Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

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For as much as they know each other, Chen Shen and Bi Zhong Liang’s actions and motivations can be just as unpredictable. He faces complications at every turn, and the arrival of his old flame —and her husband— could be the most difficult yet.

Sparrow Episode 3 RECAP:

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Chen Shen asks if Pi Pi remembers the first time they met. He regrets not recognising his nephew earlier. But Pi Pi is quiet and doesn’t seem to be listening, his attention focused on playing instead.

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Later, the nun known as Madam Wang tells Chen Shen that she has heard about his involvement in the hospital explosion from Pi Dan, the friend who provided him explosives earlier. He once saved their lives and if he has the need, they will help him come hell or high water.

He tells them about Qiu Xia, though he only refers her as a patriot, and asks her to gather Pi Dan and the others. He provides her money to buy the necessary arms. They have this conversation out of the earshot of Mrs Bi, who is playing with the kids. Of course, Er Bao who is outside has no idea about it.

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They finally leave, and Er Bao accidentally drops his coat’s button in his hurry to leave. Eagle-eyed Chen Shen notices this and pockets it. When he returns to the Bureau, he is told he is wanted in the interrogation room. On his way, Er Bao comes in and his coat is noticeably missing the button.

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Sounds of the whip and the interrogator yelling can be heard atop the stairs that lead to the interrogation room. Chen Shen’s every step forward is heavy, as he struggles to contain himself. Qiu Xia proves to be a stubborn prisoner. She is thrashed and bloodied, but she refuses to speak.

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Bi Zhong Liang asks the captured comrade, who has caved in, to convince Qiu Xia to talk before “her clothes are torn apart, every inch of her flesh and skin ripped.” The comrade is forced to hold the branding iron, which is when Chen Shen enters. Bi Zhong Liang watches Chen Shen as he orders the branding to continue.

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The hot metal closes into Qiu Xia’s face. Chen Shen’s face grows increasingly uncomfortable and he asks for the comrade to halt. It surprises Bi Zhong Liang, whose suspicion doubtlessly deepens.

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Chen Shen smiles and asks if they can stop using such old tactics. If they only need her to talk, he has an idea. Bi Zhong Liang agrees and I can only describe his expression as being satisfied (over Chen Shen’s facade cracking, or over Chen Shen finally being proactive? So mysterious).

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They sit Qiu Xia down in front of the suspicious men captured from the club earlier. All eight has admitted to being her informers, but the only one to know for sure is Qiu Xia. He wants her to reveal her true informer and release the other seven, who are innocent. He also snaps at the captured men, for admitting something they may not have done, just because of a little torture.

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Qiu Xia smiles, knowing what Chen Shen is getting at, and says none of them are hers. Her informer is, in fact, Chen Shen. The answer shocks everyone. But Chen Shen merely grins at Bi Zhong Liang, announcing the interrogation to be over. Bi Zhong Liang hands him a gun and orders him to shoot the men down one by one.

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Chen Shen refuses to do so, and Bi Zhong Liang admonishes him for not being able to fire a gun after one little incident. He threatens to kill him and frame him as Sparrow. He puts the gun in Chen Shen’s hand and aims it at the men. When Chen Shen repeatedly refuses to do, Bi Zhong Liang aims another gun at him instead. Oh shit.

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Bi Zhong Liang demands that he fire. If not them, then it will be him who dies. Chen Shen throws the gun down and dares him to kill him instead. Gun aimed at Chen Shen, Bi Zhong Liang explains that Chen Shen is making everything worse for himself being the main suspect in the explosion.

He deduces everything correctly about Chen Shen’s plan to frame the other officer as a Communist spy. Qiu Xia is even trying to protect him by naming him the informer, so that Bi Zhong Liang won’t take it seriously, thinking it a mind game. Chen Shen dares him, and he turns to look at Qiu Xia, who has the most enigmatic smile. He fires —but at an innocent bird perched on the window instead.

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He calls Chen Shen a good-for-nothing and that he won’t ever use a gun in his entire life, but it gets him worked up. Chen Shen holds him by the collar, asking him what’s wrong with not being able to fire a gun. He looks so riled up that Bi Zhong Liang is caught off guard. He then storms off.

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Bi Zhong Liang calms himself before continuing the interrogation. Again, he asks Qiu Xia who Sparrow is. She stares out the window, where birds are flying. “Sparrow is everywhere [or everyone].” In his office, Chen Shen loses it. He hears the sound of Bi Zhong Liang’s ferocious dog being led to the interrogation room and it panics him.

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Qiu Xia maintains that none of the men are hers, and that she didn’t manage to meet Sparrow. One unfortunate man is chosen to be the dog’s prey, and he screams for help as the dog bites him to death. Chen Shen paces in his room, willing himself to come up with an idea to save Qiu Xia. He remembers Bi Zhong Liang mentioning that his higher up Li Mo Qun is arriving in Shanghai at two, and it is now three.

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Losing her calm for the first time, she asks if Bi Zhong Liang’s MO is to hurt the innocent. Meanwhile, Chen Shen calls Li Mo Qun’s secretary and asks if his boss knows that their Bureau caught a Communist spy. The secretary reveals that they too caught a big fish, but is interrupted by Li Mo Qun (Wang Jin Song)’s arrival.

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The secretary must be nervous to be caught spilling information, making Li Mo Qun suspicious. He intercepts the calls, and seeing it is really Chen Shen, asks him to get Bi Zhong Liang to call him immediately. That is exactly what Chen Shen needs.

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One man dead, seven more to go. Bi Zhong Liang asks Qiu Xia which one she wants dead next, and one of them (the only one who spoke to Qiu Xia and likely the actual informer) incites a riot. The desperate men fight back and Bi Zhong Liang and Er Bao runs out to watch from outside the cell.

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The man fires at Bi Zhong Liang, who is so stunned he can only stare. But thankfully for him, Chen Shen arrives in time to pull him aside and sends a scissors flying at the man, slicing him at the neck. No gun, no problem. The scuffle inside the interrogation room finally ends with everyone’s death and Qiu Xia can only watch.

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Bi Zhong Liang thanks Chen Shen, but he throws his words back at him: “A brother who only knows how to cut hair and not even fire a gun is just a joke.” But he relays the message that Li Mo Qun wants him. He will settle the mess here instead. Bi Zhong Liang seems like he has a change of thought, especially when Er Bao reports that Chen Shen did not meet anyone strange, but who knows.

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After the phone call with Li Mo Qun, Bi Zhong Liang gathers everyone for an emergency operation. Chen Shen is still sulky and they are back to being cute again. Sigh. They have serious business though, as Bi Zhong Liang has received information that six Nationalist members are having a secret meeting. Best to capture them alive, but if a few dies, no one really cares.

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He leaves it to Chen Shen, while he has to go meet Li Mo Qun. The Nationalist members are easily subdued. That night, Chen Shen has dinner with the VIPs. But the sight of one particular guest stops him in his tracks. It is Xu Bi Cheng (Zhou Dong Yu). In a flashback, we see that they were once lovers.

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Li Mo Qun congratulates Chen Shen for the job well done, and he introduces his grandniece Bi Cheng and her husband, Tang Shan Hai (Zhang Ruo Yun). Shan Hai has recently defected from the Nationalist party in Chongqing and he is the one who provided information about the operation earlier.

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Chen Shen shakes hands with Bi Cheng, who nearly calls him by name. Their handshake and eye contact lingered a little too long, enough for Shan Hai to take notice. Bi Cheng in particular looks shaken.

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During dinner, they agree on Shan Hai taking up the role of being the leader of team 2 in the Bureau. Shan Hai smartly notes that for now the Communist party is not much of a challenge. Instead they have to worry about Nationalist party, under a certain Mr Dai, constantly working on one assassination or another.

The men discuss about all the big names in the new government, under Mr Wang, being in the hit list of the Nationalist party’s task force, called Team Hurricane. Many have died, some entrapped by femme fatales.

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Bi Cheng also gets a place in Bi Zhong Liang’s bureau, as a secretary. Li Mo Qun thinks that is a waste of talent for her to stay a housewife. After all she has once trained in the Huangpu Military Academy. Later, after dinner, Li Mo Qun tells Bi Zhong Liang to send Qiu Xia to Nanjing if they get nothing out of her. Chen Shen silently absorbs this information.

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Bi Cheng has a small talk with Mrs Bi while Chen Shen stares from afar for the longest moment with a complicated expression, not knowing Shan Hai is watching. Shan Hai interrupts him to bid him farewell, as if to insert his authority as Bi Cheng’s husband. Bi Zhong Liang orders Chen Shen to send them home.

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Before he leaves though, Chen Shen spots Er Bao by the door. He holds up Er Bao’s coat and gives him back his button. Er Bao can only sheepishly thank him, while knowing that he has been completely busted.

Chen Shen offers to help Shan Hai to bring his luggage up their new place, but Shan Hai declines it, all polite. He can only watch as the new couple enter and sits in the car for a long time, watching the window for any movements.

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In their new abode, the mood changes as Shan Hai checks for any spying devices. It is immediately clear that Shan Hai and Bi Cheng are not a couple, and that they are still Nationalists looking to infiltrate the Bureau. When Shan Hai asks why is she so quiet during the dinner, she explains that she doesn’t want to make any mistakes.

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He points out about Chen Shen’s strange attitude and asks if he knows her. Bi Cheng is clearly uncomfortable, but Shan Hai explains that their survival are attached to each other now. So he must know everything she knows about the enemy. She finally caves in, explaining that Chen Shen is her teacher during her time in the military academy.


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Ryu: Oh wow, Chen Shen’s stand-off with Bi Zhong Liang is intense. I’m not sure how much of it was Chen Shen’s acting or his true feelings. I wonder if he really believes that Bi Zhong Liang wouldn’t kill him. Maybe he really wouldn’t, because mere suspicion is not evidence enough for Bi Zhong Liang to kill his brother. I think I catch onto Bi Zhong Liang’s desperation a little, he is forcing Chen Shen to prove that he has not betrayed him. He is a master manipulator, but Chen Shen is not some small fry that will succumb to his manipulations. Neither will Qiu Xia, who is frankly too cool and poised for words. I liked her the minute she showed up.

Now that the key players are more or less assembled, we can officially begin our game of Sparrow hide-and-seek. I’m convinced that Chen Shen is in fact Sparrow (thanks to the theorists in the comments!) but this would mean his already treacherous path will be all that more dangerous. Before he is alone and therefore without any burdens, but now he has not one, but two women to look out for. And he will look out for Bi Cheng, and this is only because I have watched future episodes. Just look at how he stares at her.

Meeting a past lover is bound to be difficult, especially when both still seem to hold onto their feelings for each other. Bi Cheng looks completely shaken but even Chen Shen, who is an experienced spy, looks overwhelmed enough to let Shan Hai see through him. Now that Bi Cheng is infiltrating the Bureau as a Communist spy, then their paths will doubtlessly converge. Ideologies differences are the Capulet and Montague dilemma in spy dramas. For now they could become allies, being on the same Japanese resistance side, but when push comes to shove, who or what will Chen Shen choose?

  1. 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

    Just dropping in to say I love the muted color tone of this series!

    And thanks Ryu for hanging in there with the recaps! 🙂 It’s harder than it looks!

    • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

      Kappy, are you going to check it out?

      • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

        I’m gonna say not at the moment. I want something more light and colorful. Lol. This looks heavy and watching badass lady getting tortured is not good! I think Rouge will be it for now. X)

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          stop spamming kappy!! lols

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          Rouge is too “idol” for me but I’m so drawn by Mickey Yuan Wen Kang and Liying together. LOL.

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          Don’t worry, Kappy!

          She’s a very strong woman. She was still gorgeous and graceful even while/after being tortured *LOL*

  2. 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

    **comments will contains spoilers**

    Thanks for the recap, Ryu. I’m watching the uncut version and it’s a pain waiting for the episodes to be released and not get tempted to watch the TV version. Good to go back and review via recaps.

    I loved the standoff scene because Chen Shen loses it. It’s so unlike him to have an emotional outburst like that. The genuinely surprised look on Bi Zhong Liang’s face is also priceless. The whole exchange was so intense and well-executed by both actors in my opinion.

    With the appearance of Xu Bi Cheng and Tang Shan Hai comes danger for Chen Shen. More like pushing him forward to complete the mission and also bringing death closer to a few of the characters. We also get to see a different side of him. And yes, the way he looks at Bi Cheng! I think the feelings he had for her when she was his student wasn’t as deep as when they reunited again. Does that make sense? Maybe it’s just me but he wasn’t in love with her as his teacher. He’s in love with her now.

    • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

      Oh and the theory that Chen Shen is Sparrow? Now I’m reading posts about Bi Cheng being Sparrow lol. I don’t even know how but many are convinced she is.

      • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

        Hi chasingpolaris!

        Actually I found something about the Sparrow :


        Someone posted in another website about the description of each characters, including Chen Shen’s character. Basically, the article said that each of the main characters are based on a real life figures, like Bicheng and Shanhai. and they put the image of each real life representative besides the TV character . BUT, Chen Shen’s characters were based on several real-life figures, so they put a Sparrow image besides his (LYF’s picture). So, didn’t that mean that Chen Shen was supposed to be the Sparrow himself ?

        I’ve been trying to find the link of that article. If I could find it, then I will post it here.

        —END OF SPOILER—

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          Hi Luna!

          Oooooh that’s interesting! I did read about the real life inspirations but didn’t see Chen Shen’s so you’ve got a point there. Yes please post the link here when you find it 🙂

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          Found it, here it is:

          —yup, it contains SPOILERS —

          I dont understand the article *lol*, but someone explained it in brief. I concluded that Chen Shen was indeed the Sparrow, because of a Sparrow image besides his character. Then again, there is still a possibility that the image was used just because his character didnt have anyone to refer to (because he was a mixture of several real life figures) *lol*.

          Well, until now, I still believe that he is the Sparrow. He is too professional and smart to be not.

          — End of SPOILERS —

          Regarding Bicheng-Shanhai, I agree that they make the ‘game’ become more difficult and dangerous for Chen Shen, especially Bicheng as his first (true?) love. Shanhai is not less smart than him, while his feeling towards Bicheng makes him having to watch over her (and risk of being caught), despite them coming from different parties.

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          Ah I see it now. Not sure how I missed his but read the others, haha. I will keep sticking to the story that he’s Sparrow.

          Shan Hai and Chen Shen could become best friends as Bi Cheng said. Just that they’ll always have Bi Cheng in between them as long as both men are in love with her. So there’s that. But their abilities and intelligence are on the same level.

    • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

      That could be true, because in the flashback Chen Shen really didn’t seem too emotional and it’s not because Li Yi Feng can’t act either. Maybe seeing Bi Cheng now after he is “corrupted” makes him feel like he has returned to his cleaner and less restrictive past like a true sparrow. I feel like I might be romanticising this but his gaze speaks volumes.

      • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

        I think they were in love since a long time ago, but because they were teacher-student, Chen Shen should be more mature and calm while Bicheng was the more expeessive one. He should love her as much as she did toward him.

        I agree with Ryu that Chen Shen saw her as someone from the past, when he was still honest and didnt hide anything. With Xiao Nan, he was pretending to be someone he was not, so he couldnt show his trueself as well letting himself truly falling in love with her. Perhaps that’s why his ‘mask’ was kinda ‘cracked’ when he met Bicheng, so that Shanhai could immediately see his true feelings.

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          This makes me want to know what Chen Shen was like when he was a teacher. The fact that he allowed himself to fall in love with a student shows that he’s not exactly the rigid and strict kind, but one who was young and more of a rebel?

          In any case, I just love the gaze that he reserves for Bi Cheng. The way he looked at her from inside the café also spoke volumes. So maybe his attachment was just as deep as hers, but he didn’t realize it until they met again.

        • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

          I also wanted to know Chen Shen (and Bicheng) when they were teacher-students. Too bad, the series didnt show it much in the short flashbacks. It’s just nice to see them all smiling and happy.

          I guess Chen Shen should be more of a rebel, judging from how he has been ignoring orders and trying to save his sister-in-law 😀 . And I think it’s important for a spy to be fluent and flexible, instead of being strict. There are times when things dont go according to plan, so he has to improvise or negotiating with another parties. I see him (and Shanhai) as using logic and feelings equally, while Bicheng uses her feelings more :p

          Yeah, they talking in the cafe is one of my favourites. They just liked to exchange meaningful gaze, didnt they? :p .

  3. 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

    Hi Ruy, thanks for the recaps!

    I love the ‘fight’ between Chen Shen and Zhongliang, but my favourite part was this => “Chen Shen is still sulky and they are back to being cute again” *LOL*. Chen Shen was like a little kid, being angry and all .. and Zhongliang acted like a big brother who pampered his little bro .. hahaha

    And, another favourite was when Chen Shen met Bicheng for the first time, with that melancholic background music and such *LOL*. I was watching the uncut version, so I hope the TV version will contain the scenes when Chen Shen – Bicheng met in a café. I’m curious to know their detail conversations.

    Thanks again!

    • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

      Every time I’m tempted to squeal at their banter, I remind myself they are going to be enemies soon. Or is it that the looming sense of betrayal makes their cuteness ten times more precious?

      Yes, their first conversation is quite telling about their past relationship and their feelings for each other now and is in the next recap I’m working on!

      • 19 thoughts on “Sparrow: Episode 3 “Ghosts from the Past.”

        “Or is it that the looming sense of betrayal makes their cuteness ten times more precious? ” -> yeah, perhaps this was the one that made their cuteness more precious. Plus, LYF and ZLYi’s acting were like real brothers, with Zhongliang’s wife constantly nags at Chen Shen and tells him to get married soon. That made them looked like a real family.

        Ah, you’re recapping the next episode?? Thanks a lot, really appreciate it! I love that scene. Chen Shen-Bicheng really looked like old lovers while repressing their own feelings.

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