Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 11)

Nothing really happens or gets resolved this episode of The Devil Punisher, which is probably why it took me so long to muster up the energy to recap it. En Xi and Xin Yu continue their misunderstanding, Zhong Kui investigates various things and is all lovey-dovey with Xin Yu, but no one makes any progress with anything.


Recap

Cheng Huang joins Zhong Kui and Xiao Qi at the movie theater with the dozens of dazed humans collapsed on the ground. Because it’s purely a human matter with no ghostly involvement, they can’t do anything about it and must leave it to other humans to take care of. Zhong Kui decides to look for some help.

Xin Yu chats with her flower demon friend for lack of anyone else to talk to. En Xi continues to ignore her and Zhong Kui has been away to the underworld for work for over a month. Suddenly, the flower demon shouts a warning. Someone tackles Xin Yu and she disappears.

Zhong Kui teleports himself and Xin Yu onto his couch and says, “Long time no see,” with a roguish smile. They make out for a bit.

Zhong Kui thought Xin Yu would be mad at him for leaving for so long without no word, but instead all she says is that she missed him.

Bo Ya asks En Xi what happened between her and Xin Yu. The mention of Xin Yu immediately puts En Xi in a bad mood. She storms out of the coffee shop, then heads home out of habit before catching herself and walking away. Ouyang Kai spots her outside the coffee shop and follows her.

En Xi strolls by a store where she stares wistfully at a cute shirt in the display, then stares at her own reflection and touches her face. Later, she sits on some swings and Ouyang Kai joins her. They swing on the swings, then Ouyang Kai brings En Xi some ice cream. She enjoys herself and seems to cheer up.

Zhong Kui asks Xin Yu how things are going with En Xi. At first, Xin Yu avoids the subject, but Zhong Kui doesn’t let her avoid it forever and eventually she admits how En Xi has been avoiding her for over a month. He offers to go to work with her and see if he can help smooth things over with En Xi. He says that he’s envious of how she has a mortal friend like En Xi. Then he promises to keep Xin Yu company from now on, knowing how lonely she’s been. She tells him that she wants to go on a date like the ones all mortals go on.

Zhong Kui offers to send Xin Yu home with some midnight snacks that might put her back on En Xi’s good side, but Xin Yu doesn’t want to go home. Instead, she invites Cheng Huang over and the three of them eat together. Zhong Kui is unhappy to have Cheng Huang third wheeling and gets jealous when he learns that Cheng Huang and Xin Yu have been hanging out a lot during his absence. Xin Yu points out that other than Cheng Huang and her flower demon friend, she has no other friends anymore.

Cheng Huang mentions that he’s been having trouble sleeping. Xin Yu offers to brew him some tea to help him sleep and pulls out the Rafflesia flower that Bo Ya gave her. Cheng Huang frowns at the sight of the flower. He isn’t familiar with it, but his instincts tell him that he should investigate it further. He asks Xin Yu if he can hang onto it.

Ouyang Kai tries to summon the courage to hold En Xi’s hand as they walk side-by-side at night. En Xi wonders if it’s late enough for her to go home. She turns to tell Ouyang Kai that she’s heading home, right as he tries to take her hand. He immediately jumps away and apologizes. She guesses that he likes her, but tells him they’re from two different worlds and that he should stop wasting his time with her and find someone who matches his background. She doesn’t give him a chance to respond and leaves.

Zhong Kui sends Xin Yu home, but En Xi isn’t back yet. Zhong Kui thinks that Xin Yu should just clear things up with En Xi, but she tells him it’s not that easy. En Xi has been volatile and avoiding her lately — it’s almost like she’s a different person. This makes Zhong Kui frown, but Xin Yu thinks it’s probably her own fault. En Xi seems normal when she interacts with other people.

Zhong Kui heads home and runs into En Xi downstairs. He tries to be friendly and ask why she’s out so late, but she snaps that it’s none of his business. When she realizes that Zhong Kui was just at her apartment, she turns around and abruptly walks away. Zhong Kui smiles after her. Cheng Huang teases him about thinking of two-timing.

Ouyang Kai wakes up the next morning to find Zhong Kui sitting in bed next to him. He’s startled, even more so when Zhong Kui vanishes.

Zhong Kui reveals his true identity to Ouyang Kai over breakfast. Ouyang Kai starts confessing the bad deeds he’s done in his life, but tries to convince Zhong Kui that he hasn’t done anything really bad. Zhong Kui reassures him that he knows he’s a good guy. In fact, he’s here because he wants to take on Ouyang Kai as an apprentice.

Zhong Kui asks Ouyang Kai to find the identity of the person who organized the strange movie outing. Ouyang Kai thinks that task is too easy so Zhong Kui also asks him for another favor: does he know how to date?

Ouyang Kai asks how many times Zhong Kui has been in love and is amazed when Zhong Kui says just once. But he knows everything about her, because he’s known her for a long, long time.

Xin Yu watches En Xi while they both work at the coffee shop, but En Xi ignores her. Bo Ya tries to encourage Xin Yu to talk to En Xi after her customer leaves, but Zhong Kui and Ouyang Kai show up. En Xi sneezes and glares at Zhong Kui, who smiles a greeting.

Ouyang Kai tries to get En Xi to do a reading for him, then picks through her cards when she refuses. Xin Yu tells Zhong Kui that he doesn’t need to do this — she and En Xi are fine.

Zhong Kui turns to Bo Ya and says he’s here to ask for a day off for his girlfriend. He wants to take Xin Yu on a date tomorrow. Bo Ya’s smile flickers at the reminder of their relationship, but he agrees to give Xin Yu the day off.

Xin Yu and Zhong Kui act cutesy with each other. En Xi glares at them, suddenly in a bad mood, and snaps at them and Ouyang Kai before storming out of the coffee shop. Bo Ya chases after her while Zhong Kui frowns slightly at En Xi’s sudden change in mood.

Bo Ya catches up to En Xi and invites her to have dinner with him.

Cheng Huang researches the Rafflesia flower and finally finds mention of it in one of his books. He realizes that the Rafflesia flower is the human world’s equivalent of a resurrection flower.

The next day, Cheng Huang surprises Zhong Kui with breakfast, but Zhong Kui is too eager for his date with Xin Yu and heads out with a warning that Cheng Huang is not allowed to show up today. Cheng Huang realizes too late that he forgot to talk about the Rafflesia flower.

Xin Yu tries to talk to En Xi before she leaves in the morning, but En Xi pretends to be asleep.

Zhong Kui follows Ouyang Kai’s advice for the date. He shows up to pick Xin Yu up with a sexy motorcycle and a bouquet of white flowers. He remembers that in a past life, Xin Yu loved white flowers, but in this one, she doesn’t seem to have any special affinity for them. Zhong Kui wonders if he remembered wrong.

They go to one of Ouyang Kai’s suggested date locations, which ends up being a children’s play house. They try going to a different location instead: a haunted house. A couple in front of them is terrified of everything, but Xin Yu finds the haunted house not scary at all and is instead amused. She ends up saving one of the workers who is dressed up as a ghost from being hit and starts asking him about his life and his job.

Zhong Kui is disappointed that the date doesn’t seem to be going as well as he thought it should. Xin Yu brings him some ice cream — having guessed the next item on the list — and teases him about going to Ouyang Kai for dating advice. It’s not like Ouyang Kai has been very successful with his relationships. Zhong Kui frowns and says that they can have a do-over date, but Xin Yu shyly says that there’s one way to make this date perfect. She sneaks a kiss.

Zhong Kui thinks that the kiss was missing something. He kisses her back and snaps his fingers, making white flower petals rain down around them. Xin Yu has a sudden sense of deja vu — she and Zhong Kui had a kiss just like this one in a past life. She doesn’t remember it, but Zhong Kui does. He says that maybe they had a moment like this in a past life.

Cheng Huang invites Xiao Qi over to Zhong Kui’s house to eat the breakfast that her boss abandoned. He wants to know about the Rafflesia flower and Xiao Qi tells him what she knows about its origins. Cheng Huang finds it suspicious that this flower from the mortal realm was powerful enough to make Yu Han fully recover. Xiao Qi tells him that Zhong Kui was also suspicious.

Bo Ya personally cooks dinner for En Xi. She starts crying as she eats. Her late father used to make this dish and she hasn’t had it since he passed. Bo Ya shares his own memory with the dish — he used to use it to motivate himself to do well with his studies.

En Xi asks if Bo Ya invited her here today to try and help her and Xin Yu reconcile. He responds that there are some things in this world that other people can’t help with — friendship is one of them. She and Xin Yu can only resolve their issues by talking it out themselves. Instead, he says that he invited her to dinner to make up for how he left her hanging when she confessed to him earlier. He twiddles his fingers and asks in a faux-cute voice if she’ll forgive him.

Before Xin Yu and Zhong Kui part ways at night, she tells him that she can’t shake the feeling she knew him even before entering the underworld. She remembers feeling a strong sense of recognition when she first met him in the underworld. He frowns slightly.

When Zhong Kui returns home, he finds Cheng Huang and Xiao Qi waiting for him. Cheng Huang brings up his concerns with the flower ingredient, but doesn’t actually have any leads as to what it actually is, and Zhong Kui is unimpressed.

Cheng Huang asks Zhong Kui how his date went, then dies laughing when he sees Ouyang Kai’s list. Zhong Kui is unamused, then seems distracted when he remembers the comments Xin Yu made about remembering bits of her past life, but he can’t tell Cheng Huang exactly what he’s concerned about.

Instead, he asks Xiao Qi if she discovered anything about the people who were at the movie theater. She reports that none of them seem to remember that anything happened, but there is one common theme: they all drank soda. Could there have been something in the soda?

Later at night, Cheng Huang continues to hang around at Zhong Kui’s place. Zhong Kui invites him to drink, then admits that he found out a secret from Qin Guang. She gave him her pass and let him look into En Xi’s past life. He found out that En Xi was once Zhong Mei Er, his sister.

En Xi notices that she’s being followed at night. She thinks it’s Ouyang Kai and smirks, deciding that she’ll mess with him this time. She hides around a corner, intending to jump out and scare him, but when she steps out, someone grabs her face and she screams.

Xin Yu dreams about a memory of her past life with Zhong Kui. He had asked her to wait for him. She promised she would. En Xi stands next to her bed and stares down at her.

Zhong Kui tells Cheng Huang how En Xi’s name disappeared from the book after he saw it. He’s never heard of something like this happening before — usually fate is set in stone. But he worries that maybe her fate changed because he found out about it. He doesn’t know how that will affect her. Cheng Huang points out that as long as he watches over her and makes sure she has a good end, then she’ll be fine.

He thinks that En Xi is the only reason Zhong Kui has come back to the mortal realm, but Zhong Kui reveals there’s more to it than that. Wu Qing Yuan didn’t remember why he instigated the Naihe Bridge explosion, and Meng Po’s memories haven’t been fully recovered yet. There’s still more to investigate.

Zhong Kui goes looking for Ouyang Kai — who is gaming in his office at the university instead of doing whatever he’s supposed to be doing as a trustee — to see what he’s found out about the movie theater event. Ouyang Kai shows him some footage of the beginning of the event, which reveals that Zhao Jia Jun was the one who hosted it. But after the movie starts playing, there’s no other video because of copyright issues with the movie. Zhong Kui asks for a list of the attendees and then frowns, saying that the school is very unsafe.


Commentary

I think my delays in watching and recapping these episodes show how enthusiastic I’m feeling about it as time goes on…

This show doesn’t skimp on kissing scenes or couple moments, but it kind of feels like that’s all there is to the show right now. The romance storyline isn’t even all that interesting — just a ton of filler moments — and the supernatural story seems to have taken a backseat to Xin Yu and Zhong Kui’s dates. The optimistic part of me wants all this filler romance to just be front-loaded fan-service — maybe it’s only happening because the rest of the show will really zero in on the plot? But the realist in me thinks otherwise…

Bo Ya is back to giving me bad vibes. It was really off-putting how he acted cutesy with En Xi to try and get her to forgive him. He was joking, but given their student-teacher dynamic, it just felt weird.

The structure of these episodes has been pretty disappointing lately. I feel like we get some drama at the end, maybe to try and create a “cliffhanger,” but then the next episode barely addresses whatever mystery we’re left hanging with and instead loads up on banter and relationship issues. Which might be okay if this is all leading up to some big reveal of how everything is connected, but it just feels so slow. Do we really need 20 episodes? Maybe 13 would have been enough. Even the big “reveal” that En Xi is Zhong Kui’s sister just has me going, “So what?”

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