All the symbolism behind the mahjong scene has already been explored by other people so I’m not going to delve into it here. Instead I’m going to detail just how crazy this scene is.
In this scene, Rachel draws a winning hand, an eight of bamboo tile, but discards it so that Eleanor can win.
At this point we can see that there are at least three eight of bamboo tiles already in the game. There are only four duplicates of any tile in mahjong and because we don’t see much of the game, it is possible that there is another eight of bamboo yet to be drawn.
From this shot we can see that there are 54 tiles left in the game. One row has 36 tiles and there are 9 left on the row that Rachel drew from and also 8 tiles that were cut at the beginning of the game. So the chances of Rachel drawing the eight of bamboo at this point are 1/27 at best or 1/54 at worst.
There is also another shot where Rachel draws the eight of bamboo with 58 tiles left so the chances of her drawing the eight of bamboo could also be 1/29 or 1/58.
Whether it’s 1/27 or 1/58, Rachel also needed both her and Eleanor’s hand to be one tile away from winning in order to make her point. The chances of that happening are way more astronomical than 1/27 or 1/58. Don’t forget that she also needed the other two players not to have a winning hand because what kind of point would she be making if she discarded this tile for one of the other players to win?
For Rachel to make her point, she was either super lucky or she made it a 1/1, i.e. she set it up. Which means that she had to convince the other two players to be in on her plan. So when she said that they are half-deaf and only speak Hokkien, either she was lying or knows enough Hokkien to explain the plan to them. And since the dice throw in the beginning is to determine who goes and draws first, her perfect, symbolic game also wouldn’t be possible without loaded dice.
The real truth behind this mahjong game is that Rachel is one manipulative bitch. At the end of the movie, either Eleanor fell for Rachel’s ruse or thought that the Young family could do with a devious manipulative bitch like her.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the first screenshot from when Eleanor meets Rachel at the mahjong place again. Rachel and her partners in crime are already done setting up the tiles. Then Eleanor sits down and starts playing without shuffling the tiles.
Bak bak bitch indeed!