Taxi Driver -- Episodes 15 & 16 (Finale): Revenge is Sweet but Karma is Sweeter
Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only through its work on itself and its institutions ~ Michel Foucault.
I love how peacefully Taxi Driver ended in contrast to how it started. To some, this drama may have been just another revenge drama, but to me, it dared not only to undertake but address some mammoth issues that at times overwhelmed me. From labor and mental health abuse to unforgivable workplace harassment to pornography and organ trafficking; to thrill killers, the statute of limitations, and the biggest and the hardest to reconcile the abuse of the criminal justice system of those it was instituted to preserve and protect, but ends up somehow shielding the lawless and the criminals. It's been said the only thing more hideous than crime is repressive justice. So, it's no surprise that the issues above would birth and justify a revenge service such as Deluxe Taxi that empowers the victims and punishes the lawless as befits their crimes. But as sweet as revenge can get, karma is sweeter, which the drama clearly articulates at its ending. And as Jung Sung Chul said, revenge only begets more revenge.
The other thing Taxi Driver unquestionably articulates is if the criminal justice system intends to represent the victim and exact revenge by the law to dissuade them from engaging in self-help. It should then correctly do its job and not trivialize those it's sworn to protect. Just as people should be held accountable for their actions, so should the state because there's a moral burden that comes from allowing monstrous criminals and crimes not to be punished commensurate with their wickedness. I commend Kang Ha Na and her Deputy Chief Prosecutor for recognizing that.
Taxi Driver's message as I see it is that revenge is never the answer, and neither is locking up criminals and throwing away the key. To achieve wide-ranging criminal justice reform, society and legislators need to overhaul how they think, dispense, and talk about social justice and crime. Because how human beings describe each other either furthers their understanding and empathy or furthers othering and dehumanization. What touched me most about Taxi Driver is the impactful and daring way it arrived at its final message. Everything from the system to the people who govern it and are affected by it are flawed human beings, including our heroes. And that makes them capable of being the change they want to see.
A thousand and one kudos to the cast and production team of Taxi Drivers for a job beyond well done but especially to Lee Je Hoon, this drama wouldn't have worked as well as it did without him. The same goes for Esom, Kim Eui Sung, Pyo Ye Jin; she was excellent in her role, and so was Cha Ji Yeon and the rest of the artistic and talented cast. I will sorely miss this drama, but I look forward to seeing Lee Je Hoon in his next project -- Unframed and, if lucky, Taxi Driver 2. Watch Taxi Driver here.