The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 5 (Recap)

Oi, this is a super intense episode. Actually, almost every episode is super intense, but this one is probably MORE super intense? Wang is a monster of a man, as he makes his manipulations about life and death. It looks like Ming Tai deals with it fairly well - but is he really that strong? His brother, back in Shanghai, is facing tribulations of his own. Some people are just too smart ... and this time, the threat arises from an unexpected source.
JoAnne: I was on the edge of my seat with this one, I swear. I really can't tell which I love more, at this point: the actors and directors for bringing such life to these characters, the costumers/set designers/cinematographer for giving us such stunning visuals, or the writer, for creating this story! It's all so intense, so fluid, so RIGHT.

Episode 5

Our brave life & death partners are trying to say farewell. Ming Tai is all fake-chipper, saying things like she will find a better partner than him and graduate in no time etc. but hey, who is he trying to fool ... if he leaves, she will lose all hope, she says, close to tears. But still, she implores him to never look back. She stands to go  ... and he does too, offering to walk her to the door. Iz sad :((
Awww, kids, stay together! Be a team! Don't be hurt, or sad, or scared, or anything but kick ass. Just outwit everyone and run away and be happy together!
Abruptly, she turns and flings her arms around him, hugging him close. Sobbing. "Don't forget about me", she cries. "Sure", he softly assures her. She lifts her head off his chest and... tries to kiss him. But he turns his head away.
Why did he do that, do you think? Honor, since it would lead to bed (obviously) and he knows he can't go there, not if he's leaving? Or does he not have/not realize he has romantic feelings toward her?
Yes, why did he do that?! 
She is still crying - and he reaches his hand up to her face to do what you do with your distressed life & death partner: you kiss them on the forehead, oh so gently. Seriously. Who would NOT fall in love with this guy???
Okay, I'm going with honor. And oh my God, she's the physical embodiment of a tiny scared kitten - she acts fierce, and her scratch will really hurt you - but what she wants deep down is for you to make her feel loved. I adore her. What else is she in? Can we start watching that, too?
And so, he leaves the mountain fortress on the back of an army truck, thinking about Yu Man Li. Guo and Wang watch him leave. Guo expresses surprise that the Teacher would let his most prized disciple leave like this, but Wang just says: "Leave? Mt. Hua only has one way. Once you enter, be it alive or dead, you belong here. He will be back". Oh no.......
It's a fucking test. You bastard. I thought you were sending him away because you realized you were wrong to bring him here. Well, maybe he did realize it, and that explains the sadness of that scene by Ming Tai's hospital bed. But if his logic is true - it doesn't really matter how Wang feels, any more than it matters how Ming Tai or Yu Man Li feel. This is what it is, and you live or you die, you're here or you're not, but the path has been set and it doesn't change. Even for Wang.
The truck takes Ming Tai to the next fortress further down, where he gets a change of clothes from.... Damn. That's the guy who led "Team A" back in Chongqin! He introduces himself as "Lin" (Wang Hong), and because he never saw his face, Ming Tai does not recognize him. Lin leads Ming Tai to a dark and utterly desolate room, mentioning in passing that this used to be a prison. There are deep scratch marks on the walls. It was a place for female prisoners on death row, Lin adds - some where killed in here, for others it just was the last place to be before execution. But have some lunch, Ming Tai.
It took Ming Tai a bit to figure out that this scene was a different kind of bizarre from the bizarreness that the rest of his life has become. I was amused (darkly)... but also very worried about what was coming. As soon as Lin started talking about women prisoners, I knew that of course it had to be about Yu Man Li.
Ming Tai gingerly sits down to eat, and Lin asks: "Have you heard of the Black Widow?" He hasn't and Lin seems surprised, because that person made sensational headlines a few years back. And she was held in this room. *gulp*. Ming Tai's eyes wander to the white sheet that is hung on one wall ... behind it, says Lin, there are photos of prisoners. He wanted to remove them but thought it was bad luck.
Why would there be photos of prisoners, though.
Kinda ... like a museum
"Can I have a look?" Ming Tai almost-whispers. He unveils the pictures and looks at the women in the frames, one after the other. "Black Widow also has another name", Lin mentions ... right when Ming Tai arrives at the past photo. It's a woman called "Jin Se". The nickname that Yu Man Li put on the little pouch she gave him. Yes... The woman on death row: it is Yu Man Li.
I absolutely love her 'I will eat you for lunch and leave nothing but bones' expression. There was one picture before hers, though, where the woman was seriously horrifyingly scary crazy looking.
You know what, I thought they could be real.
And this is her story (that Lin conveniently knows in detail): When she was 14, her stepfather sold her to a brothel. She was trained and became a prostitute at 15. At 16, she contracted a sexually transmitted disease and was kicked out of the brothel, to die on the streets. Lucky for her, a kind man (Boss Yu), a businessman, took pity and saved her, paying for an armada of doctors. She wanted to show her gratitude by marrying Boss Yu, but he sent her to school instead, posing as her brother. But her happiness soon turned to misery again, when Boss Yu was robbed and killed by three men on a business trip. Shortly after, Yu Man Li reappeared as a prostitute --- and took revenge. She is Black Widow because she enticed the three bandits to marry her and then murdered and dismembered them on their wedding night.
You know what, I still love her. It's not right. It's definitely not right, what she did. But it's the best kind of wrong there could be. That poor child!
After she had killed all three of them, she turned herself in and was sentenced to death. She was in this very cell when the war broke out and Kuomingtang took over the prison. This is where Wang Tian Feng found her - and made her one of his soldiers.
Why? Did he think that her single-minded willingness to exact revenge translated well into being an assassin? How so? Her crimes were motivated by love. Did he take pity on her and think that this was offering her a way to redeem herself, somehow? Did she want redemption? No, she turned herself in. She wanted to die. Why did she agree to this? Also: how does this story connect to the Ming Family? Ah, so many questions.
We always assumed there was a connection, but what if there is none? 
That's not the whole story, is it, says a shaken Ming Tai. Of course it isn't. Military law says this: If one person in a life & death partnership deserts, the other person is immediately sent to the front. Unless you're a previous death row inmate. Then, you'll be executed. Fuck! Lin adds that he has until sunset to go back and save her. There is no car, so Ming Tai is given a horse. Wang is such a DICK.
Ming Tai didn't desert! He was kicked out! Not fair! Not fair!
In the pouring rain, the execution squad positions itself. Man Li wants to face death standing up, not kneeling... oh my sweet girl :(( Wang glances at the door... no Ming Tai. He lifts his hand ... and hesitates.
I honestly think I love her more than Ming Tai, at this point. He's amusing. She has my heart. And Wang... I go back and forth on him. He's a bastard, sure. But does he have any more freedom than they do, really? It really DOES seem like he cares about both of them, even when he's putting them directly at death's door.
LUCKILY cause here comes Ming Tai, shouting "don't shoot, don't shoot!" His horse collapses and flips (how did they do that!) and he scrambles up, arms outstretched, between her and the firing squad. She screams "why did you come back" and he shouts back at her "you do not control me!"
Now is not the time for an argument, kids. And yeah, that horse stunt... that was some crazy. I am so glad you giffed it! Someone, tell us if it's real. Can you train horses to do stuff like that?
To Wang's sarcastic "what brings you from town, Mr. Ming", he shouts "I want to rejoin!" But Wang calls him a brat, even though talented, who does not deserve a place here! This is a place for fighters and people who accept the ugliness of war. Oi, Wang is SCARY, as he slaps Ming Tai around, calling him completely unfit to be a soldier due to his carefree and sentimental character. So he came back for a prostitute, but has no compassion for the thousands upon thousands of his countrymen who died in the streets. 
And I sat here and thought to myself, 'Damn. The bastard has a point. And not just that, but he also cares sincerely about the cause. He's not just out to screw with people.'
You are right! Yes, Ming Tai is a spoilt brat - and he has not taken anything seriously so far. But then, he was kidnapped and forced into this... so it's still a bit unfair to demand deadly dedication from him.
"Firing squad - carry on!" OH SHIT! Ming Tai grabs his Teacher's legs, desperate, swearing he came back because he can persevere, he will do anything to save her, anything! Fine, Wang Tian Feng says, then her life is in your hands. He pulls out a gun and tells Ming Tai to show off this superb marksmanship of his - there are four targets that he needs to hit. If he misses one, Man Li will die.
My first thought was 'Oh, come ON. Really?' But then my second was more along of the lines of admiring just how deeply Wang understands the human psyche. The man is a bastard, but he's a genius bastard.
He gets up ... his hand is shaking. Behind him, the firing squad is readying the guns again. He smiles wryly at her - and shoots, eight or nine times. Three of the dummies are down. One is not. He aims .... and aims and aims. Man Li closes her eyes. He shoots. And MISSES - the bullet brushes her left ear, but the dummy still stands. "Get ready!" Guo shouts. "Thank you", Man Li whispers. "Noooooooo!" Ming Tai screams.
Well this cannot just be IT, can it? Side note: Hu Ge was beyond fantastic in this scene.
But then, another shot rings and the dummy goes down ... Wang has saved her. "Being able to remain calm is something a special agent should be able to do. Tomorrow, you start your training from scratch". Hmmm, thanks for the additional HuGe-military-training scenes. Delicious.
Ahhhh, I love this drama. Wang never wanted her to die, but he was willing to kill her if he had to. The question is - how certain was he that it would go this way? I guess it doesn't matter... I just want to get inside his head a little more.
We leave the military training camp and rejoin Ming Lou and Ah Cheng in the government building. Their interactions are always great. I'm also always super afraid for them. It's the day of the special ball, and Ah Cheng gets the task to go ahead and "take care of Wang Man Chun's mood" and then further entice Nantiang, so that she will start trusting him. They're pretty sure that the enemies will try to create a rift between them and agree to play along. I don't like this to be honest TT____TT. I'm just so afraid that Ah Chang's loyalty has limits... they agree that their main aim for tonight is to make Nantiang terminate Wang Man Chun's "fishing operation".
Yes - another who I fear has depths akin to Wang's, but perhaps more motivated by emotion than idealism.
Cut to Ah Cheng being a perfect gentleman and Man Chun looking SUPER stunning. Wang Kai is probably a person who has chemistry with a lamppost, right? But then, Man Chun is trying to sound Ah Cheng out about Ming Lou, and not only about business stuff. She hears that Ming Lou dated a woman abroad, but had to stop because his big Sis disagreed. She feels like killing that woman, Man Chun says. Woah, there. History?
Didn't we already know that Ming Lou and Killer Wang had some sort of thing back in the day? I could have just been making a huge assumption. It might just have been that she had a crush on him, but for some reason I thought they were an item at one point.
That's the rumor. But there seems history with Big Sister Ming, too
And she continues thinking about that woman's death, how she will have her die in front of her, until Ah Cheng explodes with rage (it's not even fake), and shouts at her (which is totally not appropriate for his position, I guess?). The door busts open and Ming Lou storms in and makes his "servant" apologize to the trigger happy femme fatale - before he sends him out. Ayyyyy, so rude with him. It's an act, Kakashi, it's just an act!
So the anger was real but the being angry was planned, or they had a loose outline and Ming Lou took advantage of the emotional slip to further cement the possibility of their 'estrangement' to come? What I fear is this: fake becomes real. Or worse, real was always fake, or has been fake for some time, and Ming Luo has no idea.
One thing I just read at Cfensi that soothed me, a bit. These two weren't always together in it's not the situation I imagined, where the fostered boy grows up and gets dragged along by the elder son into his work. No...apparently, they each became a spy unknown to the other, and only ended up together LATER, after some dastardly event involving Airplane Wang. So Ah Cheng isn't Ming Luo's assistant by family standing, but by organizational standing. Still doesn't mean he won't just think, 'Oh of COURSE, again!'

Ming Lou and Man Chung are an interesting pair! I am not entirely sure what to make of them! She still has a massive crush, I'd say, but does not trust him one bit. As for him ... not sure about his feelings, but he definitely knows she's a BAD woman. But I also think he kinda finds that... a turn on? There is heavy flirting in this room, that much is clear. They try to find out where each other's loyalties lie, in vain. We also learn that Ming Lou carries a gun and knows how to use it (is that normal for a minister of economics?), because a little boy busts into the room and they get a huge fright.
I mostly get the impression that he did have feelings for her at some point, but now feels sorry for her. In other words, for whatever reason, he's given her up as a love interest, sincerely, but as a man, sure, he can respond to her beauty, and has affection for her despite knowing that she's a nutcase.
The boy, by the way, is called Miao Miao (hahahaaa) and he is Liang Zhong Chun's son - Ah Cheng, who carries the boy to his mother, meets Commissioner Liang and they shake hands, exchanging polite words.
I wondered if the boy was put up to it, but it seems not? It's just too convenient, though, for both Ming Lou and for Ah Cheng.

Mrs. Su (who is a doctor!) and Uncle Li talk about their new supervisor, a certain Cobra. Nobody knows his true identity, it seems - but it's pretty clear it's Ming Lou, right?! That's why he asked Ah Cheng whether he put the ad in the paper!!
It must be him. He doesn't strike me as very Cobra-like, though. Some other animal, not a Cobra. There's a code name coming up that's hilarious. I love them in general, though.
Said Ming Lou is busy networking at the ball - also there is Man Chun's "uncle", Ming Lou's teacher (We'll meet him again later). Ming Lou then commands Ah Cheng to go dance with the Japanese commander, pretending he has just now found out that she wants his services. Ah Chang in turn pretends to be embarrassed (about being found out - AND having to dance with that woman), but obeys, like he always does. I don't like the way Liang looks at him...
This guy. Honestly, I'd take my chances with Airplane Wang over this guy.
They dance, talk about the peace conference ... and Ah Cheng mentions  in passing how destabilizing Man Chun's little "fishing game" is. It has to stop; Ming Lou also thinks so. He also mentions that he has opened a Bank Account, in preparation for the day he grows too tired of being bossed around too much.
So hilariously unsubtle.
It totally seems like Nantiang is falling for his considerable charms, when a messenger delivers an urgent message to Ming Lou. He waves to Ah Cheng impatiently and they leave in a hurry. They received information about some people joining the peace conference, but Ah Cheng smells a trap - the info is released mighty early in his opinion. Inside, Nantiang orders Man Chun to stop with her spy-catching. Our pretty brute is flabbergasted.
What's a girl to do without her daily killing spree?
Liang Zhong Chun, who has a very keen eye, I don't like it!, agrees with Nantiang. Man Chun's actions have led to more bloodshed against their people. And he also lectures her on looking down on the "small people around her"; because the person who got Nantiang to change her policy right now was one of them.
He's too clever by half, and reeks of evil. True evil. Airplane Wang is manipulative but in pursuit of greater good - not personal goals. Killer Wang is unhinged, probably by events in her past. Maybe. Maybe she just likes blood? It's possible. Liang, though, no question. He will do bad things because he likes to do bad things, or because it will bring him wealth and power. Different animal.

The next day, at the office, Commissioner Liang points out to Man Chun that the last high-ranking Japanese official was killed in Hong Kong right when Ming Lou arrived there too. He has no proof, but he finds it very strange that a scholar has "this highly skilled, agile and elusive Ah Cheng" around him. He wants Man Chun to check Ming Lou out very carefully ... to find out where he sends his intel to. Chongqin, he suspects: where Ming Lou originally comes from.
Their history and backstory should cover the Ming Lou-Ah Cheng connection, but the problem is that Ah Cheng is just too good to be someone's assistant. He should be less effective in order to generate less suspicion.
Man Chun is doubtful ... but she agrees to test Ming Lou. Tomorrow, during a Salon at her uncle's. She will find a person to pose as intelligence dealer.
Interesting. I thought that no matter what, she'd defend Ming Lou. Or perhaps she figures what's the harm? He won't bite...


Yikes, this drama really makes me worry ...

... but first things first. Ming Tai and Man Li! What are they feeling? She tried to kiss him, and he turned his head away - and I kept trying to figure out why. I think he does not love her. At least not like a man loves a women he wants to sleep with. I think that she is exactly what she should be: a partner to go to the end of the world with, which also means that it does not matter to him what sex she has. That's probably a much stronger bond than most lovers will ever experience! But I also think that she IS in love with him - which would make sense, seeing how she was treated by most men in her life. He is so kind and considerate to her... it would be hard not to fall in love.
You don't kiss your male partner on the forehead. I read something once about that type of kiss - it happens often in Asian Drama, and it means something different than it generally does in Euro/American dramas - or at least American dramas. When we see it here at home, that kiss is generally dismissive. There's affection, possibly patronization, but most definitely, no romantic interest - and so it puzzled me when I was seeing it in Korean dramas since it didn't really fit the other clues. In an Asian drama (at least, per the article I read) it more often signifies the man's protective and respectful instinct toward a woman that he loves. I know I've seen situations where it's more of the former, but very often, it's this. So I guess I lean towards he loves her, though he may not know it - but it could go either way right now.

Those two are safe for the moment, at least, but our other two boys! Oh no! Commissioner Liang is far too smart for my liking. I thought he was a pushover at first (because of the disrespect with which Wang Man Chun treats him, even though he's her boss), but he is highly dangerous. Luckily, Man Chun seems to have quite a lot of feelings (left) for Ming Lou and is not ready to believe he is a rebel. I hope it stays this way ... my nerves, my poor nerves...
Man, she really does not like Liang. I wonder why?