In a world infested with murderous otherworldly beasts and dreadful overlords, humans emerge as the most despicable lot in Solo Leveling, as the series adheres to the common theme of monster lore. In the previous episode, Jinwoo’s newfound ability to access the world through a virtual log was showcased. While venturing into an ‘Instance Dungeon,’ Jinwoo ran a gauntlet against hordes of different kinds of enemies, and after successfully eliminating them, he rapidly rose through levels of the Hunter skillset. In the previous episode, Jinwoo’s motivation for self-improvement was highlighted, which seems to be associated with his responsibility to protect his family as well. Eventually, after defeating the dungeon boss, the former weakest Hunter seemingly tapped into his hidden potential to become one of the strongest ones.
Much like the previous episode, the fifth one, titled A Pretty Good Deal, revolves around Jinwoo’s story arc, with sparse moments dedicated to the larger plotline. The series is taking its time to frame the role the protagonist is going to shoulder in the long run, whose point of view is guiding viewers through the established world-building.
Who Is Baek Yoonho?
As the episode begins, viewers find Jinwoo at the hospital where he was previously admitted after the Cartenon Temple dungeon mishap. Even though he has made a complete recovery since and has sneaked out to train himself and upgrade his skills, Jinwoo is still playing the role of a patient to avoid any form of suspicion. After leveling up quite a lot during his ‘Instance Dungeon’ adventure, Jinwoo’s physique has improved significantly, and the hospital nurses seem to have noticed that as they secretly almost swoon over him. Jinwoo eventually gets discharged, and one of the attendants musters the courage to ask for his number. The beginning sequence plays out as a fantasy fan-service treatment, and the source material has an abundance of these moments.
Anyway, the scene shifts to a news broadcast, and we are introduced to the celebrated hunter, the mighty Baek Yoonho. We get to know that Baek is one of the seven S-ranked hunters of the country; through his conversation with the journalist, it is revealed that he was a firefighter before the emergence of the realm and the awakening of his powers. He emphasizes the importance of training one’s mind and body on a constant basis, given how perilous the life of a hunter is, and at the same time mentions how his past vocation has allowed him to develop a strong sense of awareness. Later, a glimpse of Baek’s grueling training regimen is shown as he displays feats of incredible strength, and we also learn he is a guildmaster of the Hunter team he is associated with.
Viewers have met Baek previously during the island monster invasion incident as well, as Baek and two other S-ranked hunters saved the day by rescuing some of their low-ranked compatriots. Although there are no indications yet, Jinwoo will eventually meet with him sooner or later.
Why Did Jinwoo Participate In The C-Rank Raid?
The scene shifts to the Sung household as Jinwoo sees off his sister, Jinah, who is leaving for school. Having some free time at his disposal, he accesses the virtual log and adds the additional points in his stats that he had received while leveling up.
Soon enough, a call from his landlord brings Jinwoo back to reality as he is informed about his pending rent. The primary reason for him to join the life of a hunter was to provide for his family, and now that he has been able to grow stronger, earning well by raiding should be a relatively easy task for him. However, the situation is not as simple as it sounds, as lower-ranked raids do not provide much in terms of gain, and he will not be accepted in high-ranked raids due to his belonging to the E rank. Asking the Hunter Association to re-assess him will surely result in him getting ranked higher due to his increased abilities, but it will also entail a number of questions, an investigation, and other stuff he wishes to avoid for the moment. As Jinwoo continues pondering about his next course of action, he finds a C-ranked raid with an opening where he is able to enlist.
Prepared for the raid, Jinwoo meets the raid team leader, Hwang Dongsuk, who welcomes him warmly. Dongsuk reveals that for a C-rank raid, they needed to fill the required quota of two more Hunters, as it needs eight members in total, and also that Jinwoo’s low rank won’t be a matter of concern since he doesn’t need to participate in combat. Along with Jinwoo, a mild-mannered, enthusiastic young D-ranked Hunter, Yoo Jinho, joins the team on his maiden raid. Belonging to a rich family, Jinho is able to afford expensive armor and weapons, seemingly to compensate for his low skills.
Can Jinwoo Defeat The C-Rank Dungeon Boss On His Own?
As Jinwoo signs the self-responsibility bond before joining the raid, he notices that only half of the team members are C-ranked Hunters, and the entirety of the team comprises damage dealers and tanks, with not a single healer in the group. Upon questioning, team leader Dongsuk avoids the question by stating that, being a solitary guild-less group, they cannot afford a healer, and the team moves into the dungeon.
While venturing inside, Jinho strikes up a conversation with Jinwoo and reveals that his concerned father had gifted him the armor and weapon as a means of protection against the unknown dangers that lurk inside the dungeon. The kid shows the courageous side of his nature by promising to protect Jinwoo if the situation demands it. Eventually, the team is almost ambushed by a horde of critter monsters, but Jinwoo’s enhanced perception ability allows him to warn them beforehand. Jinho somehow manages to hold his own, while using superior coordination skills. The rest of the team dispatches the horde, with Jinwoo staying out of combat. Dongsuk thanks Jinwoo for using his observation skill in time, and after collecting essence stones from the monsters, the team decides to locate the dungeon boss.
However, the members notice that the monsters they have encountered were already weakened and injured, which indicates a significantly stronger creature to be the dungeon boss. The team finally arrives at a chamber that is shown to be completely covered with mana stones, so much so that, even if divided among the members, they will yield a high reward. Jinho duly reminds Dongsuk that even though Jinwoo didn’t take part in combat and accordingly didn’t receive essence stones, he is bound to get an equal share of the Mana stones as a participant in the raid. Dongsuk agrees, and just as he plans to excavate the huge stash of Mana stones, they notice the dungeon boss—a gigantic spider—resting in the middle of the chamber.
Using a lack of excavation tools as an excuse, Dongsuk and the rest of the team leave the chamber, leaving Jinwoo and Jinho behind, stating simply that they will return in no time and that they will remain unharmed as long as the dungeon boss is not awakened. Soon enough, their nefarious plan is revealed as Dongsuk and co. destroy the entrance to the chamber from outside, leaving the duo trapped inside the chamber, and to add to their misery, the dungeon boss is shown to have awakened. Jinwoo remembers the advice of his former mentor, leader Park, that the presence of crooks like Dongsuk in the Hunter business is rather common—people who use low-ranked Hunters as bait to profit as much as they please. Given the fact that this is already a perilous job, most of the deliberately caused incidents are passed off as accidental occurrences, and their crimes go undetected. Now finally, Jinwoo realizes the reason why there were no healers in the team, as Dongsuk and his core team members have deliberately abandoned their compatriots multiple times previously as well.
In the face of impending danger, the novice Hunter Jinho tries to be valiant, but he too realizes a battle with the dungeon boss will surely end in a horrible death. Jinwoo decides to step up and summons his weapon, surprising Jinho in the process, and as the episode ends, the battle with the giant spider commences. It seems in the upcoming episode that Jinwoo will have to reveal his secret eventually, which will raise concerns as he is the only known Hunter with the ability to level up. Whether Dongsuk and his lackeys get apprehended by the Hunters Association will also be addressed in the upcoming episode.