Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 2)

Zhong Kui tries to track down an angry ghost and ends up crossing paths with Xin Yu multiple times in the process. Granny Wu tries to hire him to work at her bakery.


Recap

Zhong Kui tries to figure out what message he should send Xin Yu that will contain actual words, but can’t come up with something he’s satisfied with. Xiao Qi and Ah Fu try to peek at what he’s doing, but he hides from them. Suddenly, they sense the female ghost who hitched a ride with Zhao Jia Jun and made him faint. They teleport off to go find her.

En Xi suggests that Xin Yu should just block Zhong Kui (or Zhong Zheng Nan, which is what she knows him as), who keeps sending her stickers and no words, but Xin Yu can’t. He seems to know who she is and she can’t block him until she figures out what he knows. She finds the whole situation weird, but En Xi points out that weird things aren’t necessarily bad things. For example, Professor Lu gave Xin Yu a month’s worth of salary in advance, which is weird, but it also means that they can pay rent.

En Xi tells Xin Yu that she should use her leftover money to buy some new clothes for herself. Xin Yu says that she’s fine just wearing En Xi’s clothes, but En Xi doesn’t want her borrowing things anymore.

Xin Yu and En Xi pause to take some selfies on a pedestrian overpass. Below, Zhong Kui and his partners fight the female ghost, who seems to have a strong grudge. She spots Xin Yu and En Xi taking selfies, then smirks at Zhong Kui and teleports herself up onto the bridge. Zhong Kui makes En Xi pass out before the ghost can attack, then protectively grabs Xin Yu so that the ghost passes through him instead of her. The ghost smirks and disappears. Xin Yu and Zhong Kui stare at each other.

Xin Yu and En Xi wake up in their hotel room the next morning with no memory of returning the night before. The last thing they remember is taking selfies on the bridge. Xin Yu pulls out her phone to check out the photos. She managed to capture the ghost and part of Zhong Kui’s jacket in one of the photos. En Xi asks to see and Xin Yu resists, but all En Xi sees are their selfies. She doesn’t see the photo with the ghost.

Xin Yu gets her phone back and flips through several more photos that she accidentally took of herself in Zhong Kui’s arms, but all she’s captured is his jacket and not his face. She doesn’t remember any of it.

Xiao Qi and Ah Fu appear in Zhong Kui’s room in the morning. He hides his phone and tells them to knock next time, even though they’ve never done that before. They ask if he’s trying to hide something about Meng Po. He ask them if they noticed anything weird about her, then points out that her god energy has been suppressed by a spell. That’s why they couldn’t find her before. He thinks Wu Qing Yuan has something to do with it.

Ah Fu and Xiao Qi report that they brought En Xi and Xin Yu back to their hotel room and erased their memories of what happened. Zhong Kui nods approvingly.

Ah Fu shows Zhong Kui the female ghost’s file. Her name is Li Shu Hui and she died when she was 34 years old. When she was 26, she married Chen Zhi Ming. Shortly afterward, she became pregnant, but had a miscarriage. She was supposed to have lived for 23 more years. The only details on her death are that she fell off a building, but it’s unclear whether it was suicide, murder, or an accident. If she wrongfully died and doesn’t know who caused her death, that might explain why she’s going around trying to harm random people. Zhong Kui tells Ah Fu and Xiao Qi that he’ll take care of it.

Before they leave, Ah Fu and Xiao Qi suggest that Zhong Kui should try to keep his distance from Meng Po until things become more clear. Zhong Kui says that he knows.

Xin Yu returns to the pedestrian bridge where she took the photos last night, but she doesn’t remember being there at all. Zhong Kui also returns to the bridge and sends Xin Yu a sticker. He smiles when he sees her and teleports over her shoulder, asking if she saw his message. She reflexively turns and smacks him. He teleports away instinctively. She stares at how far away he jumped. He tries to claim it’s a dance move.

Xin Yu closes the distance between them, getting in his face, and demands to know why he’s here and why he keeps sending stickers. He’s taken aback — he thought she liked stickers. If she doesn’t like them, then he’ll stop sending them. She gets flustered — she never said she didn’t like them. Then she asks the real question that she wants answers to: who is she, exactly?

Zhong Kui isn’t sure what to say and turns away, trying to buy time by saying that he needs to think about it some more. She grabs his arm — he can’t keep avoiding her question. They’re suddenly very close, and she looks down. Zhong Kui peers at her and asks if she’s okay. That brings back a flash of memory: he asked the same thing last night.

Zhong Kui cryptically says that she’ll know who she is when the time is right, then claims he’s busy and walks away. Xin Yu isn’t done with the conversation and follows him.

Xin Yu tries to be subtle, but Zhong Kui knows she’s following him. He hides around a corner with a smile. Xin Yu rushes forward looking for him, then crashes into Professor Lu, spilling his coffee all over his chest. He catches her.

Professor Lu asks if Xin Yu is okay. She suddenly realizes that her hands are on his chest and jumps back, then looks at the mess she’s made. He reassures her that he can just buy some new clothes. She starts pulling at his sleeve, insisting that she go buy some new clothes for him.

Zhong Kui smiles to himself, waiting for Xin Yu to walk by, but she’s already long gone. When she doesn’t show up, he pops back out into the street with a frown, looking around. When he looks back, there’s suddenly a man in his face, Cheng Huang (Johnny Yang). Zhong Kui asks why he’s here. He responds that Zhong Kui is in his territory — of course he’s here.

Cheng Huang teases Zhong Kui about Xin Yu, but Zhong Kui isn’t in a joking mood. He calls out Cheng Huang for not even noticing that someone messed with his surveillance system. Cheng Huang says it’s impossible, but Zhong Kui telepathically sends him one of the videos of Li Shu Hui that he noticed was tampered with. Cheng Huang scans his territory for where the ghost went and sends Zhong Kui to Granny Wu’s bakery.

Zhong Kui spots the ghost hitching a ride in Ah Ming’s truck. He smirks, ready to capture her, but then gets distracted by Granny Wu, who rushes out of the bakery to greet him. She drags Zhong Kui into the bakery, insisting that he should work for her.

Xin Yu takes Professor Lu to a high-end men’s boutique. He tries to say it’s okay and that they can go elsewhere, but Xin Yu insists on this store because it’s the same brand as the clothes she’s wearing. She winces when she sees the price tag of a set she’s picked out.

Granny Wu repeatedly tells Zhong Kui all the benefits of working at her bakery and then asks, “So when you can start?” Zhong Kui starts to respond, but they’re interrupted by the appearance of a rich boy, Ouyang Kai (Roy Chang), who tells his men to smash the bakery. Granny Wu winces, but holds Zhong Kui back from doing anything, saying that they’ll leave once they’ve had their fill.

Ouyang Kai eventually tells his men to stop and reminds Granny Wu that her son took money from him and agreed to move out. Granny Wu tries to protest — she signed a lease. But Ouyang Kai doesn’t care. His family owns the shop and the apartment above it and he wants her out. He leaves a few bills on the table as “payment” for the destruction he caused. Zhong Kui makes him trip on his way out with a twitch of his eyebrow.

Granny Wu sighs dejectedly as she looks at the chaotic mess her kitchen has become. She picks up a piece of paper from the ground, which details a catering order, and sighs that it looks like she won’t be able to complete it. She tells Zhong Kui that he’ll have to wait a few days before he can come in and start working.

But Zhong Kui decides that he needs to help Granny Wu out and reassures her that he’ll take care of it. She keeps staring at him while he surveys the kitchen, so he makes her faint with a quick apology: he can’t work with her staring. He rearranges the kitchen with his mind and then summons a ghost to bake for him.

Granny Wu is overwhelmed by Zhong Kui’s work — he’s even fixed a fan for her that was broken for ages. She insists that he work for her as her baker. He’s professional, hard-working, and doesn’t talk too much — all the qualities she’s looking for. She tells him that she believes he can turn his life around. Zhong Kui nods, humoring her.

The mark on his hand glows red, warning him that the ghost is about to act. He teleports away.

Xin Yu and En Xi are headed back to their old apartment when Xin Yu suddenly freezes, terrified, when she sees Li Shu Hui’s ghost headed straight for Ah Ming, who is setting up his food truck. The ghost notices that Xin Yu has seen her, then aims for Xin Yu, who backs away while En Xi looks confused.

Xin Yu bumps up again Zhong Kui, who appears and knocks the ghost away. She hits Ah Ming’s truck with a thump, and he goes to investigate. She chooses to attack him instead and starts strangling him. He chokes. Zhong Kui knocks the ghost away again. Ah Ming faints.

Later, Xin Yu sits silently, seeming to be in shock, as she watches the unconscious Ah Ming sleep on his couch. She refuses to look at Zhong Kui, who asks if she has questions for him. Like… why can he see what other people can’t? Xin Yu responds that since she can see ghosts, that means there are probably other people who can, too. But she claims she’s not afraid of ghosts, even though she still seems shaken.

Zhong Kui asks if she’s ever wondered why she’s not afraid of ghosts. She repeats his question, then stammers that this time she’s was just afraid that the ghost would hurt someone. She’s never seen such a violent ghost before.

Zhong Kui asks if Xin Yu is worried about Ah Ming. She is, but not just him. She’s also worried for the ghost she saw. The situation seems complicated — she saw a deep sorrow in the ghost’s expression. She feels a kind of sympathy for her. Is that weird?

Zhong Kui smiles slightly and then says that it’s not weird at all. He understands how she thinks.

Xin Yu shows Zhong Kui the photo from last night and asks if it’s him in the picture. He nods. She seems relieved to know that it was him. She doesn’t remember what happened and asks if he does. He stands up to look out the window and doesn’t respond.

At night, Zhong Kui is still looking out the window. Xin Yu goes over to ask when Ah Ming will wake up. Zhong Kui turns toward her and they’re suddenly very close together again. She looks down. Zhong Kui says that he’ll wake up right now, and indeed, Ah Ming does.

Ah Ming is confused when he wakes up and looks at Zhong Kui with misgiving. Xin Yu tells him that he ran into a ghost. “And that ghost is your wife,” Zhong Kui adds. Xin Yu stares at him.

Zhong Kui asks what Ah Ming did to his wife. He repeats what he read in Li Shu Hui’s file, including how she died. Ah Ming says he knows how his wife died, but all he knows is what the police officer told him. Zhong Kui tells him that his wife’s death wasn’t suicide.

Ah Ming tells them the story of his relationship with Shu Hui. They started out happy, but poor. Eventually, he made more money, but he became greedy and started making riskier investments. He got involved with criminal financing and eventually lost everything, going into extreme debt. He lied to Shu Hui that he was cheating on her and filed for divorce for her safety. He watched from across the street as she cried while she took off her ring and mailed the divorce papers. When he was informed of her death and brought to the place where she died — an abandoned construction site — he could only assume she had committed suicide, but he’s upset that she didn’t even leave a note.

Zhong Kui tells Ah Ming that ghosts who stay in the mortal world do so because they have a deep obsession. The longer they stay, the more obsessed they get, and eventually it turns them evil. Is that the result he wants?

Ah Ming acknowledges that he’s the one responsible for the tragedy that befell Shu Hui. He begs Zhong Kui to tell him what he can do.

Zhong Kui brings Xin Yu and Ah Ming into a vision of the past, the moment before Shu Hui died. She had stood up on a ledge, looking down at the ground below, but looked like she wanted to turn back when someone pushed her. That person was Ah Ming, who smirked after he saw her body land on the ground.

Back in the real world, Ah Ming cries that it wasn’t him. It must be a hallucination. “Of course it wasn’t you,” Zhong Kui responds.

Xin Yu asks Zhong Kui how he can do all of this after they leave Ah Ming’s house. Zhong Kui smiles and says he won’t tell her.

Xin Yu doesn’t like that response, but asks, “So what do we do next?”

“We?” Zhong Kui asks with a smile.

He puts a seal on Ah Ming’s house so that Shu Hui can’t find him there. Then he asks Xin Yu if she knows how to act.

He takes her to spy on Ouyang Kai, who is on a date with a woman, then pushes her in his way, surprising her. Ouyang Kai asks what she wants. Xin Yu stammers for a moment, then remembers what Zhong Kui had told her earlier. Shu Hui will likely be drawn to unfaithful men, so now Xin Yu slaps Ouyang Kai, pretending to catch him cheating on her.

Ouyang Kai calls her out for being a bad actor — she hasn’t even shed a tear. He calls her crazy and tries to walk away, but Xin Yu blocks his way, refusing to let them leave. Ouyang goes around her anyway, so Xin Yu blurts out that she’s pregnant and the baby is his.

En Xi shows up out of nowhere and slaps Ouyang Kai, getting mad at him on Xin Yu’s behalf and doing a much better job than Xin Yu did. She warns Ouyang’s date that he’s bad news. His date slaps him and leaves.

Ouyang Kai turns to En Xi, angry, and accuses her and Xin Yu of being scammers. En Xi argues with him while Xin Yu looks around awkwardly for Zhong Kui, who nods at her. Xin Yu scurries up to Ouyang and claims that she mistook him for someone else, then rushes off. Ouyang tries to get in En Xi’s face again. She asks if he knows who she is. When he says he doesn’t, she says that’s good, and runs away.

Xin Yu and Zhong Kui continue to spy on Ouyang as he gets into his car. She beams at Zhong Kui and asks him if she did a good job. He says she did and gently pinches her nose out of habit, before realizing what he’s doing.

Shu Hui shows up. Xin Yu starts after her, but Zhong Kui holds her back, wanting someone to get a lesson first. Shu Hui haunts Ouyang, who passes out. Only then does Zhong Kui reveal himself to Shu Hui. Shu Hui isn’t going down without a fight. Zhong Kui summons Xiao Qi, but she doesn’t show up, so he prepares to get his hands dirty himself. Xiao Qi shows up right before Shu Hui and Zhong Kui make contact, and quickly subdues Shu Hui.

Ah Fu appears, bringing Ah Ming with him. Ah Ming doesn’t see Shu Hui until Zhong Kui temporarily gives him the ability to see her. He rushes to her, but she turns away. Ah Ming rushes Xiao Qi, telling her to stop harassing his wife. He tries to hug Shu Hui, but she’s incorporeal.

Shu Hui tells Ah Ming to stop pretending he cares when he’s the one who made her like this. She reminds him of their promise on their wedding day that if they’re going to be poor, at least they’ll be poor together. She says she just wants to kill him, even if it makes her evil, and moves to strike. Xin Yu wants to interfere, but Zhong Kui holds her back with a shake of his head.

Shu Hui pauses just before touching Ah Ming, unable to actually attack him. Ah Ming grabs her wrist and and puts her hand on his neck. He tells her that if she wants to kill him, then he’ll let her. This is his own choice. Xin Yu says no, but Zhong Kui holds her back again. He tells Shu Hui that if she wants to kill Ah Ming, she should just do it.

Shu Hui moves to choke Ah Ming, but can’t do it. Instead, she discovers that he’s wearing their wedding rings around their neck. Ah Ming breaks the necklace off and puts his ring on his finger, then asks her if she’ll let him put her ring back on her finger before he dies. Then no matter where they go, they’ll be together forever.

Ah Ming starts to put the ring on her finger, but she snatches her hand back, accusing him of trying to trick her again. Ah Ming admits that he has lied to her, but he’s always loved her. If he’d known things would turn out like this, he never would have let her leave him. She laughs bitterly, demanding he tell her who made her like this.

Zhong Kui tells Shu Hui that if she doesn’t let go of her obsession, she’ll never see the truth. “What truth?” she demands.

Ah Fu projects an image showing Shu Hui’s death and what happened afterward. “Ah Ming” was actually Wu Qing Yuan.

Ah Ming is distraught and demands to know who Wu Qing Yuan is and why they hid the truth from him. Shu Hui grabs his face with a tearful smile and tells him that it’s okay. It doesn’t matter who that man was. She’s just happy it wasn’t Ah Ming. Zhong Kui tells her that it’s time for her to let go and come with him.

Ah Ming doesn’t want Shu Hui to leave, but Zhong Kui reminds him that she’s no longer a part of this world. It’s time for them to say goodbye. Shu Hui tells Ah Ming that she can’t wear his ring, but she wants him to live a good life. Ah Ming cries that she’s the only one for him. He pulls out the divorce papers from his pocket, which he never officially filed. He rips them up now. She has always been his wife.

Shu Hui smiles and thanks him for always loving her so much, then disappears in a sparkle of light.

Zhong Kui gently puts his arm around Xin Yu as she cries for the weeping Ah Ming.

Later, Xin Yu tells Zhong Kui that she finds it really unfair that Ah Ming and Shu Hui loved each other so much yet never had a chance to reciprocate. Zhong Kui says that sometimes what you give to someone else isn’t what they want. Some people go their whole lives thinking that they’re making unappreciated sacrifices without understanding that love can’t be exchanged for sacrifice.

Xin Yu thinks that there’s a deeper meaning to Zhong Kui’s words. Zhong Kui smiles and says that it’s a personal choice. For Ah Ming, it means that he can get married again. But Xin Yu says that Ah Ming can’t let go of Shu Hui. Zhong Kui thinks those are just mortal worries. The dead will forget their life once they drink Meng Po’s soup. Hasn’t she heard of it?

Xin Yu calls him strange. Why is he suddenly talking about Meng Po’s soup. And what’s with all his talk about mortals? Is he not mortal? Who is he?

Zhong Kui smiles and says that he can’t tell her, otherwise she might be afraid. Xin Yu claims that she won’t be afraid. She’s not even afraid of evil spirits anymore.

“Is that so?” Zhong Kui asks with a smile. He teleports behind her and whispers in her ear.

Xin Yu is flustered, but tells him that she’s still not afraid of him. To her, he’s not scary at all.

Xin Yu rushes to work the next morning, but pauses to say good morning to a flower, which seems to bob happily when she touches it. She’s in such a hurry that she crashes into Professor Lu again. He comments that they must have been brought together by fate, since they keep running into each other. She apologizes profusely, saying that she didn’t want to be late, then frowns when she sees that she’s still late anyway.

Professor Lu smiles and turns off the clock, telling her that she won’t need to punch any time cards anymore. He heads off to class.

En Xi pops up and asks Xin Yu why she took off work the previous day — was it just to look for Ouyang Kai? Xin Yu lies that she just wanted to mess with him because she didn’t like him. En Xi seems to accept that as an answer, then pulls up his social media, pointing out how he has a different girl on his arm all the time. She reveals that Ouyang Kai is a trustee of her school, but she’s not too worried about slapping him since he didn’t know who she was.

Xin Yu brings some old pastries to toss out in the alley by the coffee shop. Auntie Zhou, the lady who cleans up back there, thinks that the pastries still look good enough to eat. She plans on giving them to a neighborhood kid, Ah Ping, who was recently orphaned. Upon hearing that, Xin Yu makes some sandwiches for Auntie Zhou to give to Ah Ping.

Zhong Kui sends her a message, saying that he’s going to Granny Wu’s bakery today. Xin Yu smiles — he’s finally sent something other than a sticker.

Zhong Kui surveys Granny Wu’s bakery with Ah Fu and Xiao Qi by his side. Ah Fu has given him some information from Cheng Huang and asks if he really plans on doing this. Zhong Kui tells Ah Fu to give Cheng Huang a warning that his information better be good.

Zhong Kui and Granny Wu stare each other down at the bakery. He finds himself agreeing to work there a a baker after Granny Wu tells him that he can start tomorrow.

Later, he watches as a young boy steals some food from a cart. The boy catches him watching and tells him to mind his own business.

Auntie Zhou visits Ah Ping, who is the boy. She gives him the sandwiches that Xin Yu made, then follows as Ah Ping promptly runs to the bedroom and talks to his father, trying to give him his sandwiches. But there’s no one there, because his father died.


Commentary

I didn’t really expect this show to be so episodic, but I like it. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve gotten some big names to guest star in some of these episodic stories. Also I don’t know how I got this far without learning this, but Chang Han (who plays Ah Ming and is a Taiwanese drama mainstay but probably most well-known recently as the uncle in Someday or One Day) is Chang Chen’s brother! What a talented family.

I’m getting some major Hotel del Luna vibes, with the past lives and lost memories and all the work healing ghosts.

Overall, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this show yet. Some of these ghost stories are quite touching, but I feel like a lot of different things are going on and sometimes all the different pieces feel disjoint, like there’s not enough time spent on any one thing, and there are too many things going on. I’m sure it will all come together at some point, because it seems like everything ties back to Wu Qing Yuan and whatever history Meng Po and Zhong Kui have with each other. For now, I suppose I’ll just have to go along for the ride.

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