‘One always leaves traces behind,’ is where we rejoin Chung, Hsin-Yu and Ouyang Kai. Episode 4 of The Devil Punisher begins with our characters tossed from Mr Hong’s office as Hsin-Yu asks Chung to look at the past to get a line on what happened. Ouyang Kai enthusiastically jumps on it, annoying Chung but not deterring him.
‘I hope this is the last time,’ he responds. Uh-huh. He turns back time and all three are able to observe the situation. At first, it looks like the fault is with Mr Hong, but another view shows his employer’s error and subsequent cover-up. They head to Ping’s house with Ouyang Kai following along, calling Chung ‘Master.’
At Ping’s house, Mr Hong decides to trust Chung and Hsin-Yu but Ping is not convinced. Ouyang Kai overhears the discussion so Chung knocks him out with a whoosh of air and erases his memories. Hsin-Yu has a sudden recall of Professor Lu describing the Ghost King.
Chung walks her home and Hsin-Yu again asks who he is. He convinces her that what’s important is that she trusts him and that he’ll take care of things. He also notes that it’s not always good when he gets involved.
The next morning, Ouyang Kai again wakes up in his car with no recollection of how he got there. En-Hsi doesn’t believe he can’t remember following Hsin-Yu and Chung. Annoyed, she claims she’ll reimburse the tuition money he’d loaned, but in the office finds the registrar giving another girl a hard time. The girl won’t accept En-Hsi’s help so she gets school board member Ouyang Kai involved.
At the bakery, Chung is giving out bread samples to a collective of admiring girls. Hsin-Yu explains to Mrs Wu that he’s great advertising but Chung scoffs at being named a Bread Prince. He heads back to the ovens to replenish and hide.
Hsin-Yu watches from the doorway, a little awed. But then she shepherds in the girls to take photos, exploiting him again. Ouyang Kai comes in to see Chung and Mrs Wu worries he’ll trash the bakery again but he says he’s there to learn.
Fu and Hsiao-Chi track Mr Hong’s Boss on Chung’s behalf. He drinks a few tins then heads back to the office to set it alight, in a bid to hide his mistake. Chung shows up just in time with Mr Hong to help scare up the truth. Ouyang Kai records the terrified confession and the police soon show up.
Mr Hong is about to be taken to the Underworld when Ouyang Kai begs to speak to the ghost. Chung delivers a play-by-play as Mr Hong thanks Ouyang Kai for his piece. In return, he offers to include Ping in his family’s scholarship program, to everyone’s delight.
Chung’s team is about to wipe Ouyang Kai’s memory again but Chung decides to leave it this time, as another go could injure his memory centre. I was wondering about that. Plus, he’s agreed to help Ping. Chung tells Mr Hong to prepare to leave but he requests one more favour first. Cheeky.
Near their house, En-Hsi spots her Mother and sneaks home to avoid her. She doesn’t spot that her Mom is being pursued by two men.
With help, Mr Hong fulfils his promise to take Ping to the night market. Afterwards, Hsin-Yu and Chung convince Ping to do the right thing and let his father go willingly. Chung gives Dad the ability to touch his son in farewell.
At the café, En-Hsi drums up customers, keeping everyone busy. Professor Lu gives En-Hsi her salary and upon exiting, is blindsided by her mother who grabs for the cash. They struggle and her mother falls over while the girl from the tuition office videotapes the incident. Has she posted it as well?
En-Hsi is being harassed by a group of girls asking for refunds and shouting about what a rotten person she is, having pushed over her mother. A video of the fight is then posted and Ouyang Kai sees it. He searches for En-Hsi and suggests a way to help her earn money with live broadcasts if she’s not keen to borrow from him.
She sneaks out that night so as not to worry Hsin-Yu. Of course, Hsin-Yu follows bringing Chung along – you know, in case there’s a ghost. En-Hsi and Ouyang Kai enter a dark old mansion that he claims belongs to his family.
While setting up, they talk about someone who hanged herself at school the previous day. They film a ghost hunter live broadcast, with Ouyang Kai faking spectral happenings.
The broadcast is a success and someone even donates to their project – likely Ouyang Kai on the sly. As En-Hsi and Ouyang Kai go through the broadcast comments, a ghost in a red dress is zinging around them. Chung and Hsin-Yu enter to scare it away.
At home, En-Hsi fakes exhaustion to avoid questions about the broadcast. Left alone, Hsin-Yu tries to sort her feelings for Professor Lu versus Chung, but decides to sleep instead.
At the café, Hsin-Yu again questions En-Hsi about the ghost broadcast but Ouyang Kai dives in to explain that it’s just a fun way to earn money. Professor Lu arrives with an invitation to the party of a student who’s a bit of celebrity on campus, Yao Mu-Ching. Ouyang Kai says their families are friends and asks En-Hsi to be his date even though he hasn’t yet received his invite. She agrees to go along for a fee.
Chung enters the bakery and gets to work. Ouyang Kai turfs up, asking about ghosts, but Chung gets him kneading instead. Mrs Wu questions Ouyang Kai about previously wanting to get rid of the bakery yet now being keen to apprentice. He explains that he’s ‘experiencing hardship’ and learning from Chung at the same time. Mrs Wu congratulates Chung on acquiring a student, but he’s not impressed.
Ouyang Kai’s awaited party invite arrives. He steps outside the bakery to speak to Yao Mu-Ching and is surprised at how she’s looking at him. Chung notes that something seems a little fishy with this girl.
Hsin-Yu discusses Chung with her flower, who encourages her to call Chung. As she dials, Professor Lu shows up.
At the bakery, Chung is disconcerted that Hsin-Yu hung up before he could answer. Cheng Huang appears, feigning concern, but he evidently enjoys teasing Chung, saying he can’t believe the Ghost King can’t get a girl. He suggests Chung make a sweet treat to sway her.
Cue Cheng Huang’s love advice (the second dating technique of the Human Realm), that explains the attractiveness of a hardworking man – such as Chung. He’ll charm his target by a show of action rather than words, using his superior skills to create a delightful cake.
At the mall, En-Hsi is with Ouyang Kai choosing an outfit for the party and for their next broadcast. He dissuades her from anything too revealing, perhaps getting a little possessive. They see Mu-Ching arguing with another woman over a dress and acting a bit out of character.
Hsin-Yu and Professor Lu are also at the mall. He thanks her for agreeing to be his party date but she brushes it off as no big deal. Walking her home, he asks about her feelings for Chung. She claims she’s not ready to date anyone as she’s still unsure of her identity, but he likes her anyway. He hugs her just as Chung rounds the corner with his handmade offering.
Chung Kuei’s proverb: Behind all injustices are grievances waiting to be uncovered.
The Episode Review
Poor, poor Chung having to deal with all these humans when all he wants to do is hang with his girl. He’s working extra hard to earn Lady Meng Hsin-Yu’s attention, only to have her snaked by the ready-to-roll Professor Lu. Additionally, he receives a complete lack of respect for his title by everyone except the frightened ghosts, so I can understand the overall frustration.
His team, meanwhile, must be worried as they’re there to do a job and are not meant to fraternise with Lady Meng, as per the Underworld Queen’s directive – though I’m not quite sure of the hierarchy there. While man-on-the-ground Cheng Huang is of no help, encouraging Chung to pursue his love. Is he distracting everyone from something else? Or just enjoying having the Ghost King off balance?
As for helping disenchanted ghosts, Chung seems to reveal more new powers all the time. I checked out a little more on the folklore, which dates back to the 700’s. His role is to rid the Chinese empire of evil and he’s frequently represented as a means of scaring malevolent spirits. He’s often called upon during Chinese New Year for protection and, pretty popular, even has a fighter plane named after him.
Cheng Huang’s historic role is to protect a city’s defenses as guardian – hence CCTV is his modernized tool of the trade. I don’t think the love advice is part of his job description, but merely a gratis service he enjoys providing.
With Mr Hong at peace, there’s a new ghost in town and another mystery to unpack. I like how these stories bridge episodes, rather than having an imposed time limit and forced wrap-up. A little Earth-bound poltergeist deterrence team is building as well, giving Hsin-Yu and Chung more excuses to hang out. And Ouyang Kai the opportunity to be their gopher – he’s absolutely delighted.
We’re also getting a bit more on the dispositions of our key players, and they’re becoming more interesting as we watch. Although for the most part he’s holding it in, our Chung is evidently pretty bossy and impatient on a normal day. No surprise there – heavy is the head that wears the crown. But now he’s got a lady to impress. Onward!
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!