Kill It: Episode 1
OCN’s newest weekend thriller, Kill It, opens with an action-packed and intriguing story of our sympathetic antihero with no memory of his past but a mission to uncover the world that he’s forgotten. While the premise feels familiar, the fresh faces of our
objectively very attractive leads offers a new spin and a chemistry that I’m surely looking forward to. This first installment provides an obligatory round of introductions, but we also learn that our hero isn’t the only one with a mysterious past.
Note: This is just a first episode recap.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
It’s the year 2001 in Vladivostok, Russia, and as a boy runs through the woods, the rules of survival narrate in voice over: “Rule number 1: Never reveal the client’s identity; Rule number 2: Never keep the witness alive; Rule number 3: Stay alive.”
The boy nimbly navigates his obstacle course and aims his gun at the makeshift target. We learn that he lost his memory and was told that his father tried to kill him. A Russian by the name of PAVEL (David Lee McInnis) took him in and trained him.
A wolf appears in the woods, and Pavel reminds the boy of rule number 2. When the boy hesitates, Pavel cocks his gun to kill the wolf, but the boy derails the shot. As punishment, Pavel ties the boy onto a tree, leaving him to fend for himself in the woods.
The boy ends up on the ground after maneuvering himself out of the rope, and he comes face to face with the wolf he saved earlier. The wolf looks into the boy’s eyes, and we see that the boy’s eyes are the same piercing blue shade of the wolf’s eyes. Huh, curious. (The wolf seems to think so as well, as we see the wolf’s eyes widen lol.)
Jumping ahead to 2017 in Busan, we see the grown boy, who we’ll later know as KIM SOO-HYUN (Jang Ki-yong), getting ready and putting in color contacts to hide his blue eyes. He disguises himself as an electrician at the Red Mafia’s villa and plants a hidden camera in the vent.
In his dark, curtained home, an older Pavel senses that he’s being tailed and peeks out the window to find suspicious men camping out. He exchanges his rosary for his gun and walks down to his basement to shoot at the intruder. It’s Soo-hyun, who asks if Pavel forgot him again and yells at Pavel to stop shooting, but Pavel demands to know who sent him there.
Pavel offers to save Soo-hyun’s life if he reveals who sent him, but Soo-hyun quickly positions himself to have the upper hand by appearing behind Pavel with his gun aimed at Pavel’s head. Soo-hyun reminds him of rule number 1: Never reveal a client’s identity.
The two engage in intense hand-to-hand combat, and Pavel stabs Soo-hyun in the shoulder with his knife. Soo-hyun manages to push Pavel off of him and holds Pavel in a chokehold until he passes out.
Pavel wakes up in his bed hooked up to an IV and reaches into his desk drawer for a taped-up photo of young Soo-hyun and a young girl in a wheelchar. As Pavel inspects the photo, he remembers young Soo-hyun discovering this photo after rummaging through cabinets. Pavel ripped up the photo, citing rule number 2: Never keep witnesses alive because they will find you. Pavel realizes the identity of the intruder and looks regretful.
Meanwhile, Soo-hyun stitches himself up and answers a call from his friend, who asks if he’s really going to sell all of his guns. His friend and business agent, AHN PHILIP (Lee Jae-won), seems exasperated that Soo-hyun wrapped up his services in Seattle, Busan, and Vladistok, and he suggests that they find a nursing home for Pavel abroad. Aha, so Pavel is ill.
Soo-hyun rejects the idea because they would have to kill everyone at the nursing home (rule number 2). Philip tries to pitch their potential new client with a sexy voice, but Soo-hyun hangs up.
Soo-hyun spies on the Red Mafia with his hidden camera, and stabilized Pavel starts to brief Soo-hyun on their client and target. Pavel struggles to remember their target, and Soo-hyun looks alarmed by the worsening state of Pavel’s condition. Pavel insists that he can finish the job and tells Soo-hyun to plan go off on his own after their final job.
Pavel then hands Soo-hyun the taped-up photo and tells him that those people could have been his family. Soo-hyun responds that Pavel is his family — not the people in the photo. Trying to disclose everything before completely losing his memory, Pavel also reveals that it was Soo-hyun’s father who wanted Soo-hyun dead, but he doesn’t explain why he didn’t kill him.
Lying in bed, Soo-hyun stares at the photo. In his dream, he recalls his young self during a rainy night, running away from a car that was chasing after him. Soo-hyun jumps awake from the dream and finds Pavel’s room empty. Pavel had already left to complete their mission.
At the Red Mafia’s villa, Pavel aims his sniper gun at his target. As he’s about the pull the trigger, his hand begins to tremble. Pavel holds his rosary tight and tries to stabilize his grip, but when he looks through his rifle scope again, he’s lost his target.
Pavel resorts to physical combat, and Soo-hyun follows suit after spotting Pavel knocking out guards at the villa. A guard passing by Pavel recognizes him as an intruder and informs his crew. The guard attacks Pavel, who seems to manage fine until he’s outnumbered, stabbed, and shot in the leg. Soo-hyun appears and shoots down the extra guards, but one guard holds Pavel at gunpoint and drags him away.
The guard demands to know who sent Pavel, but Pavel tells the guard to just kill him. The guard shoots Pavel without hesitation, and Pavel’s eyes widen in the shocking pain.
Soo-hyun sets up a time bomb in the vent and plasters the target on the ground at gunpoint, ordering him to summon his whole crew. With the distraction in place, Soo-hyun finds Pavel and implores him to drop his mission, determined to get them both out alive.
When the mafia crew gather at their boss’s command, they find him dead and hear the ticking time bomb in the vent. The villa explodes, and Soo-hyun carries injured Pavel away from the flames. After Soo-hyun buckles Pavel into the passenger seat of the car, Pavel smiles at his loyal successor, but Soo-hyun is less amused. From the flaming villa, the mafia boss’s son gets up. Uh-oh — rule number 2!
Soo-hyun urgently prepares to treat Pavel’s wounds, but Pavel rejects treatment because he’s accepted his fate as an old killer with dementia. Pavel apologizes to Soo-hyun for raising him as a killer and makes Soo-hyun promise to live an ordinary life like the people in the photo. Then, Pavel’s body goes limp, and Soo-hyun tries to wake his dead father figure in disbelief.
Assassin business buddy Philip receives a surprise visitor at his place, and he recognizes the potential client by her alluring voice. She offers a great commission deal and sends him a photo that will surely convince Soo-hyun to take her as a client.
While mourning Pavel’s passing, Soo-hyun receives a text from Philip and looks alarmed that the photo from the lady client matches the one that Pavel left him. He immediately calls Philip about the photo, but they’re faced with more urgent matters: The Red Mafia found them.
Soo-hyun quickly escapes his house with his husky, Gray, and the mafia boss’s son just misses his chance to get revenge. Once they’re in the clear, Philip calls Soo-hyun and tells him about their soliciting client, who has six targets and promises a new photo for each successful assassination. Soo-hyun seems intrigued and asks Philip to start by finding a place for him to stay.
In present-day Seoul, an older man hunts game and stands at the edge of a cliff with his gun aimed at a deer. Then, Soo-hyun flies toward him and lassos the man’s leg to fling him off the cliff. I don’t know what just happened, but it looked super badass.
Soo-hyun approaches the badly injured man and completes his mission with a fatal injection that stops the man’s heart. He snaps a photo of the dead man and picks up the deer feed that he used as indirect bait for his target.
The man’s death headlines the news, and we learn that he was a renowned CEO, President Yoo Dae-hwan. Special Investigation Unit police officer, DO HYUN-JIN (Nana), arrives at the scene and investigates the point where President Yoo fell from. She uncovers the leaves to find parallel drag marks from President Yoo’s arms as he was dragged off the cliff.
When Hyun-jin inspects President Yoo’s face, she reads his expression as one of betrayal and questions if this could be homicide. She introduces herself to the Officer Park, but he seems dismissive of her, which Officer Lee explains is because she’s a younger woman sent from the central office. Unfazed by the disrespect, Hyun-jin takes charge and orders the two officers to fulfill their respective tasks.
The regional police chief learns about Hyun-jin, a stellar police officer, who curiously trained for ballet in Russia prior to joining the force. She was in charge of President Yoo’s drug investigation, but she’s now claiming that President Yoo is a victim of a serial killer.
While driving through the mountain, Hyun-jin stops behind a parked vehicle and sees a vet, Soo-hyun, preparing to rescue an injured fawn. She gets out of the car and lends her expert dart-throwing skills to immobilize the fawn. She offers her scarf to cover the fawn’s eyes to calm it down, but Soo-hyun rejects her help.
Offended by Soo-hyun’s ungrateful attitude, she confronts him that he should acknowledge another’s goodwill. He takes her blood-stained scarf and hands her his business card to redeem it. She scoffs at his compensatory gesture and says that she’ll reach out when she needs his services.
At the police briefing, Hyun-jin presents her findings of the drag marks on the cliff, the rope mark on President’s Yoo’s leg, and the needle marks on President Yoo’s ear. She explains why she believes he was a victim of a serial killer: All the names listed in a notebook — which belonged to a reporter, Go Min-hyuk, who died 9 years ago — have died.
The recent deaths of the Fire Department Chief and gang boss were unresolved, due to lack of evidence to charge a suspect. The names of these victims, including President Yoo, were listed in the notebook.
The officers murmur in suspicion, but Officer Park erupts in laughter. He accuses Hyun-jin of watching too many movies and likens the notebook scenario to Death Note. When he jokes that the dead reporter must be the killer, Hyun-jin snaps and throws a pen right into Officer Park’s mouth to shut him up. Ha!
Soo-hyun drops by a restaurant for take-out and finds the angry owner husband throwing a violet fit because his wife won’t give him money from their daughter’s college fund. Soo-hyun stops the abusive husband from hurling a chair at the wife and silently stares him down.
When Soo-hyun returns to his vet office, he’s followed in by a school girl, KANG SEUL-GI (Noh Jung-eui), who claims the take-out as her lunch. She notices the woman’s scarf hanging and wonders who it belongs to. Seul-gi feigns sadness as she announces that she’s skipping class because the anniversary of her grandfather’s passing, and Soo-hyun ignores her dramatics.
At the forensic lab, Hyun-jin learns from her sunbae that the needle discovered near the scene had traces of the lethal injection and President Yoo’s DNA at the tip but also traces of another drug. At the end of the needle, traces of cocaine imply that the needle was used and that the culprit is somehow linked to cocaine.
Officer Park and Officer Lee run into the lab with confirmed evidence of their latest suspect and rush out to arrest the abusive restaurant owner husband. The wife frantically claims that her drug-addicted husband would never kill anyone, and Hyun-jin observes the arrest with a critical eye.
In the interrogation room, the abusive husband twitches from withdrawal and urgently takes off his shoe, where he stores his emergency syringe of cocaine. Hyun-jin runs in and stops him before he faces even more serious consequences, but the suspect only seems to care about feeding his addiction.
Meanwhile, Soo-hyun sends the photo of dead President Yoo to Philip and waits for his next photo clue from his client. He looks at a photo hint that he previously received and decides to head to the address inscribed in the corner of the photo of the house.
Upon entering the photographed house, Soo-hyun walks through a creepy exhibit of stone children. He also finds a phone, which he opens and sees a magnified view of the mother-daughter pair in the original photo. Then, he hears a beeping time bomb and runs out of the house as it explodes.
Soo-hyun looks at the house engulfed in flames and receives a call. A demonic voice warns him not to search for the mother-daughter pair nor his client — or else, the mother and daughter will die.
The police unit applaud their successful capture of the serial killer and plan on a celebration dinner that evening, but Hyun-jin and Officer Lee aren’t convinced. Officer Lee doesn’t believe that a serial killer would be dumb enough to leave traces of his identity and assessed that their drug addict suspect doesn’t have a motive. Hyun-jin agrees, but she strategically decides to let the drug addict be framed because it will prompt the real serial killer to let his guard down.
That evening, Hyun-jin and Officer Lee visit the restaurant to inform the wife of her husband’s next steps in the criminal proceedings. Soo-hyun lurks outside to eavesdrop as Hyun-jin notices the wife’s bruises and asks if she needs to relocate to a shelter. The wife refuses to leave because she’s waiting for her daughter, who left home a while back. Soo-hyun leaves before Hyun-jin can notice his presence outside.
A broker tries to show Hyun-jin an open apartment in the same building as Soo-hyun’s vet office, but the building owner isn’t around. The broker says that the owner is a young orphan girl who happened to inherit a building and isn’t available to show the open space because she’s at school. Huh, so Seul-gi is the building owner?
Hyun-jin’s lab sunbae calls her out for dinner and tells her that the higher ups had ordered him to report the autopsy of President Yoo as an accident to avoid further controversy. He assures Hyun-jin that he recorded the phone conversation, but he’s concerned about her actively defying orders with her investigation.
Sunbae knows that she’s fixating on these killing because of late reporter Min-hyuk, who also died of the same fatal injection that was found in the victims of the supposed serial killer. Hyun-jin finds the coincidence too striking to let go and says that she just needs to find the one witness at the scene.
Flashback to nine years ago. Hyun-jin runs in to the scene of the crime, where she finds reporter Min-hyuk dead. She drops to the ground in tears and notices a traumatized young girl with stitches on her forehead being escorted out of the house. We speed back to the present day to find the same scar on the forehead of Seul-gi, the schoolgirl owner of Soo-hyun’s vet office building.
Soo-hyun looks up photos of Hyun-jin and prepares his next syringe, setting her as his next target. As he looks through more surveillance photos, he receives a text from Seul-gi demanding that he arrive promptly for her grandfather’s memorial ritual.
While driving, Hyun-jin accidently hits a cat on the road and gingerly carries the injured cat to her car. She remembers the rude vet she encountered and speeds off to Soo-hyun’s vet clinic. Hyun-jin runs into the clinic and asks Soo-hyun to help save the cat, unknowingly coming face-to-face with the wanted killer.
With the strong brand of OCN backing this show, I think Kill It is one of those shows that will do perfectly fine by executing the network’s tried and true formula for action thrillers. I don’t think the formula is necessarily a bad thing because OCN has built a reliable reputation for this genre, and they’ve clearly got this genre down. While the “formula” does create a familiar mood and storyline that could seem mundane, the reliability does lend itself to taking more liberties with casting fresh faces, which counteracts that sense of familiarity. Jang Ki-yong and Nana aren’t completely new faces, but they’re still relatively new to leading role responsibilities, so this trusty OCN format and story cuts them slack.
I’m not super impressed by the individual performances of our leads so far, but it’ll be nice to see their improvement as the show progresses. I also think there will be a synergistic effect when the pieces of our characters’ stories come together. I appreciated how the link among our characters wasn’t just isolated to our leads in this first episode, and I’m intrigued by how schoolgirl building owner Seul-gi will affect this story. She’s the hidden card, someone’s Achilles’ heel, and her own advocate as the sole witness of the crime 9 years ago, and I’m curious to see who’s side she’s on. Another curious thing from the first few minutes of the show was Soo-hyun’s connection to the wolf and his blue eyes. Young Soo-hyun’s intimate eye contact moment with the wolf seemed a bit strange to me, and I interpret that as some connection Soo-hyun has with animals (hence his cover-up occupation as a vet). But the blue eyes? Is there supposed to be some supernatural element to this show? Was Soo-hyun actually raised by wolves? I really doubt it, but this will be in the back of my mind until proven otherwise.
There is a softness that I see when Soo-hyun looks at an animal, and that subtle change in his glance indicates that he’s more than just a merciless badass assassin. He clearly lacks healthy human affection, especially after Pavel’s death, and finding his real family may prove that he’s a human capable of expressing human emotions, like affection, longing, and sadness. I think the best moments of this show will be in those tender moments, and hopefully he learns to translate his care for animals to humans — in friendship, for family, and maybe even in love.
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