Akazukin: General Ma - once again always the shortcoming in TVB series. They like to create a character which appears bad at first but suddenly, because the good character turns bad, the bad one turns good. Even though I can overlook this as we are not told much of General Ma's character in the end, I would have preferred to see TVB giving some depth to his character. He said he did not benefit from the downfall of Official Cheng, and that all the corrupted money goes to the prince. Yes, just because he said that doesn't mean that it's true. But I would have preferred if they show that he is lying.
Tamaya: I don’t think General Ma’s character needs more depth. General Ma’s character is actually a foil to General Cheng; 2 quintessential, consummate politician (tigers) who will not hesitate to resort to whatever means to bring down the other (can't have 2 tigers in the same mountain) at the time, protect their own hides; both can be very ruthless when threatened. I don’t think GM has suddenly turned good, far from it, a man has many sides, and for now, he is showing the good side to PSL because for now the latter is no threat to him. In fact, General Ma might have a soft side for PSL, because he has witnessed PSL’s courage, poise and intelligence in their shared experience of GM’s daughter’s fake death. But I’m sure the minute there is an inkling of PSL posing as threat to him, GM will not hesitate to eliminate that threat. 2nd mistress knows that well.
1) Is Official Ma really the lesser of two evils? I don't think so. It's just that his route is slightly aligned with PSL at this moment, making them having the same enemy and no conflict of interests. Official Ma is a bully as is Official Cheng. Yes, Official Ma loves his own daughter, but then Official Cheng does seem to care for his own daughter as well....
2) And does PSL really owe Official Ma?
3) Officially, yes, but who has gotten them into that trouble in the first place? Official Ma has as much part to play as Official Cheng. Yes, Official Cheng set the trap, but it was Official Ma who switched on the trap. In the end, he did help them, but the first time was because it's beneficial to him, and the second one was because PSL saved his daughter. ....
4) However, I would prefer to see a moment of hesitance/withdrawal and guard up, and after carefully contemplating agreed to help Official Ma. I feel that it would have shown that PSL has matured more and has remembered and acted upon the dictum of 'fending official like fending tiger' (not necessarily a wiser/better reaction, but I believe it would show a reaction by a wiser person).
Seeing from PSL's pov.
1)For now, to me Official Ma is the lesser of the 2 evils. In history, just like how fledgling emperors would often ally themselves with previous enemies so as to eliminate an immediate common threat, not to mention a most hated enemy. Official Cheng directly caused the death of PSL's father and the downfall of the family business. PSL has promised his dying elder brother to take care of the family business, who else can help him accomplish that if not Official Ma?
PSL has never seen Official Cheng in his capacity as a father, never mind a loving father at that.
2)Whether it merely benefits him or not, the bottom line is that Official Ma got PSL's father released from the prison. And PSL did experience something very personal with him and has witnessed his genuine grief, his vulnerability. This unusual and very personal incident provides a special link between them. PSL saves Official Ma's daughter, and in return, Official Ma saves PSl father.
3) It is Official Cheng who gotten them ALL into the whole mess with his schemes. And it was PSL's oblivious father who not only got his own family into trouble but also unwittingly put Official Ma's reputation and position in peril, if not his life and that of his household. Official Ma's swift retaliation is based on self preservation. But for all that,Official did not betray a long time friendship nor did he seek to destroy the Po family.
4) I don't think PSL held Official Ma responsible for his father's death, It was all Officer Cheng's doing. Also, I've a feeling that if Official Ma had not seek out PSL, the latter would have sought him out sooner or later, reiterate - PSL needs a tiger to fight another tiger. A poison against another poison.
5) PSL has changed. Re-watch their scene. See the narrowing of his eyes and their penetrating shrewdness when he dismisses his servant and when he asks if Official Ma has something to say to him. To PSL the urgency of how to save the family business takes precedence over everything including his love triangle. He has meant it when he hollers to Sum Yu that he doesn't want to be bother with anything (about Siu Tsui being fox) but how to bring back the family business to its former glory.
Akazukin 's response
Official Ma's swift retaliation is not based on self preservation. It is based largely on revenge. He was determined to get PSL family down for causing this to him (even though he also has himself to blame, if he had not been so greedy, he could have stopped the production in time). At that moment, getting PSL family down with him most probably is not going to rescue him in any way, so is the re-opening of the damaging treasure case.
But I do agree with you that Official Ma did not betray a long time friendship, but he did seek to destroy Po family.