Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 6)

This episode feels like a stalemate for our main characters, where a lot happens, but also nothing happens at all. Zhong Kui and Xin Yu continue to dance around each other — they each obviously like the other but no one is willing to admit it. It seems like the only person who makes any sort of progress this episode is Ouyang Kai.


Recap

Lu Bo Ya runs into Zhong Kui on his drive home. He immediately recognizes Zhong Kui as Xin Yu’s friend and even remembers his name, which Zhong Kui finds suspicious. They only met once — why does Bo Ya remember him?

“Who exactly are you?” he asks Bo Ya.

Zhong Kui freezes time and circles Bo Ya. He doesn’t have ghost or demon energy, and he doesn’t appear to be a devil either. He flips through Bo Ya’s wallet — Bo Ya even has a valid ID card.

Zhong Kui unfreezes time and Bo Ya shakes his head, confused, before asking Zhong Kui to repeat himself. Zhong Kui asks again who he is. Bo Ya claims that he’s just a college professor. Zhong Kui points out that no ordinary person would know how to lift an evil ghost’s Kuangyin (“mad sound”) curse. How did he do it?

Bo Ya looks excited — so that was a mad sound curse? He’s always been interest in these kinds of mystical things but has never had many opportunities to see them in person. He shares that his grandfather was a Daoist and he read about this curse in one of his notebooks. It’s also why he has studied these mysteries more than the average person. Bo Ya gets more excited as he explains how he’s realized that a lot of these mysteries can be explained with science. He starts explaining his deductions on how to lift the curse, but Zhong Kui stops him before he gets too deep in the weeds. He’s heard enough.

Bo Ya apologizes for getting too excited — it’s so rare that he’s able to speak with someone who understands. He asks Zhong Kui who he is — how does he know about the curse? Zhong Kui just sighs and then walks away without a word.

Cheng Huang reports to Zhong Kui with what he’s discovered about Lu Bo Ya. Essentially, the man was a child prodigy and is a genius of impeccable character. He’s the last son of 32 generations of the Lu family. His family has historically been well-versed in magic, but because he’s the last descendant, he wasn’t allowed to follow that path.

Zhong Kui gets a text from Ah Fu reporting that all is quiet and that Xiao Qi has returned to guard the bakery. Wu Qing Yuan is nowhere to be found. Zhong Kui frowns. Cheng Huang thinks he’s still hung up over Bo Ya and Xin Yu, but Zhong Kui is actually troubled over what happened today. If there’s nothing wrong with Bo Ya, then why did today’s events happen? Where did Jia Qi’s ghost come from and why is missing memories? Why did Wu Qing Yuan choose this moment to appear again after being gone for so long? Was it an attempt to lure them away?

Ouyang Kai wakes up from a nightmare in which he is standing outside under a starry night sky while Jia Qi’s ghost embraces him. Then he’s alarmed when Yao Mu Qing sits up in bed next to him and nestles close, saying good morning.

Ouyang Kai leaps out of bed. Mu Qing gets out after him and tries to get close to him again, saying she was very happy last night and that she wants to be with him forever. Ouyang Kai scrambles away.

Yao Mu Qing calmly follows him out of the bedroom and heads out, but not before smirking as she glances at where En Xi is asleep on the couch. After she turns away, Zhong Kui appears and contemplates Mu Qing with a frown. She doesn’t have a strong ghost energy. How could she have cast the curse?

Zhong Kui wakes En Xi up with a wave of his hand before disappearing. The first thought on En Xi’s mind when she wakes up is Ouyang Kai. She rushes out to look for him.

When Zhong Kui arrives at the bakery, Ouyang Kai is waiting for him. He asks Zhong Kui to help him out with Yao Mu Qing, who is just standing there staring at him. Zhong Kui looks at her, surprised that she isn’t afraid of him. He knocks the ghost out of Mu Qing’s body, but Jia Qi returns quickly.

Zhong Kui tells Ouyang Kai that he created this problem himself. Ouyang Kai scrambles to follow Zhong Kui into the bakery. Inside, Zhong Kui leans in close to Ouyang Kai, then turns him toward the window to look at Yao Mu Qing and shows him exactly how he created this mess for himself.

Zhong Kui shows Ouyang Kai some of Jia Qi’s memories: how she had tried to say hi to him on campus, but he completely ignored her and instead sullenly handed off something to Yao Mu Qing from his mother. Later, Jia Qi had written him a note and invited him to meet with her at an abandoned classroom. He had shown up, but before he found Jia Qi, he got a text from En Xi demanding bubble tea and had left to go buy her some.

Jia Qi lured Yao Mu Qing to the abandoned classroom. When Mu Qing got there, she saw Jia Qi’s dead body and fainted. Then Jia Qi’s ghost possessed her body.

Zhong Kui reassures Ouyang Kai that he’s under his protection and no one will dare touch him. All he has to do is make sure he follows his instructions.

Xin Yu is at work at the coffee shop when En Xi rushes in and exclaims that she saw a ghost. She starts to explain, but then Ouyang Kai rushes in and begs Xin Yu to save him. He points over his shoulder at Yao Mu Qing, who has followed him here.

Xin Yu suggests that they should try communicating with the ghost possessing Mu Qing and at least see what she wants. But Jia Qi’s ghost is uncooperative and ends up smacking the drink Xin Yu makes her onto the ground. Ouyang Kai helps Xin Yu pick up the broken pieces and reassures her that Zhong Kui has it under control.

At night, Ouyang Kai ends up inviting Yao Mu Qing back to his house, which has been romantically decorated with candles and a nice dinner. But once she sits down, he ties her to her chair. The lights turn on and En Xi and Xin Yu appear.

Xin Yu asks Jia Qi why she keeps following Ouyang Kai. Jia Qi frowns and demands to know what’s so great about Xin Yu and En Xi, especially En Xi. How is she any better than her? Why won’t Ouyang Kai respect her?

En Xi asks Ouyang Kai if he wronged the ghost somehow. Otherwise why would she say such a thing? Ouyang Kai has no clue, and asks her why she’s saying that.

“Have you really forgotten me?” Jia Qi asks. Xin Yu and En Xi give Ouyang Kai a questioning look. He shrugs.

Jia Qi says that she started liking Ouyang Kai ever since he paid for her tuition. En Xi turns to Ouyang Kai, confused. Didn’t he pay only her tuition? Ouyang Kai remembers that day in the office when En Xi suggested he should pay for Jia Qi’s tuition. He tells her that she was the one who told him to pay for it. They both remember who Jia Qi is.

Ouyang Kai quickly puts En Xi behind him, then suggests to Jia Qi that maybe they should clear things up. But Jia Qi doesn’t need to clarify anything. She asks Ouyang Kai if he rejected her because of En Xi. Ouyang Kai glances at En Xi and stammers.

That’s the only response Jia Qi needs. She glares and stands up, easily freeing herself from her bindings. “I knew it,” she says.

She stalks toward Ouyang Kai and the others, who back away. Ouyang Kai calls for Zhong Kui to hurry up. Zhong Kui appears and knocks Yao Mu Qing unconscious so that Jia Qi’s ghost is left standing in her place. En Xi recognizes Jia Qi, but then Zhong Kui snaps and knocks her unconscious, too. Xin Yu frowns, unhappy with how Zhong Kui is always knocking people out.

Zhong Kui asks Jia Qi who told her to come. She responds that she’s just here for Ouyang Kai. Zhong Kui asks Ouyang Kai if he did anything to her, but all Ouyang Kai remembers about Jia Qi is that he paid tuition for her. Zhong Kui turns back to Jia Qi and tells her that nothing good can come out of the way she’s following Ouyang Kai around.

Jia Qi responds that she doesn’t care. She likes Ouyang Kai and all she wants is for him to like her back. What’s so wrong with that?

Zhong Kui congratulates Ouyang Kai. Hasn’t his wish been to see a ghost? Now not only has he seen one, but this ghost is someone who really really likes him.

Zhong Kui turns back to Jia Qi and tells her that she should let go of her obsessions from the human world. The sooner she does, the sooner she will end her suffering. But Jia Qi again protests that she’s done nothing wrong. What’s so wrong about liking someone?

Zhong Kui looks ready to use his magic on Jia Qi, but Ouyang Kai quickly puts himself between Zhong Kui and Jia Qi and tells him to wait. Zhong Kui nods and takes a step back, saying he’ll leave this to him.

Ouyang Kai turns to Jia Qi and thanks her for liking him. She cries, saying that his gratitude is pointless when he doesn’t even remember who she is, but he does remember who she is. He remembers that her name is Jia Qi. He wishes that he’d gotten to know her earlier, because he thinks that they could have become friends, and who knows — maybe he would have even liked her. But unfortunately, it’s too late now. She smiles sadly. Does he really mean that?

Ouyang Kai nods. All couples start out as friends. Besides, she doesn’t have a bad heart. He clarifies himself — she’s really pretty. That makes her smile and he says that her smile is pretty, too. He reaches out a hand to brush her hair out of her face, but his hand passes through her.

Xin Yu steps forward to help, and tucks Jia Qi’s hair behind her ears. Ouyang Kai tells Jia Qi that she should remember to smile more in her next life, because she’s cute when she smiles. Xin Yu tells her that she’s great the way she is — she doesn’t need to be anyone else. Only by letting go of her hate and bitterness can she truly be happy.

Zhong Kui’s brows furrow as he hears Xin Yu say this last phrase. Xin Yu frowns slightly, too, and glances up at Zhong Kui. Why would she say something like that?

Zhong Kui steps forward and tells Jia Qi to come with him, now that she’s let go. Jia Qi nods. Zhong Kui starts to use his magic to tap Jia Qi on the forehead, but then hesitates. She disappears in a flash of gold light.

Outside, Xin Yu calls Zhong Kui out for hesitating earlier. Where is Jia Qi? He waves his arm and Jia Qi reappears in front of them.

Zhong Kui asks Jia Qi why she killed herself. It seems unlikely she did it just to draw Ouyang Kai’s attention. Jia Qi doesn’t remember anything about killing herself. All she remembers is hearing that if she wore red and met with the person she liked in that abandoned classroom, then they could be together.

Zhong Kui tells someone to show himself. Cheng Huang pokes his head around the corner and then reluctantly reveals himself, unhappy that Zhong Kui didn’t even bother to hide his identity with an outsider. Zhong Kui starts to say that it’s not like Cheng Huang and Xin Yu don’t know each other, but then remembers that Xin Yu doesn’t remember anything.

He tells Cheng Huang to investigate Jia Qi’s death some more, then tells Jia Qi to go with him. After they leave, Xin Yu asks Zhong Kui who “that person” was. Zhong Kui starts to respond that Cheng Huang isn’t a person, but then Cheng Huang’s voice angrily snaps in his ear, “You’re not a person!”

Ouyang Kai carries both Yao Mu Qing and En Xi to his bed, then smirks to himself that he’s managed to get two girls into his bed. He realizes that he’s never seen En Xi up close before and leans in to look at her face. Her eyes snap open and he jumps back. En Xi sits up wordlessly, moving like a robot, then stands up, smacks Ouyang Kai aside, and leaves.

Mu Qing wakes up shortly afterward with a headache and confused by where she is. Ouyang Kai seems relieved that she’s actually Yao Mu Qing this time.

As En Xi walks home, the streetlights flicker around her.

Zhong Kui walks Xin Yu back home. She guesses that he’s probably not going to tell her who he is, why he his abilities, and why he’s not afraid of ghosts. He laughs at that. She isn’t afraid of ghosts either. The scariest things in life aren’t ghosts, but human greed, ignorance, and hatred.

Xin Yu asks if Zhong Kui was the one to save her at Mu Qing’s birthday party. He hesitates and she smiles. Zhong Kui pulls out a flattened baked good and hands it to her, saying that he made this bread for her. She teases him about how flat it is, but eats it anyway.

She suddenly pauses and Zhong Kui is worried that it doesn’t taste good, but she turns back to him and says that it’s the best bread she’s ever had. He tries some — it is pretty good. She points out that her saliva is on the bread, but Zhong Kui doesn’t care and she smiles, then says good night.

Zhong Kui smiles to himself at home. Cheng Huang appears over his shoulder and makes a comment about how love does make people dumb, then reports the real news: Jia Qi didn’t kill herself. Zhong Kui frowns. They both find the situation odd and Cheng Huang suggests that someone may have had a hand in this.

Suddenly, the news channel switches to a breaking report of an explosion on a bridge. Zhong Kui has a flashback of the explosion at Naihe Bridge.

Xin Yu is asleep on the couch, where the same breaking news report plays on the TV in front of her. In her dreams, she sees part of the explosion at Naihe Bridge. She wakes up with a start. En Xi has returned home. She criticizes Xin Yu for falling asleep with the TV on, then sits down and switches the channel. Xin Yu blearily heads to bed.

Zhong Kui watches the same breaking news segment on the bridge explosion on repeat. Ah Fu reports that there’s still no sign of Wu Qing Yuan. Zhong Kui frowns — everything seems linked, but he’s not sure how. How has Wu Qing Yuan evaded detection for so long? Ah Fu wonders if there’s a place in the human world that they can’t detect.

Zhong Kui pinches the bridge of his nose, seeming to nurse a headache. Ah Fu gives him some energy-replenishing soup that Meng Po taught him how to make. Zhong Kui smiles as the soup brings back a memory of Meng Po from the underworld. She had snuck into his offices and tried to act casual about giving him the soup, forcing it into his hand and then scurrying off.

But when Ah Fu asks, Zhong Kui says he’s thinking about how Meng Po’s divine energy suddenly disappeared. There’s something strange about this place. Ah Fu asks if they should tell Meng Po the truth.

In the morning, Zhong Kui still hasn’t decided whether he should tell Xin Yu the truth. He waits behind the bush outside her apartment building and is about to greet her after she appears when he spots Bo Ya coming up behind her.

Xin Yu smiles when Bo Ya taps on the shoulder and turns, starting to say “Zhong…” and then trails off when she sees who it is. Her smile falters. Bo Ya says that he’s here to pick her up for work. He also brought breakfast. Xin Yu says she already ate and Bo Ya’s smile falls a little.

Xin Yu sighs as she follows Bo Ya to his car. She pauses and glances for a moment at the hedge where Zhong Kui was hiding, but when she looks, there’s no one there.

Zhong Kui arrives at the bakery to find Xiao Qi asleep on the bench outside. When she wakes up, she frowns, saying she suddenly felt sleepy.

Granny Wu rushes outside with a frown on her face, telling Zhong Kui she can’t shake an uneasy feeling. She had a dream last night that Qing Yuan visited her and apologized to her, saying that he wouldn’t be able to come back and that she should take care of herself. She worries that something has happened to her son. It’s unlike him to be gone for so long without calling her. She wants to go to the police.

Zhong Kui realizes that Xiao Qi probably fell asleep because Wu Qing Yuan had dropped by. He reminds Granny Wu that they already went to the police before and they said they would send word if any news of Wu Qing Yuan came in. Granny Wu tries to convince herself that no news is good news.

But she spends some time at the doorway, looking outside, and then some more time watching a news report about a search team in the mountains for a man who had gone missing. Zhong Kui sighs as he watches her.

At night, he invites Cheng Huang out to drink and shares his misgivings about the recent events and Wu Qing Yuan. He finds it strange that the ghost would cause some much chaos, then promptly disappear after luring him out into the human world. He thinks that the recent ghost cases all have to do with him, but Cheng Huang reminds him that he needs evidence to back up these claims. He can’t blame everything on Wu Qing Yuan just because he can’t catch him.

But Cheng Huang agrees to send word to the other Cheng Huangs and increase the search radius for Wu Qing Yuan. They’re exactly the words Zhong Kui has been waiting to hear.

Cheng Huang makes Zhong Kui drink with him until they’re both drunk. Zhong Kui drunkenly wonders how Meng Po could forget him. He wonders if Meng Po has actually recovered her memories, but because she doesn’t want to be a Meng Po anymore, she’s convinced herself that she actually is Meng Xin Yu.

Cheng Huang thinks that Zhong Kui is just letting his imagination run too wild, but Zhong Kui starts pounding the table, insisting that Xin Yu looks happy right now. He tells Cheng Huang that every time he sees “that guy,” his heart feels distressed — even more distressed than when he’s unable to catch a ghost.

Cheng Huang points out that Zhong Kui kind of brought this upon himself. Meng Po has been crushing on him for so long, yet he never did anything. But he also points out that Zhong Kui still has the advantage. Now is the time to take initiative and win her back. Zhong Kui nods. He’s the one Meng Po likes. But is this life in the human world really what she wants?

“Kill me now,” Cheng Huang sighs dramatically. Isn’t it a bit too late to wonder that now after all the choices that Zhong Kui has already made? He reminds Zhong Kui that he preserved her memories while erasing everyone else’s because he wanted her to have some beautiful shared memories with him.

What he needs to do now is… Cheng Huang’s love lesson #4: show her he likes her. Send her flowers, send her to work, even just spin in circles around her. Zhong Kui protests that these are all so old-fashioned, but Cheng Huang shakes his head. He snaps; a piano appears in front of Zhong Kui. Zhong Kui says he doesn’t know how to play. Cheng Huang says that the point is the feeling that Zhong Kui is conveying.

At En Xi’s university campus, she and some other students are drawn to the sound of a piano. Chen Ze Xuan, the pianist from Yao Mu Qing’s party, plays the piano with closed eyes while on the phone with “mom.” He looks sweaty and the students outside the room whisper that he’s been playing like this all day and all night without stopping.

En Xi finds his face familiar. Bo Ya appears next to her and identifies Chen Ze Xuan as the music department’s musical genius. He frowns slightly as he watches him.

Later, he tells En Xi that success and skill don’t come from talent alone — it also requires hard work. He looks off into the distance and says that he, too, had to work hard for a long long time. But for some things, trying hard does not guarantee success. Like in love.

At the coffee shop, En Xi watches Bo Ya and Xin Yu silently interact. She guesses that Bo Ya was talking about Xin Yu earlier. She notices how they seem to have a tacit understanding of each other, knowing exactly what to do without saying a word. They’re a perfect match, so why won’t Xin Yu accept him?

En Xi gets a text from Ouyang Kai, saying he’s found the perfect haunted house to livestream from next. She responds telling him to meet up with her. After a long wait, Ouyang Kai shows up. En Xi tells him that she doesn’t want to livestream anymore — she hasn’t been able to sleep at night since their last haunted house adventure.

At night, En Xi asks Xin Yu about Bo Ya again. En Xi thinks Bo Ya looked quite pitiful with Xin Yu. Does Xin Yu really not reciprocate his feelings? Xin Yu admits that she does feel bad when she sees Bo Ya and has thought about how she should feel toward him. Should she feel happy when he’s near? But instead, she just feels uneasy. She feels like there’s a voice telling her no.

En Xi looks upset and tells Xin Yu that she can’t find any flaws with Bo Ya. She thinks that Xin Yu should appreciate him more.

Ouyang Kai decides to sit with En Xi in class. She tries to ignore him, but gets annoyed when he stares at her. (The happy music plays so you know he’s falling in love.)

Bo Ya’s lecture for the day is all about how feng shui can be tied to science and the intersection of metaphysics and science. A student asks whether “I like you” falls under metaphysics or science. Bo Ya smiles, then says that love mostly depends on fate. His smile fades.

Ouyang Kai leans over to En Xi and says that something about Bo Ya doesn’t sit right with him. His smile makes it look like he’s hiding something that’s weighing on his mind, and whatever it is, it’s bitter. Ouyang Kai claims to be good at reading people and says that Bo Ya’s smile is the look of someone who knows that they’ve lost a woman’s heart. He knows from experience that the only way to get out of this slump is for Bo Ya to figure it out himself.

En Xi asks if Ouyang Kai is trying to show off his love life, then tells him that he won’t have to deal with that kind of problem anymore. Right now, his only female friends are her and Xin Yu, and neither of them will ever date him.

Chen Ze Xuan wakes up in the middle of the night with a start and hears the frenzied sound of a piano. He goes downstairs, then freezes when he makes eye contact with a woman playing on the piano — his mother. She smirks and keeps playing. Then Chen Ze Xuan is the one playing with frenzy while his mother hovers over his shoulder.

Zhong Kui stands on a rooftop and surveys the city. His eyes sharpen.


Commentary

This was a really nice episode for Ouyang Kai. He’s shown so much growth and maturity since he bullied his way through Granny Wu’s bakery, and I have to give a lot of credit to the way that En Xi stands up to him and calls him out on his bullshit.

I find it hilarious how the whole underworld is portrayed as one large corporate bureaucracy — it reminds me of Umbrella Academy — and I hope we get to see more of this corporate underworld…

I don’t think Bo Ya is necessarily evil, but I’m with Ouyang Kai on this one. Something about him isn’t right. I’m glad Ouyang Kai pointed out his smile, though I don’t think he meant it in the same way I do, because it always made me feel really uncomfortable, but I couldn’t tell if it was the character or the actor… Either way, it looks like he definitely has a long history with Xin Yu, probably in a past life, or many past lives. Or maybe this life, if he isn’t actually a person.

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