26 August 2016


The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 41 FINAL (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on August 26, 2016
Get ready for the final episode. Yes, you will need tissues. Of course you will need tissues. Did you think we'd get a happy ending? I'm beginning to suspect Chinese dramas never have happy endings.
Damn you, drama. I'm getting all dry from crying... less because I'm stricken with grief though and more because I don't like this ending at all.
JoAnne: On a certain level, I think it's a good ending. But as far as feeling satisfied for people I cared about, no - not a good ending at all, because it's not an ending at all.
Eleanor: I don't think we could have had a good ending without something like this though. I think they sort of went with the least sad ending that they could have. 

Episode 41

Liang steps out of his office ... and freezes. It's Mr. Tengtian, paying a visit. With the military police. Uh-oh, I'd say. They "interrogate" poor Rabbit Tooth and he gives a full confession almost immediately. He was never brave... But: still no solid evidence. Sadly, Tengtian gives the order to execute Liang. I am feeling a bit sad about that.
Do you think he gave up 'what he knew' so quickly so that he could perhaps protect some other secrets? They'd dismiss him as a coward and not dig deeper? I don't think for a minute he didn't know more about Ah Cheng than he let on during that interrogation.
I'm feeling sad about it too. I hope he didn't give up too many secrets.
The next day, Mr. Tengtian sits in Ming Lou's office when Big Bro gets there. He says it's to say goodbye. In truth, he came to tell Ming Lou that Liang Zong Chun has been executed. For smuggling. Order from the higher-ups. Oh, and he was also keeping hiding anti-Japanese people. Uh-oh, Ming Lou. Run?
Whatever happened to 'I don't care about this', Tengtian?
Craaaaaaaaaaap!!!!!!!!! Ming Lou actually looks a little unnerved in that screenshot. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.
But no, Tengtian wants Ming Lou to be the new Leader of Division 76 - and build it up together with him. Even though he is being transferred to Nanjing. Then, almost casually, Tengtian asks whether it's true that Ming Jing is going to deposit Ming Tai's ashes at the family grave? Oh, he will give her a ride on a special, highly secure train - it leaves at 11pm. The other ticket that Ming Lou has bought for her? It's cancelled. You see, he is very concerned for Ming Jing's safety, given the murder of women on the streets of Shanghai. Oh fuckedyfuck.
Wow, he's definitely got them backed into a corner.
Okay, I think I might have underestimated Tengtian. LEAVE THE MINGS ALONE!!!
The Communists send word that Ming Tai is to leave immediately that night (yes, they want him GONE as quickly as possible). What he is not told openly is that it's possible that Viper is exposed - the Japanese are "guarding" the Ming Residence day and night. That Tengtian is basically taking Ming Jing hostage is of course a trick to make Ming Tai appear. Of course, as we all knew he would, he overhears Uncle Li and Dr. Su talking about it. But don't tell me he will fall for this trick AGAIN? They beg him to leave this alone and just obey the orders to disappear but hey, I am betting my left little finger that he won't.
Good thing you don't do coke.
And then, it's time for Big Sis to go with the wolves. But Ming Lou does not want to let her go. He tells Ah Cheng to get his gun - and enough bullets. He wants to break out of the house and disappear. It's a slim change they'd survive it, but Ming Lou thinks it's still better than her boarding this train and going to a prison in Nanjing. Oh Ming Lou.... don't cry. This is a no way out situation - so he does not need to find a way out, says Big Sis.
Now that I'm thinking about this I'm getting mad.
Run away. All of you. Go. Leave. Stay safe. 
Oh brave Ming Jing... Instead of farewell words, she talks about Ah Cheng who needs to be introduced to that teacher. And she can't help Ming Lou with a future wife, but he must get married, soon! It would make her happy. She is the Ming head of the Family until the very end: she only has everyone's well-being in mind. To see Ming Lou cry is very, very painful.
I was very impressed with her here.
I think that Ming Lou is finally realising that perhaps he really should have allowed her a bigger role in spy stuff. 
You know what, this station looks VERY MUCH like Changsha station in Nine Old Gates (but it's not, I checked). (I was thinking the same thing, but it sort of makes sense - probaby built in the same time period, and there's only so many ways to design the platforms.) (I was just assuming it was the same set...) Never mind, this time, there's no ghost train, but there is Mr. Tengtian, waiting. And there they come: Ming Jing, carrying an urn, and Ah Cheng, supporting her.
Wait a few minutes, I think we'll have some ghosts for you.
Tengtian. I hope he has a heart attack and dies right this minute! 
Ah Cheng wants to go on the train with her, but she says she's safe enough with Mr. Tengtian. One last look - and Ah Cheng leaves. Ming Jing exchanges a few very barbed words with the military commander, not keeping her disdain a secret. Ahhhh, so brave. And so foolish.
Well there's not much point now, though.
She is rocking this scene so much. 
She asks to board the train, but Tengtian won't let her. "The person I wish to see is not here yet", he says. You bastard. He even sits her on a chair right there, on the platform.
See? No one's even pretending now.
Can this all be a dream please? 
It's almost 11pm. The train is blowing steam. There are many, many Japanese soldiers in that station. The train whistle sounds - it's time. Ming Jing gets up and says: "I guess that person you are waiting for will not come". She gets permission to board the train and we all sigh happily - but no. Gunfire outside the station. It's Uncle Li and his gang, including Jinyun! She is there to tell Uncle Li that Ming Tai ran away. Of course he did!
Stupid shit. I can't exactly trace the steps because it's been so long, but my strong feeling is that they're here tonight because he couldn't control himself at some point along the way.
He should never have become a spy. Ming Tai. Argh! Argh! Argh! 
Inside the station, the Japanese want to "escort" Ming Jing away, but the guards who grab her are shot. Yeah, it's Ming Tai, our sharpshooter. No need to be angry - it really doesn't matter anymore whether he's here or not. It's a no-way-out situation alright. (yes, I'm just saying that because I'm really angry that Ming Tai actually came. At least he put on a cool leather jacket over that hideous green sweater he's been wearing for weeks).
At least while we are angry we get a glimpse at the action hero Ming Tai and not the whiny impetuous boy.
I'm so angry at Ming Tai. It's not cool that he came. YOU IDIOT!!! You are going to get everyone killed!!! Ack!!! MING TAI!!!
Okay, now he's here. He calls to Tengtian to let his sister go - but Tengtian isn't done talking. He calls Ming Tai the best special agent he's ever come across (uhm, I don't know) - but he has one weakness. His affection for his family. He will let Big Sis go, but since she will see Ming Tai killed in front of her, she will forever be miserable. That means: Ming Tai will lose in any case. I kinda hate that he has a point, this vile old man. Ming Tai, you're SUCH AN IDIOT for coming here.
I bet I could be such a great special agent if I had half of all the spies in Beijing working non-stop to save my ass, too.
Ming Tai: Actually you are the dumbest most impetuous agent. Argh! Why can he not see that this was a really, really dumb idea???
Very slowly, he puts his gun down.
"Do not put it down!" Ming Jing screams. Again. And again. But he doesn't listen, cause he never does. The soldiers approach, are almost upon him ... and get shot by someone else. Ming Tai grabs his gun again and everyone fires wildly. Carnage. And then, Ming Lou appears. With his shot gun (I dig this). And there is Ah Cheng, jumping across the tracks. It's only them and Tengtian now. Dare we hope?
I'm hoping. I'm hoping!
Ming Lou. Hot. Ah Cheng. Hot. Ming Tai. Idiot. 
Tengtian knows he has lost - but he won't go down easily. He is thinking about taking one of them to hell with him. But which one? The already dead man, Ming Tai? Or Ah Cheng, who is only a "small soldier" and unimportant? (Remain calm, Eleanor.) (I'm trying really hard to) But no, it should be Ming Lou - the most valuable of them. And he aims, quick as lightning - Ming Jing gasps and jumps in front of Ming Lou..... and is shot by Tengtian. Who is shot by everyone.
There's still some hope though.
Somehow I knew this would happen. *sighs* *reaches for tissues*
And thus, Ming Jing dies. But not before she forces Ming Tai on that train. It's full of military arms and he is to bring it ... somewhere. Well, it takes Ah Cheng to actually shove him on that train. And Ming Jing, who hits him. It could be tragic if it weren't so stupid.
No hope now.
Ming Tai. You are an ass. But yes, this scene was very tragic and moving and emotional for me. 
But life goes on. There's a war to win. Missions to complete. Work to do.
Whining and bitching and not obeying orders probably, too.
Seriously. He's not a good spy because he DOESN'T LISTEN. 
And new lives in Bei Ping to begin.
I do like him in this get up, though.
Hee hee. The coats! They did a really awesome reenactment of this coat scene on a variety show. 


Don't like.
I mean, it works, sort of. 
It worked okay for me. 

But I guess we must write more. Well. Hmmm. So. The three brothers live. Ming Jing dies. She, of all people. Why? Just because. Because it's a war, because there are casualties, and because all the Mings lived on borrowed time anyway. But it feels ... unfair. She is the only one that didn't get to live the exciting life of a special agent and she dies? She had to sacrifice everything for this family and she dies?
It's one story in a vast sea of stories. She gave up so much, but so did a lot of others. There's no reason to expect that this ended the war or anything. People died every day, people who shouldn't have died, and the ones that loved them got up the next day and did whatever they had to do, just like they did the day before.
From the dialogue in the drama though, it seemed to me that Ming Jing knew what she was getting up to and wanted to be in on the action. This was her way of finally being able to join in on the action, and when it came to it, she fulfilled both a family duty to protect Ming Lou and also a patriotic one. I kind of feel it was a way of Ming Lou finally allowing her to join him. Unfortunately she died, but it's a sacrifice she was happy to make. 

It's probably wrong to blame anyone for her death except the Japanese who took her to that station, and yet, one cannot help but wonder where things went really, really wrong in this drama. But maybe they never had a chance. Too many things kept going wrong, too many things that could not be controlled, not even by super spies. Yes, Ming Tai should not have gone to that station, we all know that. But of course, Ming Tai had to go. If he had not, he would not be Ming Tai. What Tengtian called his weakness is what makes him Ming Tai - a very strong bond to his siblings, one he is ready to die for. And they're all like that. They keep saying they would put the country before family, but when push comes to shove, it's family.
At first, I thought - Ming Lou was willing to sacrifice Ming Tai for the greater good, why not let Ming Jing go? She'd have willingly sacrificed herself, we knew that from the beginning. But then later, we did learn that Ming Lou was not at all willing to give up Ming Tai and in fact planned to die rescuing him, so...
I love this Ming family. They are a little on the dysfunctional side, but I do love them and they love each other fiercely. 

He should not have gone, but he had to. It's a no-way-out situation. And in the end, Ming Jing sacrificed her life for her boys. At least, she did not have to see any of them die. I think that made her happy. She, too, put family before country - and even though I'm not sure what the drama is trying to tell us (is it better or worse to do that?), I am glad the Mings remain so human until the very end and despite the horrible circumstances in which they have to live.
Hard to say - the people who receive the most compassionate lens in this are the Mings and those who love them, so I'd say that the story leans toward family - especially since the ending is more of the same. We do what we can, and we continue on another day.
Perhaps a true form of patriotism is to loves one's family? 

So, apart from the fact that Big Sis is the only one that dies, the ending feels somewhat rushed to me. They get to the train station, suddenly, everyone is there, bang, bang, Ming Jing dead, the end. Oh well. 
True, I felt that way also. On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to have that scene drag out any longer. I expected another fight on the train, mid-trip. Ming Tai would still show up but this time Ming Jing would live and Trainwreck would die. But oh well.
Yeah, it also felt rushed to me. From what moonlil told me, the drama went way over budget and I'm guessing that they had to rush some things so the ending fell a bit flat. 

Final Comments

We started recapping Disguiser and Nirvana in Fire at almost the same time, and the two dramas also aired at similar times, but Disguiser never got as much attention and love. On the one hand, that's justified: Disguiser has faults - maybe too many. On the other, it is not: it is still a high quality drama that I would recommend to everyone who likes a bit of suspense.
Oddly, I find the characters Hu Ge plays the weak point in each, despite the fact that he's an excellent actor and did excellent work. I think Wang Kai just plain stole the show in NIF, and I think Ming Tai, on reflection, is too irritating to be likable.
Oh I thought Hu Ge was amazing in NiF but Ming Tai irritated me a lot. Jing Dong was fabulous and amazing, and well I'm Wang Kai biased all the way. Disguiser did really well in China and in Korea as well, but perhaps the theme isn't one that does as well on the Asian drama watching crowd circuit perhaps? 

A few things that Disguiser messed up:

- Ming Tai: Sadly, Hu Ge's character is never really likable. He plays him like a spoilt 6 year old and it doesn't work well. He is a 20-something year old, not a kid. The best scenes are the ones in which he is Mr. Super Spy. Competent and grown-up. The worst ones are with Ming Jing, when he behaves like a toddler. Towards the end of the drama, his hotheadedness and his inability to follow orders create too much trouble. What an idiot. He made me angry, often, but really much so in the last few episodes.
Hahahahahahahaha we are so in sync on him.
Everything you said. 

- Jinyun: The character is just so badly written. And the actress is completely miscast. She is awfully bland and uninteresting and there is subzero chemistry between her and Hu Ge. Shame. Manli forever.
*sobs* Fucking Trainwreck. You're welcome to Ming Tai. My Psycho Kitten was too good for him.
Haha. We are so Manli biased and I love it! 

- Plot holes/inconsistent writing: Some things just don't make a lot of sense or were sloppily done (i.e. the train in this episode suddenly being a super important target with weapons - they never told us before). We pointed other faults out while recapping, so there is no need to repeat them. It's not a huge deal, but in comparison to the intricate details in Nirvana, it's bothersome.
When you are right, you are right.
Yeah. It might also have to do with the original story not being strong enough? I don't know enough to say though. 

The many things that Disguiser did not mess up:

- The Mings: As a unit, the Ming family is unforgettable. So much warmth! So much tragedy! So much humanity. The family scenes, I will never forget them.
Individually, we could see deeply troubling traits in all of them. Together, though, the Mings are something special.
Truly something special. I miss them so often. 

- Ming Lou: He is the true star of this show. What a character. What a performance!
Well, you know he stood out for me from the beginning...but yes, particularly in the last third of the drama, he was spectacular.
Standing ovation for him. He was phenomenal and the true star of the show. 

- Ah Cheng: I think I like this character of Wang Kai's even better than Prince Jing. I just loved him, every aspect. The clothes, the hair, the lines, the faces. His loyalty (that we doubted! How could we!), his love for his siblings. You know what, he might even be my most favorable character in the show.
I'd say that he's the best of them, actually, but if you really think about it, Ah Cheng is the one we know the least. I could use a whole drama about him. It could be this same period of time - these exact same events - but from his perspective.
Amen to all you've said! But I'm so Wang Kai biased haha. He did an amazing job in this! He was so on the ball and did so much to make sure things worked. Ming Lou would not have been able to accomplish all that he did without Ah Cheng. Fabulously done Kaikai! 

- The secondary characters: There are so many, like Wang Manchun and Liang and of course Wang Tian Feng, Guo, and Manli ... or that braided cute spy that had everyone fooled while working for Ming Lou (where did she go?). Uncle Li, Dr. Su, even Auntie Gui. There was not one of them I did not like to watch. This universe is alive with people you would be interested to meet in real life.
It's true - with the exception of one person, all of the actors in this were beautifully cast and brought compelling characters vividly to life.
Yes. Very well done. 

- The sets and props: So beautiful. So much attention to detail. It felt real.
I kept feeling similarities to Inspiring Generation in many of the downtown, outside sets. Since there was much to love about that drama, and because it still stands out as a visual achievement, I welcomed that. It made me feel like that other story was happening, too.
It really was beautifully filmed and well done just all round. 

- The overall story: If you overlook some of the less clever details, the overall set-up and story is exciting and emotionally moving. A bit less patriotism and "yay, Communism is so great" would certainly not have done harm, but even with those elements, the show manages to entertain and at the same time, makes you think about war and family and trade-offs between the two a lot.
It did. It also made me think a lot about how recently this all happened. I knew the basics of the history but this brought it to life for me, particularly with the continued bristling going on in that region. There are reasons the Japanese and Chinese are uneasy with each other. This wasn't happening yesterday, exactly, but it wasn't long enough ago to forget entirely, either.
I think that I really enjoyed getting to delve more into the history of this time and place through watching this drama. I think that a lot of people (in the west) don't understand why China, Japan, and Korea all share an uneasy sense of being and that there are real and valid reasons for tension. 

The bottom line is this: The Disguiser is a must-watch for Wang Kai fans and the drama to watch if you haven't seen Jin Dong in anything before. It should best be marathoned (as far as that is possible) so that it sucks you into its suspense vortex. Hu Ge is often great and SO GOODLOOKING and if you can gracefully overlook the pouting and the toddler tantrums, you will enjoy his performance too.
She does have a point. Try hard.
Yes! Watch it! Love it! Oh my darling Mings, but especially Ah Cheng. 

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