To rephrase Karl Marx's famous quip about history repeating itself, our chief executive race is in danger of turning from farce to tragedy. An election process whose legitimacy is tenuous at best has been exposed as wholly inadequate to producing even a credible leader. A damaged new chief executive is a guarantee that Hong Kong will be staring at five years of policy paralysis, decline, division and malaise. Who knows what irreparable damage that will leave us with at the end of it? For between Leung Chun-ying and Henry Tang Ying-yen, it's not who's better but who's less damaged.
This awakening to a nightmare has been a three-stage process - boredom, excitement, alarm - that no one expected. It began with boredom, as everyone assumed the race was a finely scripted exercise where all the players would duly play their parts and speak their lines. But halfway through the play, the plot was shot to pieces and everyone went seriously off line.
The key to drama, of course, is surprise. And what surprises there were in store, from allegations of illicit affairs and illegitimate offspring to triad connections in the New Territories and an illegally constructed underground palace. Everyone was thrilled and in thrall to the daily drama - until we woke up to the implications: our tabloids are writing the first chapter of a constitutional and governing crisis.
Despite the threats of casting blank votes by some Election Committee members, there will probably be enough votes to meet the minimum number of 601 needed to produce a winner on Sunday. But that may be just the start of our trouble.