09 November 2015

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The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 7 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on November 09, 2015
Ohhhhh, what an episode! It's thrilling and touching and brilliant and sad and SO GOOD and sometimes, words are just not enough to do something like this justice. Ming Tai takes the final step (for the longest time, I prayed he wouldn't) and emerges as a different person at the end. There is no turning back and it won't be pretty, but he is blessed with a family that will be there for him if he needs them.
JoAnne: What I mourn here is that some of his light will be dimmed by the ugliness. I wish he could have just gone on as the carefree soul he had been. It's a war, and men do terrible things that aren't necessarily evil things. I don't feel like he isn't a good person anymore...but he's lost his innocence.
dewaanifordrama: Oh Ming Tai, how my heart aches for him. War is an ugly business, no matter what cause anyone is fighting for and his innocence is most definitely a casualty. Oh Ming Tai. 

Episode 7

All is well at the Ming Mansion ... brother and sister are having breakfast or afternoon tea in peace. They talk about Ming Tai - who flunked his entry test into Sorbonne. He then went to Tours and wanted to change his major to law, just like the impulsive, spoilt brat kind of person he is. And yet, Sis is concerned for his safety, with the current war and the geopolitical tensions. She wants to "move him somewhere safe". Okay, I'm laughing now, but it's a sad laugh, because he is no longer part of that carefree world and will never again be and she has no clue.
Oh man. Imagine her reaction if she ever finds out.
Um, yeah, Ming Lou might get more than a single whipping on the arm (even though it's not really his fault that Ming Tai got kidnapped). 
Taking advantage of the "good" mood, Ming Lou tells his sister that he will book the hotel for her. She immediately guesses that this comes with strings attached and he readily admits it: She just has to bring back a letter that somebody will give her; to get even, since he made it possible for her to get her cargo. She agrees. Sis, you just got played by your brother. Letter my ass!
Still don't like her. I know she loves her brothers, but she's too much.
She's an iron lady that's for sure. At least Ming Lou seems more or less forgiven and they're on tentative good terms again. Hopefully. 
At the military school, an expensive delivery is made: Canned beef, two cans per commanding officer. Commander Wang tells Gou to take his share to Ming Tai - because this is not from general headquarters, as claimed: It's from "the Viper". (Ha, what? Is Viper = Cobra and Wasp = Poison Bee? These spies sure know how to confuse people!) (I wonder if it's just a different subber/lack of consistency for segments - so I'm guessing it's the same) The canned beef comes with a message: Polish Eagle is coming to town. In the eatery, Ming Tai refuses the cans, since he wants no special treatment. When Wang - who forces him to eat with him - tells him that he is eating HIS portion, he takes one bite. Wang slides an envelope over to him: Hong Kong's University Professors with photos. He needs to memorize them and all the details on them.
You know, I knew that this was from Ming Lou from the way Wang looked, and yet, I still didn't put it together.
Oh Ming Tai is being less bratty. He's so adorable. 
Obediently, Ming Tai flicks through them. There's something on Wang's mind though... Is Ming Tai in love with Man Li or not? Ming Tai is like ... excuse me?? Why would I be in love with her? He calls Wang narrow minded for thinking that way. He did all he did because they are life & death partners. Fine, says Wang, I believe you. But you need to make it clear to HER too.
I call bullshit, though.
Yeah, I'm with you on this one Jo. Or at least Ming Tai is pretending to himself he doesn't have feelings.
Well, watch on, sisters. Matters of the heart coming up soon.  
The medical supplies that Big Sis got to Hong Kong are worth their weight in gold, it seems. Ming Lou and Ah Cheng discuss the preparations for the mission: the hotel rooms (two of them) are booked, the range to the target is perfect. No, I don't understand why these two are doing the preparations for this assassination. Are they working together with the Wang Gang? Or is this ONE AND THE SAME?
I kept thinking there must be two situations. But his comment about Ming Tai kept nagging me, too.
Yeah, are they working together? Or in a tentative truce? Different factions but agreeing to work together this once? 
It's almost time for Ming Tai to leave, but before that, Wang Tian Feng races Ming Tai on horseback, letting him win deliberately. Okay, I don't understand this either. Why is Wang so kind to him? As soon as Ming Tai reaches the school's gates, Guo tells him he is going on a secret mission to Hong Kong with Man Li. Who is so happy about this! On the plane, where Ming Tai is rather broody, she tells him that killing people is very hard. She understands.
She certainly has loosened up, hasn't she? I didn't get the part about letting him win, really...and the look on his face of almost fatherly pride continues to trip me up. I'm content to assume that he DOES like Ming Tai - being tough on him doesn't preclude that - but I just keep feeling like there should be another shoe dropping at some point.
I do think that Wang genuinely has a soft spot for him, but maybe he's being nice because he knows that this mission is the point of no return for Ming Tai. Ming Tai's broodiness seems to be because he knows this just suddenly got real. Like really real. 
Big Sis has arrived in Hong Kong and is taken to the hotel by a guy Ah Cheng has sent. Only, she does not want to go to the hotel, but to the university right away to see her Ming Tai ... who has just arrived himself and is BEHIND his sister due to some flight delay. He and Man Li get changed on the backseat of a car, while Lin drives like a madman, taking them through some shortcuts.
I like Lin, I think.
Me too. For me it's residual liking from Nirvana in Fire because he's one of Su's besties. 

Ming Tai manages to make it onto campus seconds before his sister, but only because Man Li, posing as student, delays Big Sis by bumping into her. Great fun: there's a chain of people on the campus whispering instructions to Ming Tai - who has never before set foot on this campus! - Mission Impossible style. Funny moment: when they tell Ming Tai somebody has been signing his attendance sheet "every day" and he goes "every day??" (thinking: you idiots).
I loved this! When spying and capers mix :)
So fun! And dang, Hu Ge looks amazing in blue! Thank you stylists!
The reunion between brother and sister is sweet, Ming Tai is delighted to see her and swirls her around and she is delighted to see him, immediately fussing about him. He complains about pretty much everything, which he totally would, wouldn't he. The mission is so well prepared, haha, there are even three student "friends" of his, telling Big Sis things like "Ming Tai is particularly well liked here". The student-brat personality comes naturally to him, lol.
Look at his face. Look at his face! I'm a big sister, too. I would adore Ming Tai, too. I totally get why Ming Ling dotes on him.
Ah! How does Hu Ge pull off this cute adorableness, and still manages the whole sexy thing. #impressed No wonder he won an award for this drama. 
She brings him a new windbreaker and then vents about his big brother and how he prefers to be part of the new government instead of helping her with the family business. That his brother is working for the Japanese comes as a surprise and likely shock to Ming Tai - but he also expresses faith in Lou who, so he believes, most likely just wants to rebuild Shanghai's economy.
Awwww, brotherly solidarity.
Wait, something I wondered about in this episode is how much Ming Tai knows about his brother's involvement in spy games. He knows that he tried to rescue him, but does he know that Wang and Ming Lou have a history. 
Still very irritated, Sister Ming Ling says that Ming Tai's fate is to be a scholar - he is not allowed to get involved in politics! Yeah, sure ...... (wow, I now much better understand what Ah Chang and Ming Lou were afraid of in relation to her when they first learned about Ming Tai's kidnapping!) He tells her though that he does not really want to study - Hong Kong is just too much of a mess. The  electricity and water restrictions really bother him and he hasn't been able to wash his hair for days! Since he has no classes in the afternoon, she wants to take him back to her hotel, will let him have a nice bath and then will take him to dinner afterwards.
In retrospect, SO MUCH of this was so smoothly done. Far more than we realized.
Ming Tai is a natual spy. Dang. This family and their spy games. 
They arrive at the "Royal Hotel" (in passing, he is checking out the surroundings) and Ming Ling gives Ming Tai the keys to the room, to go up and wash, since she has other business to attend to. She'll be back for dinner! He is quite curious about that suitcase his sister is not letting out of her sight and kicks it "by accident", getting a strong reaction out of her. Earlier, Lou and Ah Cheng mentioned that she is travelling to Hong Kong with a suitcase full of gold. That must be it.
If that suitcase were full of gold I don't think she could lift it.
Yeah, unless it was faerie gold. Hu Ge. So cute. So lovable. 
Haha, yeah, I wanted to make a comment about her weight-lifting work-out
On the way to his sister's room, Man Li passes him by in the corridor, dressed like a maid, pressing  a message into his hand. There's another key inside with instructions to get started when the phone rings. He puts on the new coat and checks out a window across the street. The phone rings.
SO SMOOTH. At the time, I merely thought - right, like she'd even know he was in the hallway at that exact moment. Forget the hallway, people. The HOTEL.
Ack! This show, can we count it as a cardio-vascular workout? My heart rate is certainly raised while watching.
Ming Tai starts moving, downstairs, and into the other room. Once inside, he checks for a weapon and finds it in no time - it's under the bed. He loads and checks it and goes to the window to open it. That other window across the street is still closed. He readies the gun and aims.
I can't imagine how he must feel.
Ack! Ming Tai. I feel for him. 
Across the street, Man Li pretends to be a maid again and brings fruit into Polish Eagle's room. It's 3:37pm and the set-designers should get many, many rewards just for this hotel interior. Man Li opens the curtains and the window - a short nod towards her partner. All is ready. She walks away and there is the target, now in Ming Tai's sight. 
So ridiculously perfect.
Well Ah Cheng, master assassin did help set things up, so that's maybe part of the smoothness. 
But Ming Tai begins to panic. He ducks, underneath the window, trying to finds his composure. He gets up and goes for his second attempt - aim. Polish Eagle is told they need to leave in three minutes. Sweat is dripping down Ming Tai's face, onto his hand. Man Li's words from the plane echo in his mind. Killing is hard ... he can't do it. 
Well, he has to do it, or he'll be dead and the drama will end.
My heart just ached at this scene. Ming Tai. He's standing on a cliff's edge and he has to jump. 
Man Li has rushed outside and is joining Lin in the car. Ming Tai has two minutes to shoot, she tells him ... will he be able to do it? Now, Polish Eagle gets up to leave, and Ming Tai jumps up as well. He pulls the trigger and ... nothing happens. What, did the bullet get jammed?! Anyway, he loads again, aims ... but the Japanese official has already walked out of his sight. Slow down, my heart.
Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeet! I'm trying so hard not to bite my nails at this point, I think I sat on my hands.
Ack! This drama. So intense. I care so much for him. I don't want him to shoot, but I want the mission to succeed. Eek! 
Ming Tai runs out, hiding the gun underneath his new coat. His two accomplices in the car realize that time has run out and that Ming Tai has failed - they decide to kill the Polish Eagle on the street, when he walks out, and start walking towards the hotel entrance , guns ready but hidden. Ming Tai is still running (down some stairs that look quite a bit like the stairs that Ah Cheng walked down in episode 1) (I am 99% sure it's the same hotel) and ends up on a ledge-balcony, overlooking the street. Polish Eagle steps out of the hotel. Ming Tai takes position. Lin and Man Li lift their guns, ready to kill ... but it's Ming Tai who fires. Polish Eagle is dead.
So nerve-wracking. If it's like this for us watching, imagine how the character felt!
Ming Tai. He needs a hug. And probably a stiff shot of something alcoholic. 
Back in his sister's hotel room, Ming Tai is violently sick. When his sister returns (from dropping off the gold to a contact of hers), he is fast asleep, clutching the chain of the pocket watch he got from his mother. Ming Ling flips it open and memories start flooding her... of a day in 1922, when a woman, a little boy by her side, jumped in front of a speeding car to push away two young adults, and died in their stead. They gave the boy the name "Ming Tai" and took him in.
I was completely shocked. Were you?
Crap! I was NOT expecting that. At all. 
Ming Tai wakes up when Ming Ling starts sobbing and runs out. She can't fool him, he sees immediately that she's been crying. But she does not want to admit it and he lets it be, and they get ready for dinner together (he secures another bottle of Ming perfume). After dinner, they walk through empty streets (the car following close behind at walking speed) and Ming Ling gives her baby brother many tips - it's a long goodbye. Ming Tai tells her to take care of herself - the war is near.
I wonder if he remembers. He must, he knows that the woman in his locket is his mother.
Oh Ming Tai. I was pretty emotional at this point of the drama. Ming Tai. Ming Tai. I am glad that we are at least seeing a softer side of Ming Jing - albeit wracked somewhat by guilt for being alive because Ming Tai's mother died to save her. That is a complicated relationship right there. 
In Shanghai, Ming Lou gets word that the mission was a success. There is no going back for Ming Tai now, says his brother with a heavy heart. He will be always living in the darkness. All they ever wanted was to keep him away from war and intrigue - but now, they have tainted him forever.
How are they so aware of this?  How did he get it so that it was Ming Tai? Why did it 'have' to be Ming Tai, anyway?
Well Ming Tai had to be seen as living in Hong Kong by Sis, and so the obvious choice was to have Ming Tai be the agent to fulfill the mission. I think Ming Lou feels genuinely bad about involving Ming Tai, but there is a war, and he has expressed earlier, why shouldn't it be his brother helping to fight the war and not someone else's brother. It's cold, but it's war. My heart hurts. 
In Hong Kong, Big Sis once again expresses her heartfelt wish that Ming Tai can just study, and does not have to feel the weight of the world, ever. "Sister", he begins, "I..." he can't say it when he sees her face, so he says he will listen to her words. She expresses deep worry again over Ming Lou, whom she can't read and who seems changed so much. Ming Tai tells her not to worry, he will talk to their brother and reason with him.
He probably feels like he's a tougher guy than his brother, now. More worldly.
I'm still confused as to how much he knows his brother is involved. 
I'm pretty sure he knows nothing
And then, it's time to say goodbye ... before getting into the car, she turns back with a sigh and tells him: "I know that both me and Ming Lou cannot substitute for your parents. You are still thinking about them. Don't worry. I have never forgotten to look for your father." If he should ever come back, she will let him go. *sniff*
For a bit, I thought maybe they had the same mother but a different father, but no, it seems they really aren't related at all. You know, why would a woman with a child rush into the street to save two grown up strangers? I thought they MUST be her kids, too, but I guess not.
Maybe Wang is his father? Birth secrets? I've been watching too much Korean drama. 
In all honesty, that theory? It's stuck in my mind ever since learning he is not a real Ming
She gets into the car, crying, and the car leaves .... a few seconds pass and then, Ming Tai unfreezes and starts running after the car, shouting "sister!" over and over. The car disappears from his sight - it's too fast. "Sister", Ming Tai sobs, "forgive me". Goddamn, where are my tissues.
Ahhhh, such an emotional scene. I was crying too, of course. The weight of it has to be even more since he knows this woman took him in and loved him unconditionally - she didn't have to do that.
Yeah. I was crying. Everything about it. I'm not sure I'm going to survive all the pain and heartache. This drama already has me heart and soul. This production/acting/writing group knows what's up. 

Comments

Ming Tai has killed and the world has become a little darker. I don't know what makes me sadder, that his brother knows he is to blame for this or that his sister has no clue and just wants to keep this boy away from the darkness in the world. So much guilt on both sides... on his sister's part for living, when his mother died for her and on his brother's part for using this creature of light to bring more darkness. And on Ming Tai's part for lying to his sister, who has a heavy heart and worries about all of them, all the time. I don't want to be there when she finds out he has become an assassin.
I look back at this now and things are so much more clear, mission-wise. The emotions of it kept me from asking too many questions, I think. For those wondering...I do still prefer this to Nirvana in Fire. Everything matters. Every word, every action. And for me, the emotional stakes are higher, faster. I'm so invested!
I know that secretly, deep down, I am an idealist, and it hurts to see light disappear in the wed of darkness that is war. I want a universe where Ming Tai grows up with his mother and father and that bright boy doesn't get caught up in all of this. Unfortunately life is not a bed of roses, and we must all walk a while in darkness, but I hope that for Ming Tai, in the end there will be some light. 

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