11 June 2016

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The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 30 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on June 11, 2016
This is a very good, very emotional, and very brutal episode ... it drives home the message that there cannot be any true and lasting happiness in times of war. Ming Tai is getting engaged/married and both Big Bro and Teacher Wang misuse this happy occasion to set their plans in motion. Wow, that's so cruel. While I cannot stop thinking, a bit short of breath, that Hu Ge looks stunning, absolutely stunning in a tuxedo.
I have realized that Trainwreck reminds me of Gu Hye Sun. This explains my outsize antipathy, since it means she gets everything she deserves, plus everything I feel about Gu Hye Sun's acting.
Eleanor: Kakashi, Hu Ge does indeed look AMAZING in a tux! *sighs* *pauses to stare before thinking about what lies ahead*

Episode 30

Ming Lou deals the third card. Ming Tai remains über-cool as he declares he will bet on himself and his luck (which means not looking at his hidden card). They keep dancing around the truth that they all know that the other knows something. Then, the fourth card is dealt. Er, Ming Tai? Are you sure you can win against Wang's hand?! Yup ... he thinks he can. Cocky bastard.
The only way is forward. He has no other choice than go with it, on so many levels.
Whether he wins or loses, many will suffer. It just all depends on who. 
Now it's time to check the hidden card! Wasp goes all in - and Ming Tai follows. Without looking at his. Wang has a Full House with Queens and Jacks. Oh, Ming Tai..... BUT! He has a straight flush. DAMN. He wins, he wins!! Haha, what are the chances of this? Wang turns to Ming Lou and says he did a good job shuffling the cards. Yup, I'd suspect some tricks there too if I were him.
I would expect no less, and assume that Wang would have done the same.
Oh! I'm so relieved. I might have been a bit blue in the face from holding my breath as well. 
Ming Tai is dismissed. He bows politely but Wang says: "Young man, don't ever think you have won". And Ming Tai answers: "I know. There will be another round". "That's correct", Wang says, "and remember to play until the end to see all the cards that the dealer gives you". Ominous. And cryptic. Right before he leaves the room, Ming Tai kinda drops all pretense and invites Wang to his engagement party. Awwww, that's sweet! In fact, Wang looks rather touched.
I'm boycotting the party so in my version of events, they talked about football.
Yeah, I think I like your party version better too Jo. 
Ming Tai is out (looking at the chummy Guo and Ah Cheng askance) and the two men inside continue their cryptic talk. It seems that underneath all this belligerence, they still care for each other. They're old friends or at least comrades after all, are they not? They talk about dying and who has to die and who doesn't have to die and both are not longer butting heads, but both are pensive and melancholic. Ming Tai did that to them ... Ming Tai, whose life seems doomed, to everyone's regret.
During this scene, I was struck with how like former lovers they seemed. Immediately I drafted an entire drama in my head which has these two using the revolution as an excuse to inflict wounds on each other following a failed romance. The final scene, of course, has Wang dying in Lou's arms as Lou begs for forgiveness for his desertion and Wang assures him that he never for one moment stopped loving him.
Hahahahaha, well there's plenty of fanfic involving Ming Lou and Ah Cheng, I'm sure you could create a loyal band of followers for your Airplane Wang-Ming Lou couple as well. 
So, what's going on ... didn't Ming Lou play against Wang to take over this operation? What happened to that?! Or is there simply no other way? They also talk about sacrificing themselves, and it sounds to me like Wang tells Ming Lou to cut the crap - the one that's expendable is him (and Ming Tai), and not Ming Lou. When they finally part, they shake hands - and both say: "Win the war". Suddenly, I feel like crying. 
See, I'm right. Which makes Ming Lou's treatment of Killer Wang now DOUBLY vicious, if you think about it.
Haha, right about a love affair? LOL I really don't envy any of these men for the decisions that have to be made. War is such a nasty, nasty business. It truly is. To have to talk about who's expendable and who's not, it feels so terrible to me. No one should have to be expendable. 
And just like that, it's time for Ming Tai to get engaged. Awww, pumpkin. He takes extra care with his appearance  - and then stops to pick a watch (spoilt brat, look at how many he's got!). Of course, he picks the one his teacher gave him.
It should inject him with poison via a scratch from the rough edge of the band, so that he falls ill and can't attend.
Ah Cheng! I think if Ming Lou and Ah Cheng could have their way, they would box Ming Tai up in cotton wool (cotton balls for the Americans) and make sure he doesn't leave ever until it's safe. 
And then, he walks down the stairs, where everyone is waiting. Gif break:
 
He's so precious.
He really is. 
His bride is let in and I will never again hate on them, because his smile is so happy and so sweet and she looks so nervous and yet exhilarated, I want them to be happy, happy, happy. And everybody in the room too.
Unmoved. Now when I see her I also relive Blood.
*cries* they look so happy! Can we pause at this moment of happiness forever? Please?!
After they exchange engagement rings and KISS, the party starts. It's all so damn bitter-sweet... Big Sis' tears, because she is so happy he is married and she finally feels she has done right by his mother, Big Bro's inner conflict over knowing that little brother's happiness won't last. Ming Tai's words to her as they dance... "The love I have for you is eternity". (I also get a tiiiiiny little bit annoyed with her again during this, but let's just pretend it didn't happen. I hate the dialogue they give her in this.) 
Can they just stop with the trying to make us believe she's this super dedicated and competent spy? It's a no, show. Not gonna happen.
Yeah, we'll just try and pretend her dialogue isn't terrible. 
There's some stuff about being a good wife and being a good husband and how Trainwreck will teach Ming Tai "the ways" - and then, Teacher Wang turns up. He looks good in a suit. Ming Tai's face lights up, but Wang is not even joining the festivities. He just asks for a word with Ming Tai and leads him away. 
I mean come on, guy, at least have some cake. No wait:  there's no cake because there is no party. I almost forgot I was boycotting.
Come on Crazy Wang! Let the man enjoy his moment! 
Teacher Wang has noticed his watch on Ming Tai's wrist ... and reads it as a sign of Ming Tai's guilty conscious. And he knows about Ming Tai's "secret" activities against the drug trade, and he lectures him about the necessity of this. We can't help but notice that Wang Tian Feng also feels a little bit proud his disciple did something as reckless and stupid.
Like when your child does something you know you have to correct but it's funny as hell so you struggle not to laugh?
I also think that he himself wasn't super excited about the drug trade so he's glad someone else did something about it. 
And then, time for business... Wang expresses regret about the fact that their lives belong to their country ... more than to their families. Yes, Ming Tai, your teacher has come to talk to you about a mission on your wedding day (or is he only engaged? whatever). It's a "huge and difficult mission" (Code name: Knell) at that. He and Man Li need to deliver the secret code book from Division 3 - thousands of lives depend on this. Guo will carry a fake version of the book, to confuse the enemy. I'll be DAMNED! We know they leaked info about this to the bad guys! Nooooooooo!!!!
I think it's just the engagement party? honestly, this entire episode is confusing. I think this is the setup: it's a real mission if it succeeds to deliver the book, but it's also a success even if it gets Ming Tai killed/captured because then the bad guys will think they've caught Wasp? (buying them a bit more security) If it succeeds because the books get delivered, Ming Lou continues to run things. If it succeeds because Ming Tai gets killed, Wang takes over? Or the other way around?
It's his wedding I think. Crazy Wang isn't even letting him have a wedding night. Argh! *shakes fists at Crazy Wang* And to echo Kakashi: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
There's something on Ming Tai's mind: Is Wang an old friend of his brother? "Friend .... not really", is Wang's answer. They're more like gambling buddies, betting their whole lives, trying to see who would kill whom first. And then, Wang tells him that there isn't much time left for him - to treasure the good moments. They shake hands ... and Wang leaves. In slo mo. Thanks for the wedding gift, sucker!)
He looked good, standing there all dressed up in the driveway for no reason. (Remember:  no party in my reality)
I really think that Hu Ge, Wang Kai, and Jin Dong could live in tuxes just for us all to look at and appreciate. I think we need a Ming brothers photo album in tuxes. 
While this is happening, Ah Cheng sneaks into Ming Tai's room and takes one of his watches at Ming Lou's behest. At least it looks like he is feeling very bad about this. Not much later, Ming Lou orders him to "make his move". The knell has rung.
I have never seen that word used alone. It keeps distracting me. I've always seen death knell. It's like gurgitate. You only ever see REgurgigate, which is gurgitating all over again.  But in order to do it again, you have to do it the first time, right? so how come no one ever gurgitates?
Well..."gurgitate" isn't a word in English (and never has been). It's etymology is: LATIN "re" (back, again) + "gurges, gurgit-" (whirlpool) to Medieval Latin "regurgitare" to "regurgitat- to the late 16th century "regurgitate". "Knell" is a standalone word. "Death" is a strong collocate of "knell", which means it is often used with it, but "knell" can be used alone, it just isn't usually in English. Another correct sentence would be: "The keening knell of the church bell rang out across the valley". Sorry, linguistics person here got majorly sidetracked hahaha. Though I totally know what you mean by seeing "knell" by itself because we do so often see it with "death".
Ming Tai is in his room and opens the envelope his teacher gave him - it contains two keys to a bank safe  (No 12) and  a letter, saying: "after receiving the item, set out immediately." He burns the letter and looks grim.
The letter might as well have just said simply 'burn this after reading' - what the hell kind of instruction is that? Like, DUH. 'No, I think I'll wait till tomorrow. I want to try and catch that final episode of my drama tonight.'
Ming Tai! Don't go! Stop this plan. I don't want to watch it unfold! 
Ah Cheng is in the forest, halfway digging up a body. Wait, whom did he bury in the forest? I don't remember... Well, I guess we'll find out soon. He throws Ming Tai's watch on the rotting hand. No you didn't!!!! And then puts dirt on it again.
I had the same questions, plus: how is anyone going to believe that fell off the corpse's hand and landed THAT way? Missing the point for a moment...
He killed the bank clerk remember? I think that's the body, or at least that's who I thought it was when I was watching. Now I don't remember if it was or not. 
At Scott Road, our anti-spy crew is searching for a signal from the rogue transmitter - and captures a message. They can confirm that the code used was once used by Poison Bee and have no problem decoding it. The message reads: "Hui Feng Bank, 12th. Division 3. Speedy Deliver. Scorpion." They're not sure what this means, especially not when something will happen ... but they now also know the location of the transmitter: Scott Road 133, 135 or 137. Manchun, go fetch!!
Everybody just spies all out in the open these days. That thing, that they just did there? Signals Intelligence. Sigint, a part of Communications Intelligence, or Comint. They were performing signal interception. I did voice interception, in Russian. I was stationary, though the platform was not. It was fun times.
Ooh! JoAnne was a spy too! I'm always surprised when people are surprised when news reports come out that their governments and other countries are spying on them. I'm like, um, duh. Everyone spies on everyone. The trick is to make sure to keep secret channels open and only let out things you don't mind as much that people know. It's a tricky business. 
She gives the order to arrest everyone there and then starts puzzling over the telegram. It does not take her long to realize 12 isn't the date but the number of a safe and that District 3 refers to the 3rd battle zone. And speedy delivery means...  (braided double spy helps) the secret code book that was mentioned in the previous message they intercepted!
Beautiful AND clever, and yet vicious as F** and duped by a callous man...they can't just let her be perfect.
Um, I'm getting really nervous. I can feel the tension in my body again. 
To the Hui Feng Bank she goes with a LOT of men. Her frenemy Liang is decent enough to warn her that the Hui Feng Bank is on French territory, which means it's off bounds for her. She decides to just position men there, to watch ... and catch the traitors once they're out.
Which is different than what she planned anyway HOW, exactly?
Yeah, not sure that it is. Maybe she was planning on storming the bank before? Maybe not? 

At the government HG, Ming Lou frets about things ... i.e. that the body and the watch have not been discovered yet (they're hoping for the rain to wash it out). They're hoping Manchun will "catch them red handed". In other words, they're waiting for Ming Tai to get arrested - which will set in motion "Poison Bee" and his plan. Ming Lou does not know the details of it; he just knows it will be deadly.
*goes back to review earlier thoughts* I think I'm slightly wrong about who takes over and why, but maybe not.
I think that Ming Lou wants Ming Tai arrested so he can't be killed in the crossfire of whatever Wang's original plan was. At least that was my thinking while watching. 
The bank is swarming with Manchun's people ... but Ming Tai, who is approaching in disguise, is not stupid ... and has been trained well. He notices that something is amiss and rather than walking into the bank, he enter the stock exchange nearby. Inside, he walks up the stairs (when asked what he's here for, he pretends it's for a job interview). Inside the bank, a person has turned up to look at a safety deposit box - Number 18. One of Manchun's men is denied access ... he has to go fill out some paperwork first.
Okay, but just then Ming Tai had said he was there for a safety deposit box, too, and yet he didn't have to fill out any paperwork. 
No, that wasn't Ming Tai but a random dude of no importance. 
Anyway, who puts safety boxes up high like that? They should be in a big heavy vault, UNDERGROUND.
Is this like Ocean's 11 where we think we are seeing things in real time but they're being edited differently? But he is also in a different building as well, but still there might be some editing stuff going on to try and confuse us. It seems to be working. 
 
Ming Tai is on the roof! looking OVER to the bank's roof. What's this crazy fellow going to do?! It's very far...
The shot framing in this was very different from other episodes, did you notice that?
It was so freaking cool! I LOVED it!
He takes off his coat, hat, glasses, gloves ... and jumps. Hahaaaa, Ming Tai has superpowers!
Oh for crying out loud...
You have to admit that that looked pretty awesome. 
 

Comments

This episode had some very strong acting from Jin Dong and Liu Yi (who plays Airplane Wang). At this rewatch, I realized how subtly but fundamentally the mood changed in that room after Ming Tai left. Also, their enmity, mixed with sadness over everybody's fate, was extremely emotional. It's not for the first time that these characters talk about their plight... their certainty, that death is more likely than life, but that any death spent for a better future is a good death, a necessary death. It's very noble, and yet very sad, because even in life, they can never fully live.
They have different paths but want the same thing - it IS sad. They could have been so happy in a little cottage together...
I really think that Jin Dong is the true star of The Disguiser. He is absolutely phenomenal in this role. 

Especially in Ming Lou's case, we get glimpses into how high the price is he has to pay. If he did not have Ah Cheng by his side, I am sure he would have snapped a while ago. So much hatred from the extended family for being pro-Japanese... so difficult to keep the two rebel affiliations hidden from the right people. He must be so tired ... so, so tired. And whatever they're cooking... this is his most beloved baby brother that he is sending to the gallows.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. How the hell does Ming Lou manage through all this?
With nerves of steel. Nerves of steel. 

What I find almost harder to take though is how much Wang cares for Ming Tai. There are small moments where he lets us see the remorse he feels for getting him into this, partially to spite his nemesis Ming Lou. Using people is never pretty, but it is truly terrible if you care for them. Wang comes to deliver Ming Tai the message that it's likely he will be dead soon ... at his wedding, the happiest day of his life. It seems utterly cruel, but it just shows us that these people have no luxuries. The operation has to go down now, and now it is. What a brutal world to live in. 
Wang got caught by his own trap - he thought he'd use Ming Tai to screw with Ming Lou, but ended up caring about the 'kid' himself. So now he's in the position of having to move forward with a plan that will probably cost the life of someone he's grown to care about. It's not ironic - it would only be ironic if it turned out that Ming Lou disliked Ming Tai - but it is bitterly funny, in a way. Even when they win they lose.
It is so very sad. *reaches for some tissues*

Perceptive Ming Tai is realizing that something is being played behind his back, but he cannot really put his finger on to what it is. He suspects that his teacher and his brother have history together, and Guo's and Ah Cheng's chumminess (and awkward lying) confirms this, of course. He tries to wrap his head around this and attempts to find out what it means, but he also realizes that his teacher is in danger. His appearance in Shanghai tells him something big is going to go down. For now, he has decided to play along. Is it good that they leave him in the dark about things? I wonder.
I would advocate for him being a fully-aware and consenting piece of the puzzle, but I think that's too much to ask, really.
I personally think that it's a matter of age that he's not fully in on the deal. Ming Tai is in his early twenties, and isn't someone who the big players would necessarily tell all the strategies too. Yes, he's brilliant and because of his role, he probably should be told. There's also the issue that he might not follow through if he knows what is going to happen. He didn't handle the last plan that well. He's still to young and impetuous. But then again, I also want him to be told. I don't know. All I know is that I really hate this plan. 

BTS
 

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