Zhou Dongyu and Zhang Ruoyun appear!
Episodes 3-4 Recap
The episode begins where the confrontation left off – Chen Shen is in a bind, not wanting to shoot any of the innocent suspects, yet not wanting to betray any of his knowledge to Zhongliang. Pinned against the wall, Chen Shen provokes Zhongliang. “Shoot me,” he taunts. Zhongliang does fire the gun… not at him, but instead at a sparrow. He remarks bitterly that perhaps Chen Shen will never learn to shoot in his life. This strikes a nerve in Chen Shen, as he reverses the role and pins Zhongliang against the wall. “So what if I never learn how to shoot?” And then he walks away.
Zhongliang continues the interrogation with Qiuxia, but his tone is noticeably calmer, with a strange hint of kindness. He asks again who the sparrow is, and Qiuxia directs her gaze to the jail cell’s window, where birds fly outside. “They’re everywhere,” she answers. “He didn’t come, and even I don’t know who he is.” Zhongliang’s not satisfied with that answer, and he has one of his assistants bring in Number Four, a dog, who tortures the suspects in a separate room.
Meanwhile, Chen Shen, who sees the dog in the hallway, tries to think of a plan to rescue Qiuxia and stop any more innocent suspects from being tortured. He calls Boss Li, who appears to be in control of even Zhongliang, and it’s clear that Chen Shen is scared of this figure.
Unexpectedly, the suspects launch a surprise attack on those guarding the jail cell as a means of rebellion. Zhongliang just stands there – er, okay – and just when he’s about to be hit by a bullet, Chen Shen somehow appears at the jail cell and throws a pair of scissors at the attacker, injuring him and saving Zhongliang’s life once more. The suspects are eventually restrained again, but the interrogation takes a pause due to Boss Li’s newly assigned mission.
Zhongliang is to go see Boss Li and report any new findings on the sparrow and Qiuxia, while Chen Shen is to capture six men having a secret communist meeting at Club Milan. The capture is swift, as the men were playing mahjong right before.
To celebrate this capture, Boss Li comes to visit Zhongliang and Chenshen for dinner. He also invites a married couple along, Tang Shanhai (Zhang Ruoyun) and Xu Bingcheng (Zhou Dongyu). Bingcheng is related to Li’s family and he asks Zhongliang if she could work at the office. When Chenshen sees Bingcheng, he masks his shock and pain at seeing her now wedded to someone else. She also averts his gaze, though she shakes hands with him a little too long. It turns out the two were in love before, though Bingcheng had to leave for some reason and never came back. In a flashback, we see Bingcheng hug Chenshen, asking “Can you wait for me?”
Back at home, Bingcheng and Shanhai discuss their “performance” at dinner. We find out they’re really not a married couple, but pretend to be one as part of a plan. As for what plan, we don’t find out yet. “It looks like I won their faith tonight,” Shanhai says.
Shanhai is perceptive and asks Bingcheng if she and Chenshen had prior history together. “I’m not asking as a husband, but as partners in this plot,” he adds. Bingcheng tells him that Chenshen was once her teacher. Then Shanhai tells her that the next day she should go tell Chenshen that she purposely didn’t recognize him for fear that Shanhai would misunderstand. Bingcheng does just that, and meets up with Chenshen in a cafe. Chenshen’s actress girlfriend Li Xiaonan also comes later, and Bingcheng notices.
Qiuxia is interrogated once more, but she does not say who the sparrow is. She is administered electric shocks, and given one more chance to confess. She whispers inaudibly, and while Zhongliang leans in to hear, she bites his ear so hard it begins to bleed and he slams his fist into the wall to try to ameliorate the pain. His assistant cranks up the electric shocks once more, but Chen Shen is just in time and secretly has a rat eat away the power cord. Power goes out in the jail cell, and interrogation pauses once more.
Zhongliang does not trust Shanhai and tells Chen Shen that it’s strange that he would be sent to work in his office, so he decides to test Shanhai’s loyalty, having him be the one to send Qiuxia to Nanjing, as per Boss Li’s orders.
Meanwhile, Chen Shen orchestrates a plot to save Qiuxia once more. Gosh, this drama should be renamed Saving Qiuxia. On the day that Qiuxia is to be sent to Nanjing, Shanhai receives a call telling him of his mission. He and Bingcheng know that this is a test, for why else would he have not received news earlier of this job? Bingcheng thinks it’s because Zhongliang doesn’t trust Shanhai and thought if he was told earlier, he might spill the news to someone else. But Shanhai is concerned about something else – what if the news had already been spilled out to the communists and they were planning to rescue her? If things go successfully for them, then all the fault would be blamed on Shanhai and Bingcheng.
The day is coincidentally Li Xiaonan’s birthday, so Chen Shen decides to make an excuse to his boss and take the day off to spend time with Xiaonan, while really conducting the rescue mission. Xiaonan is oblivious to Chen Shen’s plan, however.
Although this task of sending Qiuxia to Nanjing appears to be risky for Shanhai, it’s even more risky for Chen Shen, since prior to this day only he and Zhongliang knew – supposedly – of the task. If anything were to go wrong, such as Qiuxia being rescued, then Zhongliang would immediately know or suspect Chen Shen as the one behind it all.
While the group heads to the train station with Qiuxia in a wheelchair, there is an abrupt change in plan as Zhongliang receives a phone call from Boss Li saying that there is an emergency mission for Shanhai to go on. Thus, the task of accompanying Qiuxia to Nanjing is reassigned from being Shanhai’s to Chen Shen’s responsibility.
Zhang Ruoyun is gorgeous. Yes, I think I may have a new actor crush. Gosh darn, second lead syndrome this early into a drama is never a good sign.
Acting-wise, Li Xiaoran and Zhang Luyi are the best so far. Xiaoran’s subtle changes in facial expression are controlled with such ease and experience, and Luyi successfully plays the antagonist. Li Yifeng is improving in terms of acting, but does show occasional lapses especially in more dramatic scenes where he is supposed to be panicked. He tends to overact, such as in Episode 3 where he talks to Boss Li over the phone.
There are several layers to the plot, and I like that the script is complex. For instance, Li Xiaonan’s slight smile as recognition to Qiuxia hints at their possible connection to each other. This would be absolutely mindblowing if Xiaonan was actually a communist as well and secretly helping Chen Shen without him knowing she’s on his side.
Pictures and gifs credit to 电视剧麻雀 Weibo.