Directed by Ui Seok Cho, “Black Knight” takes us to a dystopian land where we are made privy to the ongoing conflicts of the residents, their discriminatory social order, and how the incapability of the government has given rise to vigilantism in the Korean Peninsula. The series is based on the Toomics webtoon created by Lee Yoon-Gyun. We believe that you would grasp the narrative and understand the nitty-gritty of the make-believe world more by reading the comic strip than you would by watching the series. The narrative of this Netflix release has many unexplained lacunae, which makes it difficult for you to understand the motivations and inspirations of the characters. Maybe the makers wanted us to read the comic strip before watching the series, because without it, a lot of things feel absurd and do not make any sense. So, let’s try to find out in this recap what “Black Knight” is all about and if Ui Seok Cho is able to create an immersive world.
‘Black Knight’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
A comet had collided with the earth approximately 40 years before, and after that day, the fates and destinies of people changed forever. The Korean Peninsula had turned into a desert, and most of the other continents were submerged in the oceans. The Cheonmyeong Group, owned by Chairman Ryu, and the Korean government rose to the occasion and created an entirely new world. The needs and priorities of the citizens had changed after the earth had been hit, and the natural resources like food, water, and air that we once took for granted had now become luxuries.
The air quality had severely degraded, and that is why the Cheonmyeong group had to create an air core that could convert oxynium to oxygen. The Cheonmyeong group controlled the supply of oxygen cylinders, and we believe that the privatization of such an essential resource wouldn’t have helped the cause of the common man who would have wanted certain subsidies on it, if not for free of cost. The government, as well as the Cheonmyeong Group Chairman, Ryu, knew that they didn’t have enough to provide for everybody, and that is why it was imperative to create a new social order where the population was divided into classes. The people were given a bar code that was imprinted on their hands, and according to that, their status was decided. The rich and powerful lived in the core district, where there was no shortage of anything. The slightly less privileged lived in the special districts, and those who just fulfilled the parameters lived in the general districts. From the air quality to the availability of other basic resources, everything kept on decreasing and deteriorating as we descended from the core to the general district. But the most atrocious thing was that a certain group of people were not given any barcodes, and they were abandoned by the government to fend for themselves in the desert and were referred to as refugees.
The mortality rate was quite high in the refugee community because of obvious reasons. That is why a lot of people became rebels and started raiding whatever they could lay their hands on. These people were called hunters, and to tackle them and safely deliver goods to the residents of the three districts, a separate task force was created. An individual had to go through a very tough physical examination to become a delivery man, and once they qualified for the test, they came to be known as the “Black Knight.”
A delivery man was given a specific number by which they were referred to, and even if they were refugees, they received special treatment from the government. That is why every refugee wanted to become a delivery man because that was the only way they could have a sustainable lifestyle. 5-8 was one of the most popular delivery men and was known for his courage and might. Every refugee child aspired to be like him, but it demanded a great deal of discipline to even come close to it. 5-8, with a few other deliverymen, had formed a secret group in which they tried to find out what the Cheonmyeong Group was up to, as they had suspicions about their intentions. They frequently met and secretly investigated matters if they believed that there was some foul play involved in them. 5-8 knew the ramifications of them being caught, but he was ready to sacrifice his life for the well-being of refugees and to improve their living conditions.
What Was The Refugee Relocation Program?
The refugees had to live in deplorable circumstances, and the government hadn’t done anything for them and left them to die in the desert. For the first time after the creation of the new order, a new relocation plan was formulated for the refugees, and though Chairman Ryu wanted to actually improve the living conditions of the poor men and women, his son, Ryu Seok, had other plans altogether. After the surviving population was divided into classes that corresponded to caste systems prevalent in our society, a lot of people started hating the refugees for no particular rhyme or reason. Ryu Seok considered them vermin who didn’t deserve to live, and he also considered them the root cause of all the problems. Ryu Seok, from the beginning of “Black Knight,” wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth, but he knew that as long as his father and President of Korea, Chae Jin-Gyeong, were alive, he wouldn’t be able to do that.
Ryu Seok wanted the relocation program to be executed by his father’s company, as he knew that a lot of things would be delegated to him, and then he would be able to play his petty games under the pretext of planning the relocation. Ryu Seok knew that his company had the monopoly on selling oxygen cylinders, and that is why he never wanted the air to get clean. The trucks that moved around under the pretext of purifying the air were actually polluting it with hazardous substances, so the people kept buying oxygen cylinders, and Cheonmyeong kept earning revenue. Ryu Seok wanted to divert people’s attention from the recent kidnappings of children and many other unlawful activities, like the institutionalized genocide that Ryu Seok wanted to execute. So, in order to do that, he organized a competition for the selection of the new deliveryman and announced that a public screening of the grand finale would be held for the refugees. Sa-wol, just like many other candidates, had taken part in the competition in the hope of becoming a deliveryman and getting a better life. During the finale, when a majority of the refugee population had gathered at different places where the screening was being organized, there was an explosion, and a lot of innocent refugees lost their lives. Even after this tragedy in “Black Knight,” the real face of Ryu Seok didn’t stop, and he devised yet another strategy to wipe off the refugee population and establish his supremacy on the entire peninsula.
The relocation program was in its final stages, and the refugees were being asked to follow the procedure in which they first had to register themselves, then go through a physical examination, and finally get vaccinated before entering the general area. Useless’ Grandpa realized just in time that the vaccine that was being given to the refugees was, in reality, a contagion meant to kill them, and he informed the delivery woman 4-1 about it, who immediately spread the word. The poor refugees didn’t know what they had done to deserve such discrimination and torture. They already didn’t have clean air to breathe and lacked basic necessities, and now the would-be chairman of the Cheonmyeong Group was after their lives. Major Seol-Ah and 5-8 realized that this oppression wouldn’t stop unless and until they killed Ryo Seok so they set out to do the impossible.
What Did Ryu Seok Want From Sa-Wol?
Ryu Seok was suffering from some kind of terminal illness, and he desperately wanted to find a cure for it. He had given the task of kidnapping the children from the General District to humans known as the Amygdala. These people had undergone brain surgery, and they had become similar to machines with a single agenda: killing innocent people. 5-8 had gotten to know quite early in “Black Knight” that Sa-wol was a mutant because, when Ryu-Seok’s men attacked his house and killed his sister, he was shot, but the bullet wasn’t able to pierce his body. 5-8 had noticed that after he arrived at the crime scene, and that is why when Sa-Wol decided to take part in the delivery man competition, 5-8 took him under his wing and trained him. It was Sa-Wol’s dream to become a delivery man, as that was the only way through which he could have a decent lifestyle. Sa-Wol reached the finale of the delivery man competition, and that’s when Ryu Seok got to know that he was a mutant.
Sa-wol was young and, in addition to that, a mutant, and Ryu Seok realized that maybe through his blood, he could cure his illness. Ryu Seok ordered the doctors to conduct the experiment, and after the trials, the results were positive. A man suffering from the same ailment was miraculously cured in front of Ryu-Seok’s eyes when Sa-Wol’s blood was released into his bloodstream. Chairman Ryu had been told by Major Seol-Ah that the bomb blasts during the screenings were the work of his son. Major Seol-Ah told the chairman that Ryu Seok had been kidnapping children and also polluting the air inside the districts. Chairman Ryu realized that his son had become a burden for him, and he didn’t want him to be in control of the oxygen supply and delivery. Chairman Ryu handed over both those things to the government, and Ryu Seok was not the least bit happy about it. Ryu Seok had the support of the defense minister, and together with him, he killed his own father and started orchestrating a coup to take over the government.
Towards the end of “Black Knight,” Ryu Seok hid inside the core district, but luckily, 5-8 got the blueprint of the entire district through Useless’ grandfather, who had designed it together with Chairman Ryu but then, due to ideological differences, ceased to be a part of the project. 5-8 entered the Core District and massacred everybody who stood in his way. He finally found Ryu Seok, who had decided to take his own life and destroy the entire core area so that everybody who was present there died with him but 5-8 didn’t let him do that. 5-8 shot Ryu Seok point blank, and together with others, they escaped before the air core exploded.
‘Black Knight’ Ending Explained – Is Ryu Seok Dead Or Alive?
Ryu Seok had already taken the mutant stem cells by injecting the blood of Sa-wol into his body, and though the series never explicitly tells us what would happen to him after that, we think there is a high probability that he would start exhibiting characteristics of a mutant itself. During the final showdown at the air district, we saw that 5-8 shot Ryu Seok in his head, and logically, he should have died there. But just moments before the explosion, his hand moved, indicating that the bullet did not kill him, and he was still alive. A similar thing happened when Sa-Wol was shot at the beginning of “Black Knight,” and we had come to know that mutants cannot be killed by bullets, and even their wounds heal much faster as compared to humans. The only information that the series gives us about mutants is that long exposure to radioactive elements is the primary reason why normal humans gave birth to mutants. Sa-wol’s father worked in a mine, and that is where he got exposed to the radioactivity. We don’t know what effect fire has on mutants or whether they succumb to third-degree burns like other humans. We believe that there is a high possibility that Ryu Seok might still be alive and return in the upcoming season of “Black Knight” (if there is one) to take revenge.
A new order had been established, and the president made sure that each and every citizen was treated equally. Resources were equally divided, and people were not divided into classes and discriminated against. Though the administration was hopeful that they would be able to maintain peace and security in the community, it was just a matter of time before, once again, evil, in the form of greed and selfishness, rose to power and started creating chaos.