Episodic Thoughts: “Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles” (Episode 2)
Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles <名媛望族>
TVB Series 2012
Cast: Damien Lau, Kenneth Ma, Tavia Yeung, Idy Chan, Ron Ng, Rebecca Zhu, JJ Jia, Elena Kong, Mary Hon, Sire Ma, and Vincent Wong.
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 apologise if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“But I assure you father, I will not give up so as not to waste all your hopes and dreams in me.”
Before I begin my recap, my S.S.S.S variation;
Simple Shackle Shorty Speckle
This is sounding more and more like some chant!
Anyway this episode 2 is mostly on Tavia’s character, Hong Chi Kwan and her sad sad past. Again the biggest problem with this episode is not the acting or the story but the editing. The scenes feel choppy, jumpy and for all the money spent on wardrobe and sets, I am very disappointed the scenes just jump and jump. If anything should kill this series, it should be the bad editing.
Recap! Exciting stuff!
Taukeh Choi keeps denying she is Hong Chi Kwan until she knows she can’t deny it anymore and she urges Charles “Mr Potato Sir, please help me!” and Charles looking shocked tried to help her “Mr Tung, perhaps this can be discussed at the station ..” when Tung shot him down and said “She will be brought before Man Mo Temple!” and we see Arthur, smiling coolly but Choi (who shall henceforth be Kwan) and Charles panicking.
In the car, Arthur smiles at Yee Yin and says “I am sorry that Tung spoilt your birthday party” and Yee Yin smiles and says “It is more like he spoilt Lord Kwan’s mood. I am not worried about my own birthday party. I know you will have your way against that Tung and I know my husband will deal with him the way he only knows and has plans for. That Tung is no match to my husband” and Arthur smiles as Yee Yin says “I am however wondering what will happen to poor Taukeh Choi…” and Arthur smiles on.
To me at this point Arthur seems terribly cool and so I thought maybe he has formulated a plan to save Kwan but disappointingly, everyone is sorta selfish in here.
Kwan dragged to the temple with Charles by her side. Tung demands why Charles is there as Charles explains he is there to ensure all is fair and well. Tung doesn’t care and shoves the what I call servitude contract to the elders at the temple who reads and it says Hong Chi Kwan sells herself in servitude to Tung for $115-00 and he can deal with her in any way he wants to. Kwan cries and says emotionally “I am not Hong Chi Kwan! I am Choi Fung Wong!” as Tung roughly pushes her to the floor and sneers “I know you are Hong Chi Kwan. You think I do not know you ran away to Shanghai and became Choi Fung Wong? You think you can escape me?! You dare to deny you are Hong Chi Kwan before this Man Mo Temple?!” and I was thinking why not just deny? No harm done right? But back in those days, people are superstitious and Tung continues “Dare you deny you are Hong Chi Kwan? I dare you now! DENY IT! AND YOUR PARENTS WILL SUFFER IN ETERNAL HELL!! DENY BEFORE THIS GOD AND YOUR PARENTS WILL BE REBORN AS ANIMALS AND SUFFER FOR ETERNITY!!” and Kwan cries hard because she can’t lie, not before the gods and not when her parents’ soul is at stake as Tung sneers with renewed vengeance “You ran away once. I dragged you back and I have punished you with hot irons and there is a scar on your forearm as proof!!” and he shoved her sleeves up and there’s the scar as Charles said “I know you all see Man Mo Temple as above the court of justice but perhaps she should be better dealt with by the police” but Tung says “No, she is my runaway maid. I will deal with her as I pleased!” as Charles says “Find, assuming she is Hong Chi Kwan, I will buy her contract. How much do you want?” and Tung sneers “I will never sell her!” as Kwan becoming very emotional grabbed Tung’s clothes and shoves him as she cries “Why won’t you let me go?! Why won’t you let me beeeee!!!!!!!!!!!” and Tung pushes her away and says “Blame the Chungs! Thanks to them, you are now back with me! You will follow me home, NOW!!” as Kwan emotionally pushes and shoves as she cries “NO! I WON’T! NEVER!” and she accidentally punches the police standing nearby which drew blood and Charles immediately says “She punched a police. Police, you’re under a duty to arrest her for assault!” and Tung says “What?! No! She follows me!!” as Charles says “She has broken the law, she must be arrested!” as the police looks at Tung and says “Master Tung… I have to take her to the station” and so reluctantly Tung lets him arrest Kwan.
At the station Kwan is scared as Tung walks out and says “I have already made my statement. Can I now take my runaway maid back to my home?” as Kwan says to Charles and to the police “Please don’t let him take me! Arrest me!” as Tung sneers and Charles says “You can’t take her. She must be arrested” as the other police dude looks at Tung and the gwailo big gun police chief whatever walks in and Charles speaks in English and urges him to arrest Kwan and the gwailo agrees that law is law and so Tung tries to speak in English but stutters and so Kwan is arrested and Tung swears he will come and get her.
In the prison cell/lock up, rather cold and Charles gives her his coat as he says “So… it is you…” as Kwan says gently “I will never forget those years. The times I was starved, beaten and how I ran away at the age of 12, how I hid in your backyard garden, how you found me and how you gave me a hot potato which warmed me. I will forever be grateful for the kindness you have shown me. I can withstand any beatings, any starvation but when that Tung wanted me to marry a 70 year old man, no. That was the final straw. Finally I escaped him, I went to Shanghai, became Choi Fung Wong, but still, after decades, I am still not able to escape his clutches. I swear I’d rather die than to return to that Tung Ting Hang as a maid” as Charles says “I am sorry. I tried to persuade my family to let you stay but you were returned instead. I am very sorry I couldn’t protect you then. I was too young. And now it is because of me you came to HK and now got yourself into this mess. ” as Kwan says sadly “I was 12, you were just a few years older. What could you have done? But Master Chung, you are now grown up. You are no longer a child. You are a man now. You can save me! You can! I can’t go back to Tung Ting Hang! I’d rather die!” as Charles says “I will see what I can do”
Tung can push his wife around in public in episode 1, so you can imagine how he treats his maids. Charles always has an issue with Tung’s maltreatment of his maids so my guess is he will probably torture Kwan and then she will die if she goes back. I suppose she ran away again not long after she was returned to Tung by the Chungs.
I can’t remember much after this except Charles tries to see his father Arthur about Kwan’s matter but Arthur doesn’t seem interested. During dinner, Jimmy (Vincent) is the one who recalls who is Kwan the sister was too young to remember and everyone knows Charles tried to persuade his dad to let Kwan stay but it was his mother (1st wife) who says “I was the one who returned her. She is the property of Tung Ting Hang. I can’t meddle into other people’s affairs” which is fair enough.
Later on Charles seeks his father’s advice in fighting this case for Kwan as Arthur refuses. Quite clearly Arthur is a rather selfish man, who ignores the plight of Kwan because as he says, “HK is not ready for this sort of case”. Charles persists “But father, in 1833 England enacted the Abolishment of Slavery Act and in HK such an Act exists” but Arthur raising his voice says “Charles, the Act in HK has yet to take effect. Think of why.. why isn’t it in effect? Because there are too many families owning maids and servants! Such a servitude contract is rampant and HK is not ready to abolish such contracts. Imagine how the servants will survive without such a contract? Things can’t be changed too fast, too sudden. It takes time!” as Charles says “But father, this is the perfect case to start it all! I am not doing this for Hong Chi Kwan alone, I am doing this for the thousands of servants bound by such unfair contracts and maltreatment!” as Arthur now raising his voice further “Not even the Governor of HK dares to implement that law! Charles, be reasonable!! (In English) Don’t be a stuck up!!” as Charles stares at his father, averted his eyes and says “I am sorry father”.
A heated exchange with English and Cantonese mixed and a realistic one. This scene shows to me Charles is the better man whilst Arthur is the more selfish one. He really doesn’t care shit about Kwan and so that cryptic look he had in the car with Yee Yin was just a cryptic look. How disappointing. How she ended up marrying him is a mystery to me. Anyway, Damian says to Kenneth “Don’t be be a stuck up” is of course wrong sentence to use. Stuck up means arrogant and that should be Charles’ retort to Arthur. He should have said “Don’t be stubborn”.
But did Charles give up? NEVER!
Siu Yau walks past Kwan’s hotel room and sees Kwan’s si-mui, si-fu and si-mou packing her stuff and they sound like they have given up the fight and for once I feel for Kwan. Everybody seems to have abandoned her. Siu Yau is upset to learn of Kwan’s plight and the fact that she could do nothing for Kwan.
Meanwhile Siu Yau continues to look for Kam Muk Shui and can’t find him, goes to buy some dough dolls when the seller mentions something about a 10th sister (sap mui) and 5th brother (ng gor) and she immediately and frantically goes in search at the street shouting “Ng gor!! Ng gor!! Where are you?! Ng gorrrrrr!!!!!!!!”
Rebecca Zhu’s WORST moment because the body language, the acting, all very wrong. Too dramatic for no drama reason. This is where her inexperience shows.
Anyway to make a long story short, she finds Kam Muk Shui who turns out to be a rather plump and short looking Ron Ng whose acting is still the same old sucky acting thus far. She quits her job at the hotel, moves in with his err I suppose not real grandma whose grandson is a policeman who disapproves of Shui’s job as a gangster for a Hai Gor (don’t laugh ok? Brother Crab). She did tell Shui about Kwan and even Kwan knows the case and she is upset that she can’t help Kwan.
Back to Charles.
Some more confrontation with daddy to the point that he raises his voice against Arthur who stares at him like don’t you dare utter one more word!!! sort of angry stare and Charles meekly says sorry for raising his voice. Jimmy overhears everything and cheekily mimics Arthur and Charles now shouts at his brother to shut up and Jimmy smiles. Later Jimmy cryptically tells Charles he can help him as certain things can be done outside the law and Charles does not ask more.
Jimmy walks out and see Kam Muk Shui and I suppose he knows Shui because he hires Shui who is in need of money to do something. Later Jimmy sees Charles for money and Charles asks what for and Jimmy tells him “Don’t worry! The matter is settled! ” and Charles asks “What do you mean?” and Jimmy says “I have hired a Kam Muk Shui to help Hong Chi Kwan to escape and I paid the deposit already!” and Charles shocked says “What did you just say? That is against the law!” as Jimmy says “Obviously the proper way fails. I know what I am doing brother, trust me!” and so Charles being desperate goes with Jimmy to see Shui and Shui assures them no worries. Meanwhile Arthur sees both sons rushing off and is curious.
By the way did I mention Savio Tsang suddenly becomes like the most recognised ke-le-fe as Arthur’s assistant?
Shui sees the police van approaching, says Kwan is in there and rushes off as Charles is torn and Jimmy is assured but suddenly a beautiful expensive looking car stops between Shui and the police van and it is Arthur and everyone stares at one another as I believe the assistant that is Savio says “Ok, the act is over!” and Arthur chastises Jimmy and Charles and says “Do you know that this is all just an act by this man?” and Jimmy realises Shui wants to cheat him of his money and shouts as Shui who shouts back “What? Arrest me then! See how the police will react when in the end you paid me to do this!!” and Arthur angrily says “Who are you? Who are you to speak to us? Get out of my sight!!” and Shui leaves.
Back in office (or is it mansion?), Arthur looks angrily at his 2 sons as Jimmy says “I know father would know when I am duped! Father is brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!!” and he trails off as he continues trying to salvage the situation as Arthur says “Leave this room” and as he walks out he turns back and pleads “Father, brother has nothing to do with this. It was all my idea. He had no idea!” and then guiltily he walks away.
Arthur and Charles and Arthur says to the standing Charles “You know why I only scolded you and not Jimmy?” and Charles said something I can’t remember and Arthur says “It is because you’re the eldest. You are supposed to be an example to your brother” as Charles says “Father, I am sorry. I should have stopped Jimmy when I knew what he planned, but I didn’t know, and when I did know, it was too late. But I take responsibility for my actions” as Arthur says “What is it with this woman that you’re willing to sacrifice all that you have strive for? All your education, all my hopes and dreams in you? Is it worth it, just for that one woman?” as Charles looks squarely at Arthur’s eyes and says with determination “Father, I am sorry. That will never happen again. But father, I am helping Hong Chi Kwan not only for her, but for all the servants that are being mistreated and has no other avenues to turn to. It is for them father. But I assure you father, I will not give up so as not to waste all your hopes and dreams in me” and Arthur looks at his son, lost for words.
HAH! Charles one upped his dad!! Arthur is not as great as he says he is eh? Charles is better! He will not be that reckless anymore and he will continue his fight. Poor Kwan, only Charles cares and poor Charles, daddy ain’t that great.
Charles sees Jimmy drinking alone and sadly. Charles goes to him as Jimmy says “I am sorry brother. I screwed things up. All I wanted to do was to help you but I ended up causing you to be scolded by father” as Charles says “It is not your fault” as Jimmy drinks some more and says “I know I am not worthy of being your brother. I still remember when I was 12…”
This series just loves the age of 12.
“.. when I was brought back to this place and 1st mother didn’t like me at all. I remember my mother who worked at a dobby cleaner died and before father could marry her, I was and still is an illegitimate child. But father took me home, and I remember you were the first to come to me and held my hand and call me brother. Then 1st mother says ‘You’re now a Chung, be worthy of this family and I will treat you the same as I treat my own 2 children, as my own son’. I was so happy, that I finally have a place to call home, I did not have to wander anymore at Chinatown. I was so happy then, so happy, but now I screwed things up for you. I know I am not as smart and strong as you, I can’t help father in his law firm, you’re his biggest hope, all I can do is to ride along your glory and so called run a business. Brother, I am sorry” as Charles says “Brother, I have never treated you as an outsider. You’re a Chung, you’re my brother. No matter what others say, no matter what you may think, I have always seen you as my real brother, and nothing else! And don’t take yourself too lightly. You bring to this house joy and laughter with your silly antics. What will we ever do without your silliness?” as Ho Yee stands by the door, listening in and tearfully rushes to them, sitting next to Jimmy and holding his hands as she says “Brother, don’t forget me! I too held your hand back then, remember? I am always your sister, always! You’re always my brother!” and she shifts and sits in the middle of the 2 guys and says “I always wanted a sip of that brandy (I assume it is brandy)” but Charles says “Father will be angry if he finds out!” as Ho Yee pleaded “Just a sip, a tiny sip?” and they allow her and she drinks and grimaces “Oh it burns!” and they laughed happily.
Yes a terribly happy and united siblings but to hell to the 2 younger ones eh? Are they forgotten? And wow, the father is quite a womaniser!
Kwan has a visitor and it is Siu Yau (thanks to that grandma’s policeman grandson or whatever relations he may be). Kwan is surprised to see Siu Yau who brings along char siew pau and Siu Yau looks very concerned for Kwan and Kwan says dejectedly “I am not hungry. I am facing the prospect of being returned to that monster. I can’t go back. If no one can help me.. I will have to help myself…” when Siu Yau is rushed to leave as some police chief or whatever is coming and as she rushes off Kwan suddenly calls out to Siu Yau and says “If you want to repay my kindness, you can help me…”.
Next thing we see Siu Yau in front of Chung mansion waiting and a car drives into the mansion, Siu Yau runs in and Arthur walks out as she says “Are you Chung Cheuk Man?” and Savio the most glorified ke-le-fe says “Yes he is and who are you?” and she says “It is not important who I am, most important is I am here on behalf of Taukeh Choi and she asks me to come here to ask for your help” as Arthur smirks and leaves and and Siu Yau suddenly throws something at his forehead and she shouts “She says if you refuses, to throw this chess piece at you and say to you ‘I am a human being, not a chess piece'” and she rushes off and Arthur now kinda pissed off looks onto the floor and sees the chess piece with the word .. please correct me if I am wrong … “joot” which I am told means “ordinary low ranking soldier”? Or maybe “an ordinary nobody”, meaning she is just one small nobody and doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be taken into account, or something like that.
Anyway poor Kwan but she herself knows who to go to. She seems to know Charles can’t do much so Arthur is the key. Arthur is disappointingly a hypocrite. I get very annoyed to see Charles looking for scared of Arthur but I feel at some point Charles must lose his respect for his father due to his father’s calculative behaviour. I am liking Arthur less and less.
Performance wise, the English continues but not continues to be slaughtered but well spoken even if some words used is sorta weird and not a father will say to his son.
Damian dominates as the lead in here and no comment except like I said, I am liking his Arthur less and less.
Kenneth continues to be the strong silent type waging a quiet war against his father’s stubbornness. Can’t understand why Charles is called stubborn or stuck up in Arthur speak when the stuck up is Arthur himself. Hair is weird, but everything else is still what I like about Kenneth, minus the pouting which is less and less. He looks huge next to the women though.
Tavia gave a credible performance as the frightened Kwan. She looks terrible, as she should because she is supposed to be panicking, living in fear, in jail, etc. But way too much powder on her face.
And talking about powder and make up, even a young one like Rebecca Zhu is not spared. She is supposed to be an ordinary girl and yet look at the amount of nude lipstick, beige powder and thick eyeliner she has slapped onto her youthful face. It makes her look out of place with her character. So far her performance is ok, for a new actress and her accent falters sometimes but her Cantonese is strongest amongst the new actresses we see in TVB. She is pretty, looking a lot like a younger Fala Chen. But she has 2 weaknesses, potentially spoiling our viewing pleasure. One would be the fact that her body language is amateurish, especially in that OTT scene where she was looking for Ron. Terrible acting. Can’t they retake that scene? Two which is the bigger problem is many times in this 2nd episode her voice is so soft, I can’t hear her dialogue. She mumbles or rather doesn’t speak loud enough. And many times, I wished I am seeing Fala. I mean Fala has her charm. But Rebecca seriously is one of the better new actresses, you could say she is rather impressive in that she has yet to crash and burn. But I hope she speaks louder because you know, dialogue is rather important.
Idy Chan is Idy Chan, credible performance, looking elegant, yet to be tested acting wise.
Vincent Wong is sorta miscast in my opinion, however much I love him. I just don’t see him as the goofy brother. Hopefully he will have some dramatic moments later on to flex his acting skills which he can do it because he is a very good actor, even better than Kenneth if I may say so.
Sire Ma is Sire Ma. Suddenly she seems to be relegated to no. 3 or no. 4 in a series. Why?
Ron Ng is typical Ron Ng, head still sticking out whenever he is making a point, he seems bigger as in.. ok let’e be blunt, sorta pudgy looking and he looks small next to the bigger looking actors.
And Savio Tsang, why is he in such a thankless ke-le-fe roles? TVB has too many great supporting actors is it that they don’t have enough ke-le-fes?
Other than that episode 2 is quite interesting. I am interested to know how the heck Kwan marries Arthur, how Arthur will self destruct with his selfishness, how Charles will save the world and how Jimmy will probably turn evil. I mean when a series starts with such loving siblings, they may continue to be loving siblings or they may turn against one another. I am sorta hoping for the latter for dramatic reasons but you know what, I don’t mind the loving united siblings against everybody else, like A Fistful Of Stances perhaps?
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://silverspoonsterlingschackles.blogspot.com.