03 November 2015

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The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 4 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on November 03, 2015
Heartache, oh heartache! Here you are - you hurt so good. This is a beautiful episode, in every respect. There are scenes that take my breath away. Colors, composition, light, set ... it's perfect. Loyalties are tested, lines are drawn and true feelings are revealed. But this love among all that despair ... it's just bound to kill us, that much is clear. I'm getting the tissues out.
Just looking at her makes me want to cry. How will we survive?

Episode 4

Adjutant Guo is of the opinion that Ming Tai can graduate early - he's the best of his year. But Wang Tian Feng disagrees. The problem is not his skill, but his ability to follow orders. More moulding is necessary! In the lunch hall, Ming Tai does not speak to Commander Wang anymore after yesterday's Vienna run-in. Preferably forever, he adds. That forever last exactly 10 seconds though, because Wang tells him he is allowed to get some "fresh air" with Man Li after all. But not Vienna: Chongqin. And he has to promise not to run off with her.
I'm sorry. I know the stakes are life and death and Wang Tian Feng is probably a mad man, at least half - but these two are hilarious. Ming Tai's pouty kid attitude and expressions, Wang's mix of rage/amusement/interest/respect... it's inspired. Please let them be in all the things, together.
There's an assignment, too. They need to go to a hotel - playing husband and wife - and get into contact with HQ to exchange documents. They have 12 hours. Be back right on time and remember: Don't trust anyone. Ming Tai and Man Li receive civilian clothing - Ming Tai doesn't like his and complains. Hahaha.
Remember Gu Hye Sun in Blood? This is the way she should have played that role. Actually, I think this is the way she tried to play that role... but she just couldn't pull it off. Hu Ge sure can, and thank goodness for that!
They arrive in Chongqin not much later. First chance Ming Tai gets, he goes into a clothing store and buys about half of it. Somebody is watching them from a car ... those are Commander Wang's people! What's going on?
The clothes in this are seriously gorgeous. And look what a beautiful couple they are! Don't you just want to imagine them this young, carefree, wealthy couple, on a honeymoon, just in love with world?
Well, Ming Tai has noticed that they're shadowed as soon as they got into town - he tells his partner to quickly change her clothes once they are in the hotel room. He guesses that this is a fake mission and rips open the envelope they were entrusted with. Yup, he was right: there are new instructions on the piece of paper inside, telling them to go to the telegraph office instead and send these lines. Caveat: As soon as they'll get to the Hotel, Team A will attempt to kill them.
He looks like a dad here, though. And she sort of looks like a pretty bug.
They call room service and order a bottle of wine. When Team A hears about that, they make their move ... but Man Li and Ming Tai walk right passed them that very minute, in disguise. They take on the two guys in the car outside (special mention here for Ming Tai's awesome somersault over the car) - and then drive off. Wang is quite happy and a little bit impressed it when he hears about it.
That somersault...he came flying across the screen and I actually shouted! I love all the spy hijink kind of things, always. But he's doing all the stuff. Please don't let her devolve into some helpless cute female that he rescues all the time except for that ONE time she rescues him and tenderly nurses him back to health in a remote cabin in the wilderness where she's forced to give him spongebaths in front of roaring fire. But you should totally have that one time, just lots of other times, too.
But that happiness does not last too long, because soon after, they lose all contact with their two agents. They have parked the car in front of the telegram office and continued on foot (as per Man Li's suggestion, by the way). (oh good!) A few moments later, the Japanese move in and start bombing the city. Oh SHIT, now that does not look like it was planned!!
I actually thought, 'Wow, they really go all out on these tests...is it even a real town?'
Right in the middle of heavy action, Man Li pulls a gun on Ming Tai and tells him to let her walk away. But they're life & death partners, he shouts, he can't go back without her! She shoots at the ground in front of him when he walks towards her. He calls her crazy, but she runs when a new bomb hits very close and he has to duck for a moment. May I add that he looks particularly good in these scenes?
They both do. Man, do they ever. So elegant!
What now? He walks through the streets in a daze and then sits down somewhere, while Man Li has taken shelter in a tunnel, crying and crying. Team A is frantically searching for them too. Commander Wang gets word and is ... pleased again? Or intrigued? He's a devil, this one. Is this nothing but a test for them, spiced up a bit by Japanese air raids? 
By this time, I'm convinced he somehow knew that there would be an attack, suspected that she would run, and sent them on this mission to see how it would play out. My admiration for Wang's dastardly genius knows no bounds.
The next day, Man Li walks towards a pier, wearing different clothes. She is followed by a guy ... who is followed by another guy. Both are taken out by a mysterious man whose face we don't see, but who is wearing a coat looking very much like Ming Tai's. Man Li is down at the pier now, waiting among many people for the boat to arrive. She senses that somebody is moving towards her ... and pulls her gun out, quietly, secretly. But it's only Ming Tai, now standing right behind her.
Oh my God, her face. I just cannot bear it. I want to fix everything wrong in the world for her so that she never has to make that face again. Of note: look how handsome even just half of Hu Ge's face is, there.
He tells her he always knew she had secrets. And he will not ask her about them. He took out the people that followed her so that she can leave in peace. But she needs to leave all the things from the military school behind ... and he gently removes the jade ring she is wearing. Don't look back, he tells her. And make sure Wang Tian Feng does never catch you. When she reaches back her hand to touch him, he is gone.
Dead. I'm dead. How can I do this? This episode 12 of a 16-episode drama level angst!
Of course she DOES look back then. The boat is here, people start moving, but she isn't. What an utterly sad and beautiful scene.
Georgeous. As beautifully filmed as a big-budget movie. Everything - every thing, every single thing about this just pulls you in to this. The light, the focus, the pacing, the emotion...it's gorgeous.
Ming Tai is walking along some empty street ... when he senses another presence and turns around,  it's her. They smile at each other. Awwwwwwwwwww, my feels..... be lovers already, hear me?! Fuck life & death partners! Make babies!
Well not yet. They're just babies themselves. Go to Paris! Stroll along the boulevards, drink tea at precious little cafes, dress up in gorgeous beaded gowns and perfectly fitted tuxedos and dance the night away in ball rooms with gilt mirrors and murals on the ceiling! Ride a gondola in Venice! Stay in some little gasthaus in Bavaria and eat bread and cheese in a mountain meadow! Flee to Canada and make a new life in Montreal! Anything, anything but fight in this war.
Wang welcomes them back with a straight face. They didn't pass this test - they're eight hours late and points will be deducted from their score. Ming Tai is back to being disobedient and questions this as too harsh: it's only eight hours! (lol). Ming Tai mentions the air attack when Wang wants to hear why they're late and insists they got separated in the process. He gets dismissed, but Wang wants Man Li to stay. Ming Tai goes into protector mode again, calling this unfair treatment, but come on, Wang's not stupid, dear Ming Tai. Did you think he wouldn't know? "Never do something so stupid again", he warns her in front of him.
I've been wondering, Kakashi. Do you think he's the person who made her go do whatever terrible thing it is that she now carries as a burden? Or do you think he knows what she did and is trying to give her a chance to save herself from it?
They need to give back their rings to Guo for the next students (so they have spy props somewhere in a room? Nice). She wants to keep hers! Awwwww, but of course, that's not allowed. Ming Tai asks how much it costs (seriously, dude, I really like you, haha) but Man Li quickly pushes him away, saving him from another fight with a superior.
He's so practical, in a very impractical way. I love it that he just does not get that this is different.

Ah Cheng in action (he's damn sexy) - he spots a ball to commemorate the peace conference on the list of things that Ming Luo needs to attend next week, organized by the 76th Division (as per Commander Nantian (=.Yoko Minamida). "It will bring all the demons together", he later comments to Ming Luo. He gets asked to buy a piece of jewelry for Wang Man Chun by Luo (anything but a ring).
That made me laugh.
That particular demon is recruiting a new head for the Telecom unit - a woman named Zhu Hui Yin (Sun Meng Jia). The little creature is terrified of the Wang Demon (yeah, cause she likes to execute people). She also quite frankly tells Zhu Hui Yin that she'll kill her if anything goes wrong with the "listeners". I hope the pay is worth it at least? She gets the task to identify all underground broadcasts, quickly. All news about Chongqin and Yan'an (the rebel strongholds) are to be reported immediately.
Everyone around Killer Wang looks so dull in comparison...even when we can't see her!
The underground movement has heard of the peace conference in Nanjing too - they have orders to "crush it at all costs". They plan to infiltrate the conference with a person, which will be difficult because of the heavy security.
Making this different from any spy movie ever in what way, exactly? I mean, duh.
At the military academy, Yu Man Li collapses on the training ground ... she has a fever. But Guo orders her to continue running - there's no breaks on the battlefield either! Ming Tai goes berserk when he hears that. He starts screaming at Guo, questioning his authority as a teacher in front of everyone - and then they get into a severe fist fight. Wang just watches from his usual high perch in silence.
These two. Do you think they realize that they're fighting over who Wang loves best?
Well, Ming Tai gets punished for his disobedience: he has to stand in the yard for one full day. He doesn't look too good, to be honest. He is then ordered into Wang's office. And he obviously never learns, because when Wang lectures him on the brutality of the battlefield, he knows better again. This is not a battlefield, but a training ground, he insists. Soldiers are humans too! And when Wang tells him he has to go see the office of martial affairs (to get his punishment), Ming Tai demands to call Wang's superior. To make an official complaint.
Because that's guaranteed to give your boss a real change of attitude, right?
The phone? You want the phone, Wang goes - and SMASHES it on Ming Tai's forehead. Ouch. Those things used to be damn heavy ... Ming Tai goes down and stays down. To the infirmary he goes! The doctor assures Wang Tian Feng that nothing is seriously wrong with him, he's just very weak after the punishment. And got an arrhythmia when he got so agitated. The doctor calls Ming Tai very "fragile" and even questions his fitness to go into battle. That seems to hit a nerve in Wang - he remembers all the sweet things he has seen Ming Tai do as he sits vigil on his bedside.
Oh come ON. Those receivers weigh 5 pounds easy! You don't have to be fragile to pass out and hit the ground when someone whacks you in the head with one of those babies! (To be fair, though, Hu Ge/Ming Tai does come across as boyish and slight.)
When Ming Tai wakes up (poor boy ... he's very confused and bewildered), Wang tells him he can leave. He is just "a whim of a man" and is just not soldier material. And it's the end of their teacher-student relationship because he has no time for spoilt brats. He won't even see him off. Ouf. Wang is such a clever bastard. This is probably what Ming Tai has wanted since he got here, but to be kicked out like this? It must hurt BAD.
Awww, that face. Wang might as well have told him he couldn't have a puppy!
Before she gets to say goodbye to Ming Tai, Wang Tian Feng instructs Man Li to tell him "her life story" She does not want to, but he says now is the time. Before, she just had to be mysterious and entice him, but if she wants to keep him here, she has to reveal the truth. She says it's fine if he tears open her wounds, if he uses her. But she can't let him hurt Ming Tai. She does not want him to stay back because of her. "He doesn't belong here", she adds. "Please, let him go". She knows what that means, right? he asks. TT______TT
Bastard! You relentlessly, deliciously, evilly, irrationally rational man.
So she goes to say her final goodbye... he says there will be opportunity to meet again, but she says "not anymore". She has a present for him, too, a little bag she made for him, with a rose and her nickname: Jing Su (zither). There's something IN the bag too, but she does not let him read it now - in the future, if he thinks of her. No, if that's the case, he will come looking for her, he says.
Do you think he looks a little like Ji Jin Hee? 
Much better than him, but yes! In this shot, definitely
He wants her to find a better partner once he's gone. "I will never meet a person like you again", she says. "If you leave, my heart will die". But he is never ever to return. Never turn back - not like her. 
This is going to kill me.

Comments

I hate Wang. I love Wang. What a great performance by Liu Yi Jun! He is so menacing and yet so human, a mean manipulator but a very good teacher nonetheless (no! I don't approve of his methods! But still!). Wang knows exactly how to manipulate people and that makes him so darn dangerous. The only way to hurt Ming Tai was to kick him out, but of course, he does not plan for one second to let him go. He just wants to break his ego. He does not do it by force, this one, but by subtle manipulations, so that the person being manipulated thinks it was done under free will.
He's very, very good. Both the character and the actor. I can't even hate him right now, he makes watching it so worth it. To know people and understand motivation so well...I would love that.

We knew that Man Li was Wang's creature from the beginning - but we didn't know that her heart is still very warm. I really believed that her attempt to flee was all part of the test, but it was not. Her secret is crushing her, but Ming Tai has already started to save her. She is ready to give her life for him and that's making me very, very sad.
Yes, somewhere in the episode I began to believe that she is genuine with Ming Tai. Which, of course, does not bode well for us.

And Ming Tai, oh Ming Tai... he is so smart at times (loved the scenes in Chongqin) but so vulnerable the very next, it's killing me! Of course, Wang sees right through him and his cockiness. Ming Tai has some more growing up to do (he really still acts like a rich, spoilt brat) if he does not want to get hurt very deeply in the process.
It's quite interesting to me just how boyish Hu Ge can seem. He's playing nearly a decade younger, at least, and it does not seem forced at all. His face is so expressive I could watch him all day. He is a sweet, sweet boy. So that means that his care and concern for Yu Man Li are going to put him in a lot of danger, aren't they?

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