Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 12)

It didn’t take me nearly a week to get through this episode! Small joys. This episode was not as much of a no-op as the last one and there’s a little more plot and a little less filler, but it creates more questions and answers no questions. En Xi continues to do her mood swinging thing, but with a bit more of a supernatural touch. Xin Yu tries to do things on her own while Zhong Kui is busy with his own business, but it’s not so easy when Zhong Kui wants her to rely on him even though he’s so unavailable.


Recap

Zhong Kui notices that Zhao Jia Jun is on the attendee list for the movie theater event and was hosting it, but he wasn’t there when Zhong Kui arrived that day. He wonders who at the university would be powerful enough to host something like this and tells Ouyang Kai that the school is a dangerous place.

It’s impossible for Zhong Kui to follow En Xi undetected, since she keeps sneezing whenever he’s around. She catches him camping out near her street stand and tells him to stay away from her.

As he’s leaving, Ouyang Kai pounces on him. He’s here to send En Xi home. Zhong Kui tells Ouyang Kai that from now on, his duty is to protect En Xi and make sure she’s safe. He warns Ouyang Kai that he really means protect her and not hit on her.

Xin Yu broods at night and texts Zhong Kui that she misses him. It’s been days since she last saw him.

The next morning, En Xi knocks on her door and tells her to keep her man under control and tell him to stop bothering her. Xin Yu is confused. She didn’t know anything about Zhong Kui bothering En Xi.

Xin Yu goes looking for Zhong Kui at his house. She looks melancholy but all Zhong Kui wants to do is make out. Xin Yu reciprocates at first, then pushes him away.

She’s here on serious business and wants to know what’s been keeping him busy. Does it have to do with En Xi? Is she in some sort of danger? Xin Yu wants Zhong Kui to stop hiding things from her. Zhong Kui reassures her that as long as he’s around, En Xi will be fine. There are some secrets that he can’t tell. Xin Yu understands that, but makes him promise to tell her if he knows anything about En Xi being in danger.

En Xi pointedly ignores Ouyang Kai, giving him only glares as he follows her from the school campus to where she’s set up her street stand. Ouyang Kai isn’t easily dissuaded and brings her some food. She asks why he keeps following her around when there are plenty of other women who want his attention. He remembers her rejection and says that he’s doing this as her friend. She warns him that it better stay that way.

Cheng Huang seems approving of Ouyang Kai as he and Zhong Kui watch from a distance. He tells Zhong Kui that Ouyang Kai seems like a good guy and he and En Xi seem to be fated. Zhong Kui doesn’t like that and tells Cheng Huang to mind his own business. They hide when En Xi suddenly sneezes, sensing Zhong Kui nearby.

Cheng Huang reassures Zhong Kui that En Xi will be fine, despite her fate disappearing from the book. He hasn’t received any paperwork on her (meaning she isn’t about to die anytime soon). Zhong Kui doesn’t look convinced.

Xin Yu is walking alone outside when a telepathic voice calls out her name. She turns to find a girl dressed in pink standing behind her — it’s Xiao Hua, the flower spirit, now in human form. Xiao Hua tells Xin Yu how she came to be here in the city. A boy, Xiao Lei, brought her here with him from the countryside as a reminder of home. He would often stop by and water her and occasionally chat with her about his problems.

Xiao Hua has been scared to show her human form since Zhong Kui appeared, afraid that he might treat her as a flower demon and eliminate her. But she’s showing herself to Xin Yu now because she needs Xin Yu’s help — Xiao Lei has disappeared.

Xin Yu agrees to help and Xiao Hua beams. She takes Xin Yu’s hand, saying that she knew Xin Yu would help her. She knows who Xin Yu really is.

Zhong Kui goes to some sort of supernatural nightclub where he seeks help from an old friend, a Hu Xian (immortal fox spirit). She tells him the truth about the flower ingredient used to save Yu Han. Apparently, small amounts of it can be used to control humans. Too much and it could be deadly. If a person had enough resentment, they could become a ghost under the Boss’s control, but would never be able to reincarnate again. No one knows who the Boss is — all she knows is that the mention of the name is enough to make any ghost, demon, or devil fall silent.

Xin Yu goes to Cheng Huang for help finding Xiao Lei, but doesn’t find any useful information. It’s unlikely that the boy is dead, otherwise it would show up on his file, unless he was attacked by a ghost or demon. Instead, Cheng Huang accidentally spills that Zhong Kui has seem preoccupied with matters from his past life.

Ouyang Kai loudly games next to En Xi while she tries to do a tarot reading on the street. She shoos him away, annoyed. Zhong Kui appears and hands Ouyang Kai a bag of sweets to give to En Xi. He remembers that she used to love them. Ouyang Kai at first thinks that Zhong Kui is also interested in En Xi, but Zhong Kui clarifies that En Xi reminds him of his little sister. Ouyang Kai suggests that Zhong Kui should give the gift to En Xi himself if he wants to improve his relationship with her.

Zhong Kui thinks about it, but gets called away by a text from Xin Yu. En Xi glances at him as he walks away.

Xin Yu asks Zhong Kui for help locating Xiao Lei. When Zhong Kui finds out that Xin Yu went to Cheng Huang for help before coming to him, he frowns, suddenly reminded of their past life. Xin Yu had ended up not waiting for him to come back, worried she would hold him back. Now, when she says that she was worried about distracting him from his work, he forcefully insists that nothing in his life or work is more important than her. He wants her to trust and rely on him.

En Xi is approached by a mysterious person whom she seems to recognize. Then she meets up with Zhao Jia Jun and robotically tosses him a vial of pink liquid before he drives away.

Xin Yu and Zhong Kui are outside her building when En Xi shows up. She doesn’t respond when Xin Yu greets her and instead walks past as if not noticing Xin Yu or Zhong Kui at all. Zhong Kui frowns, noticing that she didn’t sneeze.

They follow En Xi inside, but when they tentatively approach her bedroom door, En Xi snaps from inside that she wants to be left alone.

Zhong Kui summons Cheng Huang to the place where he first apprehended Wu Qing Yuan. He’s still bothered by the fact that someone was able to capture the video of Wu Qing Yuan without his noticing and wants to investigate further. They discover a strong, lingering ghost energy in some shrubs. Not even Cheng Huang’s divine energy can erase it.

Cheng Huang asks Zhong Kui if Qin Guang knows about this. When Zhong Kui doesn’t immediately respond, Cheng Huang grows suspicious that something happened with him and Qin Guang. She hasn’t been reading or responding to his texts, either. But all Zhong Kui says is that Qin Guang is his boss — he doesn’t know anything about what she does.

Later, Zhong Kui goes alone to the abandoned building where he fought Wu Qing Yuan. He revisits that battle, remembering how he’d been distracted by some outside force. “Is it really him?” he wonders out loud.

At night, he learns from Xiao Qi that Cheng Lei must still be alive since she can’t find him anywhere. She also discovered that Cheng Lei is a student at the university and he was supposed to attend the movie event, but never showed up that day.

Zhong Kui appears at Ouyang Kai’s bedside again in the morning and tasks him with the job of finding Cheng Lei. He enlists his henchmen, who spread out across campus asking students if they’ve seen Cheng Lei.

Zhao Jia Jun and a friend look irritated by the henchmen asking questions and avoid them. They meet up in a remote location with a student who looks like he’s going through withdrawal and asks for another dose. He hands over some money and gets a vial of pink liquid in return. Jia Jun’s friend warns him that he shouldn’t use too much because supply is low.

The student runs into Ouyang Kai’s men as he leaves, but says he doesn’t know any Cheng Lei. Jia Jun frowns and tells his friend that they should stop selling and lay low for a while and also find Cheng Lei. He doesn’t know who the men are and what they want with Cheng Lei, but he doesn’t want anyone to find out that that they’re involved.

Cheng Lei is the haunted house employee Xin Yu chatted with last episode. He gets snatched off the streets by Jia Jun and some cronies, who ask where he’s been and whether he’s sold what they gave him. En Xi approaches from down the alleyway.

Cheng Lei whimpers that he was too afraid to sell the mysterious liquid, concerned about its origins and effects. Jia Jun doesn’t like that Cheng Lei is questioning him and tries to force feed him the vial as punishment, but two of Ouyang Kai’s men show up and they quickly scatter, leaving Cheng Lei behind. En Xi retreats.

Ouyang Kai’s men bring him to the coffee shop, where Xin Yu recognizes him as the haunted house employee when he takes off his hood. Cheng Lei tells Xin Yu, Zhong Kui, and Ouyang Kai about how Jia Jun forced him to sell the performance-enhancing liquid for him. He tried to avoid them, but they knew where he lived so he ended up hiding out in the haunted house he works at.

Ouyang Kai is offended that such things could be happening at his school. Xin Yu tells Cheng Lei to believe in himself and believe he made the right choice. Zhong Kui asks him if he still has the unsold vials of liquid.

Cheng Lei takes them to where Xiao Hua is planted. He buried the vials next to the flower and now digs them up, then gives them to Zhong Kui.

Zhong Kui notices Xin Yu staring at the flower, so he freezes time and tells Xiao Hua to show herself. She does and thanks Zhong Kui for finding her friend, then asks if he’s going to remove her. He responds that she still has a chance of achieving immortality and hasn’t done anything wrong, so he’ll leave her be. She’s surprised — he’s not at all like what the stories say.

Xin Yu tells Zhong Kui that he really has changed. She just wishes she could help him with some of his burdens.

Someone somewhere records a video of them.

At home, Zhong Kui sniffs the vial and finds the scent familiar. Xin Yu stops him from trying to drink it, then takes a sniff. She immediately recognizes the scent of the Rafflesia flower, but lies and says she can’t quite tell what it is. She doesn’t want Zhong Kui to unnecessarily suspect Bo Ya of anything and wants to clarify things with him herself first.

Zhong Kui asks Xin Yu to brew some tea for him, but she’s so lost in thought about the Rafflesia flower that it takes him a second try before she jumps up to prep something. While her back is turned, Zhong Kui casts a spell toward her.

Later, Xin Yu goes to find Bo Ya, who is surprised to see her at his house so late at night. She asks if she can go inside. He invites her in, then suddenly staggers as if struck by an invisible force. When she asks if he’s okay, he says he’s fine.

Inside, Xin Yu asks Bo Ya some questions about the origins of the Rafflesia flower and if he knows where she can find more. He repeats how rare it is and how he got it from someone in Thailand. Before she leaves, he asks if she’s in some sort of danger. Someone has cast a strong protective enchantment over her, but she hasn’t even noticed.

Cheng Huang tells Zhong Kui what he learned from a flower goddess — the Rafflesia flower suddenly appeared a thousand years ago. She and Qin Guang worked together to investigate it, and she thinks it’s likely that someone intentionally introduced it into the human realm. Zhong Kui frowns when he learns that Qin Guang knows about the flower.

Xin Yu confronts Zhong Kui the next day. He knew that there was Rafflesia flower in that pink liquid — why did he hide it from her? Is it because he thinks she’s no help? She also demands to know why he placed the protective enchantment on her. What’s going on? What is he afraid of?

Xin Yu is frustrated that Zhong Kui is keeping secrets from her and that he doesn’t seem to trust her. Zhong Kui also gets frustrated that she wants to talk about everything now instead of later when they’re back at home.

Jia Jun and one of his cronies get apprehended by police officers in the middle of a drug handoff. They run into Xin Yu and Zhong Kui. One of the police officers recognizes Xin Yu as the owner of the coffee cart he confiscated and is overly chatty, asking if Xin Yu and Zhong Kui are dating and noticing that they seem to be fighting.

Ouyang Kai and Bo Ya both notice En Xi acting unusually hostile during class, but everyone is distracted by some students gossiping outside about how Zhao Jia Jun has been arrested. Bo Ya goes outside to investigate. En Xi follows him and Ouyang Kai follows her.

Bo Ya runs into Zhong Kui and Xin Yu. Zhong Kui asks suspiciously whether Bo Ya is this concerned about all his students. Bo Ya knows that Zhong Kui suspects him of being Jia Jun’s Rafflesia flower supplier, but remains calm and invites Zhong Kui and Xin Yu back to his office to clear things up. En Xi follows them and intervenes, offended on Bo Ya’s behalf that Zhong Kui suspects him. She tells Bo Ya that he doesn’t need to explain anything,

Bo Ya still wants to explain himself, because he views Zhong Kui and Xin Yu as friends. Xin Yu tells En Xi that she should probably head back — if Bo Ya wants to talk in his office, it’s probably because he doesn’t want outsiders to hear. En Xi resents Xin Yu thinking she can tell her what to do. Zhong Kui silently signals for Ouyang Kai to do something. Ouyang Kai picks En Xi up and carries her off.

Inside Bo Ya’s office, Zhong Kui comments that Bo Ya always seems to be waiting for them to come find him. Bo Ya reveals that he did expect them to come looking for him, but he didn’t think that even they would find this matter so troublesome.


Commentary

There was a lot of dramatic music at the end of this episode and lots of attempt to create showdowns and drama but… it felt so forced. The pacing in this show has always felt so uneven. Suddenly we’re trying to ratchet up the drama from zero to a hundred? There are so many different things happening and a ton of open questions about characters and their motivations, but rather than create mystery, I’m just tired and confused with the way we’re being jerked around story-wise.

I was about to complain about the unfair dynamic between Zhong Kui and Xin Yu, but Xin Yu did it for me. Zhong Kui gets upset when Xin Yu doesn’t come to him for everything, yet it seems unfair for him to expect her to be completely honest and rely on him when he refuses to be completely transparent with her. Sure, there might be secrets and things she’s not allowed to know, but if he can’t have true honesty with her, how can he expect the same from her? Quite frankly, he’s being so controlling over her, not letting her do anything on her own while trying to do everything on his own.

I’m really hoping I can muster the motivation to power through these last few episodes! I do want to know the answers to some of these open questions, like who is controlling En Xi? Who exactly is Bo Ya? Who is behind everything? But having to slog through so many episodes where we get nowhere is so painful.

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