It’s been 3 days since Ruse of Engagement (“Ruse”) wrapped up it’s 5-weeks long airing with the final episode 25. Yet, it remains on the a hot topic on the Weibo topic-of-the-moment chart. Even the uproar brought about by Qiong Yao’s open letter to Yu Zheng stayed on the chart for about 2/3 days only.
Sad to say, Ruse is staying on the chart for unwelcomed reasons – the ending.
Main complaints from the Netizens are (SPOILERS AHEAD):
- Wai Sir 威 Sir disappeared from screen the moment Ngo Sir 敖 Sir came back to ATF. He didn’t even appear in the final episode, even though he supposedly heads the Action Team and should be commanding the ATF members on ground.
- Fu Wang Leung 负能量’s fate is unexplained; did ATF manage to save him from the deadly virus?
- There was no reconciliation scene between Carson and his mom after she finds out that he was actually undercover again.
- Why would Carson point a gun at Jessica, when she was unarmed? He could just arrest her, knock her unconscious, or, for dramatic effect, point the gun at himself and threaten her with his own life.
- How did Jessica change, within an episode, from objecting her father’s plan to spread the virus and reap profits from his antidote, to suggesting the sale of the virus and antidotes to countries?
- Major complaints against Alfred, who lived true to his name of Pig Head 猪头 from start to end.
- Overall, the ending felt rushed and illogical.
- AND CARSON DIES! FROM SUICIDE!
- Carson died.
- Carson died.
- CARSON DIED!
The last episode really felt rushed and wasted an opportunity to make an impactful closure. Character death does not equates impact. Not when the death does not unfold naturally. Examples of memorable and impactful charcater death/main leads’ separation:
Wong He’s 纪德田’s death in Burning Flames II, which remains till date as the saddest character death on TVB. Who didn’t cry when watching the aftermath of his death, where his daughter Yiu Yiu 瑶瑶 asked Maggie Cheung’s Yan Yee 茵怡 whether her father is not going to return? Just when the audience is cheering him on for finally walking out of his wife’s death and displaying heroism as a firefighter, his death makes us wonder if it would be better off if he remained the unmotivated firefighter he was before his character growth.
Louis Koo’s 徐飞 separation from Jessica Hsuan’s Quin in Detective Investigation Files IV, who is bittersweet and yet a natural choice from Tsui Fei 徐飞. This is the series which made me a LJ-shipper back in the ’00s. Yet I could understand why Tsui Fei could choose to be with Chin Chin and not Quin. It was true to his personality and sense of responsibility. Even Quin, who is as headstrong and firm in her beliefs, can have nothing to say to his choice. It was a waste that no sequel picked up from where it ended, because there was such a rich network of relationships to explore – between Tsui Fei and Quin, Tze San 子山 and Quin, 文婉兰 Ah Man and Tze San (these are the 3 main pairing I recall offhand). My King x Quin reunion could only happen in fanfictions!
What Ruse did effectly cut off hopes for a sequel. What sequel is there when the main character is dead? His death was not explicit, and it could be that he just fell asleep while dreaming sweet dreams of his time with Jessica. But the slow-mo drop of chin and slipping off of hand seem to point to suicide. Even the drink which he sipped had a different colour from the usual mixture he and Jessica shared! Poison, maybe?
Carson is a complex character, and Ruco managed to portray the grey aspect of him well. I didn’t like the air of arrogance around him at the start, but thankfully that part was toned down once he entered ATF proper. Over time, he grew on me as he continues to go against norms and do what he considers most effective for the situation, such as the decoding of the laptop at the warehouse, the hurling of the bomb into air for minimal impact, the liaison with Yip Ting 叶婷 for tipoffs. Such street-wise characters are sadly a rare sight in TV dramas these days.
Similarly, stupid characters such as Pig Head 猪头 is a rare sight in TV dramas. I can forgive him for suspecting his brother on both undercover missions…Ok, who am I kidding? I cannot forgive him for suspecting his brother on the second undercover mission. I mean, he is supposed to be very close to Carson. Perhaops he felt betrayed on the first undercover mission and hence lost faith in his brother. However, I would expect him to be more trusting after that! But no. The moment he saw his brother kiss Yip Ting on the street, he immediately told Jessica that Carson cheated on her, and has changed. It screams to me that he was just trying to drive a wedge between the couple. Was it because Carson refused to tell Alfred the truth behind his rescue that he lost trust again? Carson’s holding back of the truth made ATF suspect that he might have betrayed ATF for his own safety. Why would Alfred think the same; wasn’t he supposed to trust his brother? Or was it pure jealousy at work, that if Carson hadn’t return, he and Jessica would have developed further? I think so. As if falling for the same girl isn’t bad enough, he had to copy Carson in throwing a bomb into the air for “minimal impact”. Problem is, the said bomb contained highly infectious virus, as warned by Ngo Sir! Yet that Pig Head went ahead to throw it into the air, allowing the virus to explode in mid-air on a high rise building in a busy district! I wonder how he graduated to ATF.
And don’t get me started on Jessica. I felt for her when she broke down at Carson’s death. But when she and Alfred started to develop something just months into Carson’s death, all the feelings of sorry flew out of the window. No matter how much you wanted someone to support you after losing a loved one, you do not act that way towards the deceased brother, who you realise has been carrying a torch for you all the while. And the said brother should not, in the name of comforting the brother’s girlfriend, try to woo her! That scene where Carson confronted Alfred at the ATF building about his actions towards Jessica took the words from my mouth!
The excuse of needing comfort is rubbish. Look at Carson after Jessica’s death; he did not reach out to Yip Ting, who we can tell from their interactions is a very close soulmate of Carson, for support. It’s debatable whether he should have. Perhaps with someone to talk to, he wouldn’t have ended his life that way.
Of all the logic loopholes the ending is accused of, I think Carson’s suicide flowed quite naturally (albeit from the logic flaws before that decision). He was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt for causing Jessica’s death. Carson is a stubborn person and sticks to his principles. Even when faced with his mother’s disappointment and accusations, he persisted in his undercover role. Even when faced with a choice between love and duty, he wanted to do what was right. He wanted Jessica to do what was right.
When this sense of righteousness and duty caused a series of events that led to his love’s passing, I can imagine his world crashing down. Was he right in making the decision to arrest Jessica? If he cannot even protect his loved ones, what is the meaning of his existence. In the end, he was suffocated to death by Jessica’s final words, 我爱错了你 I misplaced my love in you (I think it will be a classic quote for this drama).
While I can understand Carson’s suicide, I can’t say that I’m not disappointed with how the scriptwriters decided to end the drama. The loose ends would have pointed to a potential sequel, but with both leads dead, I doubt the possibility of one. Not when the series was initially warehoused for 2 years, when there has been numerous complaints on the violence showed and when the ratings aren’t stellar (despite the high number of views on streaming websites, it didn’t constantly break 30, which is the low benchmark for a hit)..
What a waste.
My ideal ending and sequel would have been:
Carson pretends to be knocked unconcious and allows Jessica to escape. Jessica then took over the helms of 惊鸟, driven by vengeance and guilt for killing her father. (惊鸟 is supposedly an international terrorist organisation and shouldn’t be so easily destroyed!) Carson continues as part of ATF, though he is tormented by guilt of acting against his principles by letting Jessica go. I don’t mind a replicate of the superior/subordinate teambonding a la Michael Miu x Sammul Chan x Ron Ng in The Academy, where Ngo Sir helps Carson to find himself again.
Yip Ting finds out that her dad actually feigned his death and has all along been a partner of Chung Lai Him (Jessica’s father). She is disappointed and decides to help sabotage the terrorist plots her father cooks up. Carson and Yip Ting continues to team up via official and un-official investigations to unearth terrorist plots, all seemingly intended to challenge ATF (and Carson especially). Just when they thought that they had arrested the mastermind of 惊鸟 (Yip Ting’s father), they realise that Jessica is the actual mastermind. Yip Ting helps Carson get over his guilt of leading Jessica onto the road of no return and they finally develope beyond pure soulmates (Yes, I kind of ship Yip Ting and Carson).
In the final showdown, Jessica, who wants to see how Carson will choose this time round, holds Yip Ting hostage at 1 end of the Hong Kong island, and plants a bomb at the other end of the island. Will he choose to save his love or will he choose to act for justice and go for the bomb, which only he can defuse?
How’s that? :^)
But no, all the potential for building onto existing character development has been cut short. is it because of Yoyo’s departure for a rival TV station? They will never admit and we will never know. All I know is, what a waste.
Here, have a FMV to savour the good acting from Ruco in the drama. To top things, the backing track is 天網 by Eason Chan, the theme song to 雷霆第一關 in which the lead male also went undercover and the OTP didn’t have their happily ever after because he disappeared into the vast ocean.
Ruco has been on my radar since he appeared as 何有求/命运 in My Date With A Vampire III. His good acting, well crafted and tear-inducing character, and of course clean, good looks, left an impression. I’m glad that he jumped to TVB and is finally given lead roles to act. His hardwork all these years have paid off as he is not just eye candy, but eye candy with acting chops to boast of. Now that his capabilities are recognised, it would be so much easier for us fans to catch him on TV! I’m really looking forward to his new drama with Tavia and Kevin. I’m quite sure he will be second lead this time round, since Kevin is far more popular than Ruco is. However, I’ll give anything to watch him and Tavia on screen together!
How about a The Truth sequel? Even Ruco mentioned it on his weibo!
Ending off with a dose of laughter, the best medicine, to heal our broken hearts from the ending: