The Disguiser 伪装者 - Episode 33 (Recap)

Certain parts of this episode are horrible to watch, thank god for words who can skip over the horror. Ming Tai is being tortured, but shows us just how strong he really is, while Ming Lou is being tortured in a different way, but just as cruelly. Be strong, man. Be strong. If only Big Sis wasn't on her way to Division 76 too...
JoAnne: Yeah, I can't wait to see how that works out.
Eleanor: Can we please skip this episode? 

Episode 33

Ah Cheng pays Liang a visit ... with a bag full of money. Liang gets it: he wants to buy protection for little Master Ming Tai. The thing is: Liang is being kept far away from him by Manchun, cause that's how Manchun treats him. Liang attempts to get some info out of Ah Cheng, like what relationship he has with Scorpion, but Ah Cheng smooooothly starts threatening Liang in turn. For example, he mentions the wife he sent away (and doesn't seem to write to), whose picture he shows the outraged Liang. Also, if it becomes known Liang is KMT's smuggling partner, Manchun will have him executed tomorrow.
He got ugly REAL fast, didn't he? Like a cornered rat. I hope to God those aren't his real teeth, by the way.
Ah Cheng and his amazing hair - cool as a cucumber. Liang really doesn't know who he's messing with, does he? Ah Cheng will kill you and bury you in the forest so fast Liang, be careful. 
Ah Cheng can be so DAMN mean if he wants to be, haha. Liang is fuming, but he never ever gains the upper hand against Ah Cheng, who hands him a number at the end and tells him to call it - to talk to his wife. But not from within Division 76 or they will know he's the internal spy. So... what is being played here?
That's the thing - he sent the wife away so he could play with the mistress - would his bosses care about that, or that he hasn't been calling her? I wondered if indirectly Ah Cheng was threatening her existence.
He pretends to be doing that, yes. I don't think he would ever hurt a woman and a child, but Liang cannot know that, so it works
What Kakashi said. He's using his wife as leverage for all the other secrets that Ah Cheng possesses about Liang. 
Liang takes Ah Cheng's threats very seriously. As soon as he can, he goes outside and starts making the call. Then, this:
You're a real shit, Ah Cheng - but you make me laugh
One of my all time favourite gifs ever
Teng Tian Fang Zheng turns up at the government building to pay Ming Lou a visit. They meet in a conference room (that looks more like a living room if you ask me.) I was thinking his office was nicer than his living room at home! It is a very nice office. There, he assures the Japanese Commander that Ming Tai is "just an adopted brother". They don't need to hold back when interrogating. Not at all. And then, he answers a set of questions the Japanese have about Ming Tai and his return to Shanghai. He makes it sound like he had no clue at all, which seems too incredible to Mr. Teng Tian. All this time, and he noticed nothing?!
It's possible. What would you notice? A playboy younger brother who comes and goes at all hours? Him and how many others in his situation?
Well, he also didn't "know" for a while that Ming Tai was back. Ming Tai only came back to the family home a while after he got back to Shanghai. So it could definitely be easy for Ming Lou to pretend that he didn't know. 
Well, don't forget, Ming Lou is officially in the spy business for the new government. And what kind of operation leader would be completely oblivious to living with a spy? Only a very bad one! 
He tells Ming Lou to think about his answer carefully and come up with a convincing one, so that they can make sure there is no scandal before he leaves the new government. Ming Lou promises him his full cooperation and will suspend his activities in the new government to assist. His duties as an intelligence officer, that is, because he cannot really resign from his economic duty. That would lead to the collapse of Shanghai's brittle economy, he says. Too bad it all hinges on him, right?
It seems reasonable but the way he said it had barbs, didn't you think so? TTFZ certainly did.
Hehehehe. Definitely some barbs there. Ming Lou might look all posh and businessman-y on the outside, but this one, he is a cobra ready to strike. He's kind of terrifying. 
Oh yes. It was: take me away, and everything will collapse. Just you see how to deal with it! 
Oh no! Big Sis is back!!!!! She comes into the house, happily calling for her Ming Tai. But nobody is home... except for Auntie Gui, who comes running and spills the beans about Ming Tai's arrest by Manchun. GREAT.
And now I'm unable to see her as anything but Consort Jing.
Liu Min Tao. I love her to bits. 
Frantically, she calls Big Bro and demands answers - which he pretends not to have. He hangs up on her after a very short conversation, which rouses Teng Tian's suspicion. Ming Lou explains he wants to go home to explain this properly. Oh, because he's afraid that she would say something inappropriate in a moment of panic? says the old man. BAM. This! Damn.
I thought it was going too smoothly. That old man is smart, and way more smooth than Manchun.
Craaaaaap!!! I don't like him! Leave the Ming family alone you horrid old man. 

Outside, Ah Cheng arrives - but Teng Tian's cronies won't let him in. He's also not to leave! They're rude!
He's so deadpan. I love the little acts he puts on.
Ah Cheng - so awesome. So awesome. Dear Jin Dong, thank you a bazillion times over for making sure that Ah Cheng was a much larger role than originally written. 
At the Ming mansion, Ming Jing leaves in a hurry, to go see Big Bro. Aunti Gui reports to Manchun and our beautiful Devil calls to the government office to tell them they'll start the "interrogation". Teng Tian invites Ming Lou along... to his great surprise and mortification. It's against the regulations, apparently, but Teng Tian assures him that in his case, they can make an exception, because he's so trusted. The Japanese eye Ming Lou and Ah Cheng as they drive there in Ming Lou's car, but both of them know how to do stone-faced well!
Longest ride ever.
Sometimes I wonder how Ming Lou and Ah Cheng keep it all together and don't just kill all these people. 
They get to Division 76 and go inside ... and we are taken to Manchun's torture chamber, where we find Ming Tai in chains and covered in blood. She slaps him around when he insults her, but he is far from broken. What he doesn't know though is that his brother is given headphones somewhere else in the building, to listen in. Manchun starts talking about Ming Lou, which Ming Tai calls a dirty traitor. One whom he tried to assassinate, no less!
Good thinking, Ming Tai.
I'm not sure I can revisit these scenes. 
She prods him further, saying "but he's your elder brother" - to which he says: "If he is my big brother, why doesn't he come here and tell you to let me go?!" And he continues on how he knows how Ming Lou always hated him, and is probably glad he is being executed soon. Damn, Ming Tai. You're good.
I grudgingly admit that yes, he is. He has terrible taste in women, but he's a good spy.
He really is. He really is. Crazy Wang might be a traitor, but he sure trained Ming Tai well. Maybe there's also something in the Ming mansion water that also turns out such good spies. 
In what follows (no details here), he basically taunts her to kill him. He won't tell her anything anyway (and he means it). She tries what she can, including insulting him as spoiled and foolish, but he whispers to her that she must be very afraid. Seeing how she's up against 4 billion Chinese citizens, including her ancestors. He does not care if he dies. All that matters is that he took some of the traitors with him. He doesn't need to be remembered, as long as he knows what he is doing.
I found that speech very effective in a really understated way.
Me too. Very effective. 
After this, Manchun appears in the command room - apparently, during "the next stage", Ah Cheng and Ming Lou are not allowed to listen in. Shit. But she wants a word with her mentor alone. She says that she wants to help him and he looks desperate ... and then bows very deeply, crushed with guilt for not bringing Ming Tai up any better. And he begs her to save his brother, so that he can return to the family. Yes, she is hopeful that Ming Tai, pampered youth that he is, will cooperate soon and then, he may walk free (but will probably be disfigured, cause if you don't die in Division 76, "you're skinned"). But if he does not cooperate, Ming Lou says, he wants to be the one to send him off. Personally.
Gee, she sure didn't look like she was taking it easy on the old family friend... but she presents it that way to Ming Lou, a little bit.
Ming Lou. Jin Dong is amazing here. 
She's batshit crazy
Yes, she is. 
God, Manchun is such a friggin psycho! With obvious pleasure, she starts pulling Ming Tai's fingernails out. Yes, that scene is as horrible as it sounds. When she is done with him, she says she should have his sister see him in his current state. "No", Ming Tai begs, "no!"
She loved every minute of that. Absolutely loved it.
*hides fingers* Just thinking about this scene gives me chills. 
But she's indeed coming ... after realizing Big Bro isn't at the government building, she is now rushing towards Division 76. Ming Lou is having tea with Teng Tian Fang Zheng in the meantime... who shows him a photo of the dead Wasp. They did suspect the codebook things was all fake, but would he have chosen death so willingly? See, JoAnne? It's working.
I know it has to work, because it's THE job of the entire drama... I still think it could have been done differently. But we'll see. It's a logic fail so far, but I don't know everything.
I also think things could have gone differently but it is working. Damn it, it does seem to be working. I also do not envy Manchun one little bit for the wrath Ming Jing will unleash on her. 
Ming Lou has asked for a painkiller, but the headache won't subside ... especially not when Teng Tian tells him that Ming Tai is being tortured right now. Ming Lou says that confessions after torture are completely unreliable. Rather, the two codebooks they have must be fully investigated. Oh, they already did that, says the old man.
One thing here, I did find his attitude shift a bit jarring. Earlier he didn't care, they could do whatever - but now, he begs. AFTER hearing that his brother supposedly wanted to assassinate him. Wouldn't that have seemed suspicious to them?
I found it believable. He's playing someone who is merely an economics person with some intelligence to be the other roles they've put him in. He's showing that he is human and not fully in control (even though he is). Allowing that humanness to seep through "weakens" him in Teng Tian's eyes. He's also "going in to shock", which makes his reactions more believable. No one would believe he's a hardened spy. Contrast this with Ming Lou killing that guy in the bathroom with this spectacles. 
I actually thought it was super believable. Yes, his brother hates his guts, but he is still human enough and "fatherly" enough to want to reform him
Downstairs, Manchun is reading a syringe - and then injects the drug. Some kind of veritaserum, I guess, in any case, Ming Tai goes all loopy. She then tells him that they investigated the code books and found that both were fake (you're bluffing, Psycho). The only thing he murmurs is "Sister".  And then "mother". And then, he passes out. 
But I do think they were both fake, and that the real one was passed on the tram. I won't revisit how that made the ENTIRE FIRST HALF of the plan pointless again.
It's definitely a plan that seems pointless. Also, Ming Tai - you are one heck of a spy. 
Ah, but we do not know what is real and what is fake, do we. So I would actually say: The plan is very much working


I was so proud of Ming Tai in this episode. Pampered and rich, and yet strong as iron and fierce as a lion. He taunts Manchun most satisfactorily, like when he tells her that ever since she became a traitor, she got uglier and uglier. It's clear to me that he will not talk, that he will keep this charade up, which makes me afraid for him... very afraid. Unless someone can convince them he knows nothing?
It's easy not to spill the beans when you don't actually know anything. His contacts are dead. He didn't even know the truth about his own plan, let alone the parts of it he wasn't involved in. He could spill some admin details about the organization, and cumulatively those are important - but he knows nothing about any operations. This does not diminish the bravery of his defiance, though.
He was amazing this episode. Amazing. I think it also did a good job conveying how pointless torture often is - and often doesn't result in reliable information. 
He has already realized that they are going after his brother, I think. He knows who the HEAD of the whole Shanghai operation is - and he is going to protect him, no matter what

Teng Tian does not fully trust Ming Lou, but he also has no evidence against him. Manchun on the other hand is simply waiting for the storm to hit (=Ming Jing). All she wants is Ming Jing behind bars, so that she has free access to Ming Lou. I must say, Ming Jing on the loose like this is scary. She is coming and I don't know what's going to happen. She doesn't know much, but she knows enough to make life very, very difficult for our boys.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to this next bit.
I really think that the Ming Brothers made a mistake to not more fully involve Ming Jing in their operations. She's a lot stronger and tougher than they give her credit for. 
It's one of the best scenes in the whole drama in my opinion
I agree. 

Ah, and by the way ... we still have no clue why Ming Tai needed to be captured and needed to be tortured for this Death Plan to work. This cannot only be about the codebook, right? 
I know you said that for me, so that I would be patient.
It is very hard to be patient when one does not know the details of this insane plan.