Captain of Destiny <張保仔>
TVB Series 2015
Cast: Ruco Chan, Grace Chan, Tony Hung, Maggie Shiu, Ram Chiang, Elaine Yiu, Joel Chan
Disclaimer: This is a watch as I write episodic thoughts and some information may not be accurate since this is memory based. Certain dialogue is reproduced with some creative license adopted. I apologize if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“Absolute rubbish! What sort of rubbish proposal is this? Do it again!” – Emperor Jiaqing
As I feared, the story is a bit icky. We have two stories now; one of CPT and his pirate gang where Mui is and another is the armada and Qing perspective where Man Ho is. Mui will soon be in that world as well. Confirmed Man Ho is not married and I am not sure how old he is, but he must be in his 20s at least. So to be unmarried, his father must really hate him not to arrange a marriage for him which is as well know total BS. I would have wished for once TVB gets it right; at least show him widowed, after all women routinely die back in those days when giving birth or something. To show him married and widowed without a 2nd wife or more wives is more believable than having him be a diamond bachelor. I can’t fault Ruco though; in this episode he has that moment where all girls wish they’re in that position except.. I don’t get why all other male characters other than CPT and Man Ho are dumbed down whilst all girls other than Mui is either scheming or just plain simpleton. I guess that’s why Man Ho will like Mui because she is neither scheming nor simpleton.
Well, TVB is not here to give us historical accuracy nor are they even interested in fictional accuracy if there is such a term.
Man Ho faces his father for a long period of time presenting his proposal on how to eradicate the pirates and each time his proposal is thrown at his face and he is ordered to do it again. After a while it is evident the father was not interested in what he has to say but rather to discourage him for reasons I do not know why. Man Ho goes back each time to rewrite the proposal only to be thrown at his face, again and again and again. He doesn’t give up hope and persistently tries to do better even if knows that his father is just personally against him.
Just checked; the one who became the sickly looking Daogguang is 2nd prince.So Man Ho definitely won’t be emperor. Unless history is changed and I rather not because the one who comes after Jiaqing is the continuation of the spiralling down of the Qing empire and if I were Man Ho, I just leave for HK and build my OSK or something.
Yim wakes in the morning, smiling happily to herself as she remarks to her maid, Tung Suet;
“The emperor was very energetic last night. He hasn’t been so energetic since a long time ago”
Energetic = rough sex.
Tung Suet says some nice stuff but Yim sorta insults her by telling her to know her place. Meanwhile announcement is made that Man Ho’s mom, can’t remember her name yet, has arrived to see her. Tung Suet wants to chase her away since the emperor is still inside sleeping late but Yim tells her to let her in. So mama comes in and talks gently to Yim and asks her how’s the bird’s nest and all and remember in previous episode Yim takes credit for finding the bird’s nest when actually it was mama who bought it. Anyway Yim thanks her and even lies that she has informed the emperor about who bought those bird’s nest. Emperor comes out of the bedroom, surprising mama and emperor is not pleased to see her. He asks why she is here and she truthfully says;
“I know Man Ho has hurt the feelings of my dear sister by persistently prosecuting Admiral Fok so I am here to apologise to dear sister on my son’t behalf”
And what does she get? Scolding by the emperor who says she doesn’t know how to teach her son manners, fails as a mother, warns her to remind him he better do well in the armada, if not he will face consequences and the emperor leaves. Before he leaves, he thanks Yim for the bird’s nest and mama then knows Yim took credit for herself and looks very shocked and hurt.
Man Ho is the commander for 100,000 strong men in the armada of 3 provinces; Guangxi (Kwong sai), Guandong (Kwong dong) and Fujian (Fook Kin/Hokkien). All major cities but 100,000 is bit too few. Should have been 300,000!!
Emperor leaves and spineless mother does not advance his own son’s cause when she apologises profusely for Man Ho’s actions and asks Yim to give in a few good words on behalf of Man Ho whenever she is with the Emperor. Yim smiles satisfactorily.
I feel what the mother did is so unnecessary especially after knowing what Yim did with the bird’s nest. This is like kicking your son to the gutter and it doesn’t help wit Man Ho’s cause. Silly mother.
Back to pirate’s den.
I have yet to catch the name of Maggie’s character, and since I don’t have access to the cast list when I am writing this, I will just call her Maggie for now. Maggie, for some unknown reason decides that she wants to curry Mui’s favour and encourage her to assimilate into the pirate society. So she orders CPT to return Mui’s knapsack and all items in it to her.
Somewhere here there is a short interesting moment about sex. Yim and Maggie share a few things in common; position of authority, power and married to men much older than themselves. For Yim, the emperor was still able to perform and satisfy her sexually. For Maggie, her husband is old and he has trouble walking up stairs and the way they talk, they have an active sexual life except Maggie isn’t satisfied due to his physical condition whilst the elderly pirate denies having any problems at all. A weird scene if you ask me.
Mui is free to roam the town. After all, as pointed that is an island surrounded by sea. Where can she go anyway? She sees women cleaning stuff and overhears their conversation; one woman complains having to clean the necklace or something, that her husband shouldn’t have cut the neck of the person wearing it, now there’s so much blood and she had to clean it. Mui was horrified and went to them looking appalled as she said;
“You all talk as if the person wearing it meant nothing! You’re murderers! Someone wore that necklace! You killed that person to get the necklace and you talk as if the person’s life means so little! Aren’t you afraid of being arrested??”
The 3 women laugh very very hard and each tells her their tales;
“I am considered a gentleman’s daughter; she was a scholar’s daughter. That one was an official’s daughter. We all were kidnapped by pirates and taken here. We were all like you; fighting to escape and maintaining our stance that they’re criminals. Guess what? Over time we assimilated into this society and made to marry our respective husbands. You too will!”
Mui horrified at that idea said with much anger;
“NEVER! I WILL NEVER ASSIMILATE WITH THESE… CRIMINALS!”
She angrily leaves as they laugh at her and she curses CPT for her predicament when he greets her and tempts her with her knapsack. He throws it onto the ground and she falls trying to retrieve it and dirtying herself and he laughs himself silly as she takes her revenge and I can’t remember what she did but he ended up on the dirt, dirty as well. He wants to beat her up when Maggie arrives and twists his ear, warning him to treat her nice.
Later CPT has to move out of his room to give his room to Mui who ecstatically and sarcastically laugh when Scholar Suen arrives but not to assist him but to assist her.
I am troubled by how lightly these women are with their predicaments. Each of them was technically kidnapped, forced to marry a pirate and forced to stay as wife and do wifely duties which mean they were essentially raped into subjugation and when no hope lies in escape, they had to stay back and probably never left the island and so is lulled into belief that life there is best and being the pirate’s wife means a certain standing in that society. Each of these pirate may have had a hard life, driven to piracy due to certain reason but the way the women talked on how they obtained the jewelry and my feeling is women will be wearing such jewelry and so the pirate husband must have killed women as well, it felt cold, as if those people did not matter. Like a matter of fact; I need the necklace so I have to cut the throat of the person wearing it. I understand Mui’s disgust but I don’t understand the women rather lighthearted approach to this sticky dilemma; are the pirates really good people driven to piracy when they too take innocent lives? If Mui falls for CPT, how does it explain the actions of CPT who may be noble but is an outlaw who was kidnapped by his adopted father and does bad things? How can Mui who is essentially a person about punishing wrong doer ever legitimately fall for a character like CPT?
It is a moral dilemma. Qing may be terrible but the pirates are no better.
Maggie asks Mui who she really is she so she reveals her name and they mistaken her name as to mean “Emperor’s sister” when it is different pronunciation. CPT goes a-ha!! She finally reveals her identity.
I think from day one she has already told him her name, so I don’t get why he goes a-ha unless he is thinking she is really the emperor’s sister.
As Mui explains how she arrives where she arrived, Maggie says it is very rare for anyone to survive a water cyclone and there will be quite a few now it is around October. Mui suddenly hits on an idea;
“If I arrived to this time thanks to that cyclone which also appears during the time of the Leonid, that means all I need now is to find a cyclone and go into it and I will return to present time!”
So she asks Scholar Suen when was the last cyclone and Scholar Suen says she can check into the local authority’s book of recent natural events and so she asks where can she find information about the next cyclone and Scholar Suen says usually people talk about past events, so for future forecast, it has to be the almanac. Mui knows she has to be certain and is dumbfounded until she remembers she once downloaded the Qing’s entire history into her mini tablet and she takes out her mini tablet to check and it says 4 days later a cyclone will appear at xxx that disturbed the peace of many local residents.
Obviously she will miss that cyclone since her time in Qing can’t be over in 4 days.
Anyway she is very very very very happy about that.
Woahhhhh…. Grace oh Grace…. absolute so OTT it is so painful to watch. No one told her to just calm down but she went wide eyed and heavy breathing and smiling like a lunatic that it was absolutely horrendous to watch. Nothing attractive about those moments, even when she was angry and mincing her words with gritted teeth, angry at what was told to her or when she was teasing CPT… all so very OTT that it is to me the worst acting. No worries though. Because she has a competition coming up!
Yim and Fok together and Fok says Man Ho has been scolding him for every little reason. I find it hard to believe. Anyway Yim says that’s his character and she considers sending someone to spy on him. Fok says it must be someone able to get very very close. So one day Yim looks at Tung Suet and says slyly;
“You’re ambitious aren’t you? You want to be able to sleep on my bed next to the emperor don’t you? Well I wouldn’t want to keep someone as pretty as you next to me, you’re a ticking time bomb. I hereby order you to be re-entered as palace maid”
Tung Suet is shocked and begs for mercy, that she has no intention to usurp her place but later Yim explains she wants Tung Suet to get near Man Ho as his personal maid and to spy on him and to do so she must be in a way retrenched as her maid and re enter as a new palace maid so that Man Ho won’t suspect a thing. So Tung Suet swears she will do her utmost.
Silly isn’t it? Tung Suet is so high profile and exposed as Yim’s personal maid, you think Man Ho doesn’t know who she is? After all Man Ho probably often sees her around since he targets Yim and he probably knows ALL MAIDS AND EUNUCHS under Yim’s household, unless he is like Bowie, never lock doors, never get rid of evidence, aka being very very careless. I can’t believe this super efficient Man Ho is that sort.
And so we have new young girls coming in as Palace Maids. Very excited girls, young, carefree and happy. Moreover as Palace Maids, if they get to sleep with the emperor, they can get promoted to concubine status.
But I doubt they can get married to the princes, after all they are earmarked as Emperor’s play things and for a prince to marry any of them, it is as if adultery with father’s woman, you know? Unless the emperor allows for the marriage. And it really depends on the status. Yes, palace maids can be from high society but to be the FIRST WIFE of the prince, it has to take someone special in that high society however unloved the prince is. It is after all a political alliance. So for Man Ho to not be married and in the end marries a maid whom he will fall in love with as FIRST WIFE, I don’t know… the emperor must really hate him.
And so we get to meet Ha Sim, a young girl who loves to eat and is recommended by a nunnery who adopted her to enter as a palace maid because only in the palace she gets to eat a lot. Man Ho is walking into the palace and meeting Eunuch Lai, emperor’s own personal eunuch and Man Ho says he is here to see the emperor about the pirates issue. Eunuch Lai is kind enough to give him tips on when is the best time to see the emperor so that he catches the emperor in a good mood. All the girls ooh and ahhh over the dashing handsome man (Well he is pretty dashing here) and overhears he is the 11th prince (unfortunately the most unloved of them all – if he isn’t so ambitious, he would have had a more carefree life). Ha Sim doesn’t quite care since she is not ambitious at all and anyway she goes to the horse that pulls her carriage to say goodbye.
Seriously? Kind nice girl MUST talk to animals issit?
Eunuch Lai predicts a lunar eclipse I think since he was an errr.. astrologer? Astronomer? Before he became an eunuch which means what? He became eunuch pretty late in life? But why? If he is so good at what he does, why castrate and become eunuch?
Anyway true, it happens, he is happy he still has the skills and Man Ho was smiling when the horse freaks out and runs and the rope wraps around Ha Sim’s and and she got pulled along and she screams in fear and guess who comes to her rescue in spectacular fashion?
Man Ho springs into action, cut the rope and spins her around and ends up carrying her in his arms as she looks at him in shock and he looks at her in errrr…. surprised by her beauty I suppose? Never been near a woman I suppose? Well they look at each other and then he sets her down and walks away and Ha Sim looks at him gratefully and with admiration.
Yeap, therein lies Member no. 1 of Man Ho’s Fan Club with a pledge to die for him. Anyone wants to sign up?
Man Ho faces his father who again bans his idea and basically says his idea is terrible and to do it again and warn him that he is given an opportunity, do not disappoint him in a rather mean way. He says to Man Ho my chosen quote for this episode. Whatever Man Ho says, the father won’t agree. I think even if Man Ho writes “I will personally ram a ship into the pirate’s ship and kill myself with them”, I doubt the father even cares because he doesn’t even read beyond the 1st sentence. He throws the proposal in front of a kneeling Man Ho who is dejected and could only utter a quiet;
“Yes, your majesty”
WHAT? YOUR MAJESTY? NOT IMPERIAL FATHER? Yeap, he said YOUR MAJESTY. I believe it was a mistake in the script. I mean to call him Emperor instead of father is a bit too cold but Man Ho isn’t pissed off at that point but disappointed his father refuses to accept his contribution and therefore himself. So he has no reason to be so cold.
Ha Sim gets on well with everyone and charms even Eunuch Lai with her innocence and non-ambitious stance. She is just happy she gets to eat fatty pork and everyone says she will probably serve 11th Prince though she says she is here to serve the concubines. Jealous Tung Suet overhears and basically pushes her fatty pork out of her hands and then slaps poor Ha Sim who is clueless as to what she did wrong to offend another new girl. Ha Sim is no pushover as she raises her hand to slap Tung Suet when Eunuch Lai arrives and orders for them to stop and then see Tung Suet who looks at him knowingly.
In a room, Ha Sim thinks it is all because of fatty pork and Eunuch Lai questions her intentions and all and is pleased to hear how simpleminded she is and finds her a rarity. Still he has to punish her for being involved in a quarrel, so she is ordered to wash all the maids’ buckets (those you know where you do your business in) tomorrow morning but since she needs energy, she can have one bucket of white rice and three pieces of fatty pork. She is so happy she says she is willing to wash all buckets from now on if she can have the same sort of food and Eunuch Lai is charmed by her innocence.
I do like the fact that Ha Sim was about to fight back at bitchy Tung Suet. However I do not like why nice innocent simple minded girls have to love animals, talk to them and have a huge appetite?
Ha Sim was washing the buckets when she sees a dejected Man Ho walking by. She rushes out to say thanks to him when she sees his back walking forlornly, and she looks at him as if he is the loneliest man in the world.
Last scene, we see probably the next episode or maybe not but anyway, we see a super OTT happy Mui who sees a water cyclone.
Urghhhh… more OTT acting.
Kelly Fu is ok as Ha Sim. She is not exceedingly pretty but she can be cute and when the time is needed, she can be tough as well. However historically she will never marry Man Ho but since Man Ho in this version is so hated by his own father that doesn’t bother to marry him off at all, well anything can happen. However her acting leaves much to be desired. If Grace is OTT, she is… I don’t know, not very reality based sort of acting. A bit too fluffy for my taste. Poor Ruco is stuck with C list actress but well, I kinda like her Ha Sim and I bet she is asked to spy on Man Ho but she will instead protect him with his life. Question is, will she die?
The rest no comment.
Katy Kung is stuck in bitchy roles. Maybe she will become a concubine. If this series turns into palace concubines fight each other series, it will be way off the point. Right now it is still ok in that way except it is beginning to get a bit convoluted.
And I am waiting for Mui to meet Man Ho. I am getting impatient.
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 1
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 2
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 3
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 4
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 5
This commentary is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com and was originally posted at www.p2e-cod.blogspot.com.