There is a certain satisfaction in seeing all the main characters together, not stealing glances, not averting eyes, not raising voices, just talking about the case and trying to put together the pieces. I wish the romance would be down played to bring up the under-explored theme of solidarity.
Well, there’s still time for wishful thinking, isn’t there?
Claire Guo – Mona Lisa [download]
Base on the preliminary results of Hero’s deductive reasoning, Sarkozy wins the first place on the Hall of Shame. The runner-up, coming closely behind Sarkozy, is the Department of Defense.
Just to paraphrase, Sarkozy is responsible for:
- The bank robbery
- The restaurant explosion, which kills accountant Wong and “inadvertently” wipes Xiao Mei off the surface of earth, again
- Lin KeLe’s murder
The twins from the Department of Defense are responsible for:
- Killing Mr. Lee and stashing accountant Wong’s briefcase
And the overlapping part:
- The murder weapon that used to be in Sarkozy’s possession was stolen by the spy/traitor who leads to the appearance of the twins from the Department of Defense
- Director Lin’s connection to the Department of Defense and her unparalleled role in her daughter’s murder that was accomplished by one of Sarkozy’s snipers
(In case you’re wondering why I keep listing facts in this and the previous recap, the explanation is that even though regurgitating the aforementioned speculation n times still doesn’t open doors for new leads, it’s insisted in the drama that we repeat them nonetheless.)
As Hero delves deeper and deeper into the subject, Xiao Ma warns them,
“Are you guys sure you want to continue with this? The enemy isn’t someone you can deal with easily…. The two of you are only employees of the police department, but your enemy is more powerful than you can imagine. With only the two of you, the chance of succeeding is slim….
“But if the two of you have made up your mind to continue, I will help you.”
Showing support aside, Xiao Ma does have a big question mark hanging in the air for Chen Zai Tian: why was he there at the explosion?
Zai Tian recounts in a subdued tone:
I went to look for a girl, the girl I’ve liked for a long, long time… … The first time we met was three years ago…
“Three years ago?” Xi Ying interjects, “Was that the same time you underwent plastic surgery?” Chen Lin looks up, suddenly alarmed. Hero turns to look at Zai Tian, waiting for further explanation. Zai Tian continues.
One night three years ago my life was changed forever…
… to be with her, I decided to accept the strangeness that’s becoming my life… Including, being a police…
When Zai Tian returned to the McDonald’s, Xiao Mei has left the fast food restaurant. The phone number given to him by her colleague was turned off as well. He hasn’t seen her ever since, only the picture on the wall told Zai Tian it wasn’t just a dream.
Following Xiao Mei’s disappearance, Zai Tian started his new life as Chen Zai Tian the policeman. Due to a lack of training and experience, his life in the department didn’t go too smoothly at first. Then the day he’s to be sent to direct traffic, he received the first mysterious fax. With the help of the faxes and his new face, he soon climbed up the career ladder and became the new hotshot in the branch.
Chicks, sports car, maison, and money, everything he didn’t have before as a vagrant are suddenly at his disposal.
If life was so carefree and contained, then why work? So Chen Zai Tian handed in his letter of resignation and saw, to his horror, how his car, his house, and his money were all taken away from him. He understood one thing, being a police is what he needed to do in exchange for the luxury.
You may think this story sounds inconceivable, but it’s true. I went from a Slumbdog to a Millionaire…
Even hours after leaving Zai Tian’s house, the uncanny yet rustic story still affects everyone who has heard it.
Finally, giving in to the nagging curiosity, Chen Lin takes Hero and Zai Tian home to find out the truth.
The first thing Zai Tian does when he is face to face with the sick Old Man is to shoot out a series of accusations. “Gao Yi disappeared from prison… It’s your work isn’t it? Because he remembers my face. You are the real mastermind behind Dreamer aren’t you?” Wild Goose tries to barricade the onslaught of attacks, but Zai Tian ignores his intervention, blabbering drunkenly that the Director must be behind everything. In the end, the Old Man defends himself, “I don’t ever touch drugs. Dreamer has nothing to do with me.” Chen Lin steps in to make the point clear, “My father hates drugs. The entire San Lian Hui knows this. Whoever caught dealing or trafficking drugs will be cast out of San Lian Hui. There’s no way he could be behind this.”
“Then I have a question for you Director” Hero starts, “One of the North Korean con caught dealing Dreamer was killed in the hospital by a woman who later tried to kill Chen Lin and I. She had her brother investigate Chen Zai Tian’s identity. What is the connection between all these events? What is your relationship with the Department of Defense?”
When the Director refuses to answer, Zai Tian tries his persuasion skill — only to be interrupted by the blaring siren outside.
A large crowd of policemen force enter the San Lian Hui base, causing both tension and commotion. The director coolly addresses the lead man and accepts the search warrant for drugs.
Not wasting any minute, the leading officer heads directly to the pot of lotus and lifts it. Underneath, piles blocks and blocks of heroine.
The man who detests drugs is found to be in possession of large quantity of drugs, the nasty irony mocks poignantly.
Of course, the police department doesn’t let slide any chance to flaunt their superiority. But this time, their confidence isn’t so ill-founded. On top of the heroine found at the Director’s home, there were others discovered at the San Lian Hui warehouses, as well as a detailed invoice cataloging every transaction with a large drug manufacturer based in Thailand. Furthermore, the police has gotten a hold of a witness who is willing to testify against the Director for ordering an assassination six years ago. Someone is making sure that the Director is in for a lot of trouble.
The contrived drug scandal puts San Lian Hui on the defensive. They quickly gather their pitchforks and torches for a Traitor Hunt. Wild Goose even vows to get arrested so he can kill everyone who had the nerves to testify, if the rescue mission to save the damsel director in distress were to fail. (Dude, we know you’re loyal but do you have to go that far?)
To everyone’s surprise, Wild Goose finds Zai Tian to join their discussion of San Lian Hui’s internal affairs. He asks Zai Tian to become their correspondence in the legal office. Considering Wild Goose’s request as a sign of desperation, Chen Lin tries to reason with Wild Goose that Chen Zai Tian, as an outsider, shouldn’t be dragged into San Lian Hui’s mess. “He is not an outsider,” Wild Goose contradicts.
“Oh, is it because he paid for the plastic surgery and gave me money each month?” Zai Tian retorts sarcastically. “It’s not because of the plastic surgery or the money”, Wild Goose looks Zai Tian in the eye and says the next sentence with emphasized clarity, “You are the director’s son.” — What an unsatisfactory revelation. But let’s move on for now.
Facing the unforeseen news, Zai Tian chooses denial then anger. Chen Lin’s reaction is more of an exasperated incredulity.
“How can he just proclaim to be my father? Who does he think he is? Does he even know my mother? Do you know who my mother is?” Calmly, Wild Goose says, “Your mother’s name is Li Ying Li, blood type A, favor flower lotus. She died when you were only 10. Is that enough?” (Hah, my joke that Zai Tian is the lover’s son ends up hitting the jack pot after all.)
Bitter now, Zai Tian demands, “What kind of father is he? Where was he when my mother died? Where was he when I was loitering on the streets, getting beaten to a pulp? Now, because he says he’s father, I have to call him dad?” But Wild Goose tells Zai Tian that the director has never given up looking for him and his mother. When the Old Man finally found his mother, she’s already dead, and her son has started the life as a vagrant. Yet the director kept searching.
“My mother has never told me I have a father. She has never mentioned anything about my father. So I guess she didn’t care whether my father is alive or not. If she didn’t care, why should I?” Zai Tian starts to leave. Wild Goose stops him and with the last bit of patience, he asks Zai Tian to come around and face the truth.
After Zai Tian’s resistance comes Chen Lin’s stormy temper.
All the while, Che Jin watches with a jeering half smile, as if it were an entertaining day-time TV show.
Here, the prerequisite angst:
(Am I supposed to be moved? Sorry the over exposure has desensitized me and made me a cold hearted cynic.)
The next day at work, a clueless Hero gives Zai Tian a mini lecture on how Zai Tian should take the time to think about what kind of police he wants to be and how to obtain that goal. Very much the kind of things Hero would concern himself with. Unaffected by Hero’s advice, Zai Tian muses that they are not even involved with the San Lian Hui case and follows Hero to find out more about accountant Wong. (Good idea, it’s about time we talk about something else.)
Accountant Wong’s payroll records turn out to be pretty darn interesting. He is a high salary individual whose monthly wage is equivalent to half of a decent car. He earns 350 thousand TWD a month (roughly 11 grant US dollar or 8 grant Euro) — don’t be too envious, because his wife’s salary will make your eyeballs pop. She’s not an employee of her husband’s company, but she gets paid 500 thousand TWD a month by the same company (about 16 grant USD or 11 grant Euro).
Now, take a moment to pick up your fallen eyeballs because there is more than that. Mrs. Wong, (the one with the despicably high wage) died a little while ago. There is no one the two policemen can talk to about Mrs. Wong’s occupation or what she might be involved with. But accountant Wong’s wage has always been oked by the CEO, so he might know a thing or two about Mrs. Wong.
The two of them went to the main corporation building and waited for half an hour, only to be informed that the CEO is too busy to see them. When the secretary enters to apologize, Hero’s annoyance is transparent. Zai Tian on the other hand displays a thoughtful patience and asks if he can speak to accountant Wong’s secretary. The woman replies regretfully that the secretary has resigned following Wong’s death. When pressed for contact information, the CEO’s secretary starts to doge the question and finds excuses to leave the room. This doesn’t go well with Hero. He starts to explain to the woman that obstruction of justice isn’t something she wants on her record but Zai Tian interrupts him. Sensing the woman’s anxiety, he approaches her in a gentle tone. “Don’t worry”, he says “We will not mention anything you said today to anyone else. But this is something of great importance to us. Would you help us?” There is no playful flirtation in his voice, only earnestness. She sighs and says, “I’m just an ordinary employee, please don’t make it difficult for me.”
From the series of coincidences and the secretary’s reaction, Hero and Zai Tian reach the same conclusion: perhaps the man behind everything is this Jian Da De, the CEO of Chang Fu Inc.
As if to confirm their suspicion, Zai Tian spots team leader Chen on his way up the building.
They watched as the elevator takes Chen to the topmost floor of the building.
When they returned to the police station, Zai Tian gets an update on the San Lian Hui case from Xiao Lu. There has been words around that the government is set on eradicating San Lian Hui for once and for all. Zai Tian weights the impact it would have on him and his family while Hero voices his approval that the government is doing the right thing.
Later at night when Zai Tian returns home, he finds Wild Goose sitting on the couch waiting for him.
In response to Zai Tian’s comment that he came uninvited, Wild Goose says, “I decorated your house, put in the locks, bought your couch, and put the food in your fridge. If I wanted to come in, I can do that whenever I want to.” “Then let me protest a little,” Zai Tian answers, “Why is it always the same brand of beer? Couldn’t you put in a little more ramen noodle? I get hungry late at night.” (Umm, me too! *takes a bite of the cinnamon roll and continues typing*)
Ignoring Zai Tian’s little moment of (cute) immaturity, Wild Goose starts, “Do you know where the Southern branch got the tip that the Director was in possession of heroine?” “I don’t know. I’m not in the criminal investigation unit anymore.” Zai Tian hands Wild Goose a bottle of beer and continues, “This case is not under the jurisdiction of Southern branch. We’re only doing the busy work. Besides, Team leader Chen hates San Lian Hui’s guts. You want me to ask how he got his information now? That’ll only make him suspect me.” “So you agreed to help?” Wild Goose observes.
Zai Tian doesn’t make haste to disagree, but he doesn’t agree either. Instead, he launches into a question session.
Zai Tian: Why did I test positive for Dreamer?
Wild Goose: Your original facial features were lousy. The plastic surgeon said you would be under a lot of pain during the operation and you would also require a long recovery period post-surgery. So we found Gao Yi to keep you in a dreamy state to minimize the pain.
Zai Tian: You damn bastard. You actually said my facial features suck! (Chen Zai Tian can be so odd sometimes. But in an endearing, funny kind of odd.)
Wild Goose: Later, we had to get rid of Gao Yi in fear of exposing you. Did you really think your pipe just leaked magically?
Zai Tian: Do you know who Gao Yi was working for?
Wild Goose: I don’t know who he worked for but there is something else I can tell you. Every building in the vicinity was built by the same corporation. Have you heard of Jian Da De from Chang Fu Inc.? He’s the one.
So how does this infamous Jian Da De look like? Well, we’ve seen him before, shortly after the bank robbery:
But he’s not the Big Boss mentioned in the last episode. He’s only a pawn, but a pawn powerful enough to make the director of Northern Branch shiver in fear. He chides Director Lin for not taking care of her daughter’s death, which attracted attention to him. To push Director Lin to the end of her limit, he threatens her with her son’s life. (Poking another hole isn’t a very smart thing to do if your intention is to cover up the previous hole.) In any case, through Director Lin’s panicked phone conversation, we find out that Jian Da De has a drug habit.
Stuck in the tight corner that she’s in, Director Lin calls Lao Li from the Southern branch for a meeting at their usual place. One gets the feeling that the two are fairly acquainted with each other. However, Director Lin never made it to the meeting place.
She takes some pills to calm her nerves while driving (which, is never a good idea). The pills have been tampered to induce sleep. As Director Lin dozes off on road, the Northern branch discovers that the evidences for the Dreamer case have disappeared.
I’d have to say, this episode was pretty average. There’s a lot of regurgitation to remind us what had happened but nothing terribly new is going on until the very end. It’s sad that the preview for episode 16 excited me more than all the supposedly big “revelations” before hand.
What I Liked
I like the way shots were combined in the preview; it gives off a cryptic ambiance. And I’m anticipating Sonia Sui’s addition that will surely spice up the waning intensity. (Like, finally!)
Honestly, this episode turned out to be a quite the disappointment for me, but nothing too unexpected. I had hoped that director Tsai wouldn’t fall for the contrived promising-lovers-turned-sibling trap for a few reasons. First, not only is the idea unoriginal, it’s for the wrong drama.We’re not here for a cheap angsty romance, you see enough of it in Starlit. We are in for some badass action! That to me means tightly woven plot and fast moving pace. This episode felt stagnant at times because a good half an hour was dedicated to setting up for the sibling “twist” when an episode is only 50 minutes long. So when the twist failed to deliver, the build up felt wasted, which is my second reason for not liking this particular arrangement. Thirdly, if Zai Tian and Chen Lin were to end up together, then we are in need of a second twist to reverse the damage. But the question is, is all this necessary? True, I appreciate the complicity of this drama but a good work isn’t consisted of only complicity. Besides,we’re busy enough trying to figure out who’s the spy and who’s on who’s side to require additional distraction on the romance. After all, romance should streamline the plot, not dominate it.