We’re back with episode 2 of The Devil Punisher as our motorcyclist and his ghostly rider crash. Ghost King Chung Kuei (Chung Cheng-Nan on Earth) is trying to draft a flirty text to Lady Meng when the team is alerted and zips to the scene. I’m not kidding about the zipping – it’s a flash of light and they appear. The ghost immediately takes off with a screech.
Lady Meng, (Meng Hsin-Yu on Earth), and her friend En-Hsi celebrate Meng Hsin-Yu’s new job with a few selfies. The fleeing ghost heads right for them, but Chung Kuei is able to intervene.
At the hotel, the girls can’t remember what happened or how they got there. They look at photos they’d taken on the bridge – Meng Hsin-Yu can see a ghost but En-Hsi doesn’t spot it.
At home Chung Kuei recalls briefly holding Lady Meng in his arms, but his team appear killing his alone time. They ask about Lady Meng and talk through possibilities. Then ponder whether Wu Ching-Yuan, the ghost that kidnapped her, has a hand in her losing her aura and memories. Fu confirms they erased the girls’ memories from the bridge.
The team identifies the ghost from the bridge, Li Shu-Hui, and her story. They conclude her violence indicates that she likely died a wrongful death and is out for vengeance.
Because of her danger to humans, they need to act quickly. They check CCTV to identify her position and Chung Kuei says he’ll take care of it. The team remind him that it’s probably best to leave Lady Meng out of it for now. Chung Kuei discovers that the CCTV footage is inconsistent.
Back on the bridge, Meng Hsin-Yu tries to recall the previous evening. Chung Kuei can’t stay away and chats with her. The sticker gag continues. She starts to ask questions, so he takes off.
She follows him none-too-discreetly but runs straight into her new boss, Professor Lu, spilling his drink. She takes him to buy new clothing.
Chung Kuei is still waiting for Lady Meng and is disappointed to have lost her. Lord Cheng-Huang shows up to tease him but Chung Kuei talks to him about the tampered CCTV footage. He denies responsibility but then checks it himself and agrees there’s something fishy.
After a flash to his hand – a ghost detection signal – Chung Kuei zips to where a ghost will show up next and spots it near the bakery. Just as he’s about to approach, Mrs Wu grabs him with an offer of employment.
Meng Hsin-Yu and Professor Lu are shopping to replace his outfit and she nearly swallows her tongue when she sees the price tag.
Back at the bakery, Ouyang Kai and his men threaten Mrs Wu and trash the place, telling her to move out since her son already took the money. Chung takes over and blinks everything back into place, even completing the bread order. He gets a baker ghost to help; Mrs Wu is ecstatic with the result.
As she steps away, Chung Kuei gets another little flicker on his hand. Meng Hsin-Yu sees ghost Shu-Hui go after her friend Cheng-Ming. Chung shows up in time to intervene. Meng Hsin-Yu and Chung Kuei talk about ghosts. She seems to innately understand that Shu-Hui is in pain.
When Cheng-Ming awakens, Chung Kuei confronts him about Shu-Hui’s death. Cheng-Ming tells the story of how he and his wife separated. He wasn’t there when she died. Chung tells Cheng-Ming that his wife believes he killed her.
They visualise the scene from Shu-Hui’s memory where a man who looks like Cheng-Ming pushes her off a building. Cheng-Ming begs for help. Chung decides to catch her with Hsin-Yu’s assistance and Ouyang Kai makes the perfect bait.
Knowing the Shu-Hui is likely to attack men who are heartbreakers like her husband, Hsin-Yu sets up Ouyang Kai to look as though he’s cheating on her. Just as she’s accusing him of abandoning her, En-Hsi shows up, getting in on the act. In the end they and his current girlfriend all give him a good slap.
Shu-Hui appears, ready to avenge all women, giving Ouyang Kai a good scare. Chung Kuei calls on blue-haired Hsiao-Chi to be the spirit sword. Fu brings Cheng-Ming to clarify things with Shu-Hui. They reconcile and Shu-Hui is able to move on peacefully.
As Chung Kuei walks Meng Hsin-Yu home, they talk about Oblivion Soup as a way for souls to move on after death. Hsin-Yu questions his information and says she’s not afraid of him.
The next morning on her way to work, Meng Hsin-Yu runs headlong into Professor Lu again. He notes their meeting must be fated. En-Hsi asks her about her meeting with Ouyang Kai the day before and Hsin-Yu claims it was just a prank.
Later Meng Hsin-Yu helps a neighbour Mrs Chou by donating food to local orphan, Ping, saying he can come for a meal anytime.
Chung Kuei goes to work at the bakery. There’s indication he can find information they need if he’s based there.
Mrs. Chou brings the sandwich from Hsin-Yu to Ping. She sees him speaking to the air, as if it’s his deceased father. Does he see a ghost or is it PTSD? We’ll have to wait ’til the next episode to find out for sure.
We close the episode with a proverb from Chung Kuei: It has always been more difficult to face obsessions in the Human Realm than to let them go.
The Episode Review
Who else is digging the intro music? And how about Chung Kuei’s coat – it’s like the Matrix version of the one I nabbed at Zara last winter.
The Devil Punisher is complex as a series of episode stories leading through to the larger scenario, like TV shows of old. In this drama, the balance between the episodic arcs and big picture seems to be right, gradually leading us to end game. At least so far. Let’s see where we land. And whether Mike He catches us.
Mike He plays Chung Kuei, the Ghost King, and can be seen most recently in 2018 drama Tree in the River and film Come On Teacher. Ivy Shao is Lady Meng/Meng Hsin-Yu who’s in The Perfect Match and Back to 1989, both available on Netflix.
The setup of this series is intriguing with some lovely details and special effects. There’s some complexity with several of the characters having multiple names and translated differently on Netflix versus other sources. So far, even with all the names, the story is easy enough to follow. But I haven’t felt drawn by the characters – yet. However, it’s only episode 2, so we’ve only just begun.
In any case, it’s an interesting take on the processes of the afterlife. A quick search reveals that Chung Kuei is a legit Chinese deity known for his intelligence and as the vanquisher of ghosts. As this modern take is based in tradition, we’re getting a glimmer of a history lesson too, making it all the richer. Bring it on.
Edit – 07/01/21: Thanks for your patience. We’ve now matched The Devil Punisher character names to the translations on Netflix. Apologies for any confusion caused whilst completing this process!