Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 8)

This episode of The Devil Punisher brings us more circles and cycles of things happening but not really happening. Zhong Kui and Xin Yu are finally together, but they’re still figuring out how to work together. En Xi dances around her feelings for Bo Ya while Ouyang Kai dances around En Xi.


Recap

Bo Ya gives a lecture on the subject of boundaries and barriers that separate different worlds. Sound can be one way of creating a boundary or separation between worlds. He gives the example of the 52-hertz whale, who is separated from all other whales in the world because it calls at a frequency different from all other whales that live in its territory. Bo Ya compares the whale’s loneliness to that of a person who likes someone very much, but no matter what they do, the person they like doesn’t like them back. He seems to get lost in this thought and falls silent for a moment. En Xi notices and frowns.

After class, she and Bo Ya walk together toward the coffee shop. She makes small talk about the weather. A car pulls up in front of them, cutting them off, and Ouyang Kai hops out. He tries to act like it’s a huge coincidence that he’s run into En Xi here, saying that they must be fated. She quickly retorts that they have no fate together — she doesn’t want their relationship to be misunderstood.

Ouyang Kai offers to give En Xi and Bo Ya a ride to their next destination. En Xi insists on sitting in the backseat with Bo Ya. Ouyang Kai pouts at how now it looks like he’s a chauffeur. Bo Ya offers to move up to the passenger seat, but En Xi quickly says no and then makes up something about how the passenger seat should be reserved for Ouyang Kai’s significant other. Ouyang Kai comments that he should hire a driver so he can sit in the back with En Xi in the future. Bo Ya smiles at their back-and-forth and comments on how good their relationship seems, which En Xi frowns at, because she obviously doesn’t want Bo Ya to misinterpret her and Ouyang Kai’s relationship.

Zhong Kui stares at Xin Yu while she works at the coffee shop. He asks her if she’s remembered anything else other than that she worked as a Meng Po in the underworld. She doesn’t remember much and feels like she only has about 65% of her memories restored.

Zhong Kui asks Xin Yu if she knows about Granny Wu’s granddaughter. Xin Yu knows the girl’s name — Wu Yu Han — but has never seen her. She asks if Zhong Kui thinks Wu Qing Yuan’s disappearance could be related to his daughter. She suggests Zhong Kui should ask Cheng Huang for help, but Zhong Kui scoffs. Cheng Huang is so unreliable, he might as well rely on himself.

Cheng Huang seems to know he’s being talked about and pops up in protest. Zhong Kui and Xin Yu can both see him now and stare in surprise as Cheng Huang shows us into his little classroom yet again. This time, he teaches us what a Cheng Huang is. A Cheng Huang is a local official of the ghost world, responsible for keeping track of every ghost in his territory. As part of his responsibilities, he tracks every person’s vices and virtues, happiness and suffering. But he emphasizes that he’s only responsible for the deceased — he has no jurisdiction over the living. All he knows is that Wang Yu Han is still alive. As for where she is, how would he know? He just wants to make sure that no one blames him for not knowing because of Zhong Kui.

Zhong Kui and Xin Yu are worried that they’re out of leads, but then Zhong Kui remembers Granny Wu frowning over the bill from a nursing home and has an idea of where to look next. Before he can tell Xin Yu, Ouyang Kai and En Xi arrive with Bo Ya close behind.

En Xi sneezes and glares at Zhong Kui. Ouyang Kai teases him for finishing his work early to visit his girlfriend. En Xi doesn’t like the suggestion that Zhong Kui and Xin Yu are dating, but Bo Ya graciously goes over and says that he’s happy for Xin Yu and Zhong Kui.

Bo Ya holds out his hand to shake, saying that he hopes Zhong Kui will treat Xin Yu well. Zhong Kui crosses his arms and stares at Bo Ya. Xin Yu glares at him and has to push him to take Bo Ya’s hand before he grudgingly shakes it.

En Xi watches Bo Ya sadly, which Ouyang Kai notices with a sigh.

At night, Bo Ya broods and drinks wine by himself. En Xi sends him a good night text, but he ignores it.

The next day, Xin Yu teaches Ouyang Kai how to make coffee while En Xi idly shuffles her tarot cards and watches her phone. She checks the message she sent to Bo Ya — he hasn’t even read it yet.

Instead, she decides to try and pick a fight with Ouyang Kai, asking if he has nothing better to do than mess around at the coffee shop all day. He protests, saying that he’s learning how to make coffee for her. He tries to get her to try some of the coffee he brewed, but she rejects it.

Ouyang Kai brags that he did something really big today — he refused to follow through on his father’s order to go mess with Granny Wu’s bakery again. Isn’t she proud of him? Xin Yu smiles, but En Xi is unimpressed. She calls Ouyang Kai an idiot for giving up on such valuable land. This is why she hates rich people like him, who can so easily give up something so valuable.

Ouyang Kai wonders what he did wrong to make En Xi so mad at him. Xin Yu tells him that he did nothing wrong. He did great.

At night, En Xi is still in a bad mood, especially when she sees that Bo Ya still hasn’t read or responded to her text, and Xin Yu keeps giggling over her own messages with Zhong Kui. En Xi starts trying to pick a fight with Xin Yu, asking how she could like someone like Zhong Kui. Xin Yu smiles sappily and says that she feels like she’s known him and liked him for a very long time. En Xi frowns. Doesn’t Xin Yu not remember anything?

She suddenly brightens up — has Xin Yu remembered her past? Who is she? Xin Yu acknowledges that she remembers who she is, but hesitates when it comes time to explain her previous identity. En Xi thinks that she just doesn’t want to tell her, and turns away with a frown.

Xin Yu sits down next to her and tries to mollify her. En Xi starts to lash out, then catches herself and silently wonders why she’s reacting like this to the knowledge that Xin Yu has remembered who she is. Shouldn’t she be happy for her? Why does she feel so annoyed?

Xin Yu apologizes. She’s not trying to hide anything, but it’s complicated. En Xi seems to deflate and says that they’re all tired. She stands up and walks away. Xin Yu sighs as she watches En Xi leave. On En Xi’s laptop screen, a video of a pianist continues to play.

Around the college campus, other students and passersby become entranced by the same piano video.

The next day, Ouyang Kai continues to follow En Xi around while she turns on him, annoyed. She asks if he really thinks they can be friends when they come from such different places in life. He thinks they can.

When she gets to Bo Ya’s class, the room is strangely empty and quiet. En Xi asks Bo Ya what’s going on. He leaves abruptly.

En Xi and Ouyang Kai follow him to the student dorms, where students listlessly stand in the hallway. Bo Ya enters a dorm room where the residents are sprawled around the room, eyes open but unresponsive. The piano video continues to play on one student’s laptop. He checks another room and it’s the same situation. Bo Ya tries unplugging the student’s headphones. The piano song fills the room and En Xi freezes.

Bo Ya manages to wake En Xi up by loudly calling for her to come back. He tells En Xi and Ouyang Kai to plug their ears, then protectively hugs En Xi to him and puts his hands over her ears. She smiles up at him.

Xin Yu tries to sneak up on Zhong Kui at the bakery while he works, but he knew she was there. She silently says that she missed him and that’s why she’s here — he hears the thought. Granny Wu teases them for being so in love.

Ouyang Kai rushes in, looking for Zhong Kui, who gives him a warning shake of the head so that he doesn’t accidentally say something in front of Granny Wu.

Ouyang Kai shows Zhong Kui, Xin Yu, and Xiao Qi the piano video. He wears earplugs and talks loudly to avoid listening to the video, while the other three are unaffected. Xin Yu wonders if Chen Zhe Xuan’s mother could be causing trouble again, but Xiao Qi says she made sure the woman reported through in the underworld before leaving.

Zhong Kui sends Xiao Qi to the university campus to investigate. She finds that everyone on campus seems to have watched the video and is frozen in their tracks. She reports her findings to Zhong Kui, who finds the video’s virality a bit too deliberate to be fate. He worries Wu Qing Yuan is involved. Xiao Qi reminds him that because the people involved are mortals, they have to be careful.

Zhong Kui pays Qin Guang a visit. She guesses that he’s here to ask for an extended break for Meng Po. He admits that’s only part of it. She already knows what else he’s here for and tells him to go do his thing so she can get back to playing her games. After he leaves, she looks amused that he’s even getting involved with the incident at the university when there’s already someone there who can take care of the problem.

Xin Yu visits Chen Zhe Xuan and is surprised to find Bo Ya already there. Bo Ya asks Zhe Xuan about the video. The pianist shares that it was the last competition he attended with his mother before she died. Xin Yu grabs the phone away before Zhe Xuan can play the video. Bo Ya asks Zhe Xuan to demonstrate the piece in person instead.

Zhe Xuan apologizes — he’s decided to not play piano anymore. For a time, even though his mother had passed away, he seemed to still feel her presence when he played. In those moments, he rediscovered the joy in piano. But he can’t feel her anymore and he can’t bring himself to play piano anymore, either.

Outside, Bo Ya tells Xin Yu that she doesn’t need to worry about the video. He can ask the computer science department to help get rid of it.

At night, Xin Yu hesitates outside Zhong Kui’s house, wondering if he’ll be angry if she tells him that she went to look for Chen Zhe Xuan by herself and ran into Bo Ya there. Zhong Kui appears behind her and says that he will be. Xin Yu shares what Bo Ya said about getting someone to help with the video. Zhong Kui asks if that means she thinks he can’t help. She responds that it’s always better to leave mortal matters to mortal people.

Zhong Kui still seems upset and goes inside. The door closes behind him and Xin Yu turns to leave, wondering how she can soothe his anger. He opens the door, asking if she’s coming inside.

Later, Xin Yu continues to try and solve the mystery of the video on her own. She rounds up a few ghosts and gets them to watch the video for her as an experiment. One of the ghosts, the Daoist, knows exactly what’s going on and tells Xin Yu that there’s a curse woven into the piano song that drives mortals crazy. He wonders why it isn’t affecting her. She pretends she doesn’t know, waving it off as a mystery similar to the mystery of why she can see ghosts. She asks him how to lift the curse, but he doesn’t know.

Xin Yu shares what she found with Zhong Kui, who says that he already knew about the curse. She’s upset he didn’t tell her, but he says that he just didn’t want her to worry. He already requested some time off from the underworld on her behalf, so her job now is to enjoy her vacation. She doesn’t need to involve herself with these other problems.

But Xin Yu continues to puzzle over the curse. How is someone like Zhong Kui going to deal with videos and technology? She decides to visit the university to seek out Bo Ya’s help again.

Most of the students on campus are zombie-like. The few students who aren’t affected look around fearfully at those who are. Bo Ya spots Xin Yu and asks why she’s here. She says she’s here to ask him for help. But then Bo Ya freezes in the middle of responding. Xin Yu peers into the courtyard as Zhong Kui and Xiao Qi stroll in. Zhong Kui wakes up all the students by putting a hand to the ground, then smiles up at Xin Yu. She smiles back.

Bo Ya wakes up and asks Xin Yu what she needed help with. She responds, “Nothing,” then hurries off.

A few steps off campus, Zhong Kui suddenly has to catch himself against a wall as he winces in pain. Xiao Qi gently chides him for being reckless with his magic for the sake of showing off to Meng Po.

Zhong Kui is back at the bakery when he hears Granny Wu sound upset on the phone. He stops her as she’s in the middle of rushing out and asks what’s wrong. She tries to act like nothing is the matter, but he insists on going with her, saying he might be able to help.

Xin Yu rushes up to the bakery, just a second too late, as Zhong Kui and Granny Wu take off in a cab. She flags down her own cab to follow them.

At Yu Han’s long-term care facility, a nurse tells Granny Wu that her granddaughter has been exhibiting signs of self-harm. They strongly suggest Granny Wu have a specialist come see Yu Han so they can determine how to best treat her moving forward.

The nurse takes Granny Wu to see Yu Han, who is skittish and fearful and cries that she wants to go home. Granny Wu cries as she embraces her granddaughter, saying they can go home, but the nurse says otherwise. She thinks it’s best that they have a doctor come see Yu Han. While the nurse goes to fetch the doctor, Yu Han keeps muttering, “He loves me. I don’t blame him.” Granny Wu cries and hugs her and says she knows, but he was also the one who made her like this.

Granny Wu tells Zhong Kui how Yu Han became the subject of bullying after getting a boyfriend. Rumor has it that the boyfriend was also the one who spread photoshopped raunchy pictures of her, and the vicious bullying drove Yu Han to the point where she ended up here in the hospital.

Zhong Kui asks if Qing Yuan knows about this. Granny Wu responds that he wouldn’t be able to do anything even if he did.

Xin Yu wanders the hospital grounds, trying to find Zhong Kui and Granny Wu. She suddenly clutches her scar in pain and turns to find Wu Qing Yuan glaring at her.

He approaches her, but then Zhong Kui appears and knocks Wu Qing Yuan back. The ghost disappears, but the meeting was enough for Xin Yu to recognize Wu Qing Yuan as the ghost who kidnapped her. Both Zhong Kui and Xin Yu are confused by how he disappeared so quickly, but they can’t talk about it because Granny Wu finds them and says that it’s time go home.

Xin Yu tries to get Granny Wu settled in bed, but the woman suddenly sits up, determined to go to the police station so she can see if there’s any news of her son. He needs to know about Yu Han. Xin Yu reassures her that she and Zhong Kui will take care of it. Zhong Kui looks like he wants to tell the truth about Wu Qing Yuan to Granny Wu, but Xin Yu cuts him off and lies to Granny Wu, saying that she’s sure Qing Yuan is fine.

After Granny Wu settles down, Xin Yu and Zhong Kui argue over what the right thing to do was. Xin Yu calls him heartless for wanting to tell Granny Wu the truth about Wu Qing Yuan when they have no answers about his death and says that he clearly doesn’t understand love or compassion. Zhong Kui reminds her that they’re gods, not mortals. Xin Yu knows, but if being a god means having no mercy, then she’d rather not be one. Zhong Kui says that if they all let themselves get led around by their emotions, the mortal world would be hell. Xin Yu accuses Zhong Kui of being stone-hearted as always. He protests that he’s just trying to be objective in his job. Xin Yu reminds him that his job might be to catch ghosts, but she interacts with them everyday and knows that they’re all trapped by their emotions. They end at an impasse, neither agreeing with the other. Xin Yu tells Zhong Kui that if he still insists on telling Granny Wu about Wu Qing Yuan, he can do it by himself. She leaves.

Zhong Kui brings Cheng Huang to Yu Han’s care facility and tells him that Wu Qing Yuan appeared here. Cheng Huang tries to slip away, but Zhong Kui forces him to help. Cheng Huang summons an elderly earth deity to guard the area.

Ouyang Kai’s father orders him to deal with Granny Wu’s bakery and refuses to listen to excuses. Ouyang Kai tries to make up his mind on what to do. On the one hand, he would be destroying Zhong Kui’s livelihood, which doesn’t seem right. But then he’s reminded of how En Xi insulted him for giving up so easily on such valuable land. In the end, he decides that he can always open up another bakery for Granny Wu and Zhong Kui to work in. He calls up his henchmen and tells them to meet him in front of the bakery.

Xin Yu feels bothered by her conversation with Zhong Kui the previous night. What if Zhong Kui actually tells Granny Wu the truth? That would be bad. She decides to go by the bakery to check things out, but En Xi catches her leaving earlier than normal in the morning and invites herself along.

Zhong Kui isn’t at the bakery yet when Xin Yu and En Xi get there, and Xin Yu frowns as she waits around for him to show up. Is he avoiding her because he’s still angry about their argument last night?

En Xi smiles as she browses her phone and tries to show En Xi some campus forum posts about how everyone loves Bo Ya. Xin Yu doesn’t seem to be in the mood to listen, but when En Xi shows her an edited reimagining of Bo Ya in ancient costume, she frowns thoughtfully. En Xi notices that Xin Yu is distracted and guesses that she’s fighting with Zhong Kui (whom she calls “ice cube face.”)

They’re interrupted by the arrival of Ouyang Kai, who is ready to barge in and smash up the shop, but then freezes and tries to reverse course when he sees that En Xi and Xin Yu are there. When Granny Wu comes out from the kitchen to see what the commotion is about, he tries to pretend that he’s here with all his “friends” to buy some baked goods. But En Xi heard what Ouyang Kai said earlier and tattles on him to Granny Wu, saying he’s here to try to reclaim the shop.

Granny Wu asks for more time. She’s worried that if she moves, her son won’t be able to find her anymore. She promises to move out the moment that Wu Qing Yuan returns. Ouyang Kai tells her to stay as long as she needs to and to pretend he never came by today. He hurriedly rushes out, almost forgetting to pay until En Xi pointedly reminds him, his men following him with arms full of baked goods.

En Xi offers a listening ear to Xin Yu, noticing how dejected she seems. Xin Yu tries to explain the Granny Wu situation in hypotheticals, but En Xi immediately guesses who she’s talking about. She tells Xin Yu that she can take care of the problem for her, but Xin Yu still seems concerned.

When Zhong Kui gets to the bakery, Granny Wu tells him that Xin Yu was waiting for him. She can tell from his reaction that the two of them are fighting and advises him to to err on the side of communication. It’s not worth creating an unnecessary misunderstanding between them. She uses her son and granddaughter as an example — they clearly care about each other, but failed to communicate and now there’s a rift between them. Zhong Kui asks what the misunderstanding between them is, but Granny Wu only gives a vague response.

At night, Ouyang Kai goes to the coffee shop and apologizes to En Xi, promising that he’ll listen to her from now on. She tells him that he needs to think about what he’s doing. If he can’t figure out what his problem is, then he shouldn’t even bother coming to her.

Xin Yu waves Ouyang Kai over and whispers that he’ll need to be a bit more serious if he wants to pursue En Xi, but she’s rooting for him.

Zhong Kui is waiting outside when Xin Yu closes up shop. Ouyang Kai gives Xin Yu a little push toward him. She crosses her arms and asks Zhong Kui what he’s doing here. He says that he came to confirm something, then grabs her hand and drags her off.

Ouyang Kai smiles watching them leave, saying them seem perfectly suited for each other. En Xi frowns and disagrees. He clearly doesn’t know what that means. He asks her what kind of person suits her best. She suddenly smiles off into the distance, thinking of Bo Ya. Ouyang Kai points out that there’s already someone close to her who is great. She agrees, wondering if she should try to take initiative, but she also knows where Bo Ya’s heart lies.

Xin Yu frowns and glares at Zhong Kui as he silently eats and drinks at the divine speakeasy. She finally breaks the silence and asks what he wanted to confirm. He asks her to bartend for him. She tells him that her bartending skills are quite different now than they were before. He reminds her that he doesn’t get drunk easily. She smirks, up for the challenge.

Zhong Kui gets drunk more easily than Xin Yu expected and she tries to get him to stop drinking. He ends up hugging her to him and asking if she’ll stop being mad at him if he talks nice. Xin Yu is easily swayed by Zhong Kui’s drunken affection, especially after he says that he doesn’t want them to fight because of work again. At first, she tries to squirm out of his arms, but then she stops fighting, especially after he starts to lean in…


Commentary

I hoped that with Xin Yu and Zhong Kui finally getting together, we’d be done with this En Xi trying to push Xin Yu and Bo Ya together nonsense, but it looks like we’re not. On the one hand, maybe it’s kind of sweet that she just wants the person she likes to be happy, even if it’s not with her? On the other hand, it is so frustrating and annoying that she’s so out of touch with her own feelings that she can’t recognize her own feelings for Bo Ya and instead tries to find fulfillment by forcing Xin Yu to be with him when that’s clearly not what Xin Yu wants. Instead, she just acts like a bratty teenager and takes out her frustration on Ouyang Kai, who has literally done nothing wrong since the first episode. Poor boy!

To be fair, some of that moodiness was because of the piano song curse. En Xi has never been an entirely likable character — she has a bit of a difficult personality, but also seems to own it — but she’s easily veering into dislikable territory, just because she always acts so petulant.

We got a bit of confirmation that Bo Ya is definitely involved in a past life of Xin Yu’s, what with that glimmer of almost-recognition or deja vu that Xin Yu seemed to get when she saw that photoshopped photo of him…

I actually really enjoyed Zhong Kui and Xin Yu’s little fight because it was such a reasonable thing to disagree about, especially given their respective personalities and duties. But I also like that they’re so stupidly in love that it doesn’t matter. Everything else that’s happening with the main plot feels so… anticlimactic. Again, things are happening, but are they really going anywhere?

1 thought on “Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 8)”

  1. This ep really take the cake for my dislike to enxi.. urgghhh keep rolling my eyes at her. Ouyang Kai deserves better :/ tbf I just watched half and can’t wait to rant
    I’m just happy my otp being happy rn.

    Like

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