Funn’s Note: The following are not episode recaps but are ramblings and torrents of disbelief for The Confidant <大太監>. All merely personal opinion.
Watched until episode 22….
Let’s forget about episode 20. Or even episode 21. Go straight to episode 22 and then let’s forget about everything that has developed since episode 20 because episode 22 is back to square 1. I am frustrated at how the writer is bending his or her or their backs to make Cixi the good guy. When Cian seems nice, now in episode 22 we are told.. dang dang dang dang …. those are gong rolls by the way…Cian is back to “up to no good” stance. She has never really felt sorry for what she did and she says with gritted teeth “My biggest mistake is to beg for forgiveness from that Cixi. I am an Empress Dowager for god’s sake!! Why am I subjecting myself to that insulting humiliation of being second to that Cixi?!” and then she vows to destroy Cixi by destroying everyone around her, starting with An De Hai. So I was wrong. It may seem An De Hai never turned back, he in fact has a good relationship with his few best friends, best being Linying of course and An De Hai seems to know his days is up as he says to Lianying “If anything should happen to me, all my money is yours, I only ask you take care of Siu Chai for me, as I would take care of Sin Yung for you if anything bad should happen to you.” It means An De Hai is surely dying in the next few episodes thanks to Cian.
And this I do not get. Why on earth is Cian back to no good when viewers must be pitying her by now and wondering why that Cixi is so stubborn and vindictive and mean? Well simple! Like I said series is bending its back to show Cixi the misunderstood one and so by showing Cian is back to no good meaning she has never really changed or regretted her actions, it shows Cixi was right to doubt her and then to boycott her and then to treat her badly! Simple! To TVB all conflict is 1 + 1 equals the number TVB wants you to believe. I hate that sudden development. By trying to justify Cixi, and by making Cian the unrelentless small minded petty stupid jealous woman she is, shows how simplistic this series is. I want Cian to have good and bad side, but that is not to be. I want Cixi to be wrong but she is always right. There is nothing complicated about Cixi and Cian. And that is why this series’ storytelling is god awful if not for the performances.
Take for instance another line of story. The eunuch natural right to a loving relationship. I GET IT! OF COURSE I GET IT! Eunuch even if without his manhood deserves love, craves love, finds love, has love and is natural to love and want to be loved. I! GET! IT! So why is this theme being repeated again and again and again to the point that Cixi even approves of Lianying and Sin Yung OPENLY “dui sik” meaning intended for one another but not marrying as that would be a scandal. Cian begs Cixi to let An De Hai marry his Siu Chai. Seung Hei looking at princess He Shuo who is back by the way, longingly and sure enough will probably go back to love mode. Cian begging Seung Hei to forgive her for her sins of tearing the love birds apart. I suspect she was acting only in light of the ending. And in one unforgivably stupid dialogue and scene which is well acted but still stupid, An De Hai, and everyone laments the fact that “Why the emperor can do anything he wants, marry the woman he loves and we eunuchs can’t even love openly? It is unfair!”
Stupid, because he is the emperor. He is your master. And didn’t they for 2 episodes try to persuade Cixi to let the emperor marry his Bao Yin? Does that show the emperor can marry anyone he loves? No, he still has to beg, pout, be angry, etc before he can marry Bao Yin. And we all know how Prince Gong threatened Cixi with that letter (remember that letter?) before Cixi agrees to the marriage. No, emperor can’t do anything in here without mommy says yes and mommy won’t say yes before Prince Gong go nuclear with his threats. But best was when Cixi threatened Prince Gong back, Prince Gong said, “You can threaten me all you want, if I fall, I will be sure to drag you with me to hell”.
What a man! But what a stupid scene for the eunuchs. And that was when I threw my hands up in the air and scream “I!!!!!!!!!! GET!!!!!!!!!!! IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Now can we move on? Nope because back to Cian and back to square 1.
This series was amazing in episode 20, but the rest was “can do, can do” or in Chinese “ma ma fu fu”. It will be ending soon but from the looks of it Cixi will never be the villain. She is the good guy. She won’t go crazy or bad. But will this series end with Tong Zhi’s death? I do not doubt Cian’s love for Tong Zhi even if she is manipulating his love in a strange non manipulating way. Since Cian is dying soon, I suppose she will in TVB world die when Tong Zhi dies which means Tong Zhi’s death will be her wake up call? That she should stop being so damn petty? Maybe not. I am giving TVB too much credit in being subtle and yet meaningful.
But both Cian and Cixi are both stubborn and both petty in frustrating ways which is not giving this series a chance to tell a bigger conflict, a bigger story. Right now despite the wide angles of Heng Dian’s fake Forbidden City which is really the best thing in this series apart from the performances, the story sucks by not realizing its full potential.
And go back 2 episodes ago, where got Palace choose “sau lui” at night or so early in the morning? Easy to explain. TVB probably could only book that time for filming. Heng Dian is darn busy. And in some shots I can hear loud chatters (probably fans by the side? Can’t the director say SHUT UP?!) and in one shot, I can hear loud music blaring, probably another series filming some dance scenes. In a way it is a very noisy and happening place, in a way quite distracting. Destroys the feel of the place being the foreboding Forbidden Palace. I am sure in the Mainland China series you can hear all those sounds but since voices are dubbed, you hear echo. In TVB, credit to them for maintaining their integrity in NOT dubbing or rather by recording on site, I don’t mind the sounds. It was just funny in a distracting way or maybe distracting in a funny way which is a more apt description.
For a series with so many people, other people are not getting enough screen time or character development. The usually loud and annoying Natalie Tong gave a subdued performance but she has so little screen time, which may explain why I like her in here thus far. Nancy Wu did a good job but her role is getting lesser and lesser and less and less important. Even Lianying stopped being important. In fact everyone seems underused. I am not sure where all the time went. All I know is people walk in and out of a scene. Chan Fuk is back and that is annoying. He should be dead by now. A lot of people should be dead by now but recycling villains is seriously boring when these villains can’t do much.
At this point, this series survives on performances. But if you look at the story, it is standard ordinary stuff with some stupid moments thrown in and some amazingly idiotic dialogue with some very difficult to understand words just so to make it sound like it was back in those days when it the end it sounds pretentious. I want to love this series but right now, I am liking it for very specific reasons. And the story isn’t one of them. A suggestion to TVB; why not try following the real history? Because real history in this case makes more drama than this insipid so called drama. Waste of talent for the actors.
I hope when this series is done with the Cian conflict, it will show us a better more bigger conflict to end it with a bang. Or like I said, end it with Tong Zhi’s death to make Cian realise whatever she planned are just plain silly and a waste of time.
Related Commentaries on “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Life and Death in “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: The Eunuchs of “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Raymond Cho Steals the Show in “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Michelle Yim is a Bland Empress Cixi
This commentary is written by Funn Lim and was originally posted at www.point2e.com.