Undercover cop, Apple (Priscilla Wong) and her partner Tai Shu (Edwin Siu) are forced to house her mother after she has a fight with her husband. Apple’s mother insists that she will not go home until her husband apologies, but Apple’s father will be out of town on business. Thus, Apple and Tai Shu are forced to host the most fussy houseguest ever, for at least a few days.
Apple’s mother is about to join her daughter in the bedroom when an annoyed Tai Shu directs her to sleep on the couch, instead. In the privacy of the bedroom, Apple kicks Tai Shu onto the floor. Over the course of the night, Apple’s mother knocks on the bedroom door multiple times, asking for various favours. After exhausting himself jumping in and out of bed, Tai Shu ends up sleeping by Apple’s side until morning. Apple secretly moons over Tai Shu, then acts outraged at Tai Shu for taking advantage of the situation.
The next day, Apple receives another delivery of flowers from flirty colleague, Valentino. Apple’s mother expresses a preference for a cop over a plumber as a son-in-law. A delivery of clothing and toiletries arrives for Apple’s mother courtesy of her husband, and Apple’s mother is dismayed that her husband has chosen to conduct business over begging her to come home.
The family servants also brought Apple some of her skincare products and her box of mementos, which include teenage Apple’s letter to her classmate, Tai Shu. Apple had ripped the letter up before giving it to Tai Shu.
Apple’s undercover operation has clearly changed her as she chooses the wet markets over the supermarket for cheap groceries, then eschews restaurants for home cooking. Apple’s mother is impressed by how adept her daughter has become at assessing produce and seafood. However, when Apple’s mother objects to Apple eating so much seafood, it comes to light that she thinks Apple got knocked up. Apple’s mother is overjoyed when Apple denies being pregnant.
Single mother, Lin Heung (Rachel Kan) has been ignoring her son, Chit’s phone calls, because Chit thinks he is calling his male online friend, Iron Man. Lin Heung’s friend, Fung Nei (Kaki Leung) decides that the solution is to find a real Iron Man. She enlists the assistance of hometown friend, Ga Lun to play the role. Ga Lun meets up with Chit while Lin Heung secretly listens in, thus learning that that Chit has back acne and is actually studying while giving the appearance of reading comic books.
Lin Heung is really pushing her luck when she gives Chit a soup to treat his acne, then texts him as Iron Man to ask if he is enjoying soup. Of course, Chit figures out who Iron Man really is. Lin Heung explains that her disguise was her only way to communicate with him. Chit breaks the soup bowl as he rushes out the door to go stay with his father.
Housewife, Dan Dan’s husband spots Ching, the younger sister of comatose loan shark, Wan, and decides to spy on her. He notices the USB key around her neck and brings it to the attention of Apple and Tai Shu. They note that the trash collector who took the loan shark money wore the same necklace, and consider the possibility that Ching is the mastermind behind the recent scheme.
Fung Nei’s husband reveals that he is attempting to start a company that will allow him to quit his job on the mainland and live full-time with his family. They decide not to tell his mother in case the plan fails to pan out. However, his mother catches the tail end of the conversation and jumps to the conclusion that they want to send her to a nursing home.
Apple and her mother run into Fung Nei’s mother-in-law at a free medical check up clinic. That is how they discover that both women have high blood pressure, and that Fung Nei’s dour mother-in-law is actually two years younger than Apple’s glamourous mother.
Over dim sum, Fung Nei’s mother-in-law reveals that her son and Fung Nei plan to send her to a nursing home. Apple disputes the notion since Fung Nei usually treats her well, and Apple’s mother points out that 54 years old is too young for a nursing home. She eases her way into inviting Fung Nei’s mother-in-law to join her in a Chinese opera duet, and the severe woman no longer seems adverse to the idea.
Tai Shu finds Chit at the arcade, avoiding his stepmother. Chit admits that he prefers his mother, but he is still angry about how she deceived him into thinking she was a male online friend. Tai Shu insists that Lin Heung did what she did for Chit’s benefit, and that he should try to see the situation from her point of view.
Lin Heung is worriedly waiting at home for Chit when her ex-husband and his pregnant wife arrive. The wife is hostile towards Lin Heung and accuses her husband of pouring his money into supporting Chit. In the middle of her tirade, Chit arrives home, and stands up for his pushover of a mother before throwing his stepmother and father out. Lin Heung cries with relief as her son promises to never run away again.
Tai Shu’s own advice to Chit echoes in his ears as he arrives at his mother’s apartment building. Tai Shu watches as his mother is almost hit by a car trying to retrieve runaway durian. That night, Tai Shu has another nightmare about his mother, and Apple overhears his mother’s full name.
The next day, Apple has afternoon tea with Suki, not knowing that she is Tai Shu’s mother. Suki gives her a homemade durian cake, and insists she bring it home to her husband. That is when Suki learns that Tai Shu used to love durian, but now, gets angry at the sight of them due to a family incident. Suki’s face falls as she realizes that her abandonment of Tai Shu is probably the incident that Apple is referring to.
Apple overhears Suki give her full name to a travel agent, and realizes who Suki actually is. She tricks Suki into revealing her true identity. Suki tearfully expresses her fear that her husband and son will never forgive her. She has decided to return to Japan, happy that Tai Shu has found a good wife.
Apple brings a letter from Suki to Tai Shu’s father in which she directs him to go to a law firm. He angrily reveals this to Tai Shu, thinking that Suki wants a divorce. His only regret is that he did not make the first move, because he had hoped to broach the subject face-to-face. Father and son are full of outrage and bravado, but secretly appear despondent over the prospect of divorce.
Tai Shu’s father arrives at the law office and finds out that Suki has arranged a property transfer affidavit. He appears indignant rather than grateful.
Suki is preparing to leave the apartment with Apple’s help when Tai Shu’s father confronts her at the front door. He curses her for assuming that the apartment can make up for everything she has done.
The most disturbing aspect of this episode is the repeating message that any act of deceit is acceptable if it was done with the best of intentions: Lin Heung communicating with Chit as Iron Man, Fung Nei and her husband withholding the possibility of his return home from his mother, and Apple pretending Tai Shu had been injured to compel Suki to reveal her true identity.
Granted, the entire premise of “Madam Cutie on Duty” is based on lies, what with Apple and Tai Shu pretending to be married, and all of Apple’s estate friends withholding their loan shark debt from their families. In the case of the former, it is for the purposes of crime fighting, and the latter is driven by shame and fear. I would argue that this episode featured duplicity for less compelling and more self-serving reasons.
Whatever Tai Shu says, the person who benefited the most from Lin Heung’s Iron Man disguise was Lin Heung herself. She finally had a speaking relationship with Chit, and she loved it. I have my doubts that Lin Heung had to resort to the online disguise method to convince Chit to study in Australia since he seemed very easily convinced.
Fung Nei and her husband trying not to disappoint his mother is more understandable. Though, maybe they should not have been scheming within earshot of the mother, knowing how paranoid and negative she can be.
The most flippant use of lying had to be Apple scaring Suki into admitting that she is Tai Shu’s mother. She could have simply asked, and gauged by the reaction whether she was right. Of course, Suki felt so guilty about her own withholding of information that it never occurred to her to be outraged. Sitting on the couch without a personal stake in the situation, I can be outraged for her.