Episode 18 of The Devil Punisher begins with Ouyang Kai bringing En-Hsi to Chung’s house after she’s been inflicted with Lu Chi’s power. When Chung tries to help her, his power bounces back at him. Cheng Huang is able to reduce the malicious spirit aura and Ouyang Kai overhears that En-Hsi was Chung’s sister.
En-Hsi heard it too and asks him about it the next day but Chung doesn’t confirm. Lu Chi calls her through the Soul Summoning Spirit on the phone app. Tortured by Lu Chi, En-Hsi races to him to report for duty.
Lu Chi refers to his 396 unanswered calls and notes that En-Hsi must have met Chung. He laughs thinking that Chung probably hurt himself trying to help her as even a god can’t protect her. Then he suggests there’s a cost for her truancy.
Chung tries to break open Lu Chi’s door but can’t get through. Hsin-Yu finds him there and tells him to go. He confirms the spell on En-Hsi and Hsin-Yu touches her ring while kicking him out. She prevents herself from crying.
Inside, En-Hsi sits in front of the corpse flower, catching a few rays of evil. Lu Chi releases another piece of enraged soul into her. He freezes Hsin-Yu to prevent interference and forces her to watch or make En-Hsi suffer more.
Lu Chi tells En-Hsi she should visit her mother and moments later she receives a text from the facility. Ouyang Kai follows her and En-Hsi receives a box of her just-deceased mother’s belongings, including a letter. En-Hsi realises it is punishment for ignoring Lu Chi’s calls.
The next day, En-Hsi still isn’t answering so Lu Chi actively brings her back to the dark side. He decides to move her into his house to maintain a tighter reign.
Ouyang Kai finds the café closed and that En-Hsi has withdrawn from school. She’s also moved out of her apartment, leaving her stuff behind, including the box from her mom.
Ouyang Kai reports to Chung who takes it more calmly than expected, saying they need to wait. Unimpressed, Ouyang Kai tells him he’s not much of a god.
Later, Chung confides in Cheng Huang, saying he’s the lamest in the world of gods. Cheng Huang focuses on next steps and they share information. Chung reveals a fake break-up with Hsin-Yu who’s now undercover at her insistence.
Worried about En-Hsi, Cheng Huang suggests Chung reveal their relationship through a dream. He does, reminding her of their past to extend her strength. En-Hsi recalls it upon waking.
Chung recollects when Old Chin gave him a ring to reach Hsin-Yu. Tapping it, he sees a video update. They agree Hsin-Yu’s next move is to release the stored malicious spirits so they can’t be used. As she sneaks out of her room, Lu Chi blocks her, divulging that En-Hsi is now a guest as well.
Hsin-Yu wakes to gifts from Lu Chi, thinking she’ll give them back but decides to keep the peace. She thinks of ways to reduce his anger and decides she should try to understand him. She makes the cold pagoda noodles he craved.
The dish brings him to tears and he says it’s the first time he’s felt happy in 1000 years. In return, he gives her something special – her mother’s ornament that she’d pawned in her past life as Hsiao-Ping. More tears and a sincere thank you feels like a break-through.
But as soon as En-Hsi enters he measures her black aura and sends her off into the world to wreak havoc, reminding her to stay away from Chung. He and Cheng Huang follow her from a distance.
Hsin-Yu and Lu Chi play Go but she can’t keep her mind on it, talking about the past and saying she never really knew him. He allows some questions and she asks about escaping Ice Hell to the human realm.
Lu Chi explains how he escaped – to a point, dropping clues about what he’s done and how they’ll attain eternal life. She tries to convince him to remain on Earth but he says this has been his mission for the last 10 centuries.
Cheng Huang bargains to gain access to classified Underworld information and discovers specifics about the previous Nine Star Alignment. He wonders whether Lu Chi is also aware of it.
Hsin-Yu tries to convince En-Hsi to escape but she’s trance-like. Lu Chi tells her not to bother En-Hsi and hustles her away.
Accusing Hsin-Yu of ulterior motives, Lu Chi tells her that it’s almost time for the Alignment, admitting to killing Chung in their past life. En-Hsi is vital to reaching eternal life, as the demonized guide thrown into the portal, opening it. This is how he will rule the three realms.
Cheng Huang reports his findings to Chung who in turn explains what happened during the last Alignment when Lu Chi was his friend. Cheng Huang comforts him that at least he’s a god as a result.
Hsin-Yu witnesses Lu Chi infuse black aura into En-Hsi and records it for Chung. She tells him to be careful during the Alignment but Lu Chi interrupts. Chung tries to break in as Lu Chi rips the recording ring from her finger.
Chung Kuei: In the face of tribulations, the only way to protect the world is to go through the danger alone.
The Episode Review
The Devil Punisher kicks off from a bad place with En-Hsi in danger but we gradually find out that Lu Chi doesn’t quite have control of everything. Although Lu Chi is still in the driver’s seat for the most part, Chung and the team gather more clues, gradually connecting the dots.
We also find out that the break-up between Hsin-Yu and Chung was a farce put on for Lu Chi’s audience and they are still working together. He says that Hsin-Yu was going undercover whether he helped her or not.
Cheng Huang plays a pivotal role in sneaking information from the Underworld. I wonder whether higher gods know what he and Chung are doing and keen for them to do it as long as it’s on the QT. In any case, we’re treated to another cameo by Kurt Chou who also appeared in Episode 11. You may recognize him from drama The Masked Lover (Viki), or horror movie Karma (Netflix).
Our friend Ouyang Kai is hanging with all the gods now, even telling Chung off in a demonstrative moment. But he does earn his keep, maintaining a watchful eye over En-Hsi. Guess he’ll be following her on her path to the portal over the next two instalments.
In her last scene, there was a flicker – a chance that perhaps En-Hsi isn’t as zombie-like as she appears. This could go either way – perhaps she’s bolstered knowing Chung is her brother and won’t let her down. Or that she’s come over evil and all-in for the chaos. Lots to ponder as we close in on the Nine Star Alignment and Eternal Night.
*The talk of Eternal Night strikes a note, as Ever Night (Viki) is a favourite among Chinese dramas starring a cast of well-known actors and led by Song Yiren and Chen Feiyu then Dylan Wang. Ever Night was adapted from web novel Jiang Ye (Nightfall) by Mao Ni.