The villains are introduced, evil plans are put into motion, and we scratch the surface of the grand mystery the show is setting up at the expense of the pacing. I keep on asking myself, “Are we there yet?”
The Mystic Nine Episode 5 RECAP:
When the old man cries there are ghosts inside, Qi Shan loses his temper and demands he tell them everything. The old man finally explains that his family has been mine workers for generations. During his father’s generation, they are already working for the Japanese.
At one point, they found a new path, originating from Qing Dynasty, inside the mine. The Japanese took old man’s father and a few other mine workers to check the path. They find a grand entrance to a tomb, carved with the words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
The Japanese enter, leaving the mine workers outside. The workers don’t leave though, planning to rob them thinking they will come out with riches. But then the Japanese came out running, chased by black smoke, and the cave started collapsing. They all run for their lives.
Back in the present, the old man confirms that it’s the black smoke that chased the Japanese away. Qi Shan: “Then I want to see how the black smoke chases us out.” Rebel. Fu Guan tries to break down the gate but Ba Ye smartly pours acid over the gate and it’s unlocked.
After more tunnels, they find the center of the mine. Everything is left as it is. They find two more tunnels but both are sealed. But they find another entrance where there’s a magic circle casted by an onmyouji. Ba Ye reasons it’s an indication that the dead should not touch the living and vice versa.
In some other place, an elderly man plays seven games of chess against a mysterious opponent. He wins one and Jiu Ye or Xiao Jie Jiu (Yang Zi Jiang) congratulates him. The entire scene serves to demonstrate his wit. A servant informs him that Qi Shan and the others have entered the mine. He sighs and says that his peaceful days are numbered.
Qi Shan and the others enter yet another part of the mine. Ba Ye freaks out seeing cut marks on a pile of wood and clings onto Qi Shan, telling him not to see. Fu Guan asks him what he saw and he refuses to tell, saying it’s too scary. Qi Shan says they don’t have to ask, knowing Ba Ye, he’d tell anyway. Ba Ye: “You really don’t want to know?”
The old man suddenly sees apparitions that only he sees and he goes, running. They leave him be, since he’s of no use anyway. Ba Ye finally tells them what he noticed. All the markings on the wood mean someone has been hung. They look up and notice many more ropes hanging. They keep on going.
Back in Er Ye’s manor, Chen Pi finds a blood-stained handkerchief. He heads towards the USA Chamber of Commerce, which is more Japanese than American. He meets Ryoko and tells her that it’s impossible to meet Er Ye. But whatever Er Ye can do for them, he can too.
The Mystic Nine Episode 6 RECAP:
Ryoko straight-up tells him no, which angers Chen Pi. He says he has confidence in what he does but she corrects him: it’s her who doesn’t. She insults him, saying the disciple will never outmatch the master.
A fight ensues between Chen Pi and Ryoko’s men. Ryoko defends herself but it looks like Chen Pi has the upper hand. She threatens him about the medicine and warns him that if anything happens to her, he gets nothing. But if he persuades his master, they can still cooperate. He lets go.
Er Ye and Ya Tou goes out for a walk under the rain and walking past a studio, she asks if they can take a photo next time. He says why not now and drags her inside. It’s clear they love each other deeply and it shows in their photos.
In yet another part of the mine, the trio finds human skeleton and bones everywhere. A wider shot shows signs of coffins being dug up. They find digging tools and they’re of good quality. Qi Shan deduces that their Old Nine Gates ancestors must have been here before, even conducting a large operation.
They are alert to a hissing sound, and when it fades, an opera plays. It’s Er Ye’s debut song on stage but the opera now isn’t his. Then it stops. Qi Shan heads alone toward the source of the noise after Ba Ye complains. Fu Guan is ordered to protect Ba Ye.
Qi Shan finds a room, entirely covered with hair in webs (ew). There’s an empty altar, where the coffin they found on the 706 train once sits. After some bickering, the two enter as well. Ba Ye listens around and points that the music seem to have come from the other side of the wall.
He leans in and the webs fall at his touch. CGI moths appear, swarming him. Qi Shan sliiiiides over, gun in hand, to save Ba Ye. Fu Guan gets bit (will this be important? I feel like it’d be important). Qi Shan makes them leave, as he battles the moths.
When he finally wins, he looks alright – but by the time he comes out, he’s delirious. They carry an unconscious Qi Shan out from the mine and sees the old man’s dead body outside. Japanese men begin shooting at them but Fu Guan expertly outmaneuvers them.
From afar, an American scholar, Qiu De Kou, watches them. His public identity is the president of USA Chamber of Commerce but he’s also an advisor to the Japanese. The narrator helpfully tells us this is the Bad Guy who wants the treasures in the mine for himself.
His servant asks if he should send more men to kill the trio but he says no. He says they might be useful in the future. Behind him, the same opera the trio heard in the mine plays. So it’s him! How did he get there and get out so soon?
Half-conscious Qi Shan thinks about the pendant he found in the cobweb of hair. He tells Fu Guan and Ba Ye to send him to Er Ye’s manor instead of the hospital.
When Er Ye checks on a delirious Qi Shan, he removes his gloves. What they see horrify Fu Guan and Ba Ye, but Er Ye understands immediately that they have went to the mine. He chides them for going despite his warnings.
We don’t get to see what’s wrong with Qi Shan’s hands but whatever Er Ye does to him is so painful that Fu Guan and Ba Ye has to hold him down. We later see Er Ye remove a strand of hair and burns it.
Er Ye later explains that he knows they have found the ancient tomb and his granduncle has too found the exact same ring there. A flashback shows how his granduncle is with the same Japanese man from the old man’s story at the mine. His granduncle doesn’t survive. When his family searches for him, they find all his blood vessels clogged with hair – even his brain.
News travel fast. Ryoko meets Chen Pi and tells him he can have the medicine. She heard that Qi Shan is heavily injured and she wants him to investigate the full story. She doesn’t bother telling him the reason.
The Mystic Nine Episode 7 RECAP:
After going through some documents, Er Ye seems to have found something. He writes Qi Shan a confidential letter. He later asks Chen Pi to send the letter anonymously. It’s the perfect opportunity for Chen Pi and he makes a second copy.
Chen Pi meets Ryoko and asks to see her superior. She says she’s good enough but he doesn’t buy it. But the information is there and she gives in. She brings him to the USA Chamber of Commerce and tells him to wait. He notices someone behind the paper walls but before he could check it out, he’s ambushed.
It’s Ryoko’s men and he defeats them easily. When he wants to attack Ryoko, Mr Qiu comes in clapping. He seems amused and calls it a misunderstanding. He flatters him and brings him aside for a private talk.
Mr Qiu wants the information but Chen Pi wants to discuss about his medicine first. Mr Qiu assures him that he has the best medicines and doctors at disposal. He offers to try it on Ryoko, who got injured earlier, who really doesn’t feel any pain after. Chen Pi gives in.
Night falls and Qi Shan finds the letter Chen Pi secretly left. Ba Ye points out that it’s Er Ye who wrote the letter. Qi Shan looks like he hasn’t considered it, which makes me wonder if it’s lazy writing. Who else would write him a letter with details of the mine if it’s so secret?
The letter indicates that their escape this time is pure luck. Ba Ye thinks Er Ye knows something they don’t. Qi Shan says they’ll go to the mine again and orders Er Ye to go stake out the place nearby beforehand.
Fu Guan enters, explaining that a telegram has arrived, saying that an officer would be here to help with their work. It’s Officer Lu Xian Jun. Clearly it’s not someone easy to handle, as Qi Shan goes and meet the officer himself.
The man is pleasant and friendly with Qi Shan but there’s an underlying sense of malice. Fu Guan wonders why he even calls Qi Shan “brother”. Qi Shan explains it’s just how he is but they have never gotten along.
Alone, Officer Lu reveals his true identity as a Bad Guy and notes that Qi Shan seems really comfortable being a general. He’s clearly envious but his servant placates him, telling him Qi Shan’s days are numbered. Officer Lu tells his servant to watch Qi Shan’s movements.
Chen Pi brings Mr Qiu, dressed as a doctor, to see Ya Tou. Mr Qiu clearly knows his thing because he correctly spells out Ya Tou’s symptoms and tells her she has a chronic exhaustion-induced disease. He promises his medicine will cure her completely.
She takes the medicine shot and assures Chen Pi that she no longer feels any pain. Mr Qiu says Ya Tou will need the medicine often and passes Chen Pi two months’ worth of medicine. When Chen Pi sees him out, he actually looks somewhat happy with working with Mr Qiu again.
Ya Tou sincerely thanks Chen Pi for helping her. Chen Pi tells her that he’ll never want to leave her and Er Ye and promises to protect them forever. He looks he genuinely believes in his words.
In his fortune-teller garb, Ba Ye sets out on Qi Shan’s instructions to check out the villages near the mine. He overhears two villagers talking about a mad man living up the mountain.
Up the mountain, the madman Ba Ye heard about is ripping his hair out, crying at unseen monsters not to eat him. He cries about hair that engulfs him. But Ba Ye puts on his best Tao priest act and convinces the madman that now that he has shaved off his hair, he’s free from the monster.
Coming back to the village, Ba Ye notices a barber and looks thoughtful at the sight of hair. But he merely tells the barber to shave the madman’s hair when he comes by and even pays for him, aww. The barber also tells him about the Japanese men who has been roaming around the mine and village lately.
Officer Lu’s servant informs him of Old Nine Gates’ great influence over Changsha. Not only is Qi Shan the Commanding Officer, he’s also the leader of the Old Nine Gates. But the families have no real allegiances to him and Officer Lu thinks they’re only listening to Qi Shan because of his army. He wants to take over Qi Shan’s position as both General and Old Nine Gates leader.
Not much is known about the Old Nine Gates. The 2nd is Er Ye the opera singer, the 3rd is handicapped, the 4th is a warrior, and the only thing they know about the 5th is that he rears vicious dogs. Officer Lu stops his servant from continuing and vows to take them down.
Ryoko informs Mr Qiu about Officer Lu’s visits to Old Nine Gates families. She wonders if they need to stop him. Mr Qiu simply says despite Officer Lu’s recklessness, he might be of use and asks her to keep an eye on him.
Officer Lu visits Jiu Ye with an expensive gift of high quality chess. After some small talk, he reveals his motive. He wants Jiu Ye to gather and unite the Old Nine Gate families for him, in place of Qi Shan.
Ryu: The hero is only good as his villain, or so the saying goes. If so, our main characters better count some other people because what we have here are unimaginative and two-dimensional antagonists. Mr Qiu is the stereotypical foreign “devil” and he comes off as almost cartoonish with his over-the-top ways. He keeps on stopping short of killing his enemies, who will be sure to be obstacle, just because. There’s literally nothing stopping him but maybe he’s just too lazy. The other one, the political rival Officer Lu is just as obvious as they come. It would have been much more interesting for the show to keep us wary, like Qi Shan was, of his character without revealing his true goals. He’s also not terribly intelligent so he’s probably going to be another obstacle for our main characters to easily outmaneuver.
Chen Pi, however, stands out among all the bland antagonists. I’m creeped out by his seemingly obsessive love for his mistress but his devotion is sincere. He cares for his mistress, and does seem to respect his master. I don’t believe Er Ye would be blind to his “evil” nature and there must be something in him that I have yet to see that made Er Ye choose him as disciple in the first place. From the previews, he’s introduced as one of the Nine Gates, so that’s also another mystery to cover. Frankly, that’s probably more interesting than the tomb right now.
Whoa, that’s long. I feel like I’m being overly analytical of the show but I really do enjoy it. I wouldn’t even have spent my time recapping this show if I didn’t. But when I have to write about it, some of the flaws become apparent and I can’t help but poke fun at it. (Also I’m counting the days when I can write about Li Ying’s appearance. Until then…)