A moment he’s there, then the next, he’s gone…
Valen Hsu’s Love * Pull Up (愛情‧進站)
… like he’s enjoying some sick game of hide-and-seek. Only, she isn’t aware.
She isn’t aware that Guo Jing is captured by Mei ChaoFeng.
Mei ChaoFeng had been hiding among the artificial hill in the middle of the palace and overheard her call him by his name. When she turned away to navigate through the dark, Mei ChaoFeng had whipped out her whip and pulled Guo Jing to her.
Worried about the silly big boy, she cries out, “Guo Jing? Guo Jing?” Responding to her call, a nearby rock breaks off, revealing Guo Jing grasping onto the thick whip around his neck and Mei ChaoFeng, planting herself firmly onto his shoulders and gripping onto the same whip. Then more people came to trace the source of the sound, Guo Jing, Huang Rong, and Mei ChaoFeng are quickly surrounded.
Ignoring the sidekicks now around them, Huang Rong takes a step towards Mei ChaoFeng, “Have you ever missed Peach Blossom Island?” Mei’s head turns sharply towards Huang Rong and alarmingly, she asks, “Who are you?” “You will know when you hit me.” Huang Rong replies calmly.
Despite Guo Jing’s protest, Mei ChaoFeng reaches out to attack Huang Rong and feels the presence of the Ruan Wei Jia wore by Huang Rong. Remembering Ruan Wei Jia as one of his teacher’s treasures, she snatches her claw back and tilts her head pensively. “Who are you?” she asks again, more alarmed than before. “Yes, Mei RuoHua.” Huang Rong answers Mei ChaoFeng’s internal inquiry out loud and takes another step forward. “How do you know my real name?” Mei ChaoFeng finds herself in a conflicting emotional state and quickly mutters a line from a poem, to which Huang Rong quickly recites the corresponding line to. Perhaps a little inconceivable of what’s happening, Mei ChaoFeng presses, “WHO are You?” “My last name is Huang.” is the only answer Huang Rong needs to give.
A faint smile of hope glides across Mei ChaoFeng’s face, she bends her head slightly to thank Huang Rong for saving her life 14 years ago.
14 years ago…
Mei ChaoFeng had fallen in love with a fellow pupil. Well aware that their master Huang YaoShi is infamous for being eccentric, they are unsure whether their well respected teacher will sever their budding affection. Out of fear and folly, they decided to steal the half of Jiu Yin Zhen Jing Huang YaoShi owes (its consequence and impact on Huang YaoShi, Huang Rong, and the rest of the pupils will be discussed in a later episode.) After successfully retrieving the book from their master, they eloped onto main land and started practicing the kung fu written in the book, thus commencing an endless spree of killing through gruesome means. Yet, no matter how hard they practice, without the other half of the book, they soon hit walls.
This is when Mei’s now husband suggests for them to return to Peach Blossom Island to steal the other half of the book. So the two sneaky thieves set their feet on the island again and Mei ChaoFeng suggests that they visit Huang YaoShi’s wife. The visit reveals the tragic blow to chest that the gentle woman is dead.
As Mei ChaoFeng attempts to recollect herself from the shock, Huang YaoShi arrives. Huang Rong, just a small girl then, led her father away and kept Mei ChaoFeng safe from his wrath.
… and she is forever indebted to Huang Rong for saving her life.
So far, WanYan HongLie’s sidekicks have been excluded in the conversation and remain uncharacteristically quiet to listen to the entire revelation before starting to hack people up with axes. At the very least, now everybody has an idea of the background Huang Rong came from. The knowledge works itself into a nice intimidation tactic. To take the advantage further, Huang Rong bluffs. “My father is nearby. One signal, he will come.”
Fear works wonders. The sidekicks become hesitant to attack while Mei ChaoFeng is ecstatic and reluctant to see her master again, with the vain hope of re-instate as her master’s pupil again. Taking advantage of Mei ChaoFeng’s jump in mood, Huang Rong pulls Mei to her own side. Now the situation changes. Mei ChaoFeng is helping Huang Rong fending off the attackers by working with Guo Jing, as opposed to hindering their escape by attacking Guo Jing.
Huang Rong and Guo Jing easily got rid of the sidekicks’ attacks and found Yang Kang with Mu NianCi. Yang Kang is still buried deep in denial. However, facing Huang Rong, Mu NianCi, and Guo Jing’s insistence on his real identity, he finally melts down into a puddle of nasty fury and attacks Guo Jing like a mad dog. Bao XiRuo’s final entrance saves Guo Jing from further blow. She reveals the truth while holding Yang Kang in her arms. He succumbs to the truth at last.
Together, the group leave the palace and return to Yang TieXing’s lodging. Except, Yang TieXing is the one playing the hide-and-seek now. He is drunk somewhere on the street, wallowing in guilt and self pity. Understanding Yang Kang is feeling unsettling with his finally confirmed identity, Huang Rong and the rest of the youngsters leave him to be with his mother. After a little bonding, adapting, and decision making, the mother and son make leave to return to the palace.
WanYan HongLie is pleased upon seeing their return, never considering for a second that they would come to say their goodbyes properly. 18 years of living together, severed by a single cold goodbye just like that. There is no looking back, no longing glances, no guilt. Only a heart-breaking indifference.
Pushed to breaking point, WanYan HongLie runs out of the main palace entrance to beg them to stay. To no avail. When the last remains of the mother-and-son pair’s image fades in the horizon, WanYan HongLie crumbles onto the floor, completely deflated and defeated.
When the pair return to the tavern, Yang TieXing has already left, too ashamed to see his only relative. The bunch set out to look for him and come back with fruitless results. They stumble across a temple and enter it upon Bao XiRuo’s insistence to pray.
She repents for her ignorance — of accepting a Jin man’s offer of kindness. Her only hope now is to see her husband again, even if for a fraction of a second; even if she has to trade in the rest of her life. Saddened by her love, longing, and desire to see her husband, the group tries to comfort her with Yang TieXing listening in the back of the Buddha.
Yet, Yang TieXing is too shamful to come out and embrace his wife.
Seeing that nothing is helping, Huang Rong decides to give things a little push. She yells at the Buddha, “Haven’t you seen how sad that woman is? Why can’t you make that poor woman happy, when it’s completely within your power?” Hearing her accusation, Yang TieXing finally walks out from behind the Buddha.
Now hide-and-seek is officially over. The couple faces each other but no one utters a work. Bao XiRuo is teary eyed, Yang TieXing is full of shame. Yet, they are standing together the proper way parents do in front of Yang Kang. Taking it as a cue to return to his roots, Yang Kang kneels down before Yang TieXing. But no choking sound of “father” ever came out of Yang Kang’s mouth. He just couldn’t muster the courage to call this strange man in front of him dad. It doesn’t feel right. Not yet.
Yang TieXing doesn’t press. Perhaps too shameful. Perhaps too understanding. Perhaps it’s time lighten the mood a little!
Huang Rong does exactly that, offering to cook and keeps herself busy while leaving Yang TieXing and Bao XiRuo to themselves to reconcile and Mu NianCi and Guo Jing with Yang Kang to provide him with group therapy. Yang Kang resists advices again. Too cynical, pridful and if you will, foolish, to open up his arm and embrace reality — which will be his problem later on.
The old couple sits across from each other inside the temple, undisturbed under the soft candle light and a table full of food. Nervousness galvanizes the atmosphere, only to be exacerbated by their mutual taciturn. Both look down to avoid eye contact. Finally, Bao XiRuo takes the initiative and holds up a glass to urge Yang TieXing to drink with her. He only looks down, his hand never leaving his side. Bao XiRuo lets out a soft sigh and holds up a pair of chopsticks to offer him to eat instead. Yang TieXing looks away and replies dryly after a second that he isn’t hungry. Bao XiRuo looks down at her lap, trying to hide the hurt from her eyes.
When she looks up again, her gaze meets his. Electrified, both look down again immediately to avoid the other’s eyes. Giving themselves a moment to recollect, they both look up again, this time, their gazes are filled with sorrow, regret, hesistation, and wonderment. Finally, Yang TieXing gets up and explains curtly, “I’m going to take a walk.” and storms out of the door to hide. (Again.)
Bao XiRuo is left alone to nurse the wound of rejection. Two streams of hot tears travel down her pale face like two twinkling stars…
Hide-and-Seek would be a good name for this episode. Yang TieXing is hiding from Bao XiRuo because he can’t face the fact that he is unable to provide her with the kind of comfort WanYan HongLie is capable of, while neglecting what Bao XiRuo really needs and wants.
Bao XiRuo on the other hand is the seeker (only she isn’t looking for the golden snitch.) She is the one taking initiative, reaching out, being bold and brave to her husband’s black moods and lack of security.
While the husband is physically strong, the wife is the mentally stronger of the two, which, is a nice balance.
(For the record, this is the quickest recap I’ve written. :D)