17 November 2015

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The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 10 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on November 17, 2015
Welcome to the adrenaline episode! Don't consume on an empty stomach and try not to get a heart attack. This is also the stretch of the drama that makes you want to stay up all night. God, I love spy stuff! God, I love Hu Ge. And yet, as I recap this and describe all the violence ... I get really sad. So many lives lost. Then and now. 
JoAnne: It was probably not the best of days for me to watch the train episode, I think. It's another great episode, don't get me wrong. Bad timing, I guess.
dewaanifordrama: Sometimes I wonder whether humans will ever learn to live in peace. I love a good spy drama and these actors and characters make it so worth it, but right now I'm just feeling sadness that humans are so bloody violent. 

Episode 10

Section Chief Liang - ah, I don't know, is this the right time to say that I feel some tiny little shred of pity for him? - feels he must do some more cleaning up after the mess his band of thugs has created. He goes to see Ming Lou ... who does his old "I'm not even noticing you-trick" (even though he called him in). Way to put someone in his place, wow. Liang just stands there and stands there ... when he finally gets to say something, it's another apology for the misunderstanding (he worries that Miss Ming might get physically ill out of shock, haha).
Why do you feel pity for him?
I don't know if I feel pity for him, but he's a pawn wedged between all the powers. He's a scumbag though, so I guess I don't really feel pity for him. Ming Lou though is cold. Damn. He's so good at what he does. 
He is a bit of a dummy. Of course he's scum. But not only. He is really nice to his wife and kid
And because he lingers after that, Ming guesses there is more. There is! The tailor shop mess. Liang says he will bear full responsibility for it (even though it's Wang Man Chun's problem). Ming Lou smiles an evil little smile... gets up, and basically tells Liang to cut the crap with his attempts to seem gallant. For him, there are no hard feelings left - the antique dealer thing is over and dealt with, no harm done. Liang looks like he might cry out of gratitude. And then, Ming adds: "I hope you will also help me in the future". Sly, sly.
I become more and more concerned that I've backed a monster, though.
Well he can't exactly be a warm, fuzzy, nice guy with the jobs he has to do, right? Even the people we often revere in history were hardly the good guys we all like to think they are. 
Afterwards, Liang Zhong Chun has something to say to Ah Cheng: this is about their little secret, the illegal trade on the side. He needs some cargo moved ... after playing "oh but this is hard", Ah Cheng suggests to move it into one of "his" (= Ming family's) warehouses. And that'll be 4% interest then, thankyouverymuch. And please do NOT tell his Big Bro, never ever. Their faces .... ahahaha, this is priceless, Ah Cheng is really enjoying this too much.
He could be James Bond.
Ah Cheng's faces he pulls. He's enjoying this way too much and I love it. 
And Ah Cheng does go to the warehouses, but this is less about Liang's cargo and more about him lovingly eyeing a full crate of dynamite. He carefully packs some into two suitcases. One he deposits in a shop (or temple? not sure), where somebody carries it out right after, the second he hands to another middle-man on the street. Coincidence has it that Ming Tai just walks by ... and sees his brother's car and Ah Cheng getting into it. He pretends "it's nothing" in front of Man Li and we're not sure what he is thinking, but I am thinking it's probably not good that he saw.
At first, I thought this was a clue to us that Ah Cheng was up to no good - he gave some dynamite to the mission, but then some dynamite went 'elsewhere.' Where? Did Ming Luo know about it? It became clear later, though.
Yeah, I was also thinking, noooooooooooo!!!! Don't become a bad guy Ah Cheng. Damn he looks fiiiiiine though. Those suits and ties. *dead*
Uncle Li orders his agent Cheng Jin Yun to go to the train station and get on the special train. They have gotten word of a very important army-document on there - she needs to go get it before they blow the whole thing up. Uhm, what? So we have two factions trying to blow the train up now?! And thus, the Mission begins... everybody starts moving, and Ming Lou looks worried. Thanks, Ming Lou ... I didn't need that! I'm worried enough!
So here's the thing. Ming Jing wanted to get a ticket to give to Li to get someone on the train... and Ming Lou said no, absolutely not. But here they are with a ticket, regardless. Explain it, writer!
Yeah, hopefully it's not just a plot loophole. Or maybe Ming Lou was just trying to get Ming Jing out of the whole business in case she got implicated or connected to the bombing? 
Easier than that, ladies: This thing with the document came up very short-term. In addition, Ming Jing knows just one of his identities (that he is part of the Qinjing government) and nothing else. She is a liability after all, isn't she. And remember, almost nobody knows who Cobra is! He can't just give his sister tickets that then turn up in the hands of the Communists, that's too dangerous. 
At the Shanghai North Railway Station, Cheng Jin Yun walks down the stairs. She is the woman we met in episode 3, the one who managed to burn all evidence before Man Chun arrived (for the record, I like her, but realize that I might be the only one). She queues up like all the other passengers, to have her passport checked before boarding. And I'll be damned! There is Ming Tai, posing as a Japanese train guard. Yumilicious, uniform.
It's not that I don't like HER. I don't like the dynamic that they're creating. I am for Yu Man Li!
I'm fine with her but I am also #TeamYuManLi. She just has better chemistry with Ming Tai. Also, please can Hu Ge always wear blue - he looks sooooooo good in it!
Jin Yun says her name is Keiko Shiroda and she needs to go to Nanjing to help out as a doctor. From the get-go, the guard in charge is suspicious: He starts asking further questions, like where is she from originally? She says Nagoya. By now, Ming Tai has taken notice and so has some officer in civilian clothing with moustache and bowler hat. Too bad, now the guard asks her what high school or college she went to in Nagoya! He happens to know the city well, because he studied there (shit). She quickly adds that she studied medicine in Tokyo, but that only makes the guy more suspicious, seeing how she did not answer his question and talks funny for somebody from Nagoya, too. Shit.
I call bullshit. Every spy story always has them come up with a background for their character. How podunk is this operation? Ming Tai's got people pretending to know him and sign him into class! This side can't make up a life history?
Yeah, especially because they knew how heavily guarded the train was going to be. Not cool writer! 
Again, I don't think this is at all the writer's fault ... I think it's deliberate. This was a last-minute thing and these people ("the Communists") are very noble and all but not half as well organized as the KMT at this point! 
She starts stammering. The Moustache Man, who has come over, asks whether something is wrong (is he on a team?), but the guard sends him away. But now, Ming Tai interferes! In perfect Japanese, he pretends to be an old friend of hers through their fathers, who are drinking buddies. He introduces himself as Saburo Ono. His ID checks out, so the guard lets "Miss Keiko" pass. Ming Tai follows her onto the train, where she turns and tells him not to follow her.
Ungrateful.
That dubbing into Japanese really annoyed me! You could tell it wasn't Hu Ge. Oh well. I'm silly to be annoyed by it. 
He wasn't, actually - he came to pick up his suitcase in the first compartment! He takes five steps with it when Moustache Man calls for him to stop. Oh SHIT!!! The way Moustache tells Miss Keiko to stay safe in her cabin makes me think he is on her team? That's little consolation, because Mr. Moustache demands to check "Saburo Ono"'s suitcase then! There are clothes inside, but Mr. Moustache is not fooled... he checks for hidden compartments and finds one! Full of watches. It's a truth universally acknowledged, it seems, that all Japanese conductors are smuggling on the side - and there is nothing a little additional Swiss watch won't do with a nosy Moustache Man, right?
Nice watches.
Oh you charming Min Tai you! Looking so good. It also made me think of that scene in Disney's Hercules with the "Wanna buy a sundial?" line. 
Only, Mr. Moustache continues his search, and Ming Tai's smile freezes on his face. With the watch he just took, Moustache knocks at the bottom of the suitcase ... it's clearly hollow. The man snaps the suitcase shut and tries to take it. He tells Ming Tai that "the goods will be very safe with him", at which point Ming Tai lets go of the handle. He looks super confused and rather angry, but what else can he do?
I fail to see the purpose of any of this, really. There is a person who knows what's going on. Why would they set this up to happen? I do not get it.
If this guy is one of the teams of "good guys", I think it is trying to demonstrate what the drama has mentioned several times - there are several groups opposing the Japanese occupation, but they are not well organized enough or on good enough terms to work together well (Exactly!). I think it's to show us that this was obviously a problem and caused a lot of issues and put a lot of agents in danger. A fractured resistance made up of too many warring entities is a boon to the Japanese. 
Yes, these people have NO CLUE who these other people are!! Moustache probably thought Ming Tai was trouble and then confiscated that suitcase. Better safe than sorry! 
Wondering about alliances, he goes into Miss Keiko's compartment next. She holds a scalpel in her hand. Niiiiice. Why has he helped her, she wants to know? Who is he? What does he want? He tries to disarm her and they start tackling a bit. Since he has far more combat training than her, he does manage to take the scalpel from her quickly - but he means no harm, he quickly assures her. As a sign of good-will, he even hands her back her tiny knife.
The gloves make it seem like a comedy skit, somehow. (Yes, I'm trying to distract myself from the obvious next stage of this interlude because I do not want.)
They don't have any chemistry. It feels forced. #TeamYuManLi
He wants her to tell him who she is - he is concerned "an innocent" could get hurt in what is to come. She refuses to say anything, but he thinks he knows anyway: she must be from the Communist Party. The look on her face gives away that he is quite right in his guess. He convinces her that leaving the compartment is a bad idea and sits down himself, thinking about what to do next. The train leaves the station.
You might say that this ship has sailed. I am not on it.
Neither am I Jo. Let's follow in Trot's footsteps and make some #TeamYuManLi banners ASAP.
Soon after, Ming Tai is pacing. How to get back his suitcase? Both feel unable or unwilling to share anything with the other, which makes things a bit difficult, but their individual probing does unearth some things: he wants to stop the train, she does not want to. When he reveals that he will "of course" blow the train up, she reacts strongly: he is not allowed to do that before she has got her hands on "the document"! Oh woman ... she clearly has NOT received enough spy training. Well, he is happy to have found out what she is here for. But can they work together?
Ah, well, in the scheme of things...she wants to get a document from someone. He wants to kill them. I'd say he offered up more than she did.
Okay, these groups need to do a little more coordinating people. 
It does not look like it, because she is haughty and basically laughs at him for losing his explosives. At which point Ming Tai nicely points out that he does not need them: The guards have grenades, the dining car has oil, and these are all things that go boom in the night, if he wants to. She starts to say something else, when he suddenly grabs her into a hug and KISSES her. No, it's not battle hormones he is feeling, it is simply a way to throw off the Japanese guards that enter the compartment! They have the decency to look away, a bit embarrassed. And indeed, it works: no questions are asked about why he is there.
Five minutes he was playing it off like she didn't remember him. Now he's pretending to be her lover. This guy should have been suspicious.
Forced kisses = the writer forcing us to want this pairing. I still don't want it. 
Yes, it looked forced ... so not pretending to be her long-time lover, but pretending to get close to this long-lost friend. Not suspicious
They have come to request Miss Keiko's assistance in cooking a shrimp dish, Nagoya style. Yeah, OH SHIT again. But Ming Tai quickly adds that she totally knows how to cook it - and he can help, being her hometown friend and all. That's some quick thinking and a lot of good luck, because the kitchen cabin is the perfect location from which to launch the mission! And would you believe it, Mr. Moustache has deposited the dynamite in one of the cupboards. Ming Tai is happy, but he still wants to know who that guy is... on his team or on her team?
Hello, Random Passenger who paid for a ticket on our train. Would you like to do some chores for us, too?
This storyline was a bit weird. And does it seem a bit odd that cooking was part of spy school? She doesn't know where she studied in Nagoya but she can cook the regional dish. 

She slaps him. Hahahaha, I didn't see that one coming. But Ming Tai is a sensitive guy... he realizes that this is for what he did earlier. And that it means she has never been kissed before?! When he says that, she slaps him again. He can't believe it, but starts to apologize, too (he is so cute), realizing she is truly upset. She attempts to hit him again, at which he tells her that she can hit him, but please not his face.
I laughed when he complained that she only knows how to hit on one side.
That one side bit cracked me up to. Also - not the face! Haha. We don't want his beautiful face getting slapped either. And lady, if your first kiss has to be Hu Ge, well, that's not that bad then ;) 
The train continues through the night ... and we see that the Communists are preparing to blow the rails further down. Yeah, fuck (excuse language)!! Everybody get OFF that train! She is cooking while Ming Tai prepares his charge. It is quarter to eight, 15 minutes until dinner should be ready. He is setting the timer for the bomb, asking her how much time she'll need. He can't give her too much. After a short pause, she mentions that they need to be off this train at a certain curve. It happens to be where he is supposed to get off, too, but it is news to him that her people also want to bomb the train! Hmmm... so it seems Ming Lou is making double sure the bombing is really happening, sending two parties to do the deed?
I guess he needs both sides to think he's serious about being anti-Japanese and it would be suspicious NOT to go after this target? I mean, I know (I think) he's anti-Japanese, but each spy group needs to think he is serious about THEM.
During the timer scene, all I could think was: Well, that's one way to time your cooking. Maybe this way it also ensures that Ming Tai won't die? But yes, Ming Lou is working for both sides so he has to make sure everyone thinks he's loyal to their group. Man, that guy must have a headache at the end of each day. 
Okay, now, Ming Tai is pissed. Couldn't she have told him before?! Oh shit, I really would not want to be on that train... There's a super tense moment when the Japanese officer from before comes in and ALMOST sees the bomb. But he is just there to check after the dinner; cause he's from Nagoya too, like so many others on this train, and he would love to taste some of her food too. Haha, Ming Tai's "and you really had to pick Nagoya out of all places?" made me laugh.
So she couldn't think of a school name, but she does just happen to know how to cook this special dish.
Haha. We were thinking the same thing. Also, is that officer suspicious of her, or does he now have the hots for the pretty woman from Nagoya? 
In the forest, Guo and Man Li also arrive - and pretty quickly run into their Communist "friends". They realize they're both "not Japanese", which is good enough not to shoot at each other. They also realize they both have agents on the train and hunker down besides each other, waiting.
I get it now. This is a team-building exercise!
Ah! That totally makes sense! Smart Ming Lou!
Time for dinner! Those shrimps look delicious. The bomb underneath them on the trolley less so. Ming Tai pushes it into the dining car, which is full of Japanese Generals - it's a few minutes past 8pm. Everybody claps and the shrimps are distributed. While doing so, Miss Keiko spots the guy with the document she needs and signals that to Ming Tai. Wordlessly, they start to pour out sake ... and Ming Tai pours some on the guy with the briefcase. In the small commotion that follows, Miss Keiko seizes the opportunity to get the document out.
She should have checked first, though; it's a sale flyer for family portrait session at the local photography studio.
Hahahahahahahaha! They had better hope not. 
She then tells the friendly soldier to follow her to the kitchen, where his share is (does she want to save him?) and Ming Tai follows them out too, at a short distance. Unfortunately, he is spotted by another conductor ... who does not recognize him. Or rather: knows he is NOT Saburo Ono!!!
Oops-a-daisy.
This plan is really not going so well. I guess we've got to have something to ramp it up even more.
The conductor screams, Ming Tai accelerates, the soldier who is with the other conductor pulls his gun ... and.... almost fires, because Mr. Moustache comes out of nowhere and knifes him in the back! Several times. And now, Ming Tai is upon them and kicks the other conductor to the ground. Inside the kitchen car, Miss Keiko has jumped the "nice" soldier, who is struggling to break free, weapon in hand. Ceramics are shattering on the ground and Mr. Moustache rushes in to help. He is shot in the shoulder, but Ming Tai can duck.
I was struck by the thought process that would have you run toward the man who is about to shoot at you - all down that long, narrow corridor, with no where to go but forward or back. It gave me the shivers.
Me too. This drama. Hu Ge did look fabulous running though. 
The soldier throws Miss Keiko to the ground and gets ready to shoot her. Ming Tai smashes a bottle over his head ... and stabs him. All that ruckus has alerted the soldiers in other cars and they start running towards the kitchen now. How much time is left?! The soldiers start firing into the kitchen (somebody explain those angles to me :), which causes Ming Tai break cover and return fire, but how are they gonna get out now??! Shit ... no more ammunition.
This is the Tardis of trains - far bigger outside than in. Like you, I've never been on a train that was wide enough to accommodate being able to turn corners in hallways...
Haha. I was also like, man, these dimensions are all funky. 
Mr. Moustache, very much in pain, asks Miss Keiko whether she got the document .... and then tells both of them to "leave first". Both agents refuse. But he is convincing - and the situation is too. Soldiers charge, Mr. Moustache breaks cover and fires. He is the only one who still has ammunition. But he is also badly wounded and he implores them to go before the bombs go off. The Japanese soldiers are drawing closer again."Leave!!" Mr. Moustache screams, "leave"!!!!
You can see them struggling with this - we have this popular notion of not leaving wounded to die at the hands of the enemy - but they really do have to go. How difficult, though, to leave him to his death. I think the chaos of this must have been doubly terrifying because they were left so much in the dark about each other. Ming Tai and this woman have no idea who is a friend or an enemy.
I think it highlights so well the real losses incurred in struggles against an enemy. There will always be people left behind, no matter how much we might try to avoid it. 
Now, Ming Tai also screams at her. "Leave, leave!" He grabs her hand and pulls her out. They run into the next car, dodging bullets on the way. Outside, their Comrades get ready to blow the tracks. Mr. Moustache goes down in a hail of bullets. And yet, he is still firing... until he runs out of ammunition himself. But he is not dead yet. He grabs a fallen soldier's gun next ... unable to walk, he crawls. He closes the door and collapses ... bullets riddle him. Another unsung hero dies.
I don't know how a person in this situation doesn't just hide, or stand there paralyzed and screaming in fear. I know both are useless, and they say that adrenaline and training kick in and you act without thinking, but still. May we never find out. I've always said that for my daughter, I could sacrifice myself willingly. I don't know if I could do it for anyone else, let alone a stranger.
I wish that Mr. Moustache had had more airtime. He seems like he would be a really great character. And maybe that's the point. War and all that it brings with it ends up sacrificing really great people. Death doesn't discriminate between the good and bad. And yeah, I don't know if I could die like that for a stranger. I hope I never have to find out. 
"Jump"! Ming Tai screams. And they do. Seconds later, the bomb inside the train goes off. And the Communists explode their charges. It is pretty certain that nobody was able to survive this explosion. Somewhere nearby, Ah Cheng smiles wryly. Bro ...... how do you know he made it out alive?!
Perhaps that's the wry in the smile - a successful mission, but a high price.
There was a part earlier in the episode where I could have sworn that Ming Lou and Ah Cheng were planning on making sure Ming Tai was going to be too late to get on the train, but I probably just read the subs wrong (you are right, there was something about those good from Lian and making sure Ming Tai wasn't close, I didn't get that either!). So at that wry smile, I was thinking: Ah Cheng doesn't know that Ming Tai was on the train. But I think I made a mistake. I also think that despite Ming Lou and Ah Cheng's misgivings about involving Ming Tai, he's a part of it and there's not much they can do about it now.

 Comments

Yeah, I might have started to cry a little. Watching this is much easier than describing this, I think: Writing about these killings really upset me. Yes, I know who the aggressors were in this war. And yet, every human life lost in a war is a tragedy. The series manages well to not portray the Japanese as monsters... in fact, in this episode, they give at least one of them (the "nice" soldier) humanity. He is excited about the food he is about to taste, because he probably is a little bit home sick. But in the line of duty, he attempts to kill - and is killed in the process. Just one of many human tragedies. He probably has a wife and kid at home.
The only thing that makes it possible for most humans to behave as they must in a war is to demonize the other side, but the truth is, it's a bunch of people mostly just like each other. They get scared and tired and hurt. They're hungry and cold, or they're hot and thirsty. They have people they love, who love them. They aren't monsters; they're just people. Regular, everyday, normal people.
And now I am going to cry. I hate war and its ugliness and the dehumanizing and demonizing of the other side. I want so much for people to sit down and be friends and to see that despite all our differences, we have far much more in common. Why is it that the power hungry are so intent on bringing more destruction?

This episode turns Mr. Moustache into a hero, however - and at this point, we do not even know his name. Remember those lessons Ming Tai received from Airplane Wang? About those countless people who will give their life for him? It's the reality of this brutal war, but for the first time, Ming Tai has to experience this first hand; and we with him. Even a victory can only be bitter sweet at best, we realize. It will not bring back the dead.
I think the cheering after a victory is not because one side or the other won - it's because they get to stop. We aren't meant for this. How can you celebrate when your brothers and sisters have died?
And yet humans continue to fight, violently, and with bloody, terrible, horrific wars. It reminds me of one of my favourite war poems by Thomas Hardy, "The Man He Killed". 

And finally ... we all know what Ming Tai's chance encounter will lead to, right? First kiss? Well, I've seen enough KDrama to know what THAT means! The poor lady is already receiving quite a bit of hate on my T-list, but I like her. She's not entirely innocent but quite clearly in over her head. I hope they will get a chance to converse a bit more, without slapping next, maybe? 
I don't dislike her personally. She seems fine. Dedicated, brave, probably likable. They reinforce her youth and inexperience to show us her vulnerability and humanity, of course. But I've given my heart to Yu Man Li, and she has given hers to Ming Tai - so this other woman can never be the one.
Ditto to everything Jo said. *off to make my #TeamYuManLi banners*
Hahaha, I'm not at all #TeamYuManLi. She is TROUBLE.

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