Tientsin Mystic - 河神 - Episode 2 (Recap)

SakiVI: In which our handsome youths get to know each other more as they begin investigating Ding Dad's death and that of the unknown infant. Their styles are different, but complimentary, and it looks like the beginning of a deep bromance for people who like that sort of thing.
kakashi: If they are not the true OTP, I will be angry.
JoAnne: Who doesn't like a deep bromance? And if you don't...why are you watching dramas where all the best romances are always b-romances?
Because the writers throw the bromance into my adventure story against my will.
Episode 2

Back to Deyou passed out in Mao's house. He's dreaming. Or Visioning. Anyway, we hear a little girl, probably Ying, to say, "hurry up, Brother Guo, or my aunt and your master will wake up soon." This show is not shy, is it? Anyhoo, young Deyou is insouciant and says his brother didn't drown! Seems he wants to use the Smoke of Insight technique to find out what happened to his brother because, according to Young Ying, everything with a soul is unable to stop speaking. We see young Deyou, Adult Deyou, and a creepy doll. And we see Young Ying accuse Young Deyou of bluffing. Except he is not. Adult Deyou is letting the drug burn in a bowl, while Young Deyou is using the pipe. Deep smoke inhales from Adult Deyou.
Intriguing. So he lost a brother. And he has a gift. 
Or we're all smoking that pipe...
As Deyou breathes in the smoke, he goes to another plane of existence where he splash-walks on wet ground in a really cool shirt. I like the way he dresses, yes. We see some trees with red petals. Some of them float and Deyou follows them.He tries to catch one, and then he sees Ding Dad on the ground instead of in his coffin. The red petals - or are they tiny leaves? - go into Ding Dad's nostrils. Then Deyou is disturbed by something, oh it's a creepy doll, and it's life size. And in real life, Deyou collapses to the ground.
This was very well filmed. 
It was a little trippy. I liked it.

Cut to Ding Mao and Butler Hu climbing the stairs and discussing funeral customs like burning fake money for the dead. Mao says it's a fire hazard and that people turn to dust when they die, so why do it? Butler Hu says it's for the people who are mourning: burning fake money makes them feel like they are doing something for the dead.
Got it, our little Mao is a very rational kind of guy. 
That hair though. That hair is not rational at all.
Then, Mao thinks back to the horse pinata and how something seemed weird. Yup. He goes to the funeral room, and sees Deyou passed out on the floor. Then, Ying knocks Mao out, who falls hard onto Deyou's stomach, who in turn wakes up winded. Pffft.
All the angles are really cool to see. Your perspective is continually assaulted, which serves to make you unsure of almost everything.
When Mao wakes up, he's tied up in his father's funeral room with fluffy looking knots, and he is furious to see Deyou and Ying. They watch him struggle with interest. Mao accuses them of assaulting him in his own house and Ying goes, what were you going to do to Deyou, hmmm? Before Mao can yell for help, Deyou tells him your dad did not drown. (Sidebar: why aren't there more people coming to pay their respects?) Deyou says Ding Dad was killed at sea. He was tied to the statue of Xuanwu, and then the statue was dragged through the river. Okay, so was that before he was murdered, or during?

I would say that if he was alive when they threw him in the water he didn't stay that way long, so the dragging was technically after.
Small rant: I didn't like Ying in this scene at all. Is she demented? I hate these type of female characters, so I do hope it's only a one-time-thing. 
Mao is not impressed because there's no evidence to support Deyou's theory and because Deyou has no medical forensics degree to let him say what the cause of death was. Deyou thinks Mao is admitting he's right, though how, I'm not sure. Mao says he's already done an autopsy, which of course disgusts Deyou. Deyou then tells Mao there's a type of seaweed called laver. In Tianjin, it's red in colour and good in egg drop soup, especially in a this excellent restaurant Deyou and Ying know. Mao is exasperated. Getting back to the point, Deyou says red laver can't enter the river. But red laver entered Ding Dad's nose. That means Ding Dad died in the sea (and drowned there?).
I always like how there's this convenient thing that gives away everything in crime shows. If only the real world was like this.
I just made a mental note to remember, if I ever murder someone, not to put seaweed in their nose. Just to be safe, I'll plan not to put anything in their nose.  Probably not anywhere else, either.
Regarding the marks on the wrist which Mao also examined, Deyou says they are deep from where Ding Dad was tied up. So, he was probably tied to the shrine which was tied to the boat, and then dragged over, and probably at night because the boat would have been large. (Mao is surprisingly calm, here. I would've been screaming to know such a thing about a parent's death.) Mao just sneers that Deyou just sounds like the murderer. Unfazed, Deyou notes that only the Canal Shipping Committee has ships big enough to drag a statue like that.
The plot thickens. 
As the corpse stiffens.
Cut to Butler Hu at paperwork (he's still suspicious) and to Mao rubbing his wrists, finally free. He asks Butler Hu how many ships they have that can pull 20 tonnes, and how many left port while Ding Dad was missing. Butler Hu says no way they would leave at night because visibility is poor. Butler Hu gives Mao the activity log for the ships. And then, as we cut to rather interesting police station building, tells Mao to leave this matter to the police.
I don't know, but it seems to ME that if you were going to use a ship as part of your plan to murder someone, you might not register that ship's trip in the activity log.
So, Mao goes to the police (sidebar: love the building and the art deco revolving door)(it reminded me of HQ in Disguiser), and the cops are hard at work playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. So dedicated. Mao sees all this and looks serious as well as seriously pretty. He bursts into Captain Fu's office, and I guess it's the trend in those days to have a combo Hitler Youth cut plus lush curls because these two could have a curl-off. Captain Fu is listening to music and examining a jade bottle when Mao enters the room. He's all friendly, until Mao wants to know when he's going to solve Ding Dad's case.
Captain Fu and his little mustache reminds me of airplane Wang. 
YES. But Airplane Wang is way more cool.
To a disbelieving Mao, Captain Fu says they will break their backs day and night to solve this case. Mao points out that Fu has 37 policemen, 9 cases to solve, 26 people assigned to Ding Dad's murder, who are supposedly drowning in work - we see one policeman sleeping at his desk - 3 men on leave, and, the station has to have at least 2 men on duty at all times per regulations. Mao says that if we include Captain Fu in these numbers, that only leaves 7 people available to work. And Mao saw them all fooling around.
This is amusing but only because it's a show. In real life, incompetent people make me want to kill.
Stare at the pretty picture and take deep breaths.
Captain Fu can only say that Mao is just like his dad. Mao says Captain Fu should be giving him a clear breakdown of the investigation. Captain Fu says, do your own investigation since you're so smart and have studied forensics in Germany. He says, we'll make you a special investigator for this one case. (Also, at this point, I wonder if Captain Fu is actually wearing a toupee.) Mao says fine, it's settled. (Mao's hair looks lush, if rollered. I'm still a fan! Me not so much of the air but he looks good in pic above and also in pic below.)  But he doesn't shake Captain Fu's outstretched hand. Then Fu calls someone airhead, and tells that airhead to get a temporary police badge for Mao. When Mao leaves, Captain Fu tells airhead or whoever that the newspapers are going to love Mao investigating his own father's death, and that the police won't be watched closely over it as a result.
so smart, so smart. 
I don't like Captain Fu. He's at the very least lazy.
Cut to the river shamans' house and Deyou trying to fix his damaged bathtub. Master Guo says to Deyou that Ying will fix it herself or help him once the dead child is buried. Seriously, they still haven't buried the baby corpse? That's gotta stink. Well they haven't buried Pops yet, either. Deyou says he has to fix it himself, when Mao shows up and flashes his badge. Then we get another intense moment with the boys - fangirls rejoice! - where Mao is pointing his badge and Deyou is pointing his axe. Master Guo says it's like he's not even there, pffft.
I really like Master Guo. I hope he won't die. 
It doesn't feel like he will...
Deyou pulls back his axes first. But he's very clear that in Tianjin a magistrate's warrant is needed for an arrest, whatever the practice is in foreign parts like Germany. Round 1, Deyou. And Deyou tells Mao, I didn't kill Ding Dad and you don't have proof I did. This is getting old, move on. Master Guo then says, and I note that it stumped Siantlark the Subber as well: "Cracked gold, coloured string. Criticize group, move willows." Then, he says the government does what it does, but the waters have their own ways. I guess the other things he said somehow refer to the waters having their own rules. And he tells Mao to trust the divers and fisherman with regard to his father's peculiar death, since, I suppose, he thinks no diver or fisherman would have a hand in Ding Dad's murder the way it was done. Mao is listening to Master Guo and is less hostile now.
Yes, so, about the river rules...I actually like these bits. It's mysterious. Like later, when he's not allowed to flip the fish. Is this made up or researched?
I thought he meant to trust what they say about the death, since they would understand a water-death better than anyone. Also, the fish thing is an actual bit of folk superstition. It symbolizes a fisherman's boat flipping out at sea, and is considered bad luck.
Master Guo then tells Mao, the one person who will not lie to you is that dead child. Since the child died at the same time and place as Mao's father, its body will give clues.
I think he means something else as well (as we see later).

Next, we see Mao dressed in his forensic medical gear. Looks like he carries this around. But before he can cut open the body, Master Guo tells him the family will be furious once they find out. So, Mao and Deyou both take long sticks from Master Guo to avoid touching the body. Naturally, both alpha males bend forward at the same time and bump heads. Pffft. Deyou is annoyed and snarks that Mao should leave. Mao says he can give a better explanation than Deyou. They bet on who can answer how the child died with dinner at Tai Feng Lou, a very expensive local restaurant. Wow, these two just want to friend-date, don't they? Mao checks the body first.
Who do you figure is the alpha of alphas? I vote for Deyou.
Cut to all three men at dinner. Mao tries to flip the fish over after one side is eaten. Deyou stops him, saying it's bad to do that. Fisherman don't like it. Me, I don't believe it. People who fish for food and their living aren't going to waste their food. Mao dismisses the no-flipping rule as superstition. Master Guo tells Mao to just accept the rule since it works.
I do wonder. Deyou is probably just trying to make Mao's life hard. I would, too. He's snobby. 
He didn't say don't eat the other side, he just said don't flip it over.
Mao looks really pretty as he listens well to Master Guo. He thinks back to how Deyou guestimated the child drowned, and was from a wealthy family with skeletons in the closet. Sure, maybe. At any rate, he wasn't able to give a better explanation than Deyou. And Master Guo points out that salvage divers know what drowned people look like because they see them all the time. And Deyou is all smug because Master Guo is supporting him as winning the bet. But then Master Guo "flips the fish" (I'm using it, so there) and says what they know as salvage divers may not necessarily be correct.
School these young bucks, Grandpa.
And then we see what Mao guestimated: child was from a poor family because a wealthy family will not give up on an heir, but a poor family will give up on a child they can't afford if it has medical bills. Eh, it's the medical bills part where Pretty Mao lost me because not affording a doctor doesn't mean a family won't keep their child to the bitter end without drowning it. I think he means to say the child was really ill so they dumped it into the river instead of paying the medical bills. At any rate, Master Guo agrees with Deyou and Mao is the one who pays for dinner.
And I assumed he meant they couldn't afford a doctor so the child died, and they tossed the corpse in the river...but as I think about that, why wouldn't they just bury it?
Later, as they walk back to the salvage divers' home, which I've learnt from watching ahead is called the Dragon King Temple, Deyou tries to shoo Mao away. Mao simply says that he wasn't wrong just because he had to pay for dinner. When they go in, Master Guo tells Ding Mao to gather some leaves over there. Mao is surprised, but since he seems to like the old man, goes ahead and does it. Pffft at Deyou glaring at him. And then Master Guo tells Deyou to go get a lamp.
Lesson time?
We next see Mao laying down the leaves in a line, and Deyou spreading oil away from the leaves. They both go back to Master Guo like they're his henchmen. Then, as they walk to another part of the temple, Master Guo tells Mao to get the soybeans from the kitchen. Okay, where is this going? Those soybeans are spread over the floor. Master Guo says these are precautions. And when they all go into the kitchen - I think it's the kitchen - Mao sees something, I'm not clear what, and realizes it's not just the three of them. He tries to rush to catch "them" and Master Guo says, they're right here. He blows a pipe dart, and a "ninja" falls right out of the ceiling and then rolls and rushes away. Then he slips and slides on the soybeans, hahahaha! The boys do too, and although the ninja gets his balance, he still faces the leaves which he assumes are a trap. Dashing away, he slips on the oil nearby, and the dead baby, which was in his arms all this time, goes flying over to Deyou, who hands it over to Mao. The Ninja rushes off, clutching his sore backside, ha, and the boys follow, Mao still with the wrapped baby corpse in his arms. (Sidebar: this baby corpse business is a bit morbid.) Master Guo from behind says, nicely done, and here I think he means "precisely done," and Deyou says no matter happened, that ninja didn't say a word, so he followed a code.
That was a very cool scene. So - when Master Guo said the baby will tell them all they need to know, I think he suspected that the whole situation with this body will reveal itself
But what made him suspect that?
His coolness. 
Back inside Dragon King Temple, Deyou wonders why the ninja wanted the infant, and Master Guo says, you have to ask the infant. The two boys (young men? Youths? Dudes?) walk over the Master Guo who is rolling his tobacco paper. Deyou sits, but Mao solemnly asks Master Guo to take him as a student. Deyou accuses Mao of joking, Master Guo says you're too pretty for salvage diving (hmmmmmmm, I disagree), and Mao says he has seen a whole new world of which he knows nothing, and that he has made a fool of himself, and so he needs Master Guo's help. Deyou says Mao is still a fool. Deyou tries to extort fancy meals, 1000 pieces of silver and 10 years hard labour from Mao, but Mao isn't fazed. Master Guo simply says he has to follow tradition.
The next morning, Mao moves in with all his luxuries - and the juiced up turtle. I'm guessing that turtle was hungover. Yep, tradition met.
He is far too chipper, is Mao on drugs? 
I think he's anticipating making Deyou's life miserable.
Mao respectively addresses Master Guo as Old Man River, and continues his move. And as Deyou tries to stop him, he just sidesteps Deyou with this cute rabbity smile. He gives an expensive chair to Master Guo, and when Deyou whines that Mao isn't the master of the house, rather shamelessly tells Deyou he is usually late, so take this expensive German clock, all the while calling Deyou "Senior". And interestingly, that giving people clocks in China is bad luck (thank you, Siantlark, for explaining), because funeral and clock are homophones, and so Mao subtly told Deyou to die, pffft.
Of course, Mao is all innocent and sweet, saying, "let's be friends."
Pushy little bastard. It was very cute. I don't think I could have resisted either. 
This is going to be fun. A cohabitation bromance! The best kind!
They all sit down to a feast partly bought from expensive restaurants, partly made by Ding Mao's chefs. and himself! Master Guo is delighted. Deyou is furious. He tells Mao that he's sitting in front of the Kitchen God, and that he should sit further away from Master Guo to show respect. Mao just says these are all superstitions. (Sidebar: he's far enough away from Master Guo, though perhaps Master Guo could've been placed at the head of the table.) Deyou argues these are traditions. Deyou also yells at Mao to go back home and that he's the worst son ever because he's there at the temple instead of mourning his father.
Yes, getting old now too, we get it. Deyou stands for the old, superstitious world, Mao for the new, scientific one. 
Let's hope they stop beating us over the head with this.
Mao pulls his chair closer to Deyou, and says, first, he's a Special Investigator who witnessed that attempted crime yesterday, and so has every right to stay and investigate. And second, Deyou is a temporary police contractor, so Mao outranks him. (Mao really has the cutest little rabbity grin.) And, Mao notes that Deyou is not fully off the hook for Ding Dad's death, so Mao can drag him in for questioning whenever. Deyou's sulking face and sulk-squirms throughout all of this are hilarious. And then Mao yells he's been respecting their traditions and will now study under Master Guo, so back off, Deyou. Boy, these two really push each other's buttons. Bromance fans must love this on a whole other level. Anyway, Master Guo tells them to shut up.
Yes, I ship them.
It would be nice if we find out later that Master Guo and Ding Dad were friendly competitors in their youth.
Cut to a post-lunch discussion of the case. Mao strides around, and says whoever tried to steal the child must be a relative. Not to be outdone, Deyou strides around and says it must be an illegitimate child.

Next, we see Mao in a rickshaw headed to the police station. He asks Captain Fu about missing persons, especially infants and children. Captain Fu brushes Mao off. Mao then looks around and sees clues that Captain Fu is cheating on his wife: extra private room, cup with lipstick, fur from a fur coat on the captain's chair, wife who is a devout buddhist who wouldn't wear fur or lipstick... These are all total conjectures, but Mao catches out Captain Fu who does not have the determination to deny any of this. Captain Fu takes Mao to the records room so he can investigate the missing child.
Yes, we get it, Mao is good at this rational stuff. He's also really snotty. But at least, he's very pretty, so I keep forgetting to be annoyed with him. 
They always have him in a bright light, did you notice?
Over at Cang Cu, where Deyou is asking about midwives. However, he does it in a really roundabout manner, in which he first asks if there's anyone new, refuses her, then asks for an older woman, refused them, and then asks for a pregnant woman. The Madam is shocked, pffft. Then, Deyou's nah, for a friend. And she says, so your friend should give birth. Then she thinks it's Deyou's child, and he's so embarrassed, he keeps rubbing the table. Anyway, the upshot is, she tells him to go to the night market for an illegal midwife.
Is a night market specifically for illegal things?
We cut to Mao setting up home in the Dragon King Temple. We hear him telling Butler Hu that he has to stay there to investigate his father's death and that he thinks Master Guo can help. And he looks lovely polishing all his surgical instruments. No really, he does.

Next, we see Master Guo enjoying his new African rosewood chair. He tells Butler Hu to help himself to tea. At first they discuss Ding Mao staying there, and then, Master Guo mentions the conspiracy from 20 years ago. Oh, so he has some big suspicions about Ding Dad's death? Or even knows who probably done it? Butler Gu says, you mean Mo Gu Dao?
Hmmm...did I actually finish watching this episode? I don't remember this.
And we cut to a rather sinister, if beautiful, art deco room with someone whose back is to us.
Aha. Mo Gu Dao. And here I was, suspecting the butler.
Ohhhh, I really like this room. What show was it that had the shark swimming overhead? (Mystic Nine!) I'm reminded of that.
In the ending credits, we see Master Guo and Deyou looking closely at the German clock and jumping back when it changes hour. Deyou is suspicious that Mao isn't as innocent of Chinese customs as he appears, and probably did mean to tell him to go die with the clock. Basically, he is complaining about Mao being there because he's a bit jealous of another student for Master Guo.


Wow, this show is so good at all the details! The whole ninja scene was so nicely done, and by that I mean the old meaning of "nice", which is precise, someone like me who usually misses those sorts of details in all the activity could see everything while still getting all the action.
Yes, that scene was among the best in this episode. 

I also enjoyed how the boys kept pushing each other's buttons, and yet can't seem to separate. Mao wouldn't leave Deyou and Master Guo alone because of his investigation, and Deyou is helping, I guess to clear his name as well as to score points with Master Guo who is definitely helping Mao. And their two styles totally complement each other: one goes and gets the official lists, and the other finds out who the shady people are who would know about missing, secret children.
I do like their dynamics and how different they are, but I also found it all rather lengthy. I get these kind of things immediately, usually, I do not need 3 or 4 different scenes repeating everything.
It's repeated like this to show how intense their love-hate relationship is, so that fangirls of both actors can ship them.
Which is fine if it's funny but we don't need it all in the same episode. Repeat examples once an episode, perhaps, so it's a running joke.

And it seems we have a Big Bad. Can't wait to meet him!

One thing I do not understand, though: shouldn't that corpse be green and rotting now?
Maybe it is - we did not see it.
Maybe they do stuff to them.