The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 2 (Recap)

I'm glad to report that nothing in this episode is complicated: the story has begun and it is awesome. Ming Tai begins a new life, but brings his old attitude right along with him. You know those smart people who seem to be able to bend all rules and always get away with it? That's him. His brother learns about his sibling's fate but is quite powerless to do anything while Ming Tai does some massive growing up in a fairly short time. I am hoping that he gets to keep being that carefree for a little longer because I see massive trouble ahead. What happens when the training is over and he is sent to kill somebody he cares for?!
Getting to know Ming Tai is a lot of fun. We're seeing that he is both very bright and a bit of a devil - he likes to mess with people and has that sort of charm you often see in the baby of the family, where indulgence lends itself to a playful take on life. Fortunately, he's not a brat - although Airplane Wang might feel differently about that now and then.

Episode 2

Hey, I like the Western style title music! And I definitely like Ming Tai, cause he's been dragged off to army camp, drugged, beaten, threatened to be killed if he does not stay, and he still has the nerve to demand two things: 1) something from his suitcase (denied!) and 2) a phone call. That's denied too, but only until he matter-of-factly states that it's been 24 hours and that his sister will soon go berserk if he doesn't contact her. When he gets the okay to make the call, he says "but I haven't finished the soup yet". Ahahaha, little obnoxious devil.
Let the mind games begin! Do you feel that sometimes the little mental battles these two engage in are almost Liar Game-ish? Not with the puzzles, of course, but with the behavior manipulation? Both men are doing it, and it's really enjoyable to watch.
When the phone rings, his sister rushes down the stairs, clearly expecting a call from him. She clearly was concerned (and yes, he is not a very diligent student, it seems, preferring to party over studying) and fusses over him like a mother, Ming Tai even gets a little bit embarrassed in front of his captors. He promises to write regularly and call her regularly too and with that, he hangs up ... and looks quite sad after that. Poor kid.
I like that these siblings all genuinely seem to love and care for each other. Ming Tai is supposed to be pretty young here - just starting university - so imagine how frightened he is, and perhaps homesick - and how worried his older sister and brother would be for their baby brother, out in the world on his own. And if they had any idea where he really was? Oh boy!
No time to be sad for long though - army training beckons! He dons his uniform - and we get treated to yummy virility. Little Ming Tai is very good at shooting, horse riding, fist fighting and all that kind of stuff - his score keeps improving steadily. 
So he's brilliant, better at 'manly pursuits' than all the other students, AND rich? Are there any flaws?
As soon as he gets the chance, Ming Tai sneaks away into the storage room to get that item from his suitcase. He is caught doing it by Guo Qi Yun and when Ming Tai refuses to put it back, Guo tries to take it from him. It's a pocket watch - which means a lot to Ming Tai, who puts up quite a fight, winning in the end. His mother gave it to him and he wants to carry it with him until the day he dies.
Another clue that he is a deeply sentimental and emotional person, awwww.
In Shanghai, sister Ming Jing is visited by a Mrs. Su (Zhang Yan Yan). They gush over pictures of baby Ming Tai and big bro Lou and Ming Jing gets nostalgic. She misses her brothers (and claims she wants to control them) - and it seems she does not yet know Lou is back in Shanghai for good.
The hair does not help the brow. I just keep staring, She's not too interesting to me yet...typical older sister in a motherless family; bossy but loving, and loved in return. I'm curious about her involvement with the resistance, though.
Ming Cheng (identified in this episode as Ming Family's Head Secretary) is worried too, it seems. He calls Ming Tai at the university (he seems to be studying finance too, like his big bro) and Wang Tian Feng, the cunning demon, has instructed his people to connect these calls to the military base! Ming Tai gets rushed out of training and answers the call, like nothing is out of order. They chat amiably, and then, Cheng asks what the weather is like in Hong Kong. Cue frantic scribbling of Guo on a blackboard. Cheng then wants to know exactly where Ming Tai lives (more scribbling) and suddenly, he gets suspicious, because he hears the scribbling. "Some students are writing on a blackboard", Ming Tai says, "right next to me". Cheng then insists on sending a housekeeper Ming Tai's way. Uh-oh. 
This entire scene was hilarious. I completely didn't expect humor from this and I am being served regular doses, so I'm very happy!
They hang up and Ming Tai is sent back to class ... but something seems not right for Zhang Chen. He calls the Dean of the University and asks to check Tai's class attendance. Since that attendance is perfect (and that's SO NOT like Tai), he goes and checks with the airline and then rushes back to Ming Lou. Who is in a meeting. Quickly, Chen covers up his agitation (pretending it's about falling stocks, nice save!) but when they're alone he hurriedly shares what he has found out: Tai Feng took Ming Tai.
So they know each other well...and there's no love lost, of course. We could tell that last time, though, when Airplane Wang learned who Ming Tai was. He got way too excited, didn't he?
Ming Lou gets angry and worried - Tai Feng is a madman! Cut to said madman beating up a bound Ming Tai. Well, it looks like torture training to me ... and it totally is. Ming Tai has to try and position a razor at his torturer's jugular with his mouth. He fails the first time, but then, Adjustant Guo comes in. Poor Guo.
This guy... life is just going to suck for him for a while. Ming Tai will dance circles around the big lug.
It's his turn now - and Ming Tai very quickly manipulates him into becoming super angry. Smart Ming Tai notices an expensive watch on the big man's wrist and immediately senses that he has a rich girlfriend - one he can barely ever see and has to keep hidden from superior Wang, it seems. Anyway, Guo loses his composure and Ming Tai positions the razor blade at his neck. Won! When Tai is out of the room, Guo is beaten by Wang for his disobedience. Not very nice, Ming Tai.
He had the grace to feel bad about it, but it points up a recurring theme we'll see more and more: use everything you know and everything you have, no matter how small the stakes. Winning is everything here.
Wang Man Chun is jogging, when she runs into (well, not literally) a man waiting for her: Liang Zhong Chun (Yue Yang). He is of the new government as well - it seems from that same intel unit. He calls her out on killing all these people from telecommunications the other day, thinking it was handled the wrong way. Where is the evidence of their guilt? She mentions in passing that he used to work for the Chinese, did he not? Oh yes - it's a threat. He leaves her be for the time being ... ah, but one last thing. Her old lover has just been promoted to Secret Service Vice Chairman, making him both their bosses. They verbally spar a bit more, it's quite awesome. I'm not sure what to make of him.
I'm not quite sure what to make of anyone except that I know in my bones Ming Tai will be a good person even if it kills him in the end. The jogging thing... the way Killer Wang dresses and acts and the things she does seem so out of place but not in a bad way, in a cool way. Did women go jogging like that in the 30s? (right? It's what I asked myself!) Her leather coat in a scene in a later episode could actually be worn today.
Ming Cheng has attempted to talk reason with Wang Tian Feng, yeah, we all knew how that would go. He said "We can all die, but your brother will not die alone". Ming Lou smashes a cup in rage and then says: "He must be thinking of putting Ming Tai on the Death Project". I guess it means assassinating people ... their people. Ming Luo is heartbroken over his brother's involvement and he says he hopes they will find a way to get him out before his first assignment.
I thought it was more of a rhetorical question, similar to sarcastically asking 'what makes your brother so special?'... but the Project Death bit, yeah - not sure what that is, exactly.
Ming Cheng admits that he has already ordered people to search for Ming Tai (it's three boys in a truck that look at a picture of Ming Tai), which only enrages Ming Lou further - he had given strict orders to lay low and to coordinate everything through him, unless it's a matter of life and death. Which this is, Cheng argues. But what if things go wrong?! Lou spits out. They will all be killed.
Everybody's gotta die sometime, Lou.
Ming Tai is on his way to the bathhouse, humming happily, to brush his teeth it seems and to wash. He opens the doors and ... sees a woman there, putting on her shirt. This is Yu Man Li (Song Yi). He is dumbstruck. Lovestruck. Well, definitely struck. When she flips her long black hair, he goes "woah", prompting her to realize somebody is watching her. He covers his eyes and shouts that he hasn't seen anything, but she beats him up nonetheless, to his great chagrin.
Ming Tai, you boyish scamp! You are right to be dumbstruck, though. Yu Man Li is something else!
She kicks him out of the bathhouse (literally) and he stands there, raging at the door about how he is the best fighter in his class and just couldn't hit back because she's a woman. He shuts up immediately when she comes out and lets us see her full beauty. He is totally smitten, but she just glares at him.
I'm already picturing their children.
In the courtyard, the truck with the boys that are searching for him appears. Commander Wang gets a phone call letting him know the supplies are here. Damn, he gets suspicious immediately! It's not at all time for them. In addition, communication to their HQ is down. He orders Ming Tai to his office, but nobody knows where he is, so he gets all the trainees to line up in the yard. Oh shock, no Ming Tai.
Airplane Wang is one smart cookie. He's also probably a crazy zealot, but his interactions with Ming Tai bring joy to my life so I can't really dislike him.
Ming Tai is shaving when the three boys come in ... and tell him to come with them. He starts beating them up. Ahahaha. One of them finally manages to show him the picture they have identified him with and Ming Tai realizes that these boys came to rescue him.
This drama has a lot of that 'tone' that Kitteh likes to talk about: it's not a comedy, but it's full of humor, and none of it pulls you out of the story or the feeling of it. It all works together seamlessly.
All this time, Bro Lou is very worried (and very sexy)
There's really nothing else to say but yes, is there.
In the yard, Commander Wang screams to block "that car" and they manage to stop the supply truck before it leaves the compound. They search everything - no Ming Tai. Just the boys, looking quite roughed up. Things get more tense when Wang starts interrogating the truck driver, but look who suddenly appears? Ming Tai, all cleaned up after his shower and chipper as always.
I laughed out loud when Wang clocked their bruises and scrapes. He knew exactly what the deal was.
In a flashback, we see that Ming Tai told the boys to go back to the person who sent them and tell him he does not want to be rescued. He can get out himself. When Ming Lou hears about the failure but that Wang did not find out anything, he is relieved - but he also tells Cheng to have this be the first and last time he tries something so stupid. Ming Tai is on his own, but they will show Wang what they can do (well, at least with his communication equipment: interrupt it at will).
I've been trying to decide if Ming Tai did this because he understands the delicacy of the situation already, or if he finds himself enjoying the challenge. We can see that he enjoys parts of it, of course - but I'm more convinced than ever that when he 'agreed' to do this, it wasn't simply acknowledgement that it was this or death. I think he's pretty thrilled with the romance of being a spy, despite his earlier desire not to be involved at all.

Wang is a pretty cool guy ... he doesn't even get angry. He also tells Guo that there is no need to watch Ming Tai. He had a chance to flee, but chose not to. His brother got the message. Wang is sure that no more people will come. He also decides to call Luo: to praise him for sending his brother to him.
Oh, Wang. I love this game.
At lunch, Ming Tai does not appear in the eatery. He is still practicing shooting in the yard - in fact, he hasn't stopped since the morning. Guo tries to get him to stop (he is mainly worried about wasting bullets) but Ming Tai so doesn't listen to this guy. He picks up two guns and fires ... hitting square center with every bullet. "Now I can eat", he declares. Wang declares that from now on, Ming Tai gets unlimited bullets supply - but reminds him that they have their own rules here. Ming Tai does not answer ... he only looks at Wang in a peculiar way. Well, you just TRY to enforce your rules, buddy.
These interactions are absolutely priceless. Ming Tai stayed. Essentially, he deferred to Wang, but he immediately counterbalances that with this display of defiance couched in innocence. Wang concedes - but in a way that lets Ming Tai know that he knows exactly what's going on. Despite the fairly grim details, I find myself watching this show with a big smile on my face!
Ming Lou arrives outside the government building and gets pestered by journalists about the economic troubles the Shanghai economy is in right now. Ming Cheng is being awesome. Upstairs, Yoko Minamida is watching him. She likes what she sees. Yeah, get in line woman! 
He reminds me of someone and I can't think who and it's making me a little nuts.


I love the characterization of every single character in this! So many interesting connections and emotions. Commander Wang, for example. Clearly ruthless and very dangerous, but he also seems to have a soft spot for Ming Tai? Which Ming Tai takes advantage of (because he can). Also love how Wang wants to aggravate Ming Luo (and clearly succeeds).
With you. All this pettiness is delicious!

Ming Cheng is indeed quite an interesting person, too. He is very smart, seems extremely loyal and also has a particular soft spot for the "young master". Do we fully trust him though, JoAnne? I cannot shake the feeling that the rescue attempt was too reckless a thing not to have a hidden purpose ... let's hope he's not a double agent for the bad guys!
I'm not was a dumb move, I agree. Too dumb, so that's a little suspicious. Going on a belief that he is not a beta male, and his circumstances force him into a position of some subservience no matter how well he is treated by his foster has to rankle at least a little. What does he lack other than a family with money? So how is it fair that he has to live in their shadow? Even with love between you, there are times that will chafe. I think we're within reason to wonder, but I think it will be one of those situations where if he does feel a bit of resentment, he also feels guilty about it, and genuinely loves them and knows that they love him, too. Ripe for tragedy!

Ming Tai's reaction to the woman soldier means trouble, of course. I'm pretty sure it's no coincidence she appeared when she did. Most likely, Commander Wang controls her, and sees her as control for Ming Tai in return.
Absolutely. But since he's not dumb, how quickly do you think he realizes it and turns it to his advantage?
Ah, but can he? Love ... it makes the smartest people dumb