Alice in Wonder City
This episode is kind of slow but charming. I say slow because only two real important things happen, but at least one of them is resolved by the end of the episode. However a couple of other scenes manages to set up several points for future conflict.
Just like I thought, Ting Yu has planned the trip to Ehime for two different reasons. He sends Hai Jie to look for Alice as for himself and Die Fei they’re the ones who’ll look into the violin Siren. Die Fei tries to go with Hai Jie but Ting Yu pulls her by her hoodie and then puts his arm around his shoulder as a restraining method. She’s not happy about this but she IS Ting Yu’s assistant not Hai Jie’s.
It’s on to a day of going around asking about Alice and a lot of sightseeing for Hai Jie.
Ting Yu and Die Fei make it to the house of Siren’s owner, and it just screams old money. The place is damn beautiful and the housekeeper is in traditional clothing as well as the owner. They’re told by the translator that the owner has never played the violin which is why he’s looking for a violinist who can control Siren.
When Siren’s case is opened Ting Yu’s eyes are glued to her, and it’s almost like the violin has posessed him. He’s urged to play her by the owner, so that he can see if Ting Yu is worthy of boing Siren’s owner.
Ting Yu plays Paganini’s Violin Concerto No.1 Third Movement which was probably intended to show his technique and accuracy since Paganini’s works are counted as the hardest pieces to master. I think it’s also fitting since Paganini was a virtuoso who was at times considered to have made a pact with the devil and the violin Siren is supposedly a cursed instrument.
Though the performance by Ting Yu showed his skill the owner felt that there were contradictions in Ting Yu’s playing that made the owner unable to release Siren to him. You can see how crushed Ting Yu was because of it, he barely held back the tears that cropped up at being denied the violin he’s set his heart on.
Hai Jie takes to playing Für Elise at a bridge, recalling all the while how Alice had told him that if he played the violin, she’d go as soon as she heard him.
Ting Yu and Die Fei end up at a bar, and try as she might, Die Fei can’t cheer him up. She tries to tell him that it’s better this way because then he won’t have to struggle against Siren’s curse. He doesn’t seem convinced but accepts the beer when she tells him that he better enjoy their food today because she’s buying and the next time won’t be until 100 years from now.
Die Fei tells Ting YU that Siren isn’t worthy of him, which makes him set his beer down and ask if she’s sincere or if it’s just a ploy to cheer him up. She caves in and tells him that she’s just trying to cheer him up because there is truly a magic around Siren that seemed to suck her soul. He slaps the bar excited that she felt the same way as he did. I like that they’re talking to each other like regular people and he isn’t putting her down or yelling at her. It’s the first time they seem to have a connection to each other than boss and lackey.
Everything was going well between them until she mentions that Hai Jie would certainly encourage Ting Yu to challenge the violin owner again. Ting Yu starts messing with her about Hai Jie and how he must be happily reuniting with Alice so he’ll treat this time because Die Fei is pitiful for crushing on someone who’ll never look at her twice.
At the hotel, Ting Yu presses Die Fei about what she’d do and how she’d feel if Hai Jie found Alice and either stayed behind with her or brought her to Taiwan. Each time Die Fei says that she’ll be happy for Hai Jie, but each time she can’t meet Ting Yu’s probing eyes. He gets pissed at her and tells her that she’s making herself a prisoner of a love that won’t come to anything, all she’s doing is wasting her time and hurting herself. He tells her that the worst isn’t Hai Jie finding Alice, but that even if he doesn’t he’ll always be blind to Die Fei’s feelings.
Die Fei can’t take any more of Ting Yu’s comments and screams that she knows all this. And, isn’t this what he wanted? To see her embarassed? does he find her that detestable? Ting Yu’s eyes widen, and he tries to tell her that that wasn’t what he was saying! but Die Fei won’t listen to him anymore and shuts the door and goes to hid underneath her pillows, ignoring his pounding on her door.
Hai Jie for his part is still out searching for Alice visiting paper stores and remembering that her grandfather made papers and postcards. Then he walks into a strange abandoned theater who has a Alice in Wonderland set on the stage. There’s a little girl crying there and says her name is Alice. Hai Jie follows her around the theater, even picking up a blue ribbon of hers, but she eludes him at every turn. (it’s a very surreal moment) He ends up falling down some stairs.
Next thing we see is Alice’s grandmother tending to him, since she’s the one who found him in the theater. She’s very sweet but they can’t communicate since he doesn’t speak Japanese and she doesn’t understand taiwanese. Now if he’d only looked behind him, he’d have seen the picture of Alice with her grandparents, but drama characters are generally oblivious to their surroundings and he never sees it.
Ting Yu and Die Fei come to pick him up and as he’s explaining what happened with the little girl named Alice, die Fei snorts that because he heard Alice he fainted. Ting Yu tells her that she’s quite incoherent when she’s mad but Hai Jie laughs and says that it’s true, whenever he hears Alice he’s mesmerized and loses concentration.
Somehow Die Fei ends up volunteering herself and Ting Yu for the Find Alice operation, and Hai Jie is very grateful for her. Ting Yu can’t believe she just did that and stares at her speechless. When he regains his speech he adamantly puts down his chopsticks and says that he won’t help because he needs his rest.
Back in Taiwan Hai Jie’s sister is preparing for her wedding, but her daughter is still opposing it. She even leaves her mom talking to herself at the bridal dress store.
The next day Die Fei makes good on her promise to search for Alice, and spends it going from person to person asking about Alice. She comes up with nothing.
When she gets back to the hotel it’s to find that Ting Yu has shut himself in playing the violin for several hours. Hai Jie wonders out loud why it has to be Siren, after all there are many violins in the world. Which makes me ask that same thing to him, why Alice? She left him willingly and there are so many women in the world after all.
The next day finds Ting Yu still awake and Hai Jie comes over to talk to him. He asks Ting Yu to relax because a violinist and the violin need fate, and if it wasn’t meant to be it isn’t because he’s lacking something, he shouldn’t be consumed by the words of an old man. Ting Yu thanks Hai Jie for his advice and says that it’s surprising how Hai Jie makes the complicated simple while talking nonsense. lol.
Die Fei becomes Ting Yu’s driver, to where? I don’t know… but he does pretend to be asleep and smiles when Die Fei stops the car to cover him up with jacket all the while grumbling that it’s something guys should do for girls. He just smiles more and falls asleep.
She stops at a the base of a bridge and they gaze at the open space ahead of them. He tells her that suddenly the issue with Siren isn’t so important and Die Fei smiles. She asks him what Hai Jie has said to bring about this change in thought.
She tells Ting Yu that she’s thought about what he said about her feelings for hai Jie and she thinks that he’s right, but it’s the only way she knows how to treat the person she likes, by wishing him happiness. Ting Yu looks at the necklace that Hai Jie bought and Die Fei is finally wearing and asks that she have courage, and then as if deciding something for himself, tells her that he wants to join in the battle. THen he swoops in and kisses her!
She struggles against him until he releases her and she runs to the car, leaving him stranded in the Japanese countryside. I’ve got to say that I’m not impressed about how he chose to explain the kiss as “I hypnotized myself” into kissing her. What a jerk move on his part.
Hai Jie is on the stoop eating oranges when he sees Die Fei come storming in. She ignores his questions but stops when he asks her to. Then he proceeds to enter her personal space to view the necklace. Die Fei has already had one too many invading her space so when Hai Jie does it she snaps at him and tells him that they are both crazy.
Hai Jie is in the hotel’s garden when Ting Yu finally makes it back. The first thing he does is ask about Die Fei, and Hai Jie says that she flew away like dynamite. Hai Jie tries to organize a little get together to find out what happened between the other two, but Die Fei has shut herself in and won’t even talk to them except through a little letter passed through a crack in the door.
So it’s to the bathhouse for our two men, where they bond and share tea together. Ting Yu had thought they would go drink alcohol, but Hai Jie says that with his bum leg and without Die Fei to carry a drunk Ting Yu it’s an impossibility.
While they’re drinking tea Hai Jie tries through pry into the situation, remarking how they feel like an arguing married couple. However Ting Yu doesn’t talk about it, instead he changes the subject to Siren and how he feels that his confidence in handling Siren like no other violinist can didn’t get conveyed to the owner. Hai Jie jokes that the probability of getting Siren must be as high as Hai Jie’s probability of finding Alice. To which Ting Yu retorts that at least he’s seen Siren while Hai Jie hasn’t caught even a glance of her.
Later that night Ting Yu goes into the garden and starts playing air violin, which somehow cuts across to Siren’s owner who wakes up in the middle of the night to the ghostly image of Ting Yu playing Siren.
Hai Jie and Die Fei make the rounds to the market, eating ice cream. Hai Jie this time plies Die Fei about the problem that cropped up between her and Ting Yu but she doesn’t reveal a thing.
Ting Yu is making his way back to see if he can try for Siren again. However before he makes it to the car a black car comes up the hotel’s driveway and in slow motion we see the assistant to Siren’s owner step out and walk towards Ting Yu. Turns out that the owner felt that the violin has chosen Ting Yu and hopes that he’ll be able to break the curse of the violin and bring out Siren’s true musical powers . Though he does also warn Ting Yu that it can bring him to the highest peak but also throw him into the darkest pit.
They go out to celebrate the acquisition of Siren that same night. however their seating in the restaurant show the distance between Ting Yu and Die Fei. Ting Yu and Hai Jie are at the bar drinking to the success of the trip and she’s looking at them balefully from a booth behind them. Ting Yu looks towards her but she feigns disinterest and looks away as soon as his head turns.
As they’re leaving Hai Jie spies the old lady who helped him when he fell down the stairs in the theater. He tries to get down from the car to reach her but by the time he does she’s gone from his sight.
Once back in Taiwan there’s an uncomfortable silence reigning in their car and despite Hai Jie’s attempts to make it more lively both Ting Yu and Die Fei remain cool with each other. They sit in the car on either side of Hai Jie who becomes a buffer as well as a messenger in their cold war.
As soon as Ting Yu arrives at his apartment he takes out Siren and starts to prepare playing her, but he gives up and puts Siren back in it’s case.
They’re back in rehearsal for Death and the Maiden but Ting Yu feels that no violin can compare to Siren and wants to start practicing with her, but Hai Jie tells him that as with all things he shouldn’t rush into it. First Ting Yu must build a bond, a connection with Siren and then things will fall into place.
So next thing we know Ting Yu’s rushing to his apartment to caress and bond his new violin.
The next day it’s a meeting with the insurance officials who want to collect information on what happened the day Hai Ou was stolen. Ting Yu and Die Fei are asked how close the are and they both deny even having spoken to each other. an interesting revelation during this meeting is that Jin Cang (scummy cheating on his wife producer) only cares about the money and doesn’t really want anyone to actually find the violin- sounds like there’s a plot in here somewhere.
Outside the orchestra hall Die Fei and Ting Yu run into each other. Ting Yu asks Die Fei if her preocupation is about Hai Ou, Hai Jie, or could she be thinking about him?
I was mostly happy about this episode, but I did have a couple of sticking points- for example the kiss… she clearly struggled against him but he ignored it long enough for the kiss to become uncomfortable to me.
However, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that he might be interested in Die Fei. He’s shown little signs of jealousy towards her and Hai Jie’s easy friendship- and it’s probably what prompted his shouting match with her about how it’s a waste of her time to go after someone who’s already in love with someone else- actually I think he also meant it as a warning to himself about her. He probably feels that he should be smarter than to fall for her since she’s in love with his best buddy, but he’s fighting a losing battle, something that he may not be ready to admit yet though.
The next sticking point for me- I have a confession to make, I know this may shock people but I’m getting tired of the overplayed Für Elise… It’s a beautiful song, I love playing it on the piano despite not having the emotional depth or talent that this song requires to bring tears to the eyes. I feel and understand that they’re using it precisely to show how much emotion, how much longing Hai Jie has for Alice, his personal Elise. However, it’s being overplayed and the sentiment is becoming tedious and boring, and I want him to play something else now… thank you.
The violin Siren seems like it could lead to Ting Yu’s downfall, his obsession over it leading him to the brink of destruction, but it could be the instrument of comfort for him. Who knows- but I’m expecting a lot of self-destructive behaviour before the ending- I am however rooting for a happy ending.
I liked the dreamy quality in the meeting with little Alice- I think she’s like the child spirit of grown-up Alice, who must have cried a lot due to her perceived abandonment by her mother.
I feel it’s interesting that Alice for the most part is presented to us as this beautiful and fragile memory- seen through Hai Jie’s eyes we understand why she might be someone who is easy to care about. However the present day Alice seems to be incongruent with that image we have of her. In this episode we don’t get to see Alice at all.
I did get upset that Hai Jie didn’t look around the room he was in after his injury- he’d have seen Alice with her grandparents!
- Alice in Wonder City- Episode 1 Recap
- Alice in Wonder City- Episode 2 Recap
- Alice In Wonder City- Episode 3 Recap
- Niccolo Paganini- Part 1 / Part 2