Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 13)

I actually found this episode to be the most engaging of the past few, probably because there is very little time spent on Zhong Kui and Xin Yu, and a lot more time spent on a little bit of the endless open questions and loose threads that this show has created. This episode, we dive a little into Zhao Jia Jun’s life while Zhong Kui continues to have suspicions about Bo Ya (what else is new?)

Recap

En Xi screams for Ouyang Kai to put her down. He does, but when she tries to run away, he wraps his arms around her in a hug, holding her back. She shouts to be let go, demanding to know why he’s colluding with Zhong Kui in bullying her. Ouyang Kai responds that he just doesn’t want to see her feel upset by someone else. There are men other than Bo Ya in this world who are worthy of her love. He gently turns her around and hugs her, saying that he’s here for her.

Bo Ya tells Zhong Kui and Xin Yu how he knew they would come looking for him. Not too long ago, he came upon Zhao Jia Jun and his lackey trying to intimidate Xiao Lei into buying one of his vials. Zhong Kui asks how Bo Ya knows that the drug has to do with the Rafflesia flower. Bo Ya counters with his own question: Zhong Kui is capable of erasing people’s memories, right?

Bo Ya shares that he’s realized he’s missing pieces of his memory from the night of Yao Mu Qing’s party. But at night, he often dreams of what happened then. He remembers that Zhao Jia Jun was the one to prepare the alcohol at the party and that everyone went mad after drinking the alcohol. He also remembers that someone helped resolve the situation that day — Zhong Kui.

Bo Ya also made a connection between the party and the movie theater incident. In both cases, students woke up with no memory of what happened and what led up to that point. He asks Zhong Kui if he trusts him now that he’s heard his explanation. Zhong Kui just smiles and turns away without saying a word.

He pauses before leaving and tells Bo Ya he hopes he’s not his enemy in all this. “Of course not,” Bo Ya responds. Zhong Kui adds that if he is, then they’re well-matched opponents. He leaves. Xin Yu doesn’t seem happy with the direction of the conversation and gives Bo Ya an apologetic nod before heading out after Zhong Kui.

Later at night, Xin Yu asks Zhong Kui what’s on his mind. He confides that he’s puzzled over why Bo Ya’s memories weren’t cleanly erased. Xin Yu says that in her thousand years of experience as a Meng Po, she’s seen multiple instances of souls not fully erasing their memories. She thinks it’s quite reasonable that Bo Ya’s may have recovered some of his erased memories.

Zhong Kui doesn’t seem as convinced, but acknowledges that Bo Ya is quite skilled. If he is actually a friend and not foe, then he could be a great help to them.

Zhong Kui has Xiao Qi follow Bo Ya around as he goes about his day. She wonders why she’s being tasked with following him — he seems like an ordinary person.

When Bo Ya arrives on campus, he finds out that Zhao Jia Jun’s parents have pulled him out of school, preferring that to the possibility of having an expulsion on his record.

Xiao Qi reports to Zhong Kui what she observed so far — nothing out of the ordinary. She tells Zhong Kui that if this is really just about the drug, then maybe they shouldn’t get too involved. The only people being harmed by it are mortals. If they get too involved, then won’t that count as interfering with mortal fate?

At work, Xin Yu apologizes to Bo Ya for Zhong Kui’s behavior, but Bo Ya is extremely understanding and says that he would have the same suspicions if their roles were reversed. He also knows that Xiao Qi has been following him all day, but seems fine with it.

Xin Yu gets a call from the police station, telling her to come fetch her confiscated coffee cart.

Zhao Jia Jun and his parents are at the police station, where the chatty police officer says that the drug he sold didn’t contain any illegal substances, so the punishment won’t be too severe, but he’ll still be charged with illegal sales. Jia Jun acts irreverent and his father is furious. The police officer separates them and dispenses more unsolicited advice: he’s seen plenty of relationships like theirs and suggests that Jia Jun’s father do some internal reflection on why Jia Jun is acting out. They should try to communicate openly with each other before it’s too late.

When Jia Jun and his parents return home, his father decides to take the police officer’s advice and speak honestly with him. He asks Jia Jun to forgive him for being inattentive, but Jia Jun doesn’t respond and instead starts playing his guitar.

Jia Jun’s father tries to play the part of attentive father and hand-makes some scallion pancakes for Jia Jun, something he hasn’t done since Jia Jun was a child. He decides to not pick up a work call and cancel his return flight to New York. Jia Jun eats his scallion pancake and starts crying, then tells his father it needs some more salt and scallions, his way of offering a truce.

Zhong Kui is waiting outside the coffee shop at night when Bo Ya and Xin Yu close up. Xin Yu confronts Zhong Kui about having Bo Ya followed and calls him unreasonable for doubting a friend. Can’t he have a little trust? Zhong Kui is miffed that Xin Yu considers Bo Ya a friend and Xin Yu has to point out all the things Bo Ya has done to help them. Bo Ya sheepishly interrupts and says that he doesn’t want to be a source of conflict for them, then leaves.

Xin Yu points out that Bo Ya didn’t have a single complaint or bad word to say even though Zhong Kui has been doubting him. Doesn’t Zhong Kui feel ashamed? Zhong Kui doesn’t see why he should be. Xin Yu frowns. He doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong?

Zhong Kui tries to smile past the conflict, telling Xin Yu to not be mad over something trivial like this. He tries to take her hand, saying he’ll take her home. She dodges him and says no. She’s not done with the conversation and doesn’t like how he never tells her anything. She tells him to think long and hard about whether he’s done something wrong, then walks off on her own.

Later, Zhong Kui can’t decide what to text Xin Yu so he settles for not saying anything at all. He wonders out loud why Xin Yu thinks he’s the one at fault.

Xin Yu watches her phone screen, but Zhong Kui doesn’t text. She can’t figure out what to say to him, and wonders if she overreacted earlier, but doesn’t change her mind about Zhong Kui being unreasonable.

She hears a sound outside and finds En Xi on her way out. She asks where En Xi is going so late at night, but En Xi just glares at her and leaves without a word.

Jia Jun’s father knocks at his door — he’s tuned Jia Jun’s guitar and wants Jia Jun to try it out. But Jia Jun doesn’t respond and when his father opens the door, he finds that the room is empty.

Jia Jun goes out to a bar, where he asks the bartender for a round of tequila shots. Bo Ya sits alone on the other side of the bar and notices. En Xi watches him from a dark corner.

Jia Jun downs a shot and asks the bartender for another round before stumbling off to the bathroom. Later, a drunk customer finds him collapsed on the bathroom floor, face pale, an empty vial next to him. The police are called and the place cordoned off — Jia Jun has died.

The chatty police officer arrives as Bo Ya is leaving. He asks for Bo Ya’s ID and seems suspicious of him, but finds no reason to keep him.

Later, once everyone has left, dark clouds of energy fly out of the bathroom and surround En Xi, who stands at the entrance to the bar.

Xiao Lei digs up Xiao Hua with the plan of bringing her to his dorm and drops by Xin Yu’s coffee shop. On the way, his phone blows up with the news of Jia Jun’s death. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asks the flower.

At the coffee shop, Xin Yu brews Xiao Lei some calming tea and then asks what’s on his mind. He tells her about Jia Jun’s sudden death and his fear that other students will suspect he had a hand in it. Xin Yu tells him that he needs to believe in himself and trust that he did the right thing. Who cares what other people say?

Zhong Kui shows up at the coffee shop, acting like nothing has changed, but Xin Yu cold shoulders him. She pettily doesn’t let him taste a cake that Bo Ya offers him and tries to stay longer when Bo Ya tells her to take off early. Zhong Kui doesn’t let Xin Yu dawdle and grabs her hand, then drags her off.

They don’t walk for long before Xin Yu pulls her hand out of Zhong Kui’s grasp, intent on ignoring him. But when he mentions that he had Cheng Huang ask a flower goddess about the Rafflesia flower, she can’t help but show interest.

Zhong Kui tells her about how the Rafflesia flower was purposely introduced to the mortal world from the underworld a thousand years ago. She asks if Qin Guang knows. Zhong Kui looks at her sharply and doesn’t say anything for a moment, then ends up switching the subject and saying that he doesn’t want to fight like this anymore. He doesn’t like it when she ignores him. He wraps his arms around her and pulls her close. Can they make up?

Xin Yu forgives him easily, telling him to just not make her mad. He promises he won’t. She nestles into his arms and smiles, admitting that she already wanted to make up with him.

It’s not until later, when they’ve gone back to Zhong Kui’s house, that Xin Yu realizes she let Zhong Kui change the topic away from the Rafflesia flower. She again repeats that she wants to help share his burdens.

Cheng Huang wonders where Qin Guang is, then finds a notice on her office door that she’s facing disciplinary action for administrative negligence. Her office is sealed with a barrier.

The next morning, Zhong Kui is trying to convince Xin Yu to take another day off so they can spend some quality time together when Cheng Huang shows up suddenly, startling them. Xin Yu heads off to work, while Zhong Kui is annoyed that Cheng Huang has interrupted. Cheng Huang starts to stammer out what he discovered about Qin Guang, but Zhong Kui already knows.

After he saw the book about En Xi being his sister, he’d confronted Qin Guang about it. She responded that that was exactly why she wanted him to see the book. He asked her to clarify what she meant, but she responded that this was the extent of what she could help him with. Before she could say anymore, two employees arrived to hand her the disciplinary action notice. Chu Jiang Wang (King) was to take over her duties. She handed Zhong Kui a folder, saying that he would need to go to Chu Jiang to get his paperwork signed, but with a meaningful look. After Qin Guang was led away, Zhong Kui opened the folder to find a notice on the escape of a high-profile prisoner Lu Qi, who had been sentenced to eternal imprisonment.

Now, Zhong Kui shares all of this information with Cheng Huang. Cheng Huang knows that Lu Qi is the one who killed Zhong Kui a thousand years ago. No wonder he’s been so preoccupied.

Zhong Kui doesn’t know how or when Lu Qi escaped, but suspects that he’s the one behind Wu Qing Yuan and the Naihe Bridge explosion. He feels uneasy, though, because Lu Qi hasn’t shown himself and directly attacked him.

The Big Boss goes to Hu Xian’s (the Fox Goddess) nightclub.

Xiao Lei studies at the coffee shop with a classmate and asks Xin Yu to brew them some of the daylily (“wang you” or “forget your worries”) tea she brewed him before.

The tea quickly goes viral. En Xi sees a post about it online, and when Bo Ya arrives at the coffee shop, it’s full of customers. Xin Yu doesn’t know why so many people are here and all ordering the same cup of tea, but En Xi does. She shows them the social media post, then is all smiles as she offers to help out. Xin Yu stares at her, stunned by the sudden change in her demeanor toward her.

After the customers are gone, Xin Yu offers to massage En Xi’s shoulders when she comments on how exhausted she is. En Xi accepts, then asks Xin Yu to brew her some tea. Xin Yu is happy to do so, glad that their friendship seems restored.

Xin Yu gives a cup of tea to En Xi and to Bo Ya. En Xi enjoys the tea. Bo Ya says that this is a good feeling, then pointedly says that there’s no problem real friends can’t overcome. He suggests that now that En Xi and Xin Yu have reconciled, they should also forget about all their past conflicts. En Xi nods and Xin Yu smiles, relieved.

Their relationship seems to go back to normal, with En Xi making breakfast for Xin Yu in the morning. Xin Yu notices that En Xi’s hands are extremely cold. En Xi suggests that they should go soak in hot springs together on their day off.

Zhong Kui texts Xin Yu, asking if she wants to go on a date. Xin Yu responds that she’s going out with En Xi. En Xi offers to reschedule if Xin Yu has plans with Zhong Kui, but Xin Yu says that today is their date.

Zhong Kui tries calling Xin Yu, but she doesn’t pick up, so he camps outside her apartment building instead. Ouyang Kai shows up with breakfast for En Xi and spots him. Zhong Kui pulls Ouyang Kai around a corner and they hide while En Xi and Xin Yu head out together. Ouyang Kai looks happy that Xin Yu and En Xi have reconciled, but Zhong Kui seems concerned. He makes Ouyang Kai drive him and they follow Xin Yu and En Xi.

At the hot spring resort, Zhong Kui requests the room next to Xin Yu and En Xi, then tries to eavesdrop through the wall on their conversation.

En Xi asks Xin Yu about her relationship with Zhong Kui. How far have they gone? What does Xin Yu like about him? She teases Xin Yu about her skin glowing because she’s in love and reaches out a hand to touch her face.

As she does so, Xin Yu has a sudden sense of deja vu and remembers someone else reaching out to touch her face and her turning away. She knocks En Xi’s hand away with a gasp. For a moment, En Xi’s hand looks elongated with long, black nails that match the Big Boss’s.

Xin Yu and En Xi run into Zhong Kui and Ouyang Kai outside the resort. Ouyang Kai suggests that they should go on a double date. En Xi reluctantly agrees.

Everyone is all smiles when they go out to eat together at a restaurant. Zhong Kui comments on how En Xi no longer sneezes when he’s around. She suggests that it’s because Xin Yu has her heart set on him, and her body knows. Zhong Kui smiles after her as she and Ouyang Kai go over to the drink station. Xin Yu notices and comments that his expression makes it seem like En Xi is his little sister.

Zhong Kui says that he has a secret to tell her. Xin Yu jokingly says that he better not say En Xi is actually his sister. He tells her En Xi’s name from a previous life: Zhong Mei Er. Xin Yu realizes that she was right. She asks why Zhong Kui doesn’t tell En Xi, but he reminds her that they’re not allowed to interfere in mortal fate. He’s not allowed to recognize En Xi as his sister.

He tells Xin Yu that he feels content being able to watch over En Xi like this. Xin Yu promises to take good care of her for him. He gently cups her face.

En Xi and Ouyang Kai return and catch them being affectionate. She teases them about being showing PDA, saying that they should be careful because that kind of love tends die quickly. Xin Yu’s smile suddenly fades.

Xin Yu continues to look troubled while she and Zhong Kui wait for Ouyang Kai and En Xi to shop at a street-side stand. Zhong Kui asks her what’s wrong and she tells him about her glimpse of her past life. She remembers feelings a sense of fear and loathing toward a man who tried to touch her face like he just did, and remembers calling the man “Imperial Chancellor.”

She asks Zhong Kui if he knows anything about her previous life. He asks her if she remembers anything that happened after Wu Qing Yuan kidnapped her from Naihe Bridge, but she has no memory of what happened when she first landed in the mortal world. Zhong Kui tells her that he only recently found out Wu Qing Yuan had accomplices who are still in the mortal world and that the mystery of the Naihe Bridge explosion has not yet been solved.

En Xi listens in with narrowed eyes.


Commentary

In terms of Xin Yu and Zhong Kui’s relationship, I like that Xin Yu is being more confrontational with Zhong Kui and calling him out for the way he treats her. He can’t just smile and try to get away with not explaining himself to her. But I also feel like they’ve been having the same exact conversation for multiple episodes now and nothing has changed.

The whole Zhao Jia Jun story seemed so rushed. Were we supposed to feel something for him and his father? It’s difficult when their conflict is introduced and resolved all within less than ten minutes, but without any of the nuance of a short film of that length. Then he dies, but with zero acknowledgment of the circumstances of his death from our main characters, when his death was clearly suspicious. I’m sure we’ll circle back to it at some point…

Bo Ya started to look like a good guy again, because of how respectful he is of Xin Yu’s rejection and how he can be so civil about her relationship with Zhong Kui. But the fact that Zhong Kui’s mortal enemy shares a surname with him seems too much to be a coincidence, and I’m skeptical that he was at the same bar as En Xi without noticing. This episode makes it more obvious that En Xi is the Big Boss, and likely possessed. Is the Big Boss the same being as Lu Qi or just an associate?

I wonder if any of these big reveals we get will be surprises, or if they’ll all end up being very obvious.

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