It seems like Disney+ has picked a pattern for the kind of K-dramas they want to air: violent and action-packed. The OTT platform has recently had some gems like Moving and Worst of Evil, which are highly successful with big names and great plots. Vigilante seems to be in a similar category of “webtoon adaptations” or something to do with law enforcement. Earlier, The Killing Vote had a similar storyline, but with no buzz, the show didn’t do very well. This kind of storyline is quite overdone in the K-drama world, but somehow people continue to make them. Hopefully, the Nam Joo-Hyuk starrer will be entertaining and do well. The first two episodes are nothing new, and if it continues this way, there’ll be nothing exciting about the show except the lead’s performances.
What Happens In Episode 1?
At a young age, Jiyong loses his mother after she’s beaten terribly by a man on the street in front of him. The law doesn’t help by giving the man only a 3.5-year sentence because he is supposedly a patient who is getting mental health treatment. 12 years later, young Jiyong is all grown up and working hard in the police academy. On weekends, he dresses up in all-black clothing with a hood and catches people who are similar to the man who killed his mother. Murderers who don’t repent for their sins are his main targets. Jiyong doesn’t really stop with teaching them a lesson but actually ends up killing these people in the name of justice. Jiyong and his friend are grade-A students at the academy, so much so that the professor knows that they’re already ready to be a part of the force. He’s also a kindhearted person who helps the old lady in the neighborhood who picks up trash, and she gives him candy in return.
Jiyong gets caught on camera when he stops a doctor who habitually sexually harasses his patients under the pretense of treatment and records them. He also stops a pair of gangsters from killing a mother and son. The father is already in the hospital because he tried to stop those gangsters from peeing in front of their basement home. Jiyong spares these people but leaves them terribly injured. Still, the doctor doesn’t show any kind of remorse and calls himself a victim. At the same time, the mother thanks the hooded man for saving her family’s lives. Reporter Choi Mi-Ryeo finds these cases rather interesting, and she can see the link between them. She knows there’s a story there and asks one of the media companies to put the story out there to see the public reaction. She’s certain it’s a bigger story than they can even imagine because the law has been such a mess. This is the channel on which the victim thanks Jiyong for the help, and Mi-Ryeo is the one who comes up with the name Vigilante for this faceless man (Arrow, who?).
Mi-Ryeo notices the pattern of things happening on weekends and decides to bait the vigilante with a just-released criminal. In Korea, the perpetrator’s name is never revealed on the news, even if the victim’s information is all over the place. Mi-Ryeo gets the channel to put out the name of the perpetrator of a child sexual abuse case to see if they can capture the vigilante on camera. On the other hand, Jiyong realizes that most of these assailants think it’s the victim’s fault they’re in prison, not because they’ve done anything wrong, which is why they come out and continue to commit crimes. At the academy, Jiyong is working on a profiling app with one of his professors, so he has access to information about these assailants.
Mi-Ryeo’s plan backfires, and the assailant, Deokeung, decides to make a run for it and leave the country. Mi-Ryeo tries to follow the man to the Incheon port but loses him somewhere along the way. It turns out that his ankle monitor is the only bit of him that’s done the traveling, and Deokeung must still be in the city somewhere. The police team gathers up to check the ships moving out of the Incheon port to make sure that he doesn’t escape, but they’re wrong. Deokeung has actually returned to the victim’s home, where only one police officer stands in protection.
A huge fight breaks out, and the police officer is severely injured with a knife and some spray to the eyes. The victim, a young college student, opens the door when she hears the commotion, and the police officer stalls for her to try and run away. It doesn’t work very well, though, and Deokeung catches her in the stairwell. Just when he’s about to kill her after telling her that she’s the one who ruined his whole life (the audacity!), Jiyong shows up and beats him to death. The man begs for his life, and Jiyong tells him that if he wants to live, he should write an apology letter. The man writes an apology on the wall in his own blood. The same night, Mi-Ryeo pretends she’s a resident of the apartment and takes pictures of the crime scene for her reporting. The next day, the police find his body in front of the message and know it’s the vigilante’s work.
What Happens In Episode 2?
The news breaks out about Deokeung’s case, and everything is in chaos. The professor who is working on the app asks the boys to handle the project themselves because he gets called up to deal with the case. The professor immediately catches the fact that the vigilante is meticulous in his work and knows how the police work, which is why he never leaves any evidence behind. On the other hand, Mi-Ryeo’s office is getting restless over the fact that there’s nothing for them to put on the news if the man doesn’t take their bait or, worse, gets caught by the police. Now, instead of one, she puts out three assailants on the news so that the vigilante picks any one.
Jiyong needs to be vigilant now because one wrong step and he’s going to fall off the cliff. His career, his life—nothing will be the same if he gets caught. Jiyong gets fixated on a murderer who killed a mother and her two children in broad daylight. When the weekend comes, Jiyong decides to go to the club with his friends because the murderer was found in clubs after being released. Not to anyone’s surprise, Jiyong actually spots him and overhears him saying that the Korean law is weak and he was released on account of a lack of evidence. It turns out he’s in the drug business and is supplying drugs through people in the club. A girl pretends to like Jiyong and asks him to dance with her, but when she notices him staring at the murderer, she takes him to the side, saying she knows he’s there for the drugs. Without his consent, she puts a little newspaper-looking square in her mouth and kisses him, essentially giving him a dose of the drug too.
Jiyong follows the guy out to his hideout spot. Somebody has informed the police about the drugs, and the murderer almost gets caught by the police raid in the club but escapes by the skin of his teeth. When he reaches his hideout, Jiyong is waiting for him, having stolen his cash. He burns the cash in front of the guy and then beats him black and blue. He uses a chain lying nearby and wraps it around the murderer’s neck, hanging him to a pole so he can barely breathe. Jiyong then shows him a video posted by the mother of her two kids singing sweetly. He tells the murderer to apologize to both mom and children, and he does. His body was found the next day, too. The police are now labeling the vigilante a murderer and promise to do whatever they can to catch him, but the public is against this idea.
Who is Jo Heon?
According to reports, the vigilante’s work has led to many criminals giving themselves up and for prisoners who have been released to fear for their lives. Crime rates have also decreased within the month. The Seoul police find out that they have to work with a regional unit on the case, and they wonder if that means the “monster leader”. Jo Heon happens to be this man. He speaks to the guy, who helped connect the murderer and the drug-dealing boss. The man thinks he’s come to take money from him and doesn’t believe he’s a police officer. Jo Heon is behaving so badly that nobody would believe it. Finally, to learn more about the vigilante, Jo Heon beats the guy up and holds him over the rails of a high-rise building. The man freaks out and says that if the vigilante was in the club, it would’ve definitely been a young person. To be fair, the poor guy has no more information than that. At the end of Vigilante episode 2, Jo Heon gets on a phone call with the chief, where he promises that the public will forget the existence of the vigilante in no time.