The Weasel Grave 鬼吹灯之黄皮子坟 - Episode 1 (Recap)

SakiVI: Yes, I’m recapping again. No, it’s not Ice Fantasy Destiny. Sorry, but I lost the momentum on that other series. On the other hand, I’m rather smitten by this latest tomb raiding drama involving a teenage 81, aka Hu Bayi, and his skinny friend Fatty, and a village girl, Yanzi, who likes Hu Bayi (I didn’t understand why at first since Ethan Ruan does nothing for me, and then I saw the state of the other men in her village), and some forest wardens, and, believe it or not, some rather intelligent weasels.
kakashi: First time I'm seeing Ethan Ruan, but I can't say he does nothing for me. 
Trotwood: I was actually surprised because I knew nothing about the cast and then there was Ethan Ruan spitting on me! 

Episode 1

The opening credits are rather mysterious and ghostly and tell us of empires lost. Sweet.
Clever and funny, I found them. Those are credits I actually liked to watch!
We start with an adult Hu Bayi talking about his family having an incomplete book called The Sixteen Character Geomancy Secrets of Yin and Yang written by seniors of Mojin Xiaowei. What’s that about? You’ll find out in detail later, dear reader. Not in this episode, though, so just put it aside for now.
That book is also mentioned in Saki's other Tomb Raider recap jewel - the excruciatingly boring Candle in the Tomb!
Trotwood: I'm hoping that I won't feel the need to go into rage fits here, but I was a bit excited to remember this book from the other series. It's like that moment when you know the answer to something on a test not because you studied but because it came up in some random conversation the day before.
Back to 81: he says that thanks to this book, he and Wang Kaixuan, or, as we know him, Fatty, joined Mojin Xiaowei as grave robbers. Hu Bayi says he’s never regretted the terrifying adventures they’ve had together over the years, but now he’s quit the business and is off to America for a new life.
That's what I thought, too.
Fatty comes to wake him up. Fatty is skinny. And he complains about Hu Bayi’s untidy room even though they’re leaving for the US that very day. Okay, everyone, this is my first intro to Ethan Ruan and he is grossing me out. He looks really unwashed. Anyway, 81 wants to leave another day, and Fatty goes no way, Shirley Yang bought us the tickets, we’re going! By the way, it’s 4 in the afternoon for them. Looks like Hu Bayi slept through his last day in China.
Can't blame him. I'd like to sleep all the time too. He didn't gross me out, but he seems kinda down and out. Also: Fatty is terribly overacting. Tone it down, please, less is more.
I have to say I was a bit confused by this because from what I remember from Candle in the Tomb, Hu Bayi was NOT messy. What happened between the time Shirley left them with those mysterious marks on their body and now that would change him? 
Ugh we now have to look at Hu Bayi brushing his teeth and him spitting it out while it also drips down his chin. Nope, I don’t care how many fans this actor has, I’m grossed out. And yes, these opening scenes will mildly put me off Ethan Ruan for the rest of this series and anything else he’s in.
Still not grossed out. People sitting on toilets making farting noises etc. gross me out, but not people brushing their teeth, however messily. 
They do film it so that he seems to be spitting ON us, which is what I mentioned above. This is also when I looked up the casting to make sure it was him. He's pretty unrecognisable even to someone who's seen him before.
So, they look at a picture of themselves on their first expedition. And they remember, wooooo…
Ah, we see the village they were in then. There’s snow, fur hats, stone walls, and red party banners everywhere. The village secretary is warning everyone of winter dangers like slippery roads and sprained ankles. He has a LOT of things to warn everybody about. The young Hu Bayi and Fatty show up wanting to join the hunt for work points (couldn’t find any explanation online, but I suspect these are self-explanatory considering this is Cultural Revolution China), which is what all the adult men in this Great Khingan village are going on. But these boys are being left behind, hahaha. They’re Educated Youths sent to help out at the village or learn village ways, not sure which. But they are there, and that’s what counts for this story. The village secretary tells them to do as they are told because Chairman Mao says people should obey the arrangements of the organization, not just do as they want. Basically, Village Secretary thinks these two boys will slow everyone else down. Although he tells the boys they should protect the village against brown bears. Sidebar: we’ll get more on this later, so fondly anticipate.
Wikipedia knows about the educated youths:
Also, is this the village we are visiting again in Candle in the Tomb? 
If it is, then we know this must end positively because the villagers were really happy to see them in that show.
Oh, that's the term, Sent Down Youth.
The boys' landlady, who looks like she is 16 (if a day over 15)(Asian Don't Raisin), shows up all rosy-cheeked and the village secretary tells her to manage them well. Hold on, why did village secretary let a couple of Educated Youths stay with a single young woman? This is 1960s village China, not some music hippie music festival! Anyway, the landlady, called Yanzi, is one of those tough peasant women capable of dragging the two educated youths back home with perfect ease. Sidebar: I see an alsation! He looks embarrassed, possibly even a little upset.
Why, did he shit where he should not have? 
I instantly like Yanzi, even though she's overacting too. Tone it down, woman.  
I loved her coat.
Me too.
Oh, someone is watching the village in black and white! Is this a ghost? Or a Lurch? whatever it is, it’s low to the ground. Maybe it’s that creepy ghost from The Ring? I never saw that movie, by the way, though I did always wonder what the DVD and Mp4 ages did to the copy-this-videotape-or-die command. Also, did Sadako sniff? I hear serious sniffing from whatever this creature watching everything in black and white is. 
It has a strange caleidoscope view, this whatever-it-is! But yes, the sniffing kind of gave it away. 
Yup. Add the sniffing to the title, make it low to the ground, and we all got it.
It’s wandering all around the village checking the outhouses, and ooh, there’s a chicken! Boom, it’s gone!
As are the chicken, I'm sure.
I meant the chicken.
Cut to our educated youths snuggling in bed. No really, they are. I’m not making this up. It was overdone, there for laughs, but I didn't find it funny. I thought that shows always do this, but it's actually better for your back to sleep with you leg thrown over something like this, which is why those full body pillows are especially popular with pregnant women and people with back problems. Yanzi busts in on them and strips the covers off them which embarrasses them them to no end (why? they weren't naked, were they?), and she searches their room accusing them of theft. Hu Bayi tries to calm her down by asking what was lost - chickens - and how many - apparently he should know - and she yells only feathers are left. Both boys claim if they’d sold them, they wouldn’t even leave feathers. Yanzi tells them to stop being arrogant and find the chickens!
Did anyone understand why she thought they would have taken the chicken? It makes no sense whatsoever to suspect them.
Where would they have put ALL of them?
Oh look, the villagers are storming the house! This rather revolting and shady looking fellow, Xu Erhei, is accusing the boys of stealing ALL the village chickens. Still makes no sense. He has no evidence beyond that he’s jealous of the boys’ looks, such as they are. Still makes no sense. Fatty, quite reasonably under the circumstances, attacks Erhei. And Fatty notes that Erhei has blood on his shoes and feathers on his pants so there’s evidence against him instead. Good one, Fatty. Fatty is smarter in this one. Or maybe his brain degenerated as he got older. Remember later Fatty is the one who keeps "accidentally" finding stuff. (But not from intelligence.) Erhei says it’s because he was investigating, and Yanzi points out that he’s a known jerk, so how would he have any sense of justice? Good one, Yanzi. Sidebar: she’s not got a healthy glow on her cheeks, they’re freaking chapped. Someone get this village girl some vaseline stat.   
Meanwhile 81 is examining the chicken coop, and he finds yellow fur and paw prints. (WTH, he has a stiff, gelled perm! In Cultural Revolution China! Oh, I sorely miss my beloved Jin Dong’s fabulous hair right now.) He declares the thieves to be weasels. You know, like actual weasels. Erhei, like the dummy he is, says we need evidence. Fatty points out, hello, there’s evidence right there! Erhei says they have to catch and kill the weasels and show the undigested chickens in their bellies. Hahahahaa. The women around all say, no, weasels are weasel fairies! Don’t kill them. I agree, don’t kill the weasels. Lock up your chickens better. Erhei says, he’ll catch the weasels and trade their bodies for candies from the supply and marketing cooperatives! Ooh, turns out our two educated youths are sugar addicts because they get really excited at the word candies!
Smart of the weasels to pretend to be fairies and scare everyone.
All I could think about was that they are now on a mission because they want candy. No wonder the village secretary wanted them to stay behind!
Cut to a rather delicious looking breakfast at Yanzi’s. She warns them off killing weasel fairies. She says weasel fairies will give whatever a person wants if that person helps them. Then Hu Bayi says, right so there’s a mound in Mt Tuan nearby called The Weasel Grave? Dun dun dun. He clearly doesn’t listen well. He and Fatty want to set traps there and get weasels to buy candies. And they give some lines about avenging the dead chickens. Yanzi says, Secretary said you’re not to act on your own! But Hu Bayi grabs her hand and she melts. That was a nice scene. Okay, since the village standard appears to be Erhei, I can see why this educated youth appeals to her especially when he speaks Party propaganda in a low, well-modulated voice.
His hands are probably very nice as well.
They are probably as filthy as the rest of him.
So off our gang go a-huntin' weasels, at night, flaming torches and all. They're in a dark and spooky forest. Beautiful scenery. And those torches just keep flaming. How does that work? Are you asking how torches work? Well, you take a wooden stick and wrap one end in a material that you soak in a flammable substance like oil or petrol or wax. Anyway, they have to climb over some ridge and then they'll be at the weasel grave. But they hear something! Yanzi prays it's not a brown bear. Girl, bears hibernate. You should know that. Fatty feels the hairs on his neck rise, and he looks behind. There is a ghostly person wrapped up in a thick coat way behind in the woods. Sadoko, is that yooooooooooo???
I'm a scaredy cat. I was scared
Fatty turns back, terrified. He can't help it, he looks again. No one is there. (This is where I got nervous) After calling for Hu Bayi and Yanzi, he looks behind again, and THAT FIGURE IS CLOSER AND IN THE SAME POSE! I expected that but still, I was scared. Fatty screams it's a ghost, runs and the others run back to him. Fatty falls, and the ghost walks towards him. Hu Bayi attacks, and the ghost fights him off, and she fights Fatty off, and then when it seems they have the ghost caught, they see it's a girl who promptly kicks them in the nuts and pulls a rifle on them. Welp, a girl's gotta do what girl's gotta do.
I like her.
The girl tries to put out the flaming torch which is still burning despite being thrown onto snow, and Yanzi then runs up. She recognizes the new character, Huamei, who tells her to put the torch out. I want to know what she has against the torches or the light.  She never says. I'd be like, "How are we going to find our way back?" But no one seems to be worried about this. Pfft. Yanzi does so, and then explains that Huamei is a forest ranger. Fatty is surprised the ranger girl is so pretty. Me too, to be honest, although I think I see acne scarring. No BB cream in those days, see. (Still wondering about 81's perm, though.).
Maybe it's not a perm but his natural hair! 
Fatty introduces himself and Hu Bayi to her. She asks why he's called Fatty? He insists he was fat as a kid. Who is convinced? I'm not. Then Hu Bayi goes really close to her - he's really pushy, and while I'd hate it, Huamei doesn't seem to mind so I won't call it out as sexual harassment even though it is - and asks her to walk and talk. She asks him what they're doing on Mt. Tuan? He says they're out for an evening stroll and looking for workpoints. She tells him go hunt weasels. Same direction: go over the ridge and find a mound called The Weasel Grave. Lots of weasels there!
Hu Bayi asks why she doesn't hunt the weasels? She says she can't now that she's a forest ranger unless the village agrees. She can only earn work points, and probably less than him. Urgh, these unfair standards! Hu Bayi asks about the weasels being weasel fairies. She says the consequences of hunting weasel fairies is his business and up to whether he has the balls. They flirt a bit by staring each other down, flashing the flashlight in each other's faces, and going excellent, very excellent, totally excellent, et cetera in deadpan voices. In exchange for the forest ranger turning a blind eye, Hu Bayi also promises her workpoints.
Hu Bayi is a total flirt. Who would have thought.
What else does he have to do? But I thought this whole interchange odd and unnecessary and cold. If you are going to flirt, do it on your own time. We either need to be hunting or going back to resting. All this inactivity was bugging me.
Honestly, it just made 81 a bit slimy to me.
When our little gang get to The Weasel Grave, Yanzi notices they are downwind and the weasels won't smell them. Salt of the earth, this girl. And Hu Bayi has a trap planned with an egg and a bit of chicken feathers. This annoys Yanzi because she only just bought the chicken. She tries to headbutt Hu Bayi, and Fatty insists he will make his friend write a letter of self-criticism. Yeah, right. 
Well, he didn't have to kill the chicken to get an egg and feathers, so what's the fuss.
There are usually feathers around the nesting area of chickens.
Hu Bayi breaks the egg into the snow and puts the feathers around it. He puts a leather bag near the egg and covers it with snow, but with the opening left wide right by the egg. He wipes his footprints. Er ... a weasel doesn't care about footprints. And then they wait. A weasel head pops up! The weasel comes out. It's a girl. Nice fur. They're all excited. No, weasel, get away!!! You are no match for the Educated Youths and Their LandLady!
The CGI is alright. 
I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised
Weasel sniffs around and then, after Fatty farts, gets scared and actually runs into the bag! Caught! Oups, is it dead? It's very still.
Gased? How horrible.
I thought it was a ghost weasel.


I'm rooting for the weasel.
I haven't formed an attachment yet. This first episode was nice, I liked how we immediately sprung into action and got thrown into the world of this rural village. As previously with Candle in the Tomb, the production pays a lot of attention to detail (80s props etc.) and I think moonlil mentioned they even have the people speak in a 1980s accent? I didn't like the acting all that much though, especially not when the drama tries to be comical. It's too much "in your face". 
I liked it because it is only a half hour, and I'm recapping a show where each episode isn't less them 100 minutes.