The more clues our main characters uncover, the deeper they realize the rabbit hole goes. While the show takes its sweet time setting up the stage for Er Ye to join the tomb-raiding squad, I’m trying to find a reason to care for the Japanese secret experiment and the mystery of the ancient tomb. Entertain better, show!
The Mystic Nine Episode 2 RECAP:
We pick up where we left last episode, in Er Ye’s home. After he tells Ya Tou that her noodles taste the best, she smiles and wipes his mouth. She wonders if something has happened. He gives her the half-truth: someone made a ruckus in the opera house today but it’s solved.
Ya Tou starts coughing and worried, Er Ye asks if the medicine last time didn’t work. She assures him that the medicine did made her feel better and that her illness can’t be rushed. Er Ye gently chides her for always being busy and constantly worrying about him. He tells her to rest more instead. They’re really sweet on each other.
When he’s alone, Er Ye opens a secret door leading to his underground chamber. The entire place is eerie, walls full of photos and shelfs full of artifacts. There, he takes out a ring that looks exactly the same as the one Qi San found.
Elsewhere, Ba Ye is again “invited” to Qi Shan’s place. A newbie minion informs him that a hooligan raised his hand against Qi Shan today and Ba Ye wonders if the hooligan has really not heard of Qi Shan’s legend. But the minion hasn’t either so he tells him it begins with a Japanese man called Wu Teng.
Flashback. Wu Teng has had his eye on the Old Nine’s business and targeted the single, poor Ba Ye. The man wrecked his house and even hung Ba Ye from the ceiling in his dojo. Then the door opens and a silhouette of a man walks in: Qi Shan!
He’s immediately surrounded by Wu Teng’s man but he looks ahead at the battered Ba Ye hanging above. He asks for Ba Ye’s release but Wu Teng calls him a busybody and orders his men to fight him. Annnnd the theme song starts playing and Qi Shan starts kicking everyone’s asses.
He receives a few cuts in but the immortal Qi Shan just slashes them back harder. Most of the men are down, and sensing a losing battle, Wu Teng flies in. Qi Shan looks like he’s losing but then he kills Wu Teng with a slice at the neck. He gives the remaining a men a trailer-worthy stare and they back off.
Having won the battle, Qi Shan and Ba Ye smile at each other. Qi Shan then coolly flicks the sword at the rope hanging Ba Ye and he drops. (It makes for a nice shot but really, Ba Ye’s injured and you’d think Qi Shan would be kind enough to just lower him gently to the ground instead, lol.)
Back in the present, Ba Ye tells the awed minion that Qi Shan became famous from the incident. Thanks to Qi Shan, he too had peaceful days since. The minion sweet-talks him, wondering who will dare provoke him now. Annoyed, Ba Ye responds, “It’s true no one dares provoke me, but Qi Shan bothers me everyday!”
When they meet, Ba Ye worries over Er Ye’s warning and tells Qi Shan not to investigate anymore. Qi Shan is very sure that Er Ye’s implying that the Japanese are doing a secret experiment and that Changsha is in danger. Since Er Ye refuses to help, they have to do it on their own.
Qi Shan points out that all the stations from the Northeast has been bombed. The 706 train must have used a different track underground through a mountain in Changsha. The Japanese agents have been flocking around the area even though the place is barren. “Unless they want to do a secret experiment.”
Qi Shan orders Fu Guan to prepare to leave tomorrow, while Ba Ye tries to sneak away on all fours, lol. Qi Shan screams his name and the poor Er Ye plops on the floor. He tries to reason, “If you bring me along, I’ll just be a burden.” When he wants to leave, Qi Shan just holds onto his collar.
Back home, Er Ye assures Ya Tou that the doctor checking on her is the best in town. The two men exchange glances, and the doctor says that Ya Tou merely has a cold, which visibly calms her. Er Ye later prays to his ancestors and an incense breaks. He begs for forgiveness for forsaking his family business and says that his wife is ill. He asks for whatever karma to head his way.
Outside in a pavilion, Ya Tou is waiting. When someone drops a jacket over her, she lights up thinking it’s Er Ye. But it’s his disciple, Chen Pi Ah Si (Harry Hu Yun Hao). Flustered, she hands him his jacket and asks if business at the harbour is doing well. He assures her it is. He brings her to Er Ye’s secret door but when he doesn’t answer, Ya Tou leaves it be.
The next day, Fu Guan wonders if Ba Ye will arrive. And he does, with a freaking donkey as a companion, lol. Fu Guan offers Ba Ye a ride on his horse and Ba Ye chides them for standing out even while wearing civilian attire. His, on the other hand, looks like a regular fortune-teller and safe as can be.
When Er Ye finally shows up, Ya Tou has cooked another bowl of noodles for Er Ye and he tells her to leave it to the servants. They have a silly banter and Chen Pi looks on with visible longing. Even Ya Tou can tell, though probably not the actual reason, and tells him that there is more in the kitchen. He lights up with excitement.
After Chen Pi leaves, Ya Tou cheerfully remarks that he is still a kid after so long. I wonder if Er Ye has caught on to his disciple’s feelings because he responds that Ya Tou is the only one who still regards him as a child.
Ya Tou later finds out that Chen Pi made a mistake (again) and is being punished at the ancestor’s hall. It turns out that he has skipped kungfu practice in favour of catching crabs, that he knows Ya Tou likes. He happily accepts the thank-you gift of noodles but when Ya Tou leaves, his face turns grim.
Flashback. He has submerged a poor guy’s head in water over and over again over the crabs. The man has initially promised them to someone else but after Chen Pi’s “persuasion”, he begs him to take them. Chen Pi smirks at the memory.
Back to our adventurous trio who finally reaches a small, deserted village. The place is scattered with ancient relics, making Ba Ye wonder if there’s a tomb under the mine.
As they walk further in, it’s clear the entire place is empty – except for a mother trying to leave with her son. They learn that there has been several mining accidents and without work, everyone has no choice but to leave. The Japanese were also here but left after the accidents.
Now that they’re headed in the right direction, Qi Shan decides they’ll spend the night here, to Ba Ye’s horror. Qi Shan gives him a split-second smile and confirms yes, they’ll stay in the village.
Night falls and they find the only occupied place in the village. Ba Ye gets lured in by the smell. When Qi Shan asks if he’s not afraid, apparently hunger overrides fear and Ba Ye practically runs in. Qi Shan warns him that he might be killed before even getting a meal.
The Mystic Nine Episode 3 RECAP:
A group of merchants argue over the fact they’re not allowed to inspect the goods they want to buy and says that it’s not like Er Ye to do this. One asks who’s the one who made the rule. Chen Pi shows up, saying it’s him and everyone’s immediately deferential to him.
Chen Pi asks the merchants if they have ever made any losses after buying his goods and they say no, pointing out all Chen Pi has sold them are high-quality artifacts. Ever since he took over the harbour business, they have been earning non-stop. When they still insist on inspecting the goods, Chen Pi tells him he’s the rule here and there’s always the door.
One merchant gives in and buys everything. The rest ooh-and-ahhed over the items. When one questions the authenticity of the item, Chen Pi schools them, obviously knowing his stuff. They all fight over the remaining stock.
The merchants fall over themselves to flatter Chen Pi and he agrees as much, calling himself the king in the shadows. They all think with his reputation in the antique industry, he’s wasting his talents under Er Ye and should take over the business.
Chen Pi says it’s already his and one merchant goes a little far in trying to flatter him. He says that if it’s someone else, they would already steal Er Ye’s business and claim his wife. This angers Chen Pi and he throws his claw-like weapon at the merchant’s face, killing him. He warns the rest not talk negatively about his master and master’s wife.
Inside his secret chamber, Er Ye looks over a model map of what looks like an intricate tomb. He seems to have found something but we don’t know what.
On the other side, the trio walks into the occupied house where everyone’s having dinner. Ba Ye asks for some of the men for food but they only agree after a lot of money is exchanged.
The men bond over the meal. The men are from another village and are waiting for the mine operators to call them for work. Fu Guan asks if they’ve seen a train and the men’s expressions immediately change. They say they’ve not seen anything and excuses themselves.
That night, they all sleep with the rest of men in the same room. Qi Shan sleeps sitting up, Fu Guan with his hands behind his head, and Ba Ye nestled in comfortably, lol.
Morning arrives. Three men wakes up and leave. The trio follows the suspicious men into a hazy mountain area. The men has caught on that they are being followed and hides in the fog. Ba Ye hides behind Qi Shan and Fu Guan, holding their arms and then dares the men to come and attack him, lol.
A stick flies in their direction. Fu Guan expertly drops with Ba Ye with him while Qi Shan just bends his body to avoid it. I’m telling you guys, he’s in the matrix. He then sliiiides to the men, now out in the open, and beats them down.
The men are down. Ba Ye runs over and kicks one of them, acting as if he’s the one who’s doing the asskicking. “You thought we are weaklings? Let me tell you, this is called a scheme! I’m only trying to distract you!” Suuuure.
When they call themselves villagers, no one is satisfied with their answer and Ba Ye waves his stick threateningly. Qi Shan asks them about the train but before he gets an answer, the men have already killed themselves via poison in their mouth.
Outside Er Ye’s opera house, a servant meets a woman and says that he will take her to see him after the play. He gets rewarded. Narrator helpfully tells us that this is the chief of Japanese agents, Tanaka Ryoko. She’s in Changsha with a secret related to the mine.
The opera house operator tells Er Ye about the bribed servant. He tells him the Japanese has been coming over a few times to see him but Er Ye’s instructions has always been not to see them. Er Ye tells the operator to teach them some manners.
After the play, the servant brings the Japanese woman in but the operator has him taken away. He warns her not to come anymore. She says that she means no harm. She merely needs Er Ye’s help but the operator cuts the bullshit and says that Er Ye will not have anything to do with the Japanese.
Plans foiled, but Ryoko is not defeated. They’ll just have to try Chen Pi next. They know he has been looking to cure his master’s wife. He’ll cooperate since they have what he wants.
And Chen Pi does consider the deal when Ryoko offers him a miracle cure. All she wants is to meet Er Ye, one of the Big Three in Old Nine Gates. When Chen Pi refuses, she threatens him with medicine. Chen Pi calls her out on her low trick and she laughs, knowing she has won.
Back in the middle of nowhere, the trio travels on feet and come across a suspicious old man running from them. They give chase and it leads them back to the village. They lose him but Qi Shan decides to wait. The man will be back, he has dropped his tools.
The Mystic Nine Episode 4 RECAP:
Ya Tou’s illness seem to be deteriorating and her coughs much worse. Chen Pi threatens to tell on her if she won’t tell him the truth. He tells her not to give up hope, even though she has tried all kinds of medicine and met all sort of doctors. He mentions the miracle cure and promises to save her.
Er Ye is understandably angry when he hears that Chen Pi wants him to meet the Japanese in exchange for the medicine. Er Ye asks if he really thinks the Japanese would be so kind but Chen Pi is fixated on the fact that there’s a cure. Er Ye slams his hand on the table and tells him to scram.
Having overheard the conversation, Ya Tou enters. Er Ye asks if she’ll blame him for not begging for the medicine. She tells him she understands his love for her and knows that even if there’s only a slight possibility, he’ll try and save her. He assures that he has asked for Jiu Ye (the 9th) to help find a cure.
She asks him not to blame Chen Pi. Er Ye says that if not for Chen Pi’s concern for Ya Tou, he would not have let him off so lightly. Meanwhile, Chen Pi is having a fit in a forest somewhere.
The trio has been staking out and the old man does show up. They follow him back to his house and surprises him. His entire house is stocked with weapons and Ba Ye picks up a gun and points at the old man. I love how Qi Shan casually lowers Ba Ye’s gun, telling him not to fool around.
The old man tells them he found the weapons. When they don’t believe him, he takes them to a house full of flies and pungent odour. There are dead bodies everywhere. The old man tells them that half year ago, a group of people came to the mine and paid him to leave. He hasn’t returned since until he smelled the odour. The train also left soon after.
The bodies here also died similarly, except they have no hair. Qi Shan deduces that people in the train must have left urgently, yet still have time to shave off the bodies’ hair. He wonders if this is a clue about the secret experiment. Ba Ye marvels at the use of hair in an experiment, because priorities lol.
They threaten the old man to take them to mine the Japanese used and he takes them to the sealed entrance. He tells them this is the only entrance, annoying Qi Shan. After some more hustling, they end up in a graveyard. Qi Shan notices an odd tomb and the shifty-eyed old man practically confirms that yes, that’s the other entrance.
The old man begs him not to enter, calling it a dangerous place. Rebellious Qi Shan just tells him he likes dangerous places. They enter and makes way through the underground tunnel.
Elsewhere, Ya Tou is out with a servant and Chen Pi. A little boy runs into them and Ya Tou notices that her purse is missing. Chen Pi hunts him down and nearly hits him but Ya Tou stops him. She’s disappointed in his temper and Chen Pi placates her, promising to change.
Ya Tou returns and has a sweet moment with Er Ye. He has something for her: an eyebrow pencil. He also promises to accompany her forever. Later, Chen Pi ambushes the boy and demands for the handkerchief Ya Tou has given him. He’s certified Evil/Psycho when he smells the handkerchief.
The trio enters deeper into the mine where water is pooling. Despite the old man’s repeated begging, they march on. They finally come across a locked gate with a statue behind. Ba Ye recognises it as a statue of a mother-like figure important in a made-up religion (I think, I googled) and to put it there must mean there’s something behind the gates.
Qi Shan is determined to go in and all but challenges the “ghosts” to come at him. Sounds come in from inside the gates and the old man and Ba Ye both cling at each other, lol.
Ryu: Our trio (Fu Guan will have to stand in for Er Ye for now) finally sets out on a journey to find the mine that holds all the answers. But we still know very little about our main characters except for their motivations. The show hinted at every character’s rich history and even teased us about the rest of the Old Nine Gates. There are so many characters to explore and I wish the show would throw us a bone.
By far, Ba Ye is my favorite character. His cowardice is hilarious and when things get literally grey and dreary underground, he’s the one that makes every interaction interesting. He brings out the deadpan humor in Qi Shan (he only smiles around him!). As much as I like him though, I do think the show needs to give him more to work with. He’s a fortune-teller but it’s established that Qi Shan doesn’t really care for superstitions and such. I get that he’s the comedy relief but I want to see more of what makes him one of the Old Nine Gates.