Jump to content
  • Sign Up

First Episode 21: 狂花凋落 (Wilting of a Wildflower)


Recommended Posts

A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.



A story about a foreign secret agent trying to get to a high-ranking scientist in charge of China's space program.

---- PLOT SUMMARY ----

The agent (付东篱) was caught and specially trained by a foreign spy agency after running across the border as a young girl to escape arrest in the 60s. She became an assassin nicknamed "狂花女谍".

It turns out that the head scientist guy is her childhood friend 陈冬生, so she is sent back to China to try to make contact with him. This brings back memories of growing up, together, and running away to a village on the frontier in some sort of city-country exchange program. The parents don't let them, so they sneak out, and convince 陈冬生 (whose parents won't let him leave) to come with them to the train station, ultimately tricking him into coming along.

In Heilongjiang, they are greeted by the thankful villagers. A bit later, though, the head of the neighbouring village (鲍老三) tries to get 付东篱 to come to his village to marry him. The first village chief refuses. Back at home talking to his wife, we find that she can't have children and that 付东篱 has expressed wish to have them adopt her. The accept, apparently to protect her.

They organise a great party to honour this, and 鲍老三 loses his temper and creates a scene, breaking a bowl. When he's on his way back, 陈冬生 asks him for money to pay for the bowl, and gets caught in order to force 付东篱 to come to their village. When she finds out about this, she storms out to rescue him, and the rest of her city friends go grab some guns trying to follow her. Her adopted father tries to talk them out of it, but they tie him up, and burst out in the barn where the two of their colleages are being held and escape with them. 陈冬生 and 付东篱 become lovers.

Later, the kids discover that the other village is hoarding water and decide to secretly divert the water to their village. They are discovered and chased by angry villagers, and capture 陈冬生 again. 付东篱 runs to save him again and confronts 鲍老三, who asks her to sleep with him. The rest of the village storms in and rescues them.

The city kids decide to make a surprise attack on the other village (probably what led to the arrest in the beginning).

--- Summary End ----

Some important vocabulary that people might not know:

间谍 - spy

挑起 - stir up, incite

仓皇 - in panic

出色 - remarkable

卧底 - undercover

窃取 - steal

暗杀 - assasinate

获得 - obtain

高荣誉 - highest honour

安全部门 - security department

身份 - identity

边疆 - frontier

黑龙江 - Heilongjiang province

知青 - a young, educated person from a city who goes to live in a rural community during the Cultural Revolution

照应 - take care of

犹豫 - hesitate

经管 - be in charge of

袭击 - attack by surprise



Edited by renzhe
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed this.

The beginning is not terribly good, trying to be all high tech. The language is also surprisingly difficult in the beginning, but soon it comes down to an intermediate level that's not too hard to follow.

The childhood part (which is most of this episode) was really great. You get a contrast between idealistic city kids and the grey village reality. You also get the contrast between idyllic rural life and the evil of local bosses. The main actress is enchanting and plays her role perfectly.

I don't know what the rest of the series is like, but I found the village part far more intriguing and promising than the beginning. I think that this episode is definitely worth watching, and I might watch a few more to see how it develops.

Compared to our last spy show, 5号特工组, this is far more serious, introspective and more drama than action. I guess a lot of the series will be Fu Dongli dealing with her past and what she's become, so I guess the bad special effects were just there to get some viewers onboard. The rest of the episode is really good drama.


The second episode continues where the first one left off (and ends where the first one started) and deals with the aftermath of the attack. It's a bit slower, but still nicely shot and concentrates on the characters in the village. We find out about the relationship between the two main protagonists and the adopted parents. It fleshes out the characters and their motivation.

The third episode shows what happens to her after the Haidina agents get her.

This stuff is really good -- at least the first few episodes. Definitely one of the better ones we've had, and I'd rank it alongside Empty Mirror for the best drama so far. I actually prefer it to An Suan. I have the first 30 episodes, so I think I'll keep on watching, I'm genuinely interested. I have to admit, though, that the English-speaking actors are quite terrible, I guess they couldn't get any real actors and just got some random waiguoren. So you have French guys pretending to be Americans, with somewhat amusing results. But the Chinese actors are very solid.

Edited by renzhe
it becomes obvious very soon that there are, in fact, no Americans involved
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm getting close to half way through and it is NOT worth the watch. The first couple are decent but I want to make clear that it's not the "Americans" that get her, there is no way to identify them other than a "foreign espionage 组织". They train people from all countries and seem to be independent as far as I can tell.

The other down side to the show is that it actually turns out to be close to 50% english (and all HORRIBLE english at that, many are from some eastern block countries or something- truly horrible in the way they try to have foreigners in practically every place and scene).

The intrigue really dies quick and you never get around to finding out what the big deal is really about. They are trying to steal the technology for the new space ship but they don't every give you any taste of it.

The flashbacks get to be a bit too much as they seem to drag on for entire episodes and when nothing new is happening back in the modern day world it doesn't add too much. Also they many times will tell the same story from the different perspectives but repeatedly giving the exact same information each time.

It really drags on a lot longer than it should and the story line becomes more and more obvious that they don't have one (sh)

The thing that is keeping me watching is that I suspect even though fu dongli is actually a spy she will find a way to keep her family, friends, and loyalty to country all intact. Can't remember what episode it was in but at one point you basically figure out that EVERTHING that has transpired was not her choosing to do, it was all in an effort to protect those she loves and I think as long as she can protect them she will turn out to be a "good guy".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, that would be disappointing.

I did notice a discrepancy between the (IMHO really good) childhood flashbacks and the (bad English) spy part, but I thought that the cheesy English would not dominate.

What I really liked about it was that I got the impression that the spy games were just the backdrop, and that the real story was about how Fu Dongli transforms from a rebellious, idealistic young girl to something she hates. How the "狂花" gets tamed and wanes and how she deals with her past.

I really liked the first few episodes and some of the actors showing up later (especially the older Guoxue), but if it turns out to be some cheesy spy thing, I don't think I'll find it as interesting, as it was the characters that got me interested. I'll try to finish the first 10 episodes or so to try to get a better feel.

I'd still recommend the first three episodes, I thought they were really good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually do enjoy a lot of the flashbacks when they are the ones which occur in China and not in haidiniya or where ever it is (which after I wrote that posts turns out to be an actual country for the show, but a very mixed one at that....).

I am hoping that the show takes a turn for the better in the character of dongli and that is why I am still watching (that and the good flashbacks).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I've finished 10 episodes and understand your sentiment, muyongshi, but I still find it worth a watch.

You're right, the foreign language parts are absolutely horrible, something I would film better with a bunch of guys off the street. Especially when the guy called Cassimo speaks Russian to his English-speaking wife in a made-up European country and the wife's brother (she's a pale Eastern European and the brother is Middle Eastern) gets kidnapped by some crooks from a US gang movie (???). These parts are terrible, but luckily they are really in the minority so far.

There is also the espionage part, with some strange special agents with the acting skills of an oil painting protecting the main scientist and talking about boring things in a boring way. It looks like a forced way to add some intrigue, which doesn't really work. Not terribly exciting, but it's not very bad either.

The biggest and best part, however, is the part that deals with the main characters, Fu Dongli, her husband, her biological daughter, etc. Just like in the beginning, I still find that the characters have depth, that they are put into difficult situations, and that the story (this part, not the agent stuff) is really good. The rest I mentioned just forms a (bad) backdrop for the story of how Fu Dongli reconciles with her family and her past. And this part is very good.

An example of what I like -- I like how the new Fu Dongli, a former spy who was sent on one last mission, has to use a combination of her inborn character (which we meet in the first episodes through flashbacks) and the calculating professional spy skillset to protect her loved ones. We have met the passionate, impulsive young Fu Dongli, and we have met the cold, calculating spy. What we have in the end is a combination of the two, which is interesting.

I also like the way her biological daughter, although she was raised by her father, actually resembles her mother in terms of personality. It was an interesting touch.

It's things like these that keep me watching. I find them really strong, and the acting (of the main characters, not the laowai clowns masquerading as made-up countries) is surprisingly good for a TV show like this. True, many parts are unnecessary filler that should have been left out, but I think there is still plenty here that more than justifies the watch. If people like the characters in the first few episodes, they'll probably enjoy it, even if they have to fast forward through some cruft.

EDIT: You're right though, now there are a couple of episodes concentrating on the English speaking spy part and they are really painful to watch. Such a shame, the show could have been great without this crap.

Edited by renzhe
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

OK, I've finally finished all of this, and I have mixed feelings about it. At the end of the day, I can't recommend this show in good faith, for several reasons.

Basically, we're following a girl who was captured by a spy agency as a teenager while escaping arrest and turned into a foreign secret agent. She is sent to perform one last mission -- get secret plans from her former lover who is in charge of China's space programme. Their daughter is now grown up and about to get married, and her adopted daughter who grew up with her abroad seems to be held hostage, and other spies are sent to keep a close eye on her. She finds herself confronted with her past friends and feelings, her current self, the mission, and the loyalty to her loved ones and the country. On top of this, we get flashbacks which show how she was, how she turned into what she is now, all of which are supposed to help us understand her feelings.

This is a wonderful premise, and the show really looks promising in the beginning. Moreover, the scenes where she is with her family, and especially the flashbacks to her childhood in China, are excellent, powerful, and acted well. Much of the show is like this, and it is very interesting.

But they managed to spoil it. The first problem is that they weren't exactly sure whether it's an intrigue/spy show or a character drama. The way they are mixed is a bit strange, the secret service scenes are often unconvincing, and in the end they even interfere with the story with an inflation of secret agents, including people who couldn't possibly be secret agents, which has some of the actors (after 30-odd episodes creating a believable character) basically break out of character just to justify some convoluted plot twist. That was a bit annoying at times, as I feel they should have concentrated on the characters more, as the spy parts were quite unconvincing for the most part. Unconvincing, but not terrible.

But they managed to REALLY blow it by filling in stupid flashback relating to her spy past and taking place in different countries showing our main character performing all sorts of assignments. As much as the main storyline was solid and the actors great, these parts are the biggest pile of crap I've seen in a long time. Whole episodes about nothing, with people who are not even actors, and don't even speak a word of English reciting stupid dialogues with strong accents and a wooden face. There are whole episodes filled with stupid, and completely unnecessary stupid at that. Like muyongshi said, they had story for 20 episodes, and they filled another 14 with pure crap -- crap story, crap acting, crap everything. And the contrast to the real plot (bonding with a long-lost daughter, meeting her adopted mother after many years, trying to protect the loved ones, etc) is so large that you're just left wondering what the hell is going on there.

This is why I can't recommend this. Parts of this are brilliant, and the conclusion is actually decent and believable (which surprised me a bit), but I do admit that I was fast forwarding through large chunks of this towards the end.

It's a shame. This could have been a great show....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...