Warning: Contains Spoilers
The Confidant was a series I had anticipated after knowing Wayne Lai and Michelle Yim were going to be the leads in it. Their performance did not disappoint and the drama explored many interesting themes. I felt the story was very well crafted and I could foresee a lot of character development and changes (mostly characters turning bad) as the story progressed.
However, there was something about it that never got me hooked. I enjoyed the beginning, but then soon after I felt the story got quite slow and dragged on in some areas (mostly characters I didn’t care for as much e.g Aimee Chan (Princess Wo-shek). I became quiet bored of the drama but continued to watch on for the story to pick up and while I waited for more episodes of Silver Spoon Sterling Shackles. The Confidant has a grand feel to the series- the cast, genre and opening themesong. When I started watching it, I didn’t have any background knowledge on the historical context it was based on, nor who the historical figures were. After doing a bit of reading, I was interested to see TVB’s adaption/interpretation of history. Not bad indeed.
What kind of disturbed me about this series is how it seems to promote doing bad deeds, especially towards the end of the series. Those who are kind-hearted and forgive are portrayed to be the ‘dumb’ ones as bad things always happen to the good people. It makes you wonder if there really is karma. This is re-enforced over and over in the drama; the countless times Wayne has let people off in hope they’ll change for the good or because of previous friendships. They were not grateful for it either and only used it as another opportunity for them to seek revenge.
Michelle Yim as Empress Dowager Cixi
A very powerful woman who ‘rules’ China. Often misunderstood for her misuse and desire to stay in power, her character constantly has to resolve issues and protect her kingdom. She has quite good chemistry with Wayne Lai and it is comforting to know she has Wayne by her side to support her. While she may seem ruthless, I enjoyed watching her love for her son (played by Oscar Leung). While it may have seemed heartless for her to never trust Maggie Shiu ever since she found out she tried to poison her- that action appeared justified and correct when we find out Maggie’s true intentions and also her alarming warnings against Natalie Tong (Oscar’s wife) in the finale. Overall I think Michelle did a very good good portraying Cixi
Maggie Shiu as Empress Dowager Ci’an
The evil villain of the series, supported by Ngo Wah (Head Eunch). She seemed quite friendly at the start but turns out she is a devil on the inside. She turns quite crazy towards the end and did so many unforgivable things. I thought her character was quite inconsistent throughout the series. I thought she cared about Aimee Chan; I thought she cared about the emperor- Was it really because of how Michelle Yim kept ignoring her and unwilling to forgive her which turned her so evil or was she always like that anyway?
The Eunuch: The 5 “brothers”
Wayne Lai as Lei Lin-ying
I admired his character for his loyalty- to his friends and masters (Selena Li (Concubine Yuen), then later Michelle Yim (Empress Dowager Cixi) and Oscar Leung (Tung-chi Emperor). He was a good character, very intelligent but deliberately buried his talents at the beginning. He didn’t have the urge for power, knowing “Servant are always a servant” and just wanted to live peacefully and not get into other’s business. I think this role is actually pretty hard to play as his character transits to a commanding, powerful Eunuch by Michelle’s side. Although I classified his character as good, his character is still very much human with flaws. For example to protect his friend Nancy- he let her violent/ scumbag husband to die although he could have saved him). In the final episode, we finally see a more ruthless side to his character, after all the traumatic things that happened in his life where his morals around being a good person becomes questionable and his actions can’t be justified. I watched the alternate ending where he actually planned to betray Michelle Yim for self protection, but later changed his mind after realising how much she cared for him. That was kind of creepy to be honest, although given the changing circumstances, its quite a human natural instinct to want to protect oneself. I prefer the original ending where he remained loyal the entire time, although he was at a point in time where he almost gave up hope in humanity (after Raymond Cho and Nancys death)
Raymond Cho as On Tak-ho
I was quite surprised by Raymond Cho’s character development. Based on his overly ambitious desire for power and how well he was good at sucking up to Michelle Yim- I thought he would eventually turn corrupted or turn to Maggie Shiu’s side, with Ngo Wah. His character was a huge contrast to Wayne Lai’s, although they followed the same master (Chung King-fai ). I thought he would ultimately turn out to be the evil guy due to jealousy of Wayne Lai for being Michelle Yim’s favourite. Instead however, he remained loyal to Michelle Yim the entire time and treated Wayne as his own brother.
I felt sorry for him when he did so much for his “wife” when she truly didn’t deserve it. He was blinded by his love for her. She constantly had affairs with other men and even when he knew, he was in denial and pretended he didn’t see and forced himself to be oblivious. He felt he owed her because he wasn’t a true man which left him vulnerable to the evil Ngo Wah (Chan Fuk) who schemed to trick him into there was a cure to his loss of man-hood (if there’s a better word for this lol) His sacrifice for Michelle was quite sad…after all that he’s done- he died with no respect- hung outside naked, and only shamed.. It was Dowager Cixi’s ways to rid the rumours of her having an affair with him. I thought that was a good way of TVB’s interpretation of putting in historical context given that there were rumours of this happening. Only his death were they able to get rid of the rumours although the Emperor (Oscar) still did not believe his mother.
Power Chan as Pang Sam-shun
I wish Power Chan got Best Supporting Actor- he is extremely adorable in the Confidant and is my favourite character in the entire series. While most characters change from good to bad, his character gradually changes from “bad” to good. One of my favourite episodes was when Wayne and Power had to work together to find the missing emperor and where their friendship started building. Previously he was almost like a big bully who goes on about how he doesn’t need friends, spoilt by his evil uncle Ngo Wah. He beat up and locked up Raymond Wong and didn’t let him see his mother for the last time and made Nancy lose her unborn baby..however, we later see the goodness in him, and how he changes and finally values his friendships. His character is pretty much the only one who remains so pure until the end. Even when Wayne turned his back on Michelle Yim after Raymond Cho’s death to start a new life with Nancy, or when Wayne told Power he is going to betray Michelle and work for Natalie Tong (Empress Ka-shun) and Maggie Shiu (Empress Dowager Ci’an) Power remained loyal to the Emperor and refused to leave him not matter what. I’m so happy for him when he joined the group with Wayne and when the emperor valued him so much. He learned to forgive, even Raymond Wong who killed his own uncle . I’m glad his character lives at the end
Raymond Wong as Yiu Sheung-hei
Raymond Wong’s character development was interesting too. At the start, he plays his typical good-guy role where his ambition is to become a medical practitioner. Somehow I’m not that convinced he is as good they make him out to be though- I mean really? He becomes the head in a palace? I liked his character nevertheless As a eunuch, he surely doesn’t act much like a girl. We don’t see much of his feminine side either (unless that’s just the stereotype?) He is very much a man, with emotions and feelings for a woman and he and the princess eventually fall in love. Is that even possible for an eunuch and a princess? In The Confidant – yes. Raymond Wong’s character is pretty much a man which I find quite odd, but interesting at the same time. I didn’t find Raymond Wong and Aimee Chan that cute as a couple…Actually I think it was more Aimee’s character which I did not like ( Nominated for Best Supporting Actress-you gotta be kidding right?) It was also a bit annoying watching Aimee sick all the time (almost like her role in The Last Steep Ascents) and her extremely animated personality made her seem so modern and out of place.
Despite them wanting to elope, Raymond Wong eventually rejects the Princess and lets her marry another man knowing he cannot ever give her the happiness she desires. In exchange to stay away from the princess, Empress Dowager granted him the title of head of the medical department. Years pass but Raymond has never been able to stop thinking about the Princess. I liked how realistic they made the storyline where the Princess actually moved on to love her husband and has put the past with Raymond behind her. Raymond’s love for the princess made him extremely vulnerable to the evil Maggie Shiu and Ngo Wah, who misleads and uses him in thinking the Princess still loved him and wanted to elope with him. They then capture the princess and in exchange for her life, he turned his back on his morals, the brotherhood/friendships he had and loyalty towards Michelle Yim- by betraying Raymond Cho and accusing Raymond Cho and Michelle Yim to have an affair. This eventually causes the death of Raymond Cho and turned Oscar (Emperor) against his own mother (Michelle Yim).
Raymond was so devastated to find out Aimee no longer loved him and had no intentions of being with him. Raymond’s love turned into hate. He hated her so much he left her to die. True human nature? Possible. I knew from that point, Raymond’s character had changed. He no longer believed in goodness and only sought revenge. He kills Ngo Wah but fail to kill off Maggie Shui despite his attempts. To reach his goals he was willing to poison the palace and kill the emperor to take revenge on Maggie. From a doctor whose motto and value were always to save those no matter what, he turned blinded by revenge. In the end, Wayne and Power let Raymond off..not sure if that was a wise decision…
Edwin Siu as Ling Tim Sau
I disliked his character from the beginning. He was foolish and always appeared evil to me, despite being Wayne’s apprentice. And yes, as expected, he betrays Wayne and the gang and worked for Ngo Wah and Maggie Shiu for nothing other than power. He became one of the most evil characters in the series; and I hated him to the bones: he brought in prostitutes for the emperor which eventually caused his death, caused the death of Raymond Cho, sold drugs to Maggie (which I won’t mind to much haha) and in the end, kills Nancy Wu (Sin-yun) when Wayne let him stay with them. He was so annoying to watch that I don’t even want to talk about him haha. He was ungrateful and never learned from his mistakes…Seriously– evil til the end!!
Nancy Wu as Sin-Yun :
Nancy plays a palace maid who was one of Wayne’s closest friends and later becomes his lover, after she is finally freed from her husband (played by Eric Li) who is a total drug addict. She was tortured so badly that it became quite realistic whenshe wanted to die with him because he was a living nightmare. I liked the scene where Wayne was there to help her rid her smoking addiction- reminded me of Sheren Tang and Wayne Lai in “No Regrets” xD I’m still not sure whether Wayne loved Nancy the way she loved him since he was quite hesitant about his feelings near the middle of the series and he felt more like family with her.
I think her death was quite sad. It was sad because Wayne, Nancy and their new adopted baby boy would have been such a happy family..if only!! In the alternate ending, Nancy does not die but remains unconscious (Note: there were no scarring left on her face despite the stabbing!) and at the end- wakes up. In short, alternate ending was too unrealisc…but I will let that slip by..
What are your overall thoughts on “The Confidant”? I know I haven’t really spoken about some of the other characters. These were just the main ones I wanted to talk about…
The ratings seemed pretty good and was nominated in top 3 best series for 2012 – have you seen it?