“What are you doing?!” A very bad actor yells at Hero. (Whadda you think? He’s abducting your Barbie in broad daylight.) “Follow me!” Hero grunts at Mu Sha, ignoring the flight assistant’s (the said bad actor) frantic attempt to interfere. — I say “frantic” as a terrible hyperbole. Like, barely moving kind of frantic. — “You’re not dead?” Lei Mu Sha struggles back. Uh-uh, that’s no way to talk to an ex-lover! “Thanks to you.” Hero retorts defensively, “My life is pretty resilient.” “Did you know what you’re doing is against the law?” — Using the Law to stop Hero huh? Our pretty lady must’ve ran out of witty comebacks.
What do you think Hero will say to that? Oh no, I’ve made a terrible mistake, cuff me and turn me in? Nope, he tells her à la Rhett Butler (as in the book), “I don’t give a damn”. So she tries again, “I can yell for help and you will get caught.” Yeah that’s why she’s not yelling like a slaughtered pig already? “You won’t do that.” Hero says plainly, “It doesn’t do you any good. You pretended to be an international police, your passport must be fake too.”
“What do you want me here for?” Zai Tian stares at the toothpick chewing stranger blankly. “Lao Li has been secretly collecting information for me. We both knew it’s dangerous that’s why when I lost contact with him last night, I became agitated. He might be dead, or worse, tortured. I’ve been to his residence, there are signs of search.” By now, the hazy look on Zai Tian’s face has vanished. What superseded it is a calculating contemplation, assessing the man before him. “Based on my knowledge working with Lao Li, I know he must have passed on the information to a reliable person. So I’m guessing he gave you the evidences.”
Zai Tian shifts forward in his seat and rubs his nose in hesitance, “How do you know I’m not with the other side? And how do I know you are not with the other side?” The man smirks, “Smart question. Very smart.” He takes a seat besides Zai Tian and looks Zai Tian in the eye, “How about this, if I were the other side, I would be trying to jab you with this tooth pick right now instead of telling you everything.” Somewhat convinced, Zai Tian answers in a hushed voice, “Lao Li didn’t gimme anything.” Wrong. He told ya about the CDs didn’t he? “Are you sure? He didn’t give you anything? No document? No disc or anything?” “Nope.” Leaning closer, Zai Tian says, “There’s something I want to ask you. If you have so many clues on hand, why didn’t you publicize them?”
The guy smirks again darkly at the question, “Imagine, you’re facing a monster, whose size and strength surpass you by far. Suppose, you were only given one chance, would you make sure that one chance you got will kill the monster? Because if you didn’t, it will kill you.”
The talk of the detrimental blow brings up the topic of the chip once again. According to Wu Yang, the chip consists of a black list of names, bank accounts, monetary flow of everyone involved in the dark organization they are up against. If they were to get a hold of the list, they can call up all the account holders, cross reference the aliases with the real names and eventually, put everyone involved behind the bar.
Wu Yang’s “Do you know who has the chip” puts Zai Tian back on edge. A bad feeling is stirring in the back of his head.
In the meantime, the senator, whose men have been monitoring the new chip owner’s latest actions, caught wind of Hero’s brisk abduction.
Here’s the grand speech — the one we’ve been hearing since the preview — in entirety (brace yourself!):
“The bleakest darkness often derives from the brightest spot. In this world, there is a giant organization (I’m sure it’s as big as Director T’s imagination). They are the puppeteers of many countries’ political and economical climates. They play the money game freely, often using 100 million as their basic unit. 500 million, one billion, 10 billion, even 100 billion. To achieve the goals they want, they are willing to induce accidents and wars. From chain accidents to arson, from explosions to terrorist attacks… The more fear they stir up, they more they are able to utilize that fear to their advantage: buy more weapons of mass destruction and earn more money.
“For instance, Hai Sheng Wei (the known jewelery corporation in this fictional world), its real role is to provide a medium for ammunition purchase and transportation. Kim is a representative for the company. He is responsible for arranging importation and exportation of ammunition. Jian Da De from Chang Fu Co., is a link in this chain. Same as Lin Wen Qi (Ke Le’s mother, the Northern Branch’s ex-director). Her job is to cover up for the various illegal deals Jian performers under the table. Including Jian’s personal hobby — Dreamer.
“Lin Ke Le found out about her mother’s secret and got herself killed by Sarkozy.
“Among other known members of the organization include Chang Fu Bank’s CEO Chen Rui Hong and their accountant Wong. CEO Chen provided the accounts for money laundering while accountant Wong made negotiations with Kim. (What about Wong’s wife? That woman earned more than her husband!)
“But these two men grew greedy. They kept important evidences as leverage for more money. That’s why they were killed as well.
“Banker Chen wanted to sell the list of accounts used for money laundering to the FBI. His intention was discovered early; that’s why Sarkozy was sent to fake a bank robbery to cover up the murder. However, you and Hero happened to be there and you two happened to encounter Lin Ke Le’s killer. And detective Wu happened to kill the sniper and brought back the rifle. In fear of drawing attention, the organization boldly stole the rifle from the Southern branch.
“Accountant Wong held recording evidences. He thought he had a deal with Jian Da De to exchange the evidence for money. Hah, how naïve. To get rid of one man, they created an explosion that killed 20 to 30 people. Of course, accountant Wong was taken care of. What they didn’t expect was the back up evidence Wong handed to his friend Lee (if you don’t remember, see the paraphrase). So they had to kill again. Of course, to completely eradicate the evidences in Wong’s possession, the best solution is to burn everything. So ‘boom’, they burnt down his house and family too. (Look where greed landed this man.)
“Those closest to the secret or those in danger of exposing the secret are the very people they are set on putting away, no matter the expenses. The ammunition acquisition plan has just completed its first stage. With money already in the pocket, the second stage is well under way. This time, the range is wider and the stake higher. They won’t allow a single mistake.
“Detective Chen, where light shines, there is shadow.”
Phew that was one lonnnng translation!
Now, a long ride:
“You didn’t cuff me,” Lei Mu Sha observes, “You’re not at all concerned that I might run away?” “You’ve got no where to run,” Hero replies. “Then you’re not alarmed that I might try to hurt you again?” (See if she didn’t try to hurt him, frame him, threaten him, and kill him, the hate sex wouldn’t be hot. — Yes, I really think there should be another sex scene after all the foreplay. Yunno, Mr. & Mrs. Smith style.) Hero gives Mu Sha a meaningful long look before turning his gaze back to the road. At length, he says, “Why should I be afraid? I have nothing and you can’t use me anymore.” “Then what are you doing now?” “You’re the only one who can prove my innocence. I have to bring you back.”
Mu Sha chuckles to herself and leans back against the head rest of the shot gun seat. “Did you know,” she starts, “I waited for you to say you want me to stay at the Kennedy airport…” “Stop lying to me!” he cuts her off, “I’m not going to believe you twice.” “You must hate me,” she concludes. “There is no need for me to hate someone whom I don’t care about.” Hero answers after a pause. (Ouch.) Mu Sha turns to look outside the window. Awkward silence. Then she turns her head to the road and smiles with effort, “Before seeing you today, I secretly wished that you would escape (the gas chamber). But after seeing you, I wish you were dead. How conflicting.” Love mingled with hate, I say, she’s intense! “You’ve changed,” Hero exclaims, “you’ve changed a lot. How did you become like this?” Growing increasingly exasperated, Hero continues, “When I met you in NY, you were full of aspiration! When we meet again, I was so happy for you. But you… you’ve been working for the bad guys all along!”
“I haven’t changed at all” she corrects him softly. Then her voice hardens, “that’s how I was all along. I’ve been lying to you from the beginning. I was never a cop. I was working for them when I met you. The training was to perfect my resume. To give Lei Mu Sha a taste of real life.” “What do you mean?” She leans back and reveals, “Before I turned 20, I’ve learned to kill. If I didn’t kill, I wouldn’t be alive today.” Hero turns to look at her as she continues slowly, indifferently, as if recounting someone else’s experience, “Someone with a fate like mine, being an assassin is equivalent to being a whore.” “How are they the same? Taking people’s life as if it were your destiny. What kind of mentality is that? You can change your fate! Everyone can. All people have the right to decide for themselves!” (Are you thinking of Chen Zai Tian and his recent favorite complain of not having control over life as you speak?) “Why do you let other people control what you do? Mu Sha…”
Just when Hero’s warmed up for a preach, Lei Mu Sha strikes. Unprepared by the sudden attack, Hero stops the car, resulting in Mu Sha’s escape. Unbuckling the seat belt, Hero follows after her, determined to catch her.
He follows her deeper into the dock until he finds himself at gun point.
“Mu Sha, come with me. I can help you. You don’t have to work for them anymore. As long as you’re willing to testify, I can see to a decreased sentence. (What? Life enprisonment instead of decapitation or the eletrict chair?) Trust me, I won’t lie to you.” Softening, Mu Sha asks skeptically, “Why bother? I’ve made your life a living hell.” “I don’t know,” he tells her frankly. “Maybe because I realized how similar we were. We’re acquainted with acting alone, we believe in what we do… But in the end you’ll know, there are other things more valuable, more worthy of appreciation in front of you.”
She has lowered her gun during the process but when Hero makes an effort to advance, she raises the gun again and orders him to back off. “You don’t believe me?” “You don’t understand! I have to bring back the chip, otherwise, I’ll lose my life. My choice is either to kill you or kill myself. In my world, betrayal or failure can only end one way — death.” She walks away.
“Lei Mu Sha!” He calls and she stops. “You said everything is a lie. What about that night?” He looks at her expectantly.
She only looks at him. “So all of it is part of your plan. I used to think that in this world, only you, loved me. I was wrong. I hate you so much!” With a grimace, he approaches her again. She raises her gun to his face in warning but he grabs the barrel and holds it to his neck and pressures her, “Shoot. Shoot me. I won’t let you leave unless you give me the chip. Kill me. Living or not, it makes little difference to me.”
She stares at him in horror.
“Hero,” through sobs, Mu Sha professes, “I’ve always wanted to say sorry to you. For everything I’ve done to you, put you through, a ‘sorry’ lets me off the hook too easily… I’m sorry.” She pulls the gun away from his throat and aims it at her stomach.
She pulls the trigger and falters in Hero’s arms.
“Why? Why??” Hero cries. “I can’t give you the chip, they’ll kill you. (Ahh, love. *sigh*) I can’t kill you and I can’t save you either… So I have to kill myself…”
“Don’t worry Mu Sha, I’ll take you to the hospital — I’ll-I’ll protect you — don’t be scared…” “Listen to me,” she begs, “You weren’t mistaken. I do love you… I’ve never made any choices in this life time… I’m happy that I can choose not to kill you… I’m happy that you’re still alive… I’m happy that… that gun shot… the chip’s destroyed. You don’t have to chase after it anymore…” Then with a last “goodbye my Hero”, Lei Mu Sha closes her eyes, leaving Hero mourning his lost love…
Gimme a moment to blow my nose, meanwhile…
Cong Hao Nan (丛浩楠) – 放 [download] Let Go/Place/Put, however you want to call it. I love the angst in this song, I love the clever usage of the word “put” in almost every line of the lyrics, and I love the singer’s voice. My rambling aside, it’s a good song, suitable for the episode.
Later in the day, Lao Li’s corpse is discovered by a fisherman…
Driving home after identifying Lao Li’s body, Zai Tian gets a call from Hero, still holding onto Lei Mu Sha’s cold body. He tells Zai Tian that he has the chip, but it’s destroyed. “I… I can’t do anything now… I need, I need to leave.” “What? Where are you going? Lao Li died did you know?” Double blow.
Hero’s dried up tears well up again. All he can do is repeating again and again, “Why? Why did he die? Why? Why did Mu Sha die too? Why are so many people dying?”
“I don’t understand. All I wanted to do is find out the truth. But one by one, I push those around me to their death. What am I persisting? I only wanted to help people, save people but in the end… More people died because of my stubbornness.”
“Don’t give up.” Zai Tian encourages, “We are this close. (YES! Just two more episodes!) If we push a little harder, we’ll find the truth.” “I want the truth too! But there is no truth. Don’t you see?” Before Zai Tian can light up Hero’s hope again with the information he obtained from Wu Yang, Hero’s phone died.
The next call is from Xi Ying. As Zai Tian instructed, she has retrieved Lao Li’s call records on the day of his disappearance. His last call was to Zai Tian’s voice mail.
The series of deaths is getting to everyone. Even Xi Ying, the most calm, most logic of them all is feeling the chill on the back of her neck. She expresses her concern to Zai Tian,
“Chen Zai Tian, everyone involved in the case is dead. Lin Ke Le, Director Lin, accountant Wong, CEO Chen, Team Leader Chen, now, even Lao Li’s dead. The chip’s destroyed, there’s no more evidence nor witness. Wu Ying Xiong’s treated as a murderer and I’m on the run… Are we… done with?”
Zai Tian, the only one standing strong replies, “No, we’re not done with. The fact that you got a hold of Lao Li’s call records is of tremendous help.” “What do you mean?” Xi Ying asks. Right then, she feels the cold barrel of a gun pointing on her occipital bone.
On the other end of the receiver, Zai Tian continues, “The call, it reminds me of something Lao Li said to me…” (Finally, we’re thinking about the CDs!)
Zai Tian returns to the police station and goes through Lao Li’s belongings as his last words to Zai Tian plays in his head: If one day I were to disappear, I’ll leave everything to you… Especially my CDs. The oldies I like…
He finds a disguised disc labeled Jian Da De and pops into the computer, not noticing a dark shadow edging closer…
The disc contains a series of voice recordings.The first is of Jian Da De, urging Director Lin to steal Dreamer from the evidences room. The last is from the Southern branch director to Director Lin, telling her Hero and Zai Tian are heading over. (That took you long enough to figure out. Remember the dinner Zai Tian and Hero busted into after receiving a fake tip about San Lian Hui’s shady weapon trade? Everybody present at the dinner is involved with the organization. The Southern branch director is one of the guests, naturally he can’t be exempted from partaking the evil deads.) As Zai Tian listens in horror, he notices the fast approaching figure.
“You’re lucky. Seems like you got a nice hand of cards.” The Southern branch director chuckles as he points the gun at Zai Tian.
Zai Tian smiles back and plays along, “Right. Somehow the good ones ended up in my hands.”
“I should’ve guessed it’s you.” Zai Tian adds. The director maintains his good natured smile, “And I always knew there would be a moment like this. I knew Lao Li has evidences against me, just didn’t know where. Thanks for leading me to it.” “I know there’s someone else helping you in this station. Who is it?” Smug now, the director lowers his gun and gives Zai Tian an unsurprising surprise, “It’s Xiao Lu”.
Then from Xiao Lu stealing the rifle,
to taking Hero’s gun from Lei Mu Sha,
to the Director killing Team Leader Chen,
and Lao Li. Suddenly everything is clear to Zai Tian.
Disgusted, Zai Tian asks, “You, Jian Da De and Lin Wen Qi, who are you working for?” The answer comes straight away, “For ourselves. For money, power, and fame…. In this game, you might not win. But if you don’t join, you will always be the loser.” Zai Tian is infuriated but there is nothing he can do right now.
The next morning, a striking news climbs its way to the headlines of every major television station and newspaper: the president has an illegitimate son! And the mob boss, San Lian Hui’s Old Man, helped him disguise the scandal! (This next part is entirely false, geared to flare up public resentment:) In exchange, the president pardoned the Old Man for dealing drugs.
Immediately following the news leakage, the president pays the Old Man a visit.
Overlooking the lotus pond, the two powerful men on the opposite poles conceded that: the war has begun.
“I already told him. That kid, looks exactly like his mother. He is strong, fierce. If his mother is still alive, she would be proud of him.” Taking out the brown handkerchief, the Old Man turns to the president, “His mother left him the handkerchief and pendant.” The president smiles and says, “Thank you.” (Hah, this is a decent twist.)
Before the president parted, the Old Man asks his love rival, “Do you know who your worse enemy is?” The president considers it for a beat and smiles, “Power.” It’s a sad, the wisdom came too late kind of smile. He looks down at the lotus pond and remarks, “It’s been a long time since I last seen a lotus.” The Old Man watches the president go, the disapproval goes without saying. But it’s pity, anger, and regret for a loved one that ring most deep.
The director of the Northern branch may be sly, but his biggest mistake is not killing Chen Zai Tian when he had the chance.
We are back at the interrogation room, where the episode started. This time, Zai Tian is cuffed to a chair, waiting…
A small Sarkozy team is heading towards the Old Man’s hiding place on boat, ready for a new mission. Meanwhile, the Old Man is sitting in his usual spot overlooking the lotus pond. He sighs deeply and knowingly as he clenches onto the pendant, waiting for his fate to unfold…
The president sits alone in the limo, waiting as well; anticipating the moment of public humiliation (or assassination) when he comes to terms with his mistake at the presidential press conference…
Initially I thought, after a solid 21st episode, 22 might recede in intensity and in pace. But this episode not only lived up to the high standard set by its preceding episode, it created another marvelous sensory experience. It is, by far, my favorite Black & White episode up to this point.
The way in which this episode was conceived deviated greatly from the customary event a, event b, cut back to event a, then on to event c, event d… presentation employed in the first 21 episodes. Instead of displaying an array of events occurring in rapid succession, this episode chose a more punctual, blow by blow approach so that each individual segment is given more importance. Then at the very end, the speed is once again accelerated with a new set of fast moving incidents to signal the beginning of the final act.
A large quantity of revelations were delivered in this episode. It’s satisfying to see minor points (e.g. who took Hero’s gun from Mu Sha at the hotel) and unanswered questions (e.g. who stole the rifle in the police department, why did Lin Ke Le die) being weaved into the bigger mystery to complete the story.
Lao Li’s death didn’t come as a surprise. Lei Mu Sha’s did. Yet, that’s the only way it could have ended for her — tragic, poignant, but in character.
I’ve always been fascinated by Lei Mu Sha’s duplicity. She is a strong female character, albeit a misguided one. She differs from Chen Lin’s outwardly snappish, I don’t take no one’s crap attitude or Xi Ying’s quiet reserve and firm resilience. She’s like a chocolate covered strawberry — yes she’s delicious, but she’s also layered. And I’m afraid, more so (and more interesting) than Chen Lin. There’s an elegance about her that conceals the dangerous killer she’s trained to be. But underneath, hides an Id of a passionate woman desperate to break out.
It’s of this complex character and her inevitable demise that gave the theme of free will another push. We’ve seen Chen Zai Tian struggling to gain control over his life. But did he become a free agent independent of natural forces? We don’t know yet but he’s trying. Then there is Lei Mu Sha, kept from free will her whole life. She could have chosen to kill Hero and slip back to the encaged life. But she chose to end her life and symbolically, end the confinement. The gun shot may have killed her but it also liberated her. For once, she’s able to proclaim her love for Hero without the bondage of her mission.