Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Election Episode 1 Recap

The series starts with the 2017 Chief Executive election. Despite the efforts of the Occupy Movement, Hong Kong still only has a restricted form of democratic elections. While the votes are still being counted, the leading candidate, Wai Man Hin (Poon Chan Leung) enters an old apartment building to meet with a secret group of people that had orchestrated his election win. He promises that once he becomes Chief Executive, they will no longer have to be in hiding and can work with him as part of his government. He says that tomorrow will be the beginning of a new era for Hong Kong, marked by fairness and equality. They cheer and celebrate Wai's pending victory.

At the convention centre where the votes are being counted, Wai's wife, Yip Ching (Angelica Lee) is anxious about the whereabouts of her husband. Over the phone, Wai reassures her that he will be back before the counting is over.

The final tally is announced. Wai is declared to be the next Chief Executive, but he is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, firefighters are working frantically in the rain to pull someone out from a flipped car. The bloodied man turns out to be Wai. The caption says that his death is ruled to be an accident and that after much debate, it was decided that the current Chief Executive would remain for another term, until 2022.

Fast forward to four years later. Yip Ching is now leader of a labour union. Dock workers have been on strike for 34 days. Upset at the stalled talks, the workers want to start a violent protest, but Yip Ching reminds them that the reason they have gotten support from the public is because they have insisted on peaceful protests from the start.

Their insistence on remaining peaceful is the same as the ideology of the Occupy Movement. The worker strike alludes to the Hong Kong dock strikes in 2013 (Wikipedia). 

Yip Ching is invited to meet with the management of the dock company. To her surprise, they agree to meet all the demands of the workers, with only one condition – Yip Ching must personally announce that the strike is over. She questions why management has a sudden change of heart and the CEO reveals that they have been offered a deal by someone from the DNRA Party – if they agreed to the workers' demands, the party will block legislation that would have allowed new competition to the industry. Yip Ching guesses who set up this deal.

The DNRA Party refers to the DAB (Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong), which is the biggest pro-Beijing party in Hong Kong.

Luk Wai To (Savio Tsang) had just announced his intention to run in the 2022 Chief Executive elections, but is discovered unconscious and undressed inside a car with a woman.

Luk Wai To resembles Henry Tang, who has family ties to the Communist Party and was the early favourite in the 2012 Chief Executive election, only to be brought down by scandals. 

Cheung Kwai Lung (Gregory Wong), who had been part of Wai's secret campaign team and is now Luk's campaign manager, wakes up to find many voice messages telling him about Luk's scandal. Cheung rushes out, but Yip Ching is waiting for him. She demands to know why he set up the deal with the dock company. He says that he has planned this for a whole year and tells her to trust him, as he had always helped her with her labour movements over the past few years. Yip Ching reluctantly agrees to do as he says.

Members of the DNRA hold an internal meeting to discuss how they should handle Luk's scandal. They vote to decide whether to continue supporting Luk's candidacy. The vote is tied and the president, Song Man San (Liu Kai-chi), has the deciding vote. He votes no.

Song Man San can be comparable to Jasper Tsang, who is the current president of the Legislative Council and also former chairman of the DAB.

After the meeting, Song receives a call from a Mr. Wong. His face falls as he talks to Mr. Wong in Mandarin. Afterwards, he goes out to tell everyone to forget about the meeting and that the entire DNRA Party is to support Luk's campaign. Cheung comes in to say that he has a plan on how to deal with the scandal, but he is yelled at by Song, who insists that the scandal was his responsibility. Song tells him to either quit or be fired. Cheung angrily quits, but not before calling everyone in the party idiots for blindly supporting the idiot Luk.

The Mandarin speaking Mr. Wong represents the voice of the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, Yip Ching makes the announcement to the workers about the successful negotiations. Cheung calls her and tells her to immediately announce that she intends to run in the 2022 Chief Executive election, but she refuses.

That night, Cheung tries to convince Yip Ching to run for Chief Executive. He says that this is the only chance for her to find out the real truth about her husband's death. He shows her the document that had been used to rule her husband's death as an accident, which was missing an appendix on the last page. The only way for them to access the confidential document would be if she became Chief Executive.

Yip Ching receives a call from a reporter who said she had interviewed Wai Man Hin a few days before his death. They meet up and the reporter gives her a copy of the interview, where Wai talks about his dream of re-establishing Hong Kong as a fair and just society. He says that his dream was inspired by his wife, Yip Ching.

The next day, Yip Ching holds a press conference to announce her intention of running in the 2022 election, in order to continue her husband's legacy and hope for a just society. Watching the broadcast on TV, Song looks on thoughtfully. Cheung is also watching the broadcast in a bedroom with a woman. He praises the woman for making up such a touching interview, otherwise Yip Ching would not have decided to run...

Election countdown: 141 days


  1. Awesome recap, miriamfanz! Thanks for doing this, as it's tremendously helpful for people like me who hates politics and wouldn't bother to even try understanding the correlation between the current political situation in HK and what is depicted in the series.

    I know that this series will probably be a bit more complicated and harder to understand for some folks (especially those who are used to TVB's "no need to use your brain to think" style of series), but hopefully they don't confuse the complicated political part (politics in and of itself is complicated) with the quality of the series and the top notch acting.

    Are you planning to do a recap of every episode?

    1. I've seen some comments from people who don't like this series because of the politics, but I personally love anything to do with politics. I think this series presents a fairly realistic portrayal of HK politics.

      I will be doing recaps for each episode. As a matter of fact, I just posted the recap for ep. 2 :)

  2. I must say even with my total anticipation for The Election it still started to lose my attention in the 2nd half of this ep... HOWEVER, I think Gregory Wong's character is super interesting and there's enough intrigue there to keep watching.

    Thanks for the recap!