HBO Asia’s Taiwanese series ‘Dream Raider’ centers around detective Li Xiao, professor Dr. Tian-Li Cheng, and Cheng’s daughter An-Ya, who teams up to solve a series of mysterious crimes where victims’ minds are hacked by an unknown force. Professor Cheng and his neural engineer daughter use dream raiding technology that allows them to enter into the dreamscapes of the victims to solve the crimes. The mind-boggling sci-fi series ends astoundingly, depicting the stunning turn of events that change the lives of the professor and his daughter. If you are looking forward to unraveling the complex ending of the show, consider us your ally! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Dream Raider Recap
When detective Li Xiao comes across a perplexing case that involves over a hundred missing girls, he approaches professor and scientist Dr. Tian-Li Cheng and his daughter Cheng An-Ya for guidance. Professor Cheng, who is imprisoned for an experiment that killed his student Mo Qi-Feng and nearly killed Qi-Feng’s wife Li-An, uses his dream raiding equipment to enter into a survivor’s dreamscape to find out about the missing girls. The professor and An-Ya find out that the missing girls’ minds are hacked for them to think that they are killing themselves by falling into a smelter.
Using the clues, Li Xiao finds the girls but fails to find out the people behind the experiment. When a series of mass suicide attempts occur in the city, Li Xiao, Professor Cheng, and An-Ya enter the minds of a few people who survive their suicide attempts. They find out that the minds of the people who attempted suicide were hacked by a game and a sleep-assistance application. They conduct investigations on Rhyzen, the R&D company behind the applications, which leads to dead-ends. Meanwhile, Mo Qi-Feng, who is presumed dead but is alive, is revealed to be the person behind the experiments and mind-hackings.
After investigating a suicide-bomber, Li Xiao, Professor Cheng, and An-Ya realize that an international crime syndicate, based in Iceland, is behind the mind-hackings and experiments. An-Ya accompanies Li Xiao in the investigations while suffering from a brain tumor and tries to find out what really happened on the day of the explosion at her father’s laboratory during a dream raiding experiment. When the investigating trio suspects Rhyzen, the company’s CEO Mr. Watanabe visits and tells them that even his mind was hacked for using the company as a front for conducting mind-hacking experiments.
Mr. Watanabe’s investigation — to find out the truth behind his own mind — ends in his death and Mo Qi-Feng becomes the new CEO of Rhyzen under a false identity. He reveals to Professor Cheng that his wife Li-An is trapped in the Abyss of Consciousness, a repository of human consciousnesses. Qi-Feng kills his investors and Belle, who are unaware of his selfish motive behind the experiments. Qi-Feng uses Rhyzen’s Super Mind, a product the company developed, to use hundreds of thousands of people’s nerve impulses to open the Abyss of Consciousness to retrieve his wife.
Meanwhile, Professor Cheng realizes that An-Ya isn’t suffering from a brain tumor but the evolution of the brain to enter into the dreamscapes of others. She enters into the dreamscape of two brothers who get shot while exacting their vengeance on Qi-Feng. When the brothers die, An-Ya gets stuck in their dreamscape, only to get trapped in the Abyss of Consciousness like Li-An. At the Super Mind launch, Qi-Feng uses the nerve impulses of all the users, including Professor Cheng’s, to save his wife. He also reveals to his mentor that he will trap Professor Cheng in the Abyss for having an affair with his wife Li-An once he saves her.
Dream Raider Ending: Does the Gate of the Abyss of Consciousness Open? Do Li-An and An-Ya Come Back to the Real World?
When Qi-Feng was saved from death upon the explosion with the help of Belle, he swore to use his expertise for the research and development of the latter’s company. However, he hid from his investors that the real intention behind his experiments is solely to bring his wife back to the real world from the Abyss of Consciousness. He uses Watanabe’s dream project Super Mind to garner enough nerve impulses to open the gate of the Abyss for Li-An to come back. He threatens Professor Cheng to take part in his attempt since the professor’s hand is inevitable for the gate to open.
Even though Qi-Feng and Professor Cheng enter the dreamscape and arrive at the gate of the Abyss, the former fails to open the gate using the latter’s hand. Since the gate can only be opened using resonating or compatible nerve impulses, Qi-Feng’s attempts to open it using force and frequency do not yield any results. He tries his best to force Cheng’s hand on the gate but the gate stays closed for Li-An and An-Ya to come back. The brain of Cheng, who believes that thousands of people’s lives shouldn’t be sacrificed for Li-An or An-Ya’s return, doesn’t produce resonating nerve impulses to open the gate.
By that time, Li Xiao arrives at Qi-Feng’s experiment room and reduces the nerve impulses. Li Xiao’s intervention terminates Qi-Feng’s powers in the dreamscape. At that point, Professor Cheng sees An-Ya on the other side of the gate and reconciles with his daughter. He apologizes for being a bad father and the daughter forgives him. Their reconciliation influences their brain to accept each other, creating resonating and compatible nerve impulses which open the gate of the Abyss. An-Ya comes back to the real world and asks Li-An to follow her.
Li-An, however, decides to stay back in the Abyss of Consciousness. Ten years in the Abyss influence her to give up the real world and accept the world she is in. Qi-Feng’s downfall into a vicious criminal and his tragic fate also make her stay. To not carry the guilt of the abominable actions her husband did for her return, Li-An decides against going back to the real world. Li-An dismisses An-Ya when the latter asks her to come back and lets the gate close again after the neural engineer’s exit.
Still, in the closing shot of the inaugural season, Li-An opens her eyes, indicating the possibility that she comes back to the real world even after the closing down of the Abyss. If that’s the case, Professor Cheng may have returned to the gate to convince his beloved friend to come back as the long-lost aunt of his daughter. Li-An, who rejects the real world due to Qi-Feng’s actions, may have changed her mind, thinking An-Ya deserves her aunt and Professor Cheng deserves his friend.
Are Qi-Fen, Professor Cheng, An-Ya, and Li-An Dead or Alive?
When Li Xiao intervenes in Qi-Feng’s grand experiment, he loses all his powers in the dreamscape. Yet, he continues to force himself to exert power on Professor Cheng and the gate to open the Abyss of Consciousness. When the professor reminds him that his actions will lead to his own death, the ferocious scientist dismisses his mentor and continues his actions even when they harm him. In the end, the powers Qi-Feng tries to exert kill himself in the dreamscape, which leads to his death in the real world.
Professor Cheng saves his own life by not challenging the Abyss of Consciousness. He accepts that there isn’t anything he can do by force to open the gate and reconcile with his daughter upon understanding his limitation. His wisdom protects his life and he comes back to the real world alive along with An-Ya, who enters into her body to wake up alive. Li-An, on the other hand, initially decides to stay back in the Abyss and leave her living but brain-dead body in the real world. However, the closing shot of the first season indicates that she comes back from the Abyss to be completely alive.
How Did Fire Break Out in Professor Cheng’s Laboratory? Did Cheng and Li-An Have an Affair? How Did Li-An Get Trapped in the Abyss?
When Qi-Feng was a student of Professor Cheng, he immersed his entire life in his experiment to open the Abyss of Consciousness. His repeated failures made him depressed and abusive. He started to beat Li-An to free himself from his frustration and disappointment. Upon seeing her husband’s terrible state, Li-An decided to seek the help of Professor Cheng. The latter went through Qi-Feng’s methodology and decided to do the experiment to open the Abyss with Li-An. Their friendship and compatibility created resonating nerve impulses, which led to the opening of the Abyss.
Qi-Feng, who came to the laboratory midway through the experiment, joined Professor Cheng and Li-An. When he entered the dreamscape, he saw his mentor and wife inside a bubble together in the Abyss. A drunken Qi-Feng misunderstood them and barged into the bubble, resulting in Li-An’s fall to the Abyss. Since Li-An and Cheng had resonating nerve impulses, they were together in the dreamscape, only for Qi-Feng to misunderstand it as an affair. His action also fluctuated the energy transmitted through the machine, resulting in the break out of the fire in the laboratory.
Read More: Dream Raider Season 2: Renewed or Cancelled?