‘Vigilante’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Does Vigilante Kill Jeong Deokheung?


For no particular reason, Vigilante gave the impression that it would make up for the lack of Moving in our lives. Both of these dramas were based on hit webtoons and have a lot going for them in terms of technicalities and the genres that they are meddling with. However, the realization set in fast that this is what The Killing Vote, another drama that is currently on air, should have been doing. Both dramas talk about the ethics of vigilante justice, and the latter drama would have been more hard hitting if it had not gone haywire with the plot. The first episode of Vigilante seems to make up for that. The comparison was inevitable, and this drama has yet to start the conversation. Let us look at the recap until then.

Spoiler Alert

What Made Jiyoon A Vigilante?

When Jiyoon was a young boy, he saw his mother getting beaten up and killed by a common thug. In court, that man, Choi Sungsoo, was held guilty, but he was let off with a light sentence on the grounds of temporary insanity and by saying that he genuinely regretted his actions. It was quite evident that it was all a farce, but the man had provided the court with enough fake evidence to make his case believable, and he was released after three years.

When Jiyoon grew up, he joined the police academy to train as a police officer. He is already one of the best in the institution and is able to take down his friend, who is an accomplished judo master. Jiyoon is at the police academy during the week, and he works as a Vigilante on the weekends. Jiyoon is shown tackling Choi Sungsoo first. The man has not changed his ways in the twelve years since his acquittal, and the moment Jiyoon tracks him down, he makes sure that he lands in the hospital. It is surprising that Jiyoon is not making more effort to cover his face. A hoodie cannot fully conceal his identity. Jiyoon tracks down the criminals who were let off easy by the law, and he doles out his own brand of punishment. At this point, it would have been better if the reason for letting off these criminals so easily was better explained. It is vaguely said that the ‘law is not on the victim’s side,’ but nowhere is an explanation given as to why that is. What makes this such a common occurrence and not just a one-off thing? From what is shown, Jiyoon doesn’t kill his targets. He simply beats them up enough to scare them. Perhaps this is because he is measuring their crime against the punishment.

How Does Mi Ryeo Bait Vigilante?

Choi Mi Ryeo is the first reporter to connect the dots between Vigilante’s attacks. She finds that everyone he has put in the hospital was let off by the law due to its loopholes. Mi Ryeo wants to broadcast the scoop, but her boss insists that she get more proof. However, Mi Ryeo doesn’t have time for that, and she simply says that she will take this to another channel. Her boss cannot let go of this scoop, and he agrees to let her broadcast the news, which ends up getting a positive response. Mi Ryeo also notices that all these crimes only happen on the weekend, so she is positive that Vigilante will act again that week. However, she turns out to be wrong since Jiyoon finds that his target of the week was genuinely remorseful of his actions and was ardently seeking forgiveness from the victim for what he had done.

During a discussion with friends, Jiyoon remarked that, as police officers, they need to believe in the reformation of criminals. At first glance, it looks like he is saying that to distance himself from his secret identity as the Vigilante. But there might be some truth to his words. Perhaps Jiyoon genuinely believes in and loves the law, but he cannot stand the injustices caused by its loopholes. If a person is actually remorseful and wants to correct himself, then there is no reason for Vigilante to intervene, as justice can take place through the parties alone.

Does Vigilante Kill Jeong Deokheung?

Since Mi Ryeo’s assumption about Vigilante was wrong, she needed to bait him in some way so that she could get a scoop for her channel. That is why she digs up an old case, named after the victim, Siyoon, who had been subjected to a terrible crime. But her offender had only gotten seven years in prison, and he was out again. Mi Ryeo rightly points out that the case should have been named after the perpetrator rather than the victim. She questions the point of protecting the rights of a criminal at the cost of making the victims’ lives more difficult and asks to reveal the name of the man. Of course, while Mi Ryeo is not wrong, her real intention is to bait Vigilante. When the channel broadcasts that the man is Jeong Deokheung, people start protesting outside his house, asking for him to be punished even more severely.

Deokheung is living his life without remorse, and he sees the mob outside as an inconvenience. During this time, Jiyoon has taken the bait, and his next target is Deokheung. However, Deokheung escapes, and his electric bracelet is found near the sea, making the police think that he may be trying to escape. Mi Ryeo also gets there with her crew, but she says that the police catching the man won’t make for good TV. It is Vigilante who will get them the TRPs. While the police are frantically looking for him, Mi Ryeo is working things out on her own, and she understands that Deokheung must have gone to Siyoon’s house. He probably blamed her for his current state and wanted to get revenge on her. Jiyoon has figured out the same thing, and he is also rushing towards Siyoon’s house.

During the ending of Vigilante episode 1, just as Deokheung is about to kill Siyoon, Vigilante saves her in time. He tells Deokheung that he should write a sincere apology, and then he will let him go. During the final moments, an unconscious Deokheung is lying there, with the note that he was sorry for what he had done. It is not clear if he is alive, but Jiyoon’s motive has always been to ensure that his targets don’t cause any more harm, and Deokheung won’t ever be able to repeat what he did.

Final Thoughts

There is a desperate need for a discussion on the need for and problems with vigilante justice, and this series promises that. Nam Joo Hyuk is in fine form, and this better be a drama that makes up for his absence for the next two years.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This