Mr. Chen is taken away.
Mr. Chen is blindfolded and brought to a warehouse.
Mr. Chen’s protectors are all dead.
Mr. Chen’s disappearance nearly drove his daughter crazy.
She sought after Xiao Ma in a fit of frantic agitation. But his “the director’s enemy is an entire country” provides no console.
The president rides in an empty limo, nervous bond and dismal. A parade of police cars trail the limo, their blaring sirens devour the decrepit man inside.
Paranoia strengthens its grip on Chen Lin. She backs away at the horrifying idea that the government is infiltrated and people are being eliminated to weaken the president’s political power. But Xiao Ma continues.
It’s a midsummer’s night 29 years ago, a rural village love tragedy is just beginning…
On the outskirt of the village, a reservoir is being built. Newcomers flock to the area, including a young politician who’s assigned to supervise the construction. The workers all loved to crowd around in the village’s convenient store.
The convenient store’s owner has a ravishing daughter. Her name is Ying Li and she’s just turned 20. Ying Li has a close friend. His nickname is Old Man despite his young appearance.
Ying Li is a kind girl. She especially loves the lotus pond in town. The townsmen always say that whoever gets Ying Li’s lotus gets Ying Li’s heart.
Of course, most of the youngsters in town are admirers of Ying Li, including Old Man. But Ying Li only likes the politician, who’s already married. (Mmmm, premarital sex with a married man. Worse, a politician.)
In the traditional environment of the village, Ying Li’s sentiment is not tolerated. Out of youthful love, the Old Man decides to cover for her. As long as she’s happy, he thought. A year and a half later, the reservoir is completed and the politician left.
But Ying Li finds herself pregnant. She’s cast out as a sinner and a shameful woman but she doesn’t go look for the politician. Instead, she gives birth to a boy and raises him alone. But as the boy grows bigger and stronger, Ying Li finds herself facing a dilemma — the politician is becoming increasingly powerful and the existence of an illegitimate son will impede his political success. In the end, she decides to send the child away.
A few months later, she finds an abandoned child by the pond. She takes him home, bathes him, feeds him, and teaches him how to read and write. She sees him as her own and they lead a meager but happy life.
The year the boy turns 10, Ying Li dies. The poor boy returns to his former homeless life on the streets.
Until the director Chen finds him again, thinking he’s Ying Li’s son. The director decides to protect him from all harms and make the boy an excellent police — what Ying Li wanted.
Xiao Ma’s revelation doesn’t lessen Chen Lin’s resolve to rescue her father ASAP. She steals Xiao Ma’s phone, ready to do it herself.
Old Man, now really an old man, is tied up to a chair in the Sarkozy headquarter. He is told that his hidden location wouldn’t have leaked if the president didn’t insist on meeting him. Rather than killing him on the spot, he is forced to be jammed in front of a camera.
When the president finally makes way to the podium, he finds a slip of paper waiting for him. It tells him that the Old Man’s life is at stake and threatens him to do two things: 1) announce that he’ll not run for the election and 2) surrender all the evidences he has on Heaven.
Swallowing hard, the president looks over to the computer screen that’s supposed to feed him his charismatic scandal-easing speech and sees the San Lian Hui director on screen instead. (Hello president!)
Director Chen sees the aghast look of a mental struggle on the president’s face through the live broadcasting TV screen on the headquarter wall. Puzzled first, he tilts his head to the camera in front of him and understood what’s happening — the only reason he’s still alive is so he can be used as a weapon against the president. Angrily, Old Man glares up at Boss. If looks can kill, Boss would be dead in a beat.
The president hesitates. On one side is what’s left of his political career and the duty to stop the evildoers; on the other side, shame, guilt, responsibility and penance…
Tired of waiting, Boss shoots Old Man on the thigh. The Old Man’s face contorts in pain, but the strong willed San Lian Hui director quickly suppresses all feelings of discomfort to lessen the pressure on the president. If Old Man’s effort has any effect at all, it is nullified by the gun pointed at his temple.
Finally seen enough, the president clears his throat and starts his speech.
He first apologizes for setting a bad example and verifies the truth of the rumor. The honest (har!) confession elicits an assorted responses. The reporters erupt into a wild discussion; Hero’s tightened face grows more emotional; and the Old Man screws his face in exasperation. The president continues after a beat, “my pursuit for power brought pain to those dearest to me.” Therefore, he announces early retirement and drops a bomb by “deciding” to withdrawing from the upcoming election. Another bout of whisper erupts in the room.
Hero, who has been standing in the back finds his eyes wet with tears. Old Man grinds his teeth in disappointment. Boss raises an eyebrow contemptuously, flaunting his superiority.
As reports start to exit the press conference, Hero is “asked” to follow an armed woman, who shares the same serpentine air and Barbie-fake hairdo that Cheng Nuo’s sister possessed. He is told that his father is in Heaven’s hands. Translates to: president in danger, you come with me.
In the meantime, Xi Ying sneaks into the interrogation after hour and frees Zai Tian. They hurry out to the corridor littered by unconscious guards and come face to face with Tang Zhen, the late team leader Chen’s secret partner. She is the woman who held Xi Ying at gun point last night. It is she who helped Xi Ying get into the police station to rescue Zai Tian.
Tang Zhen hands Zai Tian a piece of notes taken from team leader Chen’s house after his death. On the paper, Chen only wrote two words: “Jian Da De” and “Heaven”, Heaven is circled. Zai Tian and Xi Ying lean in to take a better look of the note while Tang Zhen explains, “I know you are closer to the core of the mystery and you have a better chance at disposing them. So here is what I’ve found: on the night before Chen died, he made a phone call to me and told me that he found an old file in the Department of Defense, which is where I found Lan…”
A loud bang interrupts her sentence. Looking down, a bullet is lodged in the center of Tang Zhen’s chest. Zai Tian and Xi Ying swing to the source of the sound and realize they are ambushed by the police director.
Whispering softly, Tang Zhen bids Zai Tian to avenge her death and falls to the ground. As she falters, Tang Zhen gives the police director one last shot, aiming to buy a split second’s advantage for Zai Tian and Xi Ying’s escape.
The cat and mouse only lasted an intense five minutes. Before Zai Tian and Xi Ying can make their exit, the police force caught up and they are surrounded again.
Seeing that things are going out of hand, the police director orders to kill his two helpless preys. (Whence came a troop of obedient badge-wearing, non-Sarkozy affiliated human killing machines?)
Xiao Ma’s arrival saves them both.
The idea of safety doesn’t make Xi Ying forget what she’s here for. She insists on returning to the forensics investigation room for her data — they may be crucial evidences against Heaven or whatever they’re up against.
The shrewed police director, hiding behind a wall, overhears the conversation and triggers the fire alarm.
In the press of time, Xi Ying and Zai Tian return to backup as much as they can from Xi Ying’s work station while Xiao Ma holds off any possible threats. (I have to say, despite all aspects of professionalism and perfectionism that Xi Ying exhibits, how could she not have a back up of all the files ready?)
In retrospect, if Xi Ying didn’t insist on returning to her work station, they wouldn’t have gotten the call to Hulk’s phone from our Geek #2. If they haven’t gotten the phone call, they wouldn’t know there is a backup copy of the destroyed chip hogging someone else’s hard drive space.
For precaution measures, the three wanted people decide to act separately. Xi Ying will be retrieving the chip alone. Before splitting, Zai Tian pulls Xi Ying over and tells her again and again to be careful, “Once you have the chip, go look for detective Wu Yang and trust no one else”. As she pulls away, he stops her again, the feelings of not wanting to part written all over his face. Then with some effort, he thanks her for risking her life to save him tonight. She returns his gratitude with an apology, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to find that girl (Xiao Mei) for you.”
“It’s ok”, he says, “She’s gone. Treasuring what I have is more important to me now. We’ll be fine.”
They exchange a knowing smile and promises each other that they will be fine.
But will they? With Cheng Nuo following Xi Ying?
What about Chen Lin, who’s caught inside the Sarkozy headquarter?
But as events are often linked by a causal relationship, Chen Lin’s capture effectively puts her in direct contact with her father, Hero and the president, who are in the same situation.
And then it’s the mandatory let’s-cry-together reconciliatory session.
Old Man starts first by apologizing to have indirectly caused the president’s withdraw from the election. The president corrects that it’s his own shame to bare. He then calls out to Hero, addressing him as “my son” with a long sigh. “I’m a sinner who made your mother suffer her whole life…” The politician exclaims remorsefully. Hero is already in a flood of tears.
Boss’s reappearance puts a halt to the tearjerking eulogy. Without beating around the bush, he demands Hero for the chip. When Hero gives no response, Boss walks over to Hero’s old father and breaks the president’s left arm (humerus). (Technically, the president has his left forearm detached from his shoulder.) Hero’s eyes widens in shock.
“Give me the chip” Boss orders again. “It’s not on me. Lei Mu Sha destroyed it!” Hero yells. Unconvinced, Boss asks again, “Do you want this? On the same day he has his funeral?” “Do you think you can get away with harming a government official?” Hero bellows. “Not the first time we’ve done this.” Boss replies evenly and points his gun at the president’s head, “Last chance”.
Hero screams again that the chip is destroyed. Unrelenting, Boss shifts his gun to get a better aim and… The phone rings.
Boss is informed of the whereabouts of a backup copy of the chip. Thinking he no longer has any use of his four captives, he orders one of his men to blow the place up.
Xi Ying successfully gets her hand on a copy of the chip (don’t know if it’s the copy yet). She is advised that the fastest route to the Prosecutor’s Office is through subway.
While setting up the C-4 explosives, a Sarkozy member spots intruders on the monitor — Xiao Ma and Zai Tian are here.
A gun fight takes place! — Now, what’s different about this fight is that it’s NOT done in the same distinctively rehearsed cadence of the previous fights (for example, this one).
If the removal of empathy is mandatory for a Sarkozy member then a clever leader would have forced another surgery to correct Xiao Ma’s failed one (since we aren’t being all that accurate with the neuroscience in this drama) instead of shunning him. I mean look at him, even when he’s short on weapons and sandwiched by two Sarkozies, he manages to throw out two smokey grenades. Don’t you look down on the two seemingly innocuous grenades. The smoke from these powerful little toys create a second of uncertainty for the two Sarkozies. And it’s this brief instant of uncertainty that allowed Xiao Ma the chance to slide under an attacker and shoot him from below! (Quite a satisfying shot, especially when this man is responsible for both Old Man and the president’s kidnap.)
Seeing his fellow comrade fall with a thud, the remaining Sarkozy heads cautiously toward the direction of the fall. He is attacked and ends up tangling in a fist fight with Xiao Ma. And it’s this point that we slip back to the familiar, rhythmic blow after blow pattern — only for a short while since the two are equally matched in skill and strength. Xiao Ma eventually snaps his attacker’s neck in half and ventures on to find Chen Lin. Well, and the others.
Meanwhile, Zai Tian has made his way to the control room. The last Sarkozy in the headquarter discovers Zai Tian and shoots in his direction. The shooting alerts Hero, who’s genetically built to take down evildoers. As the Sarkozy’s preoccupied with Zai Tian’s trademark close-eyed random shooting, Hero breaks the ropes and stops the bombs. (!! That’s some Popeye action without the spinach! And forgive me if I’m laughing too loudly, it is kinda hilarious, with the sound effects and all.)
When the Sarkozy comes back after shooting Zai Tian in the arm, Hero runs towards him and nearly knocks the guy down! After some struggling and blind shooting, Hero falls backward onto the ground again. With the Sarkozy standing over him holding a rifle, Hero is sure to expire this time but the bullet that exists the barrel hits the Sarkozy instead — Zai Tian kills the guy.
When Xiao Ma arrives, the excitement in the control room is over as well.
People are freed and information retrieved.
From the information on Sarkozy’s operating system, Xiao Ma targets a ship. He hands Hero a gun and keeps one to himself, both only containing a single bullet. Smugly, Zai Tian leads the two macho shooters to the back of the van, where he reveals a bag full of ammunition. These were bought the last time Chen Zai Tian was at the San Lian Hui’s black market for weapons. But Zai Tian’s smugness quickly subsides as they realize they still don’t have any bullets.
Xi Ying is at the subway station. It’s eerily empty there but she keeps walking. Then finally, the worse case scenario still happened. She’s stopped by a Sarkozy. (Where’s Cheng Nuo when she needs him!?)
Meanwhile on the ship, Zai Tian finds himself face to face with Boss.
Penultimate episode and I don’t have all that much to say (though I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about for the next episode). Aside from Tang Zhen’s sudden appearance and even more sudden disappearance that drops yet another hint to take Heaven down, most of this episode just builds up for the ultimate episode.
Despite the extensive explaining from the last episode that seems to encompass almost every lose end, what remains puzzling to me is the lack of follow up on Che Jin. Reason I’m bringing him up is that in episode 17, when Old Man asked Xiao Ma’s opinion on Che Jin’s punishment for betraying him and San Lian Hui, Xiao Ma suggested to wait and use Che Jin, which we never got to see. I’m just not sure if this minor part will be one of those annoying loopholes that nags at the back of my mind when I finally finish the drama.
Before I wrap up this recap, there’s another point that’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. First of all, I really like that special something between Zai Tian and Xi Ying. (Mutual understanding? The bond of having been through similar experiences? Or can I be so bold to suggest a hint of affection?) It adds an exquisite touch to the otherwise rough portrayal of relationships in this drama.
In comparison, I don’t really care for the much hyped Chen Lin-Zai Tian relationship. On the one hand, Chen Lin is very verbal about her feelings and confesses a little too effusively for my taste. On the other hand, Zai Tian never actually admits to returning the sentiment. Not verbally if memory serves right. One may argue that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, that he’s just not as expressive of his feelings. I beg to differ. From Zai Tian’s interaction with Xi Ying to his interaction with Chen Lin, Chen Zai Tian appears to be ambivalent towards the concept of commitment. (Borrowing Bridget Jones‘ word, he’s a bit of a “fuckwittage”.) And I think that’s more of a writing problem than an acting problem.
Aside: “not have much to say” turns out to be pretty lengthy.