The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 32 (Recap)

kakashi: Who is playing whom? And why? This drama does a very good job at making us doubt the intentions of some of the characters as the Death Plan keeps unfolding. Ultimately, this episode is about Ming Tai and his teacher, about their very complicated relationship. Crazy Airplane Wang is a character I will remember until the end of my days, that much is clear.
JoAnne: True for me as well. I hope going through the recap helps me understand what the hell he did, because it was completely pointless as far as I could see when watching.
Patience, woman, patience
Eleanor: It will eventually make sense Jo. Even then, we might not like it, but it will definitely make more sense. 

Episode 32

Hello Ming Lou! Tension headache again?! Ah Cheng comes running and informs Big Bro about the deaths of Guo Qi Yun and Yu Man Li. I imagine JoAnne's rage fit as these two look veeeery sad and shocked for the umpteenth time. Ming Lou shows his own outrage, as he curses the "Crazy Guy". They don't agree with his methods (well, thanks for that) and are afraid of what comes next. Ming Tai is part of his plan, Ming Lou says, but they cannot get involved, unless they want to mess the plan up - which would mean those two have died in vain.
Guess what, assholes. It was all in vain anyway. (Please prove me wrong, recap.)
It's not all in vain. I am glad that Ming Lou and Ah Cheng weren't in on this plan in the details it seems. Fricking Crazy Airplane Wang. 
Ah Cheng starts to run out anyway, to go save Ming Tai, but Ming Lou stops him. They knew they had to get ready to die as soon as the Death Plan started! Things are not in their control. They must cooperate with Wang Tian Feng. Get it? Yes, we GET IT. This cause is bigger than all of you combined. Is it just me or have they had this conversation about 1000 times already?
It's not like I don't get that, either. I do. I know what's at stake. I also know what a stupid plan looks like.
Oh Ming Tai. And Ming Lou. And Ah Cheng. I just want to give them all hugs. It's got to be infuriating to have to trust Crazy Wang when they're not exactly sure what's coming next. 
Ming Lou knows they will be called to the Special Forces Unit as soon as Ming Tai is arrested. When that happens, they need to help Wang Manchun ... or rather, manipulate her so that she uncovers the "right clues". Ah Cheng is to do the following now: tell Manchun Ming Tai's watch has disappeared; and tell the braided double-spy that the landlord has to identify Ming Tai as tenant. As for Big Sis ... Ah Cheng suggests they should lie to her for the time being. Ming Lou goes with it. Come on, boys ... don't you know that lying never works out?! After Ah Cheng has left, Ming Lou cries a little in his office.
Here's the thing: they wanted him to get caught so that he'd live? Who yet has survived being caught by Manchun? He would have died. You should have stopped the plan and looked for something better. But no, you'd rather live a life of romanticism and make actual bets on the outcome.
I do think that Manchun might tread a little more carefully when it's Ming Lou's little brother. They are going to have to play this VERY carefully for anyone to make it out alive though. Ugh. Stupid Crazy Wang and his crazy schemes! I'm not entirely convinced this was the only effective way. 
Ah Cheng goes to see Manchun and reports about the missing watch ... and two rental agreements he found in Ming Tai's room (and conveniently brought along). He pretends to be worried about it, knowing how the young master likes to "play around". Yeah. I love the look he gives her when she's not watching him. You know what I realize at this moment? This is actually the perfect set-up. Nobody, truly nobody would suspect the Ming Brother's sacrificing one of their own.
Well that is true.
Keep calm and trust the Ming Brothers *thinks about making some T-shirts*
Oh, and how well he plays along as she tells him that Ming Tai is in BIG trouble! That that location on Scott Road is the known location of KMT operative "Scorpion". He attempts to take the rental agreement back, voices his suspicion that one of Ming Lou's political enemies has faked it - all in vain, of course. But Manchun promises she won't let her mentor be the scapegoat for anything.
Manchun looks like the cat that ate the canary. You are being playyyyyyyed, sistaaaAAAAhhh. Yes I did it in Justin Chon's voice.
Oh these tricksy Ming Brothers. I'm glad we're on their side. 
Somewhere at a hospital, they have removed the microfilm from Manli's body. Manchun puts the two of them in front of Crazy Wang. But which one is real? "This one" he claims, picking one up. She isn't going to believe him though - unless he takes that microfilm and personally delivers it to Division 3.
Because it would be impossible to deliver a fake microfilm. Dumbass.
Ah, but she'd know, wouldn't she. 
I sometimes wonder what the hell is going on Crazy Wang's head. I'm starting to think that he has a brain trauma injury from his field work and I'm terrified that this plan is going to fail and that he's a traitor and that Ming Tai will die and Ming Lou and Ah Cheng as well. *bites fingernails*
He acts utterly shocked at that. But does he have a choice? She has him by the balls and she wants that code book delivered... so that they can read all the messages they want. As for him: he gets what she promised only when she sees the code book in action. If he survives this. Him being played like this could make a soft-hearted person feel sorry for him. No?
Is he played? Or did he expect this? I remain unclear on whether the plan was this stupid from the start, or if it started out just mildly stupid and then snowballed into OhFuckNo territory.
Yeah. I definitely think it's one of those things that until we see all the puzzle pieces once the whole plan has been played, that we can make any sort of judgment on it. Right now it looks and feels insane. 
A stone-faced Ming Tai reads about Wang Manchun's amazing success in a newspaper. He seems to be crying when he walks through the streets afterwards. Half his life gone. Young, but already old before he can truly grow up. Not far from him, in a tram, Crazy Wang exchanges some documents with his second-in-command Lin Can Mo... or is it the code book!? Probably! I notice the coke advertisement on the side of the tram... is it a sponsor of this show?! 
I noticed that, too, and wanted one very much. Tell me, is the exchange on the tram the REAL exchange? Undetected by Manchun? Why would she let him wander around alone? Is she stupid?
I don't know anymore. What is real? What is fake? Is he a traitor? Is he not? 
Next, Ah Cheng feeds his mother some wrong info about Ming Lou going to Nanjing for business (he's not going at all, it's their cover up for what's to come, so that it won't look strange if they don't come home). Also, Ming Tai is away because his flour factory is facing technical difficulties and he went to get a technician. Nice way of putting it. But! Boys, I hate to break it to you, Wang Manchun has a slightly different idea about how Ming Jing should find out about the shit that has hit the fan: She orders Lone Wolf to tell Big Sis immediately after her return. This won't be pretty.
So the maid meets the mistress at the door with 'You are not going to believe this...' - but no one worries how she'd explain knowing it? Stupid.
Manchun seems to be allowing her smarts and common sense go by the wayside in favour of revenge against Ming Jing. Stupid move Manchun, or is that what Ming Lou wants? 
Ah, come on! She will just claim that somebody called at the residence to tell her. That's easy! It would also be the NORMAL thing to do, call the relatives and tell them: listen, your brother has been taken in on charges of murder and espionage

And then, she "forces" Wang Tian Feng to assist her in arresting Ming Tai. She wants to destroy the KMT Shanghai operation AND break the ties between Big Bro and Big Sis that way. Snake. If Wang thinks he's safe with Ming Tai still out and about in the world, he is mistaken! Of course he's out for Wang's blood after what he did! So he better do what she tells him.
She's still angling to get back together with Ming Lou. Like destroying his family would do it. Dumbass.
Yeah, she is NOT thinking this through. Not at all. Does she think that Ming Lou won't care because Ming Tai isn't his blood brother? Does she think that alienating Ming Jing is going to work? She really doesn't understand the Ming family or Ming Lou at all. 
Feeling completely betrayed by her (her smirk, haha) he attacks her and puts a gun to her head - but she has bodyguards outside, and on top of that, she's damn convincing when she talks about how it would be a total waste if he died here today. He gives in, she takes the gun, and our Commander Wang looks like a broken man, like she has completely crushed him.
Yes, yes, it WOULD be a total waste if Wang died today... keep telling yourself that. Is he crushed? OR IS THIS HIS PLAN?
Crazy Wang. I'm just going to say that Liu Yijun (the actor who plays Crazy Wang and also Xie Yu in Nirvana in Fire) is incredibly impressive. 
And thus, Wang goes to the flour factory, where Ming Tai is dealing with his emotions by ripping apart Manchun's picture in the newspaper. His commander orders him to get up. When he doesn't obey, he screams at him. He has to go and get the information that is on Manli's body! Ming Tai thinks there's an internal spy? Well, yes, there probably is - and he is the greatest suspect right now! He then spends quite some time convincing Ming Tai that Division 76 has NO CLUE about the info that is in Manli's body. He has a spy inside, that's why he knows. He also calls Ming Tai a coward, keeps saying "well, then I will have to go" and is generally very hurtful (to make sure he does this incredibly stupid thing, of course).
Fuck you. This makes me think you really are a traitor. If you're acting, you're doing a much better job of it than you did with Manchun, all those googly-eyed faces you made. Dumbass.
*distracted for a moment by how gorgeous Hu Ge looks* The desire I have to strangle Crazy Wang right now is rather strong.  
Defeated, Ming Tai says: "Teacher... I suspect you. But I don't want you to die". Ouf. He knows this is a suicide mission, he knows it in his guts. Before Ming Tai leaves, Wang calls after him to remember what he has been taught. To not trust anyone.
Turn around. Turn around, shoot Wang in the heart, and walk away, let the rest of the drama be about you herding goats in Switzerland, making cheese. But of course you won't. Dumbass.
What an interesting thing to say. Trust no one. Think about it Ming Tai. Think! 
Ming Tai is shoveling. It's night and he is all alone. No coffin, no head stone... Manli's body has been dumped on some graveyard hillside, an unsung hero.  
And he knew where she was how, exactly?
Because Wang told him?
What Kakashi said? 
And why would Wang even know? Wouldn't that look suspicious?
He said he had a person inside?

When he unearths her still beautiful face, his heart breaks all over again. Gently, he wipes the dirt away and covers her face with his handkerchief. Then, he starts freeing her abdomen to realize... it has very well been opened up. His teacher lied to him.
They just put her in the dirt? Not even a coffin? And she's what, a foot down? Maybe? Are the woods in China just littered with the bones of the dead? 
Isn't the earth all around littered with the bones of the dead? Us humans, we are a warlike and bloodthirsty species. We kill so much. If we truly knew all the dead that lay beneath our feet, we might never walk around again. *now I'm crying again for Manli* What a waste of a wonderful, interesting, smart, and beautiful human being. 
And here they come! They are many, they have him surrounded, and Mrs Bloodhound Manchun is with them. Ming Tai realizes that this is the end of the road for him, so he doesn't even try to flee. He starts covering Manli's body with dirt again. Manchun has approached and addresses him, voicing her surprise that he, the well-known playboy, really is KMT's Shanghai Operation Team Leader.
What did Wang gain by giving up all three of his operatives? He was really a traitor, then? There's no reason to have given up Ming Tai, otherwise. They already had the film.
I want to rewind. I want Ming Tai to never get on that plane. I want him to have never met Wang. I want this madness all to stop! 
Hey, but did you think Ming Tai would just walk into this trap unprepared?! Nope, not him. He strapped himself with a load of explosives and that'll be it. No information. Just another dead body.
I approve.
I'm not normally one to condone strapping a bomb to one's chest, but in this case, good thinking Ming Tai. 
But now, Crazy Wang steps forward! "Surrender now", he tells his disciple. Seeing him there breaks Ming Tai's broken heart into even more pieces - and he whips out his gun to shoot him. That's not clever, because Wang had his gun ready, and shoots Ming Tai in the gun hand shoulder. That doesn't stop Ming Tai from taking out the trigger ... and having a meltdown. He feels so utterly betrayed in this moment. His teacher whom he admired so much! A traitor!!
You and me both - and likely millions of other people as well. 
Ah, but the KMT is rotten anyway, Crazy Wang retorts. People die everyday, but their leader doesn't give a shit. (Lol, not passing by any chance to shit-talk the KMT, are we, drama?) But for Ming Tai, this is not about politics - it is about defeating the conquerers, about victory! He, Wang, has taught him that!! But Wang just tells him to give up and follow him.
Follow him where, exactly? To being a traitor? Come with me, and live? That kind of bullshit?
Crazy Wang, you really are completely nuts, aren't you? Are you also very sane in the midst of that insanity? I hope there is some meaning to this mad method. 
And Ming Tai walks towards him... well, stumbles more... and hugs him. Lifting the trigger. PRESSING the trigger. But nothing happens. The bomb is fake, Crazy Wang whispers. "Don't trust anyone". Oh NO. It was him who gave him the bomb vest?! Betrayed! And betrayed again!!! Screaming his pain into the night, Ming Tai takes a razor blade into his mouth and cuts Wang Tian Feng's throat. This is as bad as Game of Thrones, I swear! Everybody gets killed!!!
I interrupt my tirade to announce that that was very cool.
Crap! Did Wang want Ming Tai to kill him? Please, someone explain this damn plan?????
Ming Tai attempts to swallow the blade, but with his last strength, his teacher forces it out of his mouth. Good. Ming Tai gets to live for now. Him? Not.
Screw Ming Tai for now. What was Wang's plan? There was the initial thing, with the two books - and if that didn't work there was another plan and he was going to be in charge of it and it would be more death and Ming Lou and Ah Cheng were even more nervous about that one than the first one. Have you seen it? What was supposed to happen? WHERE IS THAT PLAN?
Yes! Where is that plan??? Make all this craziness stop! 
Was this all Wang Tian Feng's plan? Ming Lou and Ah Cheng aren't quite sure and neither are we. So he wanted Ming Tai to kill him for killing the two others? In any case, with Ming Tai's arrest (hmmm, Manchun is smelling blood - the Ming family is most likely implicated in her opinion!), the first part of the Death Plan has now come to an end. The second part is in Ming Lou's power. And the most important aspect of it: make Manchun believe she's in charge. She is reporting to the Japanese right now and asks for Teng Tian Fang Zheng's help in investigating Ming Lou. She plans to bring him face to face with his little brother being tortured... that'll reveal the truth.
Whatever. It better be a smarter plan than this one was.
Yeah, let's just hope it is. 


Well, what can I say. This Dead Plan? Go to hell. And now they'll torture Ming Tai?! I don't want to see this!!

What purpose did Wang's death (and Guo's death and Manli's death) serve? I only see one reason for this elaborate charade - to trick the Japanese into believing they have the true codebook. Was it necessary to have three people die for this and have a fourth facing torture? It certainly did one thing, make Wang believable as traitor in Manchun's eyes!
I can buy this as a failed plan if it had stopped there. It's pretty straightforward: two books, two messengers, two times the chances of making it through. Except it's pretty clear to me that Wang deliberately got himself caught, and if that's true then he deliberately gave up both Guo and Manli, putting both code books in the hands of the Japanese. Now, if neither of them is the real code book, that's a solid plan, if cruel. But then why also give up Ming Tai? In the hopes that he'd kill you, getting caught? Nah. But if this was the plan, then the real book was with Wang all the time and he passed it to what's his face on the tram, and all is well for the KMT, relatively speaking. EXCEPT: none of the above had to happen in order for Wang to pass the book off on the tram
I would say the plan is in fact very much working.... 
It might have bought him (in a perverse way) freedom to move about without fear of capture, but that could have been accomplished in other ways. If this were an Ocean's Eleven caper, I'd say Manli had the real book, and when Wang had to point out the real book in Manchun's office he somehow swapped out another fake for the real, then passed it off on the tram. I have no faith that this is what happened here, and here's why: he got captured BEFORE Manli got caught. You want us to think he got caught just in case? Nope. Because he gave her up, she didn't just happen to get caught. So I'm back to FUCK YOU YOU DUMBASS. It did not have to happen this way.
So many things I want to say. I do wish that Ming Lou had been in charge from the beginning and not Wang. I think that Ming Lou would have tried to minimize casualties but still have had the same effect. But he really does look like a traitor at this point, but I still have some niggling doubts. 

It seems like Wang wanted to die after being "forced" to kill two of his students. I'm saying "forced" because it was his own plan, but he was forced by war, wasn't he. If you do it, do it right, I guess. I can respect that. It's not even that crazy. It just shows us that the lives of these people are worth very little. They're pawns in this game. And they know it.
Yes, war is a terrible thing. But this plan was stupid and accomplished nothing necessary and I hate everyone.
Yeah, I'm rather angry at Wang for making Ming Tai execute him. I really am not sure if I follow Wang's logic. Maybe because deep down I think that there were other options. And maybe not even so deep down. 

And then, there's this: From all sides, the KMT made sure Ming Tai would go down too, by exposing him as Scorpion (transmitter) and murderer (watch) and then again as Scorpion, by sending him to that graveyard. But why? What is Ming Tai's role in all this? I have no clue.
Are they pissed that he was going to defect?  I mean, he was marrying into the other side...It's all Trainwreck's fault! I KNEW IT.
Well we already know that Ming Lou and Ah Cheng are double agents and want Ming Tai to defect to the CPC. They're the ones in the KMT feeding the information to Division 76 so I don't think it's a matter of revenge for the KMT - it's just a way to speed along Ming Tai's disaffection with the KMT. 
Okay, I do have a clue, because I've seen it to the end, so try to believe me if I tell you that it will make sense one day, for you, too.