Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Devil Punisher (Ep. 15)

Okay, things are finally getting a little bit interesting, but you’ll have to slog through 75% of this episode (much like we are 75% of the way through this drama) in order to get there. After lifting the curse, everything seems mostly back to normal, but none of Zhong Kui and Xin Yu’s questions have been answered. They each try to find some answers on their own while not telling the other, as they do.


Recap

Xin Yu’s plan works and all the students who were under the depression curse soon come to their senses. But En Xi still seems out of it. Xin Yu, Cheng Huang, and Zhong Kui take her back to the apartment and she sleeps, looking pale. She seems unwell, but has no obvious injury. The evil energy within her is strong and there seems to be no way to get rid of it.

The three go out into the living room to talk. En Xi’s eyes flash open once they’re gone.

Cheng Huang and Zhong Kui think that En Xi’s case is different than Bo Ya and Hu Xian’s because she’s been under Lu Qi’s control for longer. They ask Xin Yu when En Xi first started changing, but she can’t remember. Cheng Huang reminds Zhong Kui that he already did more than he should have using his own abilities to break the curse on the mortal students. He can’t use his abilities on En Xi now.

Ouyang Kai rushes over after he learns about En Xi’s condition, but En Xi coldly turns away from him. She reminds him that she likes someone else and that he’s making life difficult for her. Ouyang Kai responds that he’ll respect her wishes if she truly likes someone else, but suggests that she should also be honest with herself about who she likes.

Zhong Kui notices that Ouyang Kai is unhappy and catches up to him as he’s leaving. Ouyang Kai reveals that En Xi likes Bo Ya, but knows that Bo Ya likes Xin Yu. She didn’t do anything about her feelings because she was worried about it impacting her friendship with Xin Yu, but it might also be why she’s been so short-tempered with Xin Yu.

Xin Yu brings En Xi some congee. En Xi zones out for a moment, but then is in a cheerful mood once Xin Yu gets her attention. After Xin Yu asks if En Xi remembers what happened last night — does she remember why she was with Chen Zhe Xuan? — En Xi suddenly snaps at her again. She does remember something — how Zhong Kui and Xin Yu had accused her of spiking the coffee shop drinks.

Xin Yu apologizes for doubting En Xi without giving her a chance to explain herself. En Xi forgives her this time.

Cheng Huang appears at Zhong Kui’s house, troubled by recent events. It seems like Lu Qi is purposely trying to taunt Zhong Kui by messing with mortals when he knows that Zhong Kui isn’t allowed to interfere. Zhong Kui is troubled by the same thing, but has no ideas for how to proceed. Cheng Huang points out that Chen Zhe Xuan’s life may be in danger now that he’s no longer of use to Lu Qi. Zhong Kui has Xiao Qi standing guard over him at the psychiatric hospital where he’s been institutionalized. Cheng Huang also reminds him to be careful — as gods, they’re not supposed to dwell on their past grudges.

Xin Yu and Zhong Kui pay Bo Ya a visit after he calls Xin Yu to tell her to not bother opening the coffee shop the next few days — he’s still unwell and can’t go in to help. They’re surprised when En Xi is the one to open Bo Ya’s door.

Xin Yu is pleased to see En Xi attentively take care of Bo Ya. Zhong Kui doesn’t look quite as happy, but acknowledges that he has no right to oppose their relationship.

Xin Yu asks Zhong Kui what he plans on doing about Chen Zhe Xuan. She remembers Zhe Xuan’s loaded comment about something that happened a thousand years ago, but Zhong Kui tells her what Cheng Huang advised him: that as gods, they can’t let the grudges of their past lives trouble them now. Xin Yu doesn’t seem to like that she’s being told to just forget about what Lu Qi did, but Zhong Kui has already moved on. He still feels responsible for Xin Yu getting hurt during the Naihe Bridge explosion and promises that the next time someone tries to confront him, he won’t let Xin Yu be in danger.

Zhong Kui and Cheng Huang go to the psychiatric hospital where Chen Zhe Xuan is being held. Zhe Xuan is largely unresponsive, seeming to have lost his will to live, and refuses to give Zhong Kui any information. He says that his only purpose in life was to prove himself to his mother, and he remembers that Zhong Kui is the one who took his mother away.

Zhong Kui tells the others that they shouldn’t underestimate Lu Qi if he’s skilled enough to restore the memories that Zhong Kui took away. Cheng Huang goes to the underworld to fetch Zhe Xuan’s mother in the hopes that she’ll be able to convince him to cooperate.

Xin Yu gently teases En Xi about Bo Ya when she gets home. En Xi is all smiles at first, but then becomes more subdued when she remembers that Bo Ya never actually accepted her as his girlfriend — he just didn’t reject her. Xin Yu reminds her that feelings can’t be rushed.

At night, Xin Yu has a nightmare. A man reaches a hand out toward her, asking in a distorted voice, “Xiao Bing, how could you forget me?”

Cheng Huang finally finds where Qin Guang has secluded herself after a lot of searching, but the guard at the door refuses to let him in to see her. Qin Guang has declared that she will see no one but Meng Po. She’s already said that if Cheng Huang appeared, he was to be told that everything has been arranged.

Zhong Kui goes back to the auditorium to investigate and finds the talisman used in the depression curse. He notices some print on the back notating Chen Zhe Xuan’s mother’s horoscope, suggesting that Lu Qi used Chen Zhe Xuan’s mother to control him.

Zhong Kui and Cheng Huang go back to see Chen Zhe Xuan and bring his mother along. She disapprovingly reminds her son of what he promised her when she left — to not give up. She tells him how his piano-playing was what gave her strength after his father left them, and tells him not to say that he’s doing everything for her. His life is his own. He needs to live for himself and not her.

After Chen Zhe Xuan and his mother get their tear-filled closure, Zhong Kui asks her about her death. Does she remember anything strange about it? Zhe Xuan’s mother recalls not being able to sleep for several nights leading up to her death. She’d been haunted by evil spirits.

Cheng Huang asks if she knows who was controlling her. “Are you talking about the Big Boss?” she asks.

Zhong Kui and Cheng Huang go back to Chen Zhe Xuan and ask if Lu Qi used his mother to threaten him. Zhe Xuan responds that Lu Qi didn’t threaten him. He knew that Zhe Xuan had a competition coming up, so he had his mother accompany him while he practiced. Zhe Xuan is under the impression that his mother had been with him the whole time while he practiced in the auditorium, though in reality she’d already been taken to the underworld at that point. He adds that Lu Qi promised to bring his mother back from the dead if he helped complete his plan.

When Zhong Kui asks about En Xi, Zhe Xuan reveals that she was the one who brought the talisman and put it on the piano. Zhe Xuan guesses Zhong Kui’s identity and recalls a message from Lu Qi for him. Lu Qi said that Xiao Bing would return to his side and not even Zhong Kui could stop him.

Now that Zhong Kui knows Lu Qi is doing everything because of a personal grudge between them, he’s determined to involve as few people as possible. Cheng Huang wants to go to Qin Guang, but Zhong Kui doesn’t want her to be involved. Zhong Kui also sends Xiao Qi back to the underworld to attend to her other duties, leaving Zhe Xuan unguarded in the hopes that Lu Qi will appear.

Zhong Kui walks Xin Yu to work in the morning. Xin Yu teases En Xi and Bo Ya when she sees them looking close, but Zhong Kui continues to frown as he observes them. Ouyang Kai shows up right as Xin Yu teases En Xi and Bo Ya about dating. Bo Ya invites him to join them for dinner, but Ouyang Kai declines and makes up an excuse about being busy before turning around and leaving.

Later, Xin Yu and Zhong Kui end up on a double date with Bo Ya and En Xi. As they drink wine, Bo Ya comments that he feels like they’ve been friends for a very, very long time. They feel like friends who would live and die together. He’s never had many friends and is grateful to have met them. Bo Ya downs his wine in one big gulp.

Bo Ya hands Xin Yu his notebook and asks her to share her recipe for the daylily tea. She opens up the notebook and then frowns when she sees a post-it inside the notebook. It’s the note she left Zhong Kui the other morning. But how does Bo Ya have it? Zhong Kui’s house isn’t anywhere that mortals can find.

Zhong Kui gets drunk at dinner and Xin Yu has to support him home. She tells him that she has something she wants to say to him. He remembers the message Zhe Xuan relayed from Lu Qi, then yanks Xin Yu to him and starts making out with her.

When he pulls away, he mutters, “Xiao Bing, don’t leave me,” then falls asleep.

The mention of Xiao Bing reminds Xin Yu of her dream. Who is Xiao Bing and why does she feel so sad when she hears that name? She glances at Zhong Kui and knows that he won’t tell her.

Xin Yu goes to Cheng Huang instead and asks for his help in recovering her memories. He reminds her of the heavenly mandate that they both know — the only person who can restore the memories of her past life is the one who took them away. Before Xin Yu leaves, Cheng Huang tells her that Qin Guang is waiting for her.

Ouyang Kai finds himself waiting outside En Xi’s apartment in the morning and wondering why he’s there. He perks up when En Xi comes downstairs, but she spots Bo Ya, who is already there and waiting for her. Bo Ya spots Ouyang Kai and invites him out to breakfast with them. He won’t let Ouyang Kai get out of it this time, and En Xi also extends an invite.

But at breakfast, Ouyang Kai is forced to awkwardly third wheel while En Xi dotes on Bo Ya and asks if he enjoyed the vegetables that Ouyang Kai paid for. Bo Ya seems to notice Ouyang Kai’s discomfort and tries to talk to him, but Ouyang Kai makes up an excuse to leave.

Bo Ya tells En Xi that they should go somewhere together. That somewhere is to visit Zhe Xuan at the psychiatric hospital, where Zhe Xuan shrinks fearfully away from Bo Ya, who smiles and asks what’s wrong, while En Xi stands by with a blank look on her face.

Bo Ya reaches out a hand to touch Zhe Xuan, but gets knocked back by a powerful force. He falls to the ground, coughing up blood, but stands back up with a smirk. It looks like Zhong Kui was willing to use a divine artifact to protect Zhe Xuan, but that doesn’t deter Bo Ya. He smirks. What Zhong Kui doesn’t realize is that hatred is a devil’s greatest power.

Bo Ya’s hand turns into a black-taloned claw and he extracts the weapon from Zhe Xuan, then hands it off to En Xi. “How could you betray me?” he asks Zhe Xuan. He hates being betrayed the most. Then he slits Zhe Xuan’s throat with one of his talons and laughs.

Back at his house, Bo Ya strokes En Xi’s face and tells her that she’s a good girl. She’s his trump card. It seems like he first got his claws in her when Xin Yu was still trying to help Ah Ping.

En Xi murmurs that her plan failed — what are they going to do now? Bo Ya tells her not to worry. The most interesting part of the story has just begun.

He goes upstairs to his walk-in closet, which is actually his secret lair full of evil ingredients — including his very own Rafflesia flower — and pieces of trapped souls.

Xin Yu meets with Qin Guang, who knows why she’s here and asks if this is what she really wants. Xin Yu responds that she knows Lu Qi must have escaped from his eternal prison because of her. She wants to face him herself and not drag anyone else into the conflict. Qin Guang tells her that the only way she can recover her memories of her past life is to sacrifice her divine essence and immortality. Is that a price she’s willing to pay?

Qin Guang lifts the enchantment blocking Xin Yu from her memories of being a Meng Po, but tells her to think more before making a decision about unlocking her past life.

With her Meng Po memories unlocked, Xin Yu closes her eyes and remembers what happened following the Naihe Bridge explosion. Wu Qing Yuan handed her off to Bo Ya, who forced a kiss on her, then forced her to swallow a forgetting pill. “How could you forget me, Xiao Bing?” he’d asked, before saying that it didn’t matter because soon she’d return to his side.

Zhong Kui looks around for Xin Yu, but can’t find her. He tries calling her, but she ignores him and instead glares up at Bo Ya from across his dining room table. He stares back at her, then smiles slightly. “Do you remember everything?” he asks.


Commentary

The only good thing about this episode is that we finally get to see Bo Ya’s fully evil side, and I kind of love the smiling sinister vibe he gives off when he’s fully his villain self. It suits him much better than being a good guy, which always felt kind of fake (I guess because it was.)

I never thought that Bo Ya would actually become my favorite character compared to everyone else (even if it’s for all of 10 minutes so far), but somehow we find ourselves at this point because it seems like Ouyang Kai is on his way out and everyone else is so boring. Evil Bo Ya he says that the most interesting part is starting now. I hope that’s true because that’s the only way I’m going to make it through the rest of this series.

I wonder if I should just stop commenting on this drama because all I have are complaints! Everything about it is turning me off, but I’ve already sunk so much time into it that I feel I need to see it through to the end.

I’m very turned off by how Zhong Kui is always trying to make out with Xin Yu when he doesn’t want to hear what she has to say.

I’m so bothered by Xin Yu’s over-the-top support for En Xi and Bo Ya’s relationship. Not only is Bo Ya En Xi’s direct professor, he’s also her boss. Was she over-compensating because she felt guilty about En Xi and about turning Bo Ya down?

These ghost stories were touching in the beginning when they got the time they deserved, but at this point, the show doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing anymore. Is it focusing on the main plot or is it trying to tell these touching stories? If these touching stories are supposed to make us feel something, they’re not being given enough attention. There are nice messages in there, but they feel cliche in these random interludes between the main plot and feel like filler.

All this really tells me is that The Devil Punisher had about seven episodes of content that they tried to prolong into twenty episodes of show. Of course, that’s assuming the next four episodes contain actual content.

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