01 November 2015

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The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 3 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on November 01, 2015
Something like love is in the air, but it's definitely going to be of the tragic kind. This episode builds up more tension as it takes us to Ming Lou and his precarious position in the new government, to Ah Chang who is coveted as a special source of information by the Japanese masters, and to Ming Tai, who is partnered with the sad and slightly crazy woman soldier. She has a secret and he senses that something is not quite right with her... will his warm heart be his downfall in a world of cold bullets?
Man, I hope not. (But this does seem like a tragedy in the making.) (I'll admit, I've already checked the ending to see whether he'll make it to the end ... but I'm not spoiling) For sure, he'll come out of this a changed man, with some darkness at the core.

Episode 3

The Mings arrive at the government building, where Yoko Minamida and another officer wait for them. She inquires whether Ming Luo will take part in a meeting tomorrow, and he says he'll try to be there. Many businessmen have gathered to see him too ... the economic crisis is acute. When Ming Cheng closes the door, Minamida smiles at him eerily. Yes, she is interested ... but why? She thinks he's a particularly interesting hub of intel - and she wants to question him. I don't like that.
I got a very foreboding feeling off that little interchange, yes. Like she already knows what's up, and figures he's her way to bring everything out into the light.
In the city, arrests are being made - seemingly, it's the Communists going after traitors ... but we know that this is part of Wang Man Chun's deception! These people are working for her and arrest people that know they will be arrested, simply to flush out the the resistance. Sadly, it works! A member of the underground movement (Li Cheng Wu) believes that there really are traitors in that prison car, gets himself a gun and opens fire on the vehicle. He kills or wounds a few but is then killed in turn - the others were waiting for something like this to happen. When Man Chun arrives at the scene (looking fabulous in a metallic blue coat!), she is very unhappy that the guy is dead and orders to investigate his background. 
That coat is killer. Ha!
A woman watches it all from behind a corner and hurriedly runs to warn another woman about what just happened (picking up a little boy on the streets on the way). This is Jin Yun (Wang Le Jun), member of the underground Communist movement. The dead guy's identity will lead them straight to this place, so they need to get rid of some documents as quickly as possible. Jin Yuan tells the woman to run with her kid and then starts burning the intel.
I can hardly imagine the fear and bravery that comes from living under that kind of pressure - can you?
The woman with the kid gets away seconds before truckloads of armored guys arrive and storm the place. Yeah, too late, Wang Man Chun! All she sees are ashes where once was paper. Jin Yung gets safely away and afterwards, word of Li Cheng's death spreads quickly among the Communist resistance.
She made it out with basically a second to spare - that was nervewracking!  ou don't want to end up in Killer Wang's clutches for any reason.
At the military camp, Commander Wang informs Ming Tai that it's time to get him a "life and death" partner. Ming Tai wishes for it to be a woman. A pretty one. Cause his motivation depends on it. And he wants to change partners if he doesn't like her. Hahahaaaa. Well, of course it's Yu Man Li he gets paired with.
Naturally! I wonder who gets to be the boss? She seems a little more badass than him, right now.

The recruits are washing their clothes in the yard, all excited about getting partners today. But oups, trouble. One guy starts talking to Man Li (she does not react), then another quickly pulls him away: that woman is known to be a wacko (for example, she doesn't like people talking to her). She hears them, of course, and attacks from behind. Haha, yes, definitely a bit strange... It results in five guys going at her, but they stand no chance.
It doesn't really matter. I love her to pieces already.
She is walking away when Ming Tai, who seems to have finished his tete-a-tete with Wang, has the glorious idea to appear out of nowhere and tell her to apologize (touching her in the process). That earns him a nice over the shoulder throw into the sand. Well, she is certainly VERY strange, because now she stares at her hand (the one she touched him with), looking quite sad. Ming Tai mistakes that for a hand offered to him to get up and grabs it, which makes her shake it off and step back in horror. Ming Tai loudly complains about that treatment like the little boy he sometimes is, but Commander Wang ends it when he steps up, makes them introduce themselves and then takes Man Li away.
She's going to die, probably saving him, and we're going to cry like babies.
He takes her aside and wants to know whether everything he said is clear to her (it is). What she has done in the past is not important, important is what she is doing now, he lectures. Whatever she HAS done is obviously troubling her a lot. She says she cannot change her past herself - but he tells her he cannot help her; she is on her own. And then, he teaches her about the difference between guns and people: people are filled with heart - guns with bullets. Hearts are hot, bullets are cold. Her womanhood is a weapon - but only if her heart never becomes warm.
Right. Up against Ming Tai? Fat chance she follows that advice.
She asks Wang whether "he" knows about her. Only a little, is the answer. She thinks he has a right to know. Oh, he will, Wang says ... but he will decide when that is. Ack, JoAnne........ my ominous feelings are back!
Yep. This is going to rip our hearts out of our bodies and stomp them into grimy bits of dust. I can't wait!

Ming Lou arrives at a mansion to meet with a guy - who is still in a meeting. Yoko Minamida, who is also there, asks for a consultation in the meantime, but this is all just a plan to separate Lou from Cheng, right? Minamida first asks Lou to organize a peace conference (he politely declines, seeing how busy he already is) and then brings up Cheng - whom she wants in the new government, in a higher position (and thus away from Ming Lou). No need to talk about it, says Ming Lou and twice at that: Ming Cheng is just like a real brother to him. If she wants something from a member of the Ming family, she must ask him herself.
I know she really wants Ah Cheng... but she probably wanted the peace conference, too. Should have led with Ah Cheng. Ming Luo might have given in since he'd already said no once. No way he was going to say yes to Ah Cheng, no matter what order the question. This would make her not much of a negotiator, by the way. Unless she is setting them up for a less-than-cooperative relationship by forcing him to say no to her all the time...
Cheng was just waiting outside and heard everything. When Yoko Minamida offers the job to him directly after Luo has left, Cheng refuses her ... but she is persistent (stressing the low servant-like status he now has) and says she is patient, while he seems at least considering to take her offer in the future.
I don't buy it.
Ah, I'm so glad to see that the two men expected this to happen! Cheng is lying to her, yes? I mean ... fully? No double play? I hope so .... In the car, they also discuss Wang Man Chun's evil plans and we learn officially that both of them are part of the Shanghai underground Chinese Communist Party. Cheng is a spy for the intel department and Luo is the Team Leader.
I think he's lying fully right now but I also think that later there could be a shift. You know? If China is always going to have him be lesser because he was fostered by the Mings, and Japan offers him a chance to be his own man, with freedom to rise as high as his talents will take him... maybe that would entice him, if a time comes when he feels betrayed or not valued by the Mings.
I guess his little run in with Man Li has set Ming Tai against her, because he tells Commander Wang over lunch that he would rather be alone. Wang calls him a rare gem (since he's so good at everything) but he also says Ming Tai lacks sense and that is why he needs a partner. Ming Tai still doesn't want to partner up, but Wang tells him the true meaning of a "life and death" partner: if he refuses her, she may very well die. That scares Ming Tai ... but he also seems very weary of that woman.
They've had two run-ins and both times she kicked his ass. He probably just wants someone who'd be less work!
They're holding a dance at the military school that evening, to seal those partnerships. They dance together, admittedly looking VERY good as a pair. Wang and Guo are starting to place bets for 20 Dollars: Guo for Man Li, Wang for Ming Tai. For what, though... Man Li wants to pair up, Ming Tai doesn't. So, bets on whether it happens or not? Hmmm... Ming Tai is quite confident as he dances, pulling her closer, faintly smiling at her slightly flustered expression. And then, he starts asking questions - we already know he is particularly good at reading people. She says she does not want to talk about the past, which prompts him too say: because she doesn't want to or because she can't? Smart cookie.
They do look good. I cannot wait to see them dancing in evening wear at some fancy event. Please tell me that will happen.
Time to do some tango! And time for her to ask him a few questions. Like: did he choose this career himself? (answer: half-half :) Or: Will they die if they get an assignment? (answer: you die anyway, it all depends on whether your death is worthwhile). She keeps smiling oh-so-sweetly and complimenting him on his charisma and all ... of course, it's all to lull him, cause this is simply about one of those life and death tests. She suddenly holds a syringe in her hand and attacks! But Ming Tai wasn't at all fooled, he counters and manages to take the syringe away from her.
Well I did not expect it at ALL.This is what the bet is about? Whether Man Li kills him or whether he survives? Is she a more senior student to him, then, or a secret instructor?
Wang is already triumphant that he won, but Guo thinks it's not yet over ... and it isn't. Fiiiiight! They're pretty equal, it seems, both landing hurtful blows, but in the end, Ming Tai kinda wins. Which means, according to Wang, that they are partners now, with Ming Tai in the lead.
So all of that was to determine who'd be the team lead, and maybe only a little about whether he could survive her... or to test whether he was worthy of her at all, maybe.
That night, Ming Luo, who is sleeping on a couch, has nightmares about his baby bro getting the order to kill him, about him crying he can't do it, about him sobbing for his brother's help, and then, finally, about Ming Tai pulling the trigger after all. He jerks awake, Ah Cheng comes running. He heard Luo speak in his sleep, and tries to comfort him by saying that Ming Tai will pull through.
So, wait. Awwww... Big Bro Luo is more worried that Ming Tai would be put in the position of having to do it, than he is of having it done. I think? And Ah Cheng is reassuring him that Ming Tai will find a way through the mess so that it doesn't have to happen at all. I hope.
Little bro is spending time with his new partner - who is stitching a beautiful rose. She still does not want to reveal anything about her past, but he realizes from talking to her that she must have studied a few years ... and cause he's a little smartypants, he even recognizes this particular stitching (Yuelu Academy). She says nothing and he becomes unsure whether he was right or not, but when he talks about this place being like a prison, she gets that sad look again and pricks herself in the finger. Yes, never daydream when you have a needle in your hand.
I'm at the point where every single thing she does, I wonder if it's an act. Or an act of an act. We know she's sad. But is she acting sad for him, or is she showing him that she's actually sad? Did she know that he would recognize the emblem and deduce something about her? Is that deduction accurate? Is she leading him to who she is and what her story is subtly, because Wang told her she couldn't do it until he said so? In which case, she's showing a bit of defiance against Wang and a bit of concern for Ming Tai. And then my next question is, what is Ming Tai thinking here? Does he think he's getting to know her, or does he think he's getting played, but letting her think otherwise? And of course, the option exists that each knows the other is acting, but each also has a bit of genuine feeling for the other. That's sort of where I am in this. 'We reveal ourselves in our lies.'
Not for the first time, she looks sad and forlorn and that moves Ming Tai - who wouldn't be moved!!! He goes to see Wang ... and presents him with a training schedule he has written for Man Li. Since he wants her to be happy every day. Oh wow, this is so cute and so sad at the same time. But now comes the punch: Wang has become interested and wants to know what's in the plan. It's very simple, says Ming Tai: He wants to take Man Li to Vienna. WTF ahahahahahaaaaa, this made me laugh so hard. Commander Wang can't believe his ears, of course.
This whole scene was hilarious, and it plays out very genuinely - who wouldn't be moved by that tiny face up there? Even Wang seems to have some feeling for her at times, just as he does for Ming Tai. So now I'm swinging back to Ming Tai not having ANY idea of the currents swirling around him, and just thinking she's a mystery to be solved, but that their 'partnership' is soley based on the fact that their skills match and they were both available at the same time.
Ming Tai assures him that he will not desert. It's just for one week and he will cover the costs himself. It's just to be a short vacation, for team building, so to say. His family owns a house there and it's a perfect time to go now and blablabla on he goes, not realizing that Wang Tian Feng gets more furious with every word he says. He finally explodes and shouts at Ming Tai to get his head straight, this is not a summer camp but a military academy - when Ming Tai has the nerve to shout that he feels like a prisoner and wants more freedom, everything escalates even further.
He's so bewildered! He walked in there with a (to him) reasonable and even 'leader-like' plan... and Wang absolutely loses his shit over it, because in a very real way, Ming Tai just does not get that he is now a soldier in a war. The really hilarious part comes after Ming Tai leaves and Wang mutters that HE hasn't even been to Vienna yet. The nerve!

A very fascinating scene. Wang argues that rules are rules, but for Ming Tai, rules are made by people (or how he puts it: people are alive and rules are not). This defiance shows us clearly: Ming Tai will not be broken. And of course, he will also not give up his plan to make his partner happy. On the exercise ground, while Wang lectures them about apathy, Ming Tai puts a small flask of Ming family fragrance into Man Li's hand: he got it out of his suitcase. It makes her smile.
A family fragrance? Interesting. Also: Awwww. She seemed quite touched, and who wouldn't be?
But Wang has eyes and while he continues his lecture, he steps very close to the two. Empathy is a weakness - and it can cause them their lives. Looking straight at Man Li, Wang adds that some people may appear harmless on the outside, but in reality, they are not. They just fooled people with empathy. She drops the flask.
Wang, you bastard. It's not like he's wrong, but still. Dammit.
Mask your feelings completely, Wang says. But a mask is just a mask - you cannot cover your true self up forever. The truth will come to light ... one day. Those words leave an impression. On Man Li because they're seemingly spoken to her - and on Ming Tai, because he sees what impression they leave. That night, Man Li dreams... of days in school and of days as a Courtesan. A Courtesan killer.
How OLD is she? Is this what she holds in her past that involves Ming Tai? Is that his father, maybe?

Comments

I liked this episode a lot - for the relationships between certain characters. I really like Wang Tian Feng and Ming Tai together; they're a bit like father and son, or uncle and nephew. I like that Wang likes this talented, but slightly rebellious young man. And I like that Ming Tai constantly tries the walls of his prison. I also like the added tension that Man Li brings - a woman that Wang Tian Feng has particularly trained to get at the Mings, I'm guessing. I like her vulnerability and the secrecy. I like that Wang lectures them on apathy and empathy. Empathy is Ming Tai's biggest weakness, that much is clear - but is it really? Man Li may be a killer, but she, too, is not immune to the stirrings of the heart. 
I'm also picking up on his genuine feelings for the two young recruits. I don't think for a minute that he wouldn't sacrifice them without hesitation, but I do think it would keep him up nights, after. That man is all about the mission. I think a lot of the vulnerability we sense in Man Li comes from her expression, so I'm a little hesitant about buying it 100%. Show me why, Story. Until then, I'm suspicious. As for Ming Tai's empathy being a weakness - it will also be his strength. Very curious to see where we are going!

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