Yuan DaYing holds the ball and *thump* he charges at Can like an angry bull seeing red, sending Can flying towards the poll. *BEEP* the judge blows the whistle. Xiang looks from DaYing to Can, completely perplexed by DaYing’s irrationality. DaYing may act out of the ordinary on court, but never feisty the way he is now.
Now Xiang holds the ball, Can moves forward to block him. Xiang dribbles and makes an outward 360° turn to move past Can — a little too slow — Can ruthlessly snatches the ball away from him. Xiang looks aghast. DaYing gives Xiang an understanding look and walks over to pat him on the back.
Even W, who is normally too well composed to allow her emotional state to be betrayed by any unattended look, starts to show signs of agitation. George looks on the court with a nasty self-congratulatory smile hanging loose on his chapped lips. Even the audience gets a hinge of Xiang and DaYing’s out of norm behavior (as well as JieEr’s absence) and rightly attribute their misbehavior to the corresponding psychological stressor.
*Beep* Another foul. A few seconds later, another. Two more and DaYing will be out.
DaYing stands looming over Can and reaches out a hand as a gesture of helping Can up. Can looks up at DaYing and reaches out. Simultaneously, DaYing pulls his hand away and swings his arm upward in a scratching motion. Then he gives Can a meaningful look and marches away. Can is neither provoked nor embarrassed. He lets out a victorious crooked smile and looks after DaYing. Then his expression changes. The signature smile is replaced by a menacing look of hatred as his gaze finds Xiang, who has been watching the exchange. He helps himself up and walks toward Xiang. Before the trajectory of their lines of travel meet, he shoulders Xiang’s chest forcefully and subtly and limps to the bench belonging to Xuan Wu without looking back.
Xiang remains reticent, so does DaYing as W chides and reminds them both that 1) five fouls, they are out; 2) they can’t always dodge the opportunity to score and depend on teammates to cover for their cowardice. It’s obvious that DaYing is playing so explosively that it almost seems like he’s on a mission to hack people up in halves. Xiang on the contrary is playing so meekly that he appears to be the one being chopped in half. They know. They just can’t help themselves.
When resting period is over, the game resumes, history repeats itself again. Xiang works on offense against Can, loses the ball, DaYing covers for Xiang and retrieves the ball in a head-on collusion with Can. Instead of just grabbing the ball, DaYing remembers how mortally wounded JieEr winded up after playing death ball with Can the night before and aggressively bumps Can onto the floor.
Upon the completion of the first half, PiLi is behind by 21 points and DaYing has earned himself four fouls. Before leaving the court, DaYing walks up to Can and gestures, without even bothering to talk to the despicable man before him: I am watching you. And I will get you. Before leaving to bang on the locker in the resting area.
W is frustrated. DaYing is unyielding. Xiang is troubled. XiaoYun, XiaoYu, and DuFei are edgy. None of them want to lose, yet none of them can device a better way to turn the tide. So finally, W decides to switch strategy all together. Prior to leaving the room and jumping back into the game, DaYing reminds Xiang again to treat JieEr well. Xiang scratches his head after contemplating the words for a while and walks out. (lol like either of them need to be reminded. If basketball is second nature, then treating JieEr well is third nature to them.)
The second half of the game starts out with PiLi catching up point by point. Yet, the prosperity doesn’t last long. Soon, DaYing finds himself defending against Can’s attack. Can shrewdly ducks lower and provokes DaYing, “The reason you are so angry is because I hurt Qiu Kui isn’t it?” DaYing’s face turns two shades darker as he speaks through clenched teeth, “Why would I not be.” (I must admit, Show Luo’s acting did improve.) Can grimaces, “Qiu Kui protects DongFang Xia, and you are protecting Qiu Kui. What is this? Brokeback Mountain?” I must stay calm. I must stay calm. DaYing reminds himself over and over, dribbling, pursing his lips, and fighting away the angry tears. “Don’t think just because I got four fouls, I don’t have the guts to act.” Can urges him on, “Oh I know you can and will. For Qiu Kui isn’t it? If I had known Qiu Kui is your lover, that night, I would hit him harder.”
Now Can has done it, pushing DaYing over the top. DaYing passes, rather, throws the ball away and jumps on Can and sends his fist flying. Despite the onslaught of the judge’s whistling, the commentators’ protest, the audiences’ exclamation, the fellow players’ hooting, and the tiny voice of reproach from DaYing’s deepest rationality, he finds himself planted on Can’s stomach, punching the man with both fists. As his fellow PiLi players manage to pull him away from Can, he waves his arms and kicks wildly, yelling, “Keep talking! I dare you to keep talking!” He is herded by his teammates toward the bench, then the after shake hits him and he turns to charge at Can once more — only he is stopped by more people and W’s command for him to get off the court. Now.
Can watches DaYing’s exit with great amusement, then he turns to enjoy Xiang’s look of distraught. Xiang looks away frightfully.
Meanwhile, PiLi only has four players remaining on court. (It’s time for them to find a sixth player!!) Nobody, not even W has the confidence to completely transform the outlook of the game now. Yet, W believes that even if they were to lose, they would lose with class and dignity.
On the opposite side of the bench, the two vengeance driven coaches are discussing their new strategy with Can, who, suggests that rather than winning PiLi by 20 points (which is nothing by NBA standard), it would be ten folds worse if they were to win by a single point. Both coaches warm up to the idea. (Risky I say. But I admire Can’s confidence.)
When the game resumes, Can remains on the bench while the original members of Xuan Wu continue the game with the remainder of PiLi. (Now that just makes people think that all the fuss about Xuan Wu being one of the top four in the nation and last year’s champion nothing but hearsay. After all, without any elite player like Xiang or Can, they are only on the same level as PiLi.)
While Xiang is slowly coming back from the Land of the Dead, DaYing is gradually entering the Night of the Living Dead. The thought that JieEr can conceal her identity, endure so much hardship for Xiang helps DaYing to reconcile with the fact that he’s out after five fouls — his doings are to vent the anger Xiang would have felt if he had known about JieEr being hurt playing death ball for him last night. Yet, knowing that no matter what he does, he will never have JieEr’s heart saddens him.
Out on the court, PiLi has made up for the difference and is currently winning by a single point. Can reemerges 21 seconds before the game ends. Not a doubt that he will deliver the final blow to Xiang’s confidence and shatter it completely.
Xiang fends against Can, his eyes inadvertently focus on Can’s leg brace and the imagine of their unpleasant childhood event resurfaces. As if reading Xiang’s mind, Can cuts pass Xiang, yelling, “This is what you owe me!” and slams the ball into the hoop as hard as he could.
Over for both Xiang and Can.
The following day, JieEr receives the news of DaYing’s fouls and PiLi’s defeat via newspaper. When DaYing comes to visit her, her first question is whether Xiang is alright dealing with his first defeat. Her second question is how she should explain her absence to Xiang. Although it’s disconcerting for DaYing to hear JieEr care so much about Xiang and less so about him, he hides the discomfort and embraces JieEr’s inquiry with frank replies mixed with condolences. (poor baby)
Just as DaYing and JieEr are discussing a plausible way to explain her disappearance, Xiang calls. DaYing now faces the difficulty of lying, (which is hilarious to watch).
Xiang: DaYing, where are you?
DaYing: *cough cough* I, er, I’m coughing. I don’t feel well.. (he’s totally not answering the question.)
Xiang: Have you seen JieEr?
DaYing: Jie.. JieEr?
JieEr waves her hands furiously
DaYing: Er, no, no. I don’t know where she is.
Xiang: Nobody has seen her for three days… Maybe I should call the police.
JieEr waves her hands and shakes her head
DaYing: er… er… er…
Xiang: Er what?
DaYing: er… re..are you serious? Er, DongFang Bug, JieEr’s not a kid anymore. She wouldn’t just disappear. If she hasn’t turned up by this afternoon, then maybe you can consider calling the cops.
DaYing winks at JieEr
Xiang tilts his head and squints his eyes: Yuan DaYing, you are acting oddly. Are you.. not telling me where JieEr is?
At this point, DaYing fakes the sound of a bus approaching and hastily hangs up. (lol) This gives JieEr an idea. She knows exactly what excuse she’s going to tell Xiang now.
DaYing helps JieEr home, Xiang hears voices and comes over to find JieEr wrapped up in bandages like a Christmas present. DaYing explains that JieEr was involved in a car accident. To spare Xiang from worrying about her, she has instructed DaYing to keep it a secret. Xiang looks JieEr all over, making sure she is fine. DaYing looks down and quietly recedes into the background…
He returns home completely dejected and envisions JieEr and Xiang’s wedding while he plays the piano forte with a teary face. The daydream ends in a cacophony as JieEr and Xiang start to make faces at the camera.
Can is unconcerned about winning. His only obsession is to defeat Xiang a second time. To do that, PiLi has to win the remaining two competitions while Xuan Wu must lose a match. “So be it,” Can decides.
To make matters worse, grandpa pays Xiang a personal visit, demanding an explanation of his recent defeat. This old man tears up an old scar by mentioning Ah Fu (now known as Can), and cuts another wound right on top of it, threatening Xiang to win back the shame of the defeat, otherwise, he, grandpa, will intervene. (Whatever that means.)
The next day at practice is like watching two monologues at the same time. The trio sit at the bench and look from DaYing to Xiang, who are wearing opposite colors and standing/squatting at the opposite ends, thinking about opposite things. Xiang is concerned with grandpa’s words and works on fighting back the fear; DaYing is wondering how he should feel towards JieEr now that he knows her feelings.
Determining the source of their pensiveness as the result of the game with Xuan Wu, the trio blasts the Superman song and starts dancing between the two melancholic guys to cheer them up. (Which is so cute of them!)
It’s W’s simple “real love is unconditional” that clears up the mist in DaYing’s head. He now has a new direction and the so longed liveliness finally returns.
The next game, PiLi wins easily. Perhaps the easy victory is getting to DaYing’s head, he jumps to the commentators table and screams into the microphone that he orders Xuan Wu to lose the next game. This interlude of farce is terminated by W’s flying bottle and Xiang finishes the job off by dragging DaYing away by the leg. (Don’t you worry, Xuan Wu is losing this one on purpose.)
Soon enough, PiLi is informed that Xuan Wu had indeed lost. The next game is still against Xuan Wu. While everybody is pumped for the rematch, Xiang tells himself that he must overcome this obstacle. (Yeah! About time for him to come out of the moping mode that lasted three entire episodes!)
To Xiang’s dismay, grandpa has already intervened. He orders half a dozen men to “invite” Can to his house for a “talk”. If you think a lame man is subjected to oblige to brutal force, think again. Can may not walk like a normal person, he is as agile, if not more so, than a normal man. Yet, no matter how physically fit a man is, he is no match to a sedative bullet, which is how Can ends up in the equipment filled room Xiang was being experimented tested on a few days back.
The grandpa zaps Can as if he’s a little rat in a Skinner’s box. The only way to leave this place of hell is to pass the defense of three athletes and score. That’s typically not a problem for Can, except when he attempts to do so, grandpa would zap him. (Did I say this grandpa is a firm advocate for corporal punishment?) Congruent to grandpa’s prediction, Can’s force comes from scorching hatred. The more intense he feels the burning sensation of anger, the stronger he becomes. (Don’t you wish you are Can so you can crank up that anger speedometer and be extraordinary?)
Strong enough that he rips off the hoop, leaving the basketball board to disintegrate into a million little shards.
The next morning, DaYing drags JieEr out onto the court to act out the plan he devised the night before, specifically targeted against Can. This time, he boasts, he will make sure Can leaves the court before him. JieEr Qiu Kui is mildly amused until DaYing starts to spit out his “ingenious” plans. JieEr’s face turns gloomier and gloomier as DaYing blabbers on. Finally, she tells him to stop. His methods are strictly self-sacrificial. If he were to do the things he mentioned, Xiang may prevail at the game, but DaYing would hardly survive.
DongFang Xiang’s grandpa just loves to spread the seed of resentment. Anyway, I like the idea that PiLi actually loses. I mean gosh they’ve been invincible since they started competing! Yeah yeah, wining is guaranteed in a sports drama, but there’s nothing exciting about knowing PiLi will win each time.
Can’s look of serenity and resignation after the game intrigues me. Any thoughts on that?
Real. Mayhem. Next. Episode. And guess I will have to jump into the explanation of Tian Wu Ren in the next recap. 😛