Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Doesn’t Mei Changsu look amazing, with that unwavering, intent gaze? So much charisma! 🤩
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Well. I was kinda-sorta right, about the Emperor protecting Consort Jing; I guess I was hoping that he would have done it in a more outright manner, so as to clear her reputation for her. However, I suppose the Emperor had to also handle the situation in a way where he himself isn’t seen to go against his own word. Even though I think he probably could, in theory, I guess he wouldn’t want to make himself out to be fickle-minded.
And so, to preserve his own dignity at the same time, the best thing he can do, is point fingers at other people, like the Empress and Xiao Xin, and then give Consort Jing a light punishment, so that he’s seen as having taken some kind of action in response to the report.
On the upside, Consort Jing appears to be very clear-minded about how this is supposed to work, and carries herself accordingly, even going so far as to ask for the opportunity to punish Xiao Xin herself, and therefore saving Xiao Xin from immediate execution, which is what the Emperor had ordered. Ahh. Consort Jing. So much grace and wisdom, even when under fire.
I love how Consort Jing answers Xiao Xin’s impertinent question, about how she’d known that Xiao Xin was a spy. Her deduction is so sharp and so shrewd! 🤩 I also very much love Consort Jing’s thinking, around how to deal with Xiao Xin. Her demand, that Xiao Xin confess everything to Jingyan, is perfect, because this will help to clear up any misunderstandings that will exist between Jingyan and Mei Changsu. I hope Xiao Xin takes up the offer, because I really need Jingyan to know that Mei Changsu is innocent in the matter concerning Consort Jing.
The other upside, is that our Emperor’s suspicious natures works to Jingyan’s advantage. He’s quick to put 2 and 2 together, and realize that it’s too much of a coincidence that the Empress had made a fuss about Consort Jing’s alleged transgression, just as Jingyan’s being named as the prime suspect in Wei Zheng’s rescue.
I’m actually pleased about this, but just want to take a moment to point out, on a tangent, that Gao Zhan’s strategy in front of the Emperor is to consistently play dumb but loyal, and then using a few shrewd words at selected times, for the general good. My mom pointed out that the reason Gao Zhan plays dumb in front of the Emperor, is to ensure that the Emperor never feels threatened by him. After all, our Emperor is an extremely suspicious man, who would feel too unsettled, if he felt a subject were too smart.
This is also why Mei Changsu had advised Commander Meng to avoid even attempting to solve the case of the murders of the eunuchs, some time ago – it would have resulted in the Emperor feeling threatened, because Commander Meng would be a danger to him, if he possessed extreme intelligence, on top of his command of the Imperial Guards.
The key thing that I’m pleased about, is that this diversion with the accusation against Consort Jing, has allowed the Emperor time and space to gather his thoughts, and stop acting in the heat of the moment. Not only is he now suspicious of why the accusations against mother and son would coincide so perfectly, he’s also had time to calm down and catch himself somewhat. At least he’s no longer in the mind space where all he wants to do is rant and kick Jingyan; the first thing he does, in fact, is to tell Jingyan to stand, much to Prince Yu’s consternation (and my relish).
The debate among Jingyan, Prince Yu and Xia Jiang feels like a lesson in the art of discourse. Each of them makes a lot of sense on his own, and their various attacks and retreats are well-timed and pretty shrewd as well. It’s no wonder that the Emperor agrees that they’ll get nowhere, if they just keep arguing.
However, I do feel like Jingyan loses his footing somewhat, once Xia Jiang mentions that he wants to interrogate Mei Changsu. Jingyan’s emotional reaction is easy to see, and his protest is a little too strong and comes across as too personal, at least in tone and urgency even if not in his chosen reasoning, to land as completely neutral.
It bums me to acknowledge this, but Prince Yu is wise to speak with an amiable tone, when Jingyan struggles to keep his calm. This choice definitely gives Prince Yu the appearance of the upper hand, in the moment.
On this point, I think it would have been helpful if Mei Changsu had told Jingyan beforehand, that Xia Jiang would likely summon him for questioning, because then they could have discussed how it would have been best for Jingyan to respond, when the idea was floated in court. However, on hindsight, I can see why Mei Changsu opted not to tell Jingyan ahead of time, of this likelihood.
Given Jingyan’s stubborn nature, he would probably have made a fuss at the very idea of Mei Changsu allowing himself to be apprehended and brought to Xuanjing Bureau. Plus, with the way “interrogation” is basically synonymous with “torture” in these times, and with Mei Changsu being in such frail health, Jingyan would have never agreed to proceed with the plan, if he’d known that this is what was likely in store. Even Li Gang and Zhen Ping, who are in on the plan, have to be quieted by Mei Changsu’s personal order.
Also, I suppose we could take it that Mei Changsu trusted Jingyan to be able to react to the situation with soundness and acuity, even without having been briefed beforehand? I do appreciate how worried Jingyan is, for Mei Changsu, and I personally find it half comforting, and half thrilling, that Jingyan’s concern for Mei Changsu feels so visceral.
I was rather taken aback by the way the Xuanjing Bureau soldiers were ordered to enter Su Manor in such an aggressive way. It’s almost a literal siege – except that Mei Changsu stands there, ready and waiting, to go with Xia Jiang.
I must say, the way Mei Changsu walks out there to meet Xia Jiang, is so full of charisma and presence; I feel like his very aura startles Xia Jiang somewhat. I guess Xia Jiang wasn’t expecting Mei Changsu to come with him so easily and without protest, as well.
I hate that Xia Jiang keeps Mei Changsu in the dungeon for 2 nights before seeing him; that feels like a low trick to play on someone whose health is so weak. (On that note, I’m supposing that the pill that Mei Changsu took, prior to leaving for Xuanjing Bureau, was to strengthen him beyond what his natural state is able to withstand. I’m guessing that this is one of the pills that Lin Chen had supplied, before Mei Changsu arrived in Jinling.)
I get that Xia Jiang’s strategy is to wear Mei Changsu down, so that Mei Changsu would be more open to making a confession, but I’m sure Xia Jiang never expected Mei Changsu to confess this quickly. Hahaha.
I do find the way Mei Changsu conducts himself with Xia Jiang, very amusing. He’s aggravatingly cooperative, so much so that Xia Jiang doesn’t know what to do with him, and is extremely suspicious of everything Mei Changsu says, even though, from what I can tell, Mei Changsu is telling him the truth. What a fascinating tactic! I love how discombobulated this makes Xia Jiang, and how harmless and innocent Mei Changsu looks, in response.
I hafta say, I was glued to the edge of my seat through the entire conversation between Xia Jiang and Mei Changsu. It was like watching two masters of their craft spar with each other. Even though I had faith in Mei Changsu, I also genuinely feared for Mei Changsu’s safety, because I didn’t (and still don’t) trust Xia Jiang to be true to his word.
The thing that strikes me about the entire scene, through the various ups and downs, is that Xia Jiang seems to have a grudging respect for Mei Changsu. Even when he feels aggravated by Mei Changsu’s subtle insolence, he can’t help but acknowledge Mei Changsu’s brilliance and influence.
Speaking of subtle insolence, that’s the vibe that I get from Mei Changsu, even though he appears to be respectful towards Xia Jiang. It’s in his body language, and his general tone; it just feels like he’s taunting Xia Jiang, underneath the polite words and the exaggerated cooperation. I found it so great to watch, heh.
My favorite thing about this, is how obliging he makes himself out to be. He keeps saying stuff like (and I paraphrase), “I’m telling you everything you want to know; what else do you want from me?” Ahaha. So great. 😆
I do love how shocked Xia Jiang is, when Mei Changsu explains how Wei Zheng’s managed to leave the Capital, and “escorted” by Xia Chun’s own entourage, no less. It’s brilliant, and I love how flabbergasted this makes Xia Jiang, who had believed that the Capital’s security was iron-clad.
However, I must admit that I felt the tension ramp up even more, once Xia Jiang started insisting that Mei Changsu take that poison pill, so that he’d be able to have some assurance that Mei Changsu would speak wisely (on Xia Jiang’s account) before the Emperor. Gah. The idea of Mei Changsu taking poison already stressed me out – after all, he’s so weak and sickly – so the actual forcing of the pill down Mei Changsu’s throat really did freak me out. Ack! This is not good.
I can’t help worrying for Mei Changsu, because I don’t trust Xia Jiang to give him the antidote, especially after Mei Changsu’s now revealed that he’s aware of Xia Jiang’s role in the demise of Prince Qi and the entire Chiyan Army. Now, Xia Jiang’s said outright, that he just wants Mei Changsu to die. Why would he give Mei Changsu the antidote, then? This is all very worrying.
I’m so glad that Mei Changsu had thought enough ahead, to ensure Grand Prince Ji had seen Xia Dong bundling Wei Zheng away, and enlisted Yujin’s help, to nudge Grand Prince Ji in the direction of reporting what he’d seen, to the Emperor. (Huzzah! It looks like my earlier suspicion, that this was staged in order to point the finger back at Xia Jiang, is probably right?)
While we’re talking about Grand Prince Ji, I thought I’d share that my mom pointed out that Grand Prince Ji always looks kind of uncomfortable in the Emperor’s presence. She reasons that the Emperor, in working to take over the throne, had likely killed other brothers of his, who had been in line for the throne. Grand Prince Ji had likely chosen to play dumb and frivolous, so that the Emperor wouldn’t feel threatened by him, and therefore not look to have him killed as well. Eek. It’s tough being a royal, isn’t it?
I do love Grand Prince Ji, though. He’s so friendly and affable. Plus, if he’s keen to stay out of the matters of the court, he could have totally looked the other way, and not said anything to the Emperor about having seen Xia Dong with Wei Zheng. But he goes ahead and reports it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do. Good man!
I’m very pleased that the Emperor wastes no time in summoning Xia Dong, and even mobilizes Commander Meng to do so, in order to ensure that Xia Dong is successfully brought to the palace without incident. It’s also probably a good thing that Xia Dong has that conversation with Xia Jiang, before receiving the summons via Commander Meng. This way, her understanding of Xia Jiang, his (evil) intentions and his (just as evil) methods, are clearer in her mind than ever.
Xia Chun’s in a hurry to report Xia Dong’s summons to Xia Jiang, but, as my mom pointed out, there is no way for Xia Jiang to know why the Emperor would ask to see Xia Dong. At the most, Xia Jiang might guess that it has something to do with Xia Dong opening the gates of Xuanjing Bureau for Wei Zheng’s rescuers to enter, but he has no clue that Xia Dong had had anything to do with transporting Wei Zheng out of the Capital.
Our Divine Talent really planned far ahead, didn’t he? And, down to the littlest detail, as well! Really impressive!
How interesting, that Xia Dong is bold enough to lie to the Emperor, when he asks her about having been in Dengjia Alley on the day of Wei Zheng’s escape. And, even more interesting, is that when Xia Dong’s confronted by the fact that Grand Prince Ji had seen her, she admits not only to having been there, but also, to having Wei Zheng with her, in that alley. Oooh.
As it turns out, the more Xia Dong insists that she’d acted on her own accord, and that everything she did has nothing to do with Xia Jiang, the more suspicious and disbelieving the Emperor gets. Well then. It was really smart of her to act like she was trying to cover everything up. I’m guessing that this approach was influenced (albeit indirectly, probably via Jingyan, since he’s the one who’d talked to Xia Dong) by Mei Changsu, since he seems to understand the Emperor so well.
In fact, I’m slightly amused by how Commander Meng leans into his slightly slow persona, to nudge the situation along. Again, I’m sure that he’s acting under Mei Changsu’s guidance. Not only does this act of being a little clueless fan the Emperor’s ego, it triggers the Emperor’s suspicious nature and analytical prowess to work even harder, to prove to Commander Meng that they can’t just simply take Xia Dong’s word at face value.
Add on Grand Prince Ji’s default persona, of being good-naturedly guileless, and it all comes together to create a situation where the Emperor’s primed to be at his most skeptical, so much so that he tells Commander Meng to seize Xuanjing Bureau and imprison Xia Jiang directly. Ooh.
I kinda love that even while all this is going on, Xia Jiang has no idea things are getting this bad, and is only thinking about the fact that Xia Dong had opened Xuanjing Bureau’s main gate for the rescuers. However, Xia Jiang’s not dumb; he instinctively realizes that the more Xia Dong defends him, the more the Emperor will suspect that she’d acted under Xia Jiang’s orders. Looks like Xia Jiang understands the Emperor really well too.
I was on tenterhooks the whole time Commander Meng’s fighting his way into Xuanjing Bureau with his men, since Xia Chun is under orders to kill Mei Changsu. Ack. I kept thinking that it’s kinda crazy that everyone at Xuanjing Bureau puts up a fight, since this would be the equivalent of trying to defy the Emperor’s orders. I suppose this is just how confident they are, that there is no way the Emperor would have Xuanjing Bureau seized.
Even when Commander Meng shows the royal token and informs Xia Jiang that there is indisputable evidence that Xia Jiang created a ploy to frame a Prince and deceive the Emperor, Xia Jiang protests in vehement disbelief. Xia Jiang really is so confident of the soundness of his scheme, that in his mind, it is literally impossible that there could be any proof of his attempt to frame Prince Jing.
On a side note, I thought you guys might be interested to know that the phrase Commander Meng uses for “indisputable evidence” is 铁证如山 (“tiězhèng rúshān”), which literally translates as “iron evidence like a mountain.” This means that not only is there a lot of evidence against Xia Jiang, that evidence is ironclad.
I’m relieved for Xia Qiu being perplexed enough by everything that he’s seen and heard, that he’d interfere with Xia Chun’s plan to kill Mei Changsu, because he wants to hear what Mei Changsu has to say. Phew. Thank goodness for Xia Qiu, because if not for his intervention, it does look like there was a real danger of Mei Changsu getting killed by Xia Chun then and there. Yikes. What a chilling thought; we absolutely can’t lose our Divine Talent!
And of course, I’m also thankful that Fei Liu gets there in time, to stop Xia Chun – and beat him senseless. Gah. And phew. This felt like a pretty close call. Way too close for my liking, honestly. 😅
It’s satisfying to see Xia Jiang all bound up in chains and at Commander Meng’s mercy, but it absolutely still worries me that Mei Changsu’s taken that poison pill, and doesn’t have the antidote. How are we going to get around that?
Meanwhile, I’m glad for Cai Quan and Shen Zhui, who bring the case of the illegal fireworks factory back to the Emperor’s attention. It’s true that the full extent of the case’s implications hadn’t been delved into, when it had first been brought to light. This feels necessary and right. And, the Emperor’s suspicious nature doesn’t disappoint, since he’s so quick to realize that Prince Yu is the main beneficiary of the whole case.
And, how awkward, that when Prince Yu arrives for his audience with the Emperor, the first thing he says, is that he had nothing to do with the Xuanjing Bureau case. Ooh. That’s kinda self-incriminating, isn’t it? Grand Prince Ji is such a guilelessly kind uncle, to nudge Prince Yu to take a look at the documents, before saying anything further about the Xuanjing Bureau case. I really do like Grand Prince Ji. He’s just so.. benevolent.
Prince Yu defends himself fervently, with regards to both cases, and even says that in Xia Jiang’s case, he had just gone with the flow. The phrase he uses, is 顺水推舟 (“shùnshuǐtuīzhōu”), which literally translates to “following the tide to push the boat.” Meaning to say, that in Prince Yu’s version of events, Xia Jiang was already going in that direction anyway (in attempting to frame Prince Jing), and all Prince Yu had done, was nudge everything along, in the direction that it was already going. Ugh. How aggravating, since he’d been the one to reach out to Xia Jiang in the first place.
I’m actually rather pleased that the Emperor gets so mad at Prince Yu that he throws something at him, which results in Prince Yu sustaining a head wound. It’s less the head wound, but the humiliation of having something thrown at him, that hurts him more, I tend to think. After all, when we’d started our story, Prince Yu had been the most favored Prince, and yet, now here he is, the target of the Emperor’s wrath. What a long way Prince Yu has fallen, eh?
As an aside, the Emperor himself mentions again, that Prince Yu is supposed to be the Prince that takes most after him. The irony here, I think, is that it’s because the Emperor himself has done all manner of cruel and scheming things in order to gain the throne, that he’s able to see and trace so clearly, Prince Yu’s transgressions.
Prince Yu is wily enough, and understands the Emperor enough, that he’s able to avoid the joint trial by the 3 Judiciaries, as petitioned by Cai Quan and Shen Zhui, by pointing out that the joint trial would be made known to the public, and therefore harm the reputation of the royal family. That’s sneaky, but also, clever, wouldn’t you say?
I mean, with that one single assertion, the Emperor decides to have Cai Quan close the case with Zhu Yue as the scapegoat, with any further punishment for Prince Yu, to be handled by him personally. That’s a bit of a win for Prince Yu, all things considered. No wonder Cai Quan is so disgruntled. He’d worked so hard to uncover the truth behind the case, only for the Emperor to basically sweep it away, in favor of his errant son. 😪 I’d be mad in Cai Quan’s shoes too.
I am admittedly somewhat mollified, that the Emperor is convinced that Xia Jiang has Wei Zheng stashed away somewhere, with plans to use him again, in another scheme to bring Jingyan down. I know this is untrue, but I just like the idea that the Emperor is looking out for Jingyan for once.
Speaking of Jingyan, I’m heartened to see that he’s sincerely concerned for Mei Changsu, and anxious to know more about Mei Changsu’s condition. The worry written on Jingyan’s face feels genuine and visceral, and I’m hoping that this whole incident, will make the relationship and trust between Jingyan and Mei Changsu that much stronger.
But first, we need Mei Changsu to actually recover from the physical and emotional trauma that he’s been through. It’s heartrending to see that he’s having nightmares now, even though he’s now back in his own bed. 💔
Plus, we need that poison dealt with right away too!