Monday, June 6, 2011

POLL RESULTS: Final Scene in “Looking Back in Anger 義不容情”

First, my apologies for the delay in putting up this post, as I’ve been quite busy lately so haven’t had a chance to work on my blog as much as I would like (plus I got sidetracked with the LOTCH reunion show...LOL!).

Anyway, my latest 80s/90s poll asked the question: In the famous final scene of the series “Looking Back in Anger (義不容情)”, in your opinion, who do you feel is the ‘mystery woman’ who leaves the note for Felix Wong’s character Ding Yau Kin (丁有健)?

The choices:

.> Ding Yau Kin’s WIFE, Ngai Chor Gwan 倪楚君 (played by Carina Lau 劉嘉玲) = 2 votes
.> Ding Yau Kin’s SISTER, Chan Siu Ling 陳少玲 (played by Carrie Ho 何嘉麗) = 1 vote
.> Someone else (Who? Please explain in poll results to be post in 2 weeks) = 0 votes

Before I analyze the results of the poll, let me first explain why I decided to ask the question in the first place. To some, the answer may be ‘obvious’ in a sense based on the development of the storyline that led up to that particular scene -- but upon paying closer attention, the answer actually isn’t that obvious. The fact that in the past 20+ years since the story aired, people continue to debate the ending proves that there is definitely more than meets the eye…

So is the ‘mystery woman’ Carina or Carrie? Or someone else perhaps?

Based on the votes, looks like I was the lone dissenter who voted for Carrie, who played Felix’s adopted sister in the series. Interestingly enough, as many times as I’ve seen this series, I’ve always thought that the ‘mystery woman’ was his sister – never once did I think it was Carina (who played Felix’s wife).

There are a few reasons why I feel that the ‘mystery woman’ is Carrie:

First, the ‘outfit’ that the woman wore (or at least the little that the audiences were able to see, which were pretty much the shoes and stockings) just did not look like what Carina’s character would wear. If I remember correctly, the shoes looked a bit old-fashioned and with Carina’s character having such good fashion sense, it just doesn’t seem reasonable that she would wear shoes like that.

Second, I truly believe that Carina’s character died in the earthquakes and/or landslides in Ethiopia – after Felix had been waiting 10 years to see his wife again (and on such a special occasion, their shared birthday) and she had even called him prior to the disasters to tell him she was returning home (which means she has forgiven him), it just doesn’t make sense to me that she would change her mind suddenly and decide not to return after all. Maybe it’s just hard for me to believe that Carina’s character would ‘play’ Felix like that – it just doesn’t seem like her personality at all in the series.

Third, I didn’t really catch it the first time, but after watching the series several times, I started to see ‘hints’ in the last few scenes of the series (the party scenes at the end where all of the siblings are there) of possibly the siblings knowing the truth (that Carina had died) but just couldn’t bear to break it to Felix – plus he was so adamant that she would definitely show up on their designated meeting day that they probably knew there was nothing they could say or do to convince him otherwise until that day arrived. So when that day came and Carina was a no-show, the sister decides to leave Felix the note so that he will finally be convinced and move on with his life.

So that’s my explanation….right or wrong, I don’t know, but that’s what I’ve believed all these years.

For those who voted, what is your reasoning for your pick? Please feel free to share! :o)


  1. Open endings are great when done well, as in the case of Wai Kai Fai's series like LBIA, Heaven's Retribution, and Greed of Man. I'm still thinking about those endings 20 years later.

    I didn't vote but I agree with your assessment that it probably wasn't Carina, though it makes me sad to think that she most likely did die.

  2. @Clair: Very true! Oftentimes, the series will be excellent from the beginning, but then the 'shoddy' ending totally ruins it. It's very rare to have a truly 'good' ending, especially a 'clever' one like in LBIA that continues to cause debate even now, more than 20 years later.

  3. You're theory makes a whole lot of sense! My reasons aren’t so logical. More of a gut-feeling that it was Carina.

    For purely selfish reasons, I don't want Carina to be dead since she’s one of my favorite characters. I see the note as her way of saying she's figuratively dead. And the series ends with much more dramatic flair if it was Carina rather than Carrie.

    Red Skirt & Shoes = Red Herring. If I put myself in the writer’s shoes, what better way to throw off viewers then by intentionally focusing on Carrie's outfit in the previous scenes.

    The way the hand lingers on Felix's face, I tend to think that it’s Carina’s.

    If she were really dead, there’d be a body or death certificate or something official. If Carrie left that note, she’d be catching hell from her brother for as long as he lives so I don’t think she would (or should) do that to him without evidence.

    Alls I can say is...IDK who it was but the ending was nuts! Love it!

  4. @retrotvb: That's okay -- sometimes, it's not a bad idea to go with our gut feelings!

    I definitely see your point though -- I really liked Carina's character as much as I didn't want her character to die, I guess I also didn't want the writers to 'ruin' her character at the end by making her out to be defiant or unforgiving -- especially when she had promised Felix that she would return to him. But that's just me....

    Hmmm, I never thought about the "red herring" thing -- but that argument definitely makes sense too!

    I've heard the argument about the affectionate touch as well -- that's actually one of the strongest arguments for why it was possibly Carina (in my opinion at least).

    Yup, as I've said before, it was definitely one of the best endings ever!!!

  5. I personally thought because of the earthquake, she got injured, maybe on the face or something. So the director choose to just show her leg and not make it even more tragic for Felix to face.

  6. @Anonymous: Oh, wow -- I actually never thought about it that way. That could very well be the justification for it being Carina! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Finally finished watching LBIA. What a tear jerker, tears just rolled down my face unbidden. Boohoo 5555. The crying scenes are all so heartrending. And the characters' helplessness and their deep sadness. I bawled along with Man Zai when he entreats Ah Kin (Ko, help me!) to help him as he holds Ah Hong at knife point. And the scene when Ah Kin finally admits to his beloved wife, Kwan, that Ah Hong caused the death of their son, and many many more.

    So did a person's character shape his/her fate or did fate shape his/her character?

  8. @tamaya: Glad you got a chance to watch LBIA -- that's one of those "must-watch" 'classic' TVB series that are so well made / well produced that it always makes me lament what TVB has become nowadays.

    There are way too many great scenes in this series to recount, but the 2 that you mention are definitely also on my list of 'heartwrenching' moments. Back when I first watched the series (which was probably decades ago now and I've since re-watched too many times to count), the most 'difficult' scenes for me to get through were the ones in the final few episodes, where Ah Kin is torn between his brother Ah Hong (whom he thought had changed for the better) and his beloved wife Ah Kwan (whom he had to go through so many obstacles to be with)...I totally felt for him in those last few episodes, especially after watching him lose one family member after another throughout the whole series. I mean, after all he went through, he had a chance to finally overcome all that tragedy and live happily with his new family....only to have all that taken away from him once again.....

    To be honest, your question is a difficult one to answer because I feel that it could go both ways and in some cases, both fate and character are blended together so much that there's no way to differentiate....nevertheless, it's a great question to ponder...