A rollercoaster ride from beginning to end
I’m going to say it now: Vincenzo is worth the hype it’s been receiving. This K-drama is the perfect blend of suspenseful, theatrical, gruesome and comedic. Each episode will have you grinding the gears in your head to predict what happens next, only to either be a smidge right or dead wrong by the time the next scene rolls in. The Vincenzo finale was just as jaw-dropping, scream-inducing and mind-blowing as its earlier episodes.
Warning: spoilers up ahead
Not all deaths were well-deserved
While I don’t agree with how he went down, Jang Han-seo (Kwak Dong-yeon) died a noble death while protecting the person who treated him better than those he called family. After all, he gave Vincenzo (Song Joong-ki) the trump card that helped him finish the job: a tracking app hooked to Jang Han-seok (Ok Taecyeon).
But at least, the last of what we saw of Han-seo was not an image of him bloodied and in pain. Rather than a death wasted, the last impression he left was a wonderful image of his true character. A young and wide-eyed boy, hopeful for a better life once his tormenting brother was ushered out of power. He even called himself foolish for going great lengths in outsmarting Han-seok when even until the end, he did so, so well.
Life sentences duly delivered
After the incident at Jang Hanseok’s place, Vincenzo promised the injured Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been) to finish the job in 24 hours. This meant leading the masterminds of the Wusang-Babel camp to their well-deserved deaths. Vincenzo began his last psychological war against his prey, tearing them from the inside out.
Much like all of his previous schemes, Vincenzo lured everyone to their deaths carefully, in the most fitting way possible. They all went down theatrically: with Choi Myung-hee’s (Kim Yeo-jin) dancing ‘til she dropped in flames. Jang Hanseok took the same fate, albeit longer and a lot more gruesome with the spear of atonement piercing through ’til his last breath. While they definitely had it coming, I would have appreciated it if Cha-young was there with Vincenzo as he wrapped it up. Watching two vengeful individuals delivering that satisfying final blow would’ve been a power move. But, it’s understandable that she was injured.
That’s another thing, too. The villains’ individual sufferings were given enough screen time for us to bask in it. We had enough time to watch them crumble one by one while we proclaim that evil has finally been defeated. The viewers were allowed to revel in the satisfaction that justice, no matter how warped, was delivered. But right after that, everything seemed to settle down immediately.
A fast time skip
It just happened too fast. Everything went back to normal all of a sudden. While it’s very much on brand with the slapstick whiplash that comes with Vincenzo, it doesn’t make it less disappointing. Was the somber aftermath not worth showing? Or, at the very least, why were we not shown the mourning of the whole Geumga Plaza family?
The only semblance of pain that came with retribution was the short moment between Vincenzo and Cha-young. It was filled with yearning and pain before he had to make a run for it. A short and tearful hug is enough for the shippers to settle, but not enough to feel the whole impact of losing someone who has helped you greatly. And in a snap, the balance has been restored.
End with a flourish
Overall, the last episode of Vincenzo picked up speed once the hero got rid of the “trash.” The month turns into a year, yet Vincenzo’s influences remain with the Geumga Plaza tenants (who rebranded as the Geumga Cassano Family). It’s business as usual for them as they settle down with their own stalls, life seemingly back to normal.
The ending given to Vincenzo and Cha-young’s story was realistic: the romance is there but it cannot be pursued. This is the better choice, especially with Vincenzo admitting that he cannot fully turn over a new leaf. He can’t leave his life as a mafia member. He’s a stone-cold killing machine and it seemed highly impractical to have one of them give up their lives for the other. After all, Vincenzo is a dark comedy with a dash of romance. A fairy tale ending might betray that very fact.
But his closing monologue puts a perspective often missed with his character: Vincenzo is a villain at the end of it all. Finding love, a new family and becoming a beacon of hope still cannot lure him to be morally correct with what he does and how he lives. Vincenzo is still driven to purge equally evil individuals or “garbage” with the same evil. Fighting fire with even more fire seems to be the principle he will continue to follow religiously.
Don’t get me wrong. For all its holes and what-could-have-beens, the Vincenzo finale is still one glorious way to close a drama. While we’ve rooted for the underdog and laughed at their enemies’ undoing, we’re left to wonder. Is the world so cruel that the only way to escape the predator is to become one ourselves?
Stream all episodes of Vincenzo on Netflix.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver