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Guardian Recap: Episode 24 "The Case of the Hardcore Gamer"

After fielding a call about an “incident” at Dragon City Hospital where a Doctor Jin Hao attempted suicide, the Chief and Shen Wei head out to investigate. With Yunlan feigning politeness and griping about Shen Wei keeping secrets, (Remember when he said how he was willing to wait until Shen Wei was ready to tell him everything himself? Well, apparently Yunlan doesn't.) Things grow tense between them. The cries of a panicked nurse interrupt their spat, and Shen Wei stops her just in time from harming herself.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Doctor Cheng examines a young boy. When he consistently ignores her, she snatches his video game from him and tries to get him to talk to her about a friend of his who passed away, Mr Tan. The boy ignores her and runs off with his game.

On the street outside the SID, Xiao Guo overhears the property owner of the fruit stand next door complaining about how he can't get rent money from Wang Xiang Yang. Xiao Guo realizes that the man he saw at the graveyard before might have been Wang and wonders what happened.

The Chief and Shen Wei keep vigil over the nurse who tried to hurt herself. When she regains consciousness, she claims she's being haunted by the spirit of a dead patient, Mr. Tan, because she and Doctor Jin failed to save his life.

Xiao Guo does some sleuthing on his own and returns to the graveyard for some answers about the fruit seller and his wife. Almost immediately, he scares himself when he spots the same young girl from before sitting by Li Qian's grandmother's grave.

Back at the hospital, the Chief and Shen Wei sit with Dr Cheng in her office as she explains that she grew up with Zu Ma, the boy addicted to video games, and treats him like family. The boy storms out of the office and Dr Cheng reveals he is actually twenty years old.

The Chief suddenly receives a call from Lao Chu who tells him it's possible Mr Tan may have committed suicide. Yunlan tells him to bring Xiao Guo back to headquarters when he runs across him, and lo and behold that's exactly what happens. Xiao Guo is so excited to introduce Lao Chu to the young girl he ran into named Dong Nan, but she's disappeared.

Yunlan tasks Lin Jing with playing a mobile game and giving him a report on it. Since he doesn't learn much more beyond how very few people still play it, he tries it himself while waiting in Dr Cheng's office. Even though he seems relaxed and nonchalant, the Chief is very subtly asking the doctor pointed questions about Zu Ma's connection with Mr Tan. Dr Cheng hedges and evades, offering Yunlan a cup of coffee. Within seconds of drinking it, he falls asleep, and she takes off to confront the Merit Brush owner, Bai Xu Xia.

In flashback, we see that she overheard Zu Ma speaking with Ya Qiang, who gave him the idea of using his Dixing ability to manipulate people into harming themselves. The Crow Tribe leader explained that the Merit Brush had now fully awakened his abilities to be capable of much more.

Yunlan finally awakens from his drug induced nap and realizes he shouldn't trust food or drink given to him by others. He's still regaining his bearings when he notices a small metallic object fused to his forearm. He tries to pull it off without success. He immediately calls Da Qing to bring the rest of the crew to the hospital.

He leaves Dr Cheng's office and finds her waiting there for him. He tries to speak with her, but she's acting strangely. (She sounds exactly like an NPC guide in any standard RPG.) She starts explaining that if he passes certain missions, she will take him to the Final Boss. Yunlan, to his credit, realizes that he's stuck in some sort of game and goes along with things, trying to get some answers. She explains the game has no respawns (i.e. he can die and will not come back), and the metallic device on his arm is an explosive tracker that will kill him and anything near him if he fails a mission or leaves early. (High stakes game then.)

She leaves him outside a room where Zu Ma is waiting to gloat about how awesome his “game” is. He reveals that he blames Nurse Wei and Dr Jin for Mr Tan's death because he warned them his friend was suicidal and they did nothing to save him. Just as he finishes ranting, Dr Cheng's voice comes over the speaker to say that Mission One will begin now. Yunlan has no choice but to comply.

He tries to call the SID crew and warn them to stay away, but no one picks up. Mission One is a literal Russian Roulette level with Nurse Wei and a loaded revolver. (Holly crap! This guy is twisted.) After four rounds, Yunlan tries to surrender, but the nurse pulls the trigger, it goes off, only to shoot water in her face. They're both surprised, and Yunlan is declared the winner.

Mission Two is called a 2D fighting level. The targets? The SID crew under complete control of the game. The weapon? A large feather duster?! (Um, ok. Sure.) Then for no clear reason, Yunlan suddenly starts having fun with the game and does what looks like a ridiculously over the top action sequence from a cheesy movie and knocks all four members of his team off their feet. Mission success.

The Final Boss is Doctor Jin Hao. The mission demands that Yunlan choose between two glasses, one of which is obviously poisoned. Given no other choice (because the game is rigged to kill the doctor is he does nothing), Yunlan randomly chooses one and drinks. Just water. Relieved, but angry, Yunlan rants about the obviously unfair rules and the doctor robotically drinks the other glass. He collapses begging not to die while Yunlan can only watch.

Zu Ma rushes into the room panicking that the game won't stop. He's already tried to end it when he realized people could get hurt, but can't seem to. As he cries over Doctor Jin, Shen Wei at last appears, (like the Hero of the game) knocking the cell phone from the boy's hands, in turn, freeing Yunlan from the game. But before anyone can relax, Zu Ma explains there was one final stage.

Mission Three, it turns out, is a human bomber level. There are explosives hidden in his ward that can destroy the entire hospital. (Seriously?!) Shen Wei is the one who finds the device. (And nearly blows himself up because of his cluelessness with technology.)

Luckily, Yunlan is nearby to help, because the second Shen Wei's dark energy touches it, the timer counts down faster. The only choice is to disarm the bomb by hand. The two of them have a moment where Shen Wei apologizes for keeping secrets and Yunlan once again assures him he can wait for answers. (Then why were you even fighting?) After a few snips of needle nose pliers, no more bomb threat. That was...easy.

Sadly, the strain of having his ability forcefully awakened by the Merit Brush is too much for Zu Ma's body, and he dies. (For such a solemn scene, there's a funny bit where Shen Wei nudges Yunlan over to comfort the doctor that I could watch over and over.)

That night, Shen Wei and Yunlan try to make sense of what happened at the hospital. Obviously, the Merit Brush owner has a deep hatred of that place. There's bound to be another connection there if they can find it.

Xiao Guo interrupts their meeting with a new case involving a taxi driver who went into a rage for no reason. Zhu Hao is a normally honest and timid man who is suddenly behaving aggressively. During his interrogation, Xiao Guo checks him for injuries and is infected with dark energy.

Notable Characters

Zu Ma

Memorable Quotes

“For the sake of those we want to protect, and for the things we fight for, sometimes we can't have it easy.” Zhao Yunlan

“You weren't in control of the game. The game controlled you.” Zhao Yunlan

“Da Ge, we are a part of each other's lives now. If you were to die, do you think I'll be able to feel well?” Zhao Yunlan to Shen Wei

“I'm sorry. The things I kept from you, I will tell you one day.” Shen Wei

“Don't worry. This day will come.” Zhao Yunlan

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