The Ferry Man 灵魂摆渡

Bonus episode of The Ferry Man (灵魂摆渡) has everything I love: Murder mystery, supernatural, reincarnation, and enough creepiness to give me the goose bumps. Our amnesiac ferryman’s obsession with doleful college student Xia Dongqing is a running joke/mystery on the show. The reason is finally revealed in the episode “Magnificent (风华绝代).”


Almost a hundred years ago, our ferryman Zhao Li was experiencing a major case of depression. Since he couldn’t die (being a living dead and all), he decided that blindness was his next best option. The less of the despicable world he had to see the better. Then he met Ajin, a young soldier going off to war. Although the soldier was terrified of dying, he optimistically saw a better future for those he left behind. Our ferryman decided right then and there that the young man was his salvation, the bright spot in his dark, despairing existence. He could not let the soldier die.

Soul Ferryman

While he could keep the man from being dead, it was not the same as being alive. His quest to restore Ajin to his living state brought the ferryman to a supernatural black market where he found a rare object that could show him a way. The object, in the form of a woman, had lost part of her memory. Her owner was dead and, for inexplicable reason, she couldn’t remember how that happened (this is particularly vexing because she is the personification of “wisdom and knowledge”). She asked the ferryman to solve the mystery in exchange for the information he desired.

Ling Hun Bai Du

That led our ferryman to sit in a kitchen listening to a domestic servant gossiping about the state of her employer’s household. Apparently, the master of the house was a renowned Chinese Opera singer. He had committed suicide a year earlier and his spirit had been haunting the house with his performances.
f03 Ling Hun Bai Du

Clearly, that was the source of his housekeeper’s distress. She was trying to sell the estate but no one wanted a house where a person was found dead in. Instead of a buyer, she was surprised by the arrival of the master’s psychiatrist. Things quickly went downhill from there. His apprentice showed up, after long absence, to pay respect to the dead, but more importantly, to take possession of his priceless harp. His illegitimate daughter also made an appearance to stake her claim on the inheritance.
Ling Hun Bai Du f10

But it is a reporter/his fan who managed to scare everybody half to death by breaking into his ancestral temple and reenacting his famous performance in the dark.
The Ferry Man The Ferry Man

Through sheer shamelessness, all the uninvited guests stayed for dinner. Catfight soon followed. As fingers started pointing, everybody seemed to have a motive to kill Bai Mudan.
The Ferry Man Ling Hun Bai Du

Our ferryman lured the 6 women to the room where Bai Mudan died then trapped them in an illusion with the harp’s enchanting music. No one was leaving the room until they find the killer.
The Ferry Man Soul Ferryman

That’s just not going to work for Jiang Lili, the illegitimate daughter. She was only there for the money. She didn’t kill nobody and ain’t interested in finding out who did. Beautiful and gangster was her trademark. She attempted to shoot her way out. Huang Shuixian, the reporter, stopped her. By smashing her head with a solid wood stool. Whaddayaknow? The wicked witch died.
The Ferry Man Ling Hun Bai Du

A Xiu, the apprentice, was unaffected by Lili’s sudden demise. She only had the eyes for the priceless harp. She went through incredible hardships, including seducing the master and his housekeeper, in order to get her paws on it.
Soul Ferryman The Ferry Man

The confession unhinged Ms. Hua, the housekeeper. She admitted that jealousy drove her to put cyanide in the master’s drink. Because she was a woman, she couldn’t perform on stage even though they both went through the same training. Because she was a woman, she couldn’t openly be with the woman she loved. She shot A Xiu twice in the back then shot herself in the head. Now they can be together forever.
The Ferry Man Ling Hun Bai Du

But wait. Mudan didn’t die by poison. His throat was slit, according to the reporter. Shuixian had interviewed Mudan on the day of his death. He felt betrayed by the affair between his apprentice/lover and his housekeeper. He felt disappointed that his daughter only wanted money from him and he had none to give her. He foresaw a hopeless future where he would die in poverty with no one by his side. Which means… His death wasn’t due to foul play?
Soul Ferryman The Ferry Man

His future didn’t have to turn out that way. Shuixian adored Mudan, always had. And most importantly, she was his real daughter. Lili was only an imposter. (Maybe killing Lili wasn’t so accidental after all….)
The Ferry Man Ling Hun Bai Du

Mama Liu, the domestic servant, chided her for not telling the master the truth. A flashback showed Mudan had suicide on his mind after meeting his fake daughter.
Ling Hun Bai Du The Ferry Man

Mama Liu had been with the master since the day he was born and knew everything that happened in the house. The moment she saw him with the sword, she knew exactly what he wanted to do and understood why he had to do it. He was a leading character and he should leave the stage in style. She poured him the cyanide laced drink. He complained it was too bitter but she persuaded him that it was better than the sword.
Soul Ferryman The Ferry Man

He knelt down to her, grateful for her lifetime of unconditional support and understanding. Unable to hold back the tears, she walked out the room and closed the door behind her.
Ling Hun Bai Du The Ferry Man

While Mama Liu did put the poison drink in Mudan’s hand, that wasn’t what killed him. Ms. Hong, the psychiatrist, asked what about the sword? As for our ferryman, he was floored by Mama Liu’s revelation. While on the floor he found a chord under the table. It was the missing harp chord.
The Ferry Man Ling Hun Bai Du

The moment the chord was back on the harp, Ms. Hong transformed.

Holy guacamole, Ms. Hong was the harp Banruo! With the missing chord in place, memories flooded back to her. She remembered that her owner tried to destroy her. She lost her mind and killed him. It was her! She was the killer!
The Ferry Man Soul Ferryman

Killed by your favorite music instrument. Imagine that.

Anyway, the ferryman and Banruo’s bargain was still outstanding. How to give life back to Ajin?
Ling Hun Bai Du The Ferry Man

The answer Banruo gave was not what our ferryman wanted to hear. She killed her owner because she could never see him again if he had destroyed her. But as long as she existed, they would meet again. She had all the time in the world to wait for his next reincarnation. She advised our ferryman to do the same. Let Ajin die so they could meet in another lifetime.
The Ferry Man Soul Ferryman

Our ferryman rejected her wise advice.
The Ferry Man

No, she didn’t go psycho on him. Ajin asked her to give his eyes to our ferryman so the ferryman can bear witness to the brighter future that he believed in. Ajin passed away but his hope remained.

Fast forward a hundred years or so, our amnesiac ferryman woke up from his past life regression. He asked his psychiatrist what happened in his dream. She gave him a cryptic smile and replied that she didn’t find anything troubling. He left the session appearing visibly happier. He called Xia Dongqing to tell him about the dream where he vaguely remembered seeing him in it.
The Ferry Man Soul Ferryman


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