Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Haunted Heart (Ep. 3)

After all the humor of last episode, this one is slightly more subdued as Xiao Ling’s visit to her hometown brings back memories of her painful childhood. We also meet a bunch of new characters as Xiao Ling and Da Yong attempt to convincingly pass off Shi Yi Shao as the real Da Yong.


Recap

Qing Feng watches as the female Daoist declares that the temple must be passed on to future generations forever after Wei Bi Zhi’s death. The male Daoist next to her declares that because Wei Bi Zhi left no successors, the gods must go elsewhere. The female Daoist rolls her eyes while the spectators whisper uneasily.

Qing Feng places why the name Wei Bi Zhi is familiar — she’s Xiao Ling’s grandmother. The woman next to him sighs at how shameful this is. One person wants to keep the temple open in order to make money, the other wants to sell the temple in order to make money. Qing Feng texts Xiao Ling, telling her that her grandmother has passed away and that she should come home.

Xiao Ling packs a bag to head back to her hometown. Both Shi Yi Shao and Da Yong block her way. Shi Yi says he won’t have any food to eat without her. Da Yong is worried that she won’t make it back in time to accompany Shi Yi to the dinner. He insists on going with her, but she says she’ll make it back and yells at both Shi Yi Shao and Da Yong to not follow her.

As Xiao Ling passes through the familiar streets of her hometown, she remembers how she used to be bullied as a child but her grandmother would chase the bullies away, then try to cheer her up. She gets to the temple, where she pays her respects to her grandmother while the female Daoist from earlier tells her how her grandmother passed away. She asks Xiao Ling if she’s seen her. When Xiao Ling says she hasn’t, she says that maybe that’s a good thing. It means that she’s already moved on.

The auntie is glad that Xiao Ling is back. She was worried that something would happen to the temple because her grandmother left no successors. Wei Bi Zhi’s biological son, Wen Sheng, has come back, but the auntie — like Bi Zhi — doesn’t view Wen Sheng as Bi Zhi’s real successor. Xiao Ling’s grandmother had always said that Xiao Ling was the only one surnamed Wei, like her, and that she is the only one who has the right to inherit the temple. Bi Zhi placed all her hopes on Xiao Ling.

Xiao Ling turns and sees Qing Feng in the doorway behind them.

Qing Feng apologizes to Xiao Ling for coming here without telling her first. He had hoped that he would find something that would help her in her recovery. Xiao Ling smiles a bit sadly and tells Qing Feng that he’s a good doctor, but she’s not sure if she’s a good patient. She doesn’t know if she can ever be cured.

Qing Feng wants to know why she’s suddenly saying this, but Xiao Ling avoids the question by pointing out a nearby body of water. Her grandmother used to take her there to bathe in the spring water, saying it was holy water and would wash her sorrows away. Qing Feng tells her that she can cry if she wants. Xiao Ling forces a smile without making eye contact and says that the memorial service is starting soon. They should go.

Xiao Ling stands at the front of the room during the memorial service, across from Wen Sheng. She tries her best to ignore the chatty ghost grandpa next to her, who talks about how many houses Xiao Ling’s grandmother owned, how that means Xiao Ling must be rich, too, and how Xiao Ling can’t trust her Ah Xiang auntie who only wants her around so she can keep the temple open and make money from it.

Afterward, Xiao Ling sighs as she looks at her grandmother’s portrait, wondering what’s left of people after they die. Her Ah Xiang auntie gently reminds her that her grandmother hasn’t died — she’s just achieved enlightenment.

Wen Sheng shows up with an investor who is interested in purchasing the temple to redevelop it. Wen Sheng reassures him that his mother left the temple to him, but Ah Xiang quickly drags Xiao Ling over and says that his mother left the temple to Xiao Ling and she’ll take care of it from now on. Wen Sheng condescendingly asks Xiao Ling if she’ll stay here at the temple from now on. Xiao Ling hesitantly asks if he must sell the place.

Ah Xiang claims that Xiao Ling can see Wei Bi Zhi and she’s just transmitting Wen Sheng’s mother’s will. Wen Sheng responds asking who’s going to pay for her funeral costs and pay off her loans if he doesn’t sell the temple. Xiao Ling looks upset and reminds Wen Sheng that his mother devoted her whole life to this temple — must he really sell it? She leaves, upset.

Qing Feng follows Xiao Ling and watches from outside as she cries in her grandmother’s bedroom. Later, Xiao Ling looks at her grandmother’s flags and remembers how she would steal the flags when she was little and wave them around outside while demanding her grandmother teach her more modern songs so she wouldn’t get made fun of at school.

Xiao Ling has just turned away when the flag suddenly falls on the ground. She picks it up and stares around her, calling for her grandmother to show herself. She knows she’s there. But no one appears and Xiao Ling switches to yelling at her grandmother for lying to her. Ghosts aren’t real. Her grandmother made it so that everyone laughs at her. She doesn’t want to be a shaman — why can’t she just have her own life? She yells that if her grandmother doesn’t want to see her, then she doesn’t want to see her grandmother either.

A hand reaches out to pat her on the head. Xiao Ling looks up — it’s Da Yong. But then he disappears.

Da Yong appears back in Xiao Ling’s apartment with his hand still outstretched. He looks at it, confused. Whose head was he patting? Xiao Ling? He turns to Shi Yi Shao, who is eating cup noodles while reading manga, and demands to know how he controlled his movements before. But of course, Shi Yi Shao can’t hear him.

He tries to figure out how he saw Xiao Ling before, but doesn’t know how he did it.

Ah Xiang looks for Xiao Ling — she’s nowhere to be found and everyone has gathered to go over her grandmother’s will. Qing Feng offers to help look for her and finds her sitting by the springs that her grandmother used to take her to.

Qing Feng tells her that everyone is looking for her, but Xiao Ling just wants to be alone. He tells her that he spent a long time trying to figure out what she said in his office that day and he finally did — she said “that’s because you didn’t grow up in an environment like that.” He tells her that he wants to understand her. It’s very lonely to not be understood.

Xiao Ling wonders if he can really understand her by coming here, by seeing Ah Xiang. This place is full of superstition. Is that who she is? Qing Feng says that she’s right — it’s not who she is. But then Xiao Ling says that it doesn’t matter whether it is or isn’t. She’s like them — she knows that Ah Xiang is lying yet she’s too much of a coward to confront her about it.

Qing Feng tries to reassure her that everyone has their cowardly moments, but Xiao Ling doesn’t really seem to be listening. She realizes that the day her mother passed away was the same day she started seeing her hallucinations again. She thinks that her grandmother doesn’t like her cowardice and that’s why she’s hiding from her. Qing Feng reminds Xiao Ling of how optimistic she was that she could be cured the first time she met with him and also tries to be optimistic about how she’s been doing lately. Xiao Ling interrupts with a sharp, “But I want to see my grandma!”

They both freeze for a moment, then Xiao Ling quietly says sorry and thank you. Qing Feng tells her that she doesn’t need to apologize. He promises to do whatever he can to help her. But there’s one thing he knows for certain: her grandmother is gone. She should live her life the way she wants to.

When Xiao Ling returns to the temple, Ah Xiang tries to get her to support saving the temple, but Xiao Ling decides to come clean with the truth — she never saw her grandmother. And even if she did, in the eyes of the law, she has no claim over the temple. Ah Xiang is distraught and tells Xiao Ling that she doesn’t deserve to be a part of this family. They accepted her when they didn’t even know who she was and clothed and fed her and this is how she repays that kindness? Xiao Ling says that she’s right — now that her grandma is gone, this isn’t her home anymore. She grabs her bag and rushes out to Qing Feng’s waiting car.

Qing Feng commends Xiao Ling for being brave and making a decision for herself. But Xiao Ling still seems uncertain. She tells Qing Feng that she was 8 when she first started communicating with spirits. At the time, she’d attended a memorial service and sat next to the ghost of the man who had died — the chatty grandpa from her own grandmother’s funeral service.

Xiao Ling tells Qing Feng that she lied when she said she had no friends. She had a lot of friends growing up — they helped her get through her tough childhood — the only thing is, they were all ghosts. Now, for him to tell her that they’re just hallucinations that need to be let go, it feels like… Xiao Ling can’t describe it in words, but cries and remembers destroying every token tying each of her ghost friends to this world.

Qing Feng tries to comfort her, saying he understands. But she responds saying that no, he doesn’t. No one can understand. She says that if he really wants to help her, then he’ll prescribe her a drug that will allow her to see her grandmother. Can he tell her where she is? Qing Feng doesn’t say anything.

Xiao Ling suddenly spots a red balloon — one of her ghost friend’s tokens — flying in the sky and abruptly starts opening the door of the car even though Qing Feng is still driving. He stops the car. She gets out and thanks him for today, then goes off on her own on foot.


A young Xiao Ling plays with a turtle by a river. She knows she’s not supposed to be here for long — her mother won’t let her play by the river. She steps on some stones in the water. Suddenly, she hears a voice saying, “You can’t go over there!” She turns and looks surprised, then asks, “Who are you?” She slips and falls into the water.

A girl, who from the back looks exactly like the young Xiao Ling, walks on the water and peers in. A man sprints across a bridge, carrying an unconscious and drenched young Xiao Ling. The mysterious girl stands at one end of the bridge and stares across.

Young Xiao Ling wakes up in her bed and immediately goes to check on her turtle, who is in a small tank in her room. She goes over to her mother, looking ashamed, and says that she really didn’t go to the river. But her mother grabs a clothes hanger and spanks her with it, yelling at her that she’s lucky their neighbor found her. What did she say about not going down to the river? Xiao Ling says she didn’t, but her mother doesn’t believe her.

Finally, Xiao Ling’s mother stops spanking her. Xiao Ling hugs her and promises to never go down to the river again.

Later, as Xiao Ling is hanging up clothes with her mother, she says that she saw something strange by the river. She saw a girl who looked exactly like her. They were even wearing the same clothes. Her mother doesn’t respond and instead stares at the shirt that Xiao Ling wore earlier that day.

At night, Xiao Ling’s mother wakes with a start. The bed next to her is empty. She finds Xiao Ling hiding in the wardrobe. She hugs Xiao Ling and tries to comfort her, asking if she couldn’t sleep because she hurt from the spanking earlier. She apologizes for going overboard. But Xiao Ling says that she couldn’t sleep because she had a bad dream: she dreamed of a scary lady in an elevator. Her mother tries to comfort her, saying it was just a dream, but looks sad.

Xiao Ling’s mother takes her to Wei Bu Zhi’s temple, where she tells Xiao Ling to recite scriptures so that she won’t have nightmares anymore. Her mother tells her that she’ll go buy her favorite ice cream for her and takes out Xiao Ling’s turtle to keep her company. She hugs Xiao Ling, crying, and kisses her on the head before rushing out.

Xiao Ling obediently prays at the temple all day, then falls asleep. When she wakes up, no one is around. She cries and eventually is found by an attendant, who asks what her name is. “Wei Xiao Ling,” Xiao Ling responds.

A flag drops on the ground. Wei Bi Zhi picks it up and repeats Xiao Ling’s name.

Three days ago…

Wei Bi Zhi performs an exorcism on a man. When he wakes up, he spits out a seed and a voice tells her to plant the seed and have Wei Xiao Ling water it every day.

Later, Ah Xiang tells Bi Zhi that the townspeople are gossiping about how her temple doesn’t have spiritual energy and how they’re skeptical that Bi Zhi can actually commune with spirits. Bi Zhi doesn’t care what they say, but even Ah Xiang is skeptical that Bi Zhi actually saw a spirit manifest earlier.

Bi Zhi plants the seed like the spirit instructed. She thinks to herself that now all she’s missing is a Wei Xiao Ling.

And then Xiao Ling shows up, and Bi Zhi brings her back with her to her house. Xiao Ling doesn’t want to stay with Bi Zhi and instead wants to go look for her mother. Bi Zhi convinces her to water the seed every day, saying that once it grows, she can go home. Then she takes her to the temple and prays to her deities, thanking them for bringing Xiao Ling into her life. She tells Xiao Ling to come in and pray, too. Xiao Ling stubbornly refuses to.

Bi Zhi tidies up around the temple, then finds a bag tucked into a corner. Inside are clothes for Xiao Ling and a note. Bi Zhi hides the clothes and the note and wonders why this mother would abandon her child. Based on Xiao Ling’s clothes, it doesn’t seem to be because of financial reasons. Bi Zhi wonders if she’s meant to raise Xiao Ling, and that’s why she was given the instructions she received.


Qing Feng’s colleague, Rong Zhi Hao (Nylon Chen), brings him a folder with Xiao Ling’s brain scans that Ah De — their assistant — accidentally left on his desk. Qing Feng studies the report with a frown. Xiao Ling doesn’t have epilepsy or a brain tumor or any other physical signs of brain damage. Zhi Hao suggests it might be psychosis, but Qing Feng disagrees. She’s very aware of her illness. Her symptoms are more suggestive of neurosis with hallucinations.

Zhi Hao asks if Qing Feng is waiting for her. Qing Feng responds that each case has to live their own life once they leave the office. Zhi Hao is glad that Qing Feng knows at least that much, because he heard from Ah De that Qing Feng went to Xiao Ling’s hometown. Qing Feng responds that he wants to help Xiao Ling make progress and not just be a tree hole that she talks to.

Zhi Hao points out that his current approach is setting him on the path to becoming a tree hole. He asks if Qing Feng regrets giving up the opportunity to become a research director at their medical school. If he took that job, he could’ve seen a patient every 3 minutes — just prescribe them some medication. Qing Feng shakes his head. There’s a limit to what medication can do. That’s why he branched out into counseling. Zhi Hao reminds Qing Feng that even psychologists need guidance — his door is always open. Qing Feng smiles, but says that this patient won’t be coming back.

On his way out of the office, Ah De tells him that Xiao Ling called — she’s cancelling her next appointment.

Da Yong looks disgusted with Shi Yi Shao, who has somehow managed to fall asleep half on the floor, half on the couch. Xiao Ling returns home. Da Yong starts to complain about how she’s late, but she interrupts him, saying at she knows she’s 6 minutes late. They can leave now. She throws her bag onto the floor, then turns and heads back out the door. Da Yong activates a robot vacuum cleaner in order to wake up Shi Yi Shao.

Da Yong asks Xiao Ling if she’s okay as they head up the mountain. She tries to act like nothing’s wrong and nothing happened, but Da Yong reminds her that her grandmother passed away. Xiao Ling tells him it’s none of his business. Da Yong responds that he wouldn’t care normally, but if she messes up this dinner for him, then it is his business. She promises that the words “mess up” aren’t even in his dictionary.

Shi Yi Shao pants as he rushes to catch up to Xiao Ling. A car pulls up next to them — it’s Qing Feng. He addresses Shi Yi Shao as Da Yong and asks what he’s doing out here. Xiao Ling tries to run away before Qing Feng can see her, but it’s too late — he’s already noticed.

Xiao Ling sprints back down the mountain road until Da Yong appears in front of her and reminds her that she said she wouldn’t mess up his dinner. She responds that she’ll go to the dinner if he can make Qing Feng go away. Da Yong responds that Qing Feng is his cousin. There’s no way to prevent him from going to the dinner when it’s his family, too. He asks how Xiao Ling knows Qing Feng, then remembers the text she got from “Gentle Qing Feng” and guesses that Xiao Ling is one of his patients.

Da Yong tells Xiao Ling that he won’t let her mess up his dinner. She must go, otherwise he’ll haunt her for the rest of her life.

Shi Yi Shao catches up to Xiao Ling, panting, once again, asking why they’re running and who that guy was. He walks through Da Yong, reminding her once again that Da Yong isn’t real — or at least, not corporeal.

Da Yong tells himself that he won’t let these two idiots ruin his plans. He spins around Xiao Ling then demands to know what she’s so afraid of.

“You!” she responds. Does that make him happy? She’s afraid that he’ll make her look like a crazy person who talks to hallucinations. Da Yong asks if she’s even lived — why won’t she admit to the things she’s seen with her own eyes? She’s no better than her hallucinations.

Xiao Ling doesn’t have a chance to respond, because Qing Feng comes racing up on foot.

A man, Ding An Wei, gets a phone call from his daughter while standing beside someone’s hospital bed. His daughter asks where he put some tea and where is he now — she tells him that both Qing Feng and Da Yong are coming home and she heard that their grandfather has a big gift for Da Yong. Ding An Wei frowns.

His daughter, Ding Yu (Mini Tsai), is preparing tea when Qing Feng and Shi Yi/Da Yong arrive. She cheerfully greets them and brings the tea over, then is surprised to see that Da Yong has brought a guest. Xiao Ling hesitantly introduces herself as Da Yong’s friend. Ding Yu finds it remarkable that Da Yong would bring a friend home. The real Da Yong gives her a lingering glance as she leaves to go grab some snacks.

Xiao Ling nervously eyes Qing Feng, who asks Shi Yi/Da Yong how he knows Xiao Ling. Xiao Ling starts to blabber about how people usually meet through work and mutual interests. Shi Yi/Da Yong says that they met listening to opera, and Xiao Ling cringes. Qing Feng never knew that Da Yong liked opera. Shi Yi/Da Yong cheerfully hops up and starts singing.

Ding Yu returns and starts at Shi Yi/Da Yong, then breaks into a smile and asks when he got good at singing. Shi Yi Shao sits down and asks Xiao Ling if he actually sounds good. Xiao Ling just smiles nervously.

Da Yong hisses at Xiao Ling to ask where his father is. Xiao Ling awkwardly asks where Da Yong’s father is and adds a line of her own, saying that Da Yong really misses him, which annoys Da Yong because anyone would know that’s not true at all.

The TV suddenly turns on and reveals a colorfully-dressed Shi Guang Yi (Michael Huang), who is glad that someone has finally thought of him. He declares that the game of survival starts now. The last survivor will be the person who receives the grandfather’s gift. Then he laughs, saying he’s just kidding, and warns them that there’s alcohol in the tea snacks — a high ratio of alcohol.

Shi Yi Shao/Da Yong seems drunk already and marvels over the food in a very un-Da Yong-like way that makes Qing Feng and Ding Yu look questioningly at each other and then laugh. Shi Yi pulls out the knot around his neck, ready to give it away, but Xiao Ling tries to stop him by saying it would be rude for him to re-gift a present. Qing Feng and Ding Yu both frown at the implication that Xiao Ling was the one to give him the gift. Shi Yi passes out on Xiao Ling’s shoulder.

Then he wakes up and tries to get up. Xiao Ling tries to get him under control, but he ends up shoving her straight into Qing Feng’s arms. Da Yong tells Xiao Ling that she needs to get them out of here immediately. Xiao Ling grabs Shi Yi’s arm and tells him that they should head home. Ding Yu offers to take him, but Xiao Ling tells her that she’s more familiar with him, which makes Da Yong hiss because, well, Ding Yu is his childhood friend.

Shi Yi Shao stumbles over to Qing Feng and insists that he take him home. Ding Yu tries to give Shi Yi/Da Yong some tea, but he flails his arm and knocks it away, spilling it on her shirt. Xiao Ling tries to start taking Shi Yi away and Qing Feng helps, leaving Ding Yu behind.

Qing Feng and Xiao Ling dump Shi Yi Shao on a couch, then sit awkwardly next to each other. Qing Feng breaks the silence, asking Xiao Ling if she’s doing well (she points out they last saw each other four hours ago) and then saying he was worried he’d never see her again.

Da Yong floats by, commenting that he’s never seen a psychologist as flirty as Qing Feng.

Qing Feng mentions how Xiao Ling cancelled her future counseling sessions, but says he doesn’t want to pressure her. She can treat him like a new friend she just met today. Xiao Ling looks down and says that she just wants to try to see her grandmother using her own methods. Qing Feng says he understands.

Da Yong tells Xiao Ling that she shouldn’t listen to anything Qing Feng says. He reminds her that right now, she’s his assistant, not Qing Feng’s patient.

Xiao Ling thanks Qing Feng for not telling anyone that she’s his patient. He promises he won’t tell anyone without her permission, especially not Da Yong. Xiao Ling admits that Da Yong already seems to know. Qing Feng stares at her.


Commentary

The acting continues to be a bit painful, but I will stop complaining about it eventually.

Xiao Ling as a character, though, remains interesting, especially now that we’ve seen more of her origins. What was her mother so afraid of? How did she see… the ghost of herself? How did her turtle know to run home?

As cringey as this show can be, there’s enough interesting plot going on that I want to watch more!

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