Ratree Luang, also known as Love and Deception, is a lakorn that knows how to tell a good story. I mean, much of what makes a good show is that we are watching it at the right time for us. I appreciate the story more upon watching it in one fell swoop, instead of catching it live, because it resonated more deeply. The script is based on a novel called Mon Kammathep, which means Cupid’s Spell, which in all honestly, would have been another apt title for this lakorn. Novel adaptations are one of my favorite genres to watch because it means the story is well thought out and knows what it wants to tell us. Imagine that, there is a point to all of this. Granted, Love and Deception drew the masses of Thai viewers because (to me) the title screams drama, even the trailer is dramatic, and people love drama. Being the opposite of a drama seeker, it actually turned me away from watching it live, or at the very least made me bide my time. The choice at the time was drama versus coffee fluff (featuring the same male lead) and it was a no brainer for me, I always choose coffee for breakfast. But that is my loss. Had the title been Cupid’s Spell, I would have been deceived to sign up faster than they can brew a cup of joe. And I would thank them for it.
Produced by D One TV, Love and Deception weaves a tale of deception that is six feet deep, family therapy, what people do to survive and ultimately heal from their trauma. And love, do not forget the various forms of love. While it is never wrong to love someone, but being realistic (facing the truth), having their best interest at heart and not deluding yourself is truly the only way to come out of this show alive. I did not know this show is the therapy I needed. If I went into this show with an empty heart, my heart is full by the end of it. I fell in love with Cupid himself, even if he is four feet tall and goes by the name of P’Tan, casting his spell far and wide even before he was born.
Let’s start there first. Chadathan aka Pla (which means fish) who sometimes go by Platong (golden fish) as the male lead likes to call her, secretly falls in love with our male lead, Phithai, first. This is the third reunion of Chippy Sirin and Puen Khanin (Mr.TallDarkandHandsome), and this pairing has so much chemistry, you’ll be shocked from the heat of your device. Phithai is the son of a lieutenant general who lives in the big city, but they don’t see eye to eye. Phithai wants to study agriculture but dad wants him to go to military school and follow his footsteps. But their differences stretch beyond career aspirations, Phithai hates dad for being a philanderer. Due to dad’s various mistresses, Phithai’s mom passed away when Phithai was young, and the philandering robbed Phithai of any fatherly-son affection growing up. Phithai instead goes to live with his agricultural professor in Chiang Mai where he meets Pla and her older sister, Kamonthip, aka Goong (shrimp) while finishing his bachelors degree. Someone likes seafood in this show. Phithai thinks of Pla as a tomboy, as they frequently practice taekwondo together, and has eyes for her older sister who attracts every man in her vicinity.
Sadly, a fire breaks out at Pla’s home, taking away her father. Orphaned with no home, Pla and Goong move into Phithai’s home in the big city. This is where the drama (heh) begins. Phithai and Goong had been secretly dating and plan to marry, but one day he finds his girlfriend in the arms of his father. One thing I haven’t mentioned about Phithai is that he is a hot head, and the distrust and disgust for his own father escalates when he sees what he has been afraid of all along, dad stealing his girl! Goong throws more kerosene and says she chose dad because her feeling for Phithai is that of a girl’s feeling, nothing substantial. Phithai sees red and nearly shoots his own head off, but Pla pushes his hand away, which causes his derision to turn on her, since he thinks she knew about the affair and was keeping it from him. Phithai runs away from home and becomes a bum for awhile, until he somehow finds his way back to Chiang Mai and opens a new chapter in his life. Two years go by where he creates a new family – is adopted by the village elder and gets an adopted sister who has feelings for him – Phithai tries to forget people back home. Dad’s health declines, and Pla is the sole caretaker, hoping one day her P’Phithai returns.
Whether out of curiosity or habit, Phithai’s feet takes him to his old home in the city in the middle of the night. He sees a suspicious person climbing the balcony. That night Goong plans to steal dad’s money to help her side act, but gets caught by dad. We don’t see how it all plays out, but dad is stabbed in the chest and dies, with Goong on the go, and Phithai and Pla left to pick up the pieces. Phithai is convinced Goong and her lover were the real murderers, and that Pla is naturally guilty by association (lol). Pla doesn’t want anything to do with the mean bro, but dad’s will ties them together: it states that Phithai must marry Pla for three years in order to inherit everything. Phithai decides he cannot let Pla go, because that would be too easy of an out for her. He wants to keep her close, in the event her sister reaches out to her. He threatens Pla that if she does not conform to him, he would kill her sister when he sees her. Pla thinks he just might be ruthless enough to do that, so overnight they tie the knots and he takes her back to Chiang Mai to his new life; though he lies to the whole farm that she is his personal maid and that she is a tom (gay).
The time at the farm allows Phithai to see Pla in a different light, they are living in close quarters, you can sense the electricity moving and swirling whenever they are together, and the bickering just makes for an even more tense and hotter atmosphere. It is no wonder it only took a drunk night on Pla’s behalf to knock down all the walls between them. Mind you, Phithai is the sober one. But as he deposits Pla on the bed, she wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him close. She questions why he only sees her as a tomboy when she has loved him for so long. The confession brought Phithai’s lips to meet hers over and over again. Not only do these two have amazing chemistry, but the writing and directing knows how to make their scenes very, very sexy. Clears throat.
After that searing night, and plenty of days spent in bed together, Phithai’s heart melts for Pla. If Pla fell in love first, then Phithai fell in love harder. That boy could not keep his hands off hers. Eventually their behavior becomes obvious to the whole farm and the truth about their marriage comes out. It would all be fine and dandy, but Phithai’s adopted sister, Pinnapa has deluded herself into thinking that she stands a chance with him, contrary to his clear statement that they can never be more than brother and sister. Her so called love for him is an obsession, and when she finds out that Phithai and Pla are married, Pinnapa loses her mind. She runs away from home and walks aimlessly around until a bad man ruins her. These are the stuff of nightmares. While she goes missing, Phithai’s adopted father, Wiset has a heart attack. During a sad moment, Phithai tells Pla that he always loses everyone around him and that she is all he has left. Pla feels guilty because she is still in secret communication with her sister, who tells her that she needs a large sum of money to pay the thugs that have captured her and her lover. To help her sister, Pla steals the employees paycheck – YIKES. Phithai does not want to believe it, but somewhere in his mind he could believe that Pla is capable of betraying him. He has been betrayed by his former lover (her sister) and his father already, Pla’s betrayal is icing on the cake.
As the two sisters run away from Phithai, who have tracked them down, Goong made Pla believe that Phithai would literally kill her. She gets help from an old friend, a man who has a one sided love with her Sahathep, and managed to escape Phithai’s wrath. But Phithai’s fate does not look so good as he gets into a motorcycle accident and falls into the ravine. Just as Sahathep manages to save him, he lets go of Phithai who falls into the raging river. Everyone thinks he’s dead. What is for sure is that he hit his head really hard, and loss his memory. Oh snap! And the second half of our show begins, we fast forward six years, and Pla and Phithai are now very different people. This is my favorite part of the show, even if the new level of deception is six feet deep.
Because we have our Cupid, P’Tan, also Pla’s six year old son, aka my favorite dude. Say what? Pla became pregnant after Phithai’s disappearance, and she too decided to disappear from everyone that knows her. She raised her son in what I can only call a slum, and they get by, but it’s a very rough life. Pla sews for a living, P’Tan is so self sufficient, independent, and a literal angel. I am grateful that he gets a lot of screen time because his existence heals and impacts a lot of characters in this show. P’Tan bridges the gap and makes us fall in love with how everyone falls in love with him.
Let’s talk about dad. He’s a dad now but he doesn’t know it. In fact, he doesn’t know anything about his previous life except for what he has been told. All Phithai knows is that he has brain injury that debilitates his vision and causes severe headache every now and then, especially when he tries to remember, and that he has a wife who is also sick and gets treated at a mental institute every now and then. What we do know is that Phithai is now called Trai and has been deceived by his adopted sister Pinnapa for six years. His adopted aunt and farm manager corroborate on the lie because they do what is best for Pinnapa who will only survive if she’s living in this delusion. This deception gets me so fucking mad just thinking about it. What makes it worst is that Trai who is now a whole different person, is so very gentle and kind and logical, and he never raises his voice. I love the new Phithai. But everyone deserves the truth, and the one person who could tell him everything, thinks the truth is best left unspoken. She’s afraid the old, domineering Phithai would take her son away.
But when Pla meets Trai one fateful day – she signs up as a temporary caregiver for his “wife” Pinnapa – and to her shock, she sees Phithai who isn’t Phithai anymore, not even his name. She thinks he opted to marry Pinnapa, not realizing that he was deceived into thinking Pinnapa is his wife. Pla does not give room to the nonlogical aspect of this deception, she only cared to get the heck out of there. But before she leaves, she spends a little time with the person that makes her heart aches just by looking at him. He’s more vulnerable, gentle, and so hot with those glasses it probably hurt. Trai on the other hand finds himself very familiar with the woman. He keeps asking if they’ve met before but she keeps denying it, yet every time he is near her, he senses an attraction, moreso than when he is around his wife. Ack. We find out that Trai and Pinnapa were never intimate in those six years due to her condition. Thus this attraction makes Trai wonder what type of a person he is. Was he a playboy? A bad guy? Why does he want this other woman who is not his wife. Oof the conundrums, thinking he is a bad person for the desires he feels for Pla. On the one hand I am begging for someone to tell Trai the truth and put him out of his misery, on the other, I am enjoying watching Trai panting after Pla like a doggo in heat. It is hot. HAHAHA. Show really knows how to set up the romantic chemistry.
My other favorite aspect of this show aside from the romantic chemistry, is the fatherly-son chemistry with P’Tan, a son he didn’t know he had nor wanted so desperately. I love how Trai’s desire to help and see P’Tan propels him to seek out Pla over and over again. We are able to witness how these two threads that lead Trai to the truth about his identity, also builds a believable love between them. It is like I would still love you and be with you even if you are not my real son, but it turns out you ARE my real son which is just icing on the cake. Trai and P’Tan became friends and sworn brothers first, with P’Tan being the big bro. I adore every single scene they are together. Therefore when P’Tan’s deepest desire to have a dad, and Trai turns out to be the dad, you cannot help but cry along with them. The payoff and comeuppance in this show is so rewarding, I clap in giddiness for them.
There is a clear message in this show about the fine line between love and obsession. We see this manifest in both Pinnapa and Sahathep, who are in an unrequited love with Trai and Pla, but doesn’t care if the other party doesn’t reciprocate, so long as they can have them. The only cure for the obsession is to stop their delusions, face the truth, and accept it. Pinnapa deceived Trai for six years, taking away the time that he could never get back with his wife and kid. Sahathep never could accept that Pla loves somebody else and wants nothing to do with him, and even if he attempted to kill Trai several times, that won’t make her love him. In the end, Pinnapa is saved because she faced the truth, while Sahathep continues deceiving himself and others which brought his own demise. From Aunt Maenmas to the farm manager, they were only able to redeem themselves once they face the truth.
There is something to be said about the gumption to face your fears. Both Phithai and Pla run away from their problems. Only until they are faced with a problem which requires them to solve it, P’Tan that is, who makes them see the truth for what it is. That they share a son, they are still legally married, and still love each other dearly, no matter how much they try to deny it. I love watching Trai come to this realization, when he remembers everything, we get the best of Trai and the sneaky side of Phithai morphed together into one heck of a man who tries to put things back where they belong. If we learned anything from Trai, it is that a calm and kind way of handling your family and people you love is really the best way yet. 180 degree difference from Phithai and because of this change, Trai was able to get back his family and his love, and the peace he truly needs. Pla finally embraces the fact that P’Tan deserves to know who his father is – good or bad – lying that his dad passed away or running away from her problems will only delay the inevitability. She finally realizes Tan and Trai get along so perfectly, that all her fears now seems moot.
Ratree Luang, Love and Deception, Cupid’s Spell, however you want to call this show, has love at the core of its storytelling, and for that, for the hopeless romantics, the realist, and the fluff and drama lovers out there, this story is truly for all of you. So don’t be deceived, come for the kisses – cos those are so so good – plus the two OSTs are perfection and will invoke many tears. Le swoon.