Side dish: Apple may have acquired a taste for cup noodle, but that doesn’t mean you need to go low rent, as well. Serious Eats has recipe for you to Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Noodles.
The apartment door of comatose criminal, Wan opens suddenly, and reveals his sister from the mainland, Ching. The neighbours are all amazed at how wholesome she appears to be in comparison to her shady brother. Regardless, everyone decides that it is best that they keep their distance from Ching, because of the ongoing police investigation on her brother.
However, the police also appear to be won over by Ching. Police supervisor, Wu Sir (Junior Anderson) was the one who arranged for her to gain access to her brother’s apartment after seeing her cry over him at the hospital. Wu Sir is ready to conclude that Ching has nothing to do with the loan shark investigation when his subordinate, Apple (Priscilla Wong) questions his conclusion, based on her gut feeling. Her partner, Tai Shu (Edwin Siu) mocks her intuition.
The next day, Apple catches Ching sneaking out of Wan’s apartment with a suitcase. When Ching runs into superstitious neighbour, Lin Heung (Rachel Kan), and housewife, Dan Dan (Mandy Wong), she claims that she is off to visit her brother. The women invite themselves along, and in Wan’s hospital room, Dan Dan inflicts some physical abuse on his unconscious body under the guise of demonstrating how to care for Wan.
After having one of her colleagues monitor the women, Apple is able to come across them ‘by chance’ at the restaurant, and join in on dim sum. Apple watches in disbelief as the other women clamour to feed and give items to Ching. However, when Ching has an appointment with Wu Sir at the police precinct, the women all suddenly find excuses not to accompany her. Only Apple volunteers to take her to the police station.
Apple and her colleagues watch from a behind a two way mirror as Wu Sir interviews Ching. The entire exercise starts to look less like an interrogation, and more like flirting. Apple’s colleagues purposely let it slip that Wan is under investigation for being a loan shark, and Ching instantly pleads her brother’s innocence.
After Ching leaves, with cab money from Wu Sir, the police supervisor reams out his subordinates for leaking information to Ching. Apple claims responsibility, because she wanted to see what Ching’s reaction would be. Wu Sir sees innocence whereas Apple trusts her instincts, which tell her that Ching is not as innocent as she appears.
Apple’s strategy to lose money in the stock market in order to have a legitimate reason to contact loan sharks finally succeeds when Apple loses nearly $100,000. Since a fair portion of the seed money belonged to Wu Sir, he collapses and foams at the mouth upon hearing the news.
Tai Shu helps Apple to initiate the next phase of her plan: arguing loudly over the money she took for all the neighbours to see. They start up just as Dan Dan and her family arrive to mediate, and it escalates until Apple abruptly leaves.
Apple camps out at the beauty salon of Fung Nei (Kaki Leung), and reveals her need for loan shark assistance. The other women are against the idea, and end up offering to lend her their own savings. Apple can only look dolefully grateful as her plan backfires.
Meanwhile, Tai Shu is talking things over with Dan Dan’s husband who is trying to get him to forgive his wife. Dan Dan’s husband downplays the severity of Apple’s actions, and one can’t help thinking if he will be this reasonable when his wife’s money problems come to light.
Back in their apartment, Apple reports to Tai Shu about the women’s well-intended aversion to her involvement with loan sharks. Tai Shu is more skeptical, and thinks that the women were just putting on a show for Apple. Now that they are working cooperatively, Apple is receptive to having one of Tai Shu’s cup noodles, and Tai Shu is amazed.
Dan Dan’s daughter is traumatized by the public squabble between Tai Shu and Apple, fearing that her parents might do the same, and then divorce. Dan Dan and her husband reassure her that they have nothing to fight about, thus ensuring maximum carnage when Dan Dan’s secret loan shark connection is revealed to her husband.
Sure enough, Dan Dan’s husband is hunting down a flying cockroach in the bedroom when he uncovers the compromising photo that Wan took to blackmail Dan Dan. When he confronts his wife about the photo, she provides some unconvincing lies before revealing the truth. Dan Dan’s husband only stops shouting when they discover their daughter crying over her worst fears come to life. The couple try their best to convince their daughter that they will not be getting a divorce. However, the couple sleep in separate beds that night.
The next day, Dan Dan and her husband put on a good show for the sake of their daughter. However, as soon as their daughter is out of sight, Dan Dan’s husband coldly tells her that she is on her own.
The estate housewives are trying to track down the opera singer that Apple’s mother is searching for. They even ask Fung Nei’s mother-in-law, who is a long time resident of the estate, but she denies knowing anyone by the name. Fung Nei’s mother-in-law secretly looks disquieted that someone is searching for her.
Lin Heung is doing a tarot card reading with Ching. Unbeknownst to Lin Heung, Ching uses cards up her sleeve to manipulate the reading. All three of Lin Heung’s selected cards are ill omens, and Ching offers up a charmed bracelet at this opportune moment. When Lin Heung insists on paying for the bracelet, Ching cheats her out of $3000.
Back in Wan’s apartment, Ching is swilling beer and pouting over the mere $3000 that she has conned. Ching accidentally breaks Wan’s incense burner, and finds a USB memory stick and a key. She realizes that they must be valuable, but is baffled by how they can be used.
This episode was a great improvement over recent ones for a number of reasons. Apple and Tai Shu are actually working together on the investigation, and though they continue to bicker, it does not get in the way of their job. In fact, it was sweet to see Tai Shu reassure Apple about their boss’s collapse, and for her to brush off his taunts rather than try to beat him.
Another satisfying moment was when Dan Dan’s unsavoury connection with a loan shark was discovered by her husband. Now, their sickeningly sweet relationship can finally be tempered by some resentment and shame, because not even the possibility of the husband committing bigamy with a foreign hussy made any lasting impact.
I was so pleased that the show is finally focusing on what matters that I did not even mind the missing opera singer side story, nor Ching pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. In fact, the latter scenario served to make Apple look competent, again, since she was the only one who sensed something rotten about Ching.
I hope this is a turning point for “Madam Cutie on Duty”. Here’s hoping that there are no more irrelevant side stories taking center stage in the second half the of the series.