The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 38 (Recap)

Wang Manchun continues her rampage and she threatens to unravel everything the Mings have fought for for so long. Who will live and who will die?! What a nailbiter so close towards the end! You would think we would be starting to tie up loose ends, but there are so many, I can't stop worrying.
JoAnne: Can we possibly make it to the end with not one Ming dying?
Eleanor: YAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!! This episode!!!!!! Oh my heart!!!! 王凯‬boom!!!!

Episode 38

Ming Lou tells Mr. Tengtian that someone close to him does not mean well and promises to investigate thoroughly. At the same time, sneaky underling Guo Mu is indeed planning his next move with a couple of his men. Come on, that's so dumb. Does he really think he has a real chance at getting to the chief position this way?
It must work sometimes, but this guy isn't as smart as the guys he's up against. He hasn't got a snowball's chance in Hell.
What an idiot! He's probably going to do something super stupid and get the Mings in trouble. 
Well, the next step in their plan is evil - they leak the info about Manchun's escape to the press. Ming Lou is furious - and later quite worried about Big Sis again, but at least, this is the proof that someone from the Special Force Unit is helping Manchun. And what of the recording machine? Ming Lou surmises that she will use it to record his word, to use it as evidence. She will force his hand by probably by either kidnapping Big Sister or by making Ming Tai come out of hiding! Oh SHIT. 
The leak is a head scratcher for sure, since it could just as easily be used against him as for him - Guo Man, I mean. But the recorder, yeah, that's a big one.
Okay, this episode is threatening to make sure I have no fingernails left *bites anxiously*
Indeed, the news of Manchun's escape reaches an edgy Ming Tai. The poor guy seems to be bored out of his mind in that small house. The news makes him extremely worried, of course... Manchun's evil plan is working. Ming Tai, be smart!
I'm so sad when I remember that brilliant, cool young man on the plane. The one we never saw again. Remember him?
Ming Tai! Don't do anything stupid! Don't! Keep calm and trust Ming Lou. You aren't Mei Changsu in this drama okay. 
But he isn't. He dresses himself quickly, hiding his face with a scarf, and heads out. You're such a DUMMY. He even steals a bike. On the street, a car almost hits him - Tengtian is in it. Well, he's not recognized, but DAMN - IDIOT!
The bad posture cuts off the oxygen to his brain.
Ugh! Ming Tai! You are being such an idiot! Stop!
Wang Manchun makes an attempt at invading the Ming Mansion, by arriving in a car, with a few men, and lots of ammunitions. BAM, she's in the house within minutes!! Wow, scary, that was much too easy! Ming Jing stands in the living room, gun ready ... even trying to fire, but the poor woman has forgotten the safety switch. In a demonstration of power, Manchun shoots two bullets into the ceiling.
This irritates me. They made it too easy for Man Chun, but that's clearly because they're running out out of drama-time. She deserved a harder win.
Her wig is terrible. It makes me want to cry. 

On her way out with her prisoner, Manchun almost shoots A'Xiang and knocks Lone Wolf out. In an attempt to make her seem like an innocent bystander, of course. Like that is going to work. When she drives away, Ming Tai just gets there on his bike and almost crashes with Manchun's car (I don't think she sees him though?) ... he immediately turns around and races after the car through the busy streets of Shanghai. Well, he is doing really well until some stupid pedestrians don't move fast enough and Ming Tai, who needs to go round them, crashes into a poster on the side of the road...
He should really avoid bikes as a mode of transportation, he's not very good at them.
No, he really isn't. Oh Ming Tai. Ming Tai. 
Ah Chang gets to the Mansion. Too late, pretty boy, too late! The crazy one has Ming Jing. Everybody waits at Ming Lou's office for a sign... and then comes the phone call. It's Manchun, smiling happily. Since she has Ming Jing and can prove it, Ming Lou immediately agrees to anything she wants. For example, a lot of money and a free pass out of Shanghai?
Oh, I think she's focused on something else.
Ming Lou, do you seriously think she wants money? 
But no, no, that's not what Manchun wants. She wants to meet with him. It's him against his sister. More frankly, his life against hers. No tricks and all that, of course. The meeting will take place in the Flour Factory. Oh! Ming Lou seems pretty confident that he can kill her, but I don't know... She has insanity on her side. This is one woman scorned I wouldn't want to engage with.
And I'm hiding behind you, wherever you're hiding.
Is there room for me to hide with you? Wait, can I hide with Wang Kai? Oh wait, he's probably going to get involved in Manchun's craziness. *sigh* I'll just have to hide with you two then. 
Guo Mu is betrayed by one of his own men - Tengtian now knows about how he helped the Wang Psycho. But! Maybe he can sway the old man? He tells him that he believes what Manchun is saying, that Scorpion is still alive, that this is simply a huge cover-up. He also tells Tengtian how disappointed he is in him, for dealing with the code book mess-up in such a manner.
I think Tengtian doesn't really care about his opinion.
Um Guo Mu, this isn't the way to talk to your superior. 
Can Tengtian take criticism? Uhm, the answer is pretty obvious... he is clearly angry to be chided, but Guo Mu continues on about how patriotic he is and how wrong Tengtian is - and I think now the time has come to say bye bye to Guo Mu... indeed. Tengtian draws out a gun from his drawer and shoots his subordinate in the heart. What an idiot you were, Guo Mu! This is just not how you talk to a superior. Never ever, even if you're right. At least not in the 1940s, when that superior is a Japanese military officer
Bye-bye, dumbass.
What did he think he would accomplish by talking to him like that? 
But, the danger for our guys remains very real, of course - Manchun promised Guo Mu "the truth" over the phone and the Japanese intelligence unit is continuing to monitor that phone line closely, all under the supervision of Mr. Tengtian now.
I want to know more about Mr. Tentgtian, actually. What's his life like? Does he have a family? Did he secretly love Nangtian?
I just want him to not mess up our guys' plans! 

Manchun is at the noodle factory (it's Ya Tou's favorite brand, I think) (ahahahahahahahahahahaha) ... she's fiddling around with the tape recorder, testing it ... hiding it in a big clock that she hangs back up on the wall. Ming Jing is held upstairs in Ming Tai's former office, bound and blindfolded at first. Manchun taunts her, how she will not die before she will not witness her brother on his knees, begging for forgiveness, then committing suicide.
So this is all payback to Ming Jing for keeping the precious brother away from Man Chun, then.
Yikes! Manchun is seriously unhinged. 
Ming Tai! What is he doing? Cutting the telephone cables at the Flour Factory! That's a smart move. And I guess it was good that he fell on his bike or she would have definitely seen him.
His two brothers arrive too. Ah Cheng wants to be Big Bro's back-up, but Ming Lou won't have it. Manchun is capable of anything right now, he won't risk his sister's life. He tasks Ah Cheng with cutting all the phones lines and with preventing Ming Tai from storming in, in case he turns up. In addition, in case something happens to him - he wants Ah Cheng to make sure Manchun does not get out alive. Urgh.
Always cleaning up after the Mings, that man.
Oh man, you look sooooooo good here Ah Cheng. So so good! Wait what's happening again? 
Ah Cheng - he looks so worried, aww - sneaks off, to cut the lines and run straight into Ming Tai. Good luck keeping your hothead of a brother from entering the factory! Oh Ming Tai .... he pulls his gun on Ah Cheng TT______TT
MING TAI!!!! You need a serious spanking and to be grounded for like a year. Just fricking listen to your brothers for a change and stop being so damn hotheaded! 
Cut to Big Bro, entering the factory. Oh boy. He starts calling for the Psycho. And there is she, upstairs, looking down, her gun at Ming Jing's temple. She gets rough with her when she starts whimpering through her gag. Oh man, we once again get to realize what pro-level Big Bro is at, he keeps completely cool and collected. "Let Big Sis go, it's me you want", he says. But you know, Manchun is REALLY pissed. She plans to kill both of them.
Plan #1, force Ming Lou to commit suicide while Jing watches, then kill her (one assumes.)
Plan #2, kill both of them herself (could potentially be a version of #1, since suicide would be requirement.)
Ming Lou. Man he can keep his cool. 
And yet, they start talking - the common mistake those psycho-killers luckily often make, because it buys time for the other side. Manchun shouts her grievances to him, how he betrayed her at every step, while she waited and waited all these years. Time for the truth? Ming Lou tells her that it was very hard for him to see her so changed. She is no longer the woman he used to know. Used to love. Now, she is just a tainted killing-machine, working for the enemy. Ah, but to her, this is all his fault - like before, she blames him for leaving her alone like he did. The Japanese were the ones who gave her a home, a purpose, and a purpose in life.
She had that seed in her when you loved her, Ming Lou. Own your part in this.
I don't buy it that it's his fault. Becoming a traitor to one's country just because your long lost lover left for a long time isn't exactly a normal chain of events. And it's not like she had no family and she wasn't lacking for money. I think she's deranged to blame it all on him. Maybe there's more to the story, but her choices are her choices. 
But Ming Lou only has the deepest contempt for her. She snaps when he says her name, shoots a bullet in the floor in front of him. She calls him a liar, a many faced traitor. She demands to know his true identity. "I'm Chinese". He says. "That's my true identity". She, the invaders - they are bound to fail. She is herself to blame for her current state. But if she lets Big Sis go, he will let her live.
You are not the only person he would sacrifice to loyalty, Man Chun. He sacrificed you for family. He would have sacrificed Ming Tai for country. If he didn't think he would prevail here, I am certain he'd have sacrificed Sis.
I really liked that part when he said, "I'm Chinese". It's basically saying that she can't be truly Chinese, he's denying her personhood in effect, because she sided with the Japanese. The idea of personhood being so closely connected to statehood is an interesting philosophical question for me. 
That doesn't go down well with the crazed woman, of course, especially since she clearly has the upper hand and could kill Ming Jing any second. Yes, I believe she is fully capable of that. And she wants to make Ming Lou suffer, she wants him to see his loved ones die and she wants him to regret deeply. Changing your plans all the time there, right, Manchun? Is there method to this madness? Well, Big Bro tells her he never expected to walk out of here alive. She can kill his sister, but she will die next.
Right, Plan #3: Kill Jing but let him live a long life full of regret.
I think that Manchun wants Ming Lou to declare his undying love for her. I think she's unhinged at this point, but in some ways I think she just wants his love. And to make him suffer. 
Fine, says Manchun, that's decided then. She will kill Ming Jing and will die herself. And she lifts the gun. "Wait!" shouts Ming Lou. She has another choice. Walk out. Take the car he has prepared for her, the money he put there. Ah Cheng has a passport for her and will accompany her to the harbor. Well, er, nope.
Please, like she ever would. Side note: TERRIBLE hair in this episode for our Killer Wang.
Ming Lou. What is your plan? Please tell me you've thought about this. 
Ming Lou starts begging now. "Let my sister go", he says. And then...... Ming Tai comes in. He joins his brother on the floor, looks up to the Psycho and tells her to let Big Sis go. She can kill him instead. Ming Lou tries to get Ming Tai to leave, but that's about as sure to fail as reasoning with Manchun is. Manchun smiles happily, this is exactly what she wanted. And now, she wants to hear the truth from Ming Tai. How did he escape? Oh, she is curious? He will tell her, Ming Tai says.
I'm getting excited just thinking about what's next, reliving it!
Oh crap! The recorder behind the clock! Ming Tai! You should NOT be here! *bites nailbed at this point*
But quite surprisingly, Ming Tai turns to Ming Lou and hits him full square in the face. He screams at him how it's all his fault, how he killed his team, his teacher, just for that stupid code book! They end up pointing their guns at each other, shouting at each other about gambles and sacrifices, more and more agitated, not even listening to each other anymore.
*so much fun wondering if this is real, fake, or real but with an ulterior motive*
I think there's some real emotion there. But remember, Ming Tai, the crazy death plan wasn't Ming Lou's idea. He wanted to do things differently. It probably still involved lots of killing I'm sure. 
It gets louder and louder, they yell at each other to take a shot then! driving Manchun to the brink. She shouts: "Both of you, stop talking!" - they turn as one and shoot her. Many times.
Crap!!!!!! That was well done! 
Manchun is dead. There is regret in Ming Lou's face when he gazes upon her body. He even has tears in his eyes. Big Sis is unharmed (but quite unhappy to see Ming Tai there). Ah Cheng, who comes running in and her together finally get through to him: hurry and leave! Actually, all of them need to get out of there as quickly as they can.
Ming Lou is remembering that he loved her once...but you know, the minute he came back from Paris he was using her, right? At what point did he learn that she had changed?
*Looks at Ah Cheng* *really distracted* Well, I mean Manchun's family were trying to execute the Mings. It's not like all the bad blood started from Ming Lou's side. Both sides and both families were doing a Montague vs. Capulet thing. But in this scenario, it looks like Romeo will live. 
The Japanese realize that the phones have been cut off - but they don't know where. Only Guo Mu knew (hehe). The Mings, now retreating, suddenly realize that they have forgotten something. The recorder! Ah Cheng wants to go back in and search for it, but sirens start blaring in the not too far distance, they're almost here. They need a quick fix. Oh, yes! Flour! Lots of flour...
Flour is combustible?
Yes. Any fine powder is. It's why flour silos have such high fire insurance on them. And those flour scenes are SOOOOOO PRETTY!!!!!! *hugs cinematographer and director*
Have you forgotten Pied Piper already? 

And BOOM. Even if it means killing a few largely innocent men, there seems no alternative. Wow. This sequence belongs to my favorite scenes from Disguiser. It's so eerie. And so beautiful. 

Big Bro and Big Sis are driving home, seemingly at ease with things. Ming Lou complains about how hard Ming Tai hit him, but of course, she is on Ming Tai's side. At Uncle Li's, Ming Tai gets served dinner (lovely stuff). But first, a scolding from Uncle Li for going out and a threat: any other such stunts and Ming Tai will not even get soup. Then, they eat ... and Uncle Li says that the Leader of the Shanghai underground Information Unit wants to meet with him. No frontline battle unit for him. And no staying in Shanghai. Pout all you want, Ming Tai - your days here are numbered.
Isn't that Leader Ming Lou, though?


They're all smiling at the end of this episode, but oh boy, I don't trust this. Guys, to blow the whole factory up was a smart move, but ... can we be sure that recording is destroyed?! Everything that will damn you to hell and back is one there.
But what is on there, really? Ming Lou didn't confess anything. Ming Tai shows up and he's clearly surprised and they fight quite realistically, too.
Well... Ming Tai is supposed to be dead though.
Yes, if the recording isn't destroyed, it will show the Japanese that Ming Tai is alive and therefore everything Ming Lou has said and everything will be under suspicion. It's the smoking gun that proves Manchun was right. 

Oh well, we will see, I guess. If they find the recording, it won't be good that Ming Tai went to the factory. If they don't, it totally saved them all. His appearance made Manchun waver and their argument made her confused, creating the opportunity to shoot her. The drama hints at the argument being fake (when they discuss it in the car towards the end, Ming Jing says something along the lines of "if he went full out, our Ming Tai, you would not win against him"), but it was not only fake. Ming Tai still carries so much anger and guilt with him because of the death of his entire unit, and of course, his Brother, who happens to be his KMT superior too, was the one giving the orders about it. So yes, I agree: Ming Lou is to blame. The question is whether you can accept that these deaths are necessary, considering the bigger picture.
At this point I just think Ming Tai needs to get over himself. I never like him as the spoiled brat and that's how he's been, most of this drama. I know there are deeper concerns and issues and if I thought about them certainly I'd have to agree with the rightness of his opinions but I'm not inclined to make the effort when he just continually acts the hot-head.
Yeah, Ming Lou does have responsibility, but if Ming Tai really cares about being a spy and serving his country, he would stop acting like a brat and actually listen to his superiors. He's not a very stable person to have working on dangerous things when he does what he wants to all the time. 

It's the same old question, really. What is more important, family, friends, happiness or "the country"? It's a horrible question and I'm glad I'll most likely never be in a situation where I have to answer it.
In the end I think 'the greater good' should prevail, even when it costs personally. Like you, I hope I'm never in that position.
I also hope I am never in that position. 

Wang Manchun's death did not move me - she stopped being human so long ago. And yet, her hurt and the awful sense of betrayal she felt made her seem vulnerable enough to have her remain as a very interesting villain until the very end. But I particularly liked Ming Lou's tears. He did love her once and I am sure that seeing her dead made him feel deep regret. For what once was, and for what could have been. I don't buy it that he is to blame for what she became, because he left her. She made those decisions herself and she is to blame for them. But: of course he would think about the counterfactuals here. What would have been? In a different time?
Yes, for the most part that is also how I feel. We always have a choice in how we respond to the blows that life will deal. He is not 'responsible' for her, but he does own some piece of what drove her. His use of her was particularly cruel, though - and so for the last of her actions, yes, I do think he has more culpability than for her initial choices.
I'm with you on this Kakashi. Even if she was angry Ming Lou left her (and I'm not fully convinced that in the past she fully was a victim in that situation, considering her family trying to kill the Mings, which resulted in Ming Tai's mother's death and Ming Lou broke up with her), it doesn't justify her turning into a psychopath. I mean, if we all turned into killing machines because someone didn't love us, it wouldn't hold up much in court. Her skills and talent could have been much better served in serving her country, and who knows, if she had done that, she might actually have had a chance with Ming Lou. Ming Jing would probably have warmed up to her eventually even. Instead she chose to be a traitor to her country. 

BTS of the factory scene!