Monday, November 29, 2010

TseXTai Ship Manifesto : A Bond Unspoken (Part One)

All due credit given to athlynn17 & carneliane
secondary source: asianfanatics  
 29 February 2008 - 06:06 AM

athlynn17 :  
After watching TCG2, ever felt like Tse Wong Seung and Tai Chung Man's relationship isn't as simple as they lead us to believe? That perhaps something else deeper runs between these two best friends? Don't worry, you're not alone. To prove that indeed something else is indeed going on, we have come up with a TseXTai ship manifesto; layered with countless hints and clues that may point to a new direction beyond the norm.

(For the FULL manifesto with screenshots as numbered, please go to the pairing  community in the link provided by athlynn17, thx!)
TseXTai Ship Manifesto : A Bond Unspoken (Part One)
The Story:

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In ancient days of old, Chinese officials were elected by the means of imperial examinations, hard and competitive competition meant to eliminate weaker scholars, who were deemed unworthy of entering the service of the Emperor. Tse Wong Seung's position as district agricultural official, however, was purchased by his father, a wealthy rice merchant who dreaded the thought of his beloved son entering the devious world of government service.

However, fate has other things in store, and this is where The Gentle Crackdown II begins. From that point onwards, Tse is tossed unmercifully into a whirlwind of action, aided by his self-appointed feisty female sidekick, Chan Sai Mui, five dimwitted but well-meaning soldiers/bodyguards/goons/minions, and of course, Tai Lou Ye himself, who was employed by Tse Wong Seung's father from Hangzhou to be a counsel to his son.

Justice Personified
In-depth character analysis

"You are as...Gongsun Ce to my Justice Bao."

"I won't stand aside and let you fall into this masquerade any longer! If anything-we're in this together!"

Tse Wong Seung:

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Tse Wong Seung was born in Leung Choi county. The only son of rice merchant Tse Chong Tin and his wife, Tse was practically born with a golden spoon, or in his case- a (2) jade bowl bestowed to his father by the Emperor himself as a token of gratitude for saving his life. His parents doted upon him, and Tse lived with the luxury of the best comforts of life. (e.g.:(3) washing his hair with black glutinous rice, which was costly at that time) He could been fantastically spoiled, as Chan Sai Mui was led to believe earlier on. However, the one thing that makes all the difference is the fact that he simply chooses to epitomize the ideal scholar-gentry instead.

Tse is no lightweight. Grinded academically as a (4) scholar from a young age in the city, Tse burns with ambition and longs to right the wrongs that go on about him, and he believes the best way to do so is to be a government official. Needless to say, he is dismayed when he discovers his position is that of a lowly official in charge of crops and livestock.

He is depicted as being quick-witted and exceptionally smart, and is very often (5) exasperated with his officers and Sai Mui's incompetence. Tse gets impatient and agitated when they are unable to follow his stream of thoughts. In fact, the only person who seems to be on the same wavelength as he is, if not-higher, is Tai Lou Yeh. With the combined strengths of his intelligence along with Tai Lou Yeh's experience and deductive skills, they make an (6) unstoppable duo.

Tse is personified as an idealistic scholar with a keen sense of justice, virtue, kindness and loyalty. Most of the time, he is serious, down-to-earth and charming when he wishes to be. In other words, (7) a true gentleman in every sense. He is not without a (8) mischievous side though, as shown when he plays a prank on Chan Sai Mui, and dreams up ingenious but ridiculous schemes to get her out of the way, and when he teases her mercilessly about her mysterious crush, never dreaming that it was really himself in reality.

His idol is (9) Justice Bao, a fact which viewers would be reminded of twice throughout the entire series, (10) with both scenes mentioning/featuring Tai Lou Ye. Tse is also shown to be quite literary and poetic, as most scholars of his time were, and is an eloquent speaker who is quick with words, something which has helped him out of tight situations many times (11) (His and Sai Mui's love story at their wedding banquet), or in some, worsening it still (his angry retorts to So Chan Tung when the latter insults his father and Tai Lou Yeh). He is also a very (12) gifted actor, and is able to keep a straight face while lying through his teeth blatantly and convincingly.

Harbouring a talent for poetry, Tse must have a hidden romantic side somewhere as well. After all, lyrical prose is the language of love after all, eh? On the festival night in episode 8,Tse composes a couplet to express his feelings, and seems (13) flattered that Ah Mui seems to appreciate it as well, but deflates quickly when he realizes she has no idea what he is talking about.

“Tai Lou Ye, if it’s like this, then let’s not depend on other people! Let’s depend on ourselves to defeat the So brothers.”

Tse is decidedly left-brained: analytical, logical, rational and objective. He pooh-poohs the existence of spirits and ghosts, and does not seek divine intervention even through times of distress. (Ah Mui is the one who prays to his ancestors, turning vegetarian instead) He tends to rely on himself and his wits instead to solve problems, fiercely independent of pre-determined fate. When Tong Tai Hoi's murder case is solved supposedly through the deceased restless spirit's appearance in Tse Chong Tin's dream, Tse is immediately (14) suspicious, and his first thoughts drift to Tai.

Although a pacifist by nature, Tse is not above using violence to save Tai Lou Ye, when his disguise as Tai Chung Mo is almost unravelled before a full court house. In his desperation, he uses a (15) switchblade to threaten a servant into blurting out So Chan Nam's secret correspondence with the royal eunuch Chan. Tse goes on to use deception for the greater good (or as he sees fit), as depicted during Episode 18's (16) climatic scene, where he tricks the (17) entire court into believing he has So Chan Tung's (18) letter at hand. In other words, he is willing to risk it all for Tai, and he is equally sure Tai will do the same for himself.

At the end of the series, Tse saves Tai's life at the peril of his own, (19) begging the Emperor to spare his friend. He is then reunited with Mui after a brief period of estrangement.

"Let us hope that we will be the best of friends once again. In lifetimes to come."

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"I'm so happy to have met you"

"If I should die...will you see that my wish is granted?Rid all the corrupt officials for me!"

Tai Chung Man:

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At the beginning of the series, nothing much is known Tai Chung Man, or (22) Tai Lou Ye (Old Master) as he is more often called; a nickname he earned as a pun on his surname and his well-known intelligence. Although he does not speak in keeping his vow of silence, Tai is shown to be very intelligent and perceptive, and more often than not, deceptively cunning when the need arises. He communicates with Tse and the others through (23) scraps of paper, or (24) hand and facial gestures (the latter which only Tse seems to understand.)

Hailing from the district of Fung Loi, Tai’s father was an uncorrupted official who hoped that his two sons will grow to become good officials as well amidst the corrupted and dark governance. To accomplish that dream, Tai Lou Ye was educated in the famous Nam Shan School in his early years. Along with his equally-intelligent elder twin brother Tai Chung Mo and later on rival, So Chan Nam, they were known as (25) 'The Three Tigers of Nam Shan'. (26) Tai Chung Man was studious and intelligent, and well ahead of his peers.

Presumably highly educated as well, the elder Lord Tai taught his sons many methods and techniques which Tai Lou Ye would often employ during his (27) investigations with Tse. Through flashbacks, we had glimpses of Tai's childhood, and learnt he had a happy childhood with fond (28) memories of his schooldays and his brother. (and a scowling plump kiddo! So Chan Nam featured in the background extensively XD) So Chan Nam mentioned later that he was kicked out of the school by their teacher due to Tai's interference, indirectly letting the viewers know of Tai's firm belief in morality since he was young.

Things looked bright for the young Tai Chung Man as he too harbored his own dreams of becoming an official someday. However, as fate would have it, his father's financial state went down badly in their final year of schooling as a result of supporting his twin sons through the famous school, and soon, the elder Lord Tai found himself heavily in debt. He only had enough money to fund one person to progress further in his studies. As both of his sons were equally-intelligent, Lord Tai decided that the choice would be made by the means of a draw before the ancestral altar of their home, and the brother who picked the longer straw would be the one given the chance and opportunity. However, (29) Tai Chung Mo begged his brother to deceive their father together into allowing Chung Mo to leave for the city, as Chung Mo's health was frail and his dearest wish was to become an official. Helpless, his younger brother agreed. When the fated day arrives, ironically the (30) longer straw indeed falls into Chung Man’s hands. Upon (31) pretending to have drawn the longer straw, Tai Chung Mo left for the city, and did well in his exams subsequently.

Unfortunately, upon his appointment as official, Tai Chung Mo began succumbing to the (32) powers of material wealth, idling his time away in brothels at leisure and pleasure, accepting bribes. His father was incensed, and his health detoriated. Finally, Lord Tai passed away. Tai Chung Mo neither cared nor bothered to return to pay his respects to his late father, leaving a disbelieving and broken Chung Man to handle matters on his own.

Later, it is learned that Tai was previously in the service of official So Chan Tung as a (33) police marshall in Suzhou, and was unrightfully punished (e.g. repeatedly being slapped)when he speaks out against So's harsh ways and errors in investigation and judgment. Disgraced and dejected, Tai's life takes on a downward spiral from that point on. His wife has seemingly committed suicide by jumping headfirst into a river, yet her body cannot be found. Heartbroken, (34) Tai then vows never to utter a word again until his wife can be found, blaming himself for the recent slew of tragedies that had seemingly driven her to her death.

He then leaves Fung Loi district, wandering to different places, presumably looking for his wife. It is 5 years later when he is employed by Tse Chong Tin to aid his son; (35) five years of silence which goes unbroken until shortly after he meets Tse Wong Seung, and the wheels of fate begin in motion once more.

"I will not die!"

In a conversation with Tse, Tai cautiously reveals to him a little of his past, saying Sai Mui reminded him deeply of himself in his younger days, wilder, unrestrained, and more tongue-in-cheek, and though unsaid-a happier person. This allows us to assume that the Tai we see in The Gentle Crackdown II storyline is considerably subdued, and a shadow of his former self. Tai has emerged from his troubles older in every sense, wiser, more cynical. (Completing his metamorphosis into a lovable angst-bunny, ohoho)

However, the one part of his past that can never be undone is So Chan Tung, and Tai becomes hurt and angry when he is persuaded to accept So Chan Tung's (forced) apology. In a (36) rare display of emotion, the usually cool and collected Tai denounces So Chan Tung publicly in front of the whole town during the banquet, citing his past crimes, and stamping down hard upon his official head dress. (It is interesting to note that instead of apologizing profusely to the higher ranked So Chan Tung like any sane person would do, Tse runs off immediately to pacify a visibly distressed Tai instead. ^^)

In the same event, Tai also gave us an idea of what he thought about his own appearance. He openly stated how he did not like his own face, as it is always frowning; a result of all the hardships he went through.

Tai is presumably the more conservative and traditional of the duo. Firstly-he has portrayed a belief in God and retribution twice; once-when he takes an oath by the divine not to speak anymore until his wife is found, the second when he (37) slaps So Chan Nam after Tse's wedding. Tai also believes in reincarnation, hoping to meet Tse in a better place and time in lifetimes to come. His method of deceiving Tse through his friend's father using spirit apparition in dreams also gives picture to his own personal belief in the afterlife. He is also a filial son and loving brother, caring for his father right up till his death, and still cares for Tai Chung Mo very deeply, believing he could still be saved.

Tai is also recklessly selfless and loyal to the bone, as shown in the scene where he corners So Chan Nam in an alleyway, and pleads with him to leave Tse and his family out of his personal vengeance. In a fit of rage, So Chan Nam (38) beats him up, but Tai does not resist or fight back and lets him vent his anger by inflicting pain on Tai, part of him hoping that So Chan Nam would let Tse go, even though it is obviously a futile attempt.

From someone beginning with good intents to uphold virtue and morality in the courts of China, Tai becomes (39)consumed with his mission to eradicate all corrupt officials mercilessly, and upon taking his older brother's identity, this dream falls into place even further. However, an equally stubborn and defiant Tse refuses to step aside and watch as his best friend begins a slow but sure descend to his downfall, as his mask is further unraveled each time- right till the conclusion of this series.

The series concludes with Tai's departure from Leung Choi county permanently, exiled with a new life and identity, wandering far and wide to bring justice to the people.

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