Episode 4 of The Ghost Bride sees Amah arriving in the village and asking for a powerful medium to help her. Back home, Er Lang and Tian Bai clash over the best way to bring Li Lan back, where the former announces that he suspects Yan Hong is the one behind attacking Li Lan.
Li Lan meanwhile is guided by Tian-Ching to the Netherrealm, a moody, ghostly place devoid of life aside from maniacal hungry ghosts. As she continues to walk, Tian Ching introduces her to his “kingdom”, a mansion full of servants dressed as geisha that float across the room. He promises they’ll keep her safe but Li Lan has her suspicions, believing they’re being deployed to keep her inside.
Meanwhile, Er Lang begins to hatch a plan to bring Li Lan back. As he does, Li Lan manages to speak to Tian Bai in his dreams and tells him that she’s decided to marry Tian-Ching to save the family. That night, Li Lan is thrown a party but Er Lang manages to arrive and meets her at the well outside, where they discuss capturing Tian Ching. He warns her too, telling Li Lan if she stays there for much longer, she’ll become stuck in the realm with no way back.
Inside the mansion, Er Lang dresses as one of the geisha to draw their attention away from Li Lan’s room. As they leave their posts, it allows her to slip out and begin searching through Tian Ching’s things. As she does, one of the guards returns and she immediately berates the geisha for not looking after her.
In the real world, Tian Bai and Isabel contemplate breaking up while Er Lang tries not to look awestruck when Li Lan changes into a lavish dress. That evening, she and Tian Ching enjoy food and festivities together until one of the guards informs of a mortal in the Netherrealm. Er Lang and Li Lan descend to the basement together and find a hidden passageway. After shaking off one of the guards, they snatch up some important documents that don’t appear to hold anything. However, when she throws it in the water, it transforms into a Black Pearl; a black pearl that Tian Ching appears to be bribing people with in the Netherrealm.
Meanwhile Li Lan’s Father and Tian Bai head back to the gambling den to speak to Yan Hong. After learning a little more about what’s going on, Amah manages to conjure up a portal to bring Li Lan home. However, the spirits circulate and appear to consume Er Lang, knocking him unconscious on the ground outside. Li Lan makes her choice and picks up Er Lang’s sword, fighting off the spirits until she comes face to face with one of the ghosts. However, Er Lang saves her at the last minute and together they manage to stop the threat. In doing so, the portal also disappears leaving them stuck in the ghost realm where we leave the episode.
The introduction of the Netherrealm is certainly a welcome inclusion here, even if it lacks the same visual splendor seen in the original tale. The hungry ghosts are a nice touch, as are the various different costume and production choices here. Instead of the puppets we’re graced with floating geisha and this is arguably one of the best design choices the series has made. These emotionless servants do a great job capturing that creepy feel and there’s enough uneasiness around them to make for a compelling watch.
The jumps back and forth between the real and spiritual world are a nice touch too but the slapstick humour and general teen-drama feel to this one eliminates some of the tension during key scenes. Still, this episode is a much improved slice of drama compared to what’s come before and with two episodes left, things may just be turning around for the better.
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