Candle In The Tomb 鬼吹灯之精绝古城 - Episode 2 (Recap)

SakiVI: We get a new side character, and we make some grave-robbing progress. This show develops its storyline nicely and neatly, making what could've been slow in a lesser writer's hands interesting for us. 
kakashi: Someone in the comments section pointed out that this is a very slow show. I agree! It takes its time with everything, but that is part of its allure. It's slow, but definitely not boring. It draws you in and makes you curious for more! 
JoAnne: I'm always sorry when it ends. Well, so far. Two episodes in. It has a different feel to it than the other 'supernatural' C-Dramas I have watched so far, which I admit is not many, but this is more to my liking.
Trotwood: (*running in late. out of breath*) Sorry. I missed the first Tomb Recap train. I know people mentioned Bayi's bad hair, but I'm going to confess that I'm sorta fond of Fatty's hair. It's like he's auditioning for a Breck commercial.

Episode 2

We start with a view of our choochoo train. It's so cool! (You have to come visit me, I'll take you on a choochoo train ride!!!) Inside, Bayi returns to Fatty from his bathroom break and Fatty is avidly studying a book on tomb-robbing. Hmm, wonder if Uncle Three wrote it? One of their fellow passengers asks if they are from the archeological team, and Fatty proudly says yes, they are! Okay, I guess tomb robbing is a sort of archeology.
Sure, why not?  (I totally forgot this bit of foreshadowing, too.)  I love trains - from my house you can hear the train arriving at the station and if the wind is cooperating you can even hear the announcement.  You can't understand it, but you can hear it.
I live by train tracks and trains go by all the time. I thought it would bother me, but I actually really like it. His innocent comment should make us start to wonder what exactly the difference is between archeology and tomb robbing; they may have more in common here than we'd like to believe. I think we are going to be asked to set our own boundaries with this show.
Next, we see our boys and two other people on a donkey cart. At that pace, wouldn't it have been easier to have walked? Fatty is singing with excitement. He really loves his new job, even though he's not actually done anything yet. As Fatty is about to hit a high note, a truck blasts past, fumes and all. The lady on the cart with them tells Fatty not to get upset since they can't catch up to the truck anyway. Fatty and Bayi know her, apparently, and Fatty says she used to only come up to their knees. She says she's an accountant now. The boys are respectfully quiet, pffft.
I like Fatty and his over-enthusiastic zealousness. And I like that they are returning to this place they know: it's an extra touch that gives this more meaning than if they had just gone anywhere. Where is this exactly? It looks very much like the Swiss Alps
It's very pretty, I was admiring the scenery the whole time. I love that these guys are returning home after years away. It will make whatever comes next mean more to them, I think. If they have to fight for something, they'll be fighting for people and a place that they love.
When the cart comes into the village, the villagers are thrilled to see Bayi and Fatty. They must've been really popular back when they were stationed there! Or, maybe it's because Jin Dong had a big gun. Stop this! Ahahaha. Whatever it is, it seems like the boys have come to a second home and it's very sweet, especially when they see the village chief, whom they call Old Branch Secretary. He calls them, "Children of Mao" and asks how Chairman Mao is doing. Fatty says Chairman Mao is lying down in a memorial hall and people can visit him every day. Frankly, I don't know how to take this.
It was a macabre joke, I think, it seems the old man does not know that Mao is dead
Funny, I got the joke right away, but missed the fact that this is a place they used to work, not the place they are from!
I got the reference, but I was confused as well until they called him Old Branch Secretary. Then I realized that they must have been stationed here. It's funny how everyone recognizes them and is happy. They even have sweets for the kids. It establishes that they are good guys. We already knew, but I see lots of moral difficulties ahead. 
Fatty wasn't in the military though (we learn that in episode 6). What kind of service was this? 
When Bayi asks where all the young men are, turns out they are working for a government archeological team that showed up after an earthquake exposed the very tomb Bayi and Fatty wanted to rob. Oups. And aw, Fatty is so disappointed.
I was too! Fatty is a bit like a child and I tell you, when kids are disappointed, the sun shines a bit less bright. 
He's a sweet guy, I think, but my hands itch to cut that hair.  And that's saying something because I'm even fine with Bayi's mullet.
But it's so bouncing and behavin', Jo! What made them decide to give him curls I wonder.
I think he has curly hair by nature. See episode 6 (when he cut it)
So that's his real hair? Impressive.
In the village hall, okay, common room, they pull out the television, only to hear that the village doesn't have electricity. Okay, that's annoying. Yes, but I thought it was sweet, too. These villagers will treasure this thing even though they can't use it, I'm sure! I was surprised that they thought they would have electricity or that they had forgotten that there wasn't any. When they sit down to eat with the Old Branch Secretary and his fellow elder, they explain their plan to take some of the village antique urns and bowls and sell the items for the benefit of both themselves and the village. The second elder's doubt is pretty funny here. In any case, the Old Branch Secretary tells them all government archeological team has already bought all the items from all the villages in the area. Oh dear...
This is horrible, but I'm laughing
All I could think was that the TV was going to make a really special plant stand.
I was actually relieved. I was nervous that they would lose all the good will they were receiving because the villagers would think they were scamming them.
The next morning, Fatty yawns, stretches, and sees that his snuggle buddy (that's Bayi, for those of you who like bromance) is gone. Bayi is down by the river thinking thoughtfully. Fatty tells him, "the revolution is not succeeded yet. The comrades still have to out in the effort." That's actually kind of helpful as far as adages go, even though Bayi closes his eyes in some pain at it. 😂 Fatty then says not to commit suicide. Bayi scoffs, how would I do that in such shallow water? Pfffft.
As bromances go, this one is top notch
When you're working with material like Jin Dong...
Fatty is the one discouraged, though. He would be, it's a common mark of the over-enthused. But Bayi reminds him of a nearby Kwantung Army stronghold. Bayi thinks the must be things in there to sell, and, best of all, the government archeological team knows nothing about it.
Hope! You shine like the stars. 
People who have hope keep coming up with ideas, and as long as there's an idea there's a chance.
I was too distracted in this scene by Jin Dong's wig/weird hair cut. It seems so off kilter. This isn't the wind, people.
Next, we see our two heroes heading off on horseback. Sidebar: I'm a bit envious, actually, because lately, I just ride in circles in a ring and there they are in gorgeous countryside. Absolutely stunning location! As they ride, Fatty says he heard of other people looking for this fortress, but who disappeared after entering the Savage Ditch. Sidebar: sounds like a Series of Unfortunate Events book. (You're right.)
Yikes, Savage Ditch. I know there will be monsters, I am apprehensive... (Sidebar: so much like the Swiss Alps, I'm flabbergasted!)
It was a little weird for me.  Ditches here are not big at all and tend to run along roads.  Hard to be scared of them.
That's what I was thinking. Nope. Not scared yet.
I think it's "to ditch" (dead bodies) and not "the ditch".
In the distance, someone is galloping up surrounded by barking dogs. It's one very cute girl who was sent by the Old Branch Secretary to help guide our heroes through the dangerous wilderness. She is Ying Zi from the Oroqen tribe. No, really, she is. And she has her own big gun, an adorable haircut, and is there because there aren't any available men.
I love her at first sight.
Me too!  I hope she's here for the whole thing! (She kind of reminds me of the one friend in Weightlifting Fairy, for those of you watching.)
Fatty pooh-poohs her abilities to protect them in the forest when she snorts they're already going the wrong way, ha! Pffft, flatlanders. Then, the two remember her from when she was a baby. That's cute - and probably super-confusing for them. We next get some gorgeous scenery with my new girl crush leading the way and hunting rabbits with the dogs. That's pretty cool.
I wanted to be like her when I was a kid.
You'd like my aunt (by marriage) who grew up in Ireland and ditched school as often as she could to ride her horse out on the moors.
She is really cool. I wonder what they would've eaten without her.
She also bosses the two older geges around, and they can't say anything because she never tells them anything useless. It's pretty funny. Very much funny :) Pretty much hilarious. Laughed each time at their resignation. In fact, Bayi is so bemused, he mutters that he's a commander but feels like a soldier! And Fatty complains he's been tormented, but Bayi notes that they reached Savage Ditch with her help. Fatty's ego is still miffed, though.
She is one of my most favorite female characters ever. And Fatty better stop his sexist behavior. He's annoying. Mildly.
I'm amused by it because the set up is always for him to look like a fool.
Next, things get worse for Fatty's ego: while he's off relieving himself, a boar attacks while his pants are still unbuckled! He runs through the forest - and, here, let's note Fatty is fast because he outrunning 4 legs on a wild boar - but he falls and the boar looms over him. The dogs attack the boar, and in the ensuing struggle, Ying Zi shoots the boar dead. Woah. The heroes are stunned too. She just looks at them like, "and you were complaining that I'm a girl?" and unsheathes her hunting knife while Fatty cowers behind Bayi. Okay, I'm laughing now.
I love boar (to eat). What a feast! By the way, I once saw pigs (domestic ones, but fully grown) chase a dog. They are absolutely vicious! The dog wanted to play, the pigs felt threatened. 
I remember seeing pigs on a farm once as a kid (they were not common in dairy country) - they are much bigger than you realize, and anything that big that has teeth?  I'm going to respect.  Pigs can be mean, mean, mean.
I was worried about those dogs. One looked injured.
That night, they have wild boar for dinner. The heroes are so happy, they're smiling at Ying Zi's curt instructions. Fatty asks how they will find the fortress, and Ying Zi says, no clue, you two wanted to come. She's slicing that roast boar like a pro, by the way. 
She is a pro. Through and through.
Roast pig is one of my absolute favorite things.
Great shot with her and that gun.  She's excellent but will probably be forgotten. Sigh.
Then, Bayi asks why the ditch is called Savage Ditch? Turns out it used to be called Moon Holder's Ditch and was the graveyard for Greater Jin nobility. Then, when the Mongolians crushed Greater Jin in battle, dead soldiers were thrown into the ditch, and it was then called Dead People Ditch. Then, savages appeared, hence the current name. But, no one has seen savages for at least a generation now. Cool, glad that's all sorted. 
I wonder how they define "savages" in that part of the land?
I wish they'd define ditch.
I'm wondering if we are losing some of the connotation in translation.
Ying Zi goes off for more firewood, and when Fatty offers to protect her, says a dog is more useful. Probably true, but if Fatty hadn't disturbed the boar, they wouldn't have had such a massive dinner, right? Just saying. 
Fatty is the kind of macho man who isn't macho at all but doesn't realize it. They can be annoying, so I understand her.
At this point he should have figured her out and that he hasn't really proven to be reliable or helpful or even calm.

Bayi looks at at the moon high up in the sky. He grabs his feng shui compass and looks again at the moon. Turns out it was called Moon Holder's Ditch because when the moon rises to the highest point above the valley, an illusion is created where two sides of the mountain peaks are like two humongous arms stretching out to hold the moon. Bayi explains that Greater Jin's nobility wanted to be buried there to get the celestial moon power. Spooky. But most importantly, it means there's a big tomb! Bayi thinks the Feng Shui in the area isn't quite good enough for an emperor, but it's definitely enough for a prince or general. Sounds good enough to me.
Yes. I feel the beginning of a shudder creep up my spine. 
I think we can all agree that Bayi knows more about tomb raiding than he might have let on?
He has to. Where does he get all this information otherwise?
Oh noes, Ying Zi fires a gun shot and screams! (Or was it the other way around?) She and the heroes run to each other. I kind of think it was gun then scream. She had found a shack full of rotting bodies. Aw, poor kid is quite scared, something Fatty notes. And I note that she tells Bayi what happened, not him and Fatty.
Fatty annoys her and didn't take her for full. 
Who would you assume was the leader? Definitely, not the guy who looks like he carried portable hot curlers.
As they walk to the shack, they trip over human bones. There's even a skull in the leaves. Seriously, no one came here before? We find skulls and bones in the forest all the time. Animal ones, but still! I think it's common, haha. Oh noes (for me), more skeletons! One is still in his coat and still stabbed. Does that mean the knife is stuck in some bone? As they look at the skeletons' things, Fatty finds a Japanese military sword. (am I callous for immediately wondering how much money they could get for that sword?)  Guess these skeletons are Japanese, then. Bayi also finds something useful: a military journal. He tells Fatty that the Japanese use the written language, so he can figure out what is said. (Is this really true? he made it sound that Japanese and Chinese letters were similar, but I don't know anything about language origins, so this made me wonder if he was reading the clues incorrectly) Seems the people in the shack were Japanese, and the ones outside were tomb robbers, and there was a big shootout. The Japanese had been wandering, lost in the wilderness, no sense of North or South or East or West, for some years and then, rather than give up on their failed invasion, committed seppuku.
At first, I thought Bayi was just boasting about being able to read Japanese, but I think he really was able to. Not like Fo Ye et al. down in the tomb! 
One thing that always bugs me about these kinds of skeletons:  shouldn't they be tumbled down piles?  Why/how do they still retain whatever pose they were in when they died, if it works against gravity? And if they've been there long enough for the flesh to completely melt away, much more of the clothing should be rotted as well - the combination of weather and decomposing flesh would work on that pretty efficiently.
Ying Zi asks what I want to know: why didn't the Japanese leave? Fatty says because the forest is so big. Yeah, right. I guess they got terribly lost? That also happens. The group continue exploring the area and find a metal box with a Luoyang shovel, along with other tools and a rope. Bayi thinks the tomb is somewhere in this area and that there's a grave robber's hole somewhere too. Yay!
And we know what a grave robber's hole is because we recapped The Lost Tomb! Yay! 
How serendipitous!
The next morning, Fatty is burning off calories, digging away. He hits something hard, and three guesses what it is:
Heavenly Dragon Fire Glass Crystal Ceiling! Did you guess right? I know I was stumped.
Well, I watched the episode before I read this, so yes, I did know :)
It was right on the tip of my tongue, I swear.
Would it be anything else?
So, this Heavenly Dragon Fire Glass Crystal Ceiling was used by Northern Song Nobles to protect their tombs. They put a layer of glass crystal tiles, a lower layer of fire dragon oil (what? must be some pyrophoric substance) from the western regions, then another layer of glass crystal tiles, then soil. Because the tiles are thin, with any pressure put on them, they would shatter, exposing the fire dragon oil to air, and causing a massive explosion. Good thing Fatty didn't press too hard, then. But, despite all these precautions, Bayi thinks there must still be a grave robbers' side hole somewhere.
Okay, boys. Take note: there will be traps. 
I wonder if the same families that developed the traps later became tomb raiders.
I just hope they've been taking turns digging that hole.
Conveniently, Ying Zi yells for help. She's fallen down a hole.
Ohhhh! She found the entrance. Good job
Haha, she literally stumbled on it.


Gosh, Bayi knows a lot about grave robbing! I wonder how much he really has done before because his knowledge is pretty deep, and that suggests experience. Ying Zi is a new favorite, but I think she's just filling in the space until Joe Chen shows up.
Sadly, that's what I fear ... as for Bayi's knowledge, it does seem quite extensive. I bet, like you, that he knows much more about this trade than just old tales from his grandpa. Even just handling that Feng Shui compass, you'd have to learn this from someone experienced.   
Let's hope he knows how to handle himself down there.
And because Jo said this, I was thinking other kinds of thoughts that did not include tombs or caves. Bad influence that one.