Hellbound, Netflix’s new supernatural Korean drama, was received well by global audiences after its debut just last weekend. Its intriguing themes that cover religion, politics, and even bent perceptions controlled by the media, tap into familiar real-life issues while injecting skin-crawling elements. But what does its ending mean and how does it lead us to a potential season 2? We dive deep into Hellbound’s finale below. P.S. Major spoilers ahead!
So-Hyun’s baby is spared from the demonstration
The plot initially suggested that only those who have committed heavy sins will be given a timeline by the hell monsters/death angels so that they will know when their judgement day will come (a.k.a. the ‘demonstration’). That’s why one of the biggest questions raised mid-series is why So-Hyun (Won Jin-A) and Young-Jae’s (Park Jung-Min) newborn baby, Toughie, was marked as a Sinner.
We eventually learn that even people who do not deserve damnation were getting messages from Hellbound’s supernatural creatures, while the likes of New Truth’s Kim Jeong-Chil (Lee Dong-Hee) and his minions get away with their evil exploits.
The conflict about an innocent child being subject to the judgement continued until the series’ ending. It didn’t help that the Hellbound creatures appeared at the exact time they proclaimed the baby’s ‘demonstration’, despite So-Hyun, Young-Jae, and many others’ efforts to try and work something out for Toughie.
In a final attempt to save their baby’s life, So-Hyun and Young-Jae secured Toughie between them as the creatures approached to violently take her away. Min Hye-Jin (Kim Jyun-Hoo), who just came into the scene after finishing a fight of her own, witnessed Toughie surviving the demonstration. So-Hyun and Young-Jae, however, both lost their lives in the process. Min Hye-Jin takes the baby and hails a cab to take them as far away from the New Truth and the police as possible. The cab driver who helps Hye-Jin and Toughie says that beyond God or anything else, this world “belongs to humans” and that only humans can deal with this supernatural phenomenon.
This shows that there is a way to prevent the demonstrations from happening. The sad news is, it seems like it has to be at the expense of someone else. This twist definitely reminded us of Harry Potter, where pure love was able to defy what’s supposed to be unmatched power. Should a second season happen, it’ll be interesting to explore more of the lore behind what happened to Toughie, and what it means for the show’s definition of ‘eternal damnation’.
Dongwook (a.k.a. Arrowhead’s livestreamer) thinks that God has given him a mission
The Arrowhead’s livestreamer, especially at the beginning of the series, felt like a nuisance. While it was obvious that he represented the ‘social media’ aspect of the story, his caricaturish presence felt exhausting; we’re kind of glad he was non-existent when the time-jump mid-series happened. Later on, we learned that he is Lee Dong-Wook (Kim Do-Yoon), a man who received a decree saying his demonstration is set in three years. This led him to ending his livestreams for good.
Hye-Jin and the rest of the crew tried to make sense of the situation. Dong-Wook eventually revealed that he thinks he is a Messiah and that his decree was not a call for punishment but rather a message from God. He started going after people who are against the divine judgement, leading him to kill a Sodo member and go after So-Hyun, Young-Jae, and Toughie. Before he was about to kill Toughie, Dong-Wook was tackled by Hye-Jin, allowing the monsters to get to him during the time of his own demonstration.
Dong-Wook’s presence in the story is somehow representative of everyone’s desire to have a sense of purpose. Back when he was a streamer, Dong-Wook approved of the damnation of people. When he received his own decree, instead of seeing the irony of the situation, he began to create his own reality and pegged himself as a Messiah. It’s creepy but also pitiful and reminds us of humanity’s vulnerabilities when subject to the unknown.
The New Truth’s status changed
The story started off with The New Truth looking like a guiding light for those who are trying to make sense of the sudden appearance of the Hellbound creatures. However, in the series’ ending, we saw that The New Truth no longer held their previous status after the time-skip happened. More and more people saw the cruelty of the order and the fanaticism that surrounded the institution. Its influence started to dwindle under the new leadership.
The New Truth definitely carries one of the heaviest representations of the series as it presents religion and authority in mostly a negative light. It criticises blind faith heavily. It also highlighted how people who are given ‘absolute power’ tend to abuse it. While we never really saw an ending to The New Truth in the finale, it’s good to know that they were caught up in a rough patch.
Park Jungja comes back to life
The sites of the demonstrations are marked as holy grounds or sacred places by the government and attracts tourists. Park Jungja’s death was the first publicised and it made her demonstration ground somewhat iconic even four years later. In the final scene of Hellbound, the audience is taken back to this spot and shown the burnt remains of Park Jungja slowly transforming back to life. Once her naked form is complete, she breathes and looks into the camera before the scene cuts to black.
This cliffhanger changes what we know about Hellbound so far. None of the victims have been resurrected in the four-year timeframe after Park Jungja’s death. We also never really find out if Park Jungja was the only one brought back to life at the end of the series or if the rest of the victims shared the same fate off-screen. There’s also the question of Park Jungja going back as her old human self or just a shell of her old self?
Our predictions for Hellbound Season 2
The series ending already suggests that a season 2 is (hell)bound to happen, it’s just a matter of when. So as we wait for Netflix to confirm, here are some of our predictions for Hellbound season 2.
A new institution might rise and challenge The New Truth’s power
With many people witnessing what happened to Toughie, a new set of believers with their own ‘doctrines’ will try to overpower The New Truth and spread a different teaching about the creatures. Whether or not they’ll be the good guys or the bad guys, it’ll be hard to tell, but if this happens, it’ll reinforce the series’ take on fanaticism and blind faith even more.
It’s not all peace for Hye-Jin and Toughie even after their escape
Hye-Jin and Toughie will be able to lead a quiet life for a while until they hear about Park Jungja’s return. We can only assume that Hye Jin will try her best to be Toughie’s foster mum. It’ll also be hard for people to tell that Toughie was the baby that survived the demonstration so it’ll be challenging to trace the two’s whereabouts based on just looks alone. However, Jungja’s return might make Hye-Jin want to pursue solving the mystery of the demonstrations and the decrees again. We can already imagine the emotional toll she’ll go through in choosing between this mission and caring for Toughie.
Park Jungja’s resurrection is a major clue to Season 2’s possible direction
We’re sure that Park Jungja’s resurrection will lead to many people who have lost their loved ones' lives on demonstrations questioning everything about their faith. It might cause a new wave of rituals and experiments to find out how to prevent demonstrations or to bring back the dead. With this in mind, we’re sure that the second season will be more gruesome than the first if it happens.
Netflix’s Hellbound may not be flawless, but it’s definitely intriguing and worthy of the hype it's getting. We’re definitely crossing our fingers for season 2.
(Cover photo from: @netflix_kr)
Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].