The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 21 (Recap)

Yeah, shit. This episode drops a bomb on Ming Tai, which leaves him in that very uncomfortable place between a rock and a hard place, both trip-wired with deadly explosives. Any choice will cost somebody's life, so how will you make such a decision?! In addition, there is some excitement about Big Sis, who suddenly is in danger and I tell you, I am GLAD I am not one of the Ming siblings. Too stressful. Far too stressful. But at least they're all so damn good looking.
Honestly, I sat here for this episode and the next just thinking how on EARTH could anyone make a decision in Ming Tai's position, and believing whole-heartedly that he'd find some way NOT to. I should have known better.
Eleanor: This episode. I needed heart pills during and after it. Like big time. Holy crap. 

Episode 21

Ming Tai is on Scott Road! He is checking out the apartments he was told to rent for his Communist girlfriend. But what is this? Even though he has not been told anything about the details of the operation, he seems to suspect something, as he checks how far apart the two apartments are, and then mimics holding a gun. Later, he passes Jinyun on the street and presses the keys into her hand in secret. 
Well even I, complete non-assassin that I am, would have thought the same thing. What's the other option? So best friends can wave at each other across the road? Ming Tai didn't have to be a genius to put this together.
Haha. The director just wanted him to cooly open the curtains and window and look all suave in his leather coat. That's the only reason they had this scene. JK. 
In the morning, as they get ready to go to work, Ah Cheng and Ming Lou act some more for Auntie Gui. Ming Lou even mentions kicking Ah Cheng out of the house! (Ah Cheng later mentions to his bro that they might be overdoing it - I agree! but Ming Lou says they don't have a lot of time, they need to go full-out). Lone Wolf writes to Minamida that there is strife in the house and that Ah Cheng has valuable information he would be willing to sell. He is after a big sum of money so that he can leave the Mings. Minamida snarks at that - leave? Like she'll ever let that happen. 
These women...they have no idea. But we know, at least: you can't play a player.
It's so fun watching them play out their plan in front of Lone Wolf. I hope she falls for it hook line and sinker. She deserves taking down big time. It's not even the spy stuff I care about, it's the abusing Ah Cheng part that really makes me angry. 
Uh-oh, now Operation Nantian aka "The Hunt" seems to be starting in earnest... guns and bullets are all set, Officer Li and his men are coming to town, Ah Cheng will tell Minamida that Wasp has contacted him. And there is news about that Communist traitor: he will be operated on the coming Thursday. Which means: they have two days. THEY ARE CRAZY! They want to go after two targets at the same time?!
Yes, Ah Cheng. You should look a little sobered by this. Next time, remember:  if it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it.
I still totally think that Ming Lou kind of wanted this to happen and let him pick up the watch and keep it. This plan is too carefully thought out for Ming Lou to have JUST come up with it. But I'm really loving the tension. It makes for some really entertaining viewing. 
Cut to HSBC Bank. Manchun's female spy-bank employee exchanges glances with a guy in a bowler hat ... she has a customer. Who wants to open box No. 231. Which is... Ming Jing's box! Nooooooooooo.... Manchun is called in and hastens to the bank. Luckily, Ming Lou has planted a spy near Manchun as well! Can you guess who it is? Zhu Hui Yin, the intel officer with the lovely braids! She seems to be the phone operator for Division 76, which means she can listen in on ANY phone call made from and to Manchun's office. I LOVE THIS.
Spies on spies on spies. I'm dizzy.
At first I was like, wait, she's a good spy, right? Which was then quickly confirmed. I really hate her in Nirvana in Fire, so I have to remember she's good here. Haha. 
She quickly calls Ah Cheng, posing as a phone call from the bank, and uses coded language to warn him about what is going to happen at the bank. Ah Cheng manages to keep a completely straight face and he only starts running when nobody can see him, into Ming Lou's office. Using a phone there, he calls the Ming Residence. The servant Ah Xiang answers - but Big Sis is not in, she left for Suzhou City with Auntie Gui. Luckily, Little Master is in, currently trying to hang up Ah Cheng's painting. The "it is urgent" gets him moving towards the phone in relative speed.
Is the person leaving something for Jing, or picking something up? She's with Auntie Gui - seems like if she went to the bank it would be an issue regardless.
The person is picking something up I believe. This whole scene. *bites finger nails*
Ah Cheng does not lose a second and blurts out that Sis is in big trouble! Her safety box was opened by one of her "friends", who is now being followed by Division 76 agents. Ming Tai is to go to the bank immediately to make the intelligence agency believe that he, Ming Tai, made somebody open the safety deposit box behind his sister's back, with a key he stole. Ming Tai gets it immediately and rushes out.
They do think quickly, these boys. Very strong improvisational skills.
They do indeed. I love how Ming Tai doesn't hesitate and gets into spy mode. I'm also super glad that Ah Cheng asked him (I know he didn't have another choice) because it means we are one giant step closer to the Ming bros being able to be spies together, right?
As he drives there, he repeats his instructions over and over and makes sure his story is foolproof. Ah Cheng is also moving ... lying to Secretary Li about picking up some cleaned clothes for Officer Ming. In the meantime, Ming Tai has arrived at the bank, just in time! The mister is coming down the stairs with the spy-banker and steps outside. Ming Tai follows ... and so does Manchun's man.
And here we pause for a moment to allow our hearts to catch up, but also for the proper appreciation of our Kakashi's giffing skills.
*breathe Eleanor breathe* Kakashi needs to win an award. 
Luckily, the Communist is alert enough to realize he is being followed. He chats up some pretty random person (I'm not even sure he knows him? :) on the street before hurrying on, which cause the Division 76 men to arrest that dude. This in turn buys Mr. Communist some time to hide in an alley and pull a gun on Ming Tai, when he keeps following him. Nobody holds a gun to Ming Tai's chest for long though... he disarms the Communist and quickly introduces himself as member of the Ming family and describes their current predicament.
It was my impression that the poor man had NO idea who Mr. Communist was, and it made me laugh.
Oh he didn't. It was hilarious to see him so flustered. Smart move to do that. Poor man though that he had to get arrested.
He leads the Communist to a café ... the secret agents quickly surround the place. Ming Tai lets the Communist know that they can no longer use this safe and that he needs the seal. Bowler Hat agent comes in ... the Communist is just walking away, asking for the restroom. All his things are with Ming Tai - who is just ordering steak - so Bowler Hat quietly takes position at the bar. Of course, Mr. Communist is NOT just going to the restroom - he is actually going there and jumps out of the window.
That looked very painful. Can we push Trainwreck out of a window?
I hope he can get away because that looked like a serious break or sprain. Ouch. 
Outside, Manchun arrives and is told by her men that it is two men now, one looks like a "rich kid".  Manchun's happy Yay-I-Can-Torture-Someone-Soon smiles is wiped off her face when she sees who it is.
I can never decide if I love this woman or hate her. I know I feel bad for her when it comes to Ming Lou, so I'm guessing I don't actually hate her.
I definitely feel sorry for her, but I also don't love her. She is such a great character though. And always looks so gorgeous and has lovely clothes. 
Her agents suddenly realize that the second man has been gone a bit too long and go check the toilet ... empty, of course. When Ming Tai hears that "he ran", he plays surprised and stammers: "Who ran?" He then frantically checks the guy's bag and declares, in mounting panic-mode, that his money was stolen. When he jumps up, Manchun barks at him to sit his ass back down. 
Even if they're in a panic about keeping Ming Jing under cover it must be kind of fun to fool Manchun.
Haha. Indeed. Also, Ming Tai is so good at being super awesome spy the one minute and then bratty, rich kid the next. 
Ming Tai claims he does not know who the man with him was, he simply played poker with him. Awwww, Manchun! Don't be so harsh to poor little Ming Tai, can't you see how bewildered he is?
After a bit more pressure, he admits he is short on money and sent this guy to get some out of his sister's safety box. He had this great plan to play poker with it, pay his debts and put it back afterwards. Of course, Ming Tai is terrified of the consequences if he is found out.
It's disturbing how convincing of a weak spineless brat he can be.
It's the perfect cover for being a spy. No one will suspect him ever. 
Manchun does not yet believe him - she tells him to hand over seal and key and takes him to the bank, where she opens the safety box herself. There is money, gold and other valuables; nothing is in the least suspicious.
So then does Ming Tai have what the guy took, or did he leave something and it's not obvious?
Yeah, I want to know too! Please tell us show! 
She says she'll call Ah Cheng to pick him up, Ming Tai is terrified. Thus, Ah Cheng comes ... and Ming Tai gets a scolding and Manchun an apology. The situation is saved! Do spies go to acting school too? Ming Tai is mighty pleased with himself - and curious. Who owes him a favor, is it Big Sis or Big Bro? He starts fishing for info about who works for whom, but Ah Cheng cuts him short.
Just TELL him, already.
I love how Ah Cheng gets a kick out of scolding Ming Tai. haha. I love how the Ming bros love Big Sis so much and put their spy skills to good use in situations like these. 
After dropping Ming Tai off at the house - the brat tells him that Big Sis' car is still near the bank - Ah Cheng packs some shovels into the back of his car. Uh-oh... Manchun's little bank-spy Xiao Jin? She is no longer among the living.
That was a bit chilling, wasn't it?
Yeah. More than a little. A gruesome reminder that spying and war and intrigue is not for those afraid of killing. It made me quite sad actually. 
At the new government, a flock of secretaries is hovering around the door, trying to hear Manchun and Ming Lou fight. He is VERY unhappy about what just happened and even more unhappy when Manchun openly accuses his sister of being a Communist. But it's all for his own good! Manchun declares. Well, if she continues like this, says Ming Lou, his family will lose everything. Poor Manchun is confused ... she really wants the best for him.
He's never, ever going to be grateful to you for risking his family, Manchun.
Yeah, she should really have thought that through a little more. 
In some alleyway, Ah Cheng (love the glasses, you sex-beast!) meets with Officer Lin ... who has bad news. He is alone because his team was killed or captured by Japanese soldiers on the way to Shanghai. He is out, he cannot be in on Operation Nantian/"The Hunt"! Which means .... Team Poison Scorpion has to step in (while he licks his wound and tries to find out where his comrades are kept prisoner).
Bad timing, or a betrayal?
I don't know, but I think I need some more heart pills. And Ah Cheng, baby, please wear those glasses more often. 
Okay, this is BAD news. Delaying the operation really is not an option, because Ah Cheng put his head on the line when he said he would deliver Wasp within a week. Also, that traitor in the hospital, he is a real liability. If the operation is a success and he recovers, the whole Shanghai underground operation is in jeopardy. Ming Lou and Ah Cheng's oh shit faces:
And thus, team "Poison Scorpion" is activated. Man Li is manning the telegraph when the telegram comes in. When she reads the instructions, her beautiful face shows utter shock.
We've confirmed that neither she nor Guo realize that Ming Lou is a double-agent, right?
I don't think she does, but I'm not so sure about Guo. He's rather enigmatic still. 
She requests a meeting with Ming Tai shortly after ... outside, away from Guo. They haven't seen each other in quite a long time at this stage, haven't they? Anyway, he notices that something is up with her and then, she blurts out: "Ming Tai, let's leave". She wants to run away, far away, disappear, become someone else. He does not compute. And indeed, out of context, she sounds completely insane.
I can't stop thinking about what one commenter proposed: one of the reasons he'd never fall for her is that she's 'used goods.' My poor Kitten.
Ming Tai, run away with Kitten. Run, run as fast as you can. That telegram can not have been good.
He turns to walk away when she shouts after him: "I love you!"
Hmmmm, Man Li. Didn't you just recently say that would mean farewell? Well, it stops him alright. She says she knows they can never be together, but I guess it just needed out? He is still very confused, but gentleman enough to turn to her and attempt an answer. With little success. She starts kinda blaming him for being so nice to her, for saving her, for treating her so well, even though he never loved her. No, this is not how you do it, Man Li. But we forgive you.
What did she think that would accomplish? Does she figure whatever it is that she's afraid to tell him will get them killed so she might as well say it now? Or do you think she figures when he learns what she already knows...he'll run?
I think that whatever is in that telegram is something she wants to save him from and she is so desperate that she will sacrifice ever seeing him again to save him. She loves him so desperately and fiercely. I adore her. So much. 
They're war comrades, he finally says, partners. Nothing more and nothing less. Of course he would give his life for her. If she just called him here to speak about love matters, he is sorry, but he has no time. But no. That is not it. This is about the telegraph she received yesterday. Dun-dun.
Oh but he has plenty of time for Lump.
He is still being polite and kind despite this confession which may quite seriously alter their professional relationship. He really should have told her earlier. He did totally check her out the first time he met her. He felt something at least. 
The order? WTF! Attack Ming Lou's car and kill him. Him, Ming Tai, personally. THIS IS CRAZY!!!! It's an order, Man Li whispers. And we all know what it means to disobey an order, don't we? Friggin hell. Ming Tai, what will you do??!!
Well, fuck.
Um. Where are those heart pills?
First of all, sit on some steps completely floored. Why, why why?! What is he to do? He can execute the order ... or he can get executed himself. Or, as she suggested earlier ... run away with her and try to disappear. Or run away alone. Just run away!
Run, Ming Tai, run!
I still have no idea what to make of this order. It has to make sense. It has to make sense, right? Right? What the hell is going on!?
Ah Cheng goes to see Minamida and requests a meeting under four eyes. He has juicy news ... right on the deadline. Wasp has agreed to a meeting. Tomorrow. Ah Cheng reports this to Ming Lou and also tells him that Scorpion desperately wants to speak to the Cobra. Ming Lou comments drily that it seems his little bro has an issue with killing him. YOU DON'T SAY!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!!!!
What is a meeting under four eyes?
You have two eyes and I have two eyes. It's spy-talk for a one-on-one meeting
Ooh! I didn't know that. 
But nope, he won't meet with him. Like absolutely not, as Guo stresses. Poor Ming Tai. He is super suspicious of why Guo is so absolutely sure of it and even seems to suspect that he himself may have met the Cobra before. But what he absolutely does not understand is why his superiors do send him to kill his own brother - certainly, they must know about their relationship?! He shouts that he just needs time, he needs some time and he'll make his brother leave his position.
What a horrible, horrible position to be in.
I am so glad I am not Ming Tai right now. Damn. 
But it's fruitless. It's kill or be killed. Ming Tai takes his coat, his scarf ... and tells them to get ready for tomorrow. And with that, he leaves. 
I don't think I'd make that decision. But then he must realize that if he doesn't do it, someone else will. Still. He owes his life to Ming Lou, how can he do this? Even if he thinks Ming Lou is showing poor judgement in working with the Japanese... how could he do it?
I don't think he knows if he can do it either. It might just be one of those he will have to know at that moment. I don't know. *grabs more heart pills*


Oh my, I wouldn't want my worst enemy to be in Ming Tai's position. If he disobeys this order, he will be executed and his life and death partner Man Li will be sent to the front to die. If he goes ahead, he will have to pull the trigger on his own brother... well, that is what he thinks he will have to do, but we all know that there is a trick in here somewhere, right?! I mean ... Ming Lou would not really give an order to kill himself, would he??! Or is he crazy enough for it?! Ahhhhhh! Crazy! They're all crazy!
There HAS to be a trick to it, which is a comfort to US... but Ming Tai wouldn't possibly know that because he doesn't know that the order actually came from Ming Lou.
There is a part of me that wonders just a little if there isn't a trick. Like there is just enough doubt there to think that Ming Lou might be crazy enough to sacrifice his life. But he's too important to the cause, so he won't. Right? 

This is also the episode during which the last hope that Man Li and Ming Tai could ever become a ship sinks in the most horrible way. Life and Death Partners. That's it. Man Li's little emo tantrum was too desperate to achieve anything. Did she think that telling him that she loved him would make him leave with her? Or leave alone? I am not sure what she wanted to achieve. Or could she just not hold back?
I don't know, but I'm going to sulk about this until the series ends. I do not care that there is no way they could get together, based on the time and society and Ming Tai's own personality. I do not care. Do you hear me? I DO NOT CARE. Why can't she have one thing in her life go right?
I think it's time for some fanfic where they do get together. I think the love confession was a bad move, but she's impulsive and it's true to character. Passionate, impulsive, lovable Kitten.

So we have been told that there are inconsistencies in this drama, right? So far, there are not that many, but something that bugs me a tiny little bit is this: remember how Uncle Li told Jinyun a while ago that she should get close to Ming Tai to "pull him over"? Yeah. She obviously likes him, but she still pretends to be acting on that order? Would she not get suspicious about having this "rich boy" rent two apartments under his name for something that is clearly a high-level operation? I find it weird that she never even paused to consider what it could mean.
I assume it's what you'd said previously - use him for his money. They've worked together a number of times, so it's not out of character for Uncle Li to suggest taking advantage of his relative wealth in support of another operation... but does she even know what it is?
I don't know. I find everything about her character and plot points around her poorly executed. It seemed that they just wanted a way to get Ming Tai on the scene before he had to get involved. 

PS: there's some issue with the subs, Poison Wasp and Cobra are used in wrong ways quite a bit.
That did add some confusion, but now that we have confirmation of the names - Airplane Wang is Poison Bee/Wasp (one name, differing translations) and Ming Lou is both Poison Snake/Viper and Cobra (two names, with one name having two translations) it's easier to keep it straight. Many thanks as always to our energetic and enthusiastic Chinese-speaking readers!
Yes! Thank you so much! You are wonderful!