Episodic Thoughts: “Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles” (Episode 3)
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 if I had to die, I will make sure I drag you to hell with me!!”
My daily S.S.S.S variation for today is…
Shoddy Stupid Shitty Stuff
Sorry for the rudeness but I just spent 45 minutes watching the worst series ever, so my emotions just got the better of me. No no it ain’t this series. Things are getting interesting in a weird way.
But before the recap of this exciting episode 3, let me just say 2 things, out of my chest.
One, the editing for this series remains as absolutely abysmal. Again we have a scene where suddenly something happened and next scene suddenly appears and even Damian speaking but his mouth ain’t moving, the scene where he had this somewhat sensual exchange between Tavia and Damian. By the way, is it Damian or Damien?
Two, and I know I swore in Episode 1 I will say no more but things have been impossible for me not to say anything because any viewer may wonder the same thing. When Tavia is in her daomadan look, she wears very thick opera makeup which is fine. But an observer said to me she really looks like a man dressing as a daomadon, like in that Leon Lai movie where Leon Lai played I think the term is daomadan. When I looked again, I agree. She does look like a feminine looking man. Something very hardened about her looks, I feel Tavia lost that soft femininity and this series magnifies that when she is dressing as daomadan. She is supposed to be very beautiful but I suspect Damian’s Arthur was just giving her compliments because certainly Kwan is someone with a very big personality. In the end it is the nose. It just encompasses everything and makes her look hardened, more so when she is now much thinner, her face is longer and much sharper. It changes her whole looks into someone I suppose what I keep using, hardened. That is the right word. It is such a great pity because seriously, she can act. I know her fans are sensitive over the over emphasise over the nose, the features and I am sure Tavia probably does too but like Botox which hinders an artiste’s performance, and we are talking about actors that depends on facial expressions for a good performance, it is also importance to have features that are flexible and not too over domineering. It changes her entire features. But she is not the worst. The worst was the actress who plays the Empress in Gong II, Sun Feifei. She is the perfect example that she may look pretty but because of such extensive works on her face, it has left her unable to even express a grimace. Why bother to be in the acting industry if you want to mess with your one asset when it is already good enough? Tavia is not the most extreme and still a chance of going back to how it should have been but right now, in this episode, it is just too much for me to look beyond it. Luckily one scene she did so well, I looked past the shiny huge bulbous looking tip, but only just. I am not saying this to mock her, I am saying this because I remember her in Land Of Wealth, perhaps my most favourite performance of hers, where her elegance, her femininity, her gentleness, all of it with a small button-ish nose and I wonder sadly, why mess with something already so good? If you’re butt ugly I understand but she is not. It is a hindrance to her performance at the end of the day.
And so I began my recap.
Arthur with Yee Yin in some room and Arthur has this smug looking smile. He will have this self satisfied smug looking smile throughout this episode and Yee Yin explains something I didn’t understand in episode 2, now I do.
“It is very brave of her to confront you with this chess piece. Clearly she is smart, because she knows what you are up to and she knows to ask someone to throw this chess piece at you” and Arthur smiles smugly and says “Clearly she is..” and Yee Yin says “And she knows you are planning something, after all that Tung crashed into my party and humiliated you in the process. She seems to know she is a pawn between you and Tung and she is the sacrificial lamb. That in the end you will get your revenge for the humiliation as against Tung, but she will stil be the sacrificial lamb. The question is what will you do about her now?” and much more dialogue but basically Arthur agrees.
So Kwan knows that she is the minor person here, to be sacrificed in the battle between Tung and Arthur. Even Yee Yin knows. I am not sure where but I think Arthur sorta admires Kwan for her intelligence.
Continue and this is to me the best scene in this episode.
Kwan in the prison, wearing Charles’ coat when lo and behold, smug smiling Arthur walks in and Kwan sees him and stands up slowly as Arthur says “You sent a young girl to throw that chess piece at my forehead. You got my attention” as Kwan says “I know I am the chess piece in your battle between Tung Ting Hang and you. I am also to be the sacrificial lamb” as Arthur smugly says “You seem to know a lot of what I have in mind” as Kwan says “I do not want to be that lamb, I do not want to your pawn. This is between you and Tung, why involve me? Why make me the pawn and why make me the sacrificial lamb? Help me” as Arthur says “Why should I help you?” as Kwan becoming emotional says “Because you owe me! I am only here in HK because of your invitation. Tung Ting Hang gate crashed into your party, he humiliated you, you surely want to give it back to him. I can be that person, he wants me as his maid. You can help me and so you can salvage your face whilst I can be free of that servitude contract!”
Arthur looks at her intently, smugly smile and says “First of, you’re speaking of 2 different matters. One is Tung Ting Hang’s humiliating me and secondly, your contract with him. I will deal with him about the issue of face, as for the contract, that is a question between you and him, nothing to do with me. That is your fate”.
Kwan cries as she says in a stubborn way “Yes, my fate. I had to be his servant and at the age of 12, I ran away, because he wanted to marry me off to a 70 year old man. That is my fate but … I won’t bow to my fate. I ran away, I suffered for years and finally I became a somebody, a daomadan through my efforts, why should I bow to my fate? That is not fair!! IT ISN’T FAIR!!! I AM NOT SATISFIED..”
Actually in Chinese she says “Ngor ng kam sam” which is more stronger than I am not satisfied, it is more like I will not bow to my fate and be subjected to a fate that I did not agree to sort of statement, like I did not choose this for myself so why the hell should I be subjected to it sort of thing.
“Why should I be the pawn between the 2 of you? You can destroy each other for all I care. Leave me alone! Let me be! Help me!! If not.. I’d rather die than to go back to be his servant!” and Arthur challenges her as he says “You could always go back and just marry that 70 year old man. That’s your fate. But you rather die? ” as Kwan says fiercely “YES!” and Arthur says “You are sure? Because I want to bet you don’t want to die” and after a few moments of silence Kwan with angry tears rolling down her eyes says “No, I do not want to die!” and angrily she says to Arthur with a lot of hate “But if I had to die, I will make sure I drag you to hell with me!!” and Arthur finally laughs and says “You’re really something! You neither seduce me nor beg me for help but you threatened me! Now this.. is a first for me!” and he laughs as he leaves her cell and Kwan crumbles to the floor hugging her legs and she cried very very hard.
How hard she cries? Trademark Tavia Yeung asthmatic cries, like huhhhhhhh huhhhhhhhhhhh huhhhhhhhhh. Frankly easily best scene, best exchange and poor Kwan. Arthur is a bastard but don’t write him off yet. This is a great exchange between Damian and Tavia, spoilt only by Tavia’s excessive huhhhhhhhhh huhhhhhhh huhhhhhhhh crying (like she finds it hard to breath and cry at the same time) and of course Damian’s smug smile. Am getting tired of that look. Other than that, great scene.
Tung hires Arthur’s junior from same alma mater and it is… drum roll….. Shek Sau! The moment I see Shek Sau I go “HAH! THE VILLAIN!!”. I bet he is if not why bother with casting Shek Sau? Because his frozen face and biting the gum whilst talking is the new great method acting style?
Anyway Tung hires him for something which later we know is to DEFEND Kwan!! WHAT?!
Kwan in court, proceedings in English, prosecutor and judge are gwailos and there is an interpreter. Shek Sau speaks English, mitigating for Kwan and basically didn’t hear what he said because interpreter spoke loudly. Kwan is confused too, Charles looking glum and in the end the judge orders Kwan to pay a fine and be released since this is her first offence. Kwan is terrified as Tung laughs at her and says “I told you I will get you back! Drag her back home!” as Kwan looks frantically at the judge and everyone and I was thinking “Kwan, throw your shoe at the judge, pronto!!” but she didn’t. They actually dragged her back and Kwan frantically cries but becoming weaker and weaker from her fear and excessive crying “No, I won’t go back, I won’t go back, no!! Please no.. please let me go, I won’t go back, no….” as Charles looks on looking glum (sorta useless at this point) and Tung laughs when suddenly Savio (didn’t catch his name) walks forward and says “Stop” whilst holding a red piece of paper. Arthur sashays in and Tung looks at him, Kwan stunned and Charles finally looks more than glum as Arthur says “You can’t take her away” and Tung sneers “Why?” and Kwan says “Because she is no longer your property. She is now the property of ***, the man you sold her to in prospect of marriage decades ago and here is the marriage contract” and we see flashback of the 70 year old *** demanding his money back when Kwan ran away but Tung refused and said “Since I sold her to you, she is no longer my concern” and this Arthur repeated to Tung and Tung says “You have no proof” and Arthur smiles and says “Yes I do, I have a witness” and in walks a very very old man, *** himself and Tung sneers “I will get you back for this the next time” and he walks away and Arthur walks up to Kwan and says “I bought your contract with *** and here I return it to you” and coolly walks away as Kwan stares at him, shocked, stunned, clutching that piece of red paper and Charles rushes to her and asks “Are you ok?” and Kwan just cried hard (huhhhhh huhhhhh huhhhhh) and tears the red paper to tiny little pieces.
Again a great performance by Tavia in this last scene, of fear, fight, dejection, humiliation, stunned, shocked, relieved, anger, everything, spoilt almost by her huhhhhh huhhhhhh huhhhhh crying. But seriously a great performance.
Charles went to daddy at home and says “Thanks father” and daddy says “There are always ways to deal with matters. Today you have learnt a new way. I have always intended to get back at that Tung for his humiliation of your 2nd mom and me at the party and as soon as he took Hong Chi Kwan away, I started the investigation into his past. I never thought she would come seek my help by throwing that chess piece at me but even if she didn’t, I would have helped her anyway. You know your own father, I can never stand a big bully trampling over lesser people, especially when that big bully is Tung Ting Hang” and Charles smiles, thanking daddy for the lesson.
Sooooo Arthur is actually a good guy. Even if a lusty one, but still a good guy.
Kwan returns back to hotel and suddenly si-mui, si-fu and si-mou all like happy and packing for her. I was like what hypocrites! Anyway she wants to be alone, sits on her hotel bed, hugs her own legs and cries softer this time. Seriously, imagine you’re like the great daomadan and suddenly being dragged away like you’re worth nothing. Really terrifying prospect and I perfectly understand her fear, her anger, her humiliation.
Charles and Arthur go to the firm in the morning when secretary says Kwan is here to see Arthur and Arthur asks secretary to make a cup of I think tea and in English and secretary answers back in English “Sure”. Really? In 1920, sure? Should it be yes sir or yes Mr Chung?
He sits and reads the papers and drinks his tea when Kwan walks in and he I think invites her to sit in English but she doesn’t move until he says it in Chinese. She is dressed fabulously, befitting her celebrity status.
What is missing is a scene of reporters chasing after Kwan and Tung for an interview. Isn’t she supposed to be so darn famous? Not a report in sight, not a reporter at all. Very weird.
She stands as he says “I thought it would be more of your style to throw a chess piece at me if you want to say something to me, rather than be here in person?”
Woahhhhh flirt alert! Flirt alert!
Kwan smiles and says coyly “If you are busy with reading your paper, I shall leave you and come back when you’re free to chat with me” and she actually leaves and Arthur asks her to stop in English and she continues to walk away and he says it in Chinese and she stops and turns back and stares at him. The the conversation goes something like this;
He was full on with the flirting, saying she is beautiful, he couldn’t have let her rot in jail or drag back to Tung household and be tortured, what a waste of her beauty, etc etc and Kwan flirts back and all that eventhough she seems confused at first and then she catches on and she says she wants to thank him and there is an implied sense that he wants to have a relationship with her because she says he can call her Chi Kwan and he says if he calls her Chi Kwan then their relationship changes and he smiles and she catches his meaning and she says then should she call him Cheuk Man and then he bends down to her face and suddenly the damn scene jumps and he is walking away and sits at a sofa and says he wants her to perform for him once more and whilst he will call her Chi Kwan, she will call him Mr Chung and she grits her teeth as she calls him Mr Chung (he does enjoy antagonising her) and she agrees and as she leaves he says something in English like it’s a deal and huffing and puffing she looks at him and says something in Shanghainese and leaves and Arthur smiles.
The editing was horrendous here. What was a really cool flirtatious scene with Damian Lau going all flirty and Tavia flirting back but cautiously so almost spoilt by the choppy editing and the bad hotel lobby soundtrack. The soundtrack doesn’t make the scene sexy, it makes it cheesy which is counter productive.
Kwan walks out and Charles asks of she is ok and says he is very happy to see Tung so angry which makes him happy and Kwan says thanks to him and buys him lunch and during lunch she confesses she does not know where her parents are buried because she ran away suddenly, afraid to come back to HK and a relative buried her parents when they died and they lost contact and Charles agrees to help her find that relative and she is grateful to him.
Love story between the 2? I doubt it because Kwan doesn’t seem to be in love with Charles and Charles seems friendly with her.
Story shifts to Siu Yau and Shui and nothing much to recap except Shui gets beaten up as a gangster and what nots and they call each other brother and sister when they’re not related and knows each other through some evil foster parent in Guangzhou. Just know that she is a nice girl, is terribly worried about him, he obviously is very protective of her but is in the wrong business following a wrong boss, Lui Hai and so he has no future.
Back to Arthur at home and dinner and Jimmy almost late for dinner and only just, Arthur arrives and …
Wait! Entire family is afraid of being late for dinner because Arthur rules the house with the mindset of a strict father but not an unreasonable one. 3rd wife says Kwan will perform again for the party and 1st wife says if it is even necessary to hold the party again, jealous tak you see and Yee Yin sees upset as she says “Big sister, please don’t pin this on me. This show is not meant for me to watch…” as she stares at a smiling Arthur who promptly asks Ho Yee if she wants to watch any specific story as if meant for her to watch when she says she loves Kwan’s costumes. Charles arrives and Jimmy quips that luckily Charles came home on time (he was late because he was handling some stuff for Kwan) if not a 2nd world war is brewing and Arthur stares at him and says “Eat!”.
This scene is basically that Yee Yin knows Arthur is interested in Kwan and will probably want to collect her as 4th wife. She is jealous whilst 1st and 3rd wives don’t seem to catch on the implication at first. Arthur is a flirtatious man and that sort so charming any woman will be interested at him. Anyway interestingly youngest 2 children not at the table for dinner. Poor children, forgotten! Probably starving upstairs.
Anyway Arthur walking in his mansion and dont know why he walks so slowly in a scene that is not only weird, but no intro or anything, where he tip toes to the door of a room and we see someone in black lingerie and it was 3rd wife dancing her sexy sexy dance and basically we have about 5 minutes of Elena Kong strutting her stuff looking very sexy, swaying her hips and could have been great if her expression is not the arrogant look but the “Come on now, sexy time” look. And the lingerie is weird; the shiny stuff around her waist makes her look like she has a tummy so makes her at first sight looking rather plump when she isn’t plump at all. Anyway it ended with her straddling him and they kiss passionately. I have an issue with this scene, that is it is not well acted, the set up is all of a sudden, Damian was looking weird when he tip toed in, the scene should have been more continuous rather than choppy editing again, if want to do do it all the way and show her straddling him and a full on make out session would be more consistent since just seconds before she was swaying her hips and showing us her buttocks (facing the camera no less) and why isn’t Kenneth in such a scene BUT Damian Lau? Lucky devil. It isn’t sexy when it should be. But it is serviceable. Now you know why he favours wife no. 3 as well. I suppose Kwan will be wife no 4, the one with a personality.
Arthur done with the sexy time. But oh come on, be more convincing! A few buttons off won’t die!! Anyway it seems it must be a rule where he can have sexy times with the other wives but he will sleep with his 1st wife. Very funny scene where first wife taking off his clothes and says gently “I know my heart is problematic but it is under control. Since my heart problem, we haven’t been…” and she hugs him close, smelling him and all but I suppose he is just too tired or won’t and says he is getting a shower and he rejects her gently. She has to walk away and says “Don’t let the 2 young ones tire you out. You’re not exactly young anymore” and he says “Mmmm.. I will shower and then I will sleep here” and he walks away as wife looks at him longingly as he asks “Have you found someone suitable for our son, Kai Sun (Charles)?” and she says “There is someone…” when she walks past the mirror and looks at her wrinkly face glumly.
So funny!! Wife wants sex, husband had it with a younger crunchier one!! Seriously funny!
Siu Yau gives the mended clothes to Kwan and asks if Kwan has anymore clothes to mend and she confesses she needs the money to help Shui and Kwan without a word gave her her some cash and Siu Yau is touched by her generosity as Siu Yau says “I know you’re going back to Shanghai after this. I wish you well and hope your show goes on smoothly” as Kwan smiles and says “Thank you”.
Again same birthday party, probably same scene shot same day and all that and as Kwan performs to loud cheers, she somehow looks distracted by Arthur who is busy chatting happily with 2nd wife and when he leans over to her, Kwan’s face registers an emotion… jealousy …
So, Kwan is attracted to Arthur? I mean she flirted back but I never got the impression she wants him. He certainly wants her. So Charles never had a chance! Not that I care. Kwan is too worldly for Charles. Charles in a way is rather naive.
Bad bad editing. I have said enough on this issue.
The set is beautiful. Is it NOT TVB? Is it superimposed? Where is the set, the street of HK scene whenever we see Siu Yau and Shui?
So far performances wise, Tavia is doing well but could have been so much better if not for what I pointed out. Personal opinion of course but nevertheless still a valid one. I am sure her fans will bang the table and say “SHE IS PERFECT!!”
Damian or Damien is doing well, flirtatious old man. Too much powder, too much make up but if this series spans over a decade or so, I suppose it is a necessity. He certainly is keen on being TVB’s new sex symbol.
Elena Kong is pretty, she can act that sort of arrogant arrogance and very brave of her to do that seduction scene. But it wasn’t sexy. The intro made no sense, the choppy editing didn’t help and her lack of any “Come to me now!” expression is baffling. Her expression is the same as when she was in the dinner scene.
Kenneth lesser scenes today but is effective as the earnest and naive Charles.
Vincent Wong, a miscast.
Ron Ng, is Ron Ng. He wasn’t terrible but this man never improves. He is same old, same old.
Savio Tsang severely underused.
Shek Sau not much use yet.
Lau Kong as Tung Ting Hang is awesome. He is just simply fantastic as the scumbag Tung.
As for Rebecca Zhu, don’t like how she pursed her lips when she talks, her sometimes fluent sometimes not Cantonese and her sometimes mumble sometimes clear speech. But seriously, I do find her earnest, effective and impressive. I think she will look good next to Kenneth, looks wise of course. Acting wise, I think since she is next to Ron most of the time, she is holding herself well. The real test is next to the real veterans. But so far, I like her.
Things are getting interesting in this series. But I still don’t get what is the direction of this series. Fighting for inheritance, Macbeth, Henry VIII, Romeo & Juliet? Looking Back In Anger? Greed Of Men? Where is it heading? It doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose right now.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://silverspoonsterlingschackles.blogspot.com.