Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Haunted Heart (Ep. 9)

Shi Yi Shao continues to try and find opportunities to propose to Xiao Ling. Meanwhile, Xiao Ling tries her best avoid eliciting any suspicions that she’s not normal. That gets tricky when a ghost with grievances shows up.


Recap

Xiao Ling shops for a swimsuit at the hotel store while Da Yong teases her — whether a swimsuit looks good or not depends on the person wearing it, not the swimsuit itself. She notices him eyeing a buy-one-get-one deal for eye masks and teases him about not being able to use the eye mask, but buys them anyway. Shi Yi Shao messes around with the umbrella Guang Yi gave him.

Shi Yi Shao holds the umbrella up for him and Xiao Ling as they head to the hot springs. He keeps glancing at the top of it for a color change. Xiao Ling points out how odd it is he’s using an umbrella when it’s not raining, nor is it very sunny. Shi Yi Shao notices that the umbrella has changed colors and excitedly pauses to pull out the ring, but Xiao Ling gets impatient and keeps walking.

At the hot spring, Xiao Ling gets shy and tries to hide her swimsuit under a coat while Da Yong continues to tease her, saying that she’s not much to look at. A woman walks by in the nude and enters the pool. Da Yong eyes her admiringly and tells Xiao Ling that this woman is something to look at. When he turns back to look at Xiao Ling, she’s jumped into the hot spring and submerged herself under the water.

Shi Yi Shao shows up in his own one-piece and tries to put Guang Yi’s special gel on Xiao Ling’s wrist. She resists and pulls away, then turns back to Da Yong to gossip about whether the two naked women on one end of the pool have bathed with the emperor before. She whispers, not wanting the ghosts to know she can see them.

When Xiao Ling lets her wrist touch the water, Shi Yi Shao insists on putting more gel on, ignoring how annoyed she seems. A spirit floats by, but Xiao Ling doesn’t notice.

Qing Feng finds Ding Yu drinking alone at the bar after escaping early from dinner with the parents. He invites her to join him and the parents for a soak in the hot springs, but she declines. Guang Yi stumbles in, drunk, and tries to drag Ding Yu to the hot springs. He thinks it’s a shame she’s still single and suggests that maybe she’s waiting for the wrong person. He offers to go to the hot springs with her and make a wish upon a star for her to find her Prince Charming.

Qing Feng and his parents manage to get Guang Yi to leave Ding Yu alone. She smiles until they leave, then returns to her solo drinking.

Later, Ding Yu is very drunk as she stumbles back to her room. Her key card keeps getting rejected by the door. An employee passing by helps her out by letting her in. She stumbles straight to the bathroom where she curls up in the empty bathtub and cries.

Xiao Ling walks back toward the hotel with Shi Yi Shao and wonders if they’re lost. She comments on how there are a ton of ghosts nearby — they could ask any one of them for help. The only thing on Shi Yi Shao’s mind is the proposal and he anticipates the right moment to ask.

Da Yong warns Xiao Ling that a strange woman is following them. She starts to get nervous but tries not to show it. Shi Yi Shao misinterprets her nervousness for excitement and thinks that this is the right time to propose. He grabs her hand, kneels down in front of her, and starts trying to force the ring onto her finger.

Da Yong warns Xiao Ling again and she jerks aside as the ghost following her tries to possess her. The ghost enters Da Yong’s body instead, and starts struggling for control against Shi Yi Shao.

Inside Da Yong’s body, the ghost and Shi Yi Shao circle each other and start fighting. In reality, Shi Yi Shao starts spasming.

Guang Yi and Qing Feng run into them and ask what Shi Yi Shao is doing. Xiao Ling lies that he’s just messing around, then smacks him hard in the head, knocking him out.

Back in the room, Da Yong makes Xiao Ling put on a translator earpiece that Guang Yi made so she can understand Japanese. They try to figure out why Shi Yi Shao wanted to propose and why Guang Yi would help him. Xiao Ling remembers all the mentions of being “together forever.” Is Guang Yi helping Shi Yi Shao because he wants him and Xiao Ling to be together forever?

Shi Yi Shao wakes up — or more accurately, the ghost does, because she’s won the internal battle. She tells Xiao Ling that she and Shi Yi Shao need to be together forever. Xiao Ling refuses — she’s not in love with Shi Yi Shao, why should they be together forever? The ghost asks why they soaked in the hot spring together if they’re not in love. A price must be paid — either he must die, or they must spend the night together.

Da Yong immediately rejects what the ghost is saying. He won’t allow it. Xiao Ling disappears, then reappears and starts trying to exorcise the ghost from Da Yong’s body, copying what she saw her grandmother do in the past. She throws in some numeric recitations for good measure.

It works. The ghost is forced out of Da Yong’s body, then vanishes with a scream. Shi Yi Shao wakes back up and beams to find that the ghost is gone. Ding Yu stares from the bathroom — looks like she was trying to get into the wrong room after all.

Ding Yu scurries out of the room, unnoticed, then rushes to knock on Qing Feng’s door, looking fearfully back at Da Yong’s room. When Qing Feng opens the door, she’s unable to get any coherent words out, other than Da Yong’s name.

Xiao Ling hangs up strings of folded trigrams around the room to ward off nefarious ghosts. Da Yong thinks it’s just a gimmick and doesn’t actually work, but Xiao Ling says she’ll prove it to them. She gives Shi Yi Shao a folded trigram to protect him, then burns one for Da Yong. The physical paper turns into a metaphysical one that he can touch.

Qing Feng helps Ding Yu get cleaned up and asks why she drank so much. She tries to insist that she’s not drunk. She’s telling the truth: she saw Xiao Ling casting some sort of spell on Da Yong. Clearly, the girl is crazy. Ding Yu collapses to the ground and starts sobbing. How could Da Yong like a girl like Xiao Ling?

She falls asleep, still crying, in Qing Feng’s bed. He silently hopes that she won’t remember anything when she wakes up. Then she won’t feel as bad.

The next day, Qing Feng waits around for Xiao Ling and asks to speak to her alone. They start out sitting across from each other, but he moves around to her side of the table and asks how she’s been doing since they’ve arrived in Japan. He reminds her that she needs to try to control her hallucinations when she’s around others. Xiao Ling asks why he’s suddenly saying all of this. He suddenly smiles and says that he’s just looking out for her as family.

Xiao Ling admits that she feels like being his family is a dream. She’s so used to seeing him at a distance — either at the clinic or when he’s on stage giving a talk — yet here he is sitting next to her in a yukata. They smile at each other and hold eye contact for a long, silent moment before they both look away.

Da Yong sulks while he and Shi Yi Shao wait for Xiao Ling. When he’s not paying attention, the ghost appears again and slides into his body, overtaking it from Shi Yi Shao. Da Yong pulls out the trigram Xiao Ling gave him and starts reciting the number Phi, but the ghost just gets up and walks away.

Xiao Ling notices what’s happening and suddenly gets up. She pretends that everything is fine and tells Qing Feng that she’s doing great, then hurries out. She notices a poster featuring a woman who looks like the ghost, then heads out toward the hot spring to look for Shi Yi Shao.

The ghost hides behind a tree. Da Yong gets impatient with Xiao Ling’s slow pace and suggests she should return to the hotel. She wants to go to the exhibit she saw on the poster of the woman, thinking it might give some clues as to who the ghost is.

Da Yong goes with her to the exhibit on oiran. Xiao Ling goes around staring at every photo in the exhibit, hoping to identify the ghost. Da Yong suggests she should pay attention to the pattern on the kimonos — it might be easier to try to identify her that way.

Xiao Ling asks a nearby attendant for help. The woman suggests she could go to the library if she’s looking for a specific person. They don’t notice that the kimono the ghost is wearing is on display in the next room.

Shi Yi Shao continues to struggle with the ghost over possession of Da Yong’s body. The ghost starts guiding Da Yong’s body into a dance.

Xiao Ling flips through a book in the library on historical Japan and the oiran. She gets distracted by the colorful pictures and Da Yong teases her. She quickly snaps the book shut when she sees a drawing of two naked figures and Da Yong laughs.

A book falls off a nearby cart. Xiao Ling picks it up and throws it at Da Yong, who vanishes. Other library patrons give her a weird look.

Xiao Ling falls asleep in the library, where she dreams about the ghost’s life as a courtesan named Kikuyu. She seemed to be in love with a samurai and wanted to surprise him with a tattoo, but he drew a sword on her and accused her of betraying him. Xiao Ling wakes up with tears in her eyes and tells Da Yong about her dream. He suddenly thinks of a way to figure out what his last wish was.

As they return to the hotel, Xiao Ling admits Da Yong’s idea is a good one, but it’s contingent on Kikuyu’s cooperation. When they get back, Shi Yi Shao beams at Xiao Ling, wearing a yukata. He suddenly kneels in front of her and forces the ring onto her finger, then says, “Marry me,” and kisses her on the forehead. Da Yong and Xiao Ling quickly realize that this isn’t Shi Yi Shao at all. Kikuyu has taken over and played the role of the overbearing CEO, which she knows Xiao Ling likes.

Xiao Ling takes off the ring and throws it at Kikuyu. Kikuyu grabs Xiao Ling, saying that it’s time for them to consummate their marriage. Xiao Ling resists and calls Kikuyu by name, surprising her, and says that she knows about her past, too. Da Yong suggests that Xiao Ling should try to see what Kikuyu wants. Maybe they can help each other, and since Kikuyu is sharing a body with Shi Yi Shao, maybe she can figure out what Da Yong’s last wish was.

Apparently, controlling a body is like driving a car, and Shi Yi Shao has been relegated to the passenger seat. Kikuyu asks him what Da Yong’s last wish was, but Shi Yi Shao doesn’t understand Japanese. Kikuyu tells Xiao Ling and Da Yong that she’s looking for a leather painting.

She tells her story to them. The samurai promised to marry her, but after he saw the chrysanthemum she got tattooed on her back for him, he dumped her. After that, she was ostracized. No one wanted a woman who tattooed herself for love. She had nowhere to go and she couldn’t live anymore. She blames “that artist” for tricking her. But what’s even worse is that after she died, he stole her tattoo and turned it into a leather painting. (That’s really messed up…)

Xiao Ling wonders if it’s even possible to find what Kikuyu is looking for. Japan is huge. Da Yong tells her that she should go rest — he doesn’t need to sleep, so he can look by himself.

When Xiao Ling opens the door to Da Yong’s room, she’s surprised to find Guang Mei there, looking for her.

Da Yong’s father, aunt, uncle, and Ding Yu all sit Xiao Ling down, as if staging an intervention. Xiao Ling looks uncomfortable with their scrutiny. Guang Mei tells Ding Yu to tell Xiao Ling what she saw yesterday in Da Yong’s room, but Ding Yu is embarrassed to have been outed as the person who suggested the intervention. The parents ask if Xiao Ling has a doctor. Guang Yi suggests that maybe Qing Feng can give her a check up. They talk about how mental illness is often hereditary, ask if they should ask Da Yong to come as well, and ask Xiao Ling if she takes medication.

Xiao Ling runs away without a word, brushing past Qing Feng. The parents tell Qing Feng he arrived just in time and share their concern that Xiao Ling is mentally ill. Qing Feng turns to Ding Yu and angrily asks her how she could have treated something she saw while drunk as real. Ding Yu leaves, upset. Qing Feng also heads out to look for Xiao Ling.

The parents start bickering among themselves and blaming one another for causing trouble. Kikuyu shows up in Da Yong’s body and says in Japanese that she’s the love god of the hot springs, then saunters away. The parents then start bickering over how it seems like Da Yong is the one who has lost his marbles.

Xiao Ling goes the hot spring and stands at the water’s edge. A desolate Kikuyu stands next to her and they take a step out toward the water together.

Xiao Ling is startled awake when Da Yong appears next to her and asks what she’s doing. Kikuyu was never there at all.

Da Yong convinces Xiao Ling to drink something hot to make herself feel better. He tells her that she shouldn’t let others’ words drive her to the point of wanting to drown herself. It’s not like she’s actually marrying Da Yong — why does she care what they have to say about her?

He asks her why she was so upset earlier. Xiao Ling confesses that she feels like she’s been cursed; she feels like she’ll never be happy. Da Yong says that she’s just letting other people’s words fuel her fears. What proof does she have that she’ll never be happy?

Xiao Ling sadly asks what proof she needs. She’s constantly changing jobs; she’s never had any friends; and love is impossible because she’ll always be seen as a freak or a madwoman. Da Yong starts trying to comfort her in his own way by starting to talk about work and self-improvement and productivity. Xiao Ling interrupts her — she know he’s not used to comforting people and he doesn’t need to comfort her. She’s fine.

Da Yong says that he can give her a permanent job and that he would even call them friends, but love… he can’t help her with that. He says that if she needs anything, he’ll do his best to help her.

Xiao Ling holds out her arms. If she says that she needs a hug, can he give her that?

Da Yong looks down at his own arms, then slowly approaches her and circles her with his arms, hugging her without touching her. Xiao Ling closes her eyes and cries. He pulls away and looks saddened by her tears. He holds up a hand to wipe them away, but the tears fall through him. He stares at Xiao Ling then leans in, as if to kiss her.


Bi Zhi Wei is making soup when she suddenly thinks of what Ah Xiang told her earlier in the temple — that she saw Xiao Ling interacting with some invisible being. Doesn’t that mean Xiao Ling can see what others cannot? Zhi Wei pulls the note from Xiao Ling’s mother out of her pocket. The note said that Xiao Ling would only be able to find peace in the temple and asked her to accept Xiao Ling.

Zhi Wei is startled out of her thoughts by Xiao Ling calling for her, saying she’s hungry. Zhi Wei tries to trick Xiao Ling into eating carrots, who doesn’t like them because she thinks they’re stinky. When Xiao Ling finds out that her food has carrots in them, she doesn’t want to eat, saying she doesn’t like carrots — but she does like her grandmother.

Zhi Wei gushes over Xiao Ling, then tells her that if she likes her, she should eat her carrots. Xiao Ling obediently eats a bite of the food.

Outside, Xiao Ling’s mother smiles as she watches through the window. The girl ghost appears next to Xiao Ling and tells her, “Mom is here.”

Xiao Ling rushes outside only to see her mother running away. She goes to the gate, but sees no one on the street. Bi Zhi Wei catches up to her and asks why she thinks her mom was here. “She told me,” Xiao Ling says, pointing at the girl ghost, whom Zhi Wei can’t see.

Zhi Wei guides the crying Xiao Ling back inside, then asks her to draw the girl she saw. Zhi Wei watches as Xiao Ling draws the little girl.

At home, Xiao Ling’s mother sobs as she looks at a photograph of the same little girl.


Commentary

I’m struggling to maintain interest in this show. There are just too many little things that annoy me. and not enough good things to keep me hooked. Xiao Ling acts like a moody teenager sometimes, but I also can’t really blame her when the people around her, like Qing Feng, run so hot and cold. He’s either strangely smiley and over-friendly with her, or looks like he wants to kill her.

The only character who seems even remotely interesting right now is Bryan Chang, who plays Da Yong, and that’s only because he’s the only one who seems capable of making his set of characters make sense.

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