at the new base of the Organisation, the Pastor, now disguised as Cheol Min, leads the raid. He diligently does his work, posing as a human officer to ensure that the mission is successful. In other words, the Pastor is prepared to sacrifice his own race just to ensure that he can reach the end goal and replace the mayor. As the operation is a success, Kyung-hee sees the Pastor leading the massacre of her people. A pivotal moment for this parasite, as she has never felt emotions before. Seeing the Pastor’s actions, Kyung-hee, for the first time in her short life as a sentient being, experiences human feelings in the form of betrayal. As a result, she resolves to kill the Pastor, the Parasite who gave his people the meaning of their existence. Therefore, she joins forces with Su-in and Kang-woo. 


How does the Pastor die?

Even in the middle of an invasion by an invisible alien, the Korean government proceeds to organize the Korean Folk Music Festival in the Namil-gun region. Attending the festival this year is the Mayor of Namcheon. The Mayor is a key candidate in the Presidential elections next year, and the Pastor realizes that taking over the Mayor’s body will be beneficial for his own campaign to become the head of a human organization. By this point, the Pastor is no different from a naive human drowning in greed and his hunger for power. 

During the festival, when the Mayor pays a visit to the venue, the Pastor commences his attack, unveiling his true form in front of the crowd. As chaos ensues, the mayor makes a run for his life while the Pastor pursues him to parasitize him. Meanwhile, Su-in, Kang-woo, and Kyung-hee arrive at the Mayor’s aid after convincing Choi Jung-kyung to join forces with them. The Pastor, after Cheol Min’s body is injured in the fight, beheads Kang Won Seok and parasitizes him, even though he helped the Parasite throughout. The Pastor reveals another one of his abilities: he can remove his parasite while also controlling his human body. Finally, the violent battle between Su-in and the Pastor ends when Su-in kills the parasite while Jung-kyung shoots the Pastor’s human body. Like Icarus, the Pastor flew too close to the sun and ended up perishing. 


What happens to Su-in and Heidi?

Following the battle, Su-in and Kang-woo are surrounded by Team Grey personnel, awaiting orders from Jung-kyung to shoot her. However, Jung-kyung orders her men to stand down and have them taken to a hospital. She clarifies that Su-in is indeed a normal human being. In the end, her prejudice against the Parasites finally comes to an end. She hated these creatures for what had happened to her husband, but Su-in had changed her mind about them. As for Heidi, they start to embrace the fact that she is alive. Heidi’s reason for fighting this war was entirely driven by her fear of death. From an existential point of view, Heidi realizes that realizing their own mortality is the first step to self-awareness. After all, death is what brings meaning to our lives. Moreover, Heidi, like Migi in the manga, actually ends up bonding with their host, Su-in. They start to empathize with Su-in’s tragic life and comfort her. 

What to Expect in Season 2?

I’ve been waiting to talk about the ending scene since the moment I started writing this article. I have been a fan since I watched the anime as a kid, and boy was I excited to see Shinichi in the ending scene. Parasyte: The Grey has a lot in store for the second season. It is obvious that, like Kang-woo, Su-in will also join the Grey Team, as she has already been requested by Jung-kyung to do so. As a mutant, Su-in would be very useful, not just for information but also in combat against rogue Parasites. Considering that formidable Parasites like Gotou and the Pastor exist in the same world, it is quite likely that other Parasites of such intellectual caliber would also pop up elsewhere. As for Shinichi Izumi, he was only 18 by the end of the anime, but in the series, he’s a slightly older investigative journalist with crucial information on the Parasites. It is indeed true that nobody would have more knowledge about parasites than Shinichi himself, and with him on the board, Team Grey is going to be prepared when they face enemies deadlier than even Gotou.


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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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