Nam Joo Hyuk is an extremely bankable star and one of the favorites of international Korean drama audiences, which is the entire world at this point. With Vigilante, he has attempted something very different from what he usually does, and it is easy to tell that he is good at it, which is why it is disappointing that he wasn’t given the lead in his own show. Literally, every other character ended up overshadowing him, and the only time Nam Joo Hyuk spoke was when he was shouting while fighting. Was this really the vision of the show and his character, Vigilante? The show has ended, and it has been nothing like it promised to be. Maybe there will be something more in the future, but for now, this is a recap and ending of Vigilante Season 1.
Who is Vigilante?
Jiyong’s mother was killed by a common thug while he helplessly watched it as a child. But the greater trauma for Jiyong was that the man was never punished for his crimes. He got off with a light sentence because he pleaded mental insanity, and Jiyong had to live with the injustice all his life. That is why, when he grew up, he donned the role of a Vigilante, a crime fighter who punishes those whom the law failed to bring to justice. He is a Vigilante during the weekends because, on the weekdays, he is training to be a police officer at the National Police Academy.
Vigilante is first brought to light by reporter Choi Miryeo, who is the one to give him that name, and she seems to have an insight into him that no one has. Technically, Vigilante wants to punish wrongdoers, but he always checks whether they are feeling any remorse or not. That is why he decides not to go after one of his targets when he sees the man ardently begging for forgiveness in front of the victim’s family. There are a few hiccups, but Miryeo and the Vigilante eventually get the hang of each other.
Who are Vigilante’s friends and enemies?
Vigilante and Miryeo simultaneously stumble upon a case where a giant company, Sewool, is illegally using cryptocurrency to launder the money of its victims. The people involved in it are Kim Samdoo, Eom Jaehyub, aka the Vole, and a few other men who mostly act as the muscles. Eom Jaehyub is undoubtedly the higher-up among these men, and since Miryeo is revealing their names, Samdoo is the one who is left most vulnerable.
In the meantime, Jiyong also makes some unlikely allies. There was a rise of Vigilantes in the country after Jiyong started operating, and one of them was relentless enough to catch Jiyong’s attention. His name is Gangok, and he is definitely obsessed with superheroes, so naturally, Jiyong caught his attention. Gangok insists that the two of them work together, and his wealth and connections mean that Jiyong also sets aside his questions and doubts for now and makes use of him. There is also Jo Heon, and for the most part, he is against Vigilante. Jo Heon knows almost immediately who Vigilante is because he recognizes Jiyong from the hospital where one of the victims was. But Jo Heon doesn’t want to capture or kill Vigilante; he wants to erase the idea of him. Needless to say, that doesn’t work out because Jiyong and Miryeo make sure that Vigilante has all the support he needs from the public and that people always know how to recognize his work.
During this time, Miryeo has been fired from her work because of her fearless reporting. Gangok gives her an office to work independently, and his excuse is that, just like her, he also likes Vigilante. But Miryeo knows that Gangok must be involved far more than that, and soon enough, she gets proof of it.
What is Vigilante’s current mission?
Vigilante wants to take down Sewool at any cost, and he plants conclusive evidence that leads the police to Jaehyub and Samdoo. While Samdoo is up for grabs, Jaehyub is protected by whoever he is in cahoots with. Therefore, if Samdoo needs to save himself, he needs to catch and kill Vigilante, and the way to do that is with Miryeo. But before Samdoo can do anything, she is kidnapped by Mr. Bang, who is working with Jaehyub.
Will Jiyong Continue To Be Vigilant?
Jiyong’s current plan is to rescue Miryeo by confusing Samdoo and Mr. Bang with an avalanche of people wearing black hoodies at an EDM festival. He wants her to livestream the whole thing since he is sure that Samdoo will want to kill him, Jaehyub, and anyone else over there. Most of it goes according to plan, and when Miryeo starts live streaming, the police arrive there just as Jiyong had predicted. Jiyong, Samdoo, Jo Heon, and Mr. Bang end up in a room and are fighting against each other when Jaehyub arrives there, and he is intent on killing them all. He first shoots Samdoo, but Jiyong and Jo Heon barely manage to save their lives and overpower him. Jo Heon wants Jiyong to not kill him because he is sure that the law has enough evidence to take care of Jaehyub. However, the bullets keep flying, and by the end of it, Samdoo, Jaehyub, and likely Mr. Bang have all lost their lives. On the list of innocent people killed, there is Seonwook, who was Jiyong’s classmate and was protecting him. It has not been specified since Seonwook was aware of Jiyong’s secret. Maybe he saw him at the festival and understood what was going on, or he knew it all from before. But he tells Jiyong that he believes in what he is doing and will support him to the end.
During Vigilante‘s ending, Miryeo publishes that Seonwook was the real Vigilante, and he lost his life in the shootout while trying to save her. Her story checks out, and the police have no reason to doubt her. She also reveals how Jaehyub was the key to Sewool’s scam, but her evidence is rubbished, and the man is posthumously awarded a promotion. This has to be a way of preventing any investigation into him and ultimately protecting the one controlling the strings. Maybe that person is Gangok’s chairman, whom Gangok is trying to catch, which is why he is an ally of Vigilante. Finally, while Seonwook is being celebrated, Miryeo calls Jo Heon ‘Vigilante.’ It is unclear why that is. Jiyong wanted to make Jo Heon the next Vigilante, but the audience was never told what he meant by that. Additionally, during his graduation from the police academy, Jiyong did not take the oaths of a police officer to uphold law and order. The thing to remember about Jiyong is that he always sought to fill in the loopholes of justice left behind by the structure of law and order, but he had an overall faith in the system. That has been blown to bits, and the look of anger on Jiyong’s face tells us that he will not stop being Vigilante at any cost. Would he return as his own copycat or as an organization?
Vigilante was a show that had the right concept, but for some reason, it simply failed to work. Maybe they did not have enough time, or perhaps they focused on all the wrong things, or there wasn’t enough attention given to the Vigilante himself. Whatever the reason, this show has left us feeling very underwhelmed. Maybe season 2 will be different.