10 November 2015


The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 8 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on November 10, 2015
Ming Tai spreads his wings in this episode, but not to fly away, but to go and settle in Shanghai to be what he was trained for: a spy. Before that happens, we're going through some intense psycho terror first, trademark Wang. What's UP with Wang? He is insane, really, and insanely emotional, too. Anyway, another super strong episode. Do we only get strong episodes?! Seems like it.
JoAnne: I'm not going to complain. I loved this episode. It brought back a lot of memories for me and felt very real, so keep on bringing it, Disguiser team!
dewaanifordrama: LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this episode. And that is the screenshot I was hoping you would choose to start the post Kakashi. You read my mind! You are amazing! 

Episode 8

A sad Ming Tai returns to his spy-colleagues' car. They seem to think he is broody because of his first kill and he does not correct them. Just when Lin starts the engine, a figure appears in the otherwise empty street. Man Li's eyes grow as wide as saucers when she recognizes him and she jumps out, following the man .... knife ready. It is her foster father (the one who sold her when she was 14)!! Ming Tai and Lin have to physically restrain her, that's how eager she is to kill him, shouting that this is fate, a heaven's gift. Finally, Ming Tai rips the knife out of her hand and says he will do it in her stead.
It says something about Wang that I just assume he did this and that it's a test.
Ooh. I didn't think of that, but now that you mention it, I can totally see it! 
Turning a corner, he finds the man talking to two policemen, saying there's a man with a knife who is following him. The police officers turn on Ming Tai, who starts to slowly back off ... but they're too close and too eager to see what he is hiding (the knife), so he attacks! This is not good, not good ... Ming Tai tries to follow the fleeing foster father, but one of the police officers calls for reinforcement with his whistle.
See? He knew that Ming Tai would be following him.
Ack! Not good at all! Hu Ge looks fabulous though in that coat with the scarf. 
Sirens blaring behind them, the three make it out in time, but Lin (he is very angry) makes it clear that he will have to report this to Commander Wang - both disregarded military orders. "How much?" Ming Tai asks. Meaning: how much money does Lin want to keep quiet? Lin says it has nothing to do with money, but Ming Tai still puts a few notes on his shoulder. They continue in silence afterwards.
He needs to stop believing that money solves all problems, and fast.
Um, Ming Tai, do you really think he's not going to tell Wang? Come on kiddo. 
From the military, Man Li and Ming Tai receive medals and a promotion, and Man Li is pardoned from death-row (that's good news!). They're so proud and happy ... until they face Wang Tian Feng back in their mountain hideaway. He is eating noodles, hardly looks at them, and says he heard they tried to bribe his chief of staff --  who happens to be a military committee member. OUPS.
But they still got the awards and rewards, so he must have thought they did okay despite the bribe.
Yeah. I wonder sometimes if Ming Tai has received enough "these are the rules in the military" training. 
He continues eating and then wipes his mouth with his handkerchief and I don't know how he does it, but it is super menacing! Ming Tai reacts by ripping off his medal and the insignia of his new rank, wordlessly putting them on the table. Wang is still calm. He says they did good in their mission. But it seems they are not clear about the fact that behind it, there are countless people that made sure that they would succeed. Their promotion is thanks to their efforts. And now, his voice becomes faster and angrier. It's fine that Ming Tai has no regard for them. But he disobeyed military orders when he was on the front line? Is he dumb?!
It's an important lesson they need to learn early. Just because they're working 'alone' doesn't mean they're working alone. 
Obedience is paramount in the military and I completely understand why Wang is so angry. (Hu Ge was so handsome in this scene)
Ming Tai starts explaining about the foster father they saw, he deserved death and he wanted to kill him, for the heavens. Oh, did he now? Wang asks. Does he know what it means to disobey orders in battle? It means death. Ming Tai is shocked, but remains silent. Wang walks over to Man Li and pulls out a picture ... of her foster father. If she can't shake off her past memory, she is worth nothing here. And at both, he screams: if they make mistakes, they deserve to die. But their behavior will also cost many others their lives and that is unacceptable!
Every thing they do puts everyone at risk, whether they're on the scene or not. Once again, he has valued Yu Man Li above everyone else - and there's a part of me that understands that, but also a part of me that knows that he needs to be harder than that or he risks everyone. It's why Wang can do terrible things to them even though he likes them - because there's more at stake than JUST them.
It is of great credit to Liu Yi Jun's acting that as insanely off the rails he gets, he is still so logical and clear and he makes complete sense. As much as I feel for the compassion Ming Tai has, and I find it admirable, he needs to learn that he's part of a bigger picture. He's chosen to stay and he has to understand all the risks and not just compulsively follow his heart, however much we love him for it.
To Man Li he says she is hurting too much because of her past. Her partner will become a compassionate fool because of her. She brings danger to him - and his death is all her doing. And he pulls out his gun!!!! Fuck you, Wang! He slams it on the table, and now, Ming Tai breaks and starts babbling, finding excuses for both their behaviors, but Wang just tells him for what seems the hundredth time that he endangered everyone and might have exposed his identity and that THIS IS IT. He must die.
It seems harsh... but at what point do you stop giving chances? Do they let it go until he DOES get someone killed? What if nothing happens right now, but six months from now someone puts two and two together and their entire operation is uncovered and people are killed then? What if they can't trace it back to him? It's still his fault.
This scene. Forget a cardio-vascular workout, this is a frickin' IronMan training session judging from my heart rate increase. Even just thinking about this scene again gets me tense and nervous! 
But it's not just shoot and kill with this perfidious man ... no, he tells them that one will carry out the execution, the other one dies. The choice is theirs. "Go!" he shouts and both of them jump to the table, Ming Tai seconds faster, he pushes her away, grabs the gun ... and puts it to his head. Any final words? Wang asks. "Yu Man Li", Ming Tai says, "you must live well. Let go of the past". And: "Big Brother, Big Sister, I am sorry!" And he pulls the trigger.
This puzzled me a little, their choices. Wouldn't you think that Ming Tai, with his compassionate and protective nature, would have opted for the front line?  Rather than have Yu Man Li endure horrible conditions for weeks or months and then probably die anyway?  In the end, I decided that he chose the way he did because there was a chance she could live.
I think that was it, to give her a chance to live. Even though I knew that there's no way Ming Tai could die this early in the drama, there was a moment where I actually believed that he was going to die. Seriously, just looking at that gif and my heart rate increases. 
"Congrats, you have graduated", says Wang, the BIGGEST DICK IN THE WORLD - there was no bullet in the gun. What an abusive fuck! This was about teaching him willigness to sacrifice. Ming Tai is now ready.
He is, but I bet it was effective. You can't fake that kind of situation - a person has to go through it for real. In survival training, when they drop you off in the wilderness, they don't stash rations for you in case you get hungry, or extra clothes for the cold. When the 'enemy' captures you, they really do hit you and subject you to mind games. Even if some tiny part of your brain still manages to hang on to the fact that you're probably not going to get killed...a big part of your brain is occupied with maintaining control even in pain and fear and exhaustion, and there are going to be times you forget that this isn't real, because it IS real, up to a point. Some people crumple under the pressure. They don't get to try again. (No, I didn't go to Survival School. I knew quite a few who did. Fewer who completed it.) 
Can we just have world peace already? No more messing with anyone's heads please. Even though Wang is harsh and on the psychotic side, the man is effective. He's damn good at his job and you can tell that Ming Tai is now ready to take on the responsibility of being a spy. 
Breathtakingly handsome this one
But Wang isn't quite done yet. He puts the magazine into the gun (geeeeee, I'm getting nervous) and asks Man Li whether she feels qualified to be Ming Tai's partner. Put the gun down, you horrible man! She says nothing, so he says he'll answer for her: she is NOT qualified. Because she has a devil in her heart, hatred, that will be the death of her and him if she cannot get rid of it. Now is her chance to remove the devil. And in they bring ... her foster father!!
See? It had to be a set up.
Yeah, there was too much coincidence for it to be anything other than a set up. Wang. He's brilliant. A little off the rails, but brilliant. 
Friggin YES it was all Wang's doing ... AGAIN
There are ten bullets, enough to kill him ten times, Wang continues. Kill him! Kill him! And as the horrible things this man has done to her blame in her head and Wang urges her to pull the trigger, Man Li fires ... but not into this person's head. Into the ceiling. And then, she falls on her knees and sobs and sobs. Congrats, recruit. You've graduated too. This was about getting over her hate.
Because, I think, he was someone she had loved. Her strongest emotion was sadness and feeling betrayed, not hating him.
Geesh! This episode. I am so glad that Man Li figured out what she had to do. The trauma of her past is a terrible thing to bear and she will carry those scars her whole life, but she has to let go of her hate for her to have a chance of life. And that Ming Tai and her turn to each other and he gently holds her hands. This is a formidable partnership. There doesn't have to be any romance necessarily, these two are a team. I also had to pause after this scene. It was so intense. 
Outside, Wang has the decency to be shaken too - he admits to Guo that Ming Tai is exceptional. And they're going to go to Shanghai right away. Guo included. And thus, Ming Tai receives the code name "Poison Scorpion" and becomes a Team Leader.  
Guo is going to work for him? Hmm.
Yeah, I'm sure Wang has another agenda with that too.

At the Ming Mansion, Ah Cheng is painting and Ming Lou makes fun of him. OMG THEY'RE CUTE. They're quite happy their Big Sister isn't around (haha) and talk about how much they enjoy the quietness. Well, not that quiet, because before long, Commissioner Liang calls. For Ah Cheng. Cargo of his is being held back - it seems there's opium involved. What now, Mr. Liang, are you smuggling? He offers Ah Cheng 1%, he just laughs. They finally settle on a 30-70% split. Well done, spy boy.
Too freaking cute, these two.
Ack! *dies of cuteness* every time I think I can't love Wang Kai anymore, then they do things like this. When he looks over at Ming Lou while telling Liang that he'll be skinned alive if Ming Lou finds out - and the smiles they interchange, dead. I tell you dead. Deadly-sexy-adorable spies these two.
Wonder what he sees to make him smile like that, Kakashi? Me!
Ming Tai and Wang Tian Feng watch Man Li burn the photo of her foster father from afar and Wang says she can let go of her hatred now and forget about the past. He now understands that he gives the students he loves more the most pain, Ming Tai remarks. "Do you hate me?", Wang asks. Ming Tai smiles and says: "I fear you a little."
He should, because affection for Ming Tai won't stop Wang from doing what he believes he has to do.
These two have such a fascinating dynamic. Like I want them to be friends but I also wish Ming Tai had never met Wang and gotten roped into this.
Ming Tai adds that he'll miss the school and will think about the people once in a while - but not about Wang. Awwww, hug already you two!
Look at those smiley faces.  I love that feeling of closeness you have with someone after sharing a tough experience.
I felt really sad in this scene. I feel sorry for Wang and the haunted nights he must face. In another life things could have been so different. 
They start walking and Commander Wang expresses his sadness over the countless students he had to forge into iron, because they were born into the wrong era. All good students. His heart is also warm, he says. And while he is not particularly proud of his extreme teaching methods, he also knows that fear is the beginning of death. As soon as he will walk out those doors, shit will get real. Death will become his bed partner. The only skill an excellent spy needs is to not be afraid of death. And to not believe anyone besides himself.
Oh? Nothing about not letting personal emotion interfere with the mission?
Oh Wang, you bastard, I can't help but like you. 
He then takes off his old battered watch, winds it up, cleans it and gives it to Ming Tai. This scene makes me cry.... Wang asks whether Ming Tai has something for him, too (he has heard he had a suit made in Hong Kong according to his measurements) but Ming Tai pretends he does not want to give it to his Teacher anymore. "Fine", says Wang, "remember: in the future, don't be caught by me".
"Teacher!" Ming Tai calls after him, "can we still meet in the future?"
"Perhaps", Wang answers, not turning around, "but it might be a question who dies and who lives then".
"Then let's not meet again".
That got me.
Oof. Me too. 
But when Wang has taken a few more steps, Ming Tai shouts: "Teacher! Farewell!" and salutes.
*holding back tears here* the watch scene has me even more convinced that he's his father. Or at least we have a parallel with Ming Tai having the watch from his mother, and now a watch from someone who in many ways is a father figure to him. 
In Wang's room, next to Ming Tai's and Man Li's uniforms, there's the suit Ming Tai had made for him and a farewell letter. Wang seems sad for a moment ... then he sits down, and assigns Ming Tai to the "Death Project".
I sort of think the equivalent would be Suicide Squad.
My heart. Will we need therapy after finishing this drama? 
Guo, Ming Tai and Man Li take residence in a photography studio, where Man Li goes gaga over the pretty wardrobe she has and Ming Tai totally enjoys being Guo's superior. Guo on the other hand ... well, he is clearly there to keep an eye on Ming Tai, but how does he feel about him? I'm not sure. The apartment they live in is paid by Wang ... or so Guo claims. But Ming Tai isn't fooled. Wang's salary isn't high enough for this, so somebody else must be behind it. Yup, and I can easily guess who. 
Kakashi, we really were fools.
Ming Tai is too smart to be fooled and I think it's dangerous to keep him in the dark about his brother.
At the government building, Ming Lou meets Teng Tian Fang Zheng (Hirata Yasuyuki), from the Japanese High Intelligence Agency. He wants to discuss intel stuff - and for Lou to become "Japanese Empire's Eagle's claws". Hmm, nope, says Ming Lou - that's taking things a bit too far. Teng Tian explodes in anger and tells him his future depends on him, the military - and he will reconsider whether the current position is justified. Ah, but not so hasty, Ming Lou answers: there are other ways to cooperate very effectively...
He has never looked more handsome, my Ming Lou.
He is rather dashing indeed. 


Let the spy-life begin! I'm excited. They will look so pretty! And a bit scared, because shit just got real and this world is a dangerous one indeed. How long before Ming Tai will run into people he knows in Shanghai? What kind of trouble will he get into?
Right?  I'm wondering how he explains to his sister that he's no longer in Hong Kong.  It's bound to come up. And if he's not in Hong Kong but in Shanghai, why isn't he living at home?
Spy games commence! This is just going to get even more intense. 

I'm also a bit sad that we had to say farewell to Wang ... will we see him again? Most likely, but probably not for a while, and I will miss him! I'm absolutely in awe of Liu Yi Jun's performance in this. It's flawless. And him and Hu Ge played off each other so darn well ... so much emotion with so few words. 
Yes, they were fantastic together. Liu Yi Jun was so VERY good at saying one thing with his mouth and another with his expression, in particular.
Liu Yi Jun was phenomenal. This production team has done an amazing job with casting. That can really make or break a production. I'm just so impressed. 

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